TPLF's No-War-No-Peace Strategy Against Eritrea is Crippling Ethiopia
Eritrea's Massawa port - (Credit: Andre Vltchek )
TPLF's no-war-no-peace strategy is crippling Ethiopia
Following the end of Ethiopia's invasion of Eritrea in 2000, the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front ( TPLF) opted for a no-war-no-peace (NWNP) strategy to hurt Eritrea's economy, and with it the Eritrean government. It believed if it focused on crippling the Eritrean economy, the people would revolt to topple their government. And amid the political chaos that would ensue, TPLF would come in to set up a puppet government in Asmara or annex the country. At least that's what they thought.
Fifteen years later, it's Ethiopia that's paying a heavy economic price for its misguided policy. Each year, the country is bleeding US$1.2 billion in port fees to Djibouti and other regional ports. In comparison, between 1991-1997, Ethiopia was using Eritrean ports for free before it stubbornly decided to pay Djibouti and other regional ports for the same service.
Moreover, not using Eritrea's ports has made some of Ethiopia's lucrative resources commercially unviable. For instance, the Allana Potash company, the Canadian company formerly selected to develop the potash mine in Ethiopia, pushed the TPLF regime to use Eritrea's port for export. They argued the Eritrean port is only 80 kilometers away from the mine site in Ethiopia. But the Ethiopian government refused. It wanted the exports to go through Djibouti which is 800km away. The company explained that it makes no commercial sense to go through Djibouti. In the end, Allana Potash sold their company at a fraction of their value after struggling to secure funds from investors, and now Ethiopia is out on tens of billions of dollars in potential potash sales because of its stubborn policy.
Perhaps the most devastating aspect of the NWNP policy is the health issues it's causing on Ethiopians. According to the Associated Press, 80% of Ethiopians suffer from iodine deficiency, an essential nutrient that was readily available from Eritrea until the 1998-2000 war halted all trade between the countries. Consequently, 50,000 Ethiopians are dying from this easily preventable disease each year, while millions more are suffering from irreversible effects ranging from deafness, speech defects, goiters, learning disorders and brain damage.
But this abnormal policy might be coming to an end. Last April, during the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue, Yemane Gheberab, the Presidential Adviser and Head of Political Affairs for the ruling PFDJ, believes Ethiopia's NWNP strategy will not continue for long. He said:
The Ethiopians have been thinking in the past that if they resist and continue to put pressure on Eritrea - political, economic, military, diplomatic - including with support from the United States -then the Eritrean government would collapse. They've also been saying, "Eritreans are leaving their country anyway so there will be no army to defend Eritrea. And when all the Eritrean young people desert then we can walk into Eritrea, we don't even have to fight." This is what the previous Ethiopian prime minister said at one time. But this has not happened. It has not taken place. I believe the Ethiopians are now realizing that Eritrea is not going to collapse. In fact, the opposite is happening. Eritrea is becoming stronger now. And so, I believe they are re-thinking their situation. And my assessment is this abnormal situation will not continue for long. I believe when we talk about 3-5 years in Eritrea, we're also envisioning the end of this conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia at that time period.In the end, history will look back at the NWNP as a tragic period of lost opportunity for Ethiopia. Although this strategy was intended to strangle Eritrea's economy and cause political chaos, what it ultimately achieved was the suffering of millions of Ethiopians.
Ethiopia's potash can only be commercially viable if its exported through Eritrea's ports
TPLF's No-War-No-Peace Strategy Against Eritrea is Crippling Ethiopia Reviewed by Admin on 3:19 PM Rating: