by Andrew Korybko
(The below article is a concise summary of a larger piece written for Katehon and inspired by South Front)
A recent UN report says that GCC leaders Saudi Arabia and the UAE have contracted Eritrean support for the War on Yemen.
News about the War on Yemen has pretty much been scrubbed from the mainstream media, as Saudi Arabia’s information partners in the West remain reluctant to acknowledge that their ally’s “brief” campaign is now dragging into its eighth month with no foreseeable end in sight. This makes it all the more notable that the latest globally reported-on development to emerge about the conflict is actually somewhat critical of the Saudi-led coalition and was made by the UN, no less.
A report from the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea on 21 October documented that Eritrea “forged a new strategic military relationship with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that involved allowing the Arab coalition to use Eritrean land, airspace and territorial waters” in exchange for “monetary compensation and fuel supplies”, which if “diverted directly or indirectly towards activities that threaten peace and security in the region or for the benefit of the Eritrean military”, “would constitute a violation of resolution 1907 (2009)”. Furthermore, it says that if it’s proven that “Eritrean soldiers are embedded with the United Arab Emirates contingent of the forces fighting on Yemeni soil”, then that would also “constitute a clear violation of that resolution.”
As many people don’t know what’s been going on in Yemen lately, let alone a single thing at all about Eritrea, it’s useful to shed light on the current military context of the campaign and explain the significance of the GCC’s de-facto coalition incorporation of Eritrea, since this also has just as much to do about Ethiopia as it does about Yemen.
Losing The War On Yemen
Purposefully omitted from conventional coverage of the War on Yemen, it’s a documented fact that the Saudi-led coalition hasn’t been anywhere near as successful as they initially proclaimed they’d be, and that unlike the rapid blitzkrieg victory they had anticipated, they’re steadily being drawn into a deadly quagmire.
Almost 8 months into the campaign, the GCC has yet to enforce its full control over Yemen. The Ansarullah Movement (“Houthis”), the Yemeni Army, and the myriad popular committees that sprung up after former Prime Minister Hadi’s ousting have defiantly withstood the external onslaught against them and thus prevented the country’s full occupation. The Gulf coalition has already lost dozens of soldiers and a handful of helicopters and tank so far, and the capital of Sanaa is still in the hands of the revolutionaries.
The GCC understands the sorry state of affairs that they’ve gotten themselves into, and they also realize that a surprise counter-offensive could catch them unaware and open up serious gaps in their front-line defense of Aden, the strategic port of entry for most of the coalition forces. As a contingency measure, they thus see it necessary to have a reserve base in Asmara ready and available to support them at a moment’s notice in order to deflect what could be a crushing blow to their campaign. Another purpose of this facility is also to provide assistance to any forthcoming gambit in trying to take Sanaa.
Secondary Target: Ethiopia
All coastal states have a dual strategic identity in that they can simultaneously project both maritime and continental influence, and Eritrea is no exception to this geopolitical rule. The benefit that the GCC sees in the country is that it’s the arch-enemy of Ethiopia, the emerging African powerhouse of seemingly limitless economic and political potential. Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and its capital of Addis Ababa is host to the African Union headquarters. Chinese investment has been instrumental in helping the state rise out of the ashes of poverty and civil war, and a new Beijing-financed railroad connecting Addis Ababa with Djibouti is expected to greatly contribute to the country’s sustainable economic growth for the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, Ethiopia’s ‘miracle’ hasn’t been without severe challenges, as the country still hasn’t entirely recovered from the ravages of the Cold War-era civil war. Ethnic separatism is still a problem, and Addis Ababa routinely accuses Asmara of supporting a plethora of rebel groups, mostly along the border in the Tigray Region. There’s also the issue of separatist sentiment in the country’s eastern Somali Region, over which Ethiopia and Somalia even fought a bitter war over in the 1970s. Terrorism is another threat facing Ethiopia, and it actually invaded Somalia in 2006 to defeat the radical Islamic Courts Union that was on the verge of taking over the country. Nowadays the danger is manifested by Al Shabaab, and there’s a real fear in Addis Ababa that Islamic-affiliated terrorism might mesh with Somali nationalism in provoking a hybrid jihadist-separatist war sometime in the future (recall how Al Qaeda exploited the Tuaregs in Mali a few years back under operational similar circumstances).
Ethiopia is thus just as equally primed for success as it is for failure, given its contrasting strengths and vulnerabilities, and either scenario could realistically be taken to an extreme in no time. This makes it one of the most important countries in the world to monitor because of the continental impact that Ethiopia will have one way or another. Considering this, the forces capable of influencing whether or not Ethiopia can surmount its pressing challenges take on a significant role in African affairs and indirectly become some of its most indispensable actors.
Tilting The Balance
It’s in this sense that the GCC has the potential to tilt the balance against Ethiopia if it so chooses, be it to pressure the country to accede to unfavorable agricultural or investment deals or perhaps for more abstract geopolitical purposes, such as destabilizing the country on behalf of the US in order to obstruct China’s rising influence there (and over the rest of the African Union, by extension).
There might even be ideological reasons as well, since unbeknownst to many, Muslim Brotherhood-supporting Qatar is actually on the ground too, and has deployed “military observers” to Eritrea since 2010 as part of its mediation efforts in resolving its host’s border dispute with Djibouti. It’s a conventional rule of thumb that wherever Qatar goes, the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist tactics are sure to follow, and this makes the hybrid jihadist-separatist war scenario in Ethiopia’s Somali Region seem like all the more frightening of a possibility one day, especially if Eritrea turned a blind eye to such a Qatari-organized measure (perhaps even originating on its own territory) in order to spite its supreme rival and strengthen its own relative position as a result.
While it’s impossible to fully predict the future, it’s much more practical to explain the present, and as it currently stands, the Saudi-Emirati-Qatari presence in Eritrea dramatically changes the balance of power between it and Ethiopia. Neither side seems ready for a continuation of their mutually disastrous 1998-2000 war, mostly because the strategic stalemate of relative parity (for a variety of reasons and due to a multitude of factors) largely remains in place and has mostly kept the peace between them since then. All of that changes with the GCC throwing its weight behind Eritrea, as even if they aren’t providing any illegal military support to Asmara, the very fact that they have such an important base in the country makes it an undeclared military ally of the Gulf.
They probably wouldn’t support any formal aggression on Eritrea’s behalf, but their on-the-ground presence could imbue Eritrea with a dangerous feeling of relative impunity and embolden it to intensify its proxy destabilization of Ethiopia via its support for anti-government rebel groups there. In the event that Ethiopia ever responds to this by attacking Eritrea, Addis Ababa would know that it could never venture too close to Asmara since its government is now protected by the GCC, being too important to them per the War on Yemen to allow for it to be toppled. Through this clever geopolitical manipulation, the Gulf States have thus not only gained a flanking base in Eritrea for use against Yemen, but also a strategic forward-operating one in influencing the future stability of Ethiopia, one of the most economically and politically promising states in Africa.
You describe the it actually Islamic Courts Union as radical. Are you sure? I have heard other comments who believe that the US overreacted to the word “Islamic” and with that destroyed a chance for peace.
Both those things are, as I understand it, true. The Islamic Courts movement wasn’t particularly radical when they began to stabilize Somalia and the Americans got very upset that someone with the word “Islamic” in their name was doing something good. So then the Americans had their Ethiopian catspaws invade and put them down, and the ones who fought ended up pretty radical.
So any current inheritors of the “Islamic Courts” mantle are by any accounts I’ve seen a pretty radical bunch now. But it didn’t have to be that way.
Incidentally, IMO the Americans will never let Saudi Arabia attack Ethiopia because Ethiopia is one of their reliable local bullyboys, always good about attacking or destabilizing places the US wants attacked or destabilized.
@Purple Library Guy,
Do you have any personal knowledge or experience of Ethiopia? Have you lived there? Have you been there? How about East Africa? Any experience there? You make sweeping slanderous statements about Ethiopia like “their [the West’s] Ethiopian Catspaw” which underscores that you probably don’t have knowledge of that country or region.
It is Ethiopia that is constantly being undermined by the Anglo-Saxon pirates in the UK- there isn’t an opportunity that their media (especially the BBC) castigates Ethiopia’s “Human Rights” violation, as does that Qatari owned terrorist propaganda outfit that goes by the name of Al-Jazeera. Why? Because Ethiopia does not kowtow to the West and carries out independent economic and social policies. In addition, they make a point to trade with non-Western partners, in particular, China and India.
China is Ethiopia’s largest trading partner (Excluding hydrocarbons imports) and India is Ethiopia’s third largest trading partner (excluding hydrocarbons imports) and Ethiopia’s largest BRICS investor with Indian Foreign Direct Investment in Ethiopia reaching $10Billion by 2015. In addition, Ethiopia President was educated in Beijing, receiving his bachelor’s, masters and PH.D from Peking University – he speaks mandarin and can read it too – that hardly makes him a Western “Catspaw”. Do you ever check your facts before you shoot your keyboard-off and insult an entire country? Countries whose leaders and people have done far more to resist the empire than you have?
Did you read Andre K’s article above or did you go straight to the comments and start shooting form the hip? If you read the article you’d realize that the West’s coddle terrorist sponsors (Qatar/Saudi/Emirates) are threatening Ethiopia and allying with Ethiopia’s artificially created arch-enemy Eritrea (a totalitarian slave state created by the “International-Community” where people a literally enslaved by the government); literal slavery where people are forced to work without pay -for years, open-ended- kept in government controlled housing where they receive food medical care (like livestock) – yet Eritrea hardly receives any criticism from the Western MSM. Eritrea is the 2nd largest contributor to Europe bound refugees after Syria. Eritrea was carved out of Ethiopia to ensure that the strategic coastline stayed out of Ethiopia’s hands; all to suit the oil-geopolitics of the West and Saudi-Arabia.
Your opinions are utterly unsubstantiated by the facts. It is mind blowing to see how opposite from the truth and facts your assertions are. Ethiopia stabilized Somalia before it turned into an African Taliban-style emirate, they defeated Islamists being backed by Saudi and Qatar, they also protect the only secular oasis in Somalia known as Somaliland. What’s next? You going to accuse Bashar Assad’s Secular government of being being Washington’s “bully-boy” and “enforcer” too?
Dear Anon., I really like your comment about Ethiopia, but when you are so hostile to Purple Library,who is also a very interesting commenter here, it really takes away much for me, trying to understand what you’re saying. I would love to learn about things from you….but please refrain from such anger at another commenter. thanks.
I read the article. I disagreed with it.
I live in Canada. It has been my experience that many, many people in Canada have no idea what is going on in Canada or what kind of state Canada is in its impact on the world stage or what, for instance, Canada was up to when it helped the Americans with their war in Afghanistan.
So I suspect one could live in Ethiopia and not be omniscient about Ethiopia, either. I too could well be wrong about Ethiopia. And it may be that Ethiopia’s policies and who they choose as a patron have shifted.
But as to Somalia, come on. The place was a total hellhole for ages, much like Libya right now, with little kingpins making war on each other and the people caught in the middle. Somewhere in the middle of it all the Americans went in with their “peacekeeping” forces and tried to pick a winner so they could have a new client to replace the vicious dictator they’d backed until he died. They failed and the crabs-in-a-bucket fighting continued, until the emergence of the Islamic Courts movement, which had a good deal of success restoring some sort of normalcy and rule of law. Given those results I really don’t give a damn who they had contacts with, it was criminal to break those promising beginnings. And I have read many knowledgeable sources saying the people leaning on Ethiopia to go in and take them down was the United States, who could not abide the idea of someone being in charge that they had not put there.
Ethiopia may since then have shifted its position–with the rise in trade with China many countries have. I’ll confess I’m not up on the most recent politics of Ethiopia.
As to Eritrea, I have serious doubts about your position. Eritrea receives hardly any comment of any sort from the mainstream media; they pay no attention to it. But what little comment it does receive seems to be hostile. My own main source on Eritrea is Andre Vltchek. Now, I do not fully trust Andre Vltchek as a source; he wears his heart on his sleeve and is prone to overenthusiasm for anyone bucking the empire. So for instance, when he waxes poetic about Iran I sometimes wonder; Iran has been treated terribly by the “West”, but I still see serious contradictions and problems in Iran’s governance . But he is an implacable foe of the US/capitalist empire and he doesn’t talk about places without going there. His talk about Eritrea is based on personal experience, on actually going there and staying for some time. He sees it as an embattled Cuba-like place very much on the US hit list.
Your talk about Eritrea, on the other hand, sounds kind of like the way Americans used to talk about Iraq–the way jingoists talk about the designated enemy. If you’re from Ethiopia, and Eritrea is Ethiopia’s enemy, just maybe you haven’t been told the whole truth.
They weren’t “radical” at the time, and they weren’t “about” to take over the heartland of Somalis, they had done so. They established a working government, and it would have been much better to have let continue, rather than to send in the Christian Ethiopians on the grounds of…. well, it was never clear on what grounds.
“a working government”: exactly. Independent-minded. Therefore, they are hated. That’s how it goes.
