Beth Dickinson agrees that the U.S. push to deploy (underarmed) UN peacekeepers to Somalia prematurely — while at the same time advising that much-detested Ethiopian troops remain in the country and taking the provocative step of naming Eritrea a state sponsor of terror — is, well, not a very well thought-out policy.

Finally, you can expect this to ratchet up tensions in the region. Eritrea is indeed rumored to supply the Somali Islamists with weapons. But Ethiopia and Eritrea have an ongoing border dispute that has left both sides exceedingly militarized. Acceding to Ethiopian wishes by putting Eritrea on the terror list is like playing Russia roulette. With all live rounds.

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Another live wire connected to this powder keg, I might add, is that the Ethiopia-Eritrea border is not only “exceedingly militarized,” but, thanks to the illegitimate manipulations of both sides, also utterly empty of the UN peacekeepers that once monitored the accord between the two countries. So what we have here is this: the total abandonment of peacekeepers in a situation that, had the host governments not overtly interfered with their presence, actually fulfilled the conditions prerequisite to a peacekeeping mission (i.e., a peace to keep), juxtaposed with desperate calls for blue helmets to deploy where no one wants to go and where peacekeepers are bound to (all too literally) be thrown under the bus.

The only question, it seems, is where the explosion will hit first.

(image from flickr user veo_ under a Creative Commons license)

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