The US and Ethiopia seem to be employing the “if you want to avoid talking about something, change the subject adage” in yet another futile attempt to divert attention away from Ethiopia’s numerous violations of international law, the African Union and UN Charters and most importantly, the Algiers Agreements, which were signed by Eritrea and Ethiopia in December 2000. The United States is not only one of the witnesses and guarantors of the Algiers Agreements; it is US State Department lawyers that authored the Agreements.
The Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) was established in accordance with article 4.2 of the Algiers Agreements, which said:
“The parties agree that a neutral Boundary Commission composed of five members shall be established with a mandate to delimit and demarcate the colonial treaty border based on pertinent colonial treaties (1900, 1902 and 1908) and applicable international law. The Commission shall not have the power to make decisions ex aequo et bono”
Article 4.15 of the Algiers Agreements also said:
“…The parties agree that the delimitation and demarcation determinations of the Commission shall be final and binding. Each party shall respect the border so determined, as well as the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the other party…”
The Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission delivered its final and binding decision on 13 April 2002. While Eritrea accepted the EEBC’s delimitation decision, regime in Ethiopia rejected the decision and set out on 5-year long effort to frustrate the work of the Commission with the tacit approval and acquiescence of the US led international community. The EEBC persevered despite repeated attempts to thwart and hijack its sole mandate to demarcate the Eritrea Ethiopia border. In November 2007, after waiting for over 5 years to demarcate the border by placing boundary pillars on the ground, the EEBC decided to fulfill its mandate by demarcating the border using coordinates on maps-“virtual demarcation”. The regime in Ethiopia rejected the EEBC’s demarcation decision and told US officials[i] that “if the Security Council inadvertently legitimized the EEBC’s virtual demarcation of the border…Ethiopia would withdraw from the Algiers Accord.”
A decade later, Ethiopia continues to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme, the casus belli of the Eritrea Ethiopia “border conflict”. The US-engineered sanctions are a continuation of the 12 year long policy of appeasement and legal attrition of the EEBC’s decisions, were transparent in their motives. They were orchestrated to give the regime in Ethiopia a win that it could not get in its US-backed bloody war of aggression and expansion, or through legal arbitration. The illegal, unfair and unjust sanctions should be seen in this context. The desperate agenda led to equally desperate means and as the record below will show, the usage of manufactured facts, outright lies, and deliberate deceptions that mark the ugly 6-year long US-Ethiopia saga that used Somalia as a pretext.
· The Monitoring Group said that there were “2000 Eritrean forces” fighting alongside the Union of Islamic Courts in 2006-that turned out to be a lie fabricated by Ethiopia.
· The Monitoring Group said that Eritrea was the owner of a plane that made several trips to Mogadishu to deliver arms to insurgents there. That plane crashed in Uganda and it was owned by the United States.
· The Monitoring Group accused Eritrea of sending MANPADS to Somalia and produced pictures with “painted on” markers to make its case. The Ethiopians said that they were taken from Al Shabbab. The pictures were provided by US intelligence, but the MG has yet to explain how the MANPADS it claims were in Al Shabbab’s hands, remain in Eritrea’s possession today.
· The Monitoring Group accused Eritrea of attempting to bomb the African Union based on “evidence” provided to it by Ethiopia. It has yet to explain the many inconsistencies including why the Ethiopian Gemechew Alana, an Oromo, was presented as an “Eritrean General” in its report to the Security Council.
This paper seeks to highlight these unsubstantiated allegations against the State of Eritrea.
Once again, instead of the burden of proof laying with the prosecution, the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) and the onus falling on them to provide sufficient evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Eritrea is guilty of the alleged acts, in today’s Security Council, where the United States wields power and influence, it seems there are different rules at play when it comes to Eritrea. No other nation has had to endure the abuse and total violation of her people’s rights under the UN Charter as Eritrea has in the last 12 years.
The US led international community continues to provide the minority regime in Ethiopia unparalleled diplomatic, economic, political and military support and shield as it violates international law, the African Union and United Nation’s Charters and continues to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories, in violation of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions of 13 April 2002 and 30 November 2007 respectively.
The Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group has released its latest Report and once again, it hurls insults at the people of Eritrea and its leadership and makes wild and unsubstantiated accusations without providing any evidence to support its allegations. In the past, as we shall see below, it made very serious allegations and despite repeated requests to substantiate its allegations or offer an apology, the SEMG has refused and has instead chosen to continue to abuse its authority by serving as an apologist for the minority regime in Ethiopia and its handlers and denying the people of Eritrea the right to due process.
Abukar Arman, Somali Special Envoy to the United States in his 2 August 2012 article, “Somalia: UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea – Who Watches the Watchmen?[ii]” wrote the following:
“…On past evidence, the monitoring group’s reports should be approached with a healthy dose of scepticism. In its 2006 report, for example, the monitoring group made two rather odd claims which were seemingly designed to pave the way for Ethiopia’s invasion and occupation of Somalia. They claimed that al-Shabaab, the Sunni militant group, had exported 720 of its fighters to help Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia nationalists, in its fight against Israel. They also claimed that Iranian scientists were mining uranium for their nuclear programme in Dhusamareeb. These claims were used to justify the funding of Ethiopia’s military project in Somalia…”
For the last 6 years, since the US-backed Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia, Eritrea has been placed in the position of being presumed guilty and was asked to disprove the SEMG’s allegations. Eritrea was asked to prove that it did not support terrorism, that it did not arm groups-specifically Al Shabbab in Somalia, that it did not have Eritrean forces “fighting alongside the ICU” etc. etc. Not because there was ever any evidence presented to show Eritrea’s violation of the arms embargo on Somalia, but because the SEMG and its handlers were able to weave a net of deception that included the manufacture of evidence, elaborate fake media reports (hired journalists) and the dissemination of outright lies. Ethiopia and the US, with the gullible media in tow created a very difficult, if not impossible situation. How does one go about producing evidence that will refute an imaginary crime? Disproving a negative is a logical impossibility, but for the last 6 years, it has been the blunt reality of Eritrea, its people and its government.
Fortunately, time has exposed the many outrageous lies and fabrications of the Monitoring Group disseminated through the media and the various think tanks in Washington and Europe. The Wikileak cables have also shed light on the underhanded shenanigans that took place in the Horn and the extraordinary efforts of various US officials who worked in tandem with the Monitoring Group, the US Mission at the United Nations and with mercenary regimes in the Horn, to use the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to get the “stand alone UN sanctions” sought by the United States.
The Wikileak cables expose an ugly record of arms twisting, lying and extraordinary coordination by US Ambassadors in the region and members of the Ethiopian government including its Prime Minister to get “stand alone sanctions” against the State of Eritrea using Somalia as a pretext. By misrepresenting Eritrea’s principled position on Somalia, by labeling Eritrea the “spoiler”, and by working to “isolate” Eritrea in the region and beyond, US diplomats and Ethiopia employed the UN Monitoring Group to advance US and Ethiopia’s Somalia project and provide a diversion for Ethiopia’s decade long occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories in violation of the EEBC’s final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions, over two dozen Security Council resolutions and decisions and in violation of the African Union and United Nation’s Charters.
There are serious allegations that the SEMG made against the State of Eritrea that have never been rescinded when they were found to be completely false. In addition to the millions of Somalis who have been directly affected by US policy for Somalia, the biggest casualty in this ugly 6-year saga has been-truth. The SEMG and its handlers must believe that the end justifies the means and no matter what the consequences, that “a political truth can sometimes be different.” The reputation and image of Eritrea, its people and government is the second casualty. The third casualty are lawmakers in the United States and Europe who have been deliberately misled by a handful of incompetent diplomat who make up the Bureau of African Affairs, US Ambassadors serving in the Horn of Africa who are known for their anti-Eritrea bias, and members of the intelligence community, and the US Mission at the United Nations .
Like all the “manufactured facts” used to blemish Eritrea’s image and the desperate and outrageous attempts to link it to terrorism in the Horn of Africa, the unsubstantiated allegations presented below were the most egregious. But instead of apologizing to Eritrea for the reckless damage to the reputation of its people and government, the SEMG decides to brush it aside and move on to other fabrications and unsubstantiated allegations. Where is the accountability?
For the record, let us trace the source of the lies and the manufactured “evidence” in greater detail and call once again for the SEMG to substantiate the erroneous allegations against the State of Eritrea and its people.
1. The case of the “2000” Eritreans fighting “alongside the Union of Islamic Court”
Along with the Bush administration’s accusations that the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) was harboring Al-Qaida operatives in Somalia, the regime in Ethiopia claimed more than 2000 Eritrean soldiers were fighting alongside the Court’s militia. The western media parroted Ethiopia’s allegations and advanced the agenda. Reuters reported the following in its report in 2006:
“…Meles said Ethiopia’s enemy Eritrea had sent several hundred soldiers and advisers to support the Islamists. They helped in deploying heavy equipment and providing combat command support but were not foot soldiers. Eritrea denies having sent troops…”
That is the same story the lawless leaders of the minority regime told the Ethiopian Parliament. It was obvious to all back then, as it is today, that he was using Somalia as a pretext to go after members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) who had taken refuge in Somalia.
The Monitoring Group used the unsubstantiated allegation in its November 2006 report[iii], without ever producing evidence for its statements which were quoted by western media for months leading up to the US backed invasion and occupation of Somalia, the MG said:
“…On 26 August 2006 three dhows transporting 2,000 fully equipped combat troops from Eritrea arrived at Warsheikh, located north of Mogadishu, along the coast. On arrival at Warsheikh, the troops were relocated to an area in north Mogadishu for ultimate redeployment to different ICU-held areas. They were redeployed as follows: 500 of the Eritrean troops went to Baledogle, 500 to Hilweyne training camp and 500 to Lower Shabelle, and 500 remained in Mogadishu and were stationed at Villa Baidoa and the former Police Academy, Bolisiya…”
With the release of the Wikileak cables, we are able to discern that the allegations were based on information provided by the minority regime in Ethiopia, its cadres and self serving Somali TNG members. Let us take a look a1 November 2006 cable, “ETHIOPIA: MFA EXPERT OFFERS THOUGHTS ON SOMALIA”. It said:
“…Echoing statements made by senior Ethiopian officials Fiseha warned of a “dangerous situation” in the next two to three weeks, as Eritrea reinforced its presence in Somalia and continued to supply weapons to the extremist Council of Islamic Courts (CIC)… Fiseha said. Citing the CIC’s links to Al-Qaida and other non-state actors, Fiseha said a victory by the CIC would be “an invitation to terrorists around the world.” Fiseha noted that Ethiopia shared common strategic interests with the United States; if its redlines were approached, “Ethiopia must react,” he said. Ethiopian intelligence assessed that Eritrea had approximately 1,000 troops in Somalia assisting the CIC…”
It has been 6 years since the US backed Ethiopian and occupation of Somalia and yet neither Ethiopia, nor the TFG, nor the United States has provided any proof to substantiate that allegation which served as a pretext for the Ethiopian invasion in December 2006, in violation of UN Resolutions 1724, 1725 and 1744.
2. The case of the Illyushin-76, Evgueny Zakharov and “Eriko Enterprise”
In its November 2006 report, the Monitoring Group accused Eritrea of sending arms to Somalia. In its lengthy narrative on Eritrea the Group said:
“…On 26 July 2006, at 0745 hours an Ilyushin 76 (IL-76) aircraft containing an arms shipment for ICU arrived at Mogadishu International Airport. Also on board the aircraft were 10 senior Eritrean military officers. …The IL-76 departed from Assab, Eritrea, indicating a flight plan designating a destination of Hargeisa (Somaliland), but the aircraft went to Mogadishu. The IL-76, using the call sign LFT-1221, has the flag of Kazakhstan painted on the tail, and the registration number on the fuselage of the aircraft starts with the prefix UN, which is the code for Kazakhstan…”
The IL-76 is at the center of the accusations against Eritrea and it is supposed to be the most damning part of the UN report and the one accusation against Eritrea that Jendayi E. Frazier was hoping to make stick as she collected her “evidence” against Eritrea. It is also the story that Meles Zenawi´s minority regime and its partners peddled in order to implicate Eritrea in the blood drenched theater of war in Somalia. Turns out, the fabricated story was taken right out of a book about Viktor Bout- “Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Plans, and the Man Who Makes War Possible,” by Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun. [u]On pages 254-255 of the book Farah and Braun write [/b]:
“…At the same time as the Lebanon crisis, a group of radical Somali militias operating under the banner of United Islamic Courts seized control of Mogadishu, the battered Somali capital…quickly consolidated their hold over the city’s international airport, a crumbling facility nearly abandoned by foreign aircraft over the past decade. Then, on July 26 and again on July 28, exited residents near the airfield streamed outside after hearing a rumbling from the sky. They watched as a droning Ilyushin Il-76, with the flag of Kazakstan painted on its tail, descended from the barren horizon and taxied down the airfield’s dusty runway…Journalists were banned from the airport, but several stationed just outside the field managed to snap pictures of the aircraft, using telephoto lenses. The plane’s identifying tail number, required by international aviation regulations, had been stripped off, preventing any attempt to learn who was behind the weapons shipments…Within weeks, intelligence officials concluded that the flights were carried out by Bout’s air network…”
Once again, in a related article, Douglas Farah on 29 July 2006 writes about that flight:
“…Twice in one week the airport at Mogadishu, Somalia, was the scene of something almost unseen in the past decade-the landing of two large Soviet-era IL-76 cargo planes… On the first flight, the plane was painted with the “UN” markings denoting Kazakhstan registration, with no other identifiers. The second flight may have been the same aircraft, and if not, was a similar Il-76… Hmm, so an unmarked Soviet-built aircraft probably carrying large amounts of weapons, flying to remote airstrips …Kazakhstan registration… Fits a certain M.O. There are not many people in the weapons world who can provide the weapons and the transportation, who know the terrain and the militia leaders…Bout has registered his Reem Air in Kazakstan, including an IL-76, and has flown regularly smaller planes to Somalia in recent times, from Sharjah, UAE…No one else has that kind of track record. Intelligence officials are desperately trying to find any further markers on the aircraft. But if it flies like a duck and quacks like a duck, it just might be a duck…”
Viktor Bout´s adventures in Somalia are well known and many have written about them, including the UN.
In its July 2007 report, the Monitoring Group unabashedly repeated its allegations against Eritrea and again sought to deceive the readers with more “anonymous” informers:
“…In its previous report (see S/2006/913), the Monitoring Group provided detailed information concerning an IL-76 cargo plane transporting arms and fighters from Eritrea to Mogadishu (paras. 43-53). When presented with the foregoing information by the Monitoring Group, the Government of Eritrea denied that the flights had taken place…During the current mandate, the Monitoring Group obtained a copy of the contract of sale (annex I) of the IL-76 aircraft to a company in Eritrea. A person intimately familiar with the transaction confirmed the information contained in the previous report of the Group added that the company that had purchased the aircraft was a front for the Eritrean Government. The person also indicated that a down payment of US$ 200,000 had been paid by Eritrean diplomats based in a Gulf country to the seller of the aircraft…”
The Group never identifies the person who is supposed to be familiar with the said transaction. Throughout the 6 years, anonymous individuals, unnamed US and Ethiopian intelligence officers, Eritrean defectors and nondescript Somalis have been used to build the case against Eritrea. For instance, the Group had annexed to the report on Somalia, a “Contract of sale of an IL-76 aircraft to Eriko Enterprise (Eritrea)”.
According to the “Contract”, the buyer is a certain Kelati Haile for Eritrea and the seller is Evgueny Zakharov (of Aerolift Company). According to the Group, Eriko Enterprise was a “front” for the Government of Eritrea and this copy of the “Contract” was supposed to somehow prove Eritrean involvement in the arms transport to Somalia. The Group never explained why the Government of Eritrea would need a “front company” if it wanted to purchase a plane? Of all the planes available for sale, how did the GoE end up buying that exact plane that was mentioned in its reports? There is more.
Amnesty International in its report about arms trafficking mentions the “transaction” between Aerolift and Eritrea. Let us take a look at Amnesty International´s version of the story in which Amnesty wrote about Brian Johnson Thomas, “the journalist” who broke the story in a 18 February 2007 Times article[iv], Amnesty wrote:
“…The managing director of Aerolift told a researcher in detail, and with supporting documents (Contract of Sale and Purchase, Registration Certificate, Certificate of Airworthiness and Noise Certificate) how he claims he was deceived by the Eritrean military into allowing ´his´ aircraft to be used to make at least three clandestine arms deliveries to the Union of Islamic Courts. He stated that early in July 2006, Aerolift was approached by a high ranking officer of the Eritrean Peoples’ Defence Force, who offered to pay US$1.5 million for the IL-76TD aircraft, registration UN-76496 (s/n 073410303), which at that time was operated by Aerolift. Since the aircraft’s actual value was in the region of US$1 million, Aerolift accepted the offer, even though the aircraft was not his property, and then contacted the actual owner GST Aero in Tashkent. Aerolift agreed to pay GST Aero US$1.2 million, thus leaving Aerolift with a notional profit of US$300,000…”
In a news item for the Times, Brian Johnson Thomas had identified the high ranking officer of the Eritrean People´s Defence Force as “General Tambi”. There is no Eritrean officer by that name.
Amnesty, and/or the “journalists” want us to believe that Aerolift bought the plane from Victor Bout (owner of GST Aero) and then Eriko Enterprises bought it from Aerolift. Why didn´t Eritrea buy it directly from Viktor Bout and why would Eritrea pay more for the plane than it was worth? So who is General Tambi? He was a former member of the Monitoring Group appointed by Kofi Annan. Tambi denied any knowledge of the transaction and yet, the Monitoring Group has not retracted its mistake.
Amnesty has more details not found in the UN Monitoring Group´s Report. Amnesty says:
“…A contract was then drawn up between Aerolift and an Eritrean company called Eriko Enterprise, represented by a Mr Kelati Haile. Unusually, the contract does not specify the payment to be made for the aircraft sale, saying merely “payment conditions will be enclosed with contract forms”, but Aerolift says that they received a first, and only, ‘progress’ payment of US$250,000 on signing the contract in Moscow on 25 July 2006… The aircraft was reportedly delivered to Massawa airport on 25 August 2006, whereupon the representative of the Eritrean military assumed operational control. According to the Eritrean Civil Aviation Authority documentation, the aircraft was registered as E3-AAF with registered owner Skyroute Aviation (Asmara, Eritrea). So far as Amnesty International is aware, the Eritrean registration E3-AAF was never actually applied to the surface of the aircraft, which remained pure white except for the Kazakhstan registration UN-76496…”
Amnesty‘s report provides a little bit more information than what was in the Monitoring Group’s Report. It provides the Kazakhstan registration UN-76496. Amnesty International has no presence in Eritrea so how does Amnesty know that the plane was registered in Eritrea? How did Amnesty International get documents from the Eritrean Civil Aviation Authority? Amnesty´s close links to the Eritrean Quislings League (EQL) and their collaborative efforts in tarnishing Eritrea’s image is not new, but what does Amnesty have to do with the Monitoring Group? Turns out, one of the members of the SEMG Lynn Fredriksson, posted with the UN Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group in Nairobi as the humanitarian specialist on Somalia served as the Researcher on the Horn of Africa with Amnesty International’s International Secretariat, and immediately prior to that as Amnesty International USA’s Advocacy Director for Africa.
The “Contract of Sale” attached to the UN Monitoring Groups Report shows that the contract was signed on 21 July 2006 and to make the “evidence” fit the crime, the Contract says that the plane was to be delivered within four days of the signing. That would mean, Eritrea would take possession of the flights around 25 July 2006, just in time to make the 26 July 2006 run from Massawa to Mogadishu. But Amnesty says that plane was delivered to Massawa on the 25 August 2006. If that is the case, how did Eritrea make the flights from Massawa to Mogadishu in July 2006 as reported by the UN Monitoring Group?
In 2009, the Monitoring Group’s lies about Eritrea fell out the skies…literally. It took two years, but the fateful turn of events, the crash of an Ilyushin 76 plane finally exposed the truth and the US-Ethiopia-AU and IGAD collusion on Eritrea. Africa News reported the following on 23 March 2009:
“…It is believed that the Ilyushin-76 plane that crashed at Entebbe Airport a fortnight ago, might have been hit by an Al-Qaida missile. Villagers who saw the plane going down confirmed to reporters on the accident’s scene that the plane was indeed in fire when going down. Mr Yevgeniy Zakharov the owner of the ill fated plane told a russian news agency after spending five days in Uganda that evidences on the scene of the crash showed clearly that the cargo plane managed by Ugandan businessman Sam Engola, living Entebbe en route to Somalia was either hit by a rocket from a grenade launcher or a Stinger missile during take-off, when its tanks were virtually full with tonnes of fuel aboard. He supported his arguments by alleging that there was nothing left and all the debris recovered by the divers covered less than six meters by six area ashore…”
The one small item missing from this news report is that the plane is the same plane that the UN Monitoring Group and Meles Zenawi´s mercenaries claim was sold to Eritrea. When did the African Union and DynCorp take possession of the plane? According to the aviation report about the crash of the Ilyushin 76 in Uganda, Aerolift took possession of the plane in 2006 from GST Aero and it remained in its possession until the fateful crash.
The plane was leased to DynCorp at the time of the crash. Is it simply a coincidence that the very same plane ends up with DynCorp and the African Union? If the plane was sold to Eritrea in 2006, how did Aerolift get it back? According to the Monitoring Group, Yevgeniy Zakharov cancelled the transaction when he found out that Eritrea was using the plane to transport arms to Somalia. The ugly net of deception the Monitoring Group wove as it sought to deceive the Security Council and divert attention away from the real culprits.
The Wikileak cables[v] also verify the Ilyusian-76 as belonging to the United States:
“…A U.S.-contracted Ilyushin-76 (IL-76) transport plane bound for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) crashed into Lake Victoria just after take-off at approximately 0515 March 9. The plane was carrying cargo and passengers en route Mogadishu…”
So how did a plane that was supposedly bought by Eritrea end up with DynCorp, a US military contractor? The SEMG has decided to ignore these and other questions surrounding its absurd and far-fetched accusations against the State of Eritrea and its people. Regardless of the contents of this and other aircraft mentioned in the Monitoring Group’s reports, they have nothing to do with Eritrea and it is deceptive to imply that they do when the evidence says otherwise.
3. Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS)
According to the Monitoring Group (MG), the various flights mentioned above were used to deliver arms to Somalia from Eritrea. One of those weapons that got the most attention was the MANPADS story. It is mentioned in almost every report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia since 2005, but for some strange reason, the SEMG does not utter a single word about the MANPADS in its latest report on Eritrea. Why is that? Is it because it had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Eritrea was the one that supplied the weapons to Al Shabbab? No. The reason why it was dropped from the current narrative is because the MANPAD narrative had served its purpose. Employing the politics of fear and anxiety, it had managed to accomplish its agenda. The manufactured facts were used to sully Eritrea’s reputation and convince UN Security Council members to sanction Eritrea. So how did it all begin and who was involved in this sordid affair?
It all begins with the 21 November 2006[vi] (S/2006/913) Monitoring Group’s Report, in which it, in addition to claiming the presence of “2,000 fully equipped combat troops from Eritrea”, reported the following:
“…At the end of August 2006, at about 0645 hours, a large military transport aircraft arrived at Mogadishu International Airport with a shipment of arms from Eritrea. The shipment consisted of one or more of the following: M-46 130 mm towed field gun, D-30 122 towed howitzer, M-30 122 mm towed howitzer, D-30 152 mm, Zu 57-2-57 mm, Zu-23-2, Shilka-4-23 mm, Zu-23-4, different calibres of mortars, SA-6 “Gainful” low-to-medium altitude surface-to-air missile, PZRK Strela 2M surface-to-air missile (also known as SA-7 “Grail”) and RPG-7…”
Note the type of MANPAD that is mentioned here. It is SA-6 and SA-7. This report did not provide any evidence to support its allegations and the SA-6 and SA-7 do not appear in any subsequent MG reports on Eritrea, but they do appear in a Wikileak cable. These are the talking points that were to be used with the Government of Yemen. The 10 July 2009 cable[vii] had specific instructions:
“…Ambassador Seche is authorized to orally convey information in paragraphs 7-9 in delivering this demarche (but asked not to leave points in written form). Post may not/not provide these points in the form of a non-paper…In the past, we have had extensive discussions with your government about the ability of terrorists and other sub-state actors to acquire small arms/light weapons (SALW) sourced from Yemeni black markets and use them to conduct attacks elsewhere. For example, the Strela-2 (SA-7 GRAIL) manportable air defense systems (MANPADS) used in the 2002 attacks on a civilian airliner in Kenya were sourced in Yemen, as were small arms used to attack the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2004…”
Unable to find any links between Eritrea and the SA-6 and SA-7, in its 2007 report, the Monitoring Group came up with another allegation, this time it was not SA-7 GRAIL that they were accusing Eritrea of sending to Al Shabbab. This time, the type of MANPAD conveniently changed from SA-7 to SA-18. Knowing full well that neither the Sanctions Committee, nor members of the Security Council could easily find this discrepancy, the Monitoring Group audaciously refers to the 2006 report for evidence, as if it had substantiated its previous allegations. So how could it have verified Eritrea’s guilt when there is not mention of SA-18 in the entire 2006 report? It didn’t.
But the MG got its opportunity to frame Eritrea when an aircraft was shot down at Mogadishu airport. In its 17 July 2007 Report[viii] (S/2007/436) the SEMG wrote:
“…On 23 March 2007, at approximately 1700 hours, an IL-76 cargo plane belonging to Transaviaexport, a Belarusian company, was shot down after a missile fired by Shabaab fighters hit the left wing…The missile used to shoot down the plane was an SA-18 (MANPAD, Man Portable Air Defence System). The SA-18 was reported to be part of a consignment of six SA-18s that had been delivered by Eritrea to ICU/Shabaab…”
Who reported that the SA-18 was sent to Al Shabbab by Eritrea? The MG never discloses the source of the information. But the pictures of the shooter and the video of the plane and Al Shabbab’s statements about it were widely reported and disseminated. The video was also shown to the Security Council members and the Sanctions Committee as evidence of wrongdoing by Eritrea.
So what does that downing of the Belurisian place have to do with Eritrea? Nothing. But through inference, not evidence, a bit of fudging on the facts, a bit of planted intelligence and voila…a manufactured lie is presented as truth by the Monitoring Group and its partners (US and Ethiopian intelligence), who then use it to hoodwink the Security Council into taking punitive actions against Eritrea. Let us see how it was done.
In its 18 July 2010 report the SEMG inadvertently divulges the source for its information and the MANPADS said to have been sent to Al Shabbab by Eritrea. The report said:
“…The Monitoring Group inspected three SA-18s that the Ethiopians had confiscated from
Al-Shabaab in 2007 and 2008 (see annex 5.4.b). One of the SA-18s bearing the marks ‘9П39-1,
03-95, 03267’ is in sequence with an SA-18 with marks ‘9П39-1, 03-95, 03268’ recovered by
AMISOM in 2008. Russia has confirmed that the two missiles were exported to Eritrea as a pair in the same box as part of an order in 1995…”
In its 24 April 2008 Report[ix] (S/2008/274) the MG goes through great lengths to show that it had verified its ownership with the Russians. The MG wrote:
“…the Russian Federation informed the Monitoring Group, through its letter dated 27 March 2008, that “Judging by the indicated marking, missile 9M39 from party 03-95 with number 03268 was produced in Russia in 1995”. It furthermore stated that “This missile was shipped to Eritrea in the same year through the state company ‘Rosvooruzhenie’”…”
The former TNG President Abdulahi Yusuf presents his own version of the truth to US Ambassador Donald Yamamoto. A 20 April 2007 cable from Ethiopia says the following:
“…President Yusuf said the TFG had evidence (correspondence between CIC Shura Chairman Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and Iran) that Iranian-origin anti-aircraft weaponry, delivered via Eritrea, had been used by anti-TFG forces in Somalia to shoot down a helicopter as well as a Belarussian AMISOM cargo plane. Used by Iran and other Arab countries (particularly Egypt) as a proxy, Eritrea was providing training for terrorists and “actively meddling” in Somalia, Yusuf said…”
Matt Schroeder in his blog wrote about the SA-18 allegedly “found in Somalia” wrote:
“…Using the serial number from an SA-18 “found in Somalia,”* investigators were reportedly able to trace the SA-18 to a consignment of Russian Iglas manufactured in 1995 and “…shipped to Eritrea in the same year through the state company ´Rosvooruzhenie,” according to a letter from Russia´s UN mission to the Monitoring Group. The letter also indicates that the original contract for the missiles required the recipient to seek permission before re-transferring the missiles and that “[t]he Eritrean side did not request this permission from us.The letter concludes with a caveat: since the serial numbers are painted on the missile, “a [unauthorized] remarking is possible” and a “visual examination” by Russian specialists is required to definitively establish a linkage between the missile and the batch sold to Eritrea in 1995. (*The UN report does not indicate how and from whom the missiles were acquired)
The serial numbers were PAINTED on the SA-18 found by the Ethiopians, and the UN investigators traced the painted missile number to the “missile to a consignment of Russian missiles manufactured in 1995 and shipped to Eritrea”, but with the missing detail in fine print, the MG made it look like it had. The Russians were requesting to see the missiles and do their own investigation, instead, the MG decided to use the inconclusive report to use against the State of Eritrea.
It has since come to light that it was the US that provided the Monitoring Group with the information and the pictures to use in its UN Reports. Let us take a look at a Wikileak cable from 6 August 2009. According to the cable the 6th Experts Meeting under their bilateral Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) Arrangement took place on July 9-10 in Washington. Amongst other things on the agenda, “illicit MANPADS proliferation from Eritrea” was one of the items discussed.
“…The U.S. delegation then raised the issue of Russian-made Eritrean MANPADS discovered in Somalia which was discussed at the Experts Meeting in 2008 (ref F). The Russian delegation confirmed that the MFA raised this issue with the Government of Eritrea (GOE), and had not revealed the U.S. as the source of the allegation. According to the Russian MFA representative the GOE denied that the transfer took place, accusing “enemies,” namely Ethiopia, of fabricating the accusation. The GOE demanded further information on the transfer including the source and other supporting information (i.e. photographs). The U.S. delegation offered to discuss the question of photographs with relevant U.S. agencies and report back to the GOR through diplomatic channels…The U.S. delegation then reiterated a request from the 2008 Meeting for a detailed list of all Soviet and Russian MANPADS transfers to Eritrea and the HOA in general…”
So according to the cable, it was the US intelligence that provided the pictures that were used by the SEMG in its report against the State of Eritrea. In addition to the pictures and the video clip that was posted by Al Shabbab, these manufactured facts were used to link Eritrea to the downing of the Belarusian aircraft and Al Shabbab. There is more…
Markings on MANPADS
So much for the pictures, what about the MANPADS, did the identifying markers that were painted on the missiles match what the Russians had on their list for Eritrea? In its 14 April 2008 Report, the Monitoring Group wrote:
“…However, in its reply, the Government of the Russian Federation also indicated that “At the same time, since the marking of the missile is executed in paint, a re-marking is possible. For a definitive identification of the missile, it is necessary to perform its visual examination by our specialists as the missile bears the marking executed differently, which will allow for the identification of the real number of the missile”…”
That means they did not get a “definitive identification”.
But the ugly saga continues.
When the Russians approached Eritrea and inquired about the said weapons, the identification numbers matched but…the missiles were still in Eritrea. How could the missiles be in Eritrea and also in Somalia at the same time? They were never sent to Somalia the Russians had provided the United States a list of missiles sent to the Horn of Africa as part of the effort to curb the “proliferation” of such weapons, and they in turn provided the MG the “evidence” to link the missiles to Eritrea.
But the MG and the western media, “intellectuals for hire” serving as Africa specialists and analysts disseminated the lies about Eritrea. Peter Pham, one of those “analysts” invited to participate in Matt Bryden’s latest “preview”, decided to spin the story, without even trying to verify its veracity. “Investigative journalist” Chris Tomlinson, the AP’s East African Bureau Chief stationed in Nairobi and who was provided access to US Embassy officials and intelligence officers, wrote several articles perpetuating the lies about Eritrea. Matt Schroeder purported to be an arms investigator, also used all available forums to disseminate the false story about Eritrea, AL Shabbab and the MANPADS.
The Security Council had sanctioned Eritrea believing the Monitoring Group had conclusive evidence of Eritrea’s culpability. It didn’t then, and still doesn’t today. None of the journalists, analysts and arms investigators that were so quick to point fingers at Eritrea ever made a retraction or an apology. It was part of the orchestrated game to sully Eritrea’s image and they had played their parts. Eritrea did not send MANPADS or any other arsenal to Somalia and the SEMG knows that. It is high time is corrected its mistakes and stop hounding Eritrea and its people. They have no bone in the Somali fight!
It’s not surprising that the US and the SEMG would want to forget about this issue and move on to manufacturing other facts against Eritrea, but it is incumbent on the UN Secretary General and the Security Council to demand an investigation on this issue and clear Eritrea’s name immediately. It should also annul the illegal and unjust sanctions imposed on the State of Eritrea based on these false allegations.
4. Attack on the African Union
In 2007, Ethiopia made allegations against Eritrea. Steve Bloomfield writing for the Independent wrote the following:
“…Ethiopia has accused Eritrea of planning a bomb attack during this week’s summit of African leaders in Addis Ababa. A device was shown on Ethiopian state-owned television which officials claimed had been planted by Eritrean agents intending to blow up the African Union (AU) summit…A government spokesman claimed the bombs were planted by senior Eritrean officials but refused to give further details. Ethiopian officials did not say when the alleged attack was due to happen or where it was supposed to take place. There was no independent verification of the alleged plot and Eritrean officials were not available for comment…”
But when it decided to make similar allegations in 2010, it had the help of the US Mission at the UN, officials of the Bureau of African Affairs, US intelligence and US Ambassadors in the region to help it manufacture evidence against Eritrea. When the Ethiopians and the SEMG decided to accuse Eritrea of another attempt on the African Union, it was Matt Bryden, coordinator for the SEMG, who traveled to Ethiopia to substantiate the fabricated story. The SEMG wrote in its reports that the senior Eritrean official in charge of the mission to blow up the African Union was a certain Gemechew Alana, who turned out to be an Ethiopian opposition member belonging to the Oromo nationality.
When the Security Council members asked for evidence, Susan E. Rice, the UN Ambassador said that the evidence was in Ethiopia and anyone that wanted to see the evidence should go to Ethiopia and do so. To this day, the SEMG has not provided any answers for the discrepancies in its reports. By providing Ethiopia advanced copies of its reports and by leaking reports to the US press, the SEMG has worked in tandem with Ethiopian and US officials to vilify Eritrea, its leadership and its people, especially the Eritrean Diaspora, its latest target.
The Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group provided Ethiopia its 2010 Report, before it was released, and Ethiopia used the damning Report to convince IGAD countries to vote against the State of Eritrea.
· The SEMG has not admitted to this day that Gemechew Alana is not Eritrean as it claimed in its report
· The evidence against Eritrea was produced in Ethiopia and no other members of the Security Council have seen it.
· Susan Rice and her partners are the only members of the Security Council that claim to be satisfied with the evidence provided by Ethiopia, which includes a 5 part video that was shown to Security Council members after being posted on YouTube for weeks on end, in order to sully Eritrea’s image and create an atmosphere of fear.
These are but a few examples of the SEMG’s bias, persecution and demonization of Eritrea.
The accusation against the Government of Eritrea are the same unsubstantiated allegation that came from NED funded groups and individuals, Ethiopian and US intelligence, US diplomats in the region and articles posted by the Eritrean Quislings League, and from individuals and groups financed and harbored by the regime in Ethiopia and its handlers. The SEMG’s reports are in violation of the UN’s own rules and serve to advance the interests of the US and its allies, as opposed to peace, stability and security in the region. The people of the Horn are paying for the SEMG’s deliberate and disastrous fabrications. Does the Security Council have the political will to do the right thing yet? Or is it going to continue to serve as a cover for US and Ethiopia’s destabilization of the region and the inevitable deaths and destructions that will surely ensue?
The Security Council must annul the illegal, unfair and unjust sanctions imposed on the people of Eritrea based on these and other unsubstantiated and outrageous allegations or risk losing, not just its credibility and integrity , but also its global relevance.
By: Sophia Tesfamariam