Impoverished Eritrea financing, arming African militants
Sept. 24 2011
With drought, famine, pirates and armed Islamist groups fighting to overthrow the government, Somalia is a country defined by its needs.
It needs food. It needs to rebuild its ruined land. And it needs security. What it does not need is more guns.
The United Nations imposed an arms embargo on Somalia in 1992 but weapons continue to flow to groups like Al-Shabab, al-Qaeda-linked militants who recently awarded AK-47s to the winners of a children’s Koran competition.
Where the guns come from is no great mystery. The UN committee that monitors violations of the arms embargo has repeatedly blamed nearby Eritrea, one of the world’s most backward and repressive states.
“They are supporting terrorists,” Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, the Somali Prime Minister who was in Toronto this week, told the National Post in an interview.
“We have to face it and we have to impose more strict sanctions on Eritrea.”
In its latest report on violations of the arms embargo, released July 18, the UN monitoring group said Eritrea was training, financing and arming an array of African militant groups, including Al-Shabab.
“In the course of its 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,” it said.
The UN monitors also said Eritrea had “conceived, planned, organized and directed” a plot to bomb civilian and government targets in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in January to disrupt an African Union summit.
The attackers were arrested and the plot failed, but it highlighted the paradox that is Eritrea: one of the world’s least developed countries is a secret backer of armed groups throughout the Horn of Africa.
Prime Minister meles zenawi speech on eritrea 2011- in tigrinya