The Scramble for Ethiopia

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The Horn of Africa’s politics and security have never been more complicated. The Horn of Africa is believed to be the world’s most dangerous security zone, with Djibouti holding military sites for France, China, the United Kingdom, Spain (a small contingent), Italy (an air task force), and Saudi Arabia. In the Indian Ocean, India’s and Russia’s navies are conducting passage exercises in the hopes of forming a lasting relationship. Eritrea is home to a UAE military installation. In Somalia, both Saudi Arabia and its neighbor Turkey have their largest military outposts.

Uganda, which is politically part of the bigger horn because it is the source of the White Nile, hosts a US military base. This is a camp in Europe run by the US Navy Region. In Kenya, the US has a military base in Mombasa (expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel Woody Wiliams since Feb 2021) Turkey has a facility in Somalia, and Russia has a base in the Central African Republic (CAR), which is only a few miles south of South Sudan and thus part of the Greater Horn complex. After the recent transition in Sudan, Russia secured a contract to create a naval station in Sudan in 2020, but it was sunk by strong US pressure.The news of Ethiopia’s rising internal strife, which includes forces from neighboring Eritrea, has added an incomprehensible layer of complexity to the already complex situation in the Horn. The Scramble for Ethiopia has entered a new chapter with these initiatives. The internationalization of Ethiopia’s issues, as well as the threat it poses to the area as a whole, can easily turn it into a flashpoint for proxies.

Egypt’s bitter adversaries, Turkey and Iran, are getting closer to creating an alliance with Ethiopia. It is not a coincidence that the Russian and Ethiopian heads of state recently corresponded. It’s all part of the Scramble for Ethiopia’s calculations. Egypt has done an excellent job of keeping deeper ties with both Sudans. South Sudan maintains a chilly relationship with Ethiopia, while North Sudan has publicly expressed its disdain for Ethiopia’s leadership. Kenya is also concerned about the intimidation of Oromo radicals along its Ethiopian border.Kenya’s relationship with Somalia’s government is strained, and the two countries just reestablished diplomatic relations last month. Kenya has been accused by Somalia’s government of interfering in its internal affairs in Juba, where Kenyan forces are fighting al-Shabab extremist forces. Kenya’s connection with Somalia’s breakaway entity Somaliland, as well as a disagreement over the waters off their shared coast, have also sparked tensions. Kenya is concerned about its ties with Ethiopia. It recently struck an agreement with Egypt on defense.

Once again, this sends a message to Ethiopia’s government.

The Ethiopian regime’s connection with Somalia’s Prime Minister, Formajoo, is not based on values. The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), which succeeded the Western Somalia Liberation Front (WSLF), claimed independence with the goal of building Greater Somalia as its goal, although this has not changed since it became part of Ethiopia’s government.

Successive Somali governments have continued to promote this approach, albeit they do not overtly argue their claim to the Ogaden for strategic reasons. With Ethiopia’s weakening economy and the support of al-Shabaab, the country’s integrity could be jeopardized.

Djibouti does not get along with Abiy, especially after Abiy began flirting with Eritrea. It should be noted that Djibouti and Eritrea had a brief spat over territorial disputes.That problem has yet to be rectified. Djibouti has been flexing its muscles and sending signals that it can exist without agricultural imports from Ethiopia, the railway infrastructure that connects the two nations, and the payments it receives from Ethiopia for the use of its port, which is the country’s only exit to the sea. Djibouti’s port has become one of the busiest in the region, thanks to its numerous military stations. Egypt dispatched delegations to Djibouti to explore the potential of a deeper partnership, and has lately begun flying cargo planes to the country.Egypt’s new interest in Djibouti, as well as South Sudan, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and Eritrea, is almost certainly linked to Ethiopia’s situation as a failing and belligerent state that refuses to give up its GERD position. Egypt and Sudan have used the Ethiopian government’s war on the Tigray area to put pressure on Ethiopia. It’s no secret that Egypt and Sudan have been arming and organizing Tigray rebel forces from their Sudanese bases. For the time being, isolating Ethiopia from both its traditional Western supporters and all of its neighbours appears to be working.

With Ethiopia’s extremely precarious political position, a new geopolitical and security paradigm has emerged in the area. Though it is difficult to pinpoint the exact alignment of forces, it essentially consists of the Gulf Alliance: the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent, Qatar, which has recently rejoined the alliance, and Russia, Turkey, and Iran on the other side, all of whom are attempting to exert influence in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea is a member of the Gulf Alliance and has backed the conflict in Yemen. Eritrea and Egypt have developed a tight relationship, with Egypt eyeing the Nora island as a possible location for a military base in the Red Sea.

When Eritrea’s president toured the GERD, Egypt was concerned that it would lose Eritrea. Eritrea did not support or oppose the Arab League’s resolution denouncing Ethiopia’s GERD plan.

Because their only common interest is the abolition of the TPLF and Eritrea’s determination to resolve the border issue by securing full ownership of the Badme region, which was the source of a bitter war between the two countries from May 1998 to June 2000, the warm relationship between Isaias and Abiy is bound to end soon. Eritrea does not want Ethiopia to be engulfed in instability or civil conflict since the results will inevitably harm Eritrea in multiple ways.Eritrea wishes for the establishment of a friendly administration that is committed to Eritrea’s interests. Since independence, Eritrea has placed a strong emphasis on establishing a national identity. It has been successful in this regard. Abiy’s policy is diametrically opposed to this. Abiy has no intention of changing a policy he inherited, and he appears to be inextricably and passionately tied to the current ethno-centric political system, which can only be compared to the defunct apartheid system in South Africa, with his party, the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), operating under the guise of the Prosperity Party, as the dominant party, much like the whites did during the apartheid era in South Africa.The two governments’ policies are essentially opposed to one another. One is attempting to strengthen its national identity, while the other is attempting to demolish a long-standing identity. They’re incompatible and can’t live together. (EF)