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  • Title: [SW News] (Sergei Guliy /OBSHCHAYA GAZETA) Should The Big Powers Intervene In The Situation In The Horn of Africa
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  • Date:  [17 May 2000]


Should The Big Powers   Intervene In The Situation In The Horn of Africa

May 17, 2000
BYLINE: Sergei Guliy

In spite of tiff between Moscow and Washington in U.N. Security Council
on ways of handling situation in Horn of Africa, American side hopes
that on eve of Putin-Clinton summit, Russia won't be too obstinate,
foreign politics observer writes.

It is an open secret that in the current armed conflict in the Horn of
Africa, both sides - Ethiopia and Eritrea - are using Russian weapons in
the fighting. But in this case too, Russia and the United States have
found themselves "on opposite sides of the barricade," so to speak,
OBSHCHAYA GAZETA writes in its story.

In the U.N. Security Council, Moscow and Washington are unable to come
to terms on the question whether the big powers should intervene in the
situation in the Horn of Africa. The fighting there has now become the
largest theater of armed actions in the world.

To halt the bloodshed, the United States has suggested imposing an
immediate ban on deliveries of weapons, spare parts and ammunition to
both warring sides. In tabling such a proposal, Washington actually
brands Addis Ababa "the aggressor."

On its part, Russia has offered its peace plan. However, there is not
even any mention of sanctions [arms deliveries] in it. It urges the
sides in the conflict to cooperate with the Organization of African
Unity in order to restore peace.

If Moscow and Washington "stick to their guns" discussion of the new
resolution could drag out for a very long time. However, there are
indications, the author writes, that the United States expects Moscow
"to slacken up a bit," and that it will not slap a veto to block the
American initiatives.

In fact, Washington hopes that on the eve of the Putin-Clinton summit in
June, Russia will not be too obstinate because of Africa. Perhaps, that
is the way it will turn out, the author remarks, but so far, Russian
diplomats are not showing any signs of giving up. The Russian Foreign
Ministry views the pressure from America as being an almost unconcealed
attempt to squeeze Russia out of this zone of its traditional interests.

And indeed Russia has what to lose in this region. And it is not only a
matter of regaining lost arms markets. There are indications that the
Ethiopian command would not mind getting back the Red Sea coast that was
lost after Eritrea splintered away seven years ago.

If Ethiopia annexes the port of Aseb, Russia may seriously count on
getting a worthy replacement for its naval logistics base on a Red Sea
island that went over to Eritrea.

And in view of Moscow's far-reaching plans to restore its permanent
presence in the World Oceans, the acquisition of a naval base next door
to the Persian Gulf would come in very handy, the author concludes.


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