Omorate /Illeret Border "invasions"





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  1. #1
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    Default Omorate /Illeret Border "invasions"

    http://ethiopiaobservatory.com/2015/...at-the-border/

    Anyone here have any insight whether the border squabbles between Ethiopia and Kenya around Moyale and Illeret are a big deal? We're planning to cross from Omorate to Illeret in a couple of weeks and i can't tell if this stuff is "business as usual" with me paying more attention, or if it could escalate seriously.

    Thanks

    Matthew
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    Hi Matthew, it does sound a bit like business as usual - keep an eye on www.allafrica.com in both the Ethiopian and the Kenyan sections. They are pretty comprehensive as they gather reports from most of the regional newspapers (it is BBC and UN funded, as far as I know). As I'm sure you know, that whole frontier is the wild west, and there are a fair number of shiftas (bandits) operating there, so there are ongoing incidents. It does sound as though the Ileret incident was election-related, although it is hard to tell - I see that five opposition parties are contesting the election results, so there may be some fireworks in that respect.
    Safari njema.
    Tony

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    Thanks Tony, I'd sort of come to that conclusion, but noticed some chatter in twitter that made me worried - but again probably something Ive noticed because it applies to us. We had decided not to return to kenya via Turakana unless we found some travelling companions - which we now have, but security isdues do make me a little nervous. Ive pinged some folks in Nairobi and Maralal to see if they have a better sense.

    I know i never replied to your Bale fishing question... you can probably guess why ;-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdegale View Post
    I know i never replied to your Bale fishing question... you can probably guess why ;-)
    Ha! Bad excuse... This M&G piece seems to give the best analysis of the situation:

    Ethiopian forces ‘cross into Kenya’, risk diplomatic fall out with key regional ally
    19 MAY 2015 19:10M&G AFRICA WRITER


    Clues to the apparent act of antagonism may lie in upcoming elections.


    ETHIOPIA has risked diplomatically antagonising a major ally after local media reported that its forces had crossed into Kenyan territory.

    Kenya’s largest-circulating newspaper the Daily Nation Tuesday reported that about 50 armed Ethiopian soldiers and policemen had briefly taken over a Kenyan police station to the country’s remote north.

    Kenyan police told the publication that Ethiopian forces armed with AK47 rifles arrived and took strategic positions around the Illeret police station in the North Horr region.

    The Ethiopians are said to have assessed and photographed the area, which is estimated to be be less than 20 kilometres inside Kenya. They allegedly admitted that the Kenyan government was not aware of their presence, but said they would return.

    Surveyors have in recent weeks reportedly been demarcating the Kenya-Ethiopia border, but this is unclear why given their joint border was agreed by treaty in 1970, having been mapped out 20 years before.

    According to a police officer quoted by the paper, this is the third time Ethiopian forces have crossed into Kenya during the year, and called for reinforcements for the station.

    A Kenya army spokesman said the military was not aware of the incident, terming Ethiopia a “traditional” friend and that he did not think they would “do anything bad.” Kenya has a defence pact with Ethiopia, dating back to the days of Emperor Haile Selassie and Kenya’s independence leader Jomo Kenyatta.

    The two countries were so closely allied strategically, Kenyatta gave Selassie a generous piece of land close to State House Nairobi for Ethiopia to build its mission.

    Kenyans have however reacted strongly, largely viewing the incident as a show of foreign policy weakness. The country has in the past also been involved in a border dispute with Uganda over the small but resource-rich island of Migingo.

    Kenya is perceived to have come out with the more bloodied nose from that encounter, with Uganda forces still sighted on the island.

    The country regained some national pride with the 2011 invasion of Somalia to flush out Al-Shabaab militants, but it has in turn had to endure deadly retaliatory attacks on home soil, piling more pressure on its security architecture.

    The latest incursion by Ethiopia would thus present an unwanted headache for a country that already has its hands full of diplomatic headaches including Burundi and the threat of the Somalia militant group Al-Shabab, and which is struggling to project its influence regionally, despite being the biggest economy in East Africa.

    Scholars of geopolitics have argued that the lack of a credible committed defence more often than not invites other nations to test borders and diplomatic boundaries.

    In April, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta’s jet was embarrassingly turned back while reportedly in Ethiopian airspace in a diplomatic riddle that is yet to be solved publicly.

    The plane was initially thought to have been pushed back while over Eritrean territory, but Asmara denied the aircraft had even reached its territory.

    Eritrea and Ethiopia have deeply strained relations and have had no diplomatic ties since 1998, but Nairobi and Addis Ababa have solid ties, with moves underway to strengthen economic relations.

    Ethiopia has an active border dispute with Eritrea, with which it fought in 1998-2000, leaving tens of thousands dead.

    That war was over the disputed territory of Badme, which the UN has ruled belongs to Eritrea. Asmara sought to retake it by force, but because the territory lay in the homeland of the ruling Ethiopian class, ran into major conflict with Ethiopia.

    Ethiopia still controls Badme, leading to a tense northern frontier and a closed border.

    But with Ethiopia set to vote next week, nationalistic sentiment may again be running high among its elite, leading to a flexing of strength in a bid to rally the frontier communities.

    The UK has an active travel alert against all travel to Ethiopian borders with Eritrea, Sudan, Kenya and Somalia, and which was updated last week with a focus on the elections.

    Ethiopia has also had a troublesome border with Somalia, into which it has crossed a number of times, for decades, including a simmering separatist movement.

    The country could thus be looking to batten down the hatches ahead of an election where, though the ruling party faces no real threat, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who took over the job after the larger-than-life Meles Zenawi died in 2012, needs to project strength in a country where it plays well to its history of not having been definitely conquered by a European coloniser.

    But given its robust ties with Nairobi, it would be against its interests to antagonise its southern neighbour.
    Last edited by Tony Weaver; 2015/06/08 at 06:32 PM.

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    Tony's M&G analysis is the best guide for you. If the armies are there then it will mean that the shifta and/or tribal squabbles are less likely to be happening. I would say that it is extremely unlikely that it will result in a shooting match between the two armies. Getting between tribal squabbles is the biggest risk in that part of the world. Or just plain banditry.

    We came down the Omorate-Ileret-Koobi Fora-Loyangalani-South Horr-Baragoi-Maralal track on our own in December 2013, but I am Kenya born, have been to Turkana before, were mechanically sound, knew what to expect and have very good contacts in Kenya. But we did chose to take two armed policemen on the section Baragoi to Maralal as there have been incidents on the road near Marti. We went into the police station in Baragoi and the OC of the police station took our concerns seriously and sent us with two armed policeman. We paid them a tip of the equivalent of a day's pay - about KShs 1000 each. Baragoi is much further south in Kenya than the area you are currently concerned about around Ileret.

    See my posts on this subject on other threads on this forum, and the HUBB.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2015/06/09 at 08:16 PM.

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    Thanks Wazungu; I'd followed your posts fairly diligently - and your warnings, hence we 're only attempting it now that we'll have another vehicle with us. We've got some friends who've just been to the Turkana festival - waiting for a report from them. We're looking to travel across to Marsabit rather than all the way back to Maralal (where we stayed on the way up - we were warned there about the Baragoi-Maralal leg).

    Thanks for your analysis on the army presence - useful.

    Matthew
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    That sounds great. I presume your planned route is from North Horr across the Chalbi. The Chalbi Desert is astonishing - so long as there is no rain. But I know the rains have been late in Kenya, but don't know about how they have been in the Northern Frontier District. There used to be a camp at an oasis called K? (name escapes me at the moment, but will get back to you in a day or so) half way between North Horr and Marsabit. But quite likely you can wild camp in this oasis if the camp no longer exists. Take loads of water and fuel. We did over 1000 kms without access to fuel. In the past, we have done North Horr to Marsabit in a long day's drive.

    Enjoy. It is a fabulous part of the world.

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    The oasis half way across the Chalbi is Kalacha. If you want to find out if Kalacha Camp (not necessarily a campsite) is still functioning, contact Jamie Roberts at Tropic Air in Nanyuki or Alan Dixson at Let's Go Travel in Nairobi.

    Let us know how you get on.

    PS: love your photo blog.

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    Thanks Wazungu! (on both counts!)
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    Gosh, you are up late by Ethiopian time...

    Whatever I say it is entirely up to you and your travelling companions. I don't want to be responsible... I can only tell you what I did in 1979, 1986 and 2013.

    Safari njema!

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    Of course, no responsibility attaches, but useful to canvas..... Ethiopia hotel wifi only works after midnight ;-)
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