Eritrea. After a period of disagreement over the border
crossing between Eritrea and Ethiopia, fighting in the
border area erupted in May. Eritrea claimed that Ethiopian
forces attacked Eritrean territory, while Ethiopia claimed
that Eritrean troops occupied an area on Ethiopian soil. The
conflict escalated in June, when the airport in the capital
Asmera was bombed by Ethiopian flights and Eritrean flights
carried out bombings against the Ethiopian cities of Meqele
and Adigrat. The land battles spread along the border, i.e.
to quite close to the port city of Aseb.
Countryaah, the conflict between the former allies surprised the
outside world but seemed to have several causes. The
frontier had never been properly demarcated, and both sides
presented conflicting maps of the colonial era in support of
their territorial demands. The introduction of a new
currency, nakfa, in Eritrea in 1997 had complicated trade
exchanges and led to increased demands in Ethiopia to regain
Aseb, which was lost by Eritrea's independence in 1993.
Following mediation of Italy and the United States, the
flight stops were canceled on June 15. The ground fighting,
too, soon ebbed out after demanding hundreds of deaths.
However, a number of international peace initiatives were
stranded, mainly due to Eritrea's refusal to withdraw their
troops from the disputed area before peace talks.
While the United States and the African Organization of
African Unity (OAU) continued their mediation efforts, the
conflict turned into a war of words, with both sides
accusing each other of mass deportations under brutal forms
of the other country's citizens. Occasional shooting across
the border occurred during the fall, as both sides
reinforced their troops in the area.
In the shadow of the conflict with Ethiopia, Eritrea
normalized relations with Yemen, after an international
arbitration tribunal divided the disputed Hanisharki law in
the Red Sea between the two countries and gave Eritrea the
right to fish in the Yemeni zone.
In November, Eritrea and Sudan agreed to resolve the
inconvenience through negotiations rather than arms power.
Their relationship had been strained for many years and both
countries have supported the opposition's armed opposition.