Date: Wednesday, 09 November 2016
http://www.erigazette.org/?p=9542 Evil Intention of the Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group to Extend the Unjust Sanction on Eritrea By Teweldeberhan Gebre Nov 8, 2016 “The possible diversion of unaccountable surplus funds by State-owned enterprises for the potential purpose of sanctions violations remains an issue of concern” par. 93. SEMG ReportThe coordinator of the Somalia-Eritrea MG (SEMG), Christophe Trajber, and his team have sent a letter enclosed to it the ‘SEMG Report’ dated 28 September 2016 to the current Chair of the Security Council Committee who himself brought the report to the President of the Security Council to be shared with the members of the Security Council on 7 October 2016. My objective here is to recap what is inside the story of the SEMG report. In this regard, I will cover some of the key issues raised by the monitoring group (MG) mainly the Yemen issue, weapons procurement, supporting for armed groups in the region, Al Shabab, “anti-Ethiopia armed groups”, revenue from the mining sector, and the MG’s recommendations. In the end, I will provide a brief conclusion. The methodology is written after the ‘report’ In my genuine understanding, the MG suffers from the lack of a methodology which I think has led the group to completely lose its way. I do not have any doubt that the paragraphs under the methodology section of the report were written after the report was drafted and edited. What makes a research strong or weak is its methodological approach and the dissociation of the research/report from the researcher himself or herself. This means the researcher should objectively approach his research or report. Particularly, investigative reports are not judgements based on subjectivity but judgement based on objective facts and findings. I strongly believe that the report’s methodology section is written after the report was completed. The paragraphs in the methodology section are simply a summary of the activities of the MG included in the main body of the report. One of the paragraphs in the methodology section reads as follows: “In its investigations, the MG conducted more than 100 meetings with a broad range of sources, including Member States, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the Eritrean diaspora, academics with current research interests in Eritrea and former officials of the Government of Eritrea. From these sources, the Group received witness testimony, photographic evidence and both confidential and open-source documentation, [emphasis mine]” par. 9. I am challenged with this paragraph’s formulation as a methodology. Is this a methodology or activities? It is not the correct formulation of a methodology and essentially it is an activity conducted by the MG. It tells us not how data or information is collected rather it tells from where the data included in the report were collected. It clearly shows that this paragraph was not there at the start of the monitoring or investigation. Another interesting methodological approach is that of in paragraph 7 (e)) that reads as “Obtaining physical, photographic, audio, video and/or documentary evidence in support of the information collected.” In the report’s annex accidentally found photos were included from here and there. I argue the statement in par. 7 (e) is not a methodology rather it is about presentation of the facts and evidences. Because the MG accidentally came across these photos it was forced to include in its methodology section. If I were the chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea I would first approve the methodology to be strictly followed by the MG. Not just in this report but in all the reports in the past this is the key methodological problem. Although, to some extent it is subject to adjustment, a methodology is a researcher’s guide to objectively test facts and evidences on the ground or in the science lab for that matter. I strongly believe that the MG didn’t have and followed any methodology in writing its report. Thus, it is clear from the above paragraph of the group that its methodology was written after the report. Let me probe into the contents of the report and share my views on the report with you. On the Yemen Issue The MG keeps trying to persuade us that it has exerted great efforts to investigate whether or not Eritrea opened up its territories for the GCC group in their fight against Yemen’s Houthis. In its report (par. 28) it says: “…the Monitoring group reported receiving credible and persuasive testimony from multiple sources and independent reports indicating that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had established a military presence in Eritrea as part of the military campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen and that Eritrea had received compensation for allowing its territory to be used as part of the campaign, [emphasis mine]”. Who can be a credible and a persuasive testimony outside Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, the United Arabs Emirates, and Qatar? Did these partners deny the cooperation they signed last year? This clearly shows the lack of wisdom by the MG. All the satellite photos are in the public domain and nothing is new for those who follow the situation in the Red Sea Region. I do not know how much this findings will impress the members of the Security Council. But, it appears to me that it is an insult to the members of the Security Council intelligence. Nonetheless, the Yemeni issue is thorny enough for both the MG and its masters. If any fight is required it will be a fight between the Gulf States (essentially, S. Arabia, United Arabs Emirates, and Qatar) and the masters of the MG. Not even with the UN body. For sure the US and its allies would not be happy about the success of the Gulf States in pulling Eritrea on their side to combat the Yemeni Houthis. Interestingly, the group did not want to call the collaboration between Eritrea and the Gulf States a violation of the armies’ embargo. In their own words: “The Group concluded that Eritrea’s making available to third countries its land, territorial waters and airspace to conduct military operations in another country did not in and of itself constitute a violation of resolution 1907 (2009). Likewise, it confirmed its determination that any compensation diverted directly or indirectly towards activities that threatened peace and security in the region or for the benefit of the Eritrean military would constitute a violation of the resolution, [emphasis mine]” par. 30. What if the alliance was between Iran, Yemen and Eritrea? Another interesting 21st century discovery of the MG is that of Eritrea’s strategic importance. If the group is telling this to the US and Russia it is an insult in the face of these two super powers. In the group’s words: “The MG acknowledged that the strategic importance of Eritrea, at the crossroads between the Horn of Africa and the Persian Gulf, had increased significantly in the light of the continuing conflict in neighboring Yemen. Furthermore, the Group acknowledged the views of the Permanent Representative of Eritrea to the United Nations, who argued that the country’s right to self-defence amid growing regional insecurity caused by the conflict in Yemen was justification to lift the arms embargo, [emphasis mine]” par. 29. The group acknowledges “…the views of the Permanent Representative of Eritrea to the United Nations…” while the same time it threatens with its recommendation to extend the unjust sanction regime on Eritrea and its people. I hope the US will come to sense and engage Eritrea before too late. If Eritrea is further pushed away from the Horn of Africa, I see one and only one scenario in the future. That scenario is Eritrea could seek permanent position in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a political, economic and military alliance of six Middle Eastern countries, namely, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. If that will be serving the American interest which is behind the sanction we shall see. Nevertheless, Eritrea is setting the foot to cooperate with GCC at the lower pace and it may not be too far to get to the permanent membership level. On the alleged weapons procurement The MG claims that it has obtained regular information from a network of the Eritrean diaspora, an anonymous Ukrainian army dealer, and other sources. My question is, did Eritrea procure any weapons any time within the reports period? Otherwise, I would be surprised if the group fails to notice Eritrea’s attempt to buy weapons. Once again, this is not something newly discovered finding by the group and it was in the public domain. It is not difficult to imagine that if not all most of the information that have been circulating in the last one year could have been circulated by the MG and its aides-de-camp such as MedreK and the genocidal regime in Ethiopia to mention some. MedreK has miserably failed to unite the so call Eritrean opposition to justify the invasion of Eritrea by the West like they did in Libya and Syria. The issue here is the group did not able to document any credible evidence that Eritrea was red-handedly caught in the act of weapons procurement from anywhere. Attempt to procure does not constitute by itself the violation of the embargo and does not require investigation. This must have been unambiguously acknowledged by the group in their report. The paragraphs under ‘C’ (Eritrean air force missions to Italy in July, August and September 2016) simply show the ineptness of the group and the group simply pretends as if the sanction has no beginning or an end. On the support for armed groups in the region (part III of the report) Overall, in this section, the group has utterly lost its way. It is beyond repair, particularly when I see in one of its paragraphs naming the Ethiopian pro-democracy movements as “…anti-Ethiopian armed…” groups. Paragraphs in this section are written by the genocidal regime in Ethiopia. Please read carefully the language and all phrases before jumping on to my assertions. All interviews in this section of the report were conducted with the help of the genocidal regime in Ethiopia and the interviewees were supposedly ex-rebels of the Ethiopian armed groups stationed in Eritrea. What a loss of credibility to the group!! I will discuss the issue of “anti-Ethiopia armed group” branding of the shameless and faceless MG. On Al Shabab In a row for the last three years none of the MGs including the current group have come with any credible evidence that Eritrea supports Al Shabab. Do you know why the MGs, past and present, bore us and the members of the Security Council with this Al Shabab thing? Here is it! In its words: “… the Monitoring group wrote to the Permanent Representative of Eritrea to the United Nations on 21 March 2016 to request information that the Eritrean authorities might have regarding the arming, training and equipping of armed groups that aimed to destabilize Eritrea, but did not receive a response, [emphasis mine]” par. 52. Knowing that the Eritrean government would not be available to respond to the question in the above paragraph and pretending they do not have information on any anti-Eritrean government armed groups, the MG wrote a letter to the Permanent Representative of Eritrea to the United Nations on 21 March 2016. The Eritrean government does not openly admit and recognize the groups armed by Ethiopia. In fact, this is a failure by the Eritrean government. The government of Eritrea should have understood the trick of the letter. But, in many occasion the Eritrean government has expressed that Ethiopia was and is arming anti-Eritrean government forces too. Some of them are actually listed under the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) such as the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) and Eritrean Salvation Front (ESF) and supported by the genocidal regime in Ethiopia. This is widely reported and circulated across all media. The MG fools itself not us and not the members of the Security Council. “Anti-Ethiopia armed groups” Ethiopia is being ruled by a minority and genocidal regime. This ruling group represents less than 6% of the 100 million people of Ethiopian. Over 94 million of Ethiopians are neck and neck with this minority and genocidal regime of Ethiopia. But, this shameless and faceless MG did not hesitate to call the pro-Democracy Ethiopian armed groups and by extension the over 94 million Ethiopian people “anti-Ethiopia”. It is not surprising to hear that because as I stated above the paragraphs in this section are either written or edited by the genocidal regime of Ethiopia. What can I say? Read for yourself: “…shortly before the defection of Mola Asgedom, the leader of the anti-Ethiopian armed group Ginbot Sebat and Chair of a newly established united front of opposition groups, Berhanu Nega, travelled to Asmara through Egypt and was personally greeted by a senior adviser to the President, Yemane Ghebreab [emphasis mine]” par. 61. Egypt and Yemane Ghebreab are included in this paragraph by the genocidal regime in Ethiopia as it always accuses Eritrea and Egypt for the popular uprising in that country. Who can be deceived except the MG and its masters? According the MG “[t]he interviews were organized and attended by officials of the Government of Ethiopia. “ What a joke. The MG appears to have been reporting to their ‘NGO manager’. They don’t look they are reporting to the UN Security Council because they repeatedly denounce their report as saying “[a]t the time of writing, the MG was not able to either verify or discount the information given.” So what is the point of reporting non-verifiable information and testimonies? Another drama scripts by the genocidal regime in Ethiopia is the various interviews with allegedly defected members of the Tigray People’s Democratic Movement (TPDM), Ginbot Sebat, Peoples’ Alliance for Freedom and Democracy, and Front pour la restauration de l’unité et de la démocratie (Djibutean opposition). Leaving aside the whole interviews with the so called defected members of the above armed groups with the exception of Mola Asgedom of TPDM how do we know the other individuals were actually ex-members of the above groups? It is true that the MG have acknowledged that it did not verified and discounted the information but in the first place when it searches for information is not it its responsibility and mandate to go after verifiable and independent information sources? The genocidal regime in Ethiopia is well known around the world for its falsehoods script writing and dramas. It is pity to hear once again from a world organization such as the UN keep serving a narrow interest with no regard for integrity and ethics. On the photos showing the Ethiopian armed groups under training in Eritrea if they did not pass through a Photoshop the MG should have known that these armed groups did not come to tour Eritrea. They are supermen and women determined to combat a genocidal and fascist regime in their home country. No doubt one day they will be in government by declaring freedom for the Ethiopian people. No matter how long the night is the next day will come for the lovely Ethiopian people. They are not anti-Ethiopia but anti-fascism as always in their history. We know the Western divide and rule agenda. Our enemies also know if the Eritrean and Ethiopian people works side-by-side neo-interventionism and neo-colonialism will be history in the continent of Africa. On “revenue from the mining sector” I am completely pro-good governance in my own country. I have concern the way resources are managed and allocated in my country. I disagree with the Eritrean government’s non-transparent nature and practices of governance. However, I am completely daunted to hear the revenues of the mining sector of my country from the unethical and faceless UN body, the MG. The whole systems of ours is outside the knowledge of our people and this should be the concerns of Eritreans both at home and the diaspora. I wish the Eritrean government continues to refuse the MG access its revenue but tell its people their resources. On the “Recommendations” of the group The MG recommended the disassociation of the Eritrea and Somalia sanctions. A sham recommendation. After all when did you produce a report about Somalia? There is no such sanction on Somalia despite Al Shabab is fully armed by the bedridden transitional government of Somalia and the genocidal regime in Ethiopia. The group’s recommendations are essentially a request to extend their tenure as a MG. If the Security Council is in its right mind set you need to be discarded and go together into the trash bin like Sheila Keetharuth and her appendages. Another recommendations are on bilateral/multilateral support to Eritrea so that Eritrea can improve its public financial management, and the two-way arms embargo. I believe as stated above good governance including in public finance has overriding importance for Eritrea. However, the group’s recommendation for the Security Council to “…request Member States and appropriate international and regional organizations to consider offering the Government of Eritrea support for the development of a comprehensive programme on strengthening the capacity of public financial management” is a joke in the face of justice and fairness. It implies support should be given to Eritrea provided the government accepts donors’ conditions including in financial transparency. You did not discuss the impact of the unjust sanction on the Eritrean child but wished to pretend support only to promote western “starve and control” agendas. On the “military operations involving Eritrean land, territorial waters, airspace and security forces,” it is not Eritrea’s business. I know the whole story of the report is to repudiate the strategic location of the Eritrean Port of Assab from the Gulf States which I believe is near impossible. Conclusions 1. a) I argue the MG had no methodology at all. There are clear indications that the Methodology section was written after the report was prepared. There is no paragraph or phrase that states how the MG should work to ensure impartiality and objectivity of the report. In this regard, the group has miserably compromised its independence and neutrality. For instance, the group facelessly admits that interviews conducted with ex-members of the Ethiopian armed groups were organized and attended by the genocidal regime officials in Ethiopia. 2. b) All the information the group has included in its report were already in the public domain long before. For instance, the attacks by Arbegnoch Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracy (AG7MUD) in Arba Minch (southern Ethiopia) and the comedies by the genocidal regime in Ethiopia in this particular incidence were repeatedly reported by ESAT TV. The use of the Assab Port by the Gulf States in the war against Houthis, and Eritrea’s support to armed Ethiopian groups were also public and widely publicized. However, the group appeared to have been struggling to prove every single issue it has discussed while not denied by the responsible parties. Interestingly, the MG has produced paragraphs after paragraphs to prove us that Saudi Arabia and the Emirates have begun to build and use the Port of Assab in the war in Yemen. But, the question is: did Eritrea and the Gulf States deny their military cooperation? If not why did we need to hear from you and aides-de-camp? Similarly, Eritrea has openly announced that it is supporting and will support Ethiopian armed groups. So, do we need photos and pictures to show Ethiopian rebels were on training session? What is the point of proving a fact that neither Eritreans nor Ethiopians rebels denied? 3. c) Another prejudice of the group is the rightly selection of Eritrea as a most single county hosting rebel groups while all countries in the region are not differently doing that. Ethiopia host dozens of rebel groups from Eritrea and the group is fully aware about that. Instead the group requested the Eritrean government for information “regarding the arming, training and equipping of armed groups that aimed to destabilize Eritrea.” Did they request the same information from the genocidal regime in Ethiopia or any other government in the region? I certainly do not believe it did. 4. d) To make the long story short, the group’s primary concern is whether or not the Security Council will extend their mandates. I say this because if we read across all paragraphs and statements the group struggled to prove Eritrea is potentially dangerous for the Region. The main reason why they were forced to include the issues of the Ethiopian rebels supported by Eritrea was to depict Eritrea as destabilizing force in the region so that to justify the extension of the unjust sanction. The MG calls the Ethiopian rebels as “anti-Ethiopian armed groups”. It did not want to call these groups as anti-Ethiopian government armed groups. In this regard, the MG, hilariously, requested the Security Council to extend their tenure for reasons of “[t]he possible diversion of unaccountable surplus funds by State-owned enterprises for the potential purpose of sanctions violations remains an issue of concern” (para. 93). Something that the MG cannot prove and verify on the ground but a blurred statement that demonstrates the future importance of the MG. The Unjust Sanction The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1907 on December 23, 2009, imposing an arms embargo on Eritrea, travel bans on its leaders, and froze the assets of some of its leaders after accusing the Eritrean government of aiding a terrorist group, the Al-Shabaab in Somalia, and allegedly refusing to withdraw troops from its disputed border with Djibouti, following a conflict in 2008. The so called African Union and US backed organizations had been calling on the Security Council to sanction Eritrea.