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Eritrean Official Warns More Peacekeeping Troops in Somalia Will Lead to Chaos

  • Peter Clottey

A senior official with Eritrea’s government told VOA a decision by the Heads of State and Government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc to increase peacekeeping troop levels in Somalia, will plunge that country into chaos.

Information Minister Ali Abdu said the main cause of the growing insecurity problem, as well as the refusal of insurgents to recognize Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, can be attributed to foreign interference or intervention.

“The external intervention, be it in the name of peacekeeping, be it in the name of humanitarian mission, be it in the name of combating terrorism, are the main cause of this destructive conflict in Somalia. Somalia remains today fragmented and the battleground of all kinds of conflict because of external intervention mainly from Ethiopia for its intermittent military invasion in Somalia,” he said.

Minister Abdu’s pronouncements follow a decision by IGAD to work closely with the African Union as well as the U.N. Security Council to raise peacekeeping troop levels in Somalia by 2,000.

Backed by the United Nations, the African Union deploys a peacekeeping mission to Somalia (AMISOM) with only Burundi and Uganda contributing troops to help Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

After a two-day meeting that ended Monday in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, IGAD released a statement saying, “The summit regrets that the approved level of AMISOM troops has not been achieved thus far, and decides to deploy 2,000 peacekeepers under AMISOM to Somalia immediately.”

Critics say Eritrea is opposing the troop level increase because of its alleged logistical and financial support to Hizbul-Islam, a hard-line Somali insurgent group.

But, Information Minister Abdu said Asmara has nothing to do with the growing insecurity problems in Somalia.

“Eritrea has been saying consistently that the only way out to Somalia [problems] is to let the Somalis do their own internal political process. And, that is what exactly [we] were doing in 2006 when the Ethiopians invaded Somalia and, since that time, we’ve been saying this is not the solution. You can’t impose and make military intervention,” Abdu said.

He maintained that Somalis have the “capability and the know-how” to find lasting solutions to their own problems devoid of direct or indirect foreign interference, intervention, or influence.

Last year, the United Nations imposed sanctions on Eritrea for supporting Somali insurgents, including al-Shabab, who have vowed to overthrow the Somali administration to fully implement the strictest form of the Sharia Law, a charge Asmara denies.