Analysis: Eritrea confounds US in Somalia – By MATTHEW LEE (AP)

August 9th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — As it boosts aid to Somalia’s weak interim government to fight an al-Qaida-linked Islamist militia, the Obama administration is grasping for ways to cut off what it says is one of the militant group’s main supply lines: the tiny Red Sea state of Eritrea. (more…)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — As it boosts aid to Somalia’s weak interim government to fight an al-Qaida-linked Islamist militia, the Obama administration is grasping for ways to cut off what it says is one of the militant group’s main supply lines: the tiny Red Sea state of Eritrea.

The enigmatic and authoritarian nation has emerged as a principle player in the conflict in lawless Somalia, where the enfeebled government is struggling for survival against the extremist al-Shabab faction.

U.S., U.N. and other investigators say the Eritrean government is funneling money, weapons and other supplies to al-Shabab, which Western intelligence agencies regard as a growing regional and international threat bent on using Somalia as a base to export terrorism abroad. Eritrea emerged out of internecine conflict, seceding from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war.

Eritrea, a Somalia neighbor about the size of Pennsylvania with a population of only 3.6 million, has consistently denied the charges. Its accusers are equally adamant. The United States, in particular, has been warning the country that it will face sanctions if it doesn’t stop supporting the extremists. The African Union has also called for sanctions to be imposed.

After pledging last week to expand U.S. support, including military aid, to the beleaguered Somali government and an undermanned and underequipped African peacekeeping force protecting it, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a stern new warning to Eritrea.

“It is long past time for Eritrea to cease and desist its support for al-Shabab,” she said at a news conference with Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed. “We are making it very clear that their actions are unacceptable. We intend to take action if they do not cease.”

Yet despite similar tough talk dating back to the administration of President George W. Bush, the U.S. has rarely followed up on its warnings to Eritrea. In 2008, the Bush administration found that Eritrea was not fully cooperating in the war on terrorism and slapped an arms embargo on Eritrea.

But the United States has stopped short of more punitive steps, including designating Eritrea a “state sponsor of terrorism,” a move that would impose a wide range of additional sanctions.

A senior U.S. official said an Obama administration review of whether Eritrea’s activities in Somalia meet the legal requirements for such a designation is still underway and could be completed soon.

Washington’s seeming reluctance thus far to take more than token measures against Eritrea is unclear but appears partly rooted in a desire to woo the country away from supporting al-Shabab.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told Congress last month that Eritrea’s backing for al-Shabab is “unacceptable and we will not tolerate it.” At the same time, she said the United States wants to engage Eritrea and was hopeful the isolated African nation would respond to American entreaties.

But so far, Eritrea has flatly rejected U.S. allegations of support for extremists and has ignored the administration’s offers of better relations.

“That’s totally untrue, baseless,” Eritrea’s information minister, Ali Abdu, said when asked about Clinton’s assertion that his country is arming al-Shabab. Abdu also denounced the U.S. involvement with the Somali government and said Somalis should “decide their own destiny and future.”

Although it denies helping the extremists, Eritrea sheltered one hardline Somali Islamist leader, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, for months in self-exile before he returned to Mogadishu in April. Aweys is on U.S. and U.N. lists of individuals with links to al-Qaida.

Aweys denies ties with al-Qaida but said in June he is working to unite his Islamic Party with al-Shabab, which the U.S. says is harboring at least two al-Qaida operatives involved in the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

In her comments in Kenya, Clinton maintained that al-Shabab wants to expand and sees “Somalia as a future haven for global terrorism.” She noted the recent arrests of four men allegedly linked to the group who are suspected of plotting attacks in Australia.

While it refutes allegations of supporting the militia, Eritrea ridiculed the arrests in Australia, calling them an invention of the CIA intended to confuse “the gullible and naive.”

“The objective: to justify the prevailing acts of intervention and domination in the Horn of Africa as well as link the Somali people’s popular resistance with ‘global terrorism’,” ahead of Clinton’s visit, Eritrea’s foreign ministry said in a commentary posted to its Web site on Aug 5.

Eritrea has also made clear its disdain for the Somali government, which is not only backed by the United Nations, the United States and the African Union but by Eritrea’s longtime enemy — Ethiopia.

Many believe that Eritrea and Ethiopia — who have been feuding over their border since Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia — are fighting a proxy war in Somalia. Ethiopia invaded Eritrea in 2005 to dislodge al-Shabab’s predecessor, the Islamic Courts Union, from power.

“We think that solving a problem with another problem is not right, and this is what Eritrea is doing,” Ahmed, the Somali president, said in Nairobi with Clinton. “Because Eritrea is having problems with one of its neighbors, it is not right to solve this problem through Somalia.”

EDITOR’S NOTE _ Matthew Lee covers the State Department for The Associated Press

  1. aha!
    | #1

    We need to hear from secretary of State Hillary Clinton a comprehensive foeign policy statement dealing with the two tyrrant dictators of TPLF/eprdf, the EPLF/Eritrea and the Alshabab insurgency in Somalia, which is likely to emerge from HR2003/S3457 in US senate, which changes the foreign policy for East Africa, particularly for Ethiopia, which engaged in a peaceful struggle for unity, freedom, democracy for all Ethiopians. That should be the goal and effort stipulated in the legislature to assist these countries particularly in Ethiopia to initiate a democratic state(s)in East Africa of equal partnership to fend off terrorist elements. Putting the emphasis and media attention to fighting of terrosism alone while leaving the struggle for unity, freedom, democracy and human right in the back burner does help resolve the crises for the majority of the population in the region, except to put the limelight on Somalia and Eritrea and away from the ongoing crises in Ethiopia, seems to be no different than the previous administration’s policy.Secretary of State’s speech addressed only the second tier of crises of leadership in Africa, pertaining to governance, corruption and perhaps accountability, but not with respect to the first tier of ethnic and seccessionist politics prevalent in Ethiopia today, which hinders, the implementation and enforcement of the second tier, let alone save Ethiopia from disintegration.

    If that is concern for Ethiopians only, then let all Ethiopians from all walks of life and ethnicity put Ethiopia ahead of ethnicity and march against those parties with ethnic agenda to dismantle the existing divide and rule apatheid system to form a perfect union in a democratic suystem of government, where any part of of Ethiopia blongs to all Ethiopians, not to ethnic groups or liberation movements.

  2. Lucas
    | #2

    What a Shame !!

    What is going on in the World ? in the UN, AU, EU ? etc . Why is Ethiopia considered a country above the Low ? W H Y ?

    Ethiopia rejected the decision of the international Commission of the BORDER COMMISION and its final and binding decision, refusing to withdraw from legally allocated land to Eritrea !

    Ethiopia invaded first Eritrea and then Somalia !!

    Ethiopia is accused of genocide by AI, Human right Watch, and other international organizations (genocide in the provimces Orommia and Gambella), in the 2005 election the actual EPRDF lost to the opposition. The EPRDF reacted by killing more than 200 people incarcerating opposition leaders.

    In all this act of Lawlessness there were no reaction from the State department and or other international bodies.!!

    In 2006 Eritrea was accused of delivering 2000 fighters in Somalia to fight alongside the Al Shebab !! and there were “cargo Jet “plenty of weapons, dispached from Eritrea to the Al Shebab group !!.

    In all this accusation THERE WERE NO PIECE OF EVIDENCE , THERE WERE NOT A SINGLE ERITREAN SOLDIER IN SOMALIA (With the exeption of 1 Jornalist
    still in prison in Ethiopia)

    There ware no single Cargo Jet to be showed as evidence !!!! It turned out to be a BIG LIE !!

    To day we see that the State department is threatening Eritrea because again Eritrea would support al Shebab !!! Again, there are No evidences to support this accusations.!! But both the USA AU and others
    are openly accusing Eritrea ??? WHY ?

    A very curious situation

    in the sixties the Eritrean revolution (who fought for independence)was
    accused by the former Keizer Haile Sellasie and USA ( USA was the main arms supplier to the Keizer) as Terrorist Comunist etc etc. Eritreans were alone

    In the eighties the same movement was accused by the DERG (Military Junta) and the former USSR (USSR was the main arms supplier of the DERG) as reactionary, Imperialist and Terrorist !! Eritreans were alone

    Today we see again that Eritrea is accused by the USA as the main sorce of destabilization in the HORN. Again Eritreans are Alone .!!

    Analyzing the the above,
    A honest observer would say that Ethiopia is violating the International Law , and NOT Eritrea .But what we notice is : instigated by Ethiopia and the USA the international Community is unjustly condemning Eritrea,
    Why ????

    Is there no justice for ALL ?

    Why is for instance Zimbabwe accused of Dictatorship and not Ethiopia ?
    What are the criteria to be marked as Dictator?

    Does the alliance with a powerfull country guarantees immunity ?
    Even if you are accused of GENOCIDE ?
    Is this the Law of Jungle where we are living in the 21st Century ?

    REALLY A SAD STORY

  3. meka
    | #3

    The reason is clear. EPRDF is clearly took middle position between the two strong forces in Ethiopia, the separatist and Unifiers. As this polarity continues EPRDF benefits. For Ethiopia Eritrea is a partime politics or that can be smashed down if it became a threat.
    So enjoy the outcome!!!!

  4. mateos
    | #4

    The difference between the TPLFiets and EPLFiets are simple, 1- one decided to be the modern and sophisticated slaves of the donor countries while the other did not, 2- one decided to be a prostitute and pimp of the donor countris while the other did not, 3- one had a dream to destroy own country with aiga jungle constitution while the other did not, 4- one decided to eradicate one ethnic group while the other did not, 5- one decided to loot and rob its own citizens while the other did not, 6- one decided to be treated as a child of the donor countries while the other did not, 7- one became a shame leader of a beautiful nation and people and in return he turned out to be the face all shames while the other did not, 8- one lies, lies, lies, lies, and lies while the other did not, 9- one beliefs and does what ever the donor countries says while the other did not, and last 10- ONE LOVES HIS OWN COUNTRY AND PEOPLE WHILE THE OTHER HATES HIS OWN COUNTRY AND WILLING TO DISINGRATE THE FABRIC OF WHAT MAKES ETHIOPIAN!

  5. Abel
    | #5

    TPLF is bordering the Shabian headquarter. If shabia is strong enough, why don’t they face TPLF which is running, playing and enjoying life closed to their door step. Why running to Somalia and now Kenya to affect Ethiopia? Stop acting like a shifta. Be a man and face woyane face to face.

    A desperate shabia. Now has found the worst corrupt nation on earth, Kenya to buy them with little cash to do anything bad he is asking. Kenyas politicians, Businesses and each and every citizen is so corrupt, they can sell their entire humanity to anybody for money. That is why the Eritrean Diplomat in Kenya is officially financing and facilitating the Terrorist organization activity such as Al shebab in Somalia and the valueless OLF and the likes.

    Eritrean rebels claim successful attack on intelligence center
    Sunday 2 August 2009 03:00.

    August 1, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) – Two Eritrean rebel groups said today they hit sharply a government camp of an intelligence unit in southern Eritrea town of Senafe killing 13 military.
    The rebel Forces from Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) and Eritrean Salvation Front (RSF), who carried out the attack on July 25, believe that the government agents in this base were responsible for killing and capturing of refugee escapees from the “brutal system”.

    “Our Afar fighters along with their RSF counterparts on Tuesday at 7 o’clock local time have launched a coordinated and simultaneous commando type operation, in response to ongoing brutal repression and ethnic cleanse against our Afar people and the Eritrean people in general” Yasin Mohammed, RSADO’s communication and information department head told Sudan Tribune on Saturday.
    The rebel official said further they captured five government soldiers and brought them back in to Ethiopia. Further, they reiterated their commitment to Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War adding they would hand them over to the UN through the Ethiopian government.
    The rebels added they seized 9 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 1 RPG weapon, 1 Heavy Machine Gun, 3 communication phones, and important military documents.

    RSADO and DMLEK opposition groups that represent their respective Afar and Kunama Ethnic minorities, have long accused president Isayas Afeworki-led Eritrean government of marginalizing their people and launching an ethnic cleanse against their people in recent years.
    The rebel groups have vowed to jointly continue similar and large scale attacks against what they refereed as is “the most repressive regime in the Horn of Africa.”

    Recently, the Afar movement, RSADO one among a 13 opposition umbrella group (EDA), has intensified military campaigns against Asmara.
    The afar rebels have carried out more than five attacks, in the past six months, causing significant blow to the government. Last November they destroyed a military radar system and attacked military camp killing 285 soldiers deep inside Eritrea’s territories.

    The Eritrean government is accused of being reason for worst refugee crisis only next to Somalia in just a few years. Afar with 90% illiteracy rate, worst infant mortality and life expectancy in the country, have now produced most refugees to come out of Eritrea, with hundred thousand fleeing death, malnutrition and kidnapping.

    Currently, Some 30,000 Eritrean refugees are being sheltered in Ethiopia, others in neighboring countries like Djibouti, Yemen, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

  6. Think about it
    | #6

    I have no hate towards any human being. It is God’s or Satan’s Gob. Satan gave Ethiopia the worst punishment allowing Issayas to be born and grown up to work and worship satanic act through out his entire life.

    However it is okay to feel hate towards the worst ever Ethiopian enemy: Issayas. What people don’t understand is his truly being. Issayas is the number one enemy to Ethiopia, ever. He is the one created TPLF, feed them, gave them training, and brought them to Addis to take power to work as Asmara agents from the Addis place. The true Ethiopians with in TPLF left the front when they discovered about Shabians secret plan with in TPLF. Right now left in the TPLF only those knew from the start that TPLF was created to serve Shabia including the very fundamental cost of Ethiopia.

    Issayas needs meles the same way Meles needs Issayas. These two evils father and son know exactly and they are working accordingly. But the stupid Ethiopians and Eritreans don’t get it. There are few bastards Ethiopians out there thinking Issayas would do something good for Ethiopia. Only dead issayas is good for Ethiopia.

    It is the same thing with Meles. However, we can deal with meles especially when we Ethiopians are coming together to confront the two Criminal families in Ethiopia (The Sebhat nega and meles Criminal families that are weak and powerless but we are not dealing with them accordingly).

    Yes, horn of Africa is becoming the hot spot/trouble zone because of including the 2011 South Sudan independent date line and Somalia. On one hand the Arabs that are seeing the Africans as their slaves and using the salves to spread Islam all over the continent.. The Arabs also know that Southern Sudan being created as in Independent Christian and secular state would lead the beginning of pulling back of the Arabs domination in Africa for centuries. Even that would lead towards their long time slaves, the Northern Sudanese that are black but wants to Arabs will follow the African ways abandoning the Arabs ways behaving as slaves.

    60% of the Arab league nations are black Africans that have nothing to do with Arabs.
    Egypt also fears to the death if south Sudan becomes an Independent state. And she is doing her best evil work to stop it. We know what she is doing against Ethiopia that is contributing more than 86% the Nile water in Egypt.

    On the other side the west know very well about Islam and Arabs influence this region. Somalia being a secular Islamic state, South Sudan as a free state and the likes will help them to eliminate the Islamic fundamentalist issues in Africa and elsewhere. Islamists are coming all over the world to take terrorism training to affect the west and any peace loving people.
    In this region mainly Sudan as it is now and Somalia are the worst locations to spread the Islamic fundamentalism ideology all over Africa and the world.

    People think that Meles and Issayas are fighting a proxy war in Somalia and elsewhere. yes, it is true. But them being fighting a proxy war for their own interest is invisible and very limited and meaningless. They are themselves the proxies to the Arabs on one hand and to the west on the other.
    The west is facing Islamic fundamentalism worst than what was communism for 50 years and any force. Communism didn’t bomb USA from its foundation. London, Madrid, and other western nations were not bombed by communism. Communism was an ideology. Islamic fundamentalism IS also AN IDEOLOGY AND but A FAITH. Meaning IT IS VERY DANGEROUS IF IT IS NOT STOPED.

    There fore the west is trying to use Kenya, Ethiopia and the likes to fight Islamic terrorist in Somalia and they are busy to create Southern Sudan as an Independent state. Israel also playing her part around with her relationship with the Arabs. If the Nile was not there, Egypt would never sign any agreement with Israel. Instead she would be the worst enemy to Israel. From where is the vast majority of the Nile River coming in Egypt? You answer it.

    The Arabs are looking the whole Sudan to be remained under their control. Somalia to be the breading ground of terrorists that can be nightmares all over the world. That is why they are using Issayas to support terrorist cells in Eritrea, Somalia and buying with Oil money he is getting the corrupt African nation(kenya) to do his dirty job.

    So it is a proxy proxy war the hiding big picture is between Arabs/Muslims and west because of many fundamental issues to both of them related in to it

  7. Aba Jaffar Aba Gobbu
    | #7

    Shame on the stupid and ignorant yankees.They are are afraid of the enemy of humanbeing, the butcher of Addis, who has committed genocide, crime against humanity and war crimes in Ethiopia, instead they cry against Eritrea they created. The armed and financed Ato Easyas to destroy Ethiopia. Today they acuse the same person for the same reason they did together. The USA, EPLF, TPLF and Somalia invaded Ethiopia in 1977. The yankees invaded Somalia three times and failed and being humiliated and tries again. We hope Somalia shall be their graveyard.

  8. yesha
    | #8

    No evidence to provide that TPLF was created by shabya. This white lie accusassion was made from the dergs and EPRP for year with out any proof at all.please, stop making this kind accusassion or make your evidence available for all people to see.hate politics will not serve you or your lovely country. I don’t mind opposing TPLF forcefully for what it stands, however accussing TPLF for sack of accusation will not reward you anything at the end of the day.

  9. Mussie 16
    | #9

    To be an eritrean and have eritrean origion is grace,Because as history shows the only people can stand in bravery for any foreign insergency even if we don’t expect any posetive aspects from foreigners.as our believe, If one country has got a serious problem the country-itselef must deal and find a real solution that can bring it to once forever but other african countries sitted seeking foreign aid instead of trying to involve and searching the ways methods and tequnics for aproaching the problems.Such failers, all the time make them think and do evil for their society and country. As aresult we could be able to see the worst effect and impact on the people.so we as anation have a quality society that believes on harmony, integrity, unity ommong ourselves no mater what the situation happens but we don’t give advantage for others who wants to see our worst.so guys in every eritrean blood there is affection of eritrea. For such kind of people, how dare are you talking about their values, alttitudes and behaviours.Please before you say some try to gather facts inorder to makes yuor story fruiteful by the readers unless you and your story could tell us how stupid and savage you are .

  10. m16
    | #10

    To be an eritrean and have eritrean origion is grace,Because as history shows the only people can stand in bravery for any foreign insergency even if we don’t expect any posetive aspects from foreigners.as our believe, If one country has got a serious problem the country-itselef must deal and find a real solution that can bring it to once forever but other african countries sitted seeking foreign aid instead of trying to involve and searching the ways methods and tequnics for aproaching the problems.Such failers, all the time make them think and do evil for their society and country. As aresult we could be able to see the worst effect and impact on the people.so we as anation have a quality society that believes on harmony, integrity, unity ommong ourselves no mater what the situation happens but we don’t give advantage for others who wants to see our worst.so guys in every eritrean blood there is affection of eritrea. For such kind of people, how dare are you talking about their values, alttitudes and behaviours.Please before you say some try to gather facts inorder to makes yuor story fruiteful by the readers unless you and your story could tell us how stupid and savage you are .

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