Thursday, April 5, 2012

Africa Review - What next for Eritrea after the Ethiopia raids?

What next for Eritrea after the Ethiopia raids?

Eritrea's President Isaias Afeworki shakes hands with Eritrean residents at Khartoum's airport as Sudan's President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir (left) looks on during a May 2010 trip. President Isaias accuses the US of supporting a recent raid by Ethiopia on its territory. FILE | AFRICA REVIEW |
By MICHAEL ABRAHAPosted Wednesday, April 4  2012 at  10:50
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    Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki has fastened the blame on the US for ‘organising’ the recent Ethiopian military incursions, which he said were aimed at diverting world attention from his country’s border row with Addis Ababa.
    Speaking on State TV in late March, President Isaias said the Ethiopian attack had its roots in Washington’s “failed agendas” and “wrong calculations”.
    Whether his assertions are shared by the rest of the country, is hard to know as people were not free to offer opinions and criticising the government was unimaginable.
    The Security Council has simply ignored President Isaias's concern, which meant for the UN bending its Charter principles of the sanctity of the idea of territorial integrity of member states.
    The Eritrean Government is not helped by its isolationist, defiant behaviour which has led to debilitating UN sanctions on charges of fuelling violence and terrorism in the Horn of Africa region. Its miserable human rights record had also earned it no friends.
    Under these circumstances, the Security Council was inclined to treat the Ethiopian incursion the same way it treated the Kenyan invasion of Somalia last October in pursuit of Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab operatives, who attacked tourists inside Kenya. A UN sanctions monitoring team determined in July that both Somalia and Eritrea were serving “as platforms for foreign armed groups that represented a grave and increasingly urgent threat to peace and security in the Horn and East Africa region” .
    Ethiopia said it was acting in self-defence when it invaded up to 18kms into Eritrea in mid March, overrunning three of its military garrisons at Gibina, Gelehibe and Ramid in southeastern Eritrea where Asmara was “arming and training…hit-and-run terrorists” such as the Afar rebels who attacked 27 European tourists in January, murdering five and kidnapping two others.
    A government statement warned of additional operations if Eritrea failed to stop being a “launching pad for attacks against Ethiopia”.
    In a statement after Ethiopia announced its operations, the Eritrean Government dismissed Ethiopian accusations that it supported the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF) to attack the tourists. Avoiding a retaliatory response, it urged the UN to denounce the action, which it claimed was aimed at diverting attention from its border dispute with Ethiopia.

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