Friday, June 20, 2008

Ethiopia: Eyeing an outlet to Sea


When Eritrea was part of Ethiopia, the strategic ports of Massawa and Assab handled the bulk of import and export for Ethiopia and also served as replenishment centers for international shipping. These two ports served as naval bases to counter threats from the sea and also as tourist resorts. Today, Eritrea is a sovereign nation recognized globally with a strong mechanized army that can defend its territorial integrity and any other forms of foreign aggression on its soil. Since 1991 when it declared independence from Ethiopia, Eritrea has been keeping a keen eye on Ethiopia's expansionist intentions and repeated border incursions over Zalambessa and Badme towns that took considerable lives and property.

Having lost the war with Eritrea, Ethiopia's heinous regime saw a plan to exploit Somalia's beleaguered situation by arming a dozen warlords and in the end signing a treaty with the otiose Transitional Federal Government (TFG) on the pretext of stabilizing her neighbor by creating an atmosphere of peace and assured security which would lead to the formation of a fragile Somali administration with leanings towards Addis Ababa's hideous aims and ambitions.

The moral behind Ethiopia's occupation are multi-faceted though the most important objective of Meles Zenawi's regime was to secure and exploit Somalia's 3300 km coastline-the longest in Africa with access to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean-a project whose ultimate end turned out to be worthless and futile. The TFG, as it turned out, became the sacrificial lamb of Meles Zenawi thus igniting General Somali resentment.

Meles has done more harm than good to the shaky relations that existed between Ethiopia and Somalia to an extreme level that will be hard to mend for generations to come. The evolvement of Al-shabab, a reincarnation of the dervishes of 'Mad Mullah', means Somalia's future will be determined by a more volatile force that will stand up for the repulsion of any perceived meddling by Ethiopia and others. On the other hand, finding a way to secure Eritrean sea ports might not sound a great idea for Ethiopia, an impoverished nation already showing signs of disintegration due to internal strife, drought, guerilla movements, and political dissent.

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