What Ethiopian-Djiboutian Military Alliance against Eritrea Means
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn with Djibouti President, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh -(Photo by Orhan Karsli/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
When the puppet Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, visited Djibouti last week, no one was paying much attention until he mentioned his country was working on a defense alliance with Djibouti against Eritrea.
"Ethiopia is ready to defend and safeguard Ethio-Djibouti common borders," he said. "Our security officials will discuss on this issue and map out common stand."
Obviously, Eritrea isn't intimidated by a Djibouti-Ethiopia defense pact. To put things in perspective, the half dozen or so Ethiopian armed opposition groups based in Eritrea have a larger air and ground force than that of Djibouti's. In fact, just the TPDM alone is reported to have over 20,000 fighters1, while Djibouti's entire active military force is roughly around 16,000 troops.2
Ethiopia's latest anti-Eritrea comments may have to do more with its internal political crises than its northern neighbor.
In May, Ethiopia will spend tens of millions of dollars on a sham election that will likely ignite mass protest, unrest and rebellion against the regime. And from the election, the hidden power rivalries within the ruling group will come to the forefront, which is what the regime is afraid of.
As it stands, the real ruler of Ethiopia is Debretsion Gebremichael, who is one of the three Deputy Prime Ministers of Ethiopia. Although he will most likely win the upcoming fake elections, that doesn't change the fact that his main rival, Abay Woldu, who is the President of the Tigray region and Chairman of TPLF, holds a considerable amount of power within the regime, and is at odds with him.
This is where the increased anti-Eritrea rhetoric of late comes in. Eritrea is a convenient boogeyman they are using in the hopes of uniting their rivaling factions by distracting them with an external enemy to rally against. Unfortunately for the TPLF clique, the Eritrea card was already used up in the late '90s.
In conclusion, with the sham elections on the horizon, and Ethiopia's regime split among rivaling factions, increased bravado towards Eritrea should be seen as a desperate sign to unify a small clique of Tigrayan men all vying for power.
1. Page 29, https://www.scribd.com/doc/243121671/Leaked-SEMG-Report
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