Zurich, April 27, 1999
Dehai neither endorses nor agrees with all the contents of this article. But, it has some good  information, to the reader interested in the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict, to warrant publishing it on this web site. 

Background to the current regional situation and military conflict
  1. The states of the Greater Horn Region (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya) and of the Greater Lakes Region (Burundi, Congo, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda) are linked in an intricate web of shifting alliances, ambivalent co-operation, competition, conflict and warfare.
  2. The outbreaks of the second Eritrean-Ethiopian war in May 1998 and of the third Angolan Civil War and the Congo War in July 1998 have resulted in substantial changes of the political contexts and alliances within the wider regions as well as on an African level.
  3. Spurred on by their renewed wars the main regional protagonists in the Greater Horn and the Greater Lakes have established wider networks of shifting alliances encompassing a substantial number of other African states and thus making them effectively participants in the intra-regional conflicts of the Greater Horn and the Greater Lakes regions.
  4. States thus primarily involved are Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe from Southern Africa, Congo-Brazzaville, Central African Republic and Chad from Central Africa, and Libya as well as Egypt from Northern Africa.
  5. Particularly Egypt although not part of the Greater Horn region, is a vital player in its regional politics as it has a strategic interest in the Nile water.
  6. Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda together with Rwanda and Congo formed the group of what in 1997 certain media and political circles enthusiastically termed the "new democracies" spearheading the "second liberation of Africa" and being lead by a new generation of leaders.
  7. Within this group only in Kenya people had a reasonable chance at least to express their political wishes at the ballot box and functioned multi-party parliamentary democracy in a limited way. In contrast to the imperfect Kenyan democracy, Congo, Eritrea, Rwanda and Uganda were openly proclaimed and Ethiopia a hidden one party state. Particularly the leaderships of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Congo did not have any understanding of the meaning of civil society.
  8. The leaderships of these "new democracies" were professing Marxists until recently. A thorough analysis of their policies since coming to power clearly demonstrates that basically they still want to implement an etatistic transformation of their societies without calling it socialism.
  9. Ironically America, in pursuit of its overall new African policy aiming at establishing secure political positions in mineral rich African countries, rolling back French influence, and forming strong regional front-line against Islamic fundamentalism ruling in Sudan and trying to use it as a spring board for wider regional penetration, became the most ardent international supporter of the group of the "new democracies" led by hidden Marxists.
  10. As part of its policies against Islamic fundamentalism, the USA and their regional allies backed the Sudanese opposition united in the NDA.
  11. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya were each trying to play a regional hegemonial role and as such competed with each other and followed regional strategies conflicting with each other.
  12. Each one of these states within this anti-Khartoum alliance was beset with its own internal contradictions which also negatively reflect upon their capacity to achieve the aspired to hegemonial role.
  13. Similarly Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo also aimed at achieving regional hegemony and thus competed with each other and followed regional strategies conflicting with each other.
  14. The competitive regional politics of the major players in the Greater Horn and the Greater Lakes directed against each other, to a large degree were conditioned by their internal contradictions and did not correspond to the political interests of the USA in the region.
  15. The internal and foreign policies of the political forces leading the states in the Greater Horn and Greater Lakes were determined by what they consider to be their mission for the respective country and her people.
  16. Under the rule of these ideology driven political forces who were the self-appointed interpreters of the national will and interest of the people in the respective states, there was no open rational debate on the parameters of their internal and foreign policies within their own societies as well as with external allies.
  17. Chances of the USA or the European Union to really influence these governments, if they ever really had wished to do so, were limited. The alliance with the USA was seen by them as a tactical alliance sought and used for internal and regional purposes of their own. Basically, these governments were "counselling resistant".

The Eritrean-Ethiopian War: background, course and impact


  1. The outbreak of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in early May 1998 has introduced a major new destabilising element into regional and trans-regional politics.
  2. Even if the war ends in the near future and it should be noted that this is not likely, its effects upon a regional level will be long-lasting and primarily negative and destabilising.
  3. In terms of regional politics no matter what the outcome of the Eritrean-Ethiopian war will be, Eritrea and Ethiopia will be losers and the Islamistic government of Sudan a major beneficiary.
  4. A careful analysis of the developments leading to the open outbreak of hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia in May 1998 reveals that Ethiopia has the major responsibility for this conflict.
  5. Contrary to public pronouncements since 1985, the TPLF has never really accepted the idea of an independent Eritrean state.
  6. Since 1985 it has variously tried to influence the Eritrean independence war in such a way as to secure that Eritrea ultimately would remain within Ethiopia.
  7. For a number of reasons the TPLF was not able to achieve this goal, not least because of its dependence upon the EPLF during the final drive for Addis Abeba and for securing political power within Ethiopia in the two years after taking over in Addis Abeba.
  8. The EPLF in turn was dependent upon the TPLF led Transitional Government (TG) for a rapid recognition of the referendum results in order to obtain a rapid international recognition of Eritrean independence.
  9. The Eritrean policy of the TPLF after May 1991 was based upon the long-term strategy aiming to neutralise the regional impact of an independent Eritrean state by pursuing a policy of ultimately linking Eritrea with Ethiopia in a formalised economic union.
  10. It was hoped that by formalising the economic relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia into a currency union to be followed by an economic union not only would constrain Eritrea to conduct her regional policies in line with Ethiopian regional hegemonial intentions but also would finally result in a form of political union between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
  11. It is in pursuance of this strategy that the TPLF-led transitional government initially granted Eritrea generous privileges in her economic relations with Ethiopia which were perceived by the Ethiopian opposition as a sell-out of Ethiopia to Eritrea.
  12. The Eritrean government was fully aware of this TPLF strategy and intended to exploit it to the maximum for economic benefits for Eritrea but to back out as soon as the capacity of the Eritrean government to independently pursue its economic and political strategies for developing Eritrea would be imperilled by this form of co-operation.
  13. Contrary to current Ethiopian propaganda, the string of border conflicts Eritrea had/has with her neighbours did not start with Yemen, then proceed with Djibouti and finally resulted in the war against Ethiopia but actually started with the territorial issues between Ethiopia and Eritrea provoked by the TPLF.
  14. At the local level since 1991 the TPLF, in spite of its long-term strategy for winning back Eritrea for Ethiopia, pursued a policy of territorial extending Tigray administration into areas considered by Eritrea to be Eritrean.
  15. The EPLF led Provisional Government of Eritrea did not openly protest these territorial encroachments as it still needed the endorsement of the Ethiopian TG for the outcome of the referendum but expressed its hopes to the TPLF that these matters could be settled through amicable discussions.
  16. After the proclamation of the formal independence of Eritrea the territorial issues were repeatedly raised by the Eritrean government with both the regional government of Tigray and the Ethiopian government but both were unresponsive.
  17. It seems that in the first half of 1994 a joint border commission was created involving representatives of the Eritrean Government and of the Tigray Regional Government.
  18. The actions of the TPLF since the border issue was officially but not publicly raised by the Eritrean Government clearly indicate that the TPLF was not interested in a rapid settlement of the open border questions. One has to assume that this was deliberate and reflected a tactic to keep the border issues in reserve as instruments and bargaining mass in case the long-term strategy of winning back Eritrea for Ethiopia by economic means failed.
  19. It is interesting to note that when Eritrea raised the issue of the Hanish Islands with Yemen that it had been Ethiopia which actively encouraged Eritrea to pursue this claim. The TPLF-led government of Ethiopia provided the Eritrean government with maps and other materials meant to underpin the Eritrean claim to these islands and also with military support for the Eritrean occupation of most of the contested islands.
  20. The minutes of the joint Eritrean-Ethiopian Economic Commission clearly indicated that at least since 1995 the differences in the aims pursued by the two sides were developing rapidly.
  21. Ethiopia put pressure on Eritrea to sign a formal agreement regularising and formalising the existing currency union, a demand, if implemented, would have paved the way for the establishment of an economic union later.
  22. Eritrea indicated her willingness to sign such an agreement provided that for purposes of investment Ethiopia would not only treat Eritreans residing within Ethiopia but also Eritrean investors from Eritrea as internal investors not subject to the restrictions placed upon foreign investment in Ethiopia. Thus, it appears that indeed Eritrea was willing to enter into a closer economic relationships with Ethiopia provided it guaranteed her the chance to become a major economic player within the economic union.
  23. The Ethiopian side, however, consistently refused to formally grant Eritrean citizens from Eritrea for investment purposes the same status as Ethiopian nationals and from 1995 onwards even commenced to place growing restrictions upon investments of Eritreans residing within Ethiopia who were carriers of Ethiopian ID cards and passports.
  24. The Ethiopian approach to press for an Eritrean-Ethiopian currency union but to refuse to treat Eritrean investors on an equal footing with Ethiopian investors appears to be paradoxical and contradictory in its aims. At a closer look, however, this Ethiopian approach could be interpreted to have been an expression of a strategy which wanted to align Eritrean economic policies through the currency union to the Ethiopian economic policy of Agricultural Development Led Industrialisation (ADLI) but to prevent Eritrean capital from becoming a major investor within Ethiopia, the latter ostensibly aiming at protecting the interests of the party economic empire and of the nascent Tigray entrepreneurial class as well as at deflecting growing criticism from the non-Tigray entrepreneurial sectors of Ethiopia against the TPLF for allowing the Eritrean entrepreneurs too many economic privileges within Ethiopia. In a sense, the TPLF wanted to tie Eritrea closer to Ethiopia but was not willing to pay the economic price for it.
  25. Given this contradiction, it is not surprising that finally Eritrea refused to formalise the currency union, the return on this kind of commitment offered by the Ethiopian side being too small to compensate in Eritrean eyes the inevitable loss of autonomy of action in the economic field such a union would entail.
  26. Once the Eritrean side had decided to introduce the Naqfa, it was clear to the TPLF policy makers that the currently pursued long-term strategy to win back Eritrea for Ethiopia through economic integration had failed.
  27. From subsequent actions, it became clear that the TPLF leadership had prepared for that possibility and now commenced to implement an alternate strategy of calculated conflict escalation containing two alternate scenarios both designed to reduce the regional impact of an independent Eritrea.
  28. According to the first scenario Eritrea, under the negative impact of the Ethiopian economic counter-measures would rapidly give in to the Ethiopian demands and sign the currency union under the conditions wanted by the Ethiopian side and thus Eritrean-Ethiopian relationships would follow again the long-term strategy applied before.
  29. As part of these countermeasures Ethiopia matched the introduction of the Naqfa by the introduction of the new Birr, thus nullifying Eritrean attempts to retain some of the redeemed Birr as a reserve to finance further imports from Ethiopia without having to resort to spending hard foreign currency.
  30. The next step in the initiated economic confrontation with or even hidden economic warfare against Eritrea consisted in demanding from Day One of the use of the Naqfa as a sole legal tender within Eritrea that all bilateral trade and financial transactions between Eritrea and Ethiopia were to be conducted on dollar base through letters of credit (LC).
  31. As the Ethiopian government was fully aware that the banking system and trade and financial institutions of both countries were not prepared to implement this policy, the subsequent near total breakdown of the bilateral trade and financial transactions can only be interpreted as the result the Ethiopian government actually wanted to achieve.
  32. The slowness with which the minor concession of allowing in a limited way cross-border trade between Eritrea and Ethiopia to be conducted in Birr and Naqfa was actually implemented corroborates to supposition that Ethiopia wanted to impose a non-declared economic blockade upon Eritrea.
  33. The closure of the Ethiopian private Horn International Bank set up by private Eritrea-Ethiopian capital (with the possible indirect involvement of the PFDJ or the Eritrean state) in January 1998 aimed at denying Eritrean traders and investors the opportunity of borrowing Birr in Ethiopia and repaying them back in Eritrea in Naqfa to finance inputs from Ethiopia without using hard currencies.
  34. Clearly the Ethiopian economic counter-measures had a negative impact upon the Eritrean economy and even the daily life of Eritreans as culturally highly esteemed commodities from Ethiopia such as teff no longer were easily available.
  35. Contrary to Ethiopian expectations, the Eritrean government blandly refused to give in to this particular form of economic blackmail and sped up the process of reorienting the Eritrean economy away from Ethiopia.
  36. As from the TPLF point of view the strategy of economic counter-measures had failed to produce the desired rapid results, the TPLF now proceeded to fully implement the second scenario of its anti Eritrean strategy, a scenario based upon the escalation of provocations using the open territorial issues with the aim of provoking Eritrea into limited military actions along the border in a way which would allow Ethiopia to brand Eritrea as the aggressor and give Ethiopia the internationally needed justification for entering into a major politico-military confrontation with Eritrea.
  37. The benefits the TPLF hoped to reap with this strategy were dual. On the one side, creating a situation where Eritrea would appear as the aggressor would allow Ethiopia to vigorously pursue the long desired program of expanding and re-arming the Ethiopian Armed Forces without running the risk of being economically penalised by the donor community. On the other side, it was calculated that in the course of this confrontation, Ethiopia would be able to inflict upon Eritrea heavy political, economic, and if need be also military damage which seriously would diminish the Eritrean capacity for rapid economic development as well as conducting a regional policy contrary to Ethiopian hegemonial interests.
  38. The whole scenario was based on the assumption that it would be possible, given known patterns of conflict behaviour of the Eritrean leadership and particularly Isayas Afewerqi, to sooner of later provoke Eritrea into military action against Ethiopian territorial encroachment.
  39. Already while the preparations on both sides to introduce the new currencies were accelerated already in July 1997 the TPLF also upped the ante in the on-going territorial dispute. A larger body of Ethiopian military occupied the Eritrean administered locality of Adi Murug in the Bada depression of Dankalia and proceeded to dismantle its Eritrean administration.
  40. Eritrea did not then make a public and international issue out of the Ethiopian aggression but preferred to treat the matter secretly in bilateral communications as Eritrea then still hoped to salvage some economic interests in the on-going discussions on the currency issues. Both sides agreed to set up a new border commission on the level of their respective governments to deal with the border issue. However, the Ethiopian side continuously delayed meetings of this commission and demonstrated a clear disinterest to rapidly and conclusively put the border issue to rest.
  41. As part of stepping up the territorial provocations Ethiopia in March 1998 commenced to expand the area in South-western Eritrea under Tigray administration and to set down border markers along the new administrative perimeter. Also, Eritrean citizens residing in the areas taken over by the Tigray since 1991 were asked to renounce their Eritrean citizenship and to take the Ethiopian one or else to leave the area as unwanted foreigners.


The course of the open conflict

  1. As was calculated by the TPLF the Eritrean leadership reacted to these provocations in the desired manner and due to its militaristic pattern of behaviour and ingrained arrogance regarding Tigray apparently without ever seriously reflecting on the possible long-term goals of the Ethiopian or rather the Tigray side.
  2. The Eritrean side quite clearly evaluated the TPLF actions in the territorial dispute only within the narrow framework of a border conflict. Whereas in the past the economic interests of Eritrea within Ethiopia had led the Eritrean leadership to exercise restraint in actions and publicly raising the issues, with the breakdown of the economic relations between the two countries it was felt that such restraint no longer was called for and that in the face of the Tigray actions along the border determined Eritrean counter -actions were the order of the day.
  3. Thus the Eritrean action of May 6, 1998 was designed to tell the TPLF that Eritrea no longer was willing to accept the territorial encroachments of the Tigray and to force them no longer to procrastinate in settling the border issue through bilateral negotiations.
  4. Contrary to Eritrean expectations and their own behaviour in 1997 at Adi Murug, the Tigray militia at Badume opened fire on the small contingent of Eritrean forces sent to Badume to push the Eritrean claim to this area and killed the high-ranking military and political leader entrusted with this mission.
  5. Eritrean attempts to clarify the matter at the meeting of the Eritrean-Ethiopian boundary commission on May 8,1998 were met with evasive tactics from the Ethiopian side.
  6. Convinced that the Ethiopians were still unwilling to seriously settle the border issue through negotiations and infuriated at the losses at Badume during the previous actions the Eritrean side then ordered the much larger military action of May 12, 1998.
  7. In the eyes of the Eritrean leadership this action was still meant to force the hands of the Ethiopians to sped up the discussion process on the settlement of the border issue and never, as later the Ethiopian propaganda portrayed it, to initiate a war of aggression aiming at forcing Ethiopia to concede again to Eritrea the economic privileges she had enjoyed in Ethiopia until the break-down of the currency union.
  8. As clear indication that the TPLF wanted the Eritreans to come back with larger military forces to Badume and thus create the desired impression of an Eritrean aggression on peaceful Ethiopia is the fact that after May 8, 1998, the Ethiopian government did not undertake any action to strengthen Ethiopian military presence in the Badume area in an attempt to deter Eritrean military actions the Ethiopian side had to expect given their knowledge of Eritrean behavioural patterns.
  9. Information from within the Ethiopian Parliament that the statement of May 13, 1998 of the Council of Ministers that Eritrea had started a war of aggression, had already been drafted in the days before May 12, 1998 by the ruling bodies of the TPLF/EPRDF, is yet another indication that the Ethiopian side had prepared a trap at Badume into which the Eritrean side dutifully and true to form walked into.
  10. The rapid reaction of Ethiopia of labelling the escalation of the border conflict as major Eritrean aggression caught the Eritrean diplomacy totally unaware and secured the Ethiopian side vital advantages in its drive to secure international support against Eritrea.
  11. A crucial diplomatic victory the TPLF achieved when with the help of a long-time highly placed TPLF supporter within the National Security Council of the USA it succeeded to have inserted into a joint US-American-Rwandan proposal for the settlement of the conflict the demand that in the Badume area the status quo ante prior to May 6, 1998 had to be established before any process of international arbirtration of the border litigation could be initiated. The subsequent adoption of the demand as a cornerstone of any conflict resolution by the OAU and later the UN Security Council effectively cemented the diplomatic victory the Ethiopian side had achieved over Eritrea and secured Ethiopia vital international political, economic and military support in her confrontation with Eritrea.
  12. It is to be assumed that the TPLF did not really expect that the international disapproval of the Eritrean action at Badume would force the Eritrean side to back down and withdraw its troops and thus secure for Ethiopia a major political victory over Eritrea. It is further to be assumed that for that eventuality other actions had been planned to keep the conflict with Eritrea going as it was needed to achieve the long-term Ethiopian aims regarding Eritrea, re-armament of Ethiopia and Ethiopian hegemonial designs within the region.
  13. Yet again true to form the Eritrean side not only rejected the US-American-Rwandan proposal as unacceptable but appeared to have opted for a strategy of exerting counter-pressure on Ethiopia to go into negotiations on the border issue without a prior Eritrean withdrawal from Badume by occupying the Irob areas around Alitena in the east which Eritrea considered to be Eritrean but which had been administered from Meqele probably since the 1950s.
  14. The Eritrean upping of the territorial ante appears to have caught the Ethiopian side by surprise. Its attempts to counter the Eritrean move into Alitena area by a counter offensive from Zalambesa were rapidly squashed by an Eritrean offensive against Zalambesa and its subsequent occupation by Eritrean forces.
  15. When Ethiopian attempts to retake Zalambesa resulted in further heavy military and territorial losses the Ethiopian government, in an attempt to bring relief to the embattled Ethiopian troops south of Zalambesa, initiated the air-war by bombing the military section of Asmara airport.
  16. The accidental bombing of a school in Meqele during the Eritrean counter air-attack on the same day which left a high number of dead among the schoolchildren gave the Ethiopian side an unexpected and invaluable major propaganda tool and helped it to obscure both nationally and internationally the fact that Ethiopia had initiated the air war.
  17. The military superiority at Zalambesa caused the Ethiopia leadership to initiate military engagements at Bure near Assab and again in the West in an attempt to deflect Eritrean pressure at Zalambesa.
  18. As these engagements did not result in any Ethiopian advantage, the TPLF realised that it had underestimated the Eritrean military preparedness and in an attempt to gain time to speed up its own military preparations and to increase international political pressure upon Eritrea, Ethiopia agreed to an USA brokered moratorium on air-strikes and an undeclared cease-fire in the three areas of military confrontation.
  19. After the end of open hostilities the TPLF leadership using its control over the Ethiopian state initiated a series of measures destined to strengthen the Ethiopian political, economic and military potential in the on-going conflict with Eritrea with the clear aim of creating the necessary base for remaining victorious if a renewed military confrontation were needed to achieve the long-term goals of its conflict strategy against Eritrea.
  20. A supreme war council was set up which tellingly only comprised high leaders of the TPLF and not even the Defence Minister Tefera Walwa from the EPRDF-member organisation ANDM (Amhara).
  21. In order to deflect the attention of the Ethiopian public from the military setbacks and from undertaking a closer scrutiny of the whole chain of events leading up to the military confrontation, the TPLF unleashed within Ethiopia a vigorous anti-Eritrean hate campaign a through the administration and state controlled media against Eritrean government and administration as well as the Eritreans living within Ethiopia.
  22. With the justification of the need to fight against the Eritrean fifth column within Ethiopia, a process of large-scale arbitrary arrests, property confiscation and expulsion of Ethiopian citizens of Eritrean origin and Eritrean residents within Ethiopia was initiated in the course of which until today close to 60.000 persons were deported to Eritrea with an unknown number of others fleeing from Ethiopia into third countries. This means that already close to half of the persons of Eritrean origin living in Ethiopia have been forced to leave the country they considered to be their home.
  23. To deflect domestic and international attention from the deportations, the Ethiopian government initiated a vicious campaign of accusing Eritrea of Ethiopiophobia and of mishandling, torturing and expelling Ethiopian residents from Eritrea in numbers suspiciously always closely matching the numbers of Eritreans deported from Ethiopia.
  24. It is to stress that to date there is no proof whatsoever that there exists a policy of the Eritrean government to deport Ethiopian residents from Eritrea in a manner comparable to the Ethiopian actions against Eritreans in Ethiopia.
  25. Undeniably, a large number of Ethiopians living and working in Eritrea have left Eritrea but most did so because they lost their jobs or out of fear of anticipated Eritrean reprisals against the Ethiopian community and not due to any organised campaign from the side of the Eritrean authorities.
  26. One has to assume that the shocking tales of Eritrean atrocities committed against Ethiopians driven out from Eritrea as told by Ethiopians arriving from Eritrea within Ethiopia are the result of a well orchestrated indoctrination campaign of the Ethiopian authorities in which the returnees willingly participate in their desire to receive economic support.
  27. This is not to deny that in a number of cases the stories told would be true and that Ethiopians in a limited number did suffer at the hands of overzealous and callous officials and inflamed civilian individuals.
  28. A desired effect of these deportations also is to permanently destroy the Eritrean capital sector within the Ethiopian economy to the benefit of mainly Amhara and Tigray entrepreneurs who thus get rid of a quite successful competitor.
  29. As part of the mounting anti-Eritrean campaign the Ethiopian government began to accuse the Eritrean side to have entered into an alliance with the OLF, the ONLF, and the fundamentalist Somali Al-Ittihad and to have applied to membership in the Arab League. The developing closer ties between Eritrea and Libya (see below) were widely trumped as proof of the terrorist nature of the Eritrean state.
  30. In the first months after the outbreak of the conflict there was no proof for a tangible Eritrean support of OLF, ONLF and Al-Ittihad. However, as the relationship with Libya grew stronger and the need to follow a strategy of encouraging other enemies of Ethiopia more imperative, Eritrea in deed seems to have intensified her relations with these three organisations including shipments of arms to all of them provided by Libya.
  31. In the months after the undeclared cease-fire, Ethiopia boosted the numerical strength of her army to now more than 350.000 by calling up a major part of the regional reserve armies created since 1995, re-enlisting the demobalised EPRDF veterans and conducting conscription by quota thinly camouflaged as voluntary enlistment.
  32. Parallel to that, until now, Ethiopia probably spent more than 300 million US $ to upgrade the armament of her military forces including the acquisition of a huge arsenal of heavy artillery, rocket launchers, tanks, ATC and military aeroplanes.
  33. To finance these military purchases Ethiopia drew heavily upon her hard currency resources accumulated during the past years, depleting them to such an extent that the remaining reserves only were enough to finance two months of imports.
  34. To finance the costs of maintaining a huge and ever growing army in the field, the Ethiopian government initiated a vigorous campaign to solicit funds from the Ethiopian public using a wide array of coercive measures to enhance the willingness of the individuals to contribute to the war effort.
  35. It was part of the government strategy to astronomically inflate the number of war displaced Ethiopians and to solicit the private contributions to the war under the guise of helping the displaced compatriots.
  36. As part of the overall strategy to finance the war efforts, within two months after the outbreak of hostilities in May 1998, the Ethiopian government registered most of the close to 200 NGOs whose cases had been pending since months or even years and invited them to participate in the rehabilitation of the war displaced and to step up their development programs in the other parts of Ethiopia.
  37. Parallel to that, the Ethiopian government initiated a campaign to convince the international donors that Ethiopia actually wants peace and was capable of continuing her development activities if she were provided with the necessary funds. This strategy proved quite effective, as Ethiopia proudly declared in January 1999 to have received pledges for new funds totalling 3.7 billion Birr after May 12,1998.
  38. One has to assume that part of this generous funding was given under the misguided impression on the side of donors skilfully nurtured by the Ethiopian side that generous external help would be met with Ethiopian restraint in initiating new military actions.
  39. It is to be stressed that the Eritrean government equally stepped up the recruitment of Eritrean citizens into the armed forces and the re-equipment of these through large-scale acquisition of modern weaponry.
  40. The Eritrean opportunities to acquire modern arms in the needed quantities were seriously circumscribed by the limited funds in hard currency.
  41. To overcome these constraints the Eritrean government initiated a vigorous fund raising campaign among her nationals residing abroad. As usual also with fund-raising drives for development purposes, open extortion was applied in those admittedly this time comparatively rare cases where Eritreans abroad were unwilling to pay.
  42. One result of these financial constraints upon the Eritrean capacity to upgrade their military potential was the need to accept the Libyan offer to provide the needed funds and also part of the looked for weaponry although until then Eritrea had maintained a prudent distance from Libya.
  43. In her diplomatic activities, conducted as in past years with a high degree of arrogance and self-righteousness, Eritrea consistently failed to make the international community properly understand her position and the fact the territorial aggression with military means had actually been initiated by Ethiopia already in July 1997 with the action at Adi Murug.
  44. Diplomatically the Ethiopian side was more successful than Eritrea as it consistently succeeded in having the demand for Eritrean withdrawal to positions held before May 6,1998 inserted into all international proposals for settling the conflict.
  45. The Eritrean refusal of this demand provided the Ethiopian side with gleefully used additional arguments for depicting Eritrea as a warmonger whose refusal to listen to the voice of the international community would force 'peaceful'Ethiopia to seek redress of her justified grievances by force of arms under invocations of the legitimate right of self-defence.
  46. One has to assume that the Eritrean refusal of the withdrawal was mainly conditioned by the fear that Ethiopia, once having achieved the Eritrean withdrawal would again procrastinate in the final settlement of the border issue and rather look for renewed possibilities to exercise pressure on Eritrea to concede to the concessions wanted by Ethiopia. However, to a non negligible degree this refusal also appears to have been due to sheer intransigence nurtured by arrogance and feelings of superiority which did not allow the Eritrean government to implicitly admit by a withdrawal of having committed a mistake by walking into the trap set by the Tigray and having failed to look for a non-militaristic way of countering the TPLF designs regarding Eritrea.
  47. Eritrea clearly felt the international pressure for withdrawal and despite an attitude of arrogant aloofness concerning the international mediation attempts, the Eritrean leadership restrained from totally rejecting the international proposals demanding an Eritrean retreat and tried to follow a strategy of diplomatic filibustering by demanding again and again explanations on various points of the proposal set forward.
  48. After carefully assessing her own military preparations and the international situation and possible in the full knowledge that on these days US-American satellite surveillance was centred on Iraq leaving a gap concerning the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia on February 5,1999 falsely accused Eritrea of having broken the moratorium on air-strikes by bombing Adigrat and on February 6, 1999 to have initiated ground-fighting on the Badume front.
  49. Both accusations are patently false, the French air surveillance from Djibouti clearly stated that actually there was no aeroplane activity over North-eastern Tigray on February 5, 1999 and similarly all available information from the war theatre indicate that the Ethiopian army initiated the fighting at the Badume front intself.
  50. After a few days of fighting at Badume with victory for neither side, the Ethiopian army followed the same pattern as in the fighting of last year by initiating military engagements at new fronts in an attempt of forcing the Eritrean side to redeployment manoeuvres weakening their capacity to resist Etiopian attacks.
  51. This strategy paid off when the Ethiopians on February 23, 1999 shifted the main military engagement back to the Badume front and there succeeded through the combination of incessant infantry mass attacks supported by intensive heavy artillery fire, tanks and the airforce to achieve at one point a break-through of the Eritrean defence lines.
  52. Faced with the threat of an Ethiopian pincer movement encircling the Eritrean troops and thus possibly loosing a major part of the Eritrean army in the ensuing pocket situation the Eritrean leadership immediately ordered a strategic withdrawal.
  53. The Ethiopian troops hesitated two days to move forward into the evacuated positions being afraid of being lured into a trap set by the Eritrean troops. Contrary to later public pronouncements the main fighting at Badume was over two days prior to the full-mouthed Ethiopian announcements of having achieved a resounding victory at Badume and put out of action a substantial part of the Eritrean army.
  54. One has to stress that the Ethiopian army did achieve a significant victory over the Eritrean army at Badume, however, it was considerably less resounding than the Ethiopian side claims.
