Friends, enemies, fractures: Horn of Africa Ethiopia

  • Ethiopia has projected forces on the Horn of Africa for centuries, but remained fiercely independent as other regions fell into colonial rule.
  • Diplomacy can fail in this turbulent corner of Africa, as friends turn enemies and competition causes conflict.
  • Here are some of the major relationships formed with various African countries in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has projected forces on the Horn of Africa for centuries, remaining fiercely independent when other parts of the region fell into colonial rule, and fought with its neighbors to protect its vast territory. I have come.

Diplomacy can fail in this turbulent corner of Africa, as friends turn enemies and competition causes conflict. Here are some of the key relationships in Ethiopia:


Part of Ethiopia, after decades of the Revolutionary War, until its collapse in 1993, Eritrea has a bloody history of torture and a much larger neighbor to the south.

They fought another war in 1998, killing 80,000 people before they stagnated. For nearly 20 years, they remained bitter enemies separated by UN peacekeepers.

In 2018, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made peace with Eritrea’s Prime Minister Isias Ahmed. The unexpected olive branch awarded the new Prime Minister of Ethiopia the Nobel Peace Prize.

But the reconciliation does not spell out the peace of Horn.

In late 2020, Eritrean troops crossed the border to support Ethiopia after Abby sent troops to Tigray to dismiss the ruling party in the northern region.

They haven’t left for 7 months. Their continued presence-and their impact on atrocities-has attracted worldwide criticism.

Analysts say it’s not clear if Ethiopia can get rid of the Eritreans, even if they want them.

Namhla Matshanda, a lecturer at the University of Western Cape, who specializes in the Horn of Africa, said:

What is Eritrea’s Endgame in Ethiopia? This is a question that even Abby doesn’t think can be answered honestly.


The Tigray Conflict was also dragged in Sudan during a period of great tension between the two of Horn’s rivals.

Tens of thousands of refugees from Tigray flowed west into Sudan.

Sudan’s prime minister, Abdullah Hamdok, chairman of the regional organization IGAD,’s early offer to mediate the ceasefire in Tigray was completely rejected by Abby, damaging trust among leaders.

When Sudanese and Ethiopian troops re-militized some of the conflicting farmland at the border, aroused fear of broader conflict, and Egypt pulled Sudan into combat opposition to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Will cause a fallout.

Abby says his country does not require a war with Sudan-outlook not excluded by observers.


Perhaps the largest flash point in the wider Horn region is GERD, and no one is as fiercely opposed to the huge Ethiopian dam on the tributary of the Nile as Egypt.

Ethiopia states that its hydropower megaproject is a sovereign right and will power millions of homes. But Cairo says diversion of water to fill the dam cuts off its own supply downstream and poses a threat to Egypt’s very survival.

The line became tense ten years after Ethiopia embarked on the project, arousing nationalist enthusiasm throughout the horn.

Years of foreign-backed negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have failed to break the deadlock.

Cairo signed a defense pact between Kenya and Uganda, paid a high-level visit to Djibouti, and sought to involve Ethiopian neighbors as an ally. Last month, Egypt and Sudan conducted a joint military exercise codenamed “Guardian of the Nile.”


The territorial dispute between Ethiopia and Somalia dates back more than half a century. They fought two wars over the vast, dry Somali-speaking Ogaden in the far east of Ethiopia, forcing Somalia to invade in the 1970s.

More recently, Somalia’s internal crises have kept its focus inward, including the civil war and failed states of the 1990s, famine, armed rebellion by al-Shabaab militants, and periodic political turmoil.

Ethiopia sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to confront al-Shabaab. I was afraid that the confusion would spread. In 2018, Abby signed a tripartite agreement with leaders in Eritrea and Somalia to better coordinate regional security.

However, according to analysts, the Tigray conflict threatened Ethiopia withdrawing some troops from Somalia and returning home, causing further anxiety in Horn’s most vulnerable states.

Beyond the horn

Abby, who refused to negotiate a ceasefire for a brutal war characterized by ethnic cleansing potential and an impending famine, undermined Nobel laureate’s global position as a peacemaker.

The United States is targeting Ethiopia with visa restrictions and reduced aid. This is a dropout from the grace of the country recently endorsed by world leaders for democratic reform.

William Davison, Senior Analyst, International Crisis Group, said:

They were definitely a big hit on the international stage.

Sanctions and global condemnation have only been resolved in Addis Ababa, where the government has organized large public rallies to counter recognized foreign interference in its operations.

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Friends, enemies, fractures: Horn of Africa Ethiopia

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