Ethiopia-Eritrea: proxy wars and prospects of peace in the Horn of Africa

TitleEthiopia-Eritrea: proxy wars and prospects of peace in the Horn of Africa
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsG.J. Abbink
Secondary TitleJournal of contemporary African studies
Pagination407 - 425
Date Published2003///
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsAfrica, civil wars, Country, Eritrea, Ethiopia, international politics, peace

Many inter-State and intra-State conflicts in Africa become more complex by being extended into 'proxy wars', i.e. secondary, often 'low intensity' armed conflicts, pursued in the context of a major power struggle, or outright wars between States carried out by subsidiary or co-opted insurgent movements, usually of an ethno-regional nature. In the Horn of Africa, the proxy war phenomenon is visible owing to alliances behind the scenes, the involvement of neighbouring countries, and frequent changes of allegiance. The proxy war strategy was pursued by both players in the 1998-2000 border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, not only in the enemy country but also in neighbouring States. Since the peace agreement of June 2000, the importance and impact of the proxy war factor has declined somewhat, but whether this decline will contribute to the building of a 'lasting peace' is not at all certain. The experience of tenuous negotiation during the past two years seems to indicate otherwise. The author argues that the threat of regional instability by proxy conflict remains, as long as the Ethiopian and Eritrean regimes are unwilling to make real peace with each other. App. (list of insurgent movements), bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]

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