Sana’a Summit: Cooperation or Conspiracy?
By: Eritrean Center for Strategic Studies (ECSS)
October 28, 2002
The Yemeni capital, Sana’a, witnessed on the period between October 13 to 15, 2002, a trilateral summit held by the Yemeni President, General Ali Abdallah Salih, the Sudanese President, General Omer Al-Beshir of the Sudan and the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
It was hoped that the summit would create an opportunity for the three leaders to discuss ways of co-operation among their states, which could have been in the interest of their nation in particular and the region in general. Unfortunately that was not the case.
It is true that the impossible cannot be expected from the leaders of the systems in Addis Ababa, Sana’a and Khartoum for they are all crippled by structural crisis, lacking anything in common except their enmity towards Eritrea as a country, people, Government and it’s Front, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). The evidence for that is not difficult: the trio, before verifying the allegations of the Sudanese government of an Eritrea military intervention in eastern Sudan, following the fall of the Hameshekoreib garrison to the Sudanese opposition forces, leashed its unjust denunciation against Eritrea in its final communiqué issued October 15, 2002, in Sana’a. We need not, in this respect, analyze the whole background of the affair. However, we limit ourselves with pointing to the declared/clandestine agenda of this triateral alliance, summing them up as the follows.
Firstly: the formal agenda:
1. Solidification of bilateral and trilateral relations, reinvigorating former agreements between the three states.
2. The political, economic, security and military co-operation.
3. Harmonizing and co-coordinating positions concerning the Somali reconciliation question.
4. Coordinating policies over the African Horn and Southern Red Sea Zone.
Secondly: the covert agenda
1. Working on the imposition of regional isolation on Eritrea.
2. Supporting dissident and terrorist elements.
3. Conspiring against the government and the people of Eritrea.
4. Seeking to bring down the national Eritrean government and replace it with a puppet government of traitors, to serve the ends of the trio states of the Sana’a Summit.
Thirdly: The Mechanism of Persecuting the True Agenda
According to reliable sources that monitor the activities and movements of the Addis-Sana’a-Khartoum axis, the three capitals have divided the roles in the Sana’a summit to put their covert agenda into effect, as follows:
First: Ethiopia is to coordinate activities for:
1. Organizing gatherings of the anti-nationalistic traitorous elements from Eritrea, Ethiopia is to define their political program.
2. Training and supplying arms to the groups of anti-nationalistic elements.
3. Supplying financial backing.
4. Connecting these elements with the Ethiopian foreign relations network, particularly in Europe and USA, through the Ethiopian embassies.
Second: Yemen’s task:
1. Opening political and information offices.
2. Presenting military and financial backing.
3. Connecting these subversive terrorist groups with the Yemeni Arab relations network, particularly the League of Arab States.
Third: The Sudan:
1. Establishing military training camps for the terrorist groups.
2. Opening its borders for these terrorists to stage periodical attacks on Eritrea from across the Sudanese border. In effect, the Khartoum regime under the cover of allegation of an Eritrea aggression, is paving the way for the Sana’a backed terrorists, to wage subversive attacks on Eritