Water war in Africa?

Discussion of current events
Jim the Moron
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Re: Water war in Africa?

Post by Jim the Moron » Fri Jan 22, 2021 5:55 am

As it happens , Ethiopia and Ethiopians will survive. Much as in eons past. Just as BBC a few months ago believes otherwise is inconsequential, given its track record.

Ellen
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Re: Water war in Africa?

Post by Ellen » Fri Jan 22, 2021 5:56 am

Yes, I have too rosy a view of Ethiopia. My sister worked for the IMF and told me the ethnic problems could easily cause the disintegration of the country. Economically, even though the statistics for the last 20 years show amazing improvements in all metrics, she said once you go outside of Addis Ababa, things become bleak and backward pretty quickly.

The main thing for Abiy, who is an Oromese married to an Amharic, both Christians, is keeping the 2 big ethnic groups together, like his own marriage. The Amharics plus the Oromos together are almost 70% of the population. If they can resolve their power lusts, most of the country can survive intact. Tigre province and perhaps Somaliland can be spun off as independent countries, or disaster zones, depending on their ability to manage self government. The Tigreans have proven they can run a national government, but Somaliland - forget about it. Another failed state.

One positive thing to conclude about the civil war with the Tigreans, is that it looks the Ethiopian army actually defeated their opponents and are now occupying that province (not much news coming out of there, so I am not sure). What does this tell us? That the Ethiopian army is possibly more capable than the Egyptian army which cannot defeat 2000 ISIS terrorists in Northern Sinai (aided by Hamas) hiding among a mere 400,000 Egyptian residents. This is in a desert area where there is not much camouflage, unlike the jungle in Vietnam, hence the difficulty of fighting a long guerilla war. The Egyptian army seems to be utterly incompetent. If they can't crush 2000 ISIS terrorists, they will not be able to defeat the Ethiopian army, as long as the Ethiopians can defend the GERD with either someone else's airforce, or someone else's antiaircraft defense.

Ethiopia is going out on a ledge too soon, frankly. They need to resolve their ethnic problems first, then build a more industrialized economy with a better educated population, and then address the GERD issue with Sudan and Egypt. Provoking the Arab states now seems premature. They are being overcome a little too much by arrogance and bravado. This is easy to understand in a rapidly rising power, but potentially fatal. Recall, what doomed Egypt to backwardness and decline was Nasser's arrogance and bravado in the 1950's and 60's. He thought he could pick a fight with little Israel and become the hero of the Arab/Muslim world with a quick victory over the weak and cowardly Jews. That was the rhetoric coming out of Cairo in those days. He got his comeuppance, and Egypt (and the Arabs) have never recovered since. He refused to resign after the debacle, and died 3 years later as a broken man, from a heart attack.

Abiy just won a Nobel Peace Prize, which is usually a very bad omen. Things go bad very quickly for most winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. What a worthless prize. Ask Henry Kissinger and Yitzhak Rabin (sorry, he's dead). I hope he postpones this conflict by a couple of years to resolve his internal problems. A compromise can be reached. And, pertaining to your interesting comments about Eritrea and ports: I have always felt the most useful military maneuver for the Ethiopians would be to take one of the ports of Eritrea to give them an outlet to the sea, and "compensate" Eritrea, whatever that means. Being a regional power means never having to say you're sorry.

neverfail
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Re: Water war in Africa?

Post by neverfail » Fri Jan 22, 2021 3:15 pm

Hi Ellen,

I have never set foot within the country whereas you and your sister have had some significent past involvement with it. I hope therefore you will not mind if I still comment on points made in your most recent post?
Ellen wrote:
Fri Jan 22, 2021 5:56 am
Yes, I have too rosy a view of Ethiopia. My sister worked for the IMF and told me the ethnic problems could easily cause the disintegration of the country. Economically, even though the statistics for the last 20 years show amazing improvements in all metrics, she said once you go outside of Addis Ababa, things become bleak and backward pretty quickly.
Yes, that is my impression too. Addis Ababa is like the showcase capital of a still poor and backward country. I believe that the combined effects of the Ethiopian plateau's high altitude above sea level (which blesses it with a cooler regional microclimate than surrounding lands); fertile soil and normally copious rainfall make this country a natural as a food bowl. Unfortunately that advantage seems to be cancelled out by backward farming methods (mainly hand cultivation) and resultant low productivity per farmer. Ethiopia manages (unlike Egypt) to feed its 100 million plus without needing significent food imports but it takes a lot of peasant farmers, each growing on average only a tiny surplus, to do it.
The main thing for Abiy, who is an Oromese married to an Amharic, both Christians, is keeping the 2 big ethnic groups together, like his own marriage. The Amharics plus the Oromos together are almost 70% of the population. If they can resolve their power lusts, most of the country can survive intact. Tigre province and perhaps Somaliland can be spun off as independent countries, or disaster zones, depending on their ability to manage self government. The Tigreans have proven they can run a national government, but Somaliland - forget about it. Another failed state.
The inhabitants of Tigre are 95% muslim (like the Eritrians and Somalis) while the Ethiopian plateau (the part worth having) is practically wall-to-wall Coptic Christian. So I agree that it would make sense to push Tigre off into a seperate national soverignty.
One positive thing to conclude about the civil war with the Tigreans, is that it looks the Ethiopian army actually defeated their opponents and are now occupying that province (not much news coming out of there, so I am not sure). What does this tell us?
To go by fragmentary news filtering out of the region and from the reports of Tigrean immigrants/refugees resettled here in Australia (who still have relatives over there) what is tells you is that the Ethiopian army recently performed in Tigre with extreme brutality. Likely it will prompt more Tigreans to throw in their lot with the resistance. Meantime there are now Tigrean refugees in camps established just across the border inside Sudan to provide raw recruits and a base of operations for resistence fighters.
Ethiopia is going out on a ledge too soon, frankly. They need to resolve their ethnic problems first, then build a more industrialized economy with a better educated population, and then address the GERD issue with Sudan and Egypt. Provoking the Arab states now seems premature.
They are provoking at least two Arab states by building the dam.
And, pertaining to your interesting comments about Eritrea and ports: I have always felt the most useful military maneuver for the Ethiopians would be to take one of the ports of Eritrea to give them an outlet to the sea, and "compensate" Eritrea, whatever that means. Being a regional power means never having to say you're sorry.
Ellen, in fact from 1951 to 1981 Eritria and its ports was annexed to Ethiopia as part of the latter's national soverignty. The country seems to have profitted little from it. For most of that period (1961 - 1981) the Eritrians were involved in an independence struggle firstly against Emperor Haile Selasse and in the latter phase against the Soviet and Cuban backed military junta government known as the DERG (or Dirgue) . They finally got their independence when the DERG was finally overthrown and Eritria was granted its own soverignty as part of the peace deal by the new government.

If the Ethiopians were so improvident as to try and seize any Eritrian port by force do you believe that the Eritrians would not resist just as fiercely as they did during their 3 decades long insurgency struggle for independence?

Eritria was (by the way) never destined to fit in comfortably as a province of Ethiopia. Its inhabitants are every bit as Muslim as those of highland Ethiopia are Coptic Christian.

neverfail
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Re: Ethiopia does not need Eritria.

Post by neverfail » Sat Jan 23, 2021 2:59 pm

In assessing Ethiopia's access to the sea I overlooked one tiny country with which the country shares a commin frontier, Djibouti.
https://www.ethiopiaonlinevisa.com/ethi ... i-railway/

Completed in 2017, the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway has been an enormous success, transporting passengers and goods across the 759 km journey and boosting Ethiopia's import-export sector. The fully-electrified line doesn't only benefit the economy but also makes traveling way more convenient for people.
Djibouti, a former outpost of the French empire, is a country with which (unlile Eritria and Somalia) Ethiopia has no past history of conflict. As such it seems to offer Ethiopia a nice, neutral deepwater harbour and portinhg facilities for use. I also get the impression that the Djibouti government is keen to foster international commerce and trade so the interests of both seem well served by this rail link.

It seems that road links with Kenya have recently improved as well:
https://www.afdb.org/en/news-and-events ... n%20region.

The 895-km highway corridor linking Kenya and Ethiopia has not only eased cross-border traffic between the two countries, but is a major push for economic integration within Africa, resulting in jobs and improved livelihoods across the Horn region.Aug 18, 2018
..........................................................................................................................................
If only the current leadership can avert civil war and keep the country on its development agenda. But at present chances of doing so look bleak.

neverfail
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Re: Water war in Africa?

Post by neverfail » Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:59 pm

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/05/worl ... ained.html

Why Is Ethiopia at War With Itself?

Perhaps you could comment on this Ellen?

Ellen
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Re: Water war in Africa?

Post by Ellen » Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:41 pm

It's behind a pay wall. Can you send me the article or copy the important parts into a post here?

Thanks

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Doc
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Re: Water war in Africa?

Post by Doc » Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:56 pm

Ellen wrote:
Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:41 pm
It's behind a pay wall. Can you send me the article or copy the important parts into a post here?

Thanks
Here is the syndicated version:

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/wh ... r-BB1bfWB5

You can also read the original by selecting all under edit as soon as it load them immediately ctrl-c and pasting to note pad. The reason NYT has a pay wall is because they syndicate some articles and syndication doesn't work if they give the articles away for free.
“"I fancied myself as some kind of god....It is a sort of disease when you consider yourself some kind of god, the creator of everything, but I feel comfortable about it now since I began to live it out.” -- George Soros

Ellen
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Re: Water war in Africa?

Post by Ellen » Mon Jan 25, 2021 2:43 am

Thanks Doc.

Read this self-contradicting statement from the article: "The conflict erupted in early November, just a year after Ethiopian Prime Minister Aiby Ahmed received the Nobel Peace Prize for resolving the 20-year border conflict with Eritrea." OK. So, the conflict broke out one year after it was resolved. Lovely logic.

So, this is the first lesson to be learned from this incident. Never give a Noble Prize to any political leader still enmeshed in a long-standing conflict. The mere act of awarding the NP will guarantee that a new round of the conflict will break out following the awards ceremony, because

1. The leader's opponents want to humiliate him.
2. The leader himself now thinks he has been awarded a carte blanche to do whatever he wants in his own neighborhood. In other words, the dimwits in Oslo are only interested in making themselves look good, and care little for the details in these long-running third world conflicts. Irredentism is the operative force here.

Notable examples of this were awarding the NP to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for the Vietnam War peace treaty, which soon enough ended in the communist conquest of Saigon, after the US troops departed.

Another example: Giving Yasser Arafat a NP, subsequently followed by a second intifada with suicide bombers in Israeli cities.

Sadly, Mr. Abiy is now following up with his own debacle. This is sad, because Abiy is really a progressive leader in Africa today and has great potential to bring Ethiopia into the league of lower middle income countries within 10 years time. It would be nice if he showed some subtlety and cleverness in dealing with an intractable and long-running conflict between the center of the country and its periphery. From these very sketchy details, it appears that he is not playing the situation well.

That said, the Tigrayans are only 6% of the population of Ethiopia and have no particular right to rule the country or indulge in patronage now that they are no longer ruling in Addis Ababa. They resemble the Alawites of Syria, actually, who want to rule a Sunni country and will kill all the Sunnis or drive them out, before admitting that they are not the rightful rulers of Syria.

