THE INDIAN OCEAN NEWSLETTER ISSUE 1474 DATED 18/05/2018
On 14 May, the Eritrean Ministry of Information issued a press release accusing Qatar of financing an Eritrean jihadist group in eastern Sudan with the assent of Omar al-Bashir and the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali. Asmara states that this agreement was reached during Abiy Ahmed Ali's official visit to Khartoum from 2 to 3 May (ION 1473).
According to our sources in Asmara, since Sudan closed its borders, the Eritrean president Issayas Afeworki has been fearful that Bashir will deploy the many Eritreans who have sought refuge in Sudan against Asmara - there are several hundred thousand Eritrean refugees, some of whom have been there for two generations.
The names of several Islamists allegedly financed by Qatar have been circulating for the last two months, and in particular the name of Abu Rachid, a well-known figure in Islamist circles who has reportedly moved from his Turkish base to eastern Sudan.
According to information obtained by the Indian Ocean Newsletter in Addis Ababa, Issayas Afeworki has reacted by mobilising his troops to counter any potential threats, calling up reservists and young conscripts.
It may be though that he is merely flexing his muscles and has no plans to take military action. Since Abyi Ahmed Ali's election, he has modified his language when referring to the Ethiopian leadership: instead of using the epithet Woyane (a nickname for the Tigray People's Liberation Front - TPLF), he now speaks of the ‘leaders of the Ethiopian federal government'.
He is thereby accommodating the Oromos who, like the new PM in his inauguration speech, are reaching out to Asmara.