ADDIS ABABA is not gearing up for war with its Eritrean neighbour in the short term, but is actively preparing the post-Issayas Afeworki era.
Ethiopia’s armed forces chief of staff, General Mohamed-Nur Yunus, aka Samora, played a key role for the 4th conference of the Red Sea Afar community held in Samara (Ethiopia) from 9 to 11 August by the Eritrean Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO, opposition).
The conference was attended by Ismael Ali Sirro, the president of the Ethiopian Afar Regional State, as well as a number of other Eritrean opposition organisations. Its final declaration agreed to draft a new constitution for Eritrea, to set up a federal system of government.
Taking the lead from the meeting of Eritrean opposition organisations on 18 July in Mekelle, the Ethiopian chief of army staff showed the groups present in Samara that they constituted an important link in Addis Ababa’s strategy against Asmara. They were sent a clear message: the time has come for military fight against the Eritrean regime of president Issayas Afeworki. For his part, the Ethiopian promised that his country’s logistic support of these groups would be strengthened.
Meanwhile, on 9 August, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, declared on Tsenat Radio, a pro-Ethiopian government station broadcasting from Washington, that the “neither war nor peace” situation with Eritrea had done its time. He also warned Asmara against supporting Ethiopian opposition groups like Ginbot 7 led by Berhanu Nega and the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), otherwise Ethiopia could “take defensive measures”.
However, an attack against Eritrea would not seem to be on the cards, as Ethiopia is keen for stability to ensure continued economic growth.