Ambassador Donald Yamamoto (Credit: Getty Images)
18 June 2016 - If war is imminent with Eritrea, TPLF will look to the U.S. for assistance as it did on Somalia, according to Donald Yamamoto, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia and former acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
TPLF, the current Ethiopia ruling liberation front "would want help from the U.S. intelligence on positioning of Eritrean forces along the border as well as information on the extent of Eritrean support for the AG7, OLF and ONLF."
The U.S. ambassador said, the primary source of military, financial and other support for TPLF "would be the same countries that helped Ethiopia in the last conflict with Eritrea: the Chinese can provide guns, the Israelis maintenance necessary, and Russia and Ukraine would likely provide PILOTS and spare parts again."
He added, "due to their competitive pricing, North Korea can also be expected to provide materiel" to TPLF once more regardless of military sale embargo on Pyongyang.
The former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia said, "despite occasional public statements to the contrary, the late Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi and his [TPLF] army generals did not want the UN Mission in Ethiopian and Eritrea (UNMEE) to abandon the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) in the border."
"As Asmara forces the UNMEE to leave the border, Eritrea's army encroached into all of the Temporary Security Zone except the Badme village without [TPLF] challenge."
Ambassador Yamamot said, "the problem now, is that we hold very little leverage over Eritrea, they do not listen to us, and even the benefits of not going to war (debt relief and reconstruction funds) may not be important to Isaias."
He concluded, "for Ethiopia, our message still holds sway over the [TPLF] government."