IMHO, this is a complete misreading of the situation. It is based on no more than rumour, from the UN monitoring group, and this rumour is at odds what the various actors are up to in the region. First of all, Djibouti and Ethiopia are US puppets, just like the GCC, and Eritrea is _not_. The latter is more like Cuba, a socialist country. The article paints Ethiopia, a neoliberal basket case in idilic colors. The Islamic Courts government of Somalia was by no means extremist and it was the first stable government of Somalia in 15 years. But it wasn’t a US puppet, so it had to be crushed, and Ethiopia acted as a mercenary force for Washington in crushing it.
It is completely unlikely that Eritrea would form a _strategic_ alliance with the GCC. From the raw meat of the presence of Qatari observers and the (unproven) military cooperation with the GCC the article arrives to a doomsday scenario. Actually, the Qatari observers can be well explained as that, observers, like the UN soldiers in Lebanon, without giving them too much weight. The military cooperation (if it exists at all) is surely tactical in nature, and helps breaking the isolation of the country.
All in all, this article is annoyingly misleading.
I agree. Frankly, I often find that Mr. Korybko’s positions about places outside Eastern Europe, Russia, and its principal antagonists like the US and EU, are rather less reliable and informed. I don’t think his knowledge of places like Africa or Latin America is deep.
Edited to be line Saker’s rules
Purple Library Guy has this to say about Andre Korybko:
Frankly, I often find that Mr. Korybko’s positions about places outside Eastern Europe, Russia, and its principal antagonists like the US and EU, are rather less reliable and informed.
Let’s examine some facts:
(1) Mr. Korybko is a professional, he’s got the specific academic background for international affairs:
(2) As a professional, he dedicates his professional time to research and analyze the topics he writes about.
(3) He meets with scholars in China and other parts of Asia & Eurasia at various conferences to discuss the specifics for those regions.
(4) He has not exhibited any ideological or political slant in his analysis.
(5) His writings do not contain unprofessional insulting partisan shoot from the hip “opinions” that slander one party over the other. (i.e. unlike you)
(6) He can back up his statements with facts and footnotes (i.e. unlike you).
(7) He isn’t anonymous and is accountable for his writings.
It is possible that Andre can make a mistake, that some of this projections may not pan out? Of course, it’s possible, but at least he tries to approach his analysis and scenario development with an objective rigor (borne from his academic training in this very field). Like anyone dealing in uncertainties of geopolitics and conflicting national narratives, he can and has made minor errors in discussing other parts of the world, but overall his analysis are based on researching the facts and they provide valuable information on the topics he discusses (as opposed to criticizing without providing any useful facts or counterpoints -such as in your Purple postings).
Is he an expert on every part of the world? Likely not, (not yet), but he sure is more objective and adept than you.
Perhaps you (who is anonymous also, as per your 7th point) could clarify how you are not a self-appointed expert or otherwise have qualifications for such criticism and great confidence in the author in question? Or is this an unprofessional, shoot from the hip, opinion or slander concerning Purple Library?
Are you, Mr. Anonymous, accountable for what you have written (point 7 again), and do you some sort of academic degrees which confer a measure of certainty upon it? (As if academic credentials were capable of that)?
I have no quarrel, nor even strong opinion of Mr. Korybko, and in fact have not had the time to read this or some other articles by him, which I plan to do since I like what I have read by him previously — although it’s certainly probable his knowledge is greater or lesser depending on the area written about. I’m certain he has more knowledge about Ethiopa than I do, even if I might disagree with with what he has written if I somehow find the hours of time to research the issue. (But right now I am going through a few college course video series I found on the web, and hope to finish, and to finish up several older ones left half undone).
Note to K.L.
I’m well aware of your status as volunteer and the great amount of time spent by the moderators, which I appreciate greatly. I must say that I wish there were a few more people willing and able to do that work, because the blog obviously needs more done of late, if just to keep the noise level down. Aside from personal ‘meat space’ and computer problems, I can no longer keep up with the both news and the comments because of the high noise to signal ratio. I’m afraid it seems to me that the comments section has deteriorated significantly over recent months because of noise. Oh, well — so it goes.
Blue you have previous threatened to stomp out of this blog because the narrative or style or the diversity of views doesn’t fit your orthodoxy, tastes or opinions. So why don’t you go ahead carry out your threat.
I have exactly the opposite view of you regarding the comments section: I find that the comments section have greatly improved under the current set of moderators. Given how the view count keeps increasing and quality of the comments, it seems that my assessment is backed by the facts.
Oh well it goes well!
I left for about a month because I had various circumstanced which precluded my dealing with the trolling and personal insults — violations of the rules.
Your recent posts are such noise and I shall not respond to them further.
If my posts are “such noise” then why you did address such detailed questions to me? A little consistency and logic would be in order here.
