Ethiopia: Attempt to recruit army fails amid growing regional tensions

by Engidu Woldie

ESAT News (January 19, 2018)

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Defense is advertising in the local media urging the youth to join the regular army as tensions rose in the subregion following Sudan’s handover of a Red Sea island to Turkey and the ensuing deployment of troops by Egypt and Sudan along their border.

Regional allies and foes responded to the new development in the Red Sea with Eritrean president, Isaias Afwerki visiting Cairo a week ago and vehemently denying this weekend reports that Egypt had deployed troops in his country along the border with Sudan.

Meanwhile, the Middle East Monitor reported that Sudan and Ethiopia have agreed to deploy joint forces between the Sudanese Blue Nile State and the Ethiopian region of Benishangul-Gumuz to secure the border area. According to the agreement Ethiopia had reportedly “pledged to prevent any hostile activity against Sudan.

Close relationships between Cairo and Asmara is not a welcome development as far as the Ethiopian regime, not an ally of either country, is concerned. Reports say Ethiopia has also deployed more troops along its border with Eritrea, two countries in the Horn that have remained in no peace no war situation after a bloody war 20 years ago that claimed the lives of over 70 thousands. Each side accuses the other of supporting their opponents.

On the other hand, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia are deadlocked over negotiations on the share of the Nile water as time is approaching for Ethiopia to fill the reservoir of a mega hydroelectric dam the construction of which is said to be completed 60%.

Amid these developments, it seems the Ethiopian regime found it imperative to urgently recruit army.  However, over two decades of misrule and control of economic and political power by the minority Tigrayans had alienated the majority of Ethiopians. This, according to analysts, had resulted in extremely low response and turnout to the enticing advertisement on media calling the youth to join the military.

Even in the power base of the TPLF, the Tigray region, the response to the call to join the army was very low, according to ESAT’s sources.

Ethiopians are are done with the regime and they see that any war with a perceived enemy is not a war of their own, says a regional analyst.