Analysts say the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace talks are an important step to find hope for greater stability for Eritrea, Ethiopia and other countries in the Horn of Africa, a region torn by internal dissent and terrorist violence.

By Zeinab Mohammed Salih (US News) |

A high-level Eritrean delegation arrived in Ethiopia this week for talks to normalize relations between the two countries for the first time since a border war broke out in 1998.

“We have tried war and found it useless,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said as he welcomed the Eritrean delegation led by Foreign Minister Osman Saleh, according to a report from The Associated Press. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez welcomed what he said are positive steps taken by the two countries to end what is called Africa’s longest war.

Analysts say the talks are an important step to find hope for greater stability for Eritrea, Ethiopia and other countries in the Horn of Africa, a region torn by internal dissent and terrorist violence. They also say the talks offer reason for optimism for all of Africa.

“This is a strong message by the new and young prime minister in Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, to the people in the continent, that a new generation of leaders is coming to change the continent and they are doing … important things for their people,” says Luka Kuol, a professor for security studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

Normalizing peace between the two countries has regional and international significance. Located in the strategic Horn, Eritrea is involved with the civil war in Yemen and faces international sanctions for allegedly providing shelter to terrorists. Here is a closer look at Eritrea.

Where Is Eritrea?

The tiny country in East Africa is bordered by Sudan to the west and north, Ethiopia to the south and Djibouti to the southeast. Its eastern coastline faces the Red Sea.

How Old Is Eritrea?

Eritrea is home to the birthplace of some of humanity’s oldest civilizations. Independent Eritrea is 25 years old. Italy held Eritrea beginning in the late 19th century and until 1942, when it then fell under British administrative control for 10 years. In 1952, the United Nations established Eritrea as an autonomous region within Ethiopia. A decade later, Ethiopia annexed Eritrea as a full province, setting off 30 years of violent fighting over Eritrean independence. In 1991, Eritrean rebels defeated Ethiopian forces, and in 1993 Eritreans voted for independence.

Who Are the Eritreans?

Today it is a multiethnic and multilingual country with nine recognized ethnic groups and no single official language. More than 60 percent of Eritreans are Christian and roughly a third are Muslim, according to the Pew Research Center.

The nation’s population is about 5 million, of which about 3 percent has reportedly fled in recent years. Eritrean refugees form the third-largest group entering Europe, after Syrians and Afghans, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency. The country’s indefinite national service, a form of conscription, is cited as a major reason why Eritreans flee their country.

Continue reading “Why the Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Talks Matter” at US News
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