The tendency to underestimate the intelligence of its own citizens and that of the rest of the world is the shinning trademarks of the Eritrean regime.
Since it constantly catapults between gutter utterance and high voltage shallow bombastic declarations its relation to truth and normal behaviour has become a very rare occurrence.
As the Security Council is getting ready to receive another detailed and comprehensive report from the Monitoring Group on Eritrea and Somalia in the final days of July 2011 the entire upper echelon of the Eritrean Regime is trying an 11 the hour diabolical effort first and foremost to confuse the people of Eritrea about the true intent and focus of the sanction that was imposed on the regime on December 23, 2009 Resolution 1907 and fact that even after a year of that historic resolution the ugly behaviour of the authoritarian regime is about to be exposed in more damaging way in the next few weeks if not days.
The last minute trepidation and diplomatic gymnastics (begging) is another manoeuvring, a feeble one at that, to garner unearned sympathy by pretending and assuming the posture of a helpless victim. Neither Yemane’s soft voice nor the un-cultivated un-statesman vocabulary of the regimes top actor can convince the world that this regime is not in bed with the worst terrorists and anti-peace elements in the Horn Region.
As you will see in the report made to the Security Council on March 2010 the facts speak for themselves. We have not added any word or corrected anything. All we did was in the first part to introduce the actual correspondence between the Monitoring Group and the Eritrean regime. We now post the second part that we think is relevant to our conversation and understanding the working of the Monitoring Group. If you have the time please read the whole 110pages of the report. But if you just want to get to the core of it you will get it a real understanding about the level of irresponsibility by the Eritrean government by reading part B below.
Our support for Eritrean Sovereignty, support and respect for the people of Eritrea does not extend to blindly supporting and becoming mindless parrots regurgitating the idiotic and reckless slogans of a tyrannical regime that has become the enemy of its own people and Horn of Africa.
The facts cannot be overruled by high-strung propaganda. The fact is that the first direct victims of the brutal regime are the people of Eritrea. The thousands of Eritrean youth fleeing their homeland are the living evidences of the failure of the regime. This external adventure by the regime is done on the back of the Eritrean people. The challenge faced by the governments of Somalia, Djibouti, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia is the side effect of the authoritarian regime’s sadistic draconian internal policy. Fundamental change can only happen when Eritrea becomes a constitutionally governed democratic nation under rule of law.
Let us be informed,
Letter dated 10 March 2010 from the Chairman of the Security
Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and
1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea addressed to the
President of the Security Council
On behalf of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751
(1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea, and in accordance with paragraph 3 (j) of Security Council resolution 1853 (2008), I have the honour to transmit herewith the report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia.
In this connection, the Committee would appreciate it if the present letter, together with its enclosure, were brought to the attention of the members of the
Security Council and issued as a document of the Council.
(Signed) Claude Heller
Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 concerning Somalia and Eritrea
B. Eritrean support to armed opposition groups
54. On 15 May 2009, by a presidential statement, the Security Council expressed concern at reports that Eritrea was providing arms to Somali opposition groups and called on the Monitoring Group to investigate. On 23 December 2009, the Council, by resolution 1907 (2009), expanded the mandate of the Monitoring Group and, inter alia, demanded that all Member States, in particular Eritrea, cease arming, training, and equipping armed groups and their members including Al-Shabaab, that aim to destabilize the region. The Monitoring Group has therefore given special attention to this issue and, in the course of its mandate, made multiple requests to visit Eritrea, none of which met with the consent of the Government of Eritrea.24
55. On the basis of its investigations, it is the opinion of the Monitoring Group that the Government of Eritrea has continued to provide political, diplomatic, financial and — allegedly — military assistance to armed opposition groups in Somalia during the course of the mandate, in violation of resolution 1844 (2008). By late 2009, possibly in response to international pressure, the scale and nature of Eritrean support had either diminished or become less visible, but had not altogether ceased.
56. Moreover, the Monitoring Group is aware of past Eritrean support to non-Somali armed opposition groups in the Horn of Africa, including (but not limited to) the Oromo Liberation Front, the Ogaden National Liberation Front and the United Western Somali Liberation Front. Under the provisions of resolution 1907 (2009), paragraphs 15 (b) and (d), such activities are now prohibited.
Eritrean policy towards Somalia
57. Eritrean engagement in Somalia can be understood only in terms of Asmara’s broader regional policies, most importantly its continuing dispute with Ethiopia. Since the cessation of hostilities between the two countries in 2000, Asmara has sought to counter Ethiopian influence in the region and supported armed groups within Ethiopia who oppose the current government. Since 2006, and possibly earlier, Eritrea has supported opposition to the Transitional Federal Government, which it perceives as a proxy for the Government of Ethiopia.
58. In this context, it has been the stated policy of the Government of Eritrea to oppose the Djibouti agreement of 18 August 2008, deny the legality and legitimacy of the Transitional Federal Government established pursuant to that process, and call for the expulsion of the AMISOM forces based in Mogadishu. In support of this policy, the Government of Eritrea has provided significant and sustained political, financial and material support, including arms, ammunition and training to armed opposition groups in Somalia since at least 2007.
59. The Government of Eritrea acknowledges that it does not recognize the
Transitional Federal Government, but denies supporting “one party against another regarding the Somali issue”.25 This position contradicts previous statements of the Government of Eritrea that portray the Transitional Federal Government as illegal, illegitimate and externally imposed,26 while describing Asmara’s support to Somali armed opposition groups as a “legal right and moral obligation”.27 Late in May 2009, during Al-Shabaab’s and Hizbul Islam’s most significant offensive against the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM, ARS-Asmara leader Hassan Dahir Aweys expressed his gratitude to Eritrea: “Eritrea supports us and Ethiopia is our enemy — we once helped both countries but Ethiopia did not reward us”.28
60. During the course of 2007, the Government of Eritrea sponsored the establishment of ARS as an opposition movement.29 According to ARS officials present in Asmara at the time, and who participated in these events, senior government officials — notably the Minister of Information, Ali Abdou, the head of political affairs for the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, Yemane Ghebreab, and a senior military intelligence officer known as Te’ame30 — played a direct role in decisions concerning key ARS appointments. In particular the Government of Eritrea insisted on several key ARS appointments, namely that Yusuf Indha’adde become Secretary of Defence (or Military Affairs); that Yusuf Hassan Ibrahim “Dheeg” become Foreign Secretary, and that Abdifatah Mohamed Ali become Finance Secretary. ARS leaders resisted these appointments in discussions with senior government officials, but were overruled. In effect, the senior military commander for the ARS-Asmara wing, Yusuf Indha’adde, was appointed on instructions issued by the Government of Eritrea.
61. Between November 2007 and April 2009, Eritrea hosted the senior leadership of ARS (later the ARS-Asmara faction), including Hassan Dahir Aweys, while its forces conducted repeated attacks on the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM. Since the Somali passport is not considered valid for travel to most countries, the Government of Eritrea provided Eritrean passports to ARS leaders, as well as at least one senior Al-Shabaab leader, Mukhtar Roobow.31 Following the split in ARS and formation of the new Transitional Federal Government administration headed by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on 31 January 2009, Eritrea continued to host and support ARS-Asmara headed by Hassan Dahir Aweys, and subsequently facilitated the formation of a new opposition alliance, Hizbul Islam (see case study 1, in section II.A above).
62. In addition to military support, the Government of Eritrea has consistently provided financial support to Somali armed opposition groups, including ARSAsmara, Hizbul Islam and Al-Shabaab. Provision of cash permits armed opposition groups to purchase weapons from government forces, thereby arming themselves while disarming their adversaries.32
63. Following the formation of ARS in September 2007, the Government of
Eritrea directed financial support principally via ARS. However, according to ARS officials, during the course of 2008, Eritrea established direct links with other opposition groups, including Al-Shabaab and the Raas Kaambooni forces. Colonel
Te’ame told ARS officials: “We have experience of this kind of struggle and we must have direct relationships with groups in each region”. According to these same sources, payments to each group are in the order of $40,000-$50,000 per month, plus additional funds for large-scale operations. During the course of 2009, the Monitoring Group learned of Government of Eritrea cash contributions to the following opposition figures:
• Yusuf Mohamed Siyaad “Indha’adde” (ARS-Asmara, central regions, subsequently joined the Transitional Federal Government as Minister of State for Defence)33
• Issa “Kaambooni” (Raas Kaambooni forces, Lower Juba region, arrested in
Kenya late in 2009)
• Mukhtar Roobow (Al-Shabaab, Bay and Bakool regions)
• Mohamed Wali Sheikh Ahmed Nuur (Hizbul Islam, Gedo region)
64. Cash transfers are usually undertaken by Eritrean diplomats or intelligence officials, often in foreign countries. Intelligence officials of the Transitional Federal Government informed the Monitoring Group that they had arrested a German national acting as a cash courier for the Government of Eritrea as he arrived at Mogadishu International Airport in July 2009. The Monitoring Group has received numerous mutually corroborating reports from credible Somali sources and foreign intelligence agencies identifying several Eritrean officials engaged in such transactions. Payments are delivered either directly to representatives of Somali armed groups (in Eritrea or in Somalia) or transferred via hawalas (money transfer companies) or Somali businessmen to field commanders.
