Sunday, October 18, 2009

Djibouti-Eritrea Border Dispute Is Unlikely To Be Resolved

Executive Summary:
The Djibouti-Eritrea border dispute is unlikely to be resolved because of the Eritrea government’s refusal to cooperate with the United Nations (U.N). The U.N.'s lack of reprisal against the Eritrean government for non-compliance is highly likely to encourage Eritrea defiance.

Discussion:
In January, the United Nations Security Council UNSC) adopted a resolution which demanded the withdrawal of forces. Djibouti followed the resolutions demands to withdraw forces from the disputed area, however, Eritrea refused to withdraw its forces or to cooperate with diplomatic efforts. Then Eritrea refused to participate when the U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon sent an envoy to do a fact finding mission in the region.

The Eritrea government is unlikely to cooperate with the U.N. demands to resolve the border dispute diplomatically. Although the United Nations have verbally requested Eritrea forces to leave, the U.N. demands have never been enforced. The lack of repercussions from the U.N. demands are highly likely to embolden the Eritrea government from removing their forces.

Analysis:
Eritrea is almost certainly punishing Djibouti for other reasons which are impacting their motivation to resolve the border dispute:
- Eritrea highly sought to have the U.S. military base be stationed in Eritrea and is almost certainly upset that the U.S. chose Djibouti instead.
- During the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict in 1998, Eritrea accused Djibouti of siding with Ethiopia because Ethiopian began doing business with Djibouti which likely damaged Eritrea revenue.

Comment:
The following is a timeline of events, from British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), of the Djibouti-Eritrea border dispute[i]:
1996 April - Eritrea and Djibouti nearly went to war when a Djibouti official claimed that Eritrea had shelled Ras Doumeirah, a border village which is home to the Afar, an ethnic group living in the disputed area.
1999 - Djibouti accused Eritrea that they were supporting Djiboutian rebels and had designs on the Ras Doumeirah area.
2001 - Eritrea and Djibouti agreed to establish a joint commission which would meet annually to review cooperation between the two states, and signed cooperation agreements in the political, economic and social sectors.
2008 May - The Arab League decided to send a fact-finding mission to the disputed border area between Eritrea and Djibouti to evaluate the prevailing situation and prepare a report to the league.
2008 June - Fighting erupted between Djibouti and Eritrea military forces. Nine Djiboutian soldiers were killed and more than 50 wounded.
2009 April – UNSC says Eritrea failed to fulfill its obligation to withdraw troops from disputed border area of Djibouti under and ultimatum issued in January. Eritrea denies having troops on Djiboutian soil.

Source Reliability: 7
Analytic Confidence: 6

For questions or comments, contact the author: Email: werkhoven_kristin@bah.com