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Ethiopia’s Ogadeni Problem

There has been a very interesting flurry of articles related to oil prospecting in Ethiopia and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

Back in 2007, Ogadeni rebels overpowered the defenses of a petrol company. This shocked the companies in the region and the Ethiopian government. What ensued was an oppressive campaign by the central government against the rebels and the citizens in the region.1 This was an attempt to secure the oil fields which would bring much foreign currency into the coffers of the central government.

The central government’s efforts would not be objectionable however the benefits of the extraction of these natural reserves are not going to the people from whose land it is being extracted, but rather to the capital and particularly the people of the Tigray region (from where the ruling ethnic party is from).

Now as the oil companies threaten to leave the country,2 the military option grows as a combination of Ethiopian and Somaliland forces are said to have encircled the forces of the OLF.3 These reports have been called into question by the OLF themselves however,4 it should be recognized without the Ethiopian government allowing for independent verification we cannot know the true disposition.

Finally what is interesting about this recent flurry is there has been little reporting on the humanitarian situation (likely because of the Ethiopian government news blackout on the region) nor talk of the Ethiopian military casualties that were recently claimed by the OLF just a month ago.5 Although it would see that these events are all very much related, the media has failed to synthesize (and in some cases, report) these issues.

  1. Villages deserted, burned in Ethiopia’s Ogaden-MSF 

  2. Ethiopia denies rebels chased oil, gas firms away 

  3. Somaliland: Up to 300 Ethiopian rebels surrounded 

  4. Ethiopia rebels deny standoff with Somaliland forces 

  5. OLA Registered Glaring Victory Over Woyane Invading Troops: Killed 40 and Wounded 23 

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