I’ve studied famine and humanitarian relief for more than 30 years, and I wasn’t prepared for what I saw during a visit to Ethiopia last month. As I traveled through northern and central provinces, I saw imported wheat being brought to the smallest and most remote villages, thanks to a new Chinese-built railroad and a fleet of newly imported trucks. Water was delivered to places where wells had run dry. Malnourished children were being treated in properly staffed clinics.Continue Reading →
Back in 2002, Meles Zenawi, then prime minister of Ethiopia, drafted a foreign policy and national security white paper for his country. Before finalizing it, he confided to me a “nightmare scenario” — not included in the published version — that could upend the balance of power in the Horn of Africa region.
The scenario went like this: Sudan is partitioned into a volatile south and an embittered north. The south becomes a sinkhole of instability, while the north is drawn into the Arab orbit. Meanwhile, Egypt awakens from its decades-long torpor on African issues and resumes its historical stance of attempting to undermine Ethiopia, with which it has a long-standing dispute over control of the Nile River. It does so by trying to bring Eritrea and Somalia into its sphere of influence, thereby isolating the government in Addis Ababa from its direct neighbors. Finally, Saudi Arabia begins directing its vast financial resources to support Ethiopia’s rivals and sponsor Wahhabi groups that challenge the traditionally dominant Sufis in the region, generating conflict and breeding militancy within the Muslim communities.Continue Reading →
Reading a working paper by the Washington based Center for Global Development, titled ‘Escaping capability traps through Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA)’ made me think of the continued investment of the Ethiopian government to improve good governance in public service delivery, and the little return it brought in terms of sustained improvement in the […]Continue Reading →
Alex de Waal’s recent blog included a long and interesting quote from Jean-Marie Guéhenno. In a way, Guéhenno would seem to be in agreement with Kissinger. They both seem to assert the importance of prior intellectual knowledge and high-offices are less of a place for growing intellectually. What Kissinger articulated was: “High office teaches decision making, […]Continue Reading →
Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have long histories of mutual suspicion to overcome, from tensions over sharing the Nile to being on opposite sides of many of the region’s conflicts. But the turmoil on their borders threatens them all, and the Nile water deal is the first sign that all three recognize the need for cooperation to face those hazards.Continue Reading →
Egypt and Ethiopia have otherwise been locked in a low-intensity contest over which nation would dominate the region, undermining each other’s interests in Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan. A quiet but long-sustained rivalry, it is one of those rarely noticed but important fault lines in international relations that allow other conflicts to rumble on.
This week, however, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt is expected to fly to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to attend a summit of the African Union. He will also meet with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, a rare chance to shift the political landscape in northeastern Africa.Continue Reading →
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