News / Africa

All Eyes on Eritrea as Arms Shipment Reaches Al-Shabab

Al-Shabab fighters display weapons as they conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu, Somalia. (File Photo)
Al-Shabab fighters display weapons as they conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu, Somalia. (File Photo)
Gabe Joselow

The Kenyan military said two planes landed at an al-Shabab controlled airfield in Somalia this week, loaded with arms destined for the al-Qaida-linked group. The news immediately heightened longstanding suspicions that Eritrea is arming Somali militants.  

The Kenyan military did not say from where the airplanes came, but that they landed in the south-central town of Baidoa, an al-Shabab stronghold, and that they were carrying weapons for the militant group.

Local media reports were quick to pin the shipment on Eritrea, which has long been accused of supplying al-Shabab.

The Eritrean Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday denying the accusations, calling them “pure fabrications and outright lies.”  It also accused its regional rival Ethiopia of being the chief author of a disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting Eritrea.

But, Rashid Abdi, an analyst with the International Crisis Group says Eritrea has a history of supplying militants in Somalia.

“I think no one doubts that Eritrea has throughout the last four years been supportive of al-Shabab, sending in weapons, sending in trainers and also training hundreds of al-Shabab fighters in some of its military camps," said Abdi. "But, as I said, it is very difficult to confirm this news story that this support has been resumed by Eritrea.”

A United Nations report released in July alleged Eritrea had flown weapons and fighters into Somalia on numerous occasions.

The report also said Eritrea has been funneling about $80,000 per month to people linked to al-Shabab through the Eritrean embassy in Nairobi. Eritrea has consistently denied the accusations.

Why fund al-Shabab?  Rashid Abdi says it is all about Ethiopia:

“Eritrea definitely has been supportive of al-Shabab for a long time and this support is not ideological, it is essentially meant to counter Ethiopia's influence in Somalia and during the Ethiopian occupation, that was the height of Eritrea's involvement in Somalia,” he said.

Eritrea and Ethiopia fought an intense border war between 1998 and 2000 and tensions have remained high ever since. Analysts say this prompted Eritrea's alleged support of al-Shabab during Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia in 2006.

Now Kenyan troops are pursuing al-Shabab in Somalia, in a cross-border operation that began nearly three weeks ago.

Kenya blames the militants for a spate of recent kidnappings and attacks and has vowed to continue fighting until the threat is eliminated and Kenyans can feel secure.

This week, a spokesperson for the Kenyan army warned of impending military strikes on al-Shabab targets across Somalia, including Baidoa, Afmadow and the port town of Kismayo.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid