There is no dispute in the Horn
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Ethiopia: What now, board the Peace Train or rot in defiance?   

12 Dec 2004

                          Eritrea's recent diplomatic maneuvers
                          appear to be registering noticeable success.
                          While the the weekending meeting between
                          presidents Afewerki and Salah in Saana,
                          Yemen brought about complete restoration
                          of the Eritrea-Yemen relations, Eritrea
                          declared peace with its neighbors Ethiopia, Sudan and accepted President Salah's offer to mediate to that effect, the cardinal message coming out of Yemen is that:

1. The rule of law in international relations is not a law of
    convenience that nations uphold when in their favor and
    flout otherwise
2. The rule of law cannot be renegotiated but either
    abandoned or its sanctity maintained. And society has
    opted for the latter because it is the rule of law that is
    maintaining societal equilibrium as we know it today.
    Absent the rule of law society would degenerate into "the
    rule of the jungle", "might is right", and anarchy.
: No alternative to the rule of law unless the world
    as we know it today ceases to exist.

President Salah's offer to mediate is also getting favorable response. Horn diplomats give Salah a very good chance of success because he appeals equally to all the parties in question. Salah is a member of the so-called tripartite alliance (Ethiopia, Yemen, Sudan), which, diplomatic sources say, was forged by Ethiopia to isolate Eritrea.

Yemen gives Eritrea credit for its unequivocal acceptance of the Hague verdict that adjudicated the Eritrea-Yemen maritime border dispute despite and in spite of Eritrea's objections to some of the ruling. Yemen remains indebted to Eritrea's support during the South/North Yemen war (reports say Eritrea gave refuge to Yemen's fighter planes at the time). Eritrea and Yemen have longstanding cultural and geographic relations as manifested by the swift restoration of their bilateral relations and the signing of multiple economic and development agreements over the weekend.

Yemen and Sudan are members of the Arab league, the tripartite group and have always maintained good relations.

The "Yemen declaration of Horn peace" is getting traction. Salah wants to take advantage of the upcoming tripartite meeting, 28 Dec 2004, to initiate rapprochement between all the players. Today, Sudan has already welcomed Salah's initiative and said it can't even wait until president Salah arrives in Khartoum on 24 Dec and the Eritrea-Sudan rapprochement is launched.

Now the ball is certainly and as it has always been in Ethiopia's court. Will Ethiopia board the Peace Train or perish in defiance? If one is to hold Ethiopia's PM to what he told his people and parliament on 25 Nov 2004, then Ethiopia would be hard pressed to pass up this opportunity. At the time PM Meles told parliament that " the international community has asked Ethiopia not to appear to be violating the decision of a court and not to seem to be defying international law, and demanded that Ethiopia declare its acceptance of the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission". If PM Meles was conveying to his people that Ethiopia needs to heed the correct advice of the international community and means what he says, then this is the time to prove it.

The "Yemen declaration of Horn peace" is all about respecting the decision of a legal court and compliance with the rule of law in international relations- Just that what the int'l community prescribed for Ethiopia. It has already generated enthusiasm and gained momentum. The int'l community must capitalize on it, support it and get involved. To that effect, we appeal to the governments of Eritrea and Yemen, all Eritreans and their friends, to convey the message of the "Yemen Declaration for Horn peace" to the UN, EU, AU, and the Arab League for their support.


PM Meles