However, if these comments are just noise to you and that will prevent you from responding further, no one would be more pleased than I.
Well, guys, enough fight for today. If you do not want to talk to each other you are not obliged.Thanks
Anonymous, I am sorry but I cannot publish your comment submitted on 2015/11/24 at 5:08 am | In reply to Purple Library Guy, that begins with:
“Purple Library Guy (our self-appointed expert) has this to say about Andre Korybko….”
because it violates Saker’s rule that “all comment have to be impeccably courteous to me, the blog’s author, moderators, any guest author and all the other commentators.”
I still have it here, and since it is an interesting and otherwise well written post, I am considering editing it and approve it without the rude comments, but I don’t think I have the time to do that. As you know, we moderators work here in our free time without pay, so we appreciate commenters that follow Saker’s blog rules.
Thank you Anonymous for your kind words to me (in your post submitted on 2015/11/24 at 9:01 pm | In reply to Vineyard Moderator – K.L.), which I add below.It is very encouraging to get positive feedback now and then. More often we are attacked and criticized, even from readers that are aware of what a difficult job it is to try to keep the comment section a inspiring place to visit. Your appreciation makes it easier for me. Thank you.
You did a good job editing my comment, I am sorry that it cost you time (I am at a loss at to how you moderators handle the load since it takes a long time to read all the inbound comments)….
I appreciate your understanding and allowing thru the most important gist of my comment.
You forget the money factor,
Eritrea is a peculiar country, somewhat self-isolated, and doing rather poorly economically, so GCC money might be too tempting to refuse. Other countries have sent soldiers into Yemen because of Saudi money (Senegal, for instance).
You find this article annoying because you let you ideology conflict with the facts and therefore are steeped in willful ignorance.
You really think that the readers here will take your word over a professional like Andre K? A man who doesn’t have an ideological bone in the fight and tries to present objective analysis in all previous writings of his that I’ve read.
Eritrea is a vicious state, go live there if you think it’s so good.
What has become of the Marxist Leninist political groupings which existed under Mariam Menguistu? Are they still a factor in Ethiopia today?
There is a quite different take on all this — especially the Eritrea – Ethiopia relationship, here:
“A U.S.-scripted drama demonizes Eritrea as a world-class ‘human rights’ violator whose citizens are fleeing for their lives to Europe. The Europeans, on U.S. orders, create the human flood by ‘granting political asylum to Eritreans…beckoning more and more unfortunate people from all over Africa, especially Ethiopians, who of course declare to be Eritreans upon entry to Europe.’ Justice demands a ‘Nuremberg trial of the Press’.”
Interesting link, thanks.
There is something definitely fishy about this immigration thing. When, during the civil strife in Cote d’Ivoire, the African Development Bank temporarily moved to Tunisia, a lot of people took their relatives, house help, etc., to Tunis. More came later to set up hair saloons, restaurants and various other trades that catered to an African market. Then lots of these young men and women started migrating to Europe, and which drew more young Africans to Tunis to replace them – before these also moved to Europe. Most of these people were not well educated – usually just a primary school certificate, or not even that. I know a number who couldn’t even read or write. All they had to do was get some money together, find a human trafficker who would put them on a boat and either throw away their passport and declare themselves refugees, or arrange with those who had gone before to write them an invitation to visit “relatives.”
Question: why are all these people allowed into Europe? Who decides to let in so many people who will not fit in, and for the most part, won’t be able to sustain themselves? How will it all end?
The article is misleading….
Eeitrea pursues an independent path, which is the very reason America and the West are against it. Why need a military cover from GCC, a U.S vassal entity ( an entity that does U.S biding) when it is easier to gain it by simply becoming a client of the empire? Eritrea does not do anyone’s biding be it the U.S, GCC or Russia. If Eritrea happens to be participating (tacticly) in the Yemeni situation, it’s because Eritrea is part of the strategically very important straight of Bab Al Mandab, a straight which makes Yemen, Eritrea and Djibouti converge. Let’s make it that way: Can Russia fold it’s hands and observe whatever happens in Ukraine (no caps please – its like shouting. Changed.Mod TR).?
Again your assertions are not buttressed by the facts. Your attacks on Andre Korybko and his excellent article are not balanced; they based on self-propitiated theories. This seems to be an emotional issue for some rather than based on facts.
Water politics must surely be one of the roots to the conflicts in Ethiopia Eritrea Somalia…the Nile starts in these countries and so going after these peoples ensures Egyptian support because if ever these people’s have a period of peace longs enough to begin building a dam the Aswan Dam and the riches of the Nile will come under threat. This fear has been the key driver of instability south of Egypt for decades as I understand things.
