By Alem Fisshatzion,
This month marks yet another dark milestone in the Eritrean nation’s history as she was once again dealt a very unfair and shameful blow under the belt by the latest report of the Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) presented on 18 February 2016.
Although the report states that the Monitoring Group did not find any evidence that the Government of Eritrea had been supporting Al-Shabaab, it reported that “Eritrea was supporting armed groups in Ethiopia in violation of paragraph 16 of resolution 1907(2009).
It is rather strange that today, in the 21st Century, the International Community will idly sit by and accept this rather gross conduct of victimizing one member nation time and again (Eritrea) on behalf of another member nation (Ethiopia). What makes it so strange to fathom is that it is common knowledge that Ethiopia, with the help and blessing of the United States have been conveniently manipulating the outcome of these fairy-tale reports over the years.
Why, even the Eritrean Foreign Ministry has emphasized all along that the unjust sanctions resolutions were politically motivated instruments conceived from the outset to harass Eritrea. So, what does it help that Eritrea has been cleared from the ridiculously false allegation of having anything to do with Al-Shabaab when the unjust sanctions still prevail?
What did it help when Russia called the report of the summer of 2013 ‘ludicrous’ and blocked from publishing it for weeks saying the report on Eritrea is “biased and contains groundless conclusions and recommendations”; it was also trashed by the UK as “not brilliant”, followed by Italy and China for the report’s “misleading and undocumented accusations”? When will all these wrongs be righted?
Indeed, after the latest report was presented to the UNSC, Council President for February and Ambassador of Venzuela, Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño, spoke in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009), that
“…the Monitoring Group so far had not found any proof to suggest that Eritrea was supporting AlShabaab. Council President also said that Qatar was mediating Eritrea’s territorial dispute with Djibouti and its troops were keeping the peace between the two countries. Therefore, if the two reasons for imposing secondary sanctions on Eritrea were no longer present, the time had come to reconsider the scope of the sanctions against Asmara.”
Is anybody listening? Why should justice be held to ransom by American Policy in the Horn of Africa in general, and Susan Rice’s crave to transform the minority TPLF Government of Addis Ababa into the Power Tank of the region in particular? Susan Rice placed her bet on the wrong horse, just as Ambassador Herman Cohen noted that the U.S. again are making the same type of mistake; this time around, in Djibouti when he wrote an article earlier this week titled “U.S. And Ethiopia Risking All their Eggs in one Unstable Djibouti Basket”.
The regime in Ethiopia is getting increasingly nervous and jittery about not being able to maintain a continued sanctions against Eritrea much longer. They and their allies in this shameful crusade take every opportunity to spread lies and fabrications to defame Eritrea and brand her as not only a sponsor of terrorism in the region, but a source of terrorism.
It does not come as any surprise to analysts that the TPLF government coincidentally and conveniently accused on Thursday 25th February Eritrea of being behind the anti-government protests in the Ethiopian Oromia district last year.
The uprising led to a brutal clampdown by the Ethiopian government resulting to over 200 people killed and thousands arrested as reported by Human Rights Watch last month. Ethiopia hides behind the guise of the International War on Terror to settle scores with the opposition of the TPLF government and also in its quest to destabilize the region and it seems that it derives much amusement in planting “evidence” and false accusations on its favorite scapegoat: Eritrea, with the unscrupulous help of lobbyists and allies in the US State Department.
They know that the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) has definitively concluded that “there is no evidence that Eritrea is supporting al-Shabaab in Somalia”, and that sometime in the very foreseeable future their lies and fabrications no longer can hold. We are so used to hearing these fairy tales from the failed and paranoid Government in Addis. 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…”
So say the entrapped as the plot thickens and there are few avenues left to bail out. It is common knowledge that The TPLF regime has longstanding historic problems with the Oromo and Amnesty International in a report in October 2014 claimed that at least 5,000 Oromo had been arrested between 2011 and 2014 based on suspected opposition to the government. Leading members of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress party, including deputy chairman Bekele Gerba, have also been arrested in connection with protests. Gerba remains in detention.
As late back as 2nd May 2007 The Oromo OLF issued a press release titled “Oromo OLF denounces false accusations by Ethiopian govt” Here it is in its entirety for clarity’s sake:
May 2, 2007 — It has been a fashion for the TPLF controlled Ethiopian regime to falsely label the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) with anything that might give the OLF a bad image. In recent past there has been a consorted propaganda effort to falsely associate the OLF with the ongoing movements in Somalia not only by the Ethiopian tyrannical regime but also by some ill-informed individuals and organizations. Indeed it is inexplicable why some so called experts on the region and a few news outlets in the West act as a mouth piece for Ethiopian regime’s malicious propaganda against the OLF.
