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Sunday, 18 June, 2000, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Analysis: Winning and losing in the Horn
Ethiopian soldiers
The war was a matter of national pride for Ethiopia
By the BBC's Martin Plaut

The signing of the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea brings to an end the hostilities in one of Africa's bloodiest, and most poorly understood wars.

In just over two years around 100,000 Ethiopians and Eritreans have lost their lives. Each side has bought weaponry on an extraordinary scale, pouring over $300m a year into rearmament, at a time when the region is hit by one of the worst droughts in many years.

Debris in Barentu
The economic and humanitarian costs of the war are steep
Both Ethiopia and Eritrea have come out of this conflict claiming that their sacrifices have been justified.

For Ethiopia this war was a question of national pride - and they can look back on having driven the Eritreans from land that they regard as their own.

It has also seen a remarkable change in the fortunes of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Before the war he was regarded by many Ethiopians as far too close to the Eritreans, who helped him win power. Now he is seen as a nationalist, who has defended Ethiopian sovereignty.


For Eritrea the outcome has been more bitter. On the plus side they have staved off defeat, and successfully resisted Ethiopian forces far stronger than their own.

They have also forced Ethiopia to accept international adjudication of their disputed border - something that the Ethiopian leadership was reluctant to do.

But in the longer term the outlook is more clouded. Eritrean losses have been high, and while they backed their leaders during the crisis, there may be harsh questions in the months ahead.

This war, which has ended so inconclusively, could have a destabilising effect on the entire region over the longer term.

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See also:

12 Jun 00 | Africa
Ethiopia-Eritrea peace plan
12 May 00 | Battle in the Horn
Border a geographer's nightmare
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