The Circular Ethiopian-Eritrean Border Saga

Ethiopia has come a long way. In the last fifty years, it traveled the longest distance from where it started compared to many African and Middle Eastern countries. The Epic journey took it out from the darkest abyss of a feudal system lorded over by Emperor Haile Selassie, through a bloody Dergue Marxist revolution that finally brought Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam, through a tough rebellion that brought the downfall of the Dergue regime in 1991.

In parallel, Eritreans fought for self-determination to break free from the grip of the feudal Ethiopian empire. They started the struggle 20 years before Ethiopians began their fifty-year journey. and they came out victorious in 1991. Eritrea was liberated, so was Ethiopia. Sadly, the Eritrean misery continued under the rule of the liberators-turned-oppressors.

In 1991, the two countries started from identical situations, but Eritrea took a different path, one of domination and curtailing basic freedoms and human rights. It is still marred by many crises and is ruled by the mentality of rebellion and a guerrilla mindset. However, both the Ethiopian TPLF and the Eritrean EPLF were inflicted with the same malady; both believe in military might and absolute power. And unbeknownst to the citizens of the two countries, the relations between the two allied guerrilla entities that came to power in 1991 were deteriorating; the waters that looked calm on the surface were boiling below. That was a natural cause for the two years of bloody confrontation that ensued.

However, while Eritrea stayed a single party, a militarist country, Ethiopia started to walk the challenging path of democratization, against all odds. While the Ethiopians persistently challenged the ruling party and inched their way ahead, the Eritrean ruling party made sure no opponent remained standing to challenge it.

As recent as two months ago, the Ethiopian power center shifted from one entity within the ruling coalition party, the TPLF, to another, the OPDO, and to a certain degree to the EPDM. TPLF, the founder, and architect of the EPRDF party had its nails clipped and its political influence drastically downsized in a lightning speed. That change brought the dangerously fast-moving new Prime Minister, Dr. Abyi Ahmed. Since his election in April, the PM changed so many things to the extent that the face of Ethiopian politics seems to have had a drastic facelift and doesn’t resemble the face of Ethiopia before he was inaugurated.

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