In 2006, following the seizure of Mogadishu by the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), Eritrean assistance to UIC was also initially delivered through existing ONLF channels, until direct coordination of military support could be established with the UIC leadership.
Military assistance to UIC was subsequently delivered both overland (via Bosaaso) to Dhuusomareeb, and by air directly to Mogadishu.
Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia in 2006 dismantled ICU,….
The evidence from this investigation, which demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that the ONLF force had been trained in, equipped by and deployed from Eritrea
The report by ‘the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea’ that was published yesterday confirms Eritrea’s engagement in destabilizing activities in the Horn of Africa.
Especially concerning Ethiopia, the Monitoring Group stated the presence of ‘credible information ‘on Eritrea’s support to: Ogaden National Liberation Front(ONLF), Oromo Liberation Front(OLF), Afar Liberation Front(ALF), Afar Revolutionary People’s Democratic Front, (aka, Ugugumo), Sidamo Liberation Front, Tigrayan People’s Democratic Movement, and ‘Unidentified fighters from the Amhara and Gambella regions of Ethiopia’.
The last one appears to be a reference to Ginbot 7, the terrorist group, led by Berhanu Nega(PhD), and groups affiliated with it.
The report further proves the link between Eritrea and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which was dismantled by Ethiopian intervention to Somalia in 2006. It is to be recalled that Ethiopia justified its intervention by the threat posed by the link between UIC, the Eritrean government and the terrorist groups OLF and ONLF. In addition to the request for assistance by the UN-recognized Transitional Government of Somalia.
[People’s Front for Democracy and Justice(PFDJ) is the Eritrean ruling party]
Read excerpts from Section VII of the report.
VII. Support to armed groups involved in violence, destabilization or terrorist acts*
258. In the course of the current mandate, the Monitoring Group obtained firm evidence of Eritrean support for armed opposition groups throughout the region, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan. Support for these groups also involves Eritrean diplomatic, intelligence and PFDJ-affiliated networks in Kenya, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere.
259. The Government of Eritrea acknowledges that it maintains relationships with Somali armed opposition groups, including Al-Shabaab, but characterizes these linkages as political (and, in one particular case, as “humanitarian”), while denying that it provides any military, material or financial support. Evidence and testimony obtained by the Monitoring Group, including records of financial payments, interviews with eyewitnesses and data relating to maritime and aviation movements, all indicate that Eritrean support for Somali armed opposition groups is not limited to the political or humanitarian dimensions. Moreover, there is no evidence to suggest that Eritrea, either in terms of unilateral initiatives or through participation in multilateral political forums, is employing its privileged relationship with Al-Shabaab or other opposition groups for the purposes of dialogue or reconciliation.
260. Eritrea has declined to respond to the Monitoring Group’s queries concerning its support for armed groups in Djibouti and Ethiopia on the grounds that these are bilateral disputes, and that in the case of Djibouti is a dispute subject to mediation under Qatari auspices. It has therefore not been possible for the Monitoring Group to present an Eritrean response to these allegations in its report.
C. Eritrean assistance to armed groups in violation of Security Council resolutions 1844 (2008) and 1907 (2009)
267. During the course of the mandate, the Monitoring Group has observed and investigated a variety of Eritrean activities in support of armed groups throughout the region. Broadly speaking, these activities fall into four categories:
(a) Support to Somali armed opposition groups in violation of resolutions 1844 (2008) and 1907 (2009);
(b) Support to Ethiopian armed opposition groups via Somalia, in violation of resolutions 1844 (2008) and 1907 (2009);
(c) Support to non-Somali armed groups engaged in acts of destabilization or terrorism in violation of resolution 1907 (2009);
(d) Operations using proxy forces that fall under direct Eritrean command and control, falsely “flagged” as domestic opposition groups, in violation of resolution 1907 (2009).
277. Eritrean support for Ethiopian armed opposition groups is symptomatic of the unresolved border dispute between the two countries. Both countries host opposition forces from the other. Eritrea refused to answer the Monitoring Group’s questions relating to support for Ethiopian armed opposition groups, citing national security grounds and the continuing presence of Ethiopian forces on territory awarded to Eritrea by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission decision of 13 April 2002.
278. During the course of its mandate, the Monitoring Group received credible information of Eritrean support for the following Ethiopian armed opposition groups:
Ogaden National Liberation Front
Oromo Liberation Front
Afar Liberation Front
Afar Revolutionary People’s Democratic Front, also known as Ugugumo
Sidamo Liberation Front
Tigrayan People’s Democratic Movement
Unidentified fighters from the Amhara and Gambella regions of Ethiopia
279. In two cases in particular, regarding ONLF and OLF, the Monitoring Group was able to independently verify these allegations.
1. Ogaden National Liberation Front
280. Eritrean support for the Ogaden National Liberation Front began towards the end of the Ethiopian-Eritrean war, and has been addressed in several previous Monitoring Group reports. A senior ONLF official involved in early contacts with Asmara told the Monitoring Group that after initial engagement with embassies abroad, the first ONLF delegation visited Asmara by 2001 for direct talks with President Isaias Afwerki and his officials. New information obtained by the Monitoring Group demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that such assistance has continued since the imposition of resolution 1907 (2009).
281. According to information obtained from former and current senior ONLF officials, Eritrean assistance to ONLF prior to 2006 was channelled principally through Bosaaso to the Abudwaq area of central Somalia, then across the border into Ethiopia. Officials responsible for the logistics of this operation included Colonels Te’ame “Meqelle” (since promoted to the rank of general) and Tewelde Habte Negash on the part of the Government of Eritrea, and Abdinur Soyaan and Bashir Makhtal on the part of ONLF. Some shipments of arms and ammunition were dispatched directly from Eritrea, but between 2007 and 2008, a new arrangement involving Eritrean payments to a Yemeni arms dealer was introduced. This arrangement proved unsatisfactory, since the materiel shipped from Yemen proved to be substandard.
282. In 2006, following the seizure of Mogadishu by the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), Eritrean assistance to UIC was also initially delivered through existing ONLF channels, until direct coordination of military support could be established with the UIC leadership. ONLF official Bashir Makhtal and Eritrean intelligence officer Tewelde Habte Negash were deployed to Mogadishu for this purpose. An ONLF official who served as Negash’s translator at the time described to the Monitoring Group a series of meetings between Negash and UIC and Al-Shabaab officers during that period — information that was subsequently corroborated by the current Minister of Defence in the Transitional Federal Government, Yusuf Mohamed Siyaad Indha’adde, who was at that time Secretary of Defence of UIC. Military assistance to UIC was subsequently delivered both overland (via Bosaaso) to Dhuusomareeb, and by air directly to Mogadishu. In September 2006, the Government of Eritrea nevertheless stated that it adhered to a “policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Somalia and […] remains fully committed to the arms embargo on Somalia”.
283. Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia in 2006 dismantled ICU, and the primary Eritrean channel of assistance to ONLF reverted to Puntland. However, in 2008, Ethiopian intelligence cooperation with the Puntland authorities led to the arrest of several ONLF officials in Puntland, including Abdinur Soyaan, and obliged Eritrea and ONLF to establish an alternative route. The main ONLF supply line thus shifted to Awdal region in western Somaliland.
284. In early September 2010, a group of more than 200 ONLF fighters arrived by sea at a point on the north-western coast of Somaliland near the port village of Lughaya. The intention of the ONLF unit was to pass undetected through Somali territory, crossing into Ethiopia near the border town of Boraame. But Somaliland security forces detected their presence and gave pursuit, forcing the group across the frontier into Ethiopia, where they were intercepted, defeated and dispersed by the Ethiopian military. In November 2010, the Monitoring Group interviewed surviving members of the ONLF force in detention in Jigjiga, and inspected weapons and equipment recovered from them on both sides of the border. The evidence from this investigation, which demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that the ONLF force had been trained in, equipped by and deployed from Eritrea, is attached in annex 8.3. Eritrean support for this force, and its deployment through Somali territory, violates both Security Council resolutions 1844 (2008) and 1907 (2009).
2. Oromo Liberation Front
285. Like ONLF, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has benefited from Eritrean patronage since the 1998-2000 Ethiopian-Eritrean war. Eritrean involvement with OLF in the context of Somalia has been documented by previous Monitoring Groups. OLF has maintained offices in Asmara for over a decade, and its leadership has long used Eritrea for training and as a platform for operational deployment. An internal OLF contact list from approximately 2006 identifies key officials by name, their phone numbers, and their principal Eritrean contacts (see annex 8.4.a). The Monitoring Group has been able to verify much of this through interviews with former OLF members, and has confirmed that much of it remained valid at the time of the current mandate.
215 – Monitoring Group meetings with Eritrean Government and party officials, Asmara, 13 September 2010 and 28 January 2011. The Monitoring Group informed the Government of Eritrea that its mandate was limited to technical matters and that such wider political and legal considerations were beyond its mandate.
216 – See, for example, S/2003/223, paras. 62-73 and S/2006/913, paras. 23 and 39.
217 – Interview with former ONLF official, November 2010.
218 – Interviews with former ONLF logistics officer, November 2010 and current senior ONLF official, November 2010.
219 – Interview with former ONLF senior official, November 2010.
220 – Interview with former ONLF translator in November 2010 and with Yusuf Indha’adde in April 2011.
221- Government response to the Monitoring Group, 6 September 2006.