A Week in the Horn
(16.09.2011)

         but smoke and mirrors can’t mend fences 

 

The Somali Roadmap gets under way despite criticisms  

Following the recent High Level Consultative Meeting in Mogadishu on which we reported last week, Ambassador Mahiga, the UN Secretary–General’s Special Representative for Somalia, this week briefed the UN Security Council. He told the Security Council that there was now a broad consensus on how to end the transitional period and restore peace and security in Somalia. There would be no more extensions and everyone must work together to end the transition by August 2012. Equally, “the seeds of hope and progress” needed to be “carefully and generously nurtured”. Ambassador Mahiga urged the international community to immediately provide resources to the TFIs and other partners helping to implement the Roadmap and redouble engagement with the Somali leadership while striking a delicate balance between inducement and compulsion. The withdrawal of Al-Shabaab from Mogadishu offered the opportunity to expand the territory under TFG control and enhance its legitimacy by delivering services. Equally, Al-Shabaab was likely to resort to further terrorist tactics: AMISOM and the government must be equipped to respond to such a threat. A Mogadishu Stabilization Plan had been prepared which required an initial funding of 5 million dollars. He pointed out that the Secretary-General in his last report, at the end of August, had expressed support for the rapid deployment of a guard force within AMISOM to protect UN civilian staff. He said UNPOS was ready to deploy staff to Mogadishu as support became available.   

In Somalia, itself, there has been considerable criticism of the meeting from the broader spectrum of Somali political stakeholders. The meeting was attended by delegates from the TFG and the Parliament, from Puntland, Galmudug and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a, but concerns have been expressed by the Hawiye, and the Rahenweyne. The Haber Gidir/Hawiye leaders were alarmed by the size of the Puntland delegation and the close rapprochement between President Sharif and President Farole of Puntland, linking traditional allies, the Abgal/Hawiye and the Majerteen, creating anxiety among Haber Gidir politicians. On the other hand, the Rahenweyne, (Digil and Mirifle), have been worried by suggestions of revising the 4.5 formula as a start to reduce the size of the Somali Parliament. This concern is shared by a number of other parliamentarians, a number of whom can expect to lose their positions. The issue needs to be carefully handled, since it affects the basis on which the TFG was created.

 The Civil Society sector expressed its concerns in a statement, complaining that representatives of civil society had been excluded from the Consultative Meeting despite the fact that the civil society was part and parcel of the Djibouti peace process and the subsequent expansion of parliament. They are however supposed to be participating in the second meeting in Garowe shortly. The statement claims the meeting did not include any substantive, dialogue on the four key tasks of security, the constitution, reconciliation, and good governance. The process was held in a rush, and failed to address sufficiently key priority tasks aimed at ending the transition including parliament reform the review of the draft constitution, consolidation of recent security gains, devolution of governance and other similar issues. Neither the implementation mechanism nor the benchmarks are realistic according to the statement. The statement said that “our position [is] that the specified targets and timeframe provided in the ‘roadmap’ are far from being realistic”. It added that the meeting marginalized the role of women – there were no women’s groups present; that the Roadmap was designed by the UN Political Office for Somalia and was therefore devoid of Somali ownership. While the outcome is broadly in accordance with the Kampala Accord, it ignores the Kampala requirement for a monitoring mechanism. It added that the Somali Parliament had not been consulted nor had it discussed the Roadmap. Others have also claimed that the Roadmap was designed by non-Somalis and its ownership therefore belonged to UN officials; that participants were denied full debate and discussion, and indeed were unable to deliberate, consider and vote on the elements of the Roadmap; and that the overall result gave excessive leverage to Puntland and has therefore upset clan equilibrium.  The role of civil society in the South has always been controversial since some elements have been seen as involved in undermining the government and its efforts. 

The TFG itself issued a press release on Tuesday, noting that it was starting to implement the new Roadmap and laying out a timetable. The Council of Ministers met two days after the High Level Meeting had concluded and approved the adoption of the Roadmap. At another meeting on Sunday it had decided on a number of points: to appoint a committee of experts by Monday to review the draft constitution, redraft it and complete it. The committee is to be balanced in terms of clan, geography and gender and is to be operating no later than the first week of October to start consultations about possible options including federalism and identifying contentious issues. A joint committee of stakeholders will be appointed by Monday to prepare the modalities for the draft constitution.  In the first week of October, the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs and Reconciliation will begin public consultations, and the first Constitutional Conference is to be held in Garowe around the end of October. In November, the Committee of Experts will start to hold consultative meetings with religious scholars, women’s groups, civil society and the business community. In mid November the TFG will formally request Parliament to start the process of amending the existing charter, and the joint committee will begin the process to meet the January date for provisional adoption of the constitution.

Prime Minister, Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed, said that the implementation of the Roadmap process will be inclusive for all TFIs, regional administrations, Ahlu Sunna and all segments of society. He appealed to all to participate. He also urged key partners and friends in the international community to provide resources to help the government achieve its targets. “This is the best time to implement the Roadmap and at the same time to bring peace and stability in the country.”  

Meanwhile, there are now indications that Abu-Zubeyr “Godane” is taking personal charge of  renewed Al-Shabaab offensives in Gedo, Lower Juba and Central Somalia in order to boost his standing within Al-Shabaab and with Al Qaeda. As we have noted earlier, Al-Shabaab fighters from Mogadishu are now being deployed elsewhere in southern Somalia to try and claw back areas lost earlier. Al-Shabaab has also been taking advantage of clan disputes along the Kenyan border with Somalia to make raids at Busar, east of El-Wak, seizing some vehicles and ammunition; and most recently launching an attack on El Wak and briefly taking over the town before retiring with captured vehicles and ammunition when government forces counter-attacked. In Central Somalia, however, an Al-Shabaab advance towards Dusamareb was stopped by Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a at Bulacle, some 25 kilometers from the town.

 It has been clear for a long time that the reported differences between Abu-Zubeyr “Godane” and Sheikh Mukhtar Robow “Abu-Mansoor” are not matters of  ideological purpose or aim but relate essentially to a protracted power struggle between different personal and clan interests. Inevitably, there has been speculation that the Al-Qaeda leadership will try to pressure the two men to cooperate again. “Godane” is seen as the successor, indeed a replica, to Adan Hashi Ayro, the violent founder and late leader of Al-Shabaab killed in a US airstrike in May 2008. He has the support of Al Qaeda, and commands the Amniyad, an Al-Shabaab unit which operates as a personal guard and may number as much as 1,000 in all. He also controls the foreign fighters who act as a mercenary force for Al-Shabaab – though their military expertise is frequently over-rated. Sheikh Muktar, by contrast, draws his support from fighters of the Digil and Merifle (Rahenweyne) clans; in his dispute with “Godane” he also has backing from Al-Shabaab commanders from the Hawiye and the Darod clans.

 

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The AU Peace and Security Council meets on Somalia 

On Tuesday, the African Union Peace and Security Council in its 293rd meeting adopted a statement on Somalia urging the United Nations and the donor community to move quickly to take advantage of the retreat of Al-Shabaab. In a report to the Council, the AU Commission Chairman, Dr. Jean Ping, emphasized that the security improvements in Mogadishu provided the opportunity for action on humanitarian and security issues. In its statement, the PSC took note of the report of the Commission Chairman and of TFG representatives. It welcomed the gains made on the ground and expressed its deep appreciation to AMISOM and TFG forces, and to the governments of Burundi and Uganda for their commitment. It expressed satisfaction for the recent increases of troops from both countries as well as for the pledges made by Djibouti, Guinea and Sierra Leone to each provide a battalion. It endorsed the revised Concept of Operations as outlined in the Chairperson’s report.

The Council welcomed the Kampala Accord and the Roadmap agreed at the Consultative Meeting in Mogadishu, and underlined the deep concern of the African Union over the humanitarian situation in Somalia. It called urgently on all member states which have not yet done so to contribute financially and in kind to relief efforts. It thanked IGAD leaders for their continued involvement and role in bringing about peace, security and stability in Somalia. It requested the UN Security Council, in line with its responsibility for international peace and security, to reaffirm its commitment to authorize deployment of a UN operation to take over from AMISOM. In the meantime, it requested the Security Council to authorize enhancement of the support package for AMISOM, to focus on reimbursement of equipment, provision of helicopters, deployment of police units and the additional guard battalion for civilian AU, UN and TFI staff. It also reiterated the need for steps to prevent entry of foreign elements into Somalia by air or sea.

In a press conference after the meeting, PSC chairman, Ramtane Lamamra said he was encouraged by the increased attention being paid to Somalia. He said the United Nations must now take the lead in creating humanitarian corridors to allow aid to reach Somalis trapped in the famine zones. He said this was politically necessary and technically possible. He said UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon was convening a summit on September 23rd on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and this would be the right place to consider the issue. Mr. Lamamra also emphasized that the PSC and the AU had been calling for more than a year for the UN Security Council to take steps to enforce a no-fly zone and a maritime blockade in Somalia. He said now was the time to implement these measures. They would be “likely to change the dynamics of the situation”, he added. Improved security in Mogadishu also highlighted the need for deployment of police units to replace AMISOM troops which  could then move to open humanitarian corridors. A battalion of Djibouti police would be particularly welcome as they could speak Somali. Commissioner Lamamra said the only thing that was preventing the deployment of more troops to raise AMISOM to its mandated strength of 12,000 or even more was the need for equipment, training and logistics which had to come from donors.

  

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Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam in Egypt 

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has been in Cairo this week for the first meeting of the Joint Egyptian Ethiopian Ministerial Committee for seventeen years. The visit will also serve as a preparation for Prime Minister Meles who is scheduled to visit Egypt at the weekend at the invitation of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf. These visits follow visits by a 48-strong Egyptian public diplomacy delegation to Ethiopia in May, followed by a visit of Egyptian Prime Minister Sharaf to Addis Ababa; a new Egyptian ambassador arrived in Addis Ababa at the beginning of the month.      

Welcoming Ato Hailemariam, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Kamel Amr said on Wednesday that Egypt and Ethiopia has agreed to turn over a new page in their relations following the January 25th revolution in Egypt. Mr Amr said the joint technical committee had already reviewed several cooperation agreements due to be signed during the Prime Minister’s visit. Both countries, he emphasized, were looking for further cooperation in the future. Ethiopia wants to see more economic links with Egypt. Trade last year was worth some ninety million dollars, and is growing on average by some twenty percent a year. At the same time, as Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam underlined, there are immense bilateral trade possibilities that have barely scratched the surface of the potential. Agreements on Trade and Avoidance of Double Taxation can be expected to boost bilateral trade significantly. The business communities of both countries have been expanding their links since formation of the Joint Business Council between the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations and the Egyptian Business Men's Association in December 2009. Ethiopia certainly believes this is an important aspect of consolidating business relationships. The Deputy Prime Minister said it was the government’s firm belief that strengthened economic ties will provide a major pillar for the foundation of a strong Ethiopian-Egyptian relationship.  

Cooperation in trade and investment has already begun to diversify, involving agriculture, capacity building in water engineering and resource management, health, education and other technical training sectors. Egyptian investments in Ethiopia are currently worth about two billion dollars. Cairo is looking to launch new projects, and these will be welcomed by Ethiopia. According to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, the question of the Nile is unlikely to be raised as the proposed technical committee of experts from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia is expected to convene soon to look into the effects of the construction of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam on the Nile.

 The ministerial talks will also cover regional and African issues as well as bilateral ones, and the situation in Sudan, South Sudan, famine in Somalia and drought in the Horn of Africa will also be on the agenda. Prime Minister Meles’ own visit starts on Saturday and he is scheduled to meet with the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Tantawi, as well as Prime Minister Sharaf and other officials and businessmen.

 

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The Nairobi Action Plan and the Strategy to Eradicate Drought Emergencies 

As we reported last week, a regional summit on the theme of Ending Drought Emergencies was hosted by Kenya. Those attending included representatives of the  United Nations, IGAD and the World Bank as well as the Presidents of Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. The summit on Friday was preceded the previous day by technical and ministerial level discussions, and concluded with a Joint Declaration on “Ending Drought Emergencies: A Commitment to Sustainable Solutions”, on September 9th

The summit adopted The Nairobi Strategy: Enhanced Partnership to Eradicate Drought Emergencies. This affirmed that freedom from hunger was one of the fundamental rights of citizens of any nation and every effort should be made by governments, citizens and the international community to bring the current emergency to an end as soon as possible. Every effort should be made to ensure that, in future, drought will not cause undue human suffering, let alone famine. The current crisis reflected long-term under investment in drought prone areas. A new approach was needed, one that would have the primary task of building resilience to future climatic and economic shocks.

 The leaders agreed that a new twin-track approach was needed, focusing on preventive rather than reactive action, and being holistic rather than emergency oriented. It should recognize existing frameworks and mechanisms for disaster risk reduction, namely the Hyogo Framework for Action and the Africa Strategy and Program for Action 2006-2015. It should involve the whole continuum of relief, recovery, reconstruction, innovation and sustainable long-term development for drought resilience and food security.

 The summit looked at specific strategies to bring about stability in Somalia and regional drought resilience. It welcomed the determination of the TFG to foster peace, security and stability but noted the various threats that needed to be addressed simultaneously, including the need to stabilize the refugee situation and support refugee host communities to mitigate the impact of refugees on already fragile eco-systems. The leaders noted the need to open a second refugee camp in Djibouti. It was agreed that interim measures needed to be taken to ease the pressures on refugee camps outside Somalia; the TFG and the international agencies agreed to try to support those affected inside Somalia. 

 After reviewing the country programs of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, the summit agreed on strategies for overcoming drought emergencies. These included: accelerated investment for the foundations of developments with priority for roads, water and irrigation, energy, education and health; strengthening the adaptive capacity and livelihood choices of communities, involving inter alia environmental protection, integrated resource management and livestock assistance for pastoralists; promotion of integrated land and water management and development; fast-track adaptation to climate change; implementation of ambitious afforestation projects; facilitation of trade; enhancement of pastoralism; improved institutional frameworks including the establishment of National Risk Drought Management Authorities, involving early warning systems, where needed; and support for the Dryland Initiative launched by Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda to promote integrated rural development. It was also agreed that the emergency response system should be replaced by a more productive approach to promote self-sufficiency and discourage dependency, including expanding a social safety net.

 While these strategies should be pursued nationally, as all countries in the region are affected there should be close collaboration throughout the region. So the Heads of State and Government agreed to support the creation of a Horn of Africa Regional Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Strategy; strengthen the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center and other existing early warning systems; ensure effective use of water resources under existing cooperation agreements; use existing studies as a framework to operationalize international cooperation in support of national efforts and strengthen the leadership roles of IGAD and the EAC; adopt common targets for eco-system rehabilitation and management, to increase forest cover and irrigated lands each by 10% by 2017; launch regional projects to address underlying causes of vulnerability; strengthen regional frameworks; and create and support an IGAD-based Multi-donor Trust Fund for drought and other disasters.

 The summit requested IGAD, together with the ECA, to monitor implementation of the policies and strategies agreed, and submit quarterly reports. A ministerial level meeting will be held in Kenya in six months to review progress. The representatives of the UN, the AU, development partners and international agencies endorsed these aims. The international partners welcomed the new approach and said they would consider aligning their contributions for these priorities as appropriate, and agreed to consider supporting the IGAD based Trust Fund.

 

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The UN Human Rights Council’s 18th session in Geneva. 

 Last year, Ethiopia was successfully assessed for its human rights performance under the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council. Most of the recommendations for improvements made in the Review were accepted. The government, with OHCHR support also held a national consultation exercise with the relevant national institutions and civil society organizations to build up a national framework for implementation. At the 18th session of the Human Rights Council, this week, Ethiopia made an additional statement on subsequent progress. 

 In its statement to the session, the Ethiopian delegation noted the government’s response to the humanitarian crisis and food insecurity caused by prolonged La Nina conditions in the lowland areas over the past two consecutive rainy seasons. The government, in close collaboration with humanitarian partners including UN agencies, national and international NGOs, and civil society organizations, was providing assistance to affected communities. The government had already made clear its determination to guarantee food security through effective implementation of its Growth and Transformation Plan. Among other elements this involves 10% budget allocation to the agriculture sector and food security programs targeting pastoralist populations. It had redoubled efforts to address vulnerabilities arising from climatic variables and natural disasters through the full operation of its Disaster Risk Management.

 Ethiopia is very aware that the human rights strategy of a state is crucial for the protection and promotion of human rights. It has therefore recently elaborated and launched a National Plan of Action for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. The goal is to consolidate human rights policies and highlight the best means of fulfilling the country’s international obligations within the national context. The National Plan will foster concepts of human rights and human development in Ethiopia. It will reaffirm the fundamental rights laid down in the Federal Constitution but also provide specific goals to improve human rights in the country. It will cover the areas of fundamental rights, human rights education, the rights of vulnerable groups including children, women and minorities, harmful cultural practices, and the right to food, water, health and education.  

The creation of a National Action Plan for Human Rights was one of the recommendations of the Periodic Review. In addition, Ethiopia has now set up a steering committee to draw up a program for promoting and protecting human rights. Headed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it will include representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Finance and Economic Development, Federal Affairs and the Government Communications Affairs Office. 

 The government statement noted that the Council level review of Ethiopia’s national reports, and the questions and recommendations, had provided a valuable assessment of the country’s efforts, and an additional perspective of the strengths and weaknesses of its human rights efforts. It concluded by emphasizing that Ethiopia remains fully committed to the protection and promotion of human rights through any necessary legislation or institutional measures. It constantly strives to honour its commitments – the full realization of human rights for all remains a goal, an aspiration and a challenge. 

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Eritreans discuss their country’s future…. 

Last week, September 5th to 10th, a group of over sixty Eritrean intellectuals, professionals and other interested individuals, met in Addis Ababa for a seminar and a dialogue on the future of Eritrea. What was accurately described as a wide, diverse and representative group of Eritreans from civil society spent a week in discussions. Delegates came from all parts of the world and included a number of refugees now attending university in Ethiopia. Observers included leaders of a number of Eritrean political parties.

 Participants set up four groups to focus on Diaspora affairs, the media, refugees and youth issues. They laid out strategies and tactics for an outreach campaign to encourage the struggle for democratic change particularly in the media, in the Diaspora and among the youth, the armed forces of the regime and other sectors of society, and agreed mechanisms to alleviate the plight of refugees. Among the tasks agreed on for participants was the formation of task forces to carry out various activities in the areas from which they came around the world.  One of the aims of the debate was to encourage as many people as possible to participate in the upcoming Eritrean National Congress, likely to take place next month. Participants also assessed the performance of Eritrean political organizations in exile, the controversial nature of the regime in Asmara and the relationship between the Ethiopian government and the Eritrean resistance.

 The seminar concluded with “The Addis Ababa Statement”: a damning indictment of the present government in Eritrea and “an urgent call to all Eritreans to remove the Totalitarian Regime and lay grounds for the creation of a free, just, democratic and united Eritrea”. The statement identified the sources of Eritrea’s current problems as being devoid of any of the characteristics of a government, being run without a constitution, with no independent judicial system, no institutions to control the president, no known national budget, no freedom of expression, religion or business. There is no functional cabinet, and even the ruling party does not hold congresses or elect its leaders: “the ‘yes men’ around the president allow him to run the country as his own property and treat the Eritrean people as his own servants.” The repressive regime has also failed to manage the diversity of Eritrea’s nationalities, languages and religions, misusing these to create enemies and antagonisms. Indeed it survives by constantly creating national and international enemies. It keeps the youth of the country hostage in endless military service. It has destroyed the University of Asmara. The regime has made Eritrea into a pariah state and one of the largest refugee producing countries in the world. “Hundreds of emaciated Eritreans cross the border into the neighboring countries every month.”  In sum, the delegates concluded that Eritrea’s social-fabric was “in the process of destruction by a brutal totalitarian regime.”  

The seminar also identified a number of common areas of understanding: Eritreans are the ultimate owners of their destiny; Eritrea is a multi-ethnic, cultural and religious society and its people “need to strive to create a free, just and democratic united country where all Eritreans are treated equally”; the regime is “totalitarian, monopolistic, chauvinistic and inhumane” and “does not represent any particular ethnic group”; the strategic alliance between the Eritrean and Ethiopian peoples in the struggle for democratic change in Eritrea and for regional peace and security is important. The statement noted that participants appreciated the Ethiopian government commitment “in very clear terms to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Eritrea and its emphasis that it has accepted the border ruling of 2002 in writing to the Secretary-General of the UN. The Ethiopian Government is ready to demarcate the border through dialogue so that both peoples will enjoy lasting peace”.

 The seminar commended everyone who has been struggling for justice, democratic governance and peace in Eritrea; it encouraged “all Eritrean individuals, civic societies and political opposition groups” to enhance their struggle, and commended the Eritrean Democratic Alliance and others outside this umbrella organization for their tireless efforts, and the Eritrean National Commission for Democratic Change for laying the groundwork for these seminars. It encouraged the Ethiopian government to continue its support to help Eritrea regain its dignity. The statement noted the concerns, even suspicions, of skeptics but stressed “we are convinced that positive engagement is the ultimate solution”. It said “we are confident that the EDA, the ENCDC and the Ethiopian Government (and its people) will not disappoint us.” It called on all Eritreans to “focus on the biggest enemy of the Eritrean people: the ruling clique”, asking the “silent majority” to take their responsibility; and for supporters to stop backing “this evil regime”. In conclusion the seminar defined its mission as  creating a united Eritrea where “there is no discrimination of nationalities, religions, languages and regions, …to create a country that is at peace with itself and with its neighbors, a country that is founded on democratic and accountable institutions rather than on the whims of egotistical and sadistic personalities.” 

 The meeting was addressed by Ato Bereket Simon, head of the Government Communications Office who emphasized that Ethiopia had no plan to impose its own political philosophy or system of government on Eritrea. He said it was up to Eritreans to bring about regime change but Ethiopia was ready to provide full support to the Eritrean people and the opposition forces. Delegates also met with Prime Minister Meles who reiterated that Eritrea today posed a serious threat to the security of Ethiopia and of other countries in the region. It had, he reminded participants, been caught red-handed plotting, executing and overseeing terrorist activities against Ethiopia and other neighbors. He said he expected tougher sanctions to be imposed on the leadership in Eritrea, and told delegates that the issue of Badme and the border depended upon guarantees for peace for the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea: the ball was in President Isaias’ court. 

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…but smoke and mirrors can’t mend fences 

The proven track record of the regime in Asmara in destabilizing the Horn of Africa has been known for about a decade. Eritrea has lent, and continues to lend a hand to terrorist groups in Somalia, including the Al Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab, and has played a significant role in fuelling the problems of Somalia. It has exercised and continues to exercise its efforts to disrupt peace throughout the region, notably in Ethiopia. Djibouti has also been among its victims.

 IGAD and the African Union have repeatedly condemned Eritrea’s destabilizing activities and urged the United Nations and the international community to press the regime in Asmara to stop its disruptive role in the sub-region. The UN Security Council has identified Eritrea as a country that has been arming and supporting Al-Shabaab and other Islamist militants in Somalia. Its diplomatic mission in Nairobi has funded these groups. It organized the failed terrorist plot to bomb the AU Summit in Addis Ababa in January this year. The Security Council subsequently ordered the Monitoring Group, among many issues, to investigate further whether the facilities involved in the plot to bomb the AU summit could be used again to organize similar terrorist acts or support other potential threats elsewhere in the region. This has been part of its consideration of the request by IGAD and AU to implement additional economic sanctions on the regime in Asmara. In fact, even if this proves not to be the case, there are certainly other matters not yet considered by the Monitoring Group and the international community. There is no indication yet that Eritrea is ready to put an end to its disruptive operations in the region.

 The problem of Eritrea is no longer confined to its relations with neighbors. It has gone beyond that to become a regional and international agenda. The issue is now about peace, security and the stability of the region and indeed internationally. It is about IGAD, the African Union and the United Nations, and all of these would certainly be glad to see Eritrea behaving normally – providing that this was genuine and it was really the case that Eritrea had decided to change its policy and act according to the usual norms of international activity. This is not the same as welcoming the present supposed efforts at fence-mending in which Eritrea is currently engaged as part of its effort to get support for a temporary quick-fix aimed to try to avoid stronger sanctions without demonstrating any real changes of policy.  

President Isaias Afeworki, who is of course the sole authority in Eritrea, recently paid a couple of visits in Africa: to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea this week and to Uganda last month. In the past few years, his overseas travel has been largely confined to visits to Colonel Gadafi in Libya to collect financial support, and to Qatar, apparently for medical treatment. These latest visits have been different, aimed to try and demonstrate that the President is interested in real diplomacy and that Eritrea is not merely a force for disruptive regional adventurism. It is one of the techniques President Isaias has employed before at times of particular pressure to try to claim credibility and to divert international attention, an attempt to soften the perceptions of the member states of IGAD and the African Union. 

 It is hardly likely to succeed. The regime in Asmara still fails to notice that it is the only regime which continues to disregard regional and international rules of procedures so extensively and continues to cooperate with disruptive forces so obviously. It’s the only nation in Africa which fails to work in harmony for regional peace, security and stability. Everybody, apart from Eritrea it seems, is fully aware that if Eritrea is to be a genuine partner within the region, it must comply with regional and international procedures. So far, Eritrea has shown no interest in doing this. It continues its disruptive role in the region and has yet to show any indication of meeting regional and international expectations. Smoke and mirrors do not provide for any return to normalcy or indication of any willingness to do so. That needs clear and obvious indications of an end to the continued sponsorship and organization of terrorist activities. It was in December 2009 that the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo, travel restrictions and asset freeze on senior Eritrean political and military leaders for their evident support for Al-Shabaab and other terrorists in Somalia. Two years have passed, but Eritrean policy has remained totally unchanged.

 Here in Ethiopia we would greatly appreciate any effort to revise Eritrea’s disruptive policies. So far, nothing realistic has appeared. There have been no changes in Eritrea’s disruptive efforts whether in Ethiopia or elsewhere in the region. These latest efforts at getting some sort of quick-fix over increased sanctions give no indication of any changes of policy towards other states in the region, or towards terrorism. Ethiopia is only left with the option of continuing to extend the same advice to Asmara: change your disruptive policies, meet regional and international expectations, and make genuine efforts to rejoin the international community. Then we, and others, would welcome you back.

 

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          Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

                     Ministry of Foreign Affairs