Highlights: Pres. Isiais Afeworki asked Ban Ki-moon for ‘three hours’ to make his case; ‘Eritrea is going to get its [behind] kicked….They’re not going to know what hit them’; ‘Meles Zenawi is ready to give it back, but he doesn’t want Eritrea gloating about it.’
United Nations Security Council held a closed meeting on Tuesday, dubbed ‘an interactive dialogue’, at the request of Eritrea.
Eritrea have been requesting for such an opportunity for a while. In fact, its President had alleged being censored by ‘forces of dominations’ in his lengthy interview aired on the country’s sole TV station last month.
On July 8, President Isiais Afeworki met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon when he reportedly asked for ‘three hours’ to make his case against Ethiopia and the sanctions imposed on his country by the Security Council’s Resolution 1907 last year.
However, the meeting on Tuesday was also attended by not only Ethiopia and Somalia, but also Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti(?).
This was interpreted as turning the meeting against Eritrea, by Inner City Press media which had been closely following the developments. The media quoted a Security Council member saying hours before the meeting: ‘Eritrea is going to get its [behind] kicked….They’re not going to know what hit them’.
Indeed, these are the group of countries which urged for more sanctions on Eritrea a few weeks ago, through the regional body IGAD, which Eritrea considers as Ethiopia’s puppet. It is also curious whether the July 4 extra-ordinary meeting of IGAD, which called for the sanctions, was meant to set the stage for this Security Council meeting.
At any rate, the Tuesday Security Council meeting was closed to the public and the press. And, as an ‘interactive dialogue’ forum, which doesn’t bear concrete results by itself, it is not going to be clear whether Eritrea got a hit or was a fruitless talk-shop.
However, a US-based media Inner City Press was able to obtain insights from participants.
Eritrea emphasized in the meeting that while it had won a court decision that Badme and other land belongs to it and not Ethiopia, the decision has not been implemented.
One Council member said that additional sanctions may be imposed on Eritrea. The news didn’t disclose whether the member which made this statement is a Permanent representative(that is, of the five super powers) or a members representing one of the countries which currently occupy the rotating 10 seats of the Security Council.
Outside the meeting hall, Inner City Press obtained the following comments from participants.
Chinese Deputy Permanent Representative Wang shook his head and said he did not think the Council could solve this problem.
French Ambassador Gerard Araud, who apparently got bored and started walking in the corridors in the middle of the meeting, said to passing reporters:
They are not kissing each other
An unnamed Permanent Representative in the Security Council ‘moaned the format that developed for the meeting’ and remarked that ‘further Eritrea bashing is not productive.’
Another Permanent Representative said:
‘They [Eritrea] are isolated in their neighborhood, their neighbors do not like their foreign policy including in Somalia.’
Inner City Press resembled the last September meeting of the Security Council on Somalia, when Eritrea got thrown out at the last minute at the insistence of Uganda.
Regarding on the contested border town Badme, Inner City Press made the following curious remark:
But as more than one Council member told Inner City Press, why not pressure Ethiopia to give back the strip of land in Badme that Eritrea won? “They they’d have no leg to stand on,” as one member put it. “Meles Zenawi is ready to give it back, but he doesn’t want Eritrea gloating about it.”
Apparently frustrated by the outcome of the meeting, Eritrea’s representatives made a lengthy speech on Wednesday. Inner City Press remarked:
one of [Eritrea’s] representatives gave a long speech at dawn before the meeting to approve the UN Peacekeeping budget could be approved. Eritrea at the UN is always well spoken….
On the other hand, an Ethiopian news outlet , Walta Information Center, posted a speech made by Ethiopia’s Dep. Prime Minister at the ‘Informal Interactive Dialogue with members of the United Nations Security Council on July 19/2011. It seems the same meeting mentioned in the news above. You may read the text of the speech.
Updates will be provided when further details are revealed and found to be interesting.
