THE ELEPHANT BLOCKING PEACE

THE EEBC DECISION TEN YEARS LATER AND ETHIOPIA'S ILLEGAL OCCUPATION:
THE ELEPHANT BLOCKING PEACE
By Ghidewon Abay Asmerom

Today is the 10th anniversary of the EEBC Delimitation Decision. According to the Algiers Agreement of December 12, 2000, EEBC delimitation and demarcation Decisions are final and binding. In an impartial world, in a world free of destructive elephants, a decision that is "final" would give no excuse for running away from implementation under the cover of "dialogue", and a decision that is "binding" would imply nothing but an obligation to adhere to the letter and spirit of the signed agreement. But thanks to the big elephant and the weakness of the international community, neither of these two words can now be taken to mean what they were intended to mean. A treaty that was beforehand agreed to be "final" is now not being taken to mean "case closed" but "open to manipulation". Welcome to the contradictions and hypocrisy of the elephant's world. The minority regime in Ethiopia is nothing but a parasite atop of this elephant's trunk.

Those who openly promised to be guarantors of the Algiers Agreement were: the UN, the EU, the AU and the US. In this particular case, except for the US, the others have been rendered ineffective. For 14 years, their task has been reduced to toeing the US line. Where the US wanted them to go, they were willing to go and without asking; what the US told them to do,they were willing to do without ever thinking to challenge its position. However, whenever it was handy, they have been used as a convenient cover for mighty US' will.

Eritrea-US relations are now at their lowest point in history. For nothing else, but because the US is the super power which is unwilling to be constrained by international agreement to which it was an author, guarantor and witness. From the very beginning in this Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict, the US is the reason Ethiopia was acting and behaving the way it did. Instead of shouldering its obligation as an author and guarantor of the Algiers Agreement and urging Ethiopia to abide by its treaty obligation, the US has been advising the Ethiopian government to break international law and Washington will provide the necessary veto cover at the UN.

Every act the Ethiopian government had done, every crime the Ethiopian government had committed on Eritrean civilians, and every phrase the puppet in Addis had uttered, had been with the tacit approval of Washington. This is an open secret. If we look from 1998 to 2012, for 14 years, every actor that surfaced to help, and every organization that attempted to speak about the issue, has been carefully controlled by the US. It was the US that wanted an alternative mechanism to the EEBC delimitation decision, and the puppet in Addis was used as an accessory to breach international law. It was the US that wanted to introduce Lloyd Axworthy's "axiomatic fantasy", and Kofi Annan just did as he was ordered to do. It was also the US that wanted to replace the EEBC's demarcation plan with the "Fulford map and plan." Even Jendayi Frazer had to turn herself into a border surveyor so that she can "reopen the 2002 EEBC decision, which she had concluded was wrong, and award a major piece of disputed territory to Ethiopia."

Current US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, the very person responsible for the escalation of the border war in May of 1998, is also acting true to her expected historical character. Now that Obama had elevated her office to a cabinet level, in par with that of Secretary of State Clinton, she (according to a cable from her office) had "urged Ethiopia to forge a new border demarcation plan, without preconditions on prior dialogue with Eritrea, stating that some Security Council members may wish to reference the dispute in a new sanctions resolution. Tessema initially protested this idea, stating that progress will be impossible without Eritrean buy-in, but warmed up to the plan after Ambassador Rice proposed that a third party could offer some legitimacy to the demarcation project." Under the Algiers Agreement the EEBC is the sole authority with a mandate to demarcate the border; yet Rice is urging, over the Ethiopians' protest, the breaching of international law. She is telling Ethiopia to come up with "a new border demarcation plan" and "a third party" (read US) "could offer some legitimacy."

As for the UN, the EU and the AU, instead of challenging the US and asking it to moderate its biased stand on Eritrea, and to positively use its super power influence, they like to parrot the phrase "normalization of relations" between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The problem is not Ethiopia but US officials who are abusing the US power. Be that as it may, how can one expect Eritrea to normalize relations with Ethiopia: a country, at the behest of the US, is taking a "final and binding" decision to mean neither "final" nor "binding"? It is absurd for anyone to call for "normalization of relations" before Ethiopia unconditionally implements the final and binding decision. No self-respecting government would enter into any "good-faith" dialogue with a group that has neither goodness nor faith. Just imagine for a moment for the tables to be

turned around, and Eritrea was the one that had refused to implement the decision. Would anyone think Washington would have urged dialogue and waited a second before running to impose sanctions?

So the elephant that is blocking the path to peace in the Horn Africa in general and between Eritrea and Ethiopia in particular is the one in Washington. Its trunk is trying to suck all the air out of the final and binding Decision so that healing and normalization would not take place between the two neighbors. So, unless this elephant is persuaded to have a change of heart, nothing will change; and unfortunately genuine border delimitation and demarcation decisions, like the one from April 13, 2002, cannot be expected to usher peace and harmony.