ICC Note: The United Nations Security Council has considered the African nation of Eritrea to be a threat to peace. In an October 23rd resolution, the council determined the evidence provided against Eritrea and its authoritarian leader Isaias Afewerki considers their support for certain regional armed groups to be destabilizing. Reports suggest the Eritrean military is involved in the Yemeni civil war in order to garner financial support from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The recent actions of Eritrea further show the nations instability and lack of regard for anything related to human rights or democratic process. Eritrea is one of the worst violators of religious freedom, imprisoning Christians in shipping containers, murdering and kidnapping, eventually leading to the nation boasting the second largest group of migrants fleeing to Europe and elsewhere.
11/04/2015 Eritrea (Eurasia Review) – The UN Security Council has concluded that the Eritrean regime remains a serious threat to peace in the Horn of Africa and the region as a whole. In a resolution adopted on October 23, the Council expressed concern at the evidence provided by UN experts who accused President Isaias Afewerki of organising “ongoing Eritrean support for certain regional armed groups.” The Security Council went on to re-affirm its arms embargo against the Eritrean government.
Behind these bland phrases lies a catalogue of evidence carefully assembled by experts of the UN Monitoring Group. They explain in graphic detail how the regime operates: It supports rebel movements in neighbouring Ethiopia and Djibouti, something that has been known for quite some time. What is new is that – cynically enough – Eritrea is now embroiled in the Yemeni civil war in return for the Saudi and UAE financial support.
The backing of the Houthi rebellion in Yemen is indeed the most striking new finding. The monitors state that they have “received credible and persuasive testimony from multiple sources and independent reports indicating that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have established a military presence in Eritrea as part of the military campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen and may be offering Eritrea compensation for allowing its territory and possibly its troops to be used as part of the Arab coalition-led war effort”.
Experts say that this deal was done after Djibouti rejected a similar arrangement with the Saudis and their allies. The UAE are said to have struck a separate deal to use the Eritrean port of Assab for the next 30 years. Situated just 60 km from the Yemeni coast, it has lain idle since Eritrea’s war with Ethiopia (May 1998 to June 2000) – a conflict that sealed the borders between the two countries.
It is not hard to imagine what Eritrea might do with the funds from its new Arab allies, since the regime has been keen to purchase weapons. The UN monitors report that a ship – the Shaker 1 – secretly docked at the Eritrean port of Massawa in January 2015. On board were Sudanese heavy weapons, apparently en route to arms fair in Abu Dhabi.
Whether they ever reached their destination is a moot point. What were described as eight ‘empty containers’ were offloaded at Massawa. The monitors say they have evidence that the containers were full, not empty, as claimed. It is likely that the howitzers and rocket launchers provided by the Military Industry Corporation of the Sudan were offloaded at the time. If so, this was in clear violation of the UN arms embargo against Eritrea.
Serious as these violations are, they pale into insignificance beside the evidence of the ongoing Eritrean backing of armed groups attempting to overthrow neighboring governments. These operations are co-ordinated by the head of Eritrean intelligence, Brigadier General Abraha Kassa, “a long-time associate of the President” – as the UN report puts it.
These movements include a newly formed front of Ethiopian rebel organisations, whose unity was “facilitated” by the Eritrean government. The Eritreans are also said to provide support to Afar rebels operating in Djibouti. Eritrean officials were confronted with this allegation, but they failed to respond.