During the Cold War the East African nation of Ethiopia was on the front lines in our struggle with the USSR….it was a perfect region for the gathering of Sigint…..but has been happening since the end of the Cold War?
Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of a short-lived Italian occupation from 1936-41. In 1974, a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE (who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist state. Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was finally toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. A constitution was adopted in 1994, and Ethiopia’s first multiparty elections were held in 1995. A border war with Eritrea in the late 1990s ended with a peace treaty in December 2000. In November 2007, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) issued specific coordinates as virtually demarcating the border and pronounced its work finished. Alleging that the EEBC acted beyond its mandate in issuing the coordinates, Ethiopia has not accepted them and has not withdrawn troops from previously contested areas pronounced by the EEBC as belonging to Eritrea. In August 2012, longtime leader Prime Minister MELES Zenawi died in office and was replaced by his Deputy Prime Minister HAILEMARIAM Desalegn, marking the first peaceful transition of power in decades.
Ethiopia is a cog in our responses on the Horn of Africa….plus the renegade nation of Somalia is next door and from time to time has bucked the influence of Ethiopia in the region…..but their “friendship” with the US these days helps their star to rise in the Horn…..
When we think of countries competing for power and influence in the Horn of Africa, a short list of candidates comes to mind: the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Turkey and various European powers. Notably absent from this list are countries from within the region itself. But this may be about to change. Ethiopia has recently launched a number of political, economic and foreign policy reforms aimed at redefining the country internally and externally. These moves are a sign that Addis Ababa wants to increase its influence in the region and might be laying the groundwork to emerge as a regional power.
Ethiopia is uniquely positioned to take on this role. It has a history of resisting foreign intervention and remaining, for the most part, free of external domination in a region that was widely colonized by European powers. Now, as the presence of foreign powers grows, Ethiopia will need to become more assertive if it wants to compete for influence with these outside forces. But it has a number of challenges with which it must contend if it is to project power beyond its borders. This Deep Dive will examine the country’s history that has led it to this unique point in time and the conditions it must meet before it will be able to wield more influence in the region.