Abiy is correct that he must crush the Tigrayan elite that harbors these megalomaniac sentiments. But, it is not wise nor moral to massacre civilians and drive - potentially - millions of people out of ET into Sudan. I hope he comes to his senses soon. A federal system should be set up in ET giving some autonomy to local ethnic groups who are large enough to be nations. In the long run, that is the only solution in addition to spinning off some of the troublesome minorities into their own states, even if they fail shortly thereafter. That will be their problem, not Abiy's.

neverfail
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Re: Water war in Africa?

Post by neverfail » Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:27 am

Doc beat me too it. No worry! :D
Ellen wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 2:43 am
Thanks Doc.

Read this self-contradicting statement from the article: "The conflict erupted in early November, just a year after Ethiopian Prime Minister Aiby Ahmed received the Nobel Peace Prize for resolving the 20-year border conflict with Eritrea." OK. So, the conflict broke out one year after it was resolved. Lovely logic.

So, this is the first lesson to be learned from this incident. Never give a Noble Prize to any political leader still enmeshed in a long-standing conflict. The mere act of awarding the NP will guarantee that a new round of the conflict will break out following the awards ceremony, because

1. The leader's opponents want to humiliate him.
2. The leader himself now thinks he has been awarded a carte blanche to do whatever he wants in his own neighborhood. In other words, the dimwits in Oslo are only interested in making themselves look good, and care little for the details in these long-running third world conflicts. Irredentism is the operative force here.

Notable examples of this were awarding the NP to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for the Vietnam War peace treaty, which soon enough ended in the communist conquest of Saigon, after the US troops departed.

Another example: Giving Yasser Arafat a NP, subsequently followed by a second intifada with suicide bombers in Israeli cities.
Ellen, I do not claim to have gifted insight into the thinking of the Nobel committee so this attempted explanation by me is necessarily speculative. But it has occurred to me that the committee may often chose who to award the Peace Prize to not so much as a reward for work alrerady dome as an encouragement to keep up the good work. Unfortunately, politics being what it is it does not always work out as the Noben committee hoped it would. I do not know you would find that helpful?

(p.s. did Kissenger negotiate the US withdrawl from Vietnam? With the efflux of time I sort of forgot. Ellen, in the very late 1960's and into the 1970's ( I was around then): anyone with any knowledge of the situation in Vietnam who had his head screwede on right could see with clarity that sometime after the last US troops departed Vietnam the Commies (or more accurately the North Vietnamese) would take over. Kissenger, Nixon and everyone else in the know on the US side would have been aware of it too. The negotiations with Hanoi were a sham, a shabby face saving measure if you like, to permit the US to extricate itself with a modicum of dignity intact. No one would have had any confidence that the South Vietnamese regime had any popular support other than from the priveleged few. As for the peasants and fishermen who made up the majority of the S. Vietnam population those who were not supporting the Communist side outright could not have cared less about saving the S. Vietnamese regime. Meantime back in the US the war has divided American society to the point where it looked as though it were on the brink of civil war - just like it did very recently. The USA had to do that deal and withdraw from Vietnam as the alternative would have been to drive American society o9ver the edge right into the hell of a civil war.)
Sadly, Mr. Abiy is now following up with his own debacle. This is sad, because Abiy is really a progressive leader in Africa today and has great potential to bring Ethiopia into the league of lower middle income countries within 10 years time. It would be nice if he showed some subtlety and cleverness in dealing with an intractable and long-running conflict between the center of the country and its periphery. From these very sketchy details, it appears that he is not playing the situation well.

That said, the Tigrayans are only 6% of the population of Ethiopia and have no particular right to rule the country or indulge in patronage now that they are no longer ruling in Addis Ababa. They resemble the Alawites of Syria, actually, who want to rule a Sunni country and will kill all the Sunnis or drive them out, before admitting that they are not the rightful rulers of Syria.

