ERITREA: High time to annul and repeal the illegal, unfair and unjust sanctions

Sophia Tesfamariam 4 December, 2010

On 15 January 2009, in her Statement of before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Permanent Representative-Designate Susan E. Rice said:

“…There is no country more capable than the United States to exercise leadership in this global institution, and to help frame its programs and shape its actions. My most immediate objective, should I be confirmed, will be to refresh and renew America's leadership in the United Nations and bring to bear the full weight of our influence, voice, resources, values, and diplomacy at the United Nations…”

No sooner did she get into office and she brought to bear the “full weight” of her “influence”, “voice”, “resources”, “values” and “diplomacy” to force through the Security Council (SC) a sanction resolution against the State of Eritrea, just 11 months later, ostensibly, to settle a long held grudge and personal vendetta against the Eritrean leadership.

23 December 2010 will mark one year since the illegal, unfair and unjust UN Security Council Resolution 1907 (2009) imposes sanctions, including an arms embargo, on Eritrea was adopted. The Security Council (SC) which adopted the Resolution at the behest of Ethiopia and the United States presented no evidence to prove its allegations against Eritrea. As the record shows, the adoption of Resolution 1907 is not based on facts, the UN Charter, the African Charter or international law. It is an underhanded collusion against Eritrea by the United States (Susan E. Rice) and Ethiopia (Meles Zenawi) who used and abused their influences at the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) to push forward the sanctions against Eritrea, without ever providing any evidences to support the various allegations brought forth by US officials against the State of Eritrea.

The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia has time and again listed the many sources of arms into Somalia, and the Special Envoy for Somalia has repeatedly pointed fingers at Ethiopia and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) as being the key suppliers of arms to warring factions in Somalia, and yet, Eritrea was accused of violating the Somalia arms embargo. The accusers, the United States and Ethiopia, have yet to produce any concrete evidence against Eritrea and the “manufactured” evidence produced by Jendayi E. Frazier, the incompetent former US Secretary of State for African Affairs and Meles Zenawi in 2006 turned out to be just that-desperate and manufactured. That sad episode greatly undermined the credibility, integrity and neutrality of the Somalia Monitoring Group (SMG).

The problem with the credibility and integrity of the Somali Monitoring Group’s reports is not limited to the Bush Administration, but as we can see from the 4 November 2010 report from Risk Professionals, officials in the Obama Administration are also implicated. Implying that US officials at the UN authored parts of the 10 December 2008 report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia (S/2008/769), Risk Professionals said:

"…The report referred to is UN Security Council document number S/2008/769. Reviewing that document suggests that the relevant part was compiled by US representatives to the UN and is, by implication, credited to the Monitoring Group on Somalia. However, it appears from reading the UN report that, in producing its Somalia document, the USA was highly instrumental in writing the passage which it now quotes, providing what amounts to self-corroboration…"

Judging from the saber rattling, that preceded the adoption of the Resolution on Christmas Eve, by Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, former US Ambassador to the UN, Alejandro Wolff and others in the US Administration, and the fact that no other African nations, with the exception of those who hands are soaked with the blood of Somalis, had anything to do with the “African Initiative” that Susan Rice mentions in her 23 December 2010 statement, it is very plausible that the US and Ethiopia were behind the SMG’s incoherent and contradictory reports and the push for illegal, unfair and unjust sanctions imposed against the State of Eritrea and its people.

The public-not Wiki leaked- hostile comments and statements made by various US officials about Eritrea in the months leading up to the 23 December 2009 sanctions show a pattern of incessant and intense hostility towards Eritrea. As the record shows, none ever produced any evidence to support the allegations that were being made by various US officials against Eritrea. Let us take a look at some of the public-not Wiki leaked-statements made by US officials in the months, weeks and days leading to the adoption of UN/US Resolution 1907 (2009):

"…U.S. envoy Alejandro Wolff said there was "a mood in the council of great, great dissatisfaction at the manner in which Eritrea has handled this," and accused the Eritreans of "shooting themselves in the foot…In the long term Eritrea will pay a big price for this misjudgment," he told reporters, without elaborating…"- (Reuters, 22 April 2008-"UN council
angered at Eritrea over border force")