  55. Badume clearly was a disaster and a shock for the Eritrean army which until then had operated under the assumption that the TPLF-led Ethiopian armed forces still were inferior to the Eritrean army in terms of leadership skills, strategy, and fighting as well as fire power.
  56. Badume also proved that the re-application of the successful EPLF-strategy of the liberation war of depleting and finally defeating numerically superior enemy forces along fortified frontlines now to the Badume lowland areas was a fatal mistake.
  57. The Ethiopian side after Badume committed the reciprocal mistake by assuming that the tactic successfully applied at Badume also would successfully work again at other fronts.
  58. The battle at the Tsorona front initiated by the Ethiopian forces in mid-March ended in a severe defeat for the Ethiopian side as the terrain was more favourable to the Eritrean defence strategy and as the Ertrean side also had drawn certain lessons from the Badume defeat. Even though, in view of the massive Ethiopian onslaught, at Tsorona it was a close call for the Eritreans as the Ethiopians were very close to achieve a similar point break-through as at Badume.
  59. After the lost battle of Tsorona the Ethiopian forces shifted their attack to the Mereb front opposite of Shambuko possibly in an attempt to forestall an expected Eritrean attack from the north across the river towards Badume from the rear. After nearly ten days of heavy fighting the direct military engagement at this front ended with the Ethiopian side boisterously claiming of having successfully foiled an Eritrean attempt to recapture Badume with great losses for the Eritreans, a claim unconfirmed by independent sources.
  60. Since then there seems to have been a lull in the ground-fighting but in mid-April Ethiopia carried out a series of aerial attacks against alleged military targets deep inside Eritrea. According to Eritrean sources these attacks wre mainly directed at civilian targets.
  61. It appears that after close to two months of heavy ground-fighting both sides are in need of replenishing their depleted ground forces and arsenals before new major military engagements could be undertaken. There are reports that both sides are engaged in acquiring additional military equipment and arms and have stepped up the recruitment to their armed forces.
  62. Reliable data on the number of dead, wounded and captured soldiers on both sides are not available. The Ethiopian claims regarding the losses inflicted upon the Ertirean forces are as unconvincing and impossible as the claims put forward by the TPLF regarding Ethiopian losses in its fight against the Derg army. The Ertirean statements regarding Ethiopian losses appear to be more reasonable. Undoubtedly, the latest rounds of fighting have taken a heavy human toll on both sides. It is estimated that the Eritrean losses could be as high as 8.000 dead whereas the Ethiopian losses are estimated to be as high as 25.000.
  63. The huge Ethipian losses not only reflect the basic fact that the force attacking fortified positions always suffer higher casualties than the defending one but also is a gruesome testimony to the Ethiopian strategy of callously using human waves of badly trained and poorly protected non-Tigray raw recruits to clear the way for the more seasoned and mainly Tigray troops.
  64. The comparatively high Eritrean losses appear to have mainly been the result of intensive Ethiopian artillery and tank fire as well of the use of the airforce.
  65. To date the Ethiopian side has not stated the number of Eritrean prisoners of war due to the latest fighting in its hand nor has it allowed the ICRC access to them.
  66. The defeat suffered at Badume impelled the Eritrean leadership to immediately proclaim its acceptance of the OAU-framework proposals for settling the Eritrean-Ethiopian conflict, even before the Ethiopian side had officially announced its victory.
  67. The Eritrean acceptance of these proposals has to be seen as a tactical move to minimise the military implications of the defeat at Badume and as an attempt to use these proposals which call for the demilitarisation of the contested areas as a non-military tool to get the Ethiopian army again out of Badume.
  68. The acceptance of these proposals also indicated that after the military reverse suffered at Badume and the heavy losses there incurred, the Eritrean leadership now evaluated the risks associated with the acceptance of the OAU framework proposals as less threatening than the continuation of the heavy fighting.
  69. The Ethiopian side immediately accused Eritrea of not being serious in her acceptance of the OAU framework proposals and stated that these proposals were meant to prevent the war but that now as Eritrean obstinacy had forced Ethiopia to seek her legitimate rights by force of arms they no longer could be fully applied.
  70. When the Ethiopian government realised that this positions was not well received at the international level it changed tack and now declared again its full adherence to the OAU framework proposal, which, however, the Ethiopian side now claimed demanded as a precondition to any discussions on even a cease fire, the unconditional withdrawal of Eritrean forces from all occupied Ethiopian territories along the total length of the 1000km border between the two countries leaving wide open to interpretation what exactly the Ethiopian sides now considered as occupied territories.
  71. Parallel to these demands the Ethiopian government through its media launched a series of articles written by government offices under pen names in which as preconditions for a peaceful settlement of the conflict not only the unconditional Eritrean withdrawal from all occupied Ethiopian territories was listed but also that Eritrea accepts the war guilt, and agrees to pay reparations for the war damages in Ethiopia and ultimately it was openly stated that only a change of government in administration would bring a lasting solution to this conflict.
  72. As part of the implementation of the latter war aim Ethiopia stepped up its support for Eritrean opposition forces willing to cooperate with Ethiopia against the government in Asmera. The 11-organisation coalition formed in March 1999 in Khartoum and led for the next six months by Abdalla Idris was given wide publicity and particularly the shadowy Red Sea Afar Liberation Front and Gash Setit Liberation Front were given not only publicity in the governmental media but also promised full Ethiopian support.
  73. There are indications that the Ethiopian government is facilitation the attempts of these forces to recruit among Eritrean internees at Bilate camp and Eritrean POWs or even undertaking such recruitment by itself with the aim of setting up armed wings of these forces which then can be used against the Eritrean government forces.
  74. Possibly the Ethiopian strategy for the next phase contains as elements: Eritreanisation of the war, creating a pretext for Ethiopian military actions in support of Eritrean regional liberation movements, using the issue of Eritrean reparation for war damages as a pretext for occupying Assab, installing a weak new administration in Asmera run by the present Eritrean opposition forces.
  75. As an outright military annexation of Eritrean would not be internationally acceptable, the ultimate aim of the TPLF Eritrean conflict strategy appears to be to reduce first Eritrea to the level of a severely weakened client state not posing a threat to Ethiopian hegemonial ambitions and ulitmately to have the intended new administration in Asmera sign the necessary agreements leading to a re-integration of Eritrea into Ethiopia.
  76. The restating of the Ethiopian war aims through this media campaign clearly indicates that the TPLF is not interested in an early end to the war and reinforces the analysis that for the TPLF this conflict never was about pieces of land but rather over hegemony in the Horn and reintegration of Eritrea into the political orbit of Ethiopia.
  77. Faced with these restated and now openly proclaimed Ethiopian war aims the Eritrean government now appears for the first time to fully realise that this conflict has been skilfully masterminded by the TPLF and aims at ultimately reversing the results of the 30 years war of independence.
  78. Consequently what has started for the Eritreans as a limited action to reclaim territories they considered to be theirs and unlawfully occupied by Ethiopia indeed has now assumed not only for the Eritrean leadership but for the majority of the population at large the character of a war for national survival.
  79. It appears that the Eritrean leadership is confident that the internal opposition to the Ethiopian government will rapidly increase and will very soon alleviate Ethiopian military pressure upon Eritrea.
  80. Consequently, one should not expect that the Eritrean side will give in easily to the Ethiopian demands and one should not exclude the possibility that Eritrea is preparing a major military answer to the Ethiopian victory at Badume possibly aiming at Adigrat or even Meqele.


The domestic impact of the war and other internal developments in Ethiopia

  1. Within Ethiopia the war has deeply altered the political, economic and social landscape.
  2. The massive deportation of Eritreans which after a lull in February was resumed in March 1999 and the on-going hidden confiscation of Eritrean properties and enterprises deprives Ethiopia of a class of successful and energetic citizens who considerably contributed to the development of the private and public economic sector.
  3. The hate engendered by the vicious anti-Eritrean campaign will leave deep scars between the people of the two countries which will take a long time to heal even if there were an end to the immediate conflict in the near future.
  4. The war with Eritrea and the officially sanctioned anti-Eritrean campaign has given legitimacy to the deep-seated anti-Eritrean resentment of the Amharic public which now can be openly proclaimed.
  5. The nationalist and pan-Ethiopian political discourse of the Government with its stress on the intrinsic national unity of all Ethiopian peoples also works in favour of the Amharic pan-Ethiopian circles and the political ideology of Ethiopianism and reinforces the unwillingness and even incapability of the Amhara elite to reconcile to the concept of a multinational Ethiopian state and society based upon the equality of its constituent peoples.
  6. The military victory at Badume which was blown up out of all proportions by the official propaganda has tremendously boosted Ethiopian nationalistic feeling and reinforced the Ethiopian feelings of superiority.
  7. The attitude that Ethiopia is second to none in the world is openly expressed and any critique however timid it might be from international bodies or individual countries of the Ethiopian position and conduct of the conflict is answered by a near pathological reaction of feeling unjustly treated and slighted and of outright rejection.
  8. Because of the call of the UN Security Council and the USA on the international community to stop the sale of arms to both sides both are now the objects of a governmentally orchestrated campaign depicting them as the enemies of Ethiopia.
  9. In the case of the USA this campaign is very ironic in a sense as it had exactly been the pro-Ethiopian position of the USA representatives in the early USA/Rwandan mediation efforts which enabled the Ethiopians to have the demand for Eritrean withdrawal to positions held prior to May 6, 1998 inserted into all peace proposals.
  10. In the light of the incredibly heightened national pride and chauvinism in wide sectors of the Ethiopian urban public, the outside world should be prepared for possible outbursts of outright xenophobia in case of growing external criticism of the Ethiopian position and conduct of the war.
  11. The full support given by the Amhara opposition to the war has increased its legitimacy in the eyes of the public at large and has made it more difficult for the TPLF to control this sector of the opposition.
  12. The Amhara opposition fully supports the war and openly pushes for it not only out of its political ideology but also because it was it as the best chance to have the Eritreans and the Tigray weaken each other and thus to prepare the way for a major re-alignment of forces within Ethiopia in favour of the Amhara.
  13. For the opposition to the TPLF from the non-Oromo South the situation is different. It also supports the war efforts out of its pan-Ethiopian orientation but it does not benefit from this in the same way as the Amhara opposition. Rather its position vis-`-vis both the Tigray and Amhara has been substantially weakened as it now feels it can not openly criticise the government for its undemocratic conduct lest it be accused of unpatriotic conduct.
  14. In substance most Oromo disagree with the position taken by the OLF in the early days of the conflict that this war is not theirs and not to their benefit but they do not possess any legal organisation within the country which could take up this sentiment and try to translate it into appropriate political action.
  15. As the first indications of the extent of the Ethiopian losses in the north were spreading southwards, subdued murmurs were heard in Addis Abeba and elsewhere that the TPLF is using the raw recruits of the Amhara, Oromo and from the South as cannon fodder to breach the Eritrean positions and that the seasoned TPLF troops are only put into action to deal the final blow to the weakened Eritrean positions. There is a growing feeling of 'we die and the Tigray win.'
  16. Already among the Oromo there is an undercurrent of growing resentment to the recruitment drives among civil servants and students. A growing number of young men try to escape to Kenya and Somalia, an unknown number of them joining the ranks of the OLF.
  17. It is to be assumed that with a renewed intensification of the ground fighting and the ensuing new major losses of non-Tigray recruits, the resentment against the recruitment and the war could achieve proportions of political importance and even danger for the TPLF conduct of the war. However, there does not seem to be any political organisation on the scene which could meaningfully capitalise on such a resentment and turn it into a concerted drive for peace unless the APDO or/and SEPDC change the current political stand towards the war.
  18. Partly exactly in order to prevent resistance to recruitment from assuming wider proportions, the Ethiopian leadership tries to control the information on the losses by keeping the army in the north in isolation, not allowing the army members to write back home and limiting access of foreign journalists to the main war theatre.
  19. It is to be assumed that the OLF, ONLF, and AL-Ittihad will use the preoccupation of the Ethiopian army in the north and the renewed external support of Libya and Eritrea to increase the political and military pressure on Ethiopia from the east and the south.
  20. After the hard-line faction of the OLF had marginalised the moderate wing of its leadership at the congress held in April 1998 in Mogadishu and taken full control of the organisation, it intensified its co-operation with the hard-line faction of the ONLF and Al-Ittihad, reorganised its bases in Somalia and Kenya and stepped up its recruitment of new fighters.
  21. Already in January 1999 the OLF conducted a series of successful raids against small Ethiopian garrisons in the Boraran from sanctuaries across the Kenyan border.
  22. In April 1999 the OLF concluded a politico-military alliance with the United Oromo Peoples Liberation (UOPL), a small Oromo liberation front led by Wako Guto, the veteran of the Bale uprising of the 1960s, which in the years since 1992 had increasingly acquired an Islamistic colouring.
  23. In April 1999 the Ethiopian army felt compelled to react to the increased pressure of Al-Ittihad by yet again occupying towns within the Gedo province of Somalia in an attempt to deny to Al-Ittihad the use of this area as a springboard for operations inside Ethiopia.
  24. Also the ONLF appears to have stepped up its activities within the Ogaden as testified by the kidnapping of foreign aid-workers in April 1999.
  25. It is difficult and premature to forecast if and when the operations of these forces would have such an impact upon the Ethiopian military capacity to seriously curtail its potential for the war in the north.
  26. In 1998, the TPLF continued and even sped up its policy of authoritarian formation of the Ethiopian political landscape and society in order not only to prepare the ground to again be able to fully control the general elections scheduled to take place in mid 2000 but also to be able to better control any possible negative reactions to the war and mounting Ethiopian losses.
  27. After having merged the 'democratically restructured' local parties in Beni Shangul-Gumuz into a single regional party firmly under the control of the EPRDF already in 1997, in 1998 the same process was carried through in Gambela and in the Somali State of Ethiopia and only in Afar State the intended merger of the various parties was not yet successfully concluded. In all cases, the rationale given for the merger and the creation of a one-party-system at regional level was to remove the obstacles the existence of different parties posed for the development of the respective regions.
  28. Also the formation of new mass organisations for women, youth, and peasants in various regions of Ethiopia has been sped up in the past year.
  29. In order to dispel growing doubts within the donor community as to its democratic credentials partly fuelled by these activities and to retain its good will so essential for financing the war and to secure international support for the Ethiopian position, the Ethiopian government has proceeded to superficially create the impression of being willing to conduct the general elections scheduled for 2000 in a more democratic manner. It has ordered the National Election Board to instruct the regional governments that the APDO (Amhara) and the SEPDC (South) are legally registered parties and that their operations in the regions is not to be obstacled.
  30. The true intentions of the government, however, were revealed in circulars sent out by high officials of the government and the party to the regional EPRDF-offices exhorting them to undertake the necessary preparations to prevent the oppositions forces from successfully operating there.
  31. Thus, in an effort to cut the grass under the feet of the SEPDC in Gedeo the local EPRDF-member party initiated a drive to force the population to inscribe en masse as party members or sympathisers or to officially declare themselves to be politically neutral.
  32. Economically the war has had a major economic and social impact so far mainly in Tigray where substantial numbers of people have been displaced and normal economic activities and development projects severely hampered in all border areas.
  33. In the rest of Ethiopia the war has not yet significantly negatively affected economic activities and development projects. The high level of contributions demanded from the Ethiopian citizens, however, could result in a perceptible lowering of the consumption capacities particularly of the salaried sector of the population from which such contributions can be enforced more easily than from the peasantry.
  34. Given the high level of unemployment particularly among the younger sector of the population, the stepped up recruitment into the army will not have a major negative impact upon the labour market for long time to come but serious social and political repercussions are a distinct possibility.

The domestic impact of the war and other internal developments within Eritrea

  1. Compared to Ethiopia the impact of the war on the Eritrean society and economy was more jarring and tends to become outright devastating if the war continues even only at its present level of human, financial and material cost.
  2. With the limited population base of Eritrea the mobilisation of close to one fifth of the adult population into the army, production and social services are seriously affected over the whole territory and might even collapse if the war situation continues for a longer period.
  3. The huge financial and material burden of maintaining a huge army in the field and to provide it with the weaponry needed to successfully oppose the Ethiopian army rapidly depletes public as well as private funds.
  4. The financial burdens of a major conventional war with Ethiopia forces the Eritrean government to increase the pressure upon the Eritrean diaspora to generously come forward with financial contributions.
  5. As a result of its limited manpower base the Eritrean army has started to call up for service also young Eritreans living in the Diaspora, the legal base for its action being provided by the fact that most Eritreans living outside the country still are Eritrean citizens and as such subject to the National Service and military conscription irrespective of the fact that many of them also do have the nationality of another state.
  6. There are indications that Eritrean citizens living abroad and unwilling to pay the demanded contributions or to follow the call up for service in the army are threatened by zelotic members of the local consulates not only with social ostracism but also with reprisals against family members still living in Eritrea.
  7. With mounting material hardships and human losses the support given by the population at large to the Eritrean government and the conduct of the war might be subjected to growing stresses and be given with mounting reluctance.
  8. The long-term impact of the traumatising effect of mounting human losses on small population which had already suffered traumatic losses during the liberation war at present can only be guessed at. It is to be assumed that ultimately this will dramatically reinforce the tendency of Eritrean families to try to send out their children into countries considered to be safe.
  9. It also should be considered a distinct possibility that fissures created within the national unity of the Eritreans by the failure of the Eritrean government to properly address the national question within Eritrea and its subjection of the interests of the smaller nationalities after independence to the Tigrinya dominated perception of national unity could develop under the continuing impact of the war into open cracks offering opportunities to the Ethiopian side to exploit legitimate grievances of those group for its own ends.
  10. The emergence of ethnoregional liberation fronts claiming to represent the Eritrean Kunama and Afar and co-operating with the Ethiopian side should not be taken lightly and simply shrugged off as creation of the Tigray and a few disgruntled elements from the groups.
  11. The opportunistic siding with Ethiopia of the various factions of the former EFL and the ELF-PLF has deepened the already existing political cleavages within the Eritrean diaspora and possibly even within the country between supporters of those groups and the majority of the population supporting if not the government party as such but still the war effort and has resulted to all practical purposes in the self-emasculation of the external opposition.
  12. The imperatives of mobilising the whole nation for the war efforts have reinforced the centralisation and authoritarian character of the Eritrean regime. Even if the war will end soon, and does not result in a change in government, this and the total moral and political demise of the external opposition will have the long-lasting effect of postponing the democratisation of politics and society in Eritrea possibly for another decade.


The second Congo Civil War and its regional and trans-regional impact.

  1. The outbreak of the second Congo war reflected intra-Congolese political dynamics as well as extra-Congolese interests and interferences.
  2. The initial hegemonial role of Congolese (Banyamulenge) and Rwandan Tutsi within the Kabila regime established after the overthrow of Mobutu and the military alliance with Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea which was translated into a major political influence with the new regime clashed with the political interest of non-Tutsi political forces both within and outside the Kabila regime.
  3. The growing internal weakness of the Kabila regime prevented it from implementing the task of keeping armed anti-Tutsi and Ugandan opposition movements operating in and from Eastern Congo under control assigned to it by its regional allies Rwanda and Uganda.
  4. Since early 1998 both Rwanda and Uganda were becoming more and more critical of the Kabila regime and started to openly think of political alternatives to him.
  5. The non-Tutsi elements within the embattled Kabila regime perceived a growing danger that the expanding internal Congolese opposition to its arbitrary rule and the increasing irritation of its Congolese and Rwandan Tutsi and Ugandan allies with its incapacity to protect their interests could result in a recasting of political coalitions between Congolese and external forces posing a deadly threat to its survival.
  6. Beginning in March 1998, in an attempt to preserve power and regain political credibility within Congo by casting himself into the new role of defending the interest of genuine Congolese against Tutsi hegemonial aspirations and external inferences into Congolese affairs, Kabila began to distance himself from and in late July 1998 finally openly broke with his Congolese and Rwandan Tutsi allies and his external allies and their backers Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
  7. Albeit for different reasons, the governments of Uganda and Rwanda were not willing to simply accept this reversal of alliances and loss of influence in Congo as well as the renewed threat to the political as well as physical survival of the Congolese Tutsi and of a major resurgence of Hutu and Ugandan armed opposition operating from Congo against Rwanda and Uganda.
  8. Already prior to the open break of Kabila and his political supporters with the Tutsi of his regime, Rwanda and Uganda encouraged the Congolese Tutsi to enter into a coalitions with other political and military Congolese forces still being deeply dissatisfied with the Kabila regime in spite of the growing political marginalisation of its Tutsi wing, which ultimately coalesced into the Congolese Rally for Democracy (CRD/RCD) headed by Ernest Wamba dia Wamba.
  9. Both countries encouraged their intra-Congo allies to mount as rapidly as possible and before then Kabila regime could re-stabilise itself an armed insurrection with the aim to topple the Kabila regime and to bring to power a new political alliance again encompassing the Congolese Tutsi, protecting the interests of Rwanda and Uganda in Congo as well as the presence of the Congolese Tutsi within the country.
  10. TO achieve the aims both Uganda and Rwanda directly and massively and Burundi indirectly and modestly intervened militarily on the sides of the insurgent alliance which rapidly took control of a broad swathe of territory in Eastern Congo and also mounted a serious military threat to Kinshasa by occupying strategic military positions in Western Congo.
  11. In the face of the rapid onslaught of the armed insurgents and their external allies the regime scored an unexpected success in rallying substantial sections of the Congolese against the insurgents by skilfully casting these as totally being under the control of Congolese, Rwandan and Ugandan Tutsi/Hima who wanted to rule Congo.
  12. Equally unexpected for the insurgents and their external backers was the military support the Kabila regime received on a major scale from Zimbabwe and Angola and to a limited degree from Namibia, Congo-Brazzaville, Sudan and lately also Chad as well as the logistical support from Mozambique, the financial support from Gabon and the political support from Kenya.
  13. On a wider plane the military intervention of the Zimbabwean army in Congo was a reflection of the intense political and economic competition of the Mugabe regime with South Africa in the wider region in general, and in more concrete interest terms it was initiated to protect present and hoped for future economic interests of major members of the Zimbabwean regime in Congo. Zimbabwe played a role to win Angola and Namibia for intervention in Congo.
  14. Angola agreed to support the Kabila regime out of fear that the Congolese rebels would support UNITA and thus strengthen its position in the renewed Angolan civil war.