Abiy is correct that he must crush the Tigrayan elite that harbors these megalomaniac sentiments. But, it is not wise nor moral to massacre civilians and drive - potentially - millions of people out of ET into Sudan. I hope he comes to his senses soon. A federal system should be set up in ET giving some autonomy to local ethnic groups who are large enough to be nations. In the long run, that is the only solution in addition to spinning off some of the troublesome minorities into their own states, even if they fail shortly thereafter. That will be their problem, not Abiy's.
Thank you Ellen. I was waiting to read your "take" on the political situation there as frankly ine info I have been able to dredge up on the topic via Google perplexes me. After the rule by the Derg was brought to an end in 1991 it has apparently an alliance between Tigrians and one of the big Christian ethnic groups (was it the ORomo?) who took control of the country. It was their militias which fought their way to the outskirts of Addis prompting the Derg to "say uncle". Under this Tigran led alliance Etthopia apparently enjoyed unprecedented economic growth and considerable improvement in other matters but also earned a reputation for unacceptable petty-corruption.
........................................................................................................................................

I find Ethiopia a perplexing place. As a state Ethiopia has been around for a long time. I believe that there was a kingdom of Ethiopia in the offing even while the Pharohs ruled in Egypt. Yet unlike the Egyptians under the Pharohs or the French over the centuries under the rule of their Carolgian, Valois and Bourbon monarchies, the peoples of Ethiopia have not (gelled? fused together? solidified?) into a single nation but remained throughout the centuries stubbournly as a clutch of tribes. As a consequence (in conformity to the apparent norm for Africa) Ethiopia, despite the apparent antiquity of their state and civilisation is no better off than other African (historically young, post-colonial multi-tribal) states such as Nigeria or Congo.

Ellen, you remarked (above) that Abiy should go for a Federal system yet in your opinion what is the likelihood that he will?

Ellen
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Re: Water war in Africa?

Post by Ellen » Mon Jan 25, 2021 7:18 am

I am not privy to Abiy's thinking, and in these types of countries the leader can disappear faster than you can change your hat. I truly hope he does not disappear. He is young and can still learn from his mistakes.

You are right about Ethiopia not "gelling" into a solid national identity. But, unfortunately, given the ethnic composition of the country, it is unlikely to ever gel within its current borders. One of our old posters from the UK once said that Christianity was the only realistic unifying force in African countries riven by ethnic and tribal differences. It was the only force capable of creating a national identity that would allow the original tribal identities to "gel" over a period of many generations into a national identity, much like what happened in Europe. Christianity in Africa should be a more positive force than in Europe, though, because the Africans take a more fluid and less dogmatic view of religion, generally. Many people convert from Islam to Christianity (and animism) and the reverse (although these days, its mostly Moslem to Christian) and the level of hatred on the basis of religion is actually much less than in Europe.

On the other hand, the level of animosity based on tribe and language is quite strong, as we see. Many ethnic groups like the Oromo are partly Christian and partly Muslim, while the Amharics are entirely Christian. The divider here is not religion, but language. And the key is to reconcile the 2 big groups - the Oromo and the Amharics. I believe that Abiy would be able to do this. And his Christianity (he was raised Christian although his father was a Muslim, hence his name Ahmed) would be a factor.

The Tigrayan leadership that led Ethiopia down the path of development played a constructive role, but it was basically a dictatorship run by Meles Zenawi, who was previously the leader of the Tigray rebel organization that fought against the Derg. He was the leader of a very successful rebel group from a small minority, in a country that was so backward that the dominant 2 groups were essentially impotent. Syria is a very good analogy here. The Sunni majority was so fragmented and divided by internal rivalries that they ended up being ruled by an Alawite minority that historically were second class citizens, and viewed as pariahs. In such cases, the ruling minority will often fight to their death rather than return to second class citizenship, when the larger groups finally become politically conscious and organized with a strong military. That moment has arrived in Ethiopia, and the results are not pretty.

I don't know what will happen, but realistically, a 6% minority cannot expect the privileges of an autocratic ruling caste in a country that is now more prosperous, over 50% literate, and with a president who comes from the largest ethnic group. The days of minority rule are really over.

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