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Increased tensions along the Ethiopian- Eritrean border —in a context of internal political turmoil in Ethiopia, increasing political repression in Eritrea, and recent developments in Somalia —raise concerns of expanding instability in the strategically important Horn of Africa.
Avoiding Conflict in the Horn of Africa urges the United States to take the risks and spend the resources necessary to resolve the Ethiopia-Eritrea border conflict and thereby reduce tension in the region. It argues that Washington should pressure Ethiopia to demarcate the border and Eritrea to lift restrictions on the UN peacekeeping mission that monitors the border. Washington must also make clear to both countries the costs of continuing to suppress internal dissent —and highlight the benefits of initiating real internal reform and regional cooperation. In addition, the administration should be prepared to cut bilateral assistance programs and enact sanctions if political conditions deteriorate further. Finally, the United States, international donors, and organizations should support long-term peace-building initiatives.