On Tuesday, 24 July 2018, Eritrean Dictator Isaias Afewerqi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmded were bestowed the Order of Zayed for the so-called their remarkable achievement to bring peace in the horn of Africa and the region after signing a Peace agreement to end the bloody war conducted between Eritrea and Ethiopia in the year 1998-2000. This war took about 100,000 lives and displaced many people from their ancestral land. After the war, the two countries entered into a proxy-war through armed groups and political groups. In consequence, This senseless war had paralyzed the diplomatic and any other activities between the two countries.
With the election of the new Prime Minister in Ethiopia, the relationship between the two countries showed a fresh start and finally, a peace agreement was signed. This development is a relief to the horn of Africa region and the Red Sea zone. It is within this fresh discourse that many countries which have a strategic interest in the Red Sea and in the horn of Africa healed the accord.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates(UAE) are the first respondents who welcomed the agreement by inviting the two leaders. Though it is believed that these two countries played a major role in the Peace Agreement Process conducted mostly behind doors, no official statement was released whether they played any supportive role or not. In fact, the two countries claim that there was no any other part engaged in the process.
The objective of this article is not to see whether Saudi Arabia and UAE had a role in the peace process. Rather, I am trying to give importance to the prestigious reward given by these two countries to Dictator Isaias Afewerqi and Dr. Abiy Ahmed.
Saudi Arabia – f
on September 16, 2018, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has awarded its highest medal award to Dictator Isaias Afewerqi and Dr. Abiy Ahmed. In principle, the medal named, “The Order of King Abdulaziz” is a special award given to citizens of Saudi Arabia and world leaders for meritorious service to the Kingdom. I am not sure what service was given to Saudi Arabia by these two world leaders, especially the newly elected Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed. However, Saudi Arabia has a serious strategic interest in these two countries for many reasons.
Dictator Isaias Afaewerki is already engaging Eritrea with the Saudi Arabian lead allies in the war conducted in Yemen. The Yemeni civil war is killing innocent civilians. And, Eritrea is hosting Airbase in its territory that is been in use for operation. This is a great service to Saudi Arabia and its allies. I believe the occasions that can cover its true motive from the world while at the same time giving a world recognition to the services provided by Eritrea is the best opportunity Saudi Arabia to recognize Isaias Afewerki’s service.
Not only this, Saudi Arabia on the other side of the Red Sea. This means, what happens in Eritrea has a direct effect on Saudi Arabia. Therefore, Saudi Arabia a responsibility to step in and recognize any positive development in the horn of Africa, especially between Eritrea and Ethipia.
UAE – Order of Zayed
On 24/07/2018, UAE invited Dictator Isaias Afewerqi and Dr. Abiy Ahmed to Abu Dhabi and awarded them the highest civil decoration in the country. It is awarded to Kings, Presidents, and world leaders who played great role and efforts in supporting and developing the friendly relations and mutual cooperation between their country or organizations and the UAE.
So far, only about 18 world leaders have become beneficiaries of this prestigious award. Among these, President of China, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and President of Eritrea have received in 2018.
Though it is hard to imagine the positive role played by Eritrea and Ethiopia in improving the relationship with UAE, I believe this award is rather a means to put them under the watchdog. By doing so, UAE secures its strategic position in the Red Sea Trade activity as well as a secured ally and support for its military activity in Yemen. UAE has already established its Naval and Airbase in Eritrea along the Red Sea coast. A new and modern military airbase is constructed in Assab which is in use for military purpose by the UAE and its Allies. Signing a peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia has a direct consequence for this base. Therefore, UAE has no other option but either to engage itself in the peace process or welcome the agreement. By doing this, it grants its position along the coast.