By Samuel Rubenfeld
The U.S. threw its support to impose international sanctions on Eritrea for its alleged links to militant attacks, AFP reported.
East African nations, led by rival Ethiopia, are lobbying for tougher measures against Eritrea, which first came under sanctions in 2009 (pdf). A United Nations monitoring group said Eritrea tried to organize bomb attacks during an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa in January, the AFP report said.
“The United States is very, very concerned about Eritrea’s behavior in the region,” said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. during a stakeout.
“Yes, the United States is very much interested in additional pressure and sanctions being applied on Eritrea. This is something that we’ll continue to discuss and debate in the Security Council. But from the U.S. point of view, we think that that is timely,” she said.
Citing the monitoring group’s report, Rice said the country, which was once a member of George W. Bush’s coalition of the willing that invaded Iraq, has undergone a campaign to “destabilize its neighbors,” which includes support for al Shabaab, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization that is preventing aid from reaching famine-wracked Somalia.
Aid groups say Eritrea is also suffering in the drought that has ravaged East Africa, and Rice said any sanctions would have to be targeted to they “would not go in any way to harm the people of Eritrea, who are suffering enough as it is.”