“…The United States condemns Eritrea’s military aggression against Djibouti in the vicinity of the border between the two countries at Ras Doumeira. These hostilities represent an additional threat to peace and security in the already volatile Horn of Africa…The United States calls on Eritrea and Djibouti to move forward at once to resolve border issues peacefully, in accordance with international law, and for Eritrea to accept offers of third party mediation in this regard…”- (11 June 2008, Press Statement-“US State Depart condemns Eritrean aggression”- Gonzalo Gallegos, Director of Press Relations)

“…U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson pointed a finger at Eritrea for stoking hostilities in Somalia, whose government is battling militants. "The role that Eritrea has played most recently has not been particularly helpful in helping to bring about a return to political stability and normalcy there (Somalia)," Carson said in an interview with Reuters. He accused Eritrea of "aiding and abetting" the movement of arms into Somalia and of supporting the militant Islamist group al Shabaab and its leaders….”- (8 June 2008 Reuters interview with Johnnie Carson, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs)

US deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff earlier said that Eritrea has spurned efforts by the African Union, the Arab League, Qatar, and France to mediate the conflict. "There is a pattern of irresponsible, destabilizing behavior by Eritrea in the past, their seizure of Djiboutian territory recently has in our view led to the buildup of arms," Wolff said. The latest incident "that resulted in many many dead and wounded on the Djiboutian side was launched from the Eritrean side," Wolff said. (13 June 2008 report by France 24 http://www.france24.com/en/20080613-un-security-council-slams-eritrea-ra...)

“…The Security Council expresses its strong concern about the serious incidents that occurred on 10 June along the frontier between Djibouti and Eritrea, which led to several deaths and dozens of wounded…“The Security Council condemns Eritrea’s military action against Djibouti in Ras Doumeira and Doumeira Island…“The Security Council calls upon the parties to commit to a ceasefire and urges both parties, in particular Eritrea, to show maximum restraint and withdraw forces to the status quo ante…“The Security Council urges both parties, in particular Eritrea, to cooperate and engage in diplomatic efforts to resolve the matter peacefully and in a manner consistent with international law…“The Security Council welcomes the efforts of the African Union, the Arab League and those States that have offered their assistance and calls upon the parties, in particular Eritrea, to engage fully in efforts to resolve the crisis…” (12 June 2008-Statement issued by the Security Council when the US held the Presidency)

“…one of its neighbors [speaking about Djibouti] – Eritrea – has instead sought to foment instability, creating a potential new border conflict where before none existed. The establishment of Eritrean military positions just over the Ras Doumeira ridge on the Djiboutian side of the border represents a worrying threat to Djibouti. The Eritrean government has rebuffed efforts by the African Union, League of Arab States, and bilateral partners of the two countries to negotiate resolution. Now the United Nations Secretariat, at the behest of the Security Council, is sending a team to gather further details of the border stand-off and report back to the Council. In view of Eritrea’s destabilizing role elsewhere in the region, this move against Djibouti can only be seen as yet another deliberate threat by this dangerous spoiler on the Horn…”- (Statement of James Swan, Ambassador-designate to the Republic of Djibouti Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee-23 July 2008)

“…Unfortunately, the terrorist organization al-Shabaab has failed to join this process, vowing instead not only to target the new government but also to continue its campaign against AMISOM and humanitarian NGOs. At the same time, Eritrea continues to provide financial, logistical, and political backing to al-Shabaab and other extremists and has issued a formal statement rejecting the new Somali government. We condemn these actions by al-Shabaab and Eritrea: they serve only to prolong the conflict in Somalia, and cannot be tolerated…”- (Statement by Ambassador Rosemary A. DiCarlo, U.S. Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs, on Somalia, at the Security Council, 20 March 2009)

“…Over the past week, extremists in Mogadishu have repeatedly attacked the people of Somalia and the Transitional Federal Government in pursuit of a radical agenda that can only promote further acts of terrorism and lead to greater regional instability. Eritrea has been instrumental in facilitating support of the extremists to commit these attacks. This support must cease immediately. Eritrea’s support for anti-government forces in Somalia is a serious obstacle to the possibility of a more normal relationship with the United States…” (14 May 2009, Ian Kelly, Department Spokesman, Office of the Spokesman Bureau of Public Affairs-US State Department)

“…The United States is particularly concerned about the financial, military, logistical, and political support that the Government of Eritrea is offering to al-Shabaab and other extremists in Somalia. The United States and others have tried repeatedly to engage the Eritrean leadership, including with the aim to convince them to stop. But to date, the Eritreans have rebuffed attempts to open a substantive dialogue. But even now, it is not too late. The United States calls on the Government of Eritrea to seize this window of opportunity to change course…”- (Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, during a Security Council Debate on Somalia, in the Security Council Chamber-9 July 2009)

The exchange between Susan E. Rice and Congressman Ed Royce, who shares her contempt for Eritrea and its leadership, during the hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee 29 July 2009, is quite telling of her intentions. On issues relating to Africa and the Horn region, she never mentions Eritrea in her opening statement. If Eritrea was an issue that had consumed almost her entire tenure at the UN, how then was it possible that Eritrea was not even mentioned in her opening statement? But when given the chance to do so in response to a question by Ed Royce [seemed to be like a defense lawyer leading his witness], Rice said:

“… I certainly have been grateful for our cooperation over the years and I too enjoyed our time together in New York. I'm glad you raise the issue of Eritrea because it is a timely and topical issue in our deliberations in New York. We have considered it twice in the last month in the Security Council both in the context of Somalia and Djibouti. And I will share here and this will be essentially what I said in New York which is that the United States is deeply concerned and very frustrated with Eritrea's behavior in Somalia where it is arming, supporting, funding Al Shabaab and other extremist elements and undermining the security there of the transition Federal government, which as I mentioned earlier is important to our national security. So they are taking steps that are destabilizing Somalia, the region and that have a direct impact on our security and that of others. It is unacceptable and we will not tolerate it. And nor will other members of the Security Council…”

The fact remains that there were no other members of the Security Council that were interested in pursuing this witch-hunt. Frustrated or not with Eritrea, Rice provided no evidences to support her erroneous accusations against Eritrea and Eritrea had not done anything that was of concern to US national security, but Rice presented it that way-hood
winking US legislatures once more.

Once again, in an attempt to hoodwink US legislatures Rice added this:

“…We take note of the IGAD and African Union call for sanctions. This is indeed, as you point out, highly unusual and we will continue to discuss with colleagues in the Security Council appropriate measures including potentially sanctions against Eritrea ports actions in Somalia… And so as I said in New York, there is a very short window for Eritrea to signal through its actions that it wishes a better relationship with the United States and indeed the wider international community. If we do not see signs of that signal in short order I can assure you that we will be taking appropriate steps with partners in Africa and the Security Council to take cognizance of Eritrea's actions both in Somalia and in the wider region…”

In addition to Eritrea, there are six states that constitute IGAD’s membership. They are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. Furthermore, as the paper trails and the records show, despite what the US Ambassador to the United Nations claimed about Resolution 1907 (2009) being an "African Initiative", it was in fact, a decision made by a handful of Africans, in violation of the African Union’s own rules which clearly state that:

"….Any Member of the Peace and Security Council which is party to a conflict or a situation under consideration by the Peace and Security Council shall not participate either in the discussion or in the decision making process relating to that conflict or situation. Such Member shall be invited to present its case to the Peace and Security Council as appropriate, and shall, thereafter, withdraw from the proceedings…"
Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda who are parties to the conflict in Somalia participated in the meetings and pushed the resolutions against Eritrea, the one nation that has no bone in this fight.

These illegal meetings and decisions were orchestrated by Ethiopia who served as the Chair of the Peace and Security Council when the decision
against Eritrea was made. Not surprisingly, it was also Ethiopia that Chaired the IGAD meeting when that entity decided to call for sanctions against Eritrea. Both regional organizations acted at the behest of the United States. I doubt that any UN member states or members of the African Union and IGAD would, under any circumstances, accept and agree to be subjected to such duplicitous processes. But let’s go on and take a look at what else was being said about Eritrea by US officials.

“…The Security Council takes note of the decision of the African Union summit in Sirte, calling on the Council to impose sanctions against those, including Eritrea, providing support to the armed groups engaged in undermining peace and reconciliation in Somalia and regional stability. The Security Council is deeply concerned in this regard and will consider expeditiously what action to take against any party undermining the Djibouti Peace Process, based on all available evidence including that submitted to the
Monitoring Group and the Committee established pursuant to SCR 751 (1992)…” (Statement by the President of the Security Council (Uganda) on behalf of the Council -9 July 2009)

“…At a joint news conference with him [Sheikh Sharif Ahmed]after the meeting, she said: "It is long past time for Eritrea to cease and desist its support of al-Shabab and to start being a productive rather than a destabilising neighbour…"We are making it very clear that their actions are unacceptable. We intend to take action if they do not cease" …”- (6 August 2009 BBC report on Hilary Clinton’s meeting with Somali leader)

“…The issue of outside actors is a serious one. The Somalia Sanctions Committee’s Monitoring Group has reported that Eritrea has provided political, financial, and military support to armed opposition groups in Somalia. Efforts by the international community to engage the Eritrean government on its regional relations have been rebuffed. It is time for the international community to consider ways to address Eritrea’s destabilizing impact on Somalia and the region…”- (Remarks by Ambassador Rosemary A. DiCarlo, U.S. Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs, during a Security Council Briefing on Somalia, in the Security Council Chamber 8 October 2009) Etc.etc.

Eritreans have long maintained that the sanctions against Eritrea were illegal, unfair and unjust and their gut suspicions about Rice were not entirely unfounded.

On 12 April 2010, the Security Council Committee on Somalia and Eritrea issued the list of individuals pursuant to paragraph 8 of UN Security Council Resolution 1844. Despite Ethiopia’s and Rice’s intense lobbying and misinformation campaign at the UN, the list was produced without the inclusion of any Eritrean officials. No sign of relief yet… what happened next cemented the long held reservations about Susan E. Rice held by Eritreans around the world.

No willing to face her failure at the Security Council, and intent on taking action against Eritrea, with or without evidence, Rice decided that the US would take unilateral action. To the dismay and utter disappointment of Eritreans around the world, Barrack Obama signed Executive Order 13536 on 12 April 2010, pursuant to Susan E. Rice’s personal vendetta, placing a prominent and most beloved Eritrean leader on the US list- hoping that no one would be paying any attention. But Eritreans were. Talk about hell having no fury like a woman…

What happened to “no drama mantra”?

On 28 September 2008 PBS’s Margaret Warner spoke to Susan E. Rice about Barrack Obama’s decision making style and how it would translate once he got in the White House. Rice told Warner that President Barrack Obama laid down a “No drama mantra” when he hired her and she explained what that meant. Rice said:

“…That means that people check their personal histories and their personal baggage at the door…The basic point here, Margaret, is he's fact-driven. He didn't look at the initial reports [on Georgia and Russia] and view them through the prism of preconceived notions…”

But that is exactly what he did when it came to Eritrea. Barack Obama bought Susan Rice’s version of the facts, lock stock and barrel, betraying the trust of the many Eritrean Americans who were willing to give him a chance, the benefit of the doubt, even though they were uncomfortable with Susan E. Rice, his choice for the UN Ambassadorship. Unfortunately, unlike her boss, Susan Rice continues to view Eritrea through the “prism of preconceived notions”. Horn residents do not need Wikileaks to show the “undiplomatic” antics perused by some US diplomats, and it is a shame and a pity that the peace, security and future of entire populations in the Horn of Africa are left to the personal caprices of vindictive and immature diplomats.

Today, emboldened by the diplomatic, financial, military and political support and shield it receives from the United States and its allies, the minority regime in Ethiopia led by Meles Zenawi is accusing and taunting Egypt, threatening to destabilize the entire region with his belligerence and war mongering. US officials, led by Susan E. Rice, with assistance from Meles Zenawi, pushed for sanctions against Eritrea without ever producing any evidence to support their allegations. Vendetta against the Eritrean leadership is not legal grounds for sanctions!

Eritrean Sanctions Must be Annulled and Repealed Today!