Ethiopia and Eritrea: National Security, militarization and normalization predicaments

 Meressa T Gebrewahd
2019, National Political Science Review


Since May 1998, Ethiopia and Eritrea relation has been resulted in a structural national security crisis defined by two years’ war, two decades of ‘no war, no peace’ stalemate and ‘fragile normalization’ since June 2018. Their security predicaments are basically results of antagonistic nation building, foreign and national security policies. The nation-building project to forge the ‘Sawa based militarized single national identity’ in Eritrea and the ‘federalization’ of the age-old unitary Ethiopian state further deepen and widen the national security dilemma of both states. The national security and militarization predicament between the two states are, therefore, the result of militarized ‘social reengineering’ and national security in Eritrea where Ethiopia has been made to be an ‘existential threat to its Singaporization vision’. And hence, Eritrea, following its military defeat in the 1998-2000 war, opted into subversive and proxy war strategies via hosting and training Ethiopian armed insurgencies and supporting opposition parties inside Ethiopia with an ultimate goal of ousting the TPLF-EPRDF dominated government. Isaias’s strategy become successful in replacing the TPLF dominated EPRDF by Oromo dominated EPRDF, aka. ‘Oromara-EPRDF’, when Abiy Ahmed became chairman of EPRDF and subsequently prime minster of Ethiopia. President Isaias described the ‘successes of his 20 years insurgency strategy of neutralizing TPLF-EPRDF and the epoch of normalization as “game over”. Conversely, from 2001 to March 2018 Eritrea has been branded as an “existential enemy to Ethiopia’s renaissance vision and securitization of poverty”. As a result, the late Prime Minister Melese Zenawi followed a policy of “deter, isolate and defeat” against Eritrea which was successful in deterring and isolating Isaias’ international engagements via the UNSC sanctions but failed to oust him. Since July 2018, President Isaias and Abiy Ahmed officially declared the “end of 20 years’ war” and beginning of new epoch of normalization, open border and regional integration. However, after six months of ‘honeymoon’ normalization, the borders of Ethiopia and Eritrea unilaterally closed by Eritrea and the prospects for reconciliation and regional security become ‘fragile and elusive’. Finally, a vicious dilemma of national security, militarization and normalization gaining turn out to be a governing regime. This article, therefore, analyzes the post-2000 national security, militarization and normalization dilemma between Ethiopia and Eritrea.–-Read the entire article—-