  15. Namibia joined into the Congo fray in order to protect its economic interests in Angola which it saw threatened by a strengthening of UNITA and the therefrom resulting spectre of another extended period of civil war in Angola and to build up political favours with Zimbabwe which it sees as a strong potential ally in its simmering water and territorial conflict with Botswana.
  16. Congo-Brazzaville sided with the Kabila regime as an extension of its total loyalty to the Angolan regime whose troops put and since then kept the regime of Sassou Nguessou in power to the Angolan allies.
  17. Sudan backed the Kabila regime as yet another means of hitting back at the Ugandan regime for giving support to the SPLA/SPLM and to regain the opportunities to use North-eastern Congo as a transit area for militarily hitting at the SPLA/SPLM in Western Equatoria from the back.
  18. Chad finally entered with own troops into the Congolese civil wars in October 1998 for reasons no one has yet properly figured out but possibly reflecting a not so discrete French interest in strengthening Kabila against the Congolese opposition and their external allies.
  19. Burundi appeared to have initially discreetly and in a limited supported militarily the Congolese anti-Kabila rebellion but later to have backed out so as not to jeopardise her drive for having the sanctions against her lifted which was finally done at the end of 1998.
  20. Tanzania exhibited an increasing unease over growing Tutsi influence in the wider region but her desire to keep the relations with Rwanda and Burundi below the level of open confrontations caused her to maintain an attitude of positive neutrality for the Kabila regime but also to hastily withdraw soldiers and policemen it had sent to Congo for training.
  21. Gabon developed to be one of the main financial backers of the Kabila regime with possible French backing/funding.
  22. Mozambique logistically helped the Kabila regime by facilitating the transit of Chinese arms for the Kabila regime through Beira to Zimbabwe and thence to Congo.
  23. Kenya's President Arap Moi politically supported the Kabila regime out of a deep-seated rivalry with and mistrust for Museveni of Uganda and Kagame of Rwanda and any cause supported by them.
  24. Both the unexpected internal and external support for the embattled Kabila regime decisively contributed to thwart the planned and perceived impending rapid military victory for the insurgents and their external backers. With the defeat of the insurgents western based offensive against Kinshasa in the second half of August 1998 their strategy of a swift military backed political change in Congo had failed and a political and military war of attrition of unpredictable length and outcome set in.
  25. As a result of substantial, but not decisive military successes of the insurgents and their external allies a rift developed between Uganda and Rwanda over the best strategy to enlarge the political base of the anti-Kabila rebels.
  26. Uganda's interest in Congo was mainly motivated by her desire to deny armed Ugandan opposition forces such as ADF the use of North-eastern Congo as a rear base and sanctuary and as such she could live with any regime in Congo supporting this interest.
  27. As a reflection of this position the Ugandan government favoured as broad a political coalition as possible including even members and armed groups of the former Mobutu regime and implicitly accused Rwanda to be too fixated on the protection of the Congolese Tutsi and her struggle against the Hutu insurgents in Northwest Rwanda and Kivu to pay proper attention to long-term coalition building of her Congolese allies.
  28. The differing interests and perceptions of Rwanda and Uganda also found its reflection with their Congolese allies and in October 1998 the pro-Uganda factions within the RCD split and formed the Congolese Liberation Movement (CLM/MLC) headed by Jean-Pierre Bemba).
  29. As a result of this split Uganda and her Congolese allies of the CLM more concentrated on gaining territory in North-eastern Congo where they fought the Kabila forces and their Sudanese and Chadian backers whereas the Rwandan forces and their Congolese allies of the RCD confronted the Kabila forces and their Zimbabwean and Angolan allies in Central and South-eastern Congo.
  30. Eritrea had been a close ally of both Uganda and Rwanda since the Uganda/Rwanda backed anti-Mobutu rebellion using Kabila and his Democratic Peoples' Alliance (DPA/ADP) as a spear-head had been conceived and executed but in this growing rift between Rwanda and Uganda concerning Congolese affairs she sided with Uganda as a reflection of her deep annoyance with what was perceived to be Rwandan support for Ethiopia in her conflict with Eritrea.
  31. In spite of the rift between Uganda and Rwanda and the split within the Congolese insurgents both factions of the anti-Kabila rebellion were confident that ultimately the rebellion would topple the Kabila regime while simultaneously with the passing of the months the conviction Kabila regime and her allies to win out over the rebellion was rather strengthened than weakened.
  32. The confidence of both sides of the civil war of being able to achieve a decisive victory as well as the conflicting interests of the external backers of both sides ultimately condemned each and everyone of the many attempts by regional, continental or even transcontinental organisations of states to arrange a formal cessation of hostilities and to establish a process for the political resolution of the Congo war to failure.
  33. As the war in Congo ground on, the Zimbabwean involvement in it began to develop into a major internal political issue and with rising costs and growing number of casualties more and more Zimbabweans doubted the political wisdom of getting involved at all or of continuing to be involved.
  34. The growing pressure on the Zimbabwean regime from its home opposition to end Zimbabwean involvement in the Congo civil war reinforced the conviction on the side of Rwanda and her Congolese allies of being able to win the war, particularly after a Zimbabwean withdrawal which was anticipated for the near future.
  35. The major Rwandan/RCD victory over Zimbabwean/Kabila forces in Eastern Kasai in mid-March 1999 reinforced this conviction and made this faction of the Congolese civil war even more intransigent in their attitudes towards political negotiations to end the war.
  36. Particularly the Rwandan intransigence in this respect is boosted by a growing perception among the Rwandan military leadership that the Tutsi control of Kivu had actually allowed the Rwandan army to stabilise at least the situation in the Rwandan Northwest, and to prevent the Hutu insurgency from spreading further into the country In its perception, Rwandan withdrawal from Kivu within the foreseeable future would nullify these successes and again expose the Rwandan regime and its Tutsi base to the attacks of the Hutu insurgency from Congo.
  37. In contrast to the Rwandan/RCD confidence the Ugandan regime, under pressure from its own insurgents (ADF, LRA, WNLF, etc.) and mounting international doubt relating to its democratic credentials, economic policies, involvement in the wide-spread corruption, willingness and capacity to settle the armed insurrections by political solutions, and involvement in Congo, appears to have begun to reassess its Congolese policy.
  38. A first result of this reassessment appears to be the Libyan sponsored agreement signed between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on April 19, 1999 in the Libyan town of Sirte at the occasion of a meeting of the Libyan inspired Union of Sahara and Sahel States according to which Uganda agreed to withdraw her troops from Congo.
  39. The involvement of Eritrean and Libyan observer troops announced by Kabila to monitor the withdrawal of and to replace the Ugandan troops in North-eastern Congo marks a shift of Eritrean involvement in Congo reflecting both her new found alliance with Libya and her old-standing one with Uganda.
  40. As both LMC and RCD as well as Rwanda have not been party to this agreement its long-term viability remains doubtful.
  41. However, both LMC and RCD as well as the Kabila government have agreed to participate in talks on possibilities for a peaceful solution to the Congolese war hosted by the Communita dia Santa Egidio in Rome.
  42. Given the crucial role of the Congolese and Rwandan Tutsi in the Congolese civil war, a durable solution going beyond temporary brinkmanship will only be possible if the legitimate interests of the Congolese Tutsi within Congo are safeguarded and the Tutsi-Hutu conflict in Rwanda and Burundi if not resolved but then at least a credible process for its resolution initiated.
  43. Given the Tutsi state of mind with its dangerous mix of extreme chauvinism and acute fear for their survival within the wider region the perspectives for such a solution currently are dim at best.