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(NewsWeek) ERITREA CUTS TIES WITH QATAR, BECOMING LATEST AFRICAN NATION TO SIDE WITH SAUDI ARABIA AND ALLIES

Posted by: Biniam Tekle

Date: Wednesday, 14 June 2017

http://www.newsweek.com/qatar-crisis-eritrea-saudi-arabia-625356

ERITREA CUTS TIES WITH QATAR, BECOMING LATEST AFRICAN NATION TO SIDE
WITH SAUDI ARABIA AND ALLIES

BY CONOR GAFFEY ON 6/14/17 AT 4:59 AM

ritrea has become the latest African state to side with Saudi Arabia
and its allies in the diplomatic crisis involving Qatar.

A group of Arab nations, led by Riyadh, cut diplomatic ties with the
Gulf country last week, accusing Qatar of funding terrorist groups,
including the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), and supporting
Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main rival in the region.

Several African nations have followed suit. Senegal, Chad, Mauritania
and Niger have all recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, while Egypt
was one of the initial group that sparked the crisis.

Eritrea, a pariah state that has been dubbed Africa’s North Korea for
its lack of free media, has few international partners but has until
now had a relatively good relationship with Qatar.

Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attends the 25th Arab
Summit in Kuwait City, March 25, 2014. Qatar has been isolated by a
number of Arab and African states for its alleged support of terrorism
and Iran.HAMAD I MOHAMMED/REUTERS

But a statement from the Eritrean Information Ministry said Monday
that the Saudi-led censure was “not confined to Qatar alone as the
potential of Qatar is very limited” but was “one initiative among many
in the right direction that envisages full realization of regional
security and stability,” the AP reported.

Read more: “Eritrea is a mutant copy of North Korea:” a reporter
speaks on the land of no journalists

In response, Qatar announced Wednesday that it had pulled some 450
troops from the border of Djibouti and Eritrea, two countries which
have a long-running territorial dispute that the Gulf state helped
mediate. Eritrea’s top official at the African Union, Araya Desta,
said that his country did not want another confrontation with
Djibouti. “We don’t want to take any of Djibouti’s land,” Desta told
the AP.

Ethiopia, a neighboring state that has hostile relations with Eritrea,
has not yet taken sides in the dispute. But both Saudi Arabia and
Qatar have made overtures to the country: Saudi officials visited
Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, over the weekend, while Qatari
officials met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on
Monday.

The crisis shows little sign of abating. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the
United Arab Emirates have banned flights to and from Qatar from using
their airspace, while Qatar has slammed the blockade as part of a
“policy of domination and control.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan has sided with Qatar, calling the blockade “un-Islamic” and
demanding a solution be found by the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Eritv

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