The Eritrean–Ethiopian War
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The Eritrean–Ethiopian War, also known as the Badme War, was a major armed conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea that took place from May 1998 to June 2000.

After Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993, relations were initially friendly. However, disagreements about where the newly created international border should be caused relations to deteriorate significantly, eventually leading to full-scale war. According to a 2005 ruling by an international commission, Eritrea broke international law and triggered the war by invading Ethiopia. By 2000, Ethiopia held all of the disputed territory and had advanced into Eritrea. The war officially came to an end with the signing of the Algiers Agreement on 12 December 2000; however, the ensuing border conflict would continue for nearly two decades.

Eritrea and Ethiopia both spent a considerable amount of their revenue and wealth on the armament ahead of the war and reportedly suffered between 70,000–300,000 deaths combined as a direct consequence thereof, excluding an indeterminate number of refugees. The conflict ultimately led to minor border changes through final binding border delimitation overseen by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

After the war ended, the Eritrea–Ethiopia Boundary Commission, a body established by the Algiers Agreement, concluded that Badme, the disputed territory at the heart of the conflict, belonged to Eritrea.[39] On 5 June 2018, the ruling coalition of Ethiopia, headed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, agreed to fully implement the peace treaty signed with Eritrea in 2000, with peace declared by both parties in July 2018, twenty years after the initial confrontation.


From 1961 until 1991, Eritrea fought a long war of independence against Ethiopia; during this period, the Ethiopian Civil War also began on 12 September 1974, when the Derg staged a coup d'état against Emperor Haile Selassie. Both conflicts lasted until 1991 when the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) – a coalition of rebel groups led by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) – overthrew the Derg government, and installed a transitional government in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. During the civil war, the groups fighting the Derg government had a common enemy, so the TPLF allied itself with the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF).

In 1991, as part of the United Nations-facilitated transition of power, it was agreed that the EPLF should set up an autonomous transitional government in Eritrea and organize a referendum. This referendum was held in April 1993, and the vote was overwhelmingly in favour of independence, leading to the establishment of a new state joining the United Nations. Also in 1991, the transitional government of Eritrea and the TPLF-led transitional government of Ethiopia agreed to set up a commission, to look into any problems that arose between the two former wartime allies over the foreseen independence of Eritrea. This commission was not successful, and during the following years, relations between the governments of the two sovereign states deteriorated. Eritrea soon began a practice of forcibly expelling Ethiopians from its territory. As early as 1991, about 30,000 wives and children of Ethiopian soldiers stationed in Eritrea were bused by Eritrean forces across the border, and crowded into camps in Adigrat, Adwa, and Axum, with the EPLF telling relief officials to expect 150,000 more Ethiopian civilians. Reportedly, many of the deportees were people who were being dismissed from their jobs, some of them longtime residents of Eritrea.

Determining the border between the two states also became a major source of conflict. In November 1997, a committee was set up to try to resolve it. Before Eritrean independence, the border had been of minor importance, as it was only a demarcation line between federated provinces, and initially, the two governments tacitly agreed that the border should remain as it had been immediately before independence. Upon independence, however, the border became an international frontier, and the two governments could not agree on where, specifically, the border should be demarcated; they looked back to colonial-era treaties between the Italian Empire and Ethiopia as a basis for the precise boundaries between the states. Problems then arose, because they could not agree on the interpretation of those agreements and treaties, and it was not clear, under international law, how binding colonial treaties were on the two states.


Writing after the war had finished, Jon Abbink postulated that President Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea realised that his influence over the government in Ethiopia was slipping, and "in the absence of a concrete border being marked," calculated that Eritrea could annex Badme. If successful, this acquisition could have been used to enhance his reputation and help maintain Eritrea's privileged economic relationship with Ethiopia. However, because Badme was in Tigray Province – the region from which many of the members of the Ethiopian government originated (including Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian prime minister) – the Ethiopian government came under political pressure from within the EPRDF, as well as from the wider Ethiopian public, to meet force with force.


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