6 July 2017

Ethiopia: It's High Time to Be Tough On the Eritrean Regime. It Is Contributing Its Fair Share to Sabotage Progress in the Horn

Photo: United Nations
Isaias Afwerki, President of Eritrea (file photo).
editorial

In the course of the all-embracing efforts to pursue regional integration in the Horn, the Eritrean regime's belligerent behaviour towards it neighbours and its unholy marriage with insurgents is posing threats to regional stability and peace. The Asmara regime's recent incursion in the disputed area along the Djibouti border is raising a red flag.

And African leaders in general seem to reach in agreement when it comes to cooperation and fostering integration. It seems that they are coming to understand the need to swim together than drowning together. Countries in the Horn also seem to be on the same page on the subject of development. In fact, regional integration and cooperation have to become the order of the day, as countries face similar development and security challenges.

At the heart of this discourse, Ethiopia has been showing practical commitment to forge regional integration. The country separately and collectively has already come up with various developmental projects that foster regional integration in the volatile Horn. And good news from the region are making headlines in international mainstream media owing to Addis Ababa's unreserved determination.

In total contrast, the isolated regime in Asmara is reportedly engaged in arming insurgents and escalating violence unfolding here and there. Djibouti accused the aggressive Eritrean regime of invading and occupying disputed territory along their border.

This occurs at the time when the economic integration Ethiopia has created with Djibouti has reached a point of climax. Djibouti is in fact a lifeline for Ethiopia's exports and imports. Its economy is very much dependent on the performance of the Ethiopian economy, while its security really matters for the sustainability of the growing foreign direct investment coming into Ethiopia. Besides the huge sum of income the country gains from renting its port to Ethiopia, so much is to tell that Djibouti has already benefited much from Ethiopia.

The Horn of Africa is a hotbed for extremist and terrorist groups. And reports of Eritrea's continuous support to such groups may send the region into bottomless pit if it is not met with proportional response. Eritrea's recent aggression is not only a source of worry for Djibouti but for all in the horn, particularly Ethiopia. The Asmara regime is trying to exploit every available opportunity to destabilize the region since long and its actions have already appeared to be its unique character.

Following Eritrea's aggression against Djibouti, the AU has sent a fact finding mission to the disputed area. And countries are calling for calm and restrain from further escalation. But, this is high time to be tough on the Eritrean regime and to put pressure to stop its provocative acts and destabilizing role.

Until now, the sanctions imposed on Eritrea by the international community have been less effective and the crisis among the Gulf countries is becoming an opportunity for Eritrea in different ways. That is why many scholars say it is an urgent time to react aggressively against the Eritrean regime. The international community should put a brave face against such acts of provocation. Especially it is up to the regional and Continental bloc to react timely and in the way that brings real change.

Ethiopia should also use its leverage as a non-permanent member and its soft power to embolden the UN Security Council to be tough on Eritrea; not only for its aggression against Djibouti but also to its years of destabilizing role in the region

In fact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it is closely following the matter and will come up with any further measure or stand depending on the reports the AU deployed Fact Finding Group would come up. Though Eritrea refused to let the group in and do its job. This clearly implies that the regime in Asmara is ignorant of the 50 plus African nations, hence this is indeed the right time to change gears and put much pressure on it to stop its belligerent acts.

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