Statement at the Informal Interactive Dialogue with Security Council members
Hailemaraim Desalegne, Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and current Chair of the IGAD Council of Ministers
July 19, 2011
I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak and I speak on behalf of IGAD. We speak collectively because we face a common challenge. The argument of Eritrea’s leadership is that everything it does is the result of frustration with the failure of the international community to force Ethiopia to implement demarcation of the disputed border between the two countries. This is a bogus claim.
The claim that Ethiopia is against the implementation of the boundary Commission’s decision is quite simply nonsense. Ethiopia has repeatedly reiterated its desire to demarcate the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea in accordance with the delimitation decision of the Boundary Commission. It has repeatedly made it quite clear it wishes to resolve all outstanding issues between our two countries through dialogue. This is established practice and there is no reason why this situation should be an exception.
As a matter of principle IGAD believes that regime change in any country is the sole responsibility of the people of that country. It is certainly not up to IGAD countries to choose what kind of regime should be in power in Eritrea. However, it is also true that when faced by continuous threats from a neighbor determined to disturb the peace through violence and terror, governments might find themselves in a difficult situation. It would be foolhardy to assume that countries can indefinitely tolerate the sort of reckless adventures that Eritrea has been undertaking against all of us.
The intended terrorist actions in January in Addis Ababa would have involved unprecedented destruction and havoc among innocent civilians and in public areas, even market places. The act was also aimed at disrupting the January AU Summit held in Addis Ababa. Dozens of terrorists were recruited, trained in Asmara and then deployed. It’s not surprising that Eritrea has denied involvement, instead disingenuously claiming that this was Ethiopia’s internal problem. This however cannot stand up in the face of the detailed and concrete evidence we have at our disposal and which we have shared with members of the UN Security Council. Most of you are privy to the incontrovertible evidence we have. There is just no way that the Eritrean authorities can deny that they did not conceive, organize and direct the failed terrorist plot in Addis Ababa in January. It is however not my intention to focus on Ethiopia. I mention this episode because the target was not simply Ethiopia, but also the AU which includes all of us. It is to miss the point to reduce the threat that Eritrea poses to our region as a matter of bilateral problem between Eritrea and Ethiopia or any of the countries of the region.
The network that the External Intelligence Directorate of Eritrea has created in our sub-region extends from Mogadishu to Hargeisa, Khartoum to Juba, and Nairobi to Kampala as well as into Djibouti and Ethiopia. Eritrea has been caught red-handed engaging in terrorist activity. The whole plot to disrupt the AU Summit was conceived, designed, led and executed by the External Intelligence Directorate of Eritrea. There is now overwhelming evidence that Eritrea’s Embassy in Nairobi has been instrumental in support for the campaign of terror. The embassy disburses close to 70 to 85,000 dollars monthly to fund Al-Shabaab’s activities against civilians in Somalia and elsewhere in the region. The recent attempt to infiltrate terrorist cells into Djibouti and according to reliable sources, last July’s bombings in Kampala (given the code-name of “the Asmara retreat”) as well as mass of evidence on the plan “to turn Addis Ababa into Baghdad” demonstrated how Asmara’s terrorist activities span the whole region. There is absolutely no justification to this behavior. No cause, no matter how noble would justify resort to terror. But Eritrea does not even have a cause. A Government that has rejected all overtures for peace and rebuffed countless efforts at quiet diplomacy to achieve peace cannot claim to have been mistreated by any one, big or small.
It is in light of all this that the IGAD countries decided to stand together to meet this challenge. IGAD held its Executive Council (Ministerial) and its Summit meetings on June 28th and July 4th 2011, respectively. Its discussions were based on the hard evidence produced by Djibouti, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. This made it quite clear that Eritrea has deliberately and intentionally tried to wreak havoc in the Horn of Africa by bankrolling, training and generally sponsoring terrorists throughout the region. The IGAD leaders had no option but to conclude that the regime in Asmara is a regime which is determined to destabilize the entire region. Its reasons are opaque, but its aims are very clear. What is most tragic is what Eritrea is doing in Somalia as a source of major support to Al-Shabaab. The new glimmer of hope in Somalia could be destroyed by Eritrea’s destabilization activities.
