Ever read a news report and get the feeling that something simply does not add up? Seems to be a lot of “stories” in cyberspace nowadays that simply don’t make sense-and some are being reported by what the public considered “credible” and “reliable” outfits.
One such story that is trying to gain traction is the unsubstantiated allegations about Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. In the past we have seen reports about Israel and Iran bases being established in Eritrean ports. These stories were posted by Ethiopia’s surrogates and in some cases western intelligence agencies, and have been proven to be categorically false. Today, cross checking of facts and separating comments from fact seem to be non-existent.
So what is the latest narrative and what are they saying?
Well, it came out in an elaborate piece produced under the heading, “Saudi Arabia and the GCC are Expanding to Eritrea: Geopolitical Implications for Ethiopia”. According to the long winded article written by Andrew Korybko:
“…the GCC’s military-logistical move into Eritrea is predicated just as much on influencing Ethiopia as it is about dominating Yemen… the GCC wouldn’t be able to indefinitely hold out the threat of Islamic-inspired terrorist destabilization as a means of blackmailing the world’s fastest growing economy and one of Africa’s up-and-coming powers, but would have to reluctantly join in the Qatari-initiated unrest so as to secure whatever benefits they can while there’s still the ‘opportunity’ to do so. The ethnic, social, and religious cleavages already prevalent (and even overlapping in some cases) in Ethiopia provide more than enough domestic ‘gunpowder’ for a strategically placed spark to set the whole powder keg aflame, with the only fail-safe solution being for Addis Ababa to overwhelmingly respond with military force…”
After so many paragraphs, he finally gets to the narrative that is being pursued… “Eritrea is destabilizing Ethiopia” and this time he is using the situation in Yemen. What paranoia!
It should be recalled that in a 20 February 2014 leaked memo from Berhane Gebre-Christos, Ethiopia’s State Minister, called on its cadres to:
“…constantly provide information to the security and intelligence agencies of the countries of the region so that they will understand and explain Eritrea’s destabilizing role in the region…to lobby member states of the UNSC to accept the reports of the SEMG as credible…and to develop close relations with the relevant departments in the UN Secretariat in order to ensure that the reports are in line with Ethiopia’s position, or at least don’t hurt Ethiopia’s position…”
Ethiopia continues its lobbying and dissemination of false allegations against Eritrea with the hopes of prolonging the sanctions it had engineered against Eritrea with the help of Susan Rice, the then US Ambassador to the United Nations, as the leaked 20 February 2015 memo openly admit, and as the WikiLeaks American Embassy cables exposed.
As if it didn’t harbor and finance groups that conducted terrorist acts across Eritrea’s borders on several occasions, as if it didn’t support groups and individuals with the intention of bringing “regime change” in Eritrea, employing its favorite “accusations in the mirror” tactic, accused Eritrea of attempting to “destabilize” Ethiopia. Today, the regime in Ethiopia is attempting to once again entangle Eritrea in a diplomatic and political net. The regime and its handlers are once again trying to peddle lies that bore no currency on the first round.
The regime in Ethiopia is scared. It is desperately seeking to maintain the ill-gotten sanctions against Eritrea and its surrogates are found planting stories in cyberspace. The regime knows that the Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) has definitively concluded that “there is no evidence that Eritrea is supporting al-Shabaab in Somalia”. It was an inevitable conclusion, considering it was a blatant lie to begin with and became increasingly difficult to sustain the lie.
In a panic, the regime in Ethiopia and its handlers had to concoct another one. In 2011, it accused Eritrea of trying to destabilize it and the SEMG dutifully put that allegation in its report without providing any verifiable evidence. When asked about Ethiopia’s allegations contained in the SEMG report, US Ambassador Susan Rice said:
“…the evidence provided by the Monitoring Group we know to be very compelling and we have every confidence in its full veracity… The Ethiopian Government enabled every embassy in Addis Ababa that wished to come and view the evidence themselves. Some took the opportunity to do so; others didn’t. I don’t understand the basis for Russia’s claim that the evidence was not available or not compelling. From the United States’ point of view, we have every confidence in the veracity of that evidence…”
The Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) insists on gathering its information from Ethiopia, Eritrea’s hostile neighbor, which in violation of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions of 13 April 2002 and November 2007 respectively, is still occupying sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme. The SEMG dutifully put the latest allegation in its report, undoubtedly with the help of Ethiopia’s “intelligence sources”. It said:
“…The Monitoring Group also heard unconfirmed claims, including from a former high-ranking Eritrean official with contacts in the Eritrean military and an Eritrean analyst with direct access to serving Eritrean ambassadors in the Middle East and Africa, that some 400 Eritrean soldiers were embedded with the United Arab Emirates contingent of the forces fighting on Yemeni soil on behalf of the Arab coalition…”
In 2006, in order to divert attention away from Ethiopia’s aggressive war of invasion and occupation of Somalia in order to oust the Union of Islamic Courts, in support of the Transitional National Government of Somalia, the SEMG accused Eritrea of having “2000 Eritrean forces fighting alongside the UIC in Somalia” and of supplying arms to Al Shabbab. Those allegations, as the WikiLeaks American Embassy Cables showed, came from Ethiopia. The SEMG’s credibility, impartiality were compromised and its reputation undermined. But for whatever reasons, it still went down that same road to gather its information about Eritrea. Today, the same modus operandi continues and the latest narrative on Eritrea is an illustration of that.
Fool me once…
But it didn’t take long for lazy journalists and analysts to spin that lie found in the “UN Report” as a fact. Suffice it to mention a few culprits.
Diplomat News Network 29 Oct 2015 in its report “#Emirati navy arrives in #Eritrea to intensify operations against Houthi” wrote:
“…a recent U.N. report claimed that 400 Eritrean soldiers were deployed to Aden to support the Saudi-led coalition. If true, the report would point to a direct purpose for the Emirati vessels’ presence in Assab: They could either be transporting the Eritrean troops or ferrying equipment and supplies to the Eritrean troops already in Yemen…”
But it was this analysis by Stratforon 29 October that provided the grease for that shaky wheel:
“…Stratfor has detected an Emirati naval presence in the Eritrean port of Assab that may indicate Eritrea’s support of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Satellite imagery taken Sept. 16 appears to show three landing craft docked in the port that is not vessels known to exist within the Eritrean navy’s inventory… Eritrea’s exact role in the coalition’s operations remains unclear and cannot be derived from this imagery alone. However, the presence of Emirati naval vessels indicates, at the very least, that Eritrea has assumed a direct military or logistical responsibility within the campaign…as Eritrea integrates itself into the Saudi-led coalition, it will likely seek to expand its relationships beyond the region in an attempt to break its isolation and attract Western investors. From Eritrea’s perspective, accepting Saudi and Emirati cash and resources would be a logical move. Eritrea’s new partnerships could also enable it to show the international community that it can play a constructive role in regional security matters — a goal Eritrea has long sought…”
The government of Eritrea has stated its positions clearly on several occasions. Eritrea has not sent any troops to Yemen, nor does Eritrea have any linkswith the Houthis.
Let us see who else is on that bandwagon.
UN Tribune in its 2 November 2015 article repeated the “unconfirmed claims” found in the SEMG report. It said:
“…the United Arab Emirates has leased a key Eritrean port for 30 years and along with its Gulf ally, Saudi Arabia, has established a military presence in Eritrea in return for monetary compensation and fuel supplies…United Nations investigators have also received reports that 400 Eritrean troops are embedded with UAE forces battling Houthi rebels in Yemen. If confirmed, this would violate UN Security Council sanctions imposed against Eritrea…”
SouthFront 6 November 2015, in Analysis & Intelligence “Foreign Policy Diary – Arab Coalition Expands into the Horn of Africa” regurgitated that fabrication:
“…The Emirati Armed Forces has started to use actively the Eritrean ports. According to our information, at least, three landing craft belonging to the United Arab Emirates were docked in the port of Assab on September 16…Eritrea will likely seek to expand its relationships beyond the region in an attempt to break its isolation in the region.“
Djibouti and Ethiopia have been trying to turn it into a regional rogue state through the African Union… Saudi Arabia will be able to turn Eritrea into a tool to destabilize the situation in Ethiopia. It’s possible through the monoethnic communities of Ogaden and Oromo controlled by Eritrea.
The Ethiopian government is conducting a rough anti-Saudi politics and, de facto, destroying all pro-Saudi Islamist entities… According to unconfirmed reports, the UAE took on lease Assab for 30 years…”
Eritrea has never, nor will it ever serve as a “tool”. The mercenary minority regime in Ethiopia has lost its legitimacy amongst the Ethiopian people. It is being propped up as “anchor” in order to advance interests in the region.
But the very same SouthFront that is propagating the lies against Eritrea tells its readers the following:
“…There is too much “dirty work” from western mass media that hide a real truth provoking different conflicts. They form image of the false enemy, create public opinion and control over the actions of people in different countries. That happened in Ukraine, when thousands of zombies took to the streets and destroyed stability…South Front gives you a “red pill”. Our long-term activity has formed like-minded persons seeking the truth. Accept the truth, take a red one…”
Pot calling the kettle black…
Once again, the bloody trail shows that the “amalgam of outright falsehoods, errors, inaccuracies and insinuations” in the Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group’s Report and the subsequent news and analysis that have littered cyberspace, find their genesis in Addis Ababa, Africa’s sin city, where the regime’s cadres and the various intelligence agencies share and plant information,while politicized journalists hide behind their profession and shirk their responsibility to the public by lazily rehashing and distributing planted lies and unsubstantiated allegations.
Michael Kunczik in his paper, “Freedom of the press – where to draw the line?” wrote:
“…There is a kind of journalism which is foul and simply morally reprehensible. This includes false reporting, lies and warmongering”, he says, citing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda where he says “Radio Milles Collines actively stirred up the civil war and genocide by calling on the Hutu majority to rise up against the Tutsi minority”, as a classic example of ‘foul and morally reprehensible journalism…”
Fabrications and the regurgitation of these by others are just as “foul and morally reprehensible”. Ethiopia has singlehandedly undermined the credibility, integrity and efficacy of the United Nation’s system and rendered it irrelevant on matters relating to peace, stability and security in the region.
As for the journalists that insist on repeating these wild claims, it is time to draw the line…