News

    Proxy War Stokes Tension Between Ethiopia, Eritrea

    Ethiopian soldiers patrol in the town of Baidoa in Somalia (file photo).
    Ethiopian soldiers patrol in the town of Baidoa in Somalia (file photo).

    Ethiopia's military strike against targets in Eritrea last week has opened a new phase on the proxy war the Horn of Africa neighbors have been waging for more than a decade.  Attention is focused on a little-known rebel group that is alleged to have been involved in cross-border attacks.

    Tension along the Eritrea-Ethiopia border rose late last week when Ethiopian forces struck what they said were military camps inside Eritrea.

    Spokesman Shimeles Kemal justified the strikes as retaliation against a shadowy rebel group blamed for killing and kidnapping European tourists two months ago in Ethiopia's Afar region.

    "The posts attacked had been used by the Eritrean government for training, as a military garrison for these subversive groups," he said.

    Analysts say the incident is the first cross-border attack by the sides since they ended a two-year border war in 2000.  That fighting killed as many as 80,000 people and ended inconclusively.

    Eritrea described last week's military incursion as "flagrant aggression" designed to divert attention from Ethiopia's illegal occupation of Eritrean territories.  A statement said Eritrea would not be drawn into war with its far bigger neighbor.

    Ethiopia called the strike a "proportional response" against a proxy group that had been staging terrorist attacks with Eritrea's knowledge and approval.

    Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti accused Eritrea of trying to mask its proxy war on Ethiopia through the use of imaginary rebel groups.

    "They have tried to evade responsibility by blaming the act on some organization, dubious organization that is not significant, and that doesn't mean anything in that region," said Mufti. "They have tried to shift the blame to a bogus organization."

    Little is known about the rebel group called the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front, or ARDUF.  Analysts say the group occasionally attacks tourists on the slopes of Ethiopia's Erta Ale volcano, then seemingly disappears into the desert for years at a time.

    Ethiopia says ARDUF is trained and financed by Eritrea.  Eritrea says the rebels are a pretext for Ethiopian aggression.

    E-mails the group sent to reporters during the past two months tell their side of a clash with Ethiopian troops in January that left five European tourists dead.  The e-mails, written in fluent English, also tell of the rebels' attempts to free two other tourists they captured in the incident.  The Europeans were released early this month.

    Return e-mails to ARDUF, asking for more information, were not answered.

    Horn of Africa analyst and former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn says it is impossible to know whether ARDUF is real or merely a tool in the proxy war.

    "I've seen no proof of that," said Shinn. "That's just taking Ethiopia at its word.  At the same time, it's certainly plausible.  On the other side of the fence, one should point out that Ethiopia also has a record of being supportive of Eritreans who oppose the regime in Asmara."

    Shinn notes that Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi stated in parliament last April that his government would actively support groups trying to overthrow Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki.  Mr. Meles's comment came after Ethiopia accused Eritrea of trying to stage high-profile bomb attacks in Addis Ababa during an African Union summit.  Eritrea strongly denied the charges.

    The Reuters news agency and an Eritrean opposition website reported a second wave of Ethiopian strikes on Saturday near the town of Badme, the flash point of the war that erupted in 1998.  The opposition site [awate.com] on Monday said Ethiopian forces were still occupying several villages on the Eritrean side of the disputed border.

    Ethiopian officials strongly denied those reports, and officials in Addis Ababa said there had been no direct clashes between military forces of the two countries.

    David Shinn recalls a similar cross-border incursion when he was U.S. envoy to Ethiopia in 1997.  He says that incident was among those cited by Eritrea the following year when war broke out.  

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora