Later in July, the Eritrean delegation was intentionally barred from getting a copy of the SEMG Report as a tactic of delaying it from submitting its comprehensive response before the United Nations Security Council Committee Pursuant to Resolution 751(1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea on the Report of the Somalia/Eritrea Monitoring Group.
Instead, the delegation was allowed at the end to get briefing and access to only some parts of the report, on a limited allotted time. That puts the Eritrean delegation unable to contact relevant authorities in Eritrea for comments and verifications on the various allegations contained in the report. For that reason, the delegation was left only with the option of registering its preliminary but factual response. However, last week, the Eritrean government has submitted its official and full responses to the SEMG report by dissecting the entire accusations line-by-line.
The following is the executive summary taken from the Eritrean government response along with the entire dossier with annexes as attachments. Happy Reading!
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ERITREA’S RESPONSE TO THE REPORT OF THE SOMALIA – ERITREA MONITORING GROUP
Eritrea fully cooperated with the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) in the discharge of its mandate. It hosted the Group twice in Eritrea, participated in third informal discussion in Europe and responded in good faith to the SEMG’s written queries.
The Report of the Monitoring Group is unnecessarily encumbered by lengthy commentary and analysis of the Eritrean situation, policies, and institutions predicted on incomplete information and superficial understanding and that are squarely at variance with the realities in the country. It is further clouded by detailed descriptions of many and seemingly serious allegations – some deemed “credible” and others “circumstantial” – but which the Monitoring Group admits are not supported by any conclusive evidence.
If the Report of the Monitoring Group is examined carefully, the wheat duly separated from the chaff, and the cut-off date of December 2009 when the Security Council Resolution 1907 was adopted taken as the point of reference, the conclusion that Eritrea is not in any violation of Resolution 1907 is starkly clear and inescapable.
There is no conclusive evidence in the Report of any Eritrean violation in regard to Somalia and Djibouti, as well as the arms embargo on Eritrea. This is highly significant as it was accusations of Eritrean wrongdoing in regards to Somalia (particularly support to Al-Shabaab) and Djibouti that was the basis for the imposition of sanctions on Eritrea in the first place. Fairness would require an acknowledgement of this fact and a decision to lift the sanction against Eritrea.
Regarding Somalia, given that the allegations of Eritrea’s military support to Al-Shabaab has been the central concern of the Security Council and the main impetus behind the imposition of sanction under 1907, it is remarkable that the Report confirms that Eritrea is not in violation of 1907 in regard to military support to Al-Shabaab or any armed group in Somalia. It mentions claims from unidentified sources of Eritrean arms shipments to Kismayo (in fact Ethiopia had publicly made those accusations), but states categorically that it “could not independently verify the reports.”
Regarding financial support, the Monitoring Group states that it has documentary evidence of Eritrean payments not to al-Shabaab but to “individual linked” to the organization, but admits that these relate only to 2008, a full year before the cut-off date. It mentions allegations that financing continues, again not Al-Shabaab but to “individuals” that the Monitoring Group believes “have links” to Al-Shabaab, one source claiming to the tune of US$ 80,000 per month, but does not present any evidence. The difference between financial support to al-Shabaab and to individuals, the Monitoring Group thinks are associated with Al-Shabaab, is subtle but highly significant. One of the persons the Monitoring Group mentions, Ugas Abdi Dahir, for instance, is a well-known clan figure who, as far as Eritrea was aware, was not affiliated to al-Shabaab. It is also pertinent to mention that the Monitoring definitively states that the US$70 million to US$ 100 million that Al-Shabaab generates in yearly revenue comes from “taxation and extortion in areas under its control, notably the export of charcoal and cross-border contraband into Kenya.”
On Djibouti, the Report presents two allegations of what it calls “Eritrean support of the limited scale”. The first of these is attributed to a dubious source and relates to the period prior to December 2009. The second allegation concerns a cache of Soviet era explosives which were found hidden in a cave in Djibouti, in regards to which the Monitoring Group states categorically that it “has been unable to trace their place of origin or chain of custody.” It is therefore clear that there is no evidence of Eritrean violation of 1907 in regard to Djibouti.
The centerpiece accusation against Eritrea, the basis for calls for additional sanctions, is the sensationalized allegation of a “plot” to bomb Addis Ababa during the African Union Summit in January 2011. Here it is important to point out that the goal post in accusations against Eritrea has been shifted from Somalia and Djibouti to Ethiopia, which is the culprit, accuser and source of all “evidence” at the same time. Additionally, Eritrea would have no interest in disrupting with its sisterly African countries and when it had just reopened its mission in Addis Ababa and was participating in the Summit for the first time after a long absence. Nor is it reckless or stupid to contemplate such a hideous attack.
In this Response, Eritrea has fully responded to the allegations of the Monitoring Group regarding the alleged “bomb plot.” Eritrea does not give credence to Ethiopia’s allegation that there was indeed any plot to bomb Addis Ababa during the AU Summit. Given the track record of the Ethiopian government which routinely accuses Eritrea and an assortment of opposition groups for “terrorist plots” and the timing of the allegations, it is highly probably that this was a fabrication of the Ethiopian government to provide “justification” for enhancing sanctions against Eritrea. Recently released Wikileaks documents show that a series of explosions that occurred in Addis Ababa in September 2006 and that the Ethiopian government claimed were “part of coordinated terror attack by the OLF and Sha’abiya (Eritrea) aimed at disrupting democratic developments,” may have “in fact been the work of the Government of Ethiopia security forces.” In both allegations, the OLF and Eritrea are blamed, the first aimed at “disrupting democratic development,” the latter at “disrupting the AU Summit.” The language clearly points at Ethiopian disinformation.
But even if we grant that there was a bombing plot, the Monitoring Group’s speculative claim that the bomb was “conceived, planned and directed by the Eritrean National Security Agency” but “falsely flagged as an OLF initiative” is totally unfounded and untenable, as Eritrea’s reply conclusively shows and the narrative of the Monitoring Group unwittingly betrays.
It is thus clear that Eritrea is not in violation of Resolution 1907 on any account. On the contrary, much that is positive has taken place since then. Eritrea and Djibouti have accepted mediation by the Emir of Qatar and Eritrea has acceded to the request to redeploy its troops. Eritrea’s positive and constructive engagement at the regional, continental and international arenas is widely acknowledged and encouraged.
There is no basis under Resolution 1907 to maintain sanctions on Eritrea, let alone consider taking additional measures directly aimed at starving the Eritrean people, which Ethiopia is pushing for as part of its war against Eritrea and which will further destabilize the region.
Eritrea thus calls on the Security Council to fully consider this Reply, acknowledge that Eritrea is not in any violation and that significant progress has been registered and lift the sanctions that were imposed two long years ago. It calls on the Security Council to take urgent and strong action to ensure that Ethiopia complies with Security Council Resolutions, end its illegal occupation of Eritrean territory and stop its destabilization of the Horn of Africa region.
ORIGINAL RESPONSE DOCUMENTS