Category: Must Read

Ethiopian troops enter Somalia, take control of border town; residents reported to flee

Written by The Washington Post
The Washington Post

ETHIOSOMALENAIROBI, Kenya — Hundreds of Ethiopian troops poured into a western Somalia border town on Saturday, opening a new front against the militant group al-Shabab, which now faces hostile militaries on three sides.
Resident Mohammed Abdi said hundreds of residents fled Beledweyne on Saturday after hundreds of Ethiopian and Somali troops moved in. Capt. Hashi Nor of the Somali military confirmed that Somali and Ethiopian troops had moved in.
“I saw Ethiopian troops standing at the doors of neighboring homes. Somali soldiers are also searching the homes,” Abdi said. “Al-Shabab retreated back to Bulo Burte and also many of the residents fled, and those who remained are in their homes.”The military movement appears to be a third front against al-Shabab, Somalia’s strongest militant group. Read more →

The great Ethiopian land-grab: feudalism, leninism, neo-liberalism … plus ça change

Written by René Lefort,
Land in Ethiopia is being leased to agro-industry investors on very long terms and below market rates. The beneficiaries have good political connections. But then land has been the play-thing of centralising authoritarians throughout Ethiopia’s recent history.

Ethiopia is the world champion of “land grabbing” – the practice of renting out vast expanses of farmland to local and, in particular, foreign investors. In 2011, 3.5 million hectares were allocated, while the projected figure for 2015 is 7 million hectares, an area twice the size of Belgium.[i] By way of comparison, 12 million hectares are farmed by the same number of smallholders, who make up four-fifths of the Ethiopian workforce. It is not hard, then, to imagine the anticipated leap forward in agricultural output, especially given that the productivity of these new mechanised farms should be much greater than that of traditional peasant farmers. As a first approximation, medium sized yields and export of just half of their production should, in the medium term, bring in about US$ 10 billion in foreign currencies, at a time when the deficit in the balance of payments is the Achilles heel of the Ethiopian economy and its GDP currently stands at US$ 30 billion. Read more →

Eritreans’ opposition Congress, launched in Ethiopia, seeks global backing

Written by By Michael Abraha
Dr. Yosuf Berhanu

As President Isaias Afewerki prepared to give his New Year message, his democratic opponents in exile were huddling together in what they say is a bid to bring hope and freedom to the Eritrean people. They held their first Congress last month in Hawassa, Ethiopia, and formed a new 127-member coalition called the National Assembly for Democratic Change to be headed by Dr. Yosuf Berhanu – veteran fighter and physician.

The morale of Dr. Yosuf’s side has been boosted as the Security Council moved to further punish the Isaias regime early in December for what the UN says were illegal acts of reported human trafficking, extortion, terrorism and destabilization. Journalist Michael Abraha recently sat with Yosuf Berhanu in Addis Ababa and asked him how he saw the latest UN measures against the Eritrean government.

Dr. Yosuf Berhanu: I hail the UN action although it came a little bit late.  The sanctions are very important from one point of view: The Eritrean government is now completely isolated from the rest of the world. And in my opinion the UN action is vital as a deterrent and is supportive of the plans and objectives of the Eritrean democratic movement. It is essential for us to take this opportunity to further isolate the regime and intensify the struggle until it is removed and replaced by a democratic system. Read more →

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