|By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, July 18, 2001 - 1:09 pm: Edit Post|
Chicago Bears Chairman Michael McCaskey, who taught school in Ethiopia for the Peace Corps in the 1960s, has joined other prominent former Peace Corps volunteers promoting a peaceful solution.
TO ARMS AGAIN IN THE HORN OF AFRICA
Chicago Tribune February 4, 2000
The simmering border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea is poised to erupt again in bloodshed and agony for the people of those troubled nations in the Horn of Africa.
Despite the best efforts of the Clinton administration to negotiate a peace, some 250,000 troops have been assembled on each side of the disputed border, ready to resume a conflict that killed more than 70,000 people in 1998 and 1999.
War is seasonal there. The rains have passed, followed by a season of major arms buying and now the dry season. Tragically, there appears to be little, if anything, the U.S. or other outsiders can do to stop it.
President Clinton wisely has made Africa a growing priority in U.S. foreign policy. In fact, he has tried repeatedly, and personally, to persuade Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to make peace. He has sent his former national security adviser, Anthony Lake, along with other envoys, to keep up pressure. There is still hope for a negotiated solution, but it seems to be fading.
Some observers would like to see the U.S. turn up the heat by threatening to cut American and World Bank aid to the combatants. Others advocate a Camp David-style summit with Clinton providing both sides with political cover to back down and accept his mediation. Chicago Bears Chairman Michael McCaskey, who taught school in Ethiopia for the Peace Corps in the 1960s, has joined other prominent former Peace Corps volunteers promoting a peaceful solution.
But Africa experts inside and outside the U.S. government correctly point out that Clinton and the Organization of African Unity have presented a workable plan. Both sides have accepted it in principle, but they are still at an impasse over its implementation.
Few argue the facts. After gaining independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea invaded parts of Ethiopia in May 1998, touching off conflict and trench warfare over the border region.
Ethiopia recaptured much of the disputed area, and Eritrea has agreed to "redeploy" from the rest of it under the OAU plan to demarcate the border. But Ethiopia still has technical problems with the plan and is demanding a full withdrawal by Eritrea before the border demarcation.
Negotiations continue, but in the end, the dispute may well erupt into war again until both sides fight to a stalemate or tire themselves out. What remains to be seen is whether it will cost tens of thousands of lives, yet again, to put this dispute to rest once and for all.
The U.S. has devoted substantial energy to the effort to broker a peace. Sadly, that sometimes isn't enough.
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