Claims United Nations Report Critical of Eritrea is Biased

SEMG report relied almost entirely on the Ethiopian regime to build its case against Eritrea and for that it lacked impartiality, incoherent and illogical.

By Sophia Tesfamariam,

The minority regime in Ethiopia, and its apologists in the media, is burning the midnight oil, attempting to disseminate the false and “cooked in Ethiopia” allegations contained in the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group’s Report (SEMG).

The UN hired the SEMG to investigate and produce a Report based on “its own independent findings” with its primary mandate being, to find out if Eritrea was in compliance with Security Council Resolution 1907 or not. The SEMG’s Report was based on self serving “intelligence” provided by the minority regime in Ethiopia, a party to the conflict in Somalia, and the one who bears primary responsibility for the carnage and chaos that defines Somalia today.

This latest attempt by the regime and its handlers to force the Un Security Council to take additional punitive actions against the State of Eritrea and its people only re-enforces what was known all along, that the sanctions against Eritrea were not an “African Initiative”, but rather a US-Ethiopia Initiative with Susan E. Rice and Meles Zenawi in the drivers seat.

The 417-page report lacked impartiality, was incoherent and had an illogical flow. The SEMG chose to go on a wild and vicious witch hunt, in search of “evidence to fit its pre-made conclusions about Eritrea, its leadership and people. Its informants, the minority regime in Ethiopia and its cadres, are persons who are themselves involved in the criminal milieu that defines Somalia today, and can hardly be considered to be credible sources and yet, the SEMG relied almost entirely on the Ethiopian regime to build its case against Eritrea.

The SEMG did not question statements by Ethiopia and its cadres and failed to independently check the veracity of the information gathered.

In its report, the SEMG made three outrageous allegations against Eritrea:

  1. Eritrea was behind a plot to bomb the African Union
  2. Eritrea was trying to destabilize Djibouti
  3. Eritrea was behind the July 2010 terrorist acts in Uganda

There have been many allegations made against Eritrea by the minority regime in the past, and had the SEMG done its homework, it would have known that it was Ethiopia that was feeding Djibouti, Somalia and Uganda with “faulty intelligence”, in order to get these states to sponsor the “stand alone sanctions resolution” against Eritrea, agreed to by Meles Zenawi and Susan E. Rice, as this excerpt from the Wikileak cable – AMBASSADOR RICE’S MEETING WITH ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER MELES ZENAWI ON SEPTEMBER 21, 2009-shows:

“…Ambassador Rice asked Meles, views on a potential UNSC resolution creating a stand-alone Eritrea sanctions regime, separate from the exisiting Somalia sanctions regime (UNSCR 1844) under which Eritreans can be designated for threatening the peace and stability in Somalia, and violating Djibouti,s border, among other sanctionable actions. Meles strongly backs this approach…”

This is also not the first time that the regime has fabricated claims against Eritrea in order to advance its foreign policy agendas. The origins of Security Council Resolution 1907 (2009) and its architects will be covered in another seating. The minority regime in Ethiopia, led by Meles Zenawi, remains at the center of all accusations against Eritrea.

For instance, when the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia released its report in 2006, it claimed that Eritrea had “2000 forces” in Somalia. Eritrea’s rejection were downplayed and ignored by the western media. The narrative on Eritrea, to label Eritrea as a “spoiler”, to divert attention away from Ethiopia’s violation of Security Council resolution 1724, 1725 and 1744 on Somalia would not have worked without scapegoating Eritrea.

All the talk about a “proxy war” between Eritrea and Ethiopia in Somalia was a convenient ruse, to divert attention away from Meles Zenawi’s intransigence. Jenday E. Frazer, the vindictive incompetent former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs was only willing to help. It should be recalled that she falsely claimed that Eritrea was, “quite clearly attacking Ethiopia on another front”.

Today, that lie and its creators have been exposed by the Wikileaks cables. As Eritreans had long suspected, the “faulty intelligence” originated from Meles Zenawi and his treacherous cadres, and was advanced by incompetent diplomats such as Frazer and with the lazy corporate media in tow. Let us take a look at what the November 2006 cable, “Ethiopia: Mfa Expert Offers Thoughts on Somalia Strategy”. The cable details the conversation between Vicki Huddleston, the US Charge D’Affaires and the regime’s “Somalia-watcher” Fiseha Shawel. Here is an excerpt:

“…NEARLY 1,000 ERITREAN TROOPS AIDING SOMALI ISLAMICISTS: Echoing statements made by senior Ethiopian officials (ref A), Fiseha  warned of a “dangerous situation” in the next two to three weeks, as Eritrea reinforced its presence in Somalia and continued to supply weapons to the extremist Council of Islamic Courts (CIC). As the CIC’s clear goal was a greater Somalia ruled by Islamic Shariah law, the CIC needed to be told that there could only be a negotiated settlement, not a military solution, to its struggle against Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Fiseha said. Citing the CIC’s links to Al-Qaida and other non-state actors, Fiseha said a victory by the CIC would be “an invitation to terrorists around the world.” …Ethiopian intelligence assessed that Eritrea had approximately 1,000 troops in Somalia assisting the CIC…”

There were diplomatic sources in Nairobi at that time who claimed the 80-page report would become a “very useful propaganda too” for hawks in the west. They were right. The faulty intelligence provided by Ethiopia was used to justify and advance the US-backed Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia on December 2006… Ethiopia’s motives were clear from day one. It was using that claim to justify its invasion of Somalia, not to “prop up” the TNG as Frazer claimed, but rather to go after Ethiopian opposition groups it believed were taking refuge in Somalia. Using the war on terror and extremists as a pre-text, on 24 December 2006 Meles Zenawi invaded and occupied Somalia for two years, in violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions. Frazer and the US State Department provided the diplomatic and political cover he needed.

To his credit, Matt Bryden, the current Chairman of the SEMG, who was the regional consultant for the International Crisis Group (ICG) at the time, cautioned against relying on such reports. He expressed his reservations by saying:

“…We need to treat many of these claims with caution until we see firm evidence…”

Unfortunately, Bryden and his team, authors of the latest SEMG report released on 19 July 2011, did not heed his own advice. This 417-page document is replete with unsubstantiated allegations, hearsay (more like bar- room say), exaggerations, distortions, even out right lies…faulty self serving intelligence provided by the minority regime in Ethiopia and its cadres.

It is said that Bryden may have been motivated by ulterior agendas, such as the recognition for Somaliland independence, which Ethiopia has been advancing at IGAD and the AU. Bryden’s conflict of interest in Somalia was raised by the Somali Permanent Representative at the UN and others. In a 2008 letter to the Security Council, he conveyed the TFG’s “strongest objection” to Bryden’s appointment as coordinator, but the Security Council chose to ignore it (because the US said he was not speaking on behalf of the TFG of Somalia) and eventually, the Somali representative was forced to withdraw his complaint. There were many others who questioned Bryden’s credibility and neutrality since.

In an article published on 28 July 2011 about the 18 July SEMG Report, Robert Young Pelton, a regional analyst, had this to say:

“….As a former military member who served in the region, speaks Somali, and reportedly holds a Somaliland passport, Bryden is tasked with preparing the report in conjunction with a maritime, finance and armed group expert. Their efforts are commendable but their methodology deeply questionable…Considering the major impact a UN freeze on travel and finance can have, the kangaroo court tactics, using witnesses…where possible, multiple sources…where possible and “continuously factoring in the expertise and judgment of… relevant experts” of the group to render judgment… The reader must wade through what sometimes reads like an anonymous scandal and gossip sheet due to the group’s reliance on diaspora who have fled a subject region, using anonymous sources or bizarre letters from non-existent authorities …”

Said A. Saryan, a Somali author expressed his reservations about Matt Bryden with this:

“…Entrusting such a sensitive role as monitoring of arms to a de facto honorary member of one of the opposing groups in Somalia is tantamount to appointing a Serbian nationalist General to monitor and investigate the flow of arms to the Balkans!…”

Byden’s bias against Eritrea is also well documented. During his tenure at the International Crisis Group (ICG), his anti-Eritrea bias was a matter of public record. Eritrea’s principled stand of non interference in the internal affairs of Somalia and Somalia’s re-liberation and reconstitution was in sharp contrast to Byden’s agenda for Somalia and Somaliland. This excerpt from a report posted by Afrol1 in November 2010 shows that Matt Bryden had already made his conclusions about Eritrea:

“…Matt Bryden, a consultant at the International Crisis Group (ICG), recently told afrol News that the Eritrean offensive against Ethiopia goes even further, involving the Ethiopian rebel groups Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). “Eritrean-trained Oromo fighters” are being “hosted” by the Somali Islamists and the ONLF – ethnic Somali rebels in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region – is being armed by Eritrea…According to security expert Bryden, Eritrea has a proper interest in fuelling an all-inclusive war in Somalia, which could spread throughout the African Horn region. “Eritrea’s strategy appears to be to stretch Ethiopian military capacity by opening a second front in southern Somalia while ramping up the pressure along the Ethio-Eritrean frontier,” said Mr Bryden, adding that Asmara is arming Ethiopian rebel groups…”

Bryden’s pre-made conclusions made him a perfect candidate for advancing Ethiopia’s treachery against Eritrea, severely undermining his credibility and compromising his work on behalf of the UN Sanctions Committee.


Resolution 1907 adopted on 23 December 2009 violated Eritrea’s due process rights, and remains a violation of Articles 2, 25, 33, 39, 95 and 100 of the UN Charter. Eritrea remains in compliance with Resolution 1907 (2009) despite the fact that it is illegal, unfair and unjust.

In violation of Eritrea’s right to due process, the SEMG Report was given to Ethiopia before it was made public, posted on the UN Sanctions Committee site, or given to Eritrea, the accused party. When questioned by this author, SEMG’s Matt Bryden denied giving Ethiopia an advanced copy, but suggested that “UN agencies” may have. Ethiopia distributed the unsubstantiated document at the IGAD meeting. Ethiopia was given a copy which it used to “inflame and agitate” its members. Ethiopia continues to prevent Eritrea from participating in IGAD.

The SEMG Report lacks reliability, objectivity and impartiality because the allegations made against Eritrea are based on faulty, self serving “intelligence” provided by Ethiopia, Djibouti or the US, all parties to the conflict in Somalia. Individuals who have been presented to corroborate the SEMG’s allegations are either members of Meles Zenawi’s regime, detainees in Ethiopian jails, defectors, disgruntled ex-diplomats, asylum seekers or human traffickers. They are neither independent nor credible.

Ethiopia put out a 5-part “documentary film”, which was supposed to serve as proof of Eritrea’s involvement in the trumped up charges against the OLF. Those who have seen the amateur video said that the ignominious regime’s cadres had used “actors”, not very good ones at that, to play the part of the terrorists. Why did the regime feel it was necessary to put on such an elaborate production if it had solid evidence? Susan Rice, who today is refusing to allow Eritrea from being heard by the Security Council, should have found this to be another case of “rhetorical display designed to enflame” Council members, but she didn’t. She, like the minority regime in Ethiopia wanted to convince Council members that Eritrea was a regional threat and she didn’t care that the accusations were false or fabricated.

State Department documents as well as the Wikileak cables show that, unlike the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) does not use terrorism to advance its political agendas. All Ethiopian opposition groups, journalists and any one who opposes the minority clique is labeled “terrorist”. Meles Zenawi is using the “war on terror” as a pretext to “stamp out” his opposition.

If there was such an attempt on the African Union, would that not have been considered big news? After all, Addis based western journalists have jumped for lesser things, especially if Eritrea was the subject. On 23 February 2011, AMISOM, IGAD and the UN Political Office for Somalia announced in a joint communiqué that they had adopted a joint regional strategy to support the TFG in the management of the transitional period. The issue of the alleged attempt to bomb the African Union was not mentioned in that or any other statement at that time. With Addis Ababa being the headquarters of the African Union, the said target for the alleged bomb attacks, why didn’t they alert the UN Security Council and ask for an independent investigation? At no time has the AU or IGAD reported such a crime.

In addition, on 9 February 2011, the Sanctions Committee on Eritrea and Somalia met for the first time under its new Chair, Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, and heard the mid-term briefing by Matt Bryden, the Coordinator of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea. If the alleged bombing of the African Union were true, why didn’t Bryden bring that finding to the Committee’s attention at that time? It was during his visit to Ethiopia in March 2011 that he was presented with the “witnesses” to that alleged plot.

On 10 March 2011 when the UN Security Council issued its Presidential Statement on the Somalia issue, considering the central role played by the African Union in Somalia, the alleged attempted attack on the African Union was not mentioned. Why is that?

The terrorist bombing in Kampala, Uganda is another issue that is mentioned in the SEMG report. There were 8 Eritreans killed in the July 2010 bomb attack in Uganda. According to the Ugandan Government, those responsible for the attacks have been arrested. The “Asmara Retreat” accusation found in the SEMG report is a self serving, childish fabrication of the minority regime in Ethiopia. The individual presented in the Report as being the mastermind behind the terrorist act is an Ethiopian, not an Eritrean.

Eritrea has never sponsored any groups to attack Djibouti and has no reason to do so. Once again, those allegations came from the minority regime in Ethiopia. It was a means to create conflict between the two countries which Ethiopia said were “too close”. Ethiopia’s ill intention towards these two brotherly peoples is exposed in the Wikileak cables.

In 2006, Djibouti was opposed to military intervention in Somalia and did not support IGASOM, the proposed IGAD peacekeeping mission. Ethiopia decided to use the US to pressure Djibouti to come on board. Ethiopia also wanted Djibouti to sever its brotherly relations with Eritrea and as we shall see later, it also provided the “faulty intelligence” to inflame the President of Djibouti in mid 2009, to and coerce him into asking for sanctions against Eritrea. Ethiopia also encouraged Djibouti to escalate the already resolved border issue (according to the French Foreign Ministry) and with the help of Susan E. Rice and others in the US Administration pushed for “stand alone for sanctions against Eritrea”.

Let us begin with the September 2006 cable “ETHIOPIA: DEPUTY MINISTER TEKEDA TALKS SOMALIA, REGIONAL ISSUES WITH DAS YAMAMOTO”, which details the conversation between Ethiopia’s Deputy Minister Tekeda Alemu and US Ambassador Donald Yamamoto. The cable says:

“…The Government of Djibouti’s opposition to IGAD actions in Somalia are the result of its fear of Eritrean President Isaias, Tekeda said, as well as President Guelleh’s personal business interests with Eritrea. The Deputy Foreign Minister speculated that the Djiboutian leadership was worried that Eritrea would support Afari separatist movements, as Isaias had done successfully in Sudan, if Djibouti did not follow Eritrea’s lead in Somalia. Tekeda also told Yamamoto that Aweys and other CIC leaders had stopped in Djibouti to meet with President Guelleh on their way back from Libya the week before. Tekeda maintained that the GOD was “on the wrong path,” and added that Djibouti was not strong enough to take Ethiopia’s continued friendship and forbearance for granted…”

But that was not all. Here is the rest of it:

“…Tekeda urged that the USG speak frankly with Djibouti about its role in the region. He said that President Guelleh would pay attention to U.S. concerns given the importance to him of the U.S. military base in Djibouti. “He must be told to choose” whose side he wanted to take…”

This intimidation and harassment of Djibouti is not new and will not end unless the Government and people of Djibouti assert their sovereign rights and refuse to be used as pawns in Ethiopia’s evil agendas for the region.

The SEMG accused Eritrea of trying to destabilize Djibouti by training Afar groups opposed to the Djiboutian government. Suffice it to post an excerpt from the 29 May 2009 Wikileak cable, “Djiboutian Fm Reports IGAD Seeks More Aggressive Mandate for Amisom”, which clearly shows  Ethiopia as being behind the false accusations against Eritrea.  Unfortunately, the Djiboutian officials didn’t realize that they were playing right into Meles Zenawi’s hands.  Here is an excerpt from that cable:

“…According to Youssouf, on May 25, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin had raised with Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula the need for a concerted approach by IGAD members to the AU and to the UN Security Council, in support of such measures, as well as the need to apply greater pressure on Eritrea… Eritrea also continued to seek to destabilize Djibouti, Youssouf said. He reported that Ethiopian FM Seyoum had informed him on May 24 of Ethiopian intelligence that more than 200 rebel fighters (presumably ethnic Afars), who had been trained in Eritrea, had infiltrated Djibouti via Ras Doumeira-which has been occupied continuously by Eritrean troops since at least March 2008. Youssouf said Djibouti responded to the report by putting Djiboutian troops on alert, and activating additional forces along the border with Eritrea…”

Why would Eritrea destabilize Djibouti? To what end? Presumably, and judging from the conversations between the Djibouti officials and incompetent US diplomats in Djibouti and Addis, it is because Eritrea was “jealous” of Djibouti’s role in Somalia. That is not only a childish excuse; it is also an insult to the intelligence of the Eritrean people in particular and the people of the Horn in general. Djibouti should have asked what Ethiopia had to gain by making such an accusation.

The Djibouti issue, by all accounts, including several statements by officials from the French Foreign Ministry, had remained “static”.  It was Rice and Meles that needed the Djibouti issue to escalate, as that would fit in with their agenda against Eritrea. By pushing Djibouti, their behind the scenes machinations (too numerous to mention here) for “stand alone sanctions” against Eritrea, the “static” Djibouti issue was escalated and presented as a “threat to peace and security in the region”, thus requiring Security Council action.

It was also based on Ethiopia’s “faulty intelligence” that Djibouti protested against Eritrea. In the 29 May 2009 cable,” DJIBOUTIAN FM REPORTS IGAD SEEKS MORE AGGRESSIVE MANDATE FOR AMISOM”,  it is clear that it was Ethiopia that provoked Djibouti into launching protests at the Security Council against Eritrea, even though the Djibouti-Eritrea issue had remained static for almost a year. Ethiopia needed to inflame the Government of Djibouti and it did. Here is what that cable says:

“…Djibouti remained concerned about illicit Eritrean arms deliveries to insurgents in Somalia, Youssouf said, noting that Eritrean President Isaias continued to reject recognition of the TFG. Except for Eritrea, all the countries in the region were united in seeking a common approach to support Somalia, Youssouf said…Eritrea also continued to seek to destabilize Djibouti, Youssouf said. He reported that Ethiopian FM Seyoum had informed him on May 24 of Ethiopian intelligence that more than 200 rebel fighters (presumably ethnic Afars), who had been trained in Eritrea, had infiltrated Djibouti via Ras Doumeira…”

If anyone is training the Afar groups to destabilize the region, it would have to be Meles Zenawi’s regime, as it has the most to gain…an outlet to the sea. Endowed with multiple ports and long coastlines, neither Djibouti, nor Eritrea has that desperate need.

The 12/27/2009 Wikileaked cable ‘DAS WYCOFF DISCUSSES SOMALIA AND ERITREA WITH DJIBOUTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER’, clearly shows, that there were countries (US allies) that were providing arms to Somalia in violation of the Somalia Arms Embargo and yet, the US and its partners in the Horn region chose to scapegoat Eritrea and sanction Eritrea without ever producing any evidence to support their wild allegations. Let us take a look at what the cable said:

“…FM Youssouf stated that Algeria was providing 30 tons of arms to the TFG; the shipment was currently in Dire Dawa (Ethiopia), and would arrive in Djibouti December 9 or 10.The TFG had previously considered delivery by road, but was concerned about theft. Wycoff urged that care be taken in handing over the arms to avoid their being misappropriated, noting that the USG worked through AMISOM to try to ensure best use was made of any lethal equipment provided. Noting that Djibouti had previously shipped weapons to the TFG in April and June (ref B), FM Youssouf stated that Djibouti would ship the Algerian arms on to the TFG only to specific locations when specified by President Sharif…”

The Security Council should not attribute any evidentiary weight or credibility to the SEMG’s latest report and its contents, as it will not bring peace and security to Somalia, or the region. This is an attempt to “isolate” and silence Eritrea while Ethiopia and its partners work for the total and permanent disintegration of Somalia.

For those who want to preserve the credibility and integrity of the UN Security Council and its Committees, and those who seek the truth, should call for an independent investigation into all the allegations being lodged against Eritrea, especially when the allegations are coming from Meles Zenawi and his henchmen in Ethiopia.

The Security Council should also take punitive actions against the minority regime for deliberately misleading Council members and ask that Council seriously question and check for veracity “evidences” and “testimonies” presented by States who are parties to the conflict, in this case, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya , Uganda and the United States.  The Security Council ought to appoint a fresh independent group of experts as the current SEMG has compromised its credibility and integrity.

The illegal, unjust and unfair sanctions resolution 1907 (2009) against the people of Eritrea must be immediately lifted and Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be restored.

The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle.