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Horn of Africa crisis- Ethiopia case study

  • 27 October, 2021

  • 7 Min Read

Horn of Africa crisis- Ethiopia case study

Context: Ethiopian crisis is important for Personality Test and Political science optional

“After 2nd world war the changing world order resulted into various crises particular in African region. Boundary disengagement, poverty, corruption, international politics by China and UAS are some of the reason behind Horn of African crisis”

What is the issue?

Ethiopia’s Tigray region (UPSC MAPPING) and the country’s humanitarian crisis give rise to concerns of long-term regional deterioration.Without a clear framework for peace-building, post-conflict reconstruction and transitional justice, the country is at risk of drastically postponing both political and economic recovery.

Horn of Africa crisis!!

Entire Horn of Africa region is already plagued by:

  1. Military conflicts,
  2. Uneven economic development,
  3. Border conflicts and disagreements,
  4. Food insecurity and Poverty,
  5. Climate change and agriculture crisis,
  6. Weak democracy and political insecurity
  7. Terrorism and extremism
  8. Outside influence of USA Vs. China

Ethiopia conflict

  • Breakdown of relations: The breakdown in the already strained relations between the federal government in Addis Ababa and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)’s leaders in Tigray has resulted in the national crisis.
  • Protests by Oromo: In 2018, anti-government protests by the marginalised Oromo (UPSC PRELIMS) population forced the TPLF to step down, resulting in the election of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his subsequent crackdown on Tigrayan politicians for corruption and human rights abuses.

Oromos are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.

Tigrayans are the smallest ethnic group in Ethiopia.

  • Refugee Crisis: Internal conflict in Ethiopia has resulted in the death of 52,000 people and the displacement of over 2 million, over 60,000 of whom have taken refuge in Sudan’s eastern border. This has triggered an influx of Sudanese and Eritrean military personnel near Ethiopia’s northern frontier.

What to do for Horn of African issue?

Immediate coordination between the federal, regional and local governments, independent and partial adjudicators, civil society and victims’ and community groups.

The various levels of government need to be responsible for two roles:

  1. first, the generation of effective regional security architecture for uncomplicated jurisdictions; and
  2. second, a narrowed scope and mandate for the Reconciliation Commission and its independent committee of facilitators.

Independent mediators and adjudicators can further assist in framing post-conflict models.

Steps taken by Ethiopia

  • Currently, Ethiopia is attempting to tackle its domestic emergency.
  • This phase includes securing a military conflict-free environment, addressing increased displacement, allowing access to basic needs assistance for citizens at risk of famine, and strengthening humanitarian capacity in conflict-ridden areas.
  • The federal government would be urged to consider steps in effectively building frameworks for accountability, transparency and power distribution for inclusive national systems of governance.

Major Ethnic tribes in Ethiopia: Oromo, Amhara and Tigrayan groups. Cities in the Northern Gondar Zone, such as Welkait (Current Mapping), which have been under the contested control of TPLF forces for decades, will require socioeconomic transitional institutions for effective post-conflict recovery. (Upsc Prelims)

Resolution policies

  • A lack of transitional processes will result in a return to violence in not only the Tigray region but also in other regions where there are rising ethnic tensions.
  • The best way to prevent the same chain of events that led to the 2010 post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire is to begin structuring a post-conflict environment that promotes a peaceful transition.
  • It is imperative to recognize a broader view and develop successful post-conflict reconstruction policies before stability is beyond reach.

Ethiopia Vs. Eritrea-New conflict in Horn of Africa

Historical perspective: The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea—two of the poorest countries in the world—began in 1998.

  • Eritrea was once part of the Ethiopian empire, but it was colonized by Italy from 1869 to 1941.
  • Following Italy's defeat in World War II, the United Nations determined that Eritrea would become part of Ethiopia, though Eritrea would maintain a great deal of autonomy.
  • In 1961 Ethiopia removed Eritrea's independence, and Eritrea became just another Ethiopian province.
  • In 1991 following a revolution in Ethiopia, Eritrea gained its independence. However, the borders between Ethiopia and Eritrea had never been clearly marked.
  • Following arguments and skirmishes, Eritrea invaded the area of Ethiopia it viewed as its own. Trench warfare—and the deaths of many soldiers and civilians—has continued since then.
  • Territorial conflict-Eritrea believes that Ethiopia has moved border markers to infringe on Eritrean territory.

Economic conflict- Ethiopia believes that Eritrea charges an exorbitant fee to export Ethiopian coffee through the Eritrean port. There is conflict regarding use of the U.S. dollar for transactions, instead of local currency.

Present situation!!

  • Over two hundred thousand troops are massed at the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, waiting for the next outbreak of violence in a war that has been fought off and on since 1998.
  • Its more about sovereignty and national pride than poverty and about the few square miles of land around which fighting has been concentrated. The land that is disputed is not of great value; it is scrubland, where farmers have traditionally raised a few hardy crops and grazed their goats.
  • For Eritrea, this scrubland represents their claim to sovereignty and the victory they won in a thirty-year civil war against Ethiopia.
  • To the Ethiopian government the issue is one of defending against this and any possible future Eritrean incursions into their territory.

