Letter: Ethiopia's war aims
Thursday 08 July 1999
I live and work in Eritrea. In June last year, I was in Asmara, the capital, when it was bombed three times in two days. A few weeks later, the Ethiopian Foreign Minster bragged, "We shall have the port of Asseb in a few weeks."
Asseb and Massawa, Eritrea's two Red Sea ports, have both been attacked recently. This is not a border conflict but Ethiopia pursuing its centuries- old ambition of having the Red Sea coast.
Anyone can see that it would be foolhardy for a country of only 3 million people (Eritrea) to start trouble with a neighbour having 60 million (Ethiopia). Ethiopia is also attacking Somalia to the south and Kenya and Sudan to the west and north. Cynically, they even bombed villages and refugees in Eritrea whilst Kofi Annan's representative was in Addis Ababa trying to arrange a ceasefire.
My neighbour has a niece staying with him who was deported from Ethiopia, without her parents, as a security risk. She is nine years old.
Neither country can afford this conflict, and the truth is that Ethiopia is continuing to fight as a means of uniting the country, trying to avoid tackling its own internal problems. All Eritrea wants is peace, as do most ordinary Ethiopians.
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