News / Africa

Analysts Hope Eritrea Sanctions Will End Somali Conflict

Eritrea Ambassador to AU, Girma Asmerom, listens as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the African Union at the African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 2011. (file photo)
Eritrea Ambassador to AU, Girma Asmerom, listens as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the African Union at the African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 2011. (file photo)

In East Africa, hopes are high that the long-running Somali conflict will soon abate with the United Nations Security Council’s approval Monday of tougher sanctions against Eritrea. The nation is accused of supporting Somali militants, including al-Shabab. For its part, Eritrea denies the allegations and calls the sanctions “illegal and unjust.”

Analysts and some of those involved in the long-running Somali conflict say they are hoping for a quick end to the fighting following Monday’s decision by the United Nations Security Council.

Among those expressing optimism is Colonel Felix Kulayigye, a spokesman for the Ugandan army, whose troops are in Somalia under the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM.

“Normally, sanctions are supposed to reduce the capability of the affected country in its financial muscle. And, therefore, if Eritrea faces sanctions, if they are comprehensive enough, that means it will have not a spare penny to spend on negative elements,” said Kulayigye.

Neighbors' accusations


Somalia’s neighbors, such as Uganda, Ethiopia, and Kenya, have long accused Eritrea of funding the Islamist militant group al-Shabab and other armed opposition groups, which are battling AMISOM and the Somali transitional government.

In July, a United Nations Monitoring Group released a report detailing Eritrea's political, financial, training, and logistical support.

Analyst Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad, head of the research group Southlink, said he thinks Western-backed forces battling Somali rebel groups will soon get their big break.

“If the sanctions become effective on Eritrea, what I’m sure is that they can easily defeat those militia within Somalia,” said Abdisamad.

He said he thinks the sanctions will have an impact on what he calls the “Eritrean route." These are flights between the Somali coastal city of Kismayo and the Eritrean capital of Asmara, which he said are used to transport support to the rebels.

Sanctions effectiveness questioned

Sanctions levied against Eritrea, though, will have negative effects on Eritrea’s people and development, said Girma Asmerom, Eritrean Ambassador to the African Union.

“Where everybody is talking Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development, alleviating poverty, where do they expect Eritrea - which is not dependent on foreign aid - where do they expect Eritrea to achieve all this if they are sanctioning its natural resources. Is God or Allah going to throw it from the sky? So this kind of sanctions are, again, a crime against any developing country,” he said.

Girma also said he would not wish these sanctions on any of his neighboring countries, and said he thinks the whole region will suffer as a result of the sanctions.

In a press release, Eritrea rejects what it calls the United Nations’ “illegal and unjust” sanctions.

Analysts generally agree that Eritrean involvement in Somalia has very little to do with Somali politics, but is more about the relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea.  

'Proxy war' with Ethiopia alleged

Emmanuel Kisiangani, senior researcher with the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies, calls Eritrea’s involvement in Somalia a “proxy war” with Ethiopia.

The two countries have had a longstanding border conflict over an area called Badme, with brutal warfare between the two at one point.

Kisiangani also noted that in 2006, Ethiopian forces entered Somalia to back the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government fighting a group called the Islamic Courts Union. At the same time, Eritrea went in and began supporting elements that were to eventually become al-Shabab.

“Eritrea has had differences with Ethiopia over the Badme border region, which the Court of Arbitration at The Hague awarded to Eritrea, a decision which Ethiopia has not respected," said Kisiangani. "It all boils down to the two actors supporting different parties. It is only that Ethiopia has played its cards well and what it does is acceptable to the international community.”

Girma said his country supports regional integration because all countries need to rely on each other for their development.

“We have never thought to destabilize any of the countries because they are our potential markets, they are our assets, we want a strong, viable Ethiopia,” he said.

He called the view that Eritrea is supporting al-Shabab “lies and deceptions,” and said Eritrea has never, and will never, support al-Shabab.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs