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Eritrea denies involvement in the Yemen crisis and destabilize Somalia

By Tajuddin
Feb 23rd, 2016
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki

Asmara, Eritrea (Shabait + Bloomberg + DIPLOMAT.SO) – Eritrean government denied it sent soldiers to fight with a Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen, accusing the United Nations of reporting flawed and “unsubstantiated” allegations against the Horn of Africa country.

The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea said in an October report it had “credible information” that Eritrean soldiers were embedded with a United Arab Emirates contingent in Yemen. It also said the African nation was allowing the Arab coalition to use its land, airspace and territorial waters, receiving fuel and financial compensation for its support in the campaign against Houthi militants.

Eritrea described the allegation of sending troops as “patently false,” in a statement on a government website. It accused the monitoring group of a “longstanding tendency to dwell on malicious hearsay so as to maintain the harassment of Eritrea.” It didn’t mention the other allegations of support. Neither Saudi Arabia nor the U.A.E. have commented on the UN’s claims.

Eritrea, situated along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes on the Red Sea, is less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) across the waterway from Yemen at its closest point.

The UN group also said it found “no evidence” of Eritrea assisting Islamist militants al-Shabaab in Somalia, although it found the country was “continuing to support and harbor some regional armed groups” including a newly formed Ethiopian opposition coalition. The global body imposed sanctions on Eritrea in 2009, accusing it of sending 2,000 troops to back the al-Qaeda-linked group that’s been waging an insurgency against Somalia’s administration since 2006.

The government in Asmara welcomed the group’s “acknowledgment of the fact, even if belated, that the principal, purported reason for imposing the unwarranted sanctions against Eritrea is untenable.”

The chair of the UN’s Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno, said last week he’d received an invitation from President Isaias Afwerki to visit the country.

The full text of the press release issued by the Eritrean Foreign Ministry

The Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group report, presented by the Chair of the Committee on Thursday February 1 8th pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009), is replete with the flaws and unsubstantiated allegations that have often characterized the behavior of the group in the past years.

1. The report states that “the Monitoring Group did not find any evidence that the Government of Eritrea had been supporting Al-Shabaab”. But in the same breadth, it reported that “Eritrea was supporting armed groups in Ethiopia in violation of paragraph 16 of resolution 1907 (2009)”

Eritrea welcomes the Monitoring Group’s acknowledgement of the fact, even if belated, that the principal, purported reason for imposing the unwarranted sanctions against Eritrea is untenable. This fact in itself must be sufficient enough to rescind the unjust sanctions imposed on Eritrea for the past seven years. At the same time, the Monitoring Group’s tendency to resort to creative interpretation and extra-procedurally stretch the scope of the sanctions resolution must be dismissed as illicit, inappropriate and counter-productive under the terms of its mandate. The fact is Ethiopia continues to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories in flagrant violation of international law, the UN Charter, and the “final and binding” arbitral decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC). It must also be underlined that Ethiopia’s continued breach of international law and the provisions of the UNSC-guaranteed Algiers Agreement elicit appropriate punitive measures by the UN Security Council. Furthermore, Ethiopia’s unabashed public pronouncements of its pursuit of “regime change” in Eritrea and support to subversive armed groups constitute violations of international law and acts of regional subversion that cannot be downplayed or glossed over. In the event, the SEMG’s focus on alleged acts of Eritrea against Ethiopia is morally unconscionable and legally incompatible with its mandate.

2. The report goes on to say, “The Group had received unconfirmed reports of the presence of Eritrean soldiers in Yemen fighting alongside the Arab coalition. If confirmed, this involvement could potentially constitute a violation of paragraph 6 of the same resolution”

This allegation is patently false. Once again, it is crystal clear that the SEMG is persisting in its longstanding tendency to dwell on malicious hearsay so as to maintain the harassment of Eritrea. Who are the sources and what are the underlying motives of this disinformation? Is this another version of the SEMG’s false allegation in 2009 that claimed Eritrea had sent 2,000 soldiers to Somalia? As it must be recalled, this false accusation was floated in the SEMG’s reports but never retracted thereafter. Thus, is this another replay of the 2009 episode of floating wild accusations to serve a specific purpose? In any case, if the reports are unconfirmed, what is the hurry? Why does the SEMG insert in its report unconfirmed innuendos to insinuate “potential” violation?
Eritrea has emphasized all along that the unjust sanctions resolutions were politically motivated instruments conceived from the outset to harass Eritrea and to deflect attention from Ethiopia’s flagrant violation of international law and occupation of sovereign Eritrean territory including the town of Badme. The SEMG’s recent report illustrates, rather vividly, the dynamics of this misguided scheme.

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