Horn of Africa, an eastern outcropping on the continent of Africa including the countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti. (UPSC Prelims)

Method of FIGHTING

TRENCH WAR: After taking a few miles of Ethiopian territory, the Eritrean army dug in and began to use trench warfare to defend their territorial acquisitions.

TIME-HONORED METHOD: In response the Ethiopian army used the time-honored method for combating trench warfare—rushing the trenches in human waves in order to capture the enemy. This method of fighting has led to a large and mounting death toll on both sides.

Though the numbers are disputed, it is estimated that seventy thousand soldiers from both sides have died. The rest of the world has been stunned by methods of fighting that have not been used for such an extended period of time since World War I.

Land mines against both combatants and civilians. When the Eritrean army retreated from the territory it had captured initially, it left fields and scrubland filled with landmines, making farming impossible and a re-establishment of the Ethiopian administration difficult.

Future problems

  • High ECOLOGICAL Impact: Ecologically, the effects of this war will be felt for years, both because of the presence of so many landmines and due to the effect that the fighting has had on the fragile, semi-arid ecosystem, now polluted with shell casings, wrecked military equipment and the refuse of two armies.
  • Refugee problem: Prior to the war, relations between the two countries had been friendly enough that many Eritreans lived in Ethiopia—the larger country with more economic opportunities. Approximately fifty-five thousand Eritreans living in Ethiopia have been so expelled.

Sudan Vs. South Sudan

Sudan and South Sudan are recently crafted countries and are also the countries in conflict due to ethnic profile as well as political rivalry.

About Sudan?

  • Sudan is situated at the northeast part of the continent and is considered the largest country of the continent.
  • Its neighboring countries are Libya and Egypt at the northern side, Ethiopia and Eritrea towards the east, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the southern end, and Chad and the Central African Republic at the western side.
  • The capital of Sudan is Khartoum. It is divided into 17 states. The largest city of Sudan is Omdurman (UPSC PRELIMS).
  • The official language of Sudan is Arabic. The major religion of the country is Islam which comprises almost 70 percent of the population.
  • Five percent of the Christian community is also found in the southern parts of the country and in the capital region.
  • The people have had to face two civil wars.  The first one ran for 17 years from 1955 to 1972 and another one, which commenced in 1983 and ended in 2005, was due to some religious, economic, and ethnic differences.
  • The Sudanese government had to make an agreement with the southern rebels to adopt a new political system having an independent referendum.

About South Sudan

  • Became an independent state in 2011. 
  • The capital of South Sudan is Juba which is also the largest city. South Sudan shares its borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and Sudan. It is divided into ten states.
  • Arabic and English are the two official languages of South Sudan. The country follows Christianity and Animism.
  • South Sudan has a different government system from the government of Sudan. They fought to stand on their own to be called an independent country and, ultimately, in 2005 got what they wanted agreeing to end the civil war.
  • Sudan had to change its Constitution in the year 2011 when an independent referendum was created.

Sudan coup and future

  • The military should restore the transition government and allow free election. The move by Sudan’s military to dissolve the Sovereignty Council where it shared power with civilian leaders has thrown the African country’s fragile transition from dictatorship to democracy into chaos.
  • Almost three years ago, tens of thousands of Sudanese rose against the regime of Omar al-Bashir in what they call a “revolution” that eventually led to the dictator’s fall in April 2019.
  • Ever since, the military and leaders of the civilian movement came together to form a transitional government. In their agreement, the acting Prime Minister would run the day-to-day affairs while the military chief would remain the leader of the Sovereignty Council for two years.
  • Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the military chief, was scheduled to hand over the leadership of the transitional government to the civilian leadership in a few weeks. Instead, he disbanded the government, proclaimed himself the new leader, declared a state of emergency and imprisoned the civilian leaders, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
  • Tensions were brewing in recent weeks. Pro-military mobs had been carrying out protests demanding the government’s removal amid soaring prices of essentials.
  • Port Sudan, the country’s largest port, on the Red Sea (UPSC-Prelims), had been blockaded by a tribal group, with help from the military, which worsened the economic situation, including acute shortages of food, currency and fuel.
  • The civilian leadership had accused the military of exploiting the economic crisis.

After Bashir era!!

  • The overthrow of the Bashir regime and the promised democratic transition were the best hopes for Sudan to end its international isolation.
  • Last year, the U.S. removed the country, which hosted Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and announced financial aid.
  • Earlier this year, the IMF had reached a $50 billion debt-relief agreement with the transitional government.
  • The civilian leaders had promised that they would send Bashir to The Hague to prosecute him over allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
  • The country was also gearing up to organise its first free and fair elections in decades. But the power-hungry generals appear to be more concerned about protecting their interests, which they feared would be at risk had a democratic government taken full control of the country.
  • After all, Sudan’s military cannot absolve itself from whatever allegations Bashir is facing.

But this time, it faces a stiff challenge from the public. The protesters who brought down Bashir are back on the streets fighting the security personnel. A violent showdown is most likely. Gen. Burhan should desist from more violence. The military should release all the arrested leaders, restore the transition government and let free elections decide the future of the country.

Source: The Hindu

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