Kofi Anna’s irresponsible statement may lead to war
By: Sam B.
November 4, 2005

Kofi Annan issued a statement through his Spokesman on November 3, 2005, stating that he “is extremely concerned about reports” of “troop movements” on “both sides of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ),” in Eritrea and Ethiopia.

This statement by Kofi Annan is deliberately designed to be alarming and more importantly it is deliberately intended to place equal blame on both parties.

According to the statement these “troop movements”, which are reported to be “on both sides”, and “involve small and large military and paramilitary formations, and movement of armour as well as aerial defence assets. “

The report on Kofi Annan’s statement is attributed to “the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).” The UNMEE for the first time since its deployment described, “the military situation in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and the Adjacent Areas is tense and potentially volatile.”

UNMEE’s Force Commander, Major-General Rajender Singh, in an interview with journalists in Eritrea and Ethiopia went on to disclose details of the “large military and tanks movement” on the Ethiopian side. The Force Commander has confirmed that Ethiopian troops and tanks have advance up to 10 kilometer from the Eritrean border.

Major-General Rajender Singh said; “groups of tanks that we have seen moving are about 10 to 15 kilometers (away from the southern boundary of the TSZ.)” Moreover, information gathered from Ethiopian “local Army Command
Headquarters,” the Force Commander confirmed, “that two new additional divisions are coming into the Western Sector.”

An Ethiopian army “division is about 6,000 men.” The increase by two new divisions is about 12,000 additional troops on top of the increase by nearly 90,000 troops in recent months. Thus, Ethiopia has increased its troops in
recent months by well over 100,000 men, bringing its total number of troops along the border with Eritrea to well over 300,000 in defiance of several UN Resolutions asking Ethiopia to redeploy its troops to "levels of deployment
which existed previous to mid-December, 2004."

On the extent of military movement on the Eritrea side, according to the UNMEE Force Commander, there was movement by two groups of people “claimed to be militia”. He said, “two such groups were found, of 60 men each.”

According to an explanation given to UNMEE, these are militiamen dispatched to assist on harvest details, as it is harvest season in Eritrea. It is customary of students, militia, workers and the army to assist with harvest
of farms belonging to the disabled and the elderly in Eritrea.

In light of the over 300,000 Ethiopian troops, groups of Ethiopian tanks and missiles amassed just 10 kilometers from the Eritrea border the deployment “two groups of 60 men each” obviously constitutes no alarming military
deployment and hardly requires a mention as it has no military significance what so ever.

Eritrea must take note of the irresponsible acts and statement by the UNMEE and UN representatives’ attempt to equate the movement of two groups of 60 militiamen to the additional over 100,000 (hundred thousand) troops, tanks and missiles amassed just 10 kilometer of the Eritrean border.

Eritrea recognizes the supremacy of international law and has fully accepted it, while Ethiopia rejects international law and has chosen to forcibly occupy sovereign Eritrean territory – territory recognized by international law to be Eritrean, in an attempt to create conditions for war.

The UN and Kofi Annan have, chosen to focus on peripheral and tangential issue while consistently ignoring the root cause of the problem; which is Ethiopia’s flagrant disregard of international law. The lack of determination on the part of the UN and Kofi Annan to stand by international law will eventually plunge the Horn of Africa in to another costly but avoidable war. If such event transpires, the UN and Kofi Annan must shoulder the responsibility for failing to avoid another ten Rwandas. As the toll of another war between Eritrea and Ethiopia are bound to make Rwanda a rehearsal to a horrible nightmare. Another war between Eritrea and Ethiopia will have a negative implication for the stability of the entire Horn of Africa.

Time is now for UN and Kofi Annan to stand of the rule of law.