The Ethio-Eritrean Conflict: An Essay in Interpretation
The Ethio-Eritrean conflict: Anessay in interpretation
 Given the higher standards of education of the Eritreo-Tigreans, they often filled important economic positions in Ethiopia itself where almost half a million lived before the May-June conflict. Over half of the small mechanical enterprises in Ethiopia, 95 per cent of the garages and 70 per cent of electric equipment companies belonged to Eritreans. (Information from Petroleum Transport Association of Ethiopia)
the ethio eritrean conflict an essay in interpretation
 , "The Ethio-Eritrean Conflict", No. 24 (August-September 1998). is the US-based newsletter of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The Oromo, who want independence or at least a large amount of autonomy the Addis-Ababa government, remained neutral in the conflict.
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When it broke out in May 1998, the Ethio-Eritrean conflict surprised most observers because many circumstances seemed to favour good relations between the two countries.
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This is in many ways a correct analysis, but one stopping short of another comment which would include the OLF itself: attitudes towards the war were not dictated by "national" feeling of the kind, say, of the anti-German feeling in France in August 1914. The various Ethiopian political forces positioned themselves in relationship to the conflict according to their positions on internal politics. This fits within our analysis above: just as the war can be seen as a Tigrean civil war, it was perceived in Ethiopia not as a matter of "foreign conflict" but as a problem of domestic politics. And although the political scene in Eritrea is much more controlled than in Ethiopia, the same was in practice true. The demonstrations against "Ethiopian imperialism" which were staged in Asmara owed little to spontaneous popular feelings. But they nevertheless reflected a basic popular worry: would not "the Ethiopians" come back and try to reconquer their former province which had been independent for only five years? This worry was particularly strong among the Moslem lowlanders. They knew that they had been largely marginalized within the Christian-led PFDJ. To see that same PFDJ now fighting a war with its Christian cousins from Tigray, surely meant that the situation was indeed serious. This line of reasoning was extremely beneficial to the Eritrean Government which could thus rather cheaply buy a modicum of support from its largely alienated non-Tigrean Moslem population.