Date: Wednesday, 21 November 2018
The elimination of sanctions for a country - in this case Eritrea - is always a positive sign even if the arms sales embargo should be extended to the whole planet to try to defuse conflicts. But you know, weapons are built to use them and it's a business that can not be renounced. The step taken by the UN is a contribution to the ongoing peace process in the Horn of Africa.
An acceleration of the unexpected regional history by the observers, but that perhaps could not be postponed, not only for the interest of Ethiopia and Eritrea but for the whole region and beyond. First of all, Ethiopia: with the arrival of Abiy Ahmed, oromo, after three years of protests by his ethnic group, a majority in the country but marginalized by power, a change of direction has been triggered. Abiy has put an end to the state of emergency, fired prison officials responsible for torture and released political prisoners. And then the election of a woman president, Sahle-Work Zewde, and the composition of the government half-formed by ministers occupying important positions such as the "ministry of peace", instead of the defense, makes a gender difference.
But Ethiopia, in addition to registering strong economic growth, has also faced a serious monetary crisis, exceeded by measure with the arrival of 3 billion dollars from the Arab Emirates. It also always complains about the problem of the lack of an outlet to the sea and resorting to the port of Djibouti is increasingly expensive. On the other hand, Eritrea, isolated internationally for the militarized regime in power and sanctioned for having accused of supporting Somali shebabs (accusation now falling), can somehow boast of having received Badme's recognition from Addis Ababa, principle defended for twenty years with high prices for the population. It is to be hoped that this "victory" can now lead President Isaias Afeworki to demobilize the military apparatus in favor of greater rights for the population. But fearing that this does not happen thousands of Eritreans take advantage of the opening of the borders to flee to Ethiopia. The opening of the borders has also re-proposed one of the problems of great tension in 1997 and one of the reasons that caused the war: the change between the Ethiopian birr and the Eritrean nakfa. There is no official change.
The situation of the Horn of Africa that seemed forgotten has been internationalized. China, which has built a military base bigger than the American one in Djibouti, has also entered the scene and would like to make it a "free zone". Just Djibouti is the crucial port for the safety of the passage to the Red Sea. But if Djibouti is important, all the other ports in the area, including Somalis, are also important.