65. Cash for opposition groups is also funnelled via Eritrean embassies in Kenya, Djibouti and Dubai. These monthly payments typically consist of from $40,000 to $60,000 to each group, plus additional funds for specific operations. An estimated
$1.6 million of such funding may have passed through Kenya alone in 2008. In
September 2008, one such courier (an Eritrean government official) travelled from Kenya by land to a location in the Lower Juba region, where he handed over an estimated $60,000 to a senior official of the Raas Kaambooni forces.
66. On 23 April 2009, the Government of Eritrea facilitated the return of Hassan
Dahir Aweys to Somalia in order that he assume the leadership of Hizbul Islam.
Aweys and four other individuals travelled from Asmara to Mogadishu, landing at
K50 airport south-west of the city, where they were met by other Hizbul Islam leaders and supporters. Aweys left Asmara in possession of an estimated $200,000, which he subsequently distributed to various Hizbul Islam leaders.
67. The Monitoring Group has received credible information indicating that
Eritrea continues to send arms to Somalia in small vessels via the northern Somali port of Laasqoray for onward shipment to Shabaab forces in southern Somalia by
Mohamed Sa’iid Atom (see section IV.A below). In May 2009, Eritrea allegedly sent overland via eastern Ethiopia. Ethiopian soldiers reportedly captured some of the arms and ammunition near the border. Ukrainian-made small arms and anti-tank weapons to Hizbul Islam via the port of Kismaayo.
68. In August 2009, the Kenyan authorities acknowledged that they had expelled
two Eritreans, one of them a diplomat named Negash, on security grounds. Negash
reportedly entered Kenya through a land border, then travelled overland to Somalia
where he met with leaders of both Hizbul Islam/Raas Kaambooni forces and Al-Shabaab. In justifying the expulsion, a Kenyan Government minister also made reference to a suicide bomb attack in June 2009 that killed a minister of the
Transitional Federal Government and a former Somali ambassador to Ethiopia, claiming that the material used for the bomb was supplied by an Eritrean diplomat.34
69. Eritrea has maintained training facilities for members of Somali armed opposition groups since at least 2006, and has at times deployed trainers and/or military advisers to assist armed opposition groups inside Somalia. Eritrea also maintains training camps for members of Ethiopian opposition groups, which is prohibited by resolution 1907 (2009).
70. Multiple Somali and international sources have described to the Monitoring Group training facilities for ARS fighters near Assab, in eastern Eritrea. In May
2008, when ARS split into two wings, the Government of Eritrea moved nearly two thirds of its training activities to another camp near Teseney to the west.
Consignments of weapons and ammunitions destined for Somalia were smuggled over land via eastern Ethiopia. Ethiopian soldiers reportedly captured some of the arms and ammunition near the border.
24 For correspondence between the Monitoring Group and the Government of Eritrea, see
25 From Shabait.com (25 November 2009), the website of the Eritrean Ministry of Information, accessed at http://www.shabait.com/news/.
26 For example, see Government of Eritrea press releases of 24 February, 22 April, 14 May,
26 June and 10 July 2009, and a 20 May 2009 interview with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki by Shabelle.net.
27 Statement by President Isaias Afwerki to the Asmara Conference on the Reconstitution of
Somalia, as disseminated by the Government of Eritrea Ministry of Information, 12 May 2009.
28 Interview with Reuters, 22 May 2009.
29 Delegates received US$ 60 each from the Government of Eritrea in addition to free accommodation.
30 Also known as Te’ame Mekelle or Meqelle, believed to be a Colonel or Brigadier General. well as at least one senior Al-Shabaab leader, Mukhtar Roobow. Following the split in ARS and formation of the new Transitional Federal Government administration headed by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on 31 January 2009, Eritrea continued to host and support ARS-Asmara headed by Hassan Dahir Aweys, and subsequently facilitated the formation of a new opposition alliance, Hizbul Islam (see case study 1, in section II.A above).
31 According to the United States Government, Roobow was issued Eritrean passport No. 0310857 on 21 August 2006 (United States Department of the Treasury press release HP-1283, “Treasury Targets Somali Terrorists”, 20 November 2008, accessed athttp://www.treas.gov/press/releases/hp1283.htm).
32 See December 2008 Monitoring Group report (S/2008/769) and Amnesty International,
“Somalia: International Military and Policing Assistance Should Be Reviewed”, January 2010.
33 According to African Union officials, when Indha’adde joined the Transitional Federal Government he was in possession of documentation describing cash transfers from Eritrea to individual Somali armed opposition leaders which are currently in the possession of the Transitional Federal Government. The Monitoring Group was unable to inspect these documents.
34 Electronic communication, 12 December 2009. The Monitoring Group has not been able to
independently verify this claim.