September 27, 2013

The Unjust and Reckless UN Sanctions against Eritrea

The Unjust and Reckless UN Sanctions against Eritrea

The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions against Eritrea that include an arms embargo, asset freezes and a travel ban, all based on an unfounded allegation that Eritrea is supporting extremists in Somalia. Eritrea’s consistent stand is against all forms of extremism in the region. This is a reckless move without any foundation. Eritrea, itself a victim of Terrorism and at the forefront in fighting international terrorism, surely doesn’t deserve this sanctions. Even the thought of it is offensive!

Here are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to the unjust and reckless UN sanctions that we hope will clear the fog.

Why are these UN sanctions unjust and reckless?
They are unjust because they were based on charges long proven to be untrue; they are unfounded allegations fabricated, orchestrated, and pushed by Ethiopia. The root of the charge is fabricated by the so-called U.N. Somalia Monitoring Group going to 2006 when, in an attempt to provide cover for Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia, tried to place 2000 phantom Eritrean troops in Somalia. This turned out to be pure fabrication. Furthermore, the plane that Eritrea was supposed to have used to transport weapons and fighters to Somalia turned out to be another fabrication; the plane was found crashed in Uganda while being used by DynCorp, a contractor for the US military and Intelligence service. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Mr. Ahmedou Ould- Abdallah, has also publicly admitted that there is no evidence linking Eritrea to the Monitoring Group’s charges.

What could be the consequences of these sanctions?
Plenty! (1) These sanctions will be seen as a green light for Ethiopia to attack Eritrea; Ethiopia has yet to implement the final and binding EEBC Demarcation ruling. The sanctions are designed to weaken Eritrea and prop up the regime in Ethiopia. (2) These sanctions will also accelerate the spread of terrorism in the region; the sanctions are targeting the only credible force, Eritrea, that has checked terrorism for more than two decades. This together with the deteriorating situations in Yemen and Somalia will plunge the Horn into more instability threatening the vital shipping lanes along the Red Sea, a lifeline to all the oil supply to economies of the West.

Aren’t these sanctions an African Initiative?
No! This is a bold lie. The regional organizations that were claimed to be the source for this initiative IGAD and the Africa Peace and Security Committee called for this action under the chairmanship of Ethiopia when the meetings were held inside Ethiopia. That is why 1) the current chair of the African Union opposed the sanctions at the UN Security Council, 2) The fact that the twenty-eight member regional organization, CENSAD, with members like Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria, has condemned the unjust sanctions.

Is this the first time the UN is victimizing Eritrea?
No! This is the latest in a series of UN injustices against Eritrea starting from the 1950 unjust UN decision that federated Eritrea with Ethiopia. For nearly sixty years Eritrea didn’t see a single day of peace and as a consequence it was forced to sacrifice too many of its bright sons and daughters. Eritrea also faces a continuous threat from terrorist organizations, like the Eritrean Islamic Jihad Movement based in, trained and armed by Ethiopia.

Does Eritrea support extremists in Somalia?
No! There is absolutely no basis for this. Accusing Eritrea of arming extremists in Somalia is irresponsible and completely far from the truth. Such lies are orchestrated by enemies of Eritrea, Ethiopia being a prime one. Eritrea has never supported terrorists and will never support any organization that has links with terrorism anywhere in the world.

Who is arming extremists in Somalia then?
Ethiopia, the TFG and AMISOM are among the suspects! According to the U.N. Security Council’s Somalia sanctions committee, “elements of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia known as AMISOM, and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG)” are involved in arms trafficking activities.” Furthermore, “eighty percent of ammunition available at the Somali arms markets was supplied by the TFG and Ethiopian troops.” The Committee also reported of getting “details of some 25 military flights by Ethiopia into Somalia and knew that Ethiopian troops had brought military equipment into the country to arm friendly clans.”

What is Eritrea’s position on the Somali problem?
Eritrea’s stand on Somalia has been consistent for nearly two decades. It believes: (1) foreign involvement cannot solve but worsen the Somali predicament; (2) the Somali people should be encouraged to solve their problem on their own; (3) supporting or excluding one Somali party over another is not a solution; (4) external intervention designed to tip the delicate balance of power in favor of one faction at the expense of another only fuels the problem.

Is Somalia a proxy battlefield for Eritrea and Ethiopia?
Absolutely not! This is purely an Ethiopian induced media fabrication. Eritrea has never taken Somalia as a proxy battlefield to settle a score with Ethiopia. Eritrea gains nothing by engaging Ethiopia in Somalia. As grave as Ethiopia’s refusal to implement the final and binding boundary decision is, it is a problem between Eritrea, Ethiopia, and the international community. It cannot be played out in Somalia at the expense of the Somali people. All Eritrea wants is for Ethiopia to vacate sovereign Eritrean territories.

Has Eritrea been a victim of terrorism?
YES! Numerous times! In the first year of its independence, Bin Laden and his young organization (Al Qaeda) tried to infiltrate into and attack Eritrea from the Sudan. Terrorists from many countries were in the group and many were killed by Eritrean forces. In 1994, six Belgian tourists were killed, and in 2004 about eighty people, many among them school children, were attacked in western Eritrea during independence-day celebrations. One of the accomplices was captured and confessed to the details of how the group was directed and financed by an Ethiopian officer working with the Al Qaeda groups.

Has Eritrea been fighting terrorism?
An Africa specialist for the Congressional Research Service has put it this way to the New York Times on Sept. 18, 2007: “If there is one country where the fighting of extremists and terrorists was a priority when it mattered, it was Eritrea.”

Is Eritrea fighting against terrorism?
YES! Eritrea is still subjected to threats of attack from two Al Qaeda linked organizations: the Harakat Al Khalas al Islam (Eritrean Salvation Islamic Movement) and Eritrean Islamic Jihad and their umbrella organization the Eritrean Democratic Alliance. These groups are all based in Ethiopia and are armed and supported by the Ethiopian government. These groups a day after the UN sanctions were imposed announced they will use this to attack Eritrea. True to their threat they launched a foiled attack against Eritrea on January 1, 2010.

Does Eritrea cooperate with other in fighting terrorism?
YES! Eritrea believes that international terrorism can only be defeated when countries cooperate and form a joint front against it. To this end, Eritrea was a leading member of the frontline countries against Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda group. President Isaias of Eritrea puts it this way: “We believe we have a stake in working together with our partners, and particularly the United States, to make this region peaceful and safe.” Eritrea has limited resources, but is “willing and prepared to use these limited resources in any way useful to fight terrorism.” Furthermore, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had this to say: “We have in Eritrea a country that is cooperating in the global war on terrorism and has offered a variety of areas of assistance, … a country that has been forthcoming.” According to Jim Garamone of the American Forces Press Service, “Eritrea has cooperated in the war of terror and has offered facilities, intelligence, and other help such as over-flight and mooring permissions to the United States.” Eritrea, according to Mr. Rumsfeld, “has considerably more experience than the U.S.” when it comes to fighting terrorism and the United States “can benefit from that knowledge and from that experience.”

What are Ethiopia’s intentions in Somalia?
Ethiopia and Somalia had fought three major wars. The current state of disorder was brought by Ethiopia’s intervention is Somalia in 1990 as well as invasion and occupation in 2006. Ethiopia is making sure Somalia does not get reconstituted as a functioning state.

What can you do to help?
As you know the real image of Eritrea is not like what its traditional enemy, Ethiopia, and its supporters would have many believe. Eritrea is a peaceful country that is only trying to survive. No nation in the Horn of Africa yearns and works for peace and respect for international law and treaties more than Eritrea. Write to your government representatives and urge them to push the UN Security Council (1) to immediately annul and repeal these unjust and reckless sanctions against Eritrea. (2) to shoulder its responsibility as a guarantor of the Algiers Agreement to do whatever it takes to make Ethiopia vacate sovereign Eritrean territories it is occupying illegally in breach of international law and its treaty obligation.

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