Jul 29, 2007

Eritrea ships weapons into Somalia, the proxy war continues

The United Nations says Eritrea is arming insurgents (the Islamic Courts militias and Al Shabab) to get back at Ethiopia. These weapons have been used to attack not only Ethiopian troops but government officials and civilians. Ethiopia and Eritrea have been fighting a proxy war in Somalia at least for past tens years. So this isn't new, but what's new is that Ethiopia is on the side of a legitimate - be it dysfunctional - Somali government supported by the international community.

Eritrea backed and armed Islamic Courts before the TFG took control of Mogadishu - be it with Ethiopian support - but Ethiopia's assertion of the presence of thousands Eritreans in Mogadishu at the time wasn't true. After the Islamic Courts were defeated they fell fully into the hands of Isaias Afewerki. He hosted the leaders of the Islamic Courts and other disgruntled warlords and politicians to create a 'new front'. That was all a sideshow. Eritrea's main objective is for the Islamic Courts, or anyone else for that matter, to carry out attacks against Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu and to replace the current Somali government with someone loyal to them.

When I met Sheikh Sharif last month in Doha, I asked him about their reliance on Eritrea and what Eritrea wants in return? I must say the question made him uncomfortable. He acknowledged that Eritrea had its objectives but he asserted that nothing was imposed on them. Islamic Courts leaders don't seem to see the irony when they accuse the government of being an Ethiopian puppet.

Photo: from left: Sheikh Sharif of the Islamic Courts, the ousted parliament speaker Sharif Aden and the Hussein Aideed who came into Mogadishu on an Ethiopian tank.


Anonymous said...

As an eritrean, I am very disappointed that the Eritrean government is shipping weapons anywhere. Maybe government is following costa rica's example- no army(wishful thinking). As poor as the country is I do not understand the madness involvement in Somalian conflict.

But on the other hand, I am not sure I understand your point about the islamic court being a puppets.. the reality is eritrea is not a historical enemy to somalia.. in matter of fact during the eritrean independence struggle the eritrean rebels were getting support from somalia.

Now you could say that Somalian government at that time supported the eritrean struggle for geo-politics reasons or my enemy's enemy is my friend type of approach -it wasn't an issue of been a puppet or not. I think puppet designation could apply more to for example the current Iraqi government or current Somalian government in that American army and Ethiopian army respectively run the show in both examples- to the point that the governments in both countries can not say NO to their protectors.

I just do not see that type of relation between Eritrea and Islamic court...

I just hope the conflict gets resolved peaceful without anymore killing and the eritrean government which is a one-man show by the way doesn't speak for eritrean people..

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