Ethiopia’s new leadership wants a new beginning with Eritrea

The nonsensical war between the regimes in Addis Ababa and Asmara two decades ago claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people. It was a war of attrition over small tracts of barren land that have no economic or political significance. After the war ended in 2000 and the “Algiers Treaty” was signed in 2002, a long cold war ensued as a result of the regime in Ethiopia refusing to honor the agreement. This has given Eritrea’s warlord Isaias Afwerki a pretext to declare a state of emergency, throw in jail all of his opponents, and stop any talk of a constitutional government. For the past 18 years, Eritrea has been a prison of its own people where young Eritreans who tried to escape the poverty-ravaged country are being shot in the back by soldiers. Eritrea is a nation that is slowly imploding.

Now, Ethiopia’s new prime minister Abiy Ahmed has decided to honor the U.N.-backed Algiers Treaty and remove Ethiopian troops from Badme, the disputed land that Ethiopian soldiers still occupy.

It seems that PM Abiy has made such a move over the objection of some in the ruling coalition for three reasons: 1) To end unnecessary conflicts in the region that his predecessors continuously instigated in order to divert the Ethiopian people’s attention from domestic troubles, 2) To outflank his opponents in the ruling coalition, particularly the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and 3) Build regional and international credibility for his leadership.

Badme will no longer be a source of instability in the region that both TPLF and Isaias Afwerki exploit to prolong their grip on power. The two former allies have turned the Horn Africa into a perennial war zone.

This is a new day in Ethiopia and the new Ethiopian leadership wants a new beginning. PM Abiy and his team are focusing on healing the traumatized region and growing an economy that benefits average citizens. In furtherance of these objectives, the PM has released thousands of political prisoners, apologized for the atrocities of the security forces, invited Ethiopian opposition parties to prepare for free and fair elections, invited Ethiopians in the Diaspora to invest in their country, and announced the opening up of major state-owned industries to private investors. The PM has done all those in just two months.