As a result, IGAD as a region is now demanding that the regime in Asmara should be made to stop all its attempts at terrorizing the Horn. It must bring an immediate end to all efforts to recruit, train and equip terrorist groups. IGAD is appealing to the Security Council to act in accordance with what the situation warrants. It cannot pretend that what Eritrea does can be ignored.
This is a regime whose behavior has one very clear pattern – shoot first and talk later, if at all. Its problem with Djibouti provides a very clear example. Eritrea, first of all, denied the existence of any dispute; then they accepted that there was a problem after the mediation of Qatar. Lately Eritrea has reverted to saying there is in fact no Qatari mediation. Eritrea has also began the destabilization of the new state of South Sudan, arming militia groups opposed to the Government of South Sudan. It’s impossible to know when or where these sorts of reckless adventures will stop.
The challenge we are faced here is how to avoid a further deterioration of the situation when faced by these continuous provocations; how to avoid further undermining an already fragile neighborhood. We are well aware of the unresponsiveness of the Eritrean regime under normal circumstances, but we are equally well aware that in the last resort it does respond to real and firm pressure.
Our hope is that the Security Council, in light of the overwhelming evidence that is now at hand, will react firmly and strongly and provide the means by which we can avoid another war in our region. Eritrea must be told that there is a limit to what it can get away with in terms of ignoring international law, or contemptuously dismissing it.
It is time to strengthen the implementation of previous United Nations Security Council resolutions against Eritrea. It is indeed time to impose concrete economic sanctions that will deny the regime the resources it needs to continue its destabilization and terrorist activities.
This is a regime which is now largely dependent upon two sources of revenue. One is through the funds extracted from the Eritrean Diaspora, both through its insistence on a 2% tax on all incomes, and by enforced fund raising activities. The other is from the new mining developments in Eritrea where it is already clear the regime isn’t using any new resources for development but is rather devoting any revenue it acquires to increase its capacity to destabilize the region. Equally, of course, it should be noted that most Eritreans also depend upon remittances from relatives abroad and remittances should not be included in any sanctions regime. But 2% tax and the revenue from mining and the extraction industries must be subject to sanctions. The government should be prevented from having access to these funds.
Faced with the overwhelming evidence of Eritrean destabilizing activities, the IGAD region was unanimous in both its Council and its Summit sessions. Now is the time to act, to rein Eritrea in, to put a stop to its reckless and violent efforts to destabilize the region. Failure to act will send a very wrong signal. It will, first of all, tell Eritrea that it has no need to take account of international norms of behavior that it persistently ignores, and encourage it to continue with its aggressive terrorist activities. It will also be a slap in the face for the peoples of the region, which have suffered from Eritrea’s activities. Failure to take action will reverberate widely around the region. It is widely known that Eritrea has continued supporting Al-shabab. Its complete defiance of the Council by scoffing at Council resolution 1907 is as clear as noon day. That resolution has to be complied with. There is no way that Eritrea would do this unless the Council shows seriousness when its decisions are violated and a member state engages in terror in broad day light. This should be viewed as an appeal for prevention of conflict and for durable peace and security in a region which has been affected by so much turmoil in the past decades.
Finally, Mr. President, we strongly appeal to the Security Council to support us so that we will not descend into further turmoil. What we face as a region is a dangerous phenomenon on which the Council should give us its full cooperation to achieve peace and security. It is just not possible for the region to continue tolerate this sort of behavior by Eritrea which if unchecked could lead our countries into unimaginable chaotic situation. The Council has a responsibility to help us on this. The region awaits your decision.
I thank you
Check the Eritrea Archive for related posts.