"So the question is …

… [as Aletheia Kallos put it to me in an exchange of emails overnight] will the United Nations in the form of UNMEE (UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea) which was created to monitor and guarantee the Temporary Security Zone which was itself created to insure the separation of forces pending the demarcation also to be provided by the United Nations in the persona of the EEBC (Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission) Tribunal at the Hague even be able to acknowledge let alone enforce its own final and binding United Nations guaranteed demarcation — and if not, then exactly what does the United Nations think it is doing here?”

Well, I’m sure the UN, as usual, thinks it’s helping — it’s trying to keep things calm, cool things down, and hoping that soon the situation will get a lot better, mostly by luck … Other than that, the UN doesn’t usually have a clue. It is an impartial, objective, and neutral body, you see.  And anybody who has an agenda is usually obliged to dissimulate, or resort to subterfuge.

Actually, the UN, as ususal, is just making things up as it goes along, and hoping that everything will work out, because nobody would want to be embarassed by seeming over-the-top., would they? After all, we are all refined, well-brought and over-educated diplomats (without any excess of courage or orginality, and with mortgages to pay and children to put through school) who know exactly how to behave and what to do, arent’t we?

One question I have is: How would going ahead with an actual physical demarcation on the ground make Ethiopia any happier? The EEBC seems to have ruled in favor of Eritrea, and has said its decision on the boundary is final. Apparently because Eritrea refused to go along with a physical demarcation, the EEBC issued its list of geographical points that it says are the boundary.  But Ethiopia says this is just a “virtual” demarcation, and rejects it.  It does not seem to me any less clear or less binding than painting rocks medium-light blue (as in southern Lebanon) or whatever.

Another question I have is: why does the UN peacekeeping mission put Ethiopia ahead of Eritrea in its name? [UNMEE is, again, the UN Mission in (1)Ethiopia and (2)Eritrea]. By contrast, the arbitration proceedings [the EEBC – or Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission] put Eritrea first, apparently going according to correct and perhaps more impartial alphabetical order …?

4 thoughts on “"So the question is …”

  1. thanx i agree
    & could be mistaken but i think it was actually ethiopia who balked first
    just after the physical demarcation had actually begun circa 2003
    hmm we really need to stop & think & talk about this some more

    & i think eritrea
    wanting the already ongoing fulfillment of their existing agreement to continue
    rather than having to endure any delay or renegotiation of it
    then gradually withdrew her support for a mission that was no longer continuing to proceed in any sense

    so i think ethiopia didnt & still doesnt want demarcation to continue directly

    rather i think the only thing that would make her happier is a redelimitation that would include badme within ethiopia
    & only then a demarcation

    & in the meantime she is happy enough maintaining a semiactive military front in preference to a settled border
    since this allows her also to continue to hope for a resumption of the war
    when conditions are more favorable for her to regain assab too

    i love your other question too marian
    alphamaniac that i am
    but cant answer it

    perhaps the inversion of one ee was the result of a compromise

  2. also
    some fresh intelligence from stratfor today at

    U.N. peacekeepers began withdrawing from Eritrea to the Ethiopian side of the Eritrean-Ethiopian border Feb. 14 after the Eritrean government interrupted fuel supplies to the force, media reports said. Ethiopia agreed Feb. 13 to host the U.N. force, which acts as a buffer in the border zone, provided that it would have only an administrative and not operational mission.

    note especially this last proviso
    which i had not previously noticed

    it seems to say
    no border enforcement will be tolerated from these guest missionaries

  3. That’s very interesting — why would Ethiopia want to restrain the UN, which has after all never really been into enforcing anything anyway? The UN presence can only prolong .the present status quo.

    An earlier Stratfor analysis of media reports about the Eritrean fuel cut to UN forces in late January apparently stated that “Though the EEBC threatened to rule Nov. 30, 2007, that the border it demarcated between the two countries would stand, it has not taken physical steps to transfer disputed territory to one side or the other. Eritrea favors the current demarcation, which awards it disputed territory occupied by Ethiopia. Eritrea therefore believes the EEBC and the UN peacekeepers supporting it have no further work to do, and therefore have no need for fuel supplies. Ethiopia opposes the demarcation, and has called for continued negotiations. Recognizing the changed border would force Ethiopia to formally accept its loss of territory and access to the sea — something regime hard-liners who assumed power in Addis Ababa in 1993 are loath to do. Though tensions remain high between the two countries, a resumption of military hostilities is not expected in the short term. On paper, the two armies are relatively evenly matched, but Ethiopia can draw on a
    much larger population to sustain military operations if need be. But though the Ethiopian military’s conscription base may outnumber Eritrea’s, it is currently heavily engaged in Somalia. An estimated 20,000 troops out of about 180,000 and its best commanders are deployed in Somalia to battle an Islamist insurgency intent on bringing down Ethiopia’s proxy government in Somalia. Ethiopia also is battling a rebellion in the country’s Ogaden region.
    Should Ethiopia withdraw its troops from Somalia, it could use those battle-hardened troops in an offensive to resolve the border dispute with Eritrea. An
    Ethiopian withdraw from Somalia would spell disaster for the Somalian government, however, which probably would not survive the Islamist insurgency despite the presence of African Union peacekeepers…”

    The link, for those who have access to Stratfor, seems to be http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/eritrea_ethiopia_border_tensions_and_fuel_cutoff

  4. i think ethiopia wants to restrain the united nations first from recollecting its actual responsibility as the primary guarantor of algiers & from then realizing it is now already fully empowered to simply proceed with its mission to enforce its own final & binding decision

    for indeed it too is finally bound to do its agreed job first & foremost

    so even as the united nations so rightly withdraws or parades across the old military front & the new de jure border in the badme area
    on its way back to turtle bay
    on valentines day yet
    ethiopia wants to keep the united nations from waking up to its responsibility to see the ethiopian forces not only out of the erstwhile tsz
    but a fortiori
    out of the now at last totally definite territory of eritrea

    & i think the status quo of cease fire rather than actual peace is prolonged not so much by the presence of the united nations as by the fact that neither side can afford to resume the war just now

    indeed the presence of the united nations seems to me to discourage the real peace that would break out as soon as ethiopia realizes it will simply not be permitted by the powers that be to use a little old & ultimately illegal boundary dispute as a hope spring for eventually restarting a larger war

    for today is a great moment of truth in the history of the rule of law
    & in the rise of turtle bay
    if any

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