The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia, in its October 2006 report to the Security Council Committee on Somalia, falsely alleged that the OLF was fighting on the side of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The OLF totally rejects this baseless accusation. OLF’s policy is that of noninterference in neighboring states internal affairs and Somalia is no exception. At the time of the release of the above report we had categorically denied the allegation. However the false information created by the Monitoring Group on Somalia continues to spread unabated (see Reuters April 25, 2007). The Monitoring Group or its source, which we suspect to be the Ethiopian regime, had purposely concocted this story to taint the OLF’s reputation and image.
The OLF is a secular political organization that endeavors to empower the Oromo people to freely exercise their inalienable rights to national self-determination, a right guaranteed by international law to all people seeking to freely choose their own future. The OLF doesn’t employ terror as a means to achieve this political goal. In fact, the OLF has a longstanding anti-terrorism policy. The OLF clearly sees terrorism as a danger and menace to peace and joins the international community in fighting against extremism and terrorism.
It is devious to falsely implicate the OLF in activities of other forces in the region or elsewhere. Such false accusation of the OLF doesn’t serve the cause of peace. The OLF has a long history of fighting all forms of religious extremism in the region. Besides, in the Oromo society, people of all religious faith and background live in peace and harmony.
On the other hand, it should be clear that the real culprit for the problems in the Horn of Africa is the Tigrean led minority Ethiopian government. This autocratic regime has frequently violated international boundaries of neighboring states like Somalia, Eritrea, and Kenya. Currently the Ethiopian army is occupying Somalia illegally. It should be abundantly clear that as long as Ethiopia’s internal perennial political problems are not rectified; Somalia’s and other regional problems could not easily find a resolution. Those who desire peace for the region should be aware of this and cooperate with the OLF in remedying Ethiopia’s internal political crisis.
It appears that the goals of the oppressive Ethiopian regime and its supporters are to isolate the Oromo people’s genuine national liberation struggle and also create impediments to the Ethiopian peoples’ desire for peace and harmony. In these they should not be allowed to succeed.
That is directly from the horse’s mouth so to speak. There are many times when Eritrea was cited as the champion of the fight against terrorism: the same year (2007) when the Oromo were telling the world who the real bandits of the neighborhood were, Ethiopia’s Melles Zenawi and Susan Rice were busy concocting the notorious lie of Eritrean support for Al-Shabaab so as to place the illegal and unjust sanctions on the country.
Ted Dagne, the then African Affairs Specialist at the Congressional Research Service praised Eritrea as a country that played an important role in fighting terrorism. This is what he had to say: “If there is one country where the fighting of extremists and terrorists was a priority when it mattered, it was Eritrea”.
That statement indeed highlights very much the attempts of the Eritrean military in 1994 to stop Osama bin Laden and his Eritrean Islamist Jihad Movement (EIJM) cohorts in Sudan. After a series of terrorist activities such as planting of land mines in Eritrean territory; bombing of hotels; attacks on civilian buses and killing of innocent passengers; arson against farms and destruction of water pumps, the Eritrean army launched two major offensives into Eastern Sudan that devastated the EIJM of which it has yet to recover from. The Eritrean military also attempted to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, who was actively funding and supporting EIJM’s activities while he was living in the Sudan.
The US government was well aware of Eritrea’s efforts in the war to fight terror: when US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Eritrea in December 2002 a little over a year after the September 11th 2001 attacks.
In a joint press conference with President Afwerki he said that “the United States can learn much about combating terror from the people of this small African Nation“. Rumsfeld said further that the United States understands the war on terror will take time. “There are forces in the world that are urging, recommending, teaching fanaticism, extremism and terrorism, and those forces need to be overcome,” he said.
President Afwerki said the secretary’s visit clearly signifies that the United States is committed to the region and the global war on terror. “This is nothing new in Eritrea,” the president said. “We have been fighting against terrorism for the last 13 years alone.” But, he said, the attacks in New York and on the Pentagon “sensitized many” to the danger of terrorism. “We believe we have a stake in working together with our partners, and particularly the United States, to make this region peaceful and safe,” President Afwerki said. He said terrorists have targeted his country. President Afwerki said Eritrea has “limited resources, but we are willing and prepared to use these limited resources in any way useful to fight terrorism.”
Those were the days before the likes of Susan Rice unfortunately got into the picture. The world has definitely changed a lot for the worse, especially in the Horn of Africa. When will the shenanigans end?