What is your view Andrew..?
1, Somalia/Eritrea have nothing to do with the jile river. The nile river starts in Ethiopia.
2, Neither the article nor the situation in yemen has nothing to do with Egypt, and Egypt today has its own problems in the Sinai and domestic politics in addition to dealing with its war torn neighbor Libya.
Egypt does indeed have its own problems. And Sisi has no solutions. It is at precisely such times that rulers often reach for outside enemies to distract from their failures nearer home.
@ Oodnadatta: Somalia/Eritrea have nothing to do with the jile river. The nile river starts in Ethiopia…
Quite right you are, Oodnadatta.
And Ethiopia is already building a huge dam
I think this article has brought to light very important points about the current dynamics developing in the horn of Africa because of the war in Yemen. the war is directly affecting the already tense relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea. those of you who tried to belittle this article should bear in mind that the first victim of this war is ‘the Sanaa cooperation’, a regional block formed by Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen; and its purpose was none other than checking Eritrea’s aggressive behavior. now the new bully sheikdoms of Arabia are cozying with Eritrea while the west has restarted its ageold blackmaking tactics against Ethiopia.
Excellent points. Pat on.
Well done, Andrew.
I agree Wolde.
Andre Korybko has a talent for bringing to light very important geopolitical issues that are totally neglected by most conventional media. You should read his article on Myanmar in the Oriental Review (dot org) it’s fantastic. It is possible that Andre may make some minor error in detail or projection, but he’s an objective professional whose knowledge, does not seem to taint his writings with emotion of ideological bias, which is more than I can say about his amateur detractors in this comments section.
We’re lucky to get his articles here, he’s come a long way.
Thank you guys
Ethiopia values its independence, and therefore the neocons and their slaves will not leave it in peace.
Ethiopia under the late Meles Zenawi began to chart its own independent course, under a concept known as the “African Democratic Developmental State” – meaning a form of governance based on direct consultation with, and accountability to the people. The “developmental” part refers to the fact that the state exists to promote the people’s well-being, which means that if poverty does not decline consistently, and if resources continue to be poorly shared, then the state has failed, no matter what else it my pretend to be doing. A proper state must therefore be “developmental” or development-minded. And this it must do by responding to the people’s real needs, not by implementing donor-driven projects.
This also means that Ethiopia believes in a strong state, independent from donor and Western dictates, which goes against current Western-imposed model, which preaches that “the less state there is, the better”, and “let the private sector, foreign direct investment (FDI), etc., do most of the ‘developmental’ work.”
Therefore, Meles (and the current government) believed in “the state’s prominent role in building robust accountable institutions and facilitating rapid sustainable development.” http://www.afdb.org/en/news-and-events/article/meles-zenawi-foundation-holds-inaugural-symposium-on-the-african-democratic-developmental-state-14597/
In other words, more state, rather than less. There is a thriving private sector (even a millionaire or two), and there is FDI, but the state determines the priority investment areas, and ensures that corporate social responsibility is a fact on the ground, not a slogan, and, more importantly, that the local people benefit directly from business and investments. The same goes with bilateral aid, oil sheikhdoms included, and projects by the UN and other organizations. Moreover, all must respect the local culture, NGOs are not to interfere with same-sex marriage and similar agendas, but must work with the people in ways that suit their customs.
And this policy is really working, poverty is going down, people are confident and proud of their culture, they have a big say in running things, refuse to tow the Western line, and they are more satisfied with their leadership than most.
This is exactly the sort of independent attitude that invites regime change and general bullying. Therefore, although I was unaware of the particular plot that Andrew mentions, this sort of thing is only to be expected. Ethiopia will not be left alone.
But isn’t Ethiopia basically a client state of the US and in fact occupying territory that is recognized as part of Eritrea. Don’t like the idea that Eritrea is in bed with the Saudis and Qataris but they really have to do something re: the Hegemon and its nefarious designs on its independent position in Africa.
Re: your question about Ethiopia:
(“But isn’t Ethiopia basically a client state of the US and in fact occupying territory that is recognized as part of Eritrea.[?] )
The short answer to both parts of that question is: No it isn’t
Ethiopia is neither is a client state of the West nor is it occupying territory that is part of Eritrea. The whole existence of Eritrea itself was engineered to ensure that the entire littoral of the Red sea should remain under the control of the West (Djibouti) , the West’s client states (until recently included Egypt) and the West’s Oil monarchies (aka medieval monarchs).
Exactly, that’s how I understand it as well.
And that’s why both Ethiopia and Eritrea are in danger right now.
The danger also has to do with not just Chinese investment in Ethiopia, but also – and perhaps mostly – with the fact that the Maritime Silk Road is planned to pass through the Red Sea… This makes US leadership (really, the Ziocons) see red. Understandably, since they are determined never to share world resources with anyone else.
Thank you all for the active feedback on the article. To clarify a bit and address some of the criticisms, I personally don’t have any dog in this fight and strove to objectively analyze the geopolitical situation between all the referenced actors.
I’m aware of Ethiopia’s cooperation with the US, especially in the 2006 Invasion of Somalia, and I understand that was behaving as a Lead From Behind proxy during that tiem. However, not to defend it from this strategic standpoint but to analyze the context, the Islamic Courts Union, while noticeably less radical than Al Shabaab and ISIL of course, was an Islamist grouping that ideologically shares a lot of conceptual similiarities to the Muslim Brotherhood and other likeminded groups. It’s ultimately up to the Somalis to decide how they want to be governored, but we mustn’t be wishy-washy about the type of organization that the ICU was. Just as ISIL grew out of Al Qaeda in Iraq, so too did Al Shabaab grow out of the ICU, which also has been alleged to have some ties with Al Qaeda (although possibly overblown to justify the invasion, but my inkling is that they were present, nonetheless).
To the point about the ICU and Eritrea not being under American control, yes, that’s true, but at the same time, the very principle of a country not being under the US’ boot (or at least directly so) doesn’t give it a blank check in my book. Prior to commencing my detailed research into the region (please see the full article linked at the top which I based this summary on) which I incidentally began long ago (and the full findings of which I wasn’t able to include in either analyses), I had initially thought that Eritrea was the underdog and ‘better’ than Ethiopia. However, I learned that it also has its flaws, and that its support of various groups in Ethiopia and Somalia is disturbing (although from its national security standpoint, it feels justified in doing so).
I find that contemporary Eritrea is somewhat like modern-day Cuba — it’s a ‘multipolar god’ that mustn’t be criticized in any shape or form. I love Cuba, it’s people, and it’s ideals, but I’ve written quite a lot on Oriental Review (and posted regularly on Facebook) about how I feel Raul has sold the country out unnecessarily and for some reason pivoted towards the unipolar world at the time when the rest of the world is moving towards the multipolar one. I regretfully don’t have the time to engage in a full conversation about this (work responsibilities, writing my second book, etc.), but my point is that the moment I said anything, just one single thing critical about Cuba, some people got so offended that they still won’t talk to me to this day and friendships were ruined. Why? Because I dared question a ‘mulitpolar truth’, namely, that Cuba is infallible no matter who leads it or under what contexts. I disagree with that blind ‘loyalty’, if you will, to any country, and feel that when certain questionable decisions are undertaken by a state, that it deserves to be deeply analyzed, and if need be, constructively criticized.
This is exactly how I view Eritrea’s cooperation with the GCC. Unnecessary but motivated by purely economic reasons that will inevitably have geostrategic consequences. Cuba ‘sells out’ to the US (what good did they get, anyhow? what benefit besides moving along a trajectory of closer American relations, and inevitably, asymmetrical control??), Eritrea sells out to the GCC. Both were multipolar beacons, or so it seemed, now their reputations are tainted and people who honestly mean well and support multipolarity are having cognitive dissonance in rectifying these inconvenient truths with their ideological loyalty. This is why Qatar is being defended in Eritrea, despite Qatar largly being pinpointed as the culprit in the Sinai crash:
(Mr. Satanovsky is one of Russia’s #1 Mideast analysts and I know him personally so I can attest to his expertise)
Let’s look at Qatar’s involvement in the region for a moment before any readers get the wrong impression that I was ‘grasping for straws’ with my summarized analysis:
Ethiopia cuts ties with Qatar in 2008 because it and Al Jazeera were supporting the Ogadan National Liberation Front:
2009 US secretly accuses Qatar of supporting Al Shabaab and other terrorists:
(follow-ups on this have come out in the years since, surprisingly also reference in Western media)
Qatar is requested as a “mediator” in ER-DJ border dispute in 2010 (Asmara obviously chose Ethiopia’s irritant so that it can remain a presence in the Horn and irk its neighbor
At this point, we see that there is ample evidence to suggest that Qatar is using its presence in Eritrea (likely with a wink and a nod from Asmara) to destabilize the Horn of Africa in pursuit of its Islamist projects in the region.
Ties were technically resumed in 2012 and Al Thani visited in 2013:
So yes, on paper, both sides have “normalized” relations, but in reality, the dynamics are still in play and nothing has changed in this regard. Ethiopia, it should be noted, is an emerging agricultural producer that many Gulf States have sought to invest in to supplement their food supplies, so there’s also a pragmatic element at work here, too. Still, Qatar’s “clash of civilizations” mentality is incompatible with Ethiopia’s officially inclusive one, and the Christian-Muslim demographic divide (superimposed on a certain geography, as proven in my in-depth Katehon analysis) is a prime vulnerability that’s just waiting to be more fully exploited (hence why Ethiopia cut off ties with Qatar for its support of Islamic insurgents in the Muslim-populated east).
Another very important aspect that’s being left out of the critiques is that Ethiopia is one of China’s main African partners, and that outbound investment is absolutely integral to China if it wants to maintain its growth rates in the future (that’s the whole point of the One Belt One Road undertaking). Information about bilateral relations (strategic, political, econmic) is readily available online, but I unfortunately don’t have much free time left at the moment to source them for you all (there’s urgent work I need to do soon), but please do a few google searches to learn more.
Continuing with this, Ethiopia, for better or for worse, is one of China’s lynchpins in Africa, and thus, by tangent, one of its most important outbound investment locations for the future and a key node in its sustained future economic growth. The two countries are bound together, and China is helping to wean Ethiopia off of whatever unipolar influence is still present in the country or some of its decision-making organs. Similarly, the EPDRF, their equivalent of China’s CCP that rules the country, yes, while far from perfect and certainly worthy of criticism, shares a key denominator with their Chinese counterpart, and it’s that if neither were in power, the entire state entity would collapse into a multitude of states. Whether or not this is beneficial is up to the individual to judge for themselves, but personally, I generally feel that prevent Brzezinski-esque state fragmentation is very, very important in order to preserve the multipolar world and support the ‘ideology’ that that multipolar states don’t have to be ethno-centric and can be, at least theoretically (although not perfectly), inclusive.
My point here is that Ethiopia has become very important to China and the developing multipolar world, and care how one wants to about Eritrea and it’s struggle, the fact that it’s working with the GCC (specifically Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE), the unipolar “clash of civilization” bulldogs, is disturbing, and this will certainly impact on China’s policy for Africa, and indirectly (but strongly so), on its economic stability in the future via the destabilization of one of its largest outbound investment destinations.
This — using Eritrea to destabilize Ethiopia, and thus, unbalance China as part of a global economic war against it — is why I object so strongly to Asmara’s choice in working with the GCC. There is no doubt that it will try to leverage this relationship to its ‘cold war’ advantage against Ethiopia, and that this will ultimately play to the US’ hands, and no matter how ‘justified’ one thinks this is from the narrow perspective of Eritrean-Ethiopian relations, it will certainly have global consequences.
Thank you all again for your feedback, and please mind that I may not respond for a few days because of some very pressing work that I’m presently engaged in. Thank you for understanding, but do remember that I read all the comments under my articles, so your (hopefully respectful) responses won’t be in vain.
I am no geopolitics expert I read the Vinyardsacker to get a different point of view from the increasingly one sided, arrogant news I get from the mainstream British media particularly on Russia. Ethiopia; reading this piece made me very, very sad for Ethiopia I have traveled to that country more than 15 times with an average stay between one to four months, Ethiopia is one of the most beautiful and very, very, big countries I’ve visited in Africa and I’ve been to a couple of African nations. The Ethiopian people are among the most diverse, kindest and open people you can meet from the Gambellas, Tigrays and Amharas etc I found the country very welcoming and friendly I visited Bahir Dar(Very Mediterranean), Gondar (Really like Camelot) Hawasa (If you want to know the heat of Venus visit this place!), Sheshemane (Brilliant Rasta community very loyal to the country) and everything in between. Back to the article I sincerely hope Ethiopia does not get into any stability problems its the only African nation not colonized by the French or British except a brief period by the Italians allot of Africans are proud of this fact not only the Ethiopians. I wish Eritrea and Ethiopia could sort out their differences because from an economic standpoint both nations could make fortunes from positive cooperation.
Thanks for your positive thoughts about Ethiopia, but unfortunately the very nature of Eritrean identity which was found on hurting Ethiopia would not allow the peaceful coexistence….you don’t invent things not to use them…and Eritrea will always remain one such tool to be used against Ethiopia regardless of cost benefit to it’s people…