(Jan. 27, 2012 – A Week in the Horn of Africa)
On Monday this week, the Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressed a letter to the United Nations Security Council. It was its usual attempt to deny any report of its activities in continuing its repeated efforts at destabilization in the region. It is after all only a few days ago that tourists in the Afar Regional State of Ethiopia were killed, injured, and kidnapped with the direct involvement of the Eritrean regime. It was an unambiguous example of the way the regime encourages and advocates chaos to disturb the peace and stability of its neighbors.
Eritrea has attempted to play the innocent by declaring the killing of the tourists “deplorable”. This is no more than the old trick it has been employing for years. It is now quite obvious to everybody that the regime in Eritrea always pretends to know nothing after having committed itself to carry out horrendous acts against civilians and public property. The attack on tourists was deliberately targeted to disrupt peace and development endeavours in Ethiopia It is no surprise to hear that the regime in Asmara has again denied responsibility. Indeed, we expect nothing but complete denial from the perpetrator. The Ethiopian Government has made it clear in the statement issued last week that the recent attack can only been seen as part of an attempt by the Eritrean regime to disturb the African Union Summit just as it tried to do a year ago. The only difference is that this time Eritrea picked on the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Party (ARDUF) as its surrogate for destabilization in Ethiopia.
For the regime in Eritrea, the right of Ethiopia to defend its peace and stability “carries the potential seeds of grave regional destabilization”. Eritrea gives itself the right to destabilize and create instability in Ethiopia in particular, as well as region as a whole. It cannot then claim to have the moral and political ground to reject the right of others to defend themselves. It is, as usual, trying to steal the complaints of its own victims, to bite back at those it has already bitten.
The letter to the Security Council also raises, once again, the issue of the border dispute. The Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ignoring the facts of the matter, makes its usual complaint that Ethiopia is occupying Eritrean territories, refusing to accept the decisions of the Ethio-Eritrea Boundary Commission. This is no more than a now threadbare attempt to shift attention away from Eritrea’s own destabilizing activities. Ethiopia has made it known on numerous occasions since 2004 that it fully accepted the decisions of the Commission and that it was ready to engage in dialogue to implement demarcation as the basis for a peaceful settlement and a lasting solution on the border. It has also repeatedly expressed its readiness to talk on normalization of relations. The international community by now is fully aware of the reasons for the stalemate of the border dispute – the lack of willingness by Eritrea to engage in dialogue for demarcation and for normalization of relations.
The regime’s letter also tries to make a point that the accusations against it by Ethiopia last week, and by Kenya two months ago, were aimed at “entrapping Eritrea”. This, of course, totally ignores and tries to deny the fact that accusations of this kind do not come solely from this and that country, but also from the United Nations Monitoring Group that provided so much of the evidence that identified Eritrea as a destabilizing factor in the region and led to the imposition of sanctions. The Monitoring Group in its July report last year identified Eritrea’s responsibility for the continued and widespread attempts to destabilize the region through “operations using proxy forces that fall under direct Eritrean command and control, falsely flagged as democratic opposition groups, in violation of resolution 1907”. The recent attack on tourists, as explained above, is a case in point. It clearly shows that the regime has made no attempt to change its ways despite the imposition of sanctions. This refusal by the regime in Asmara underlines the need for more and firmer measures by the international community to bring about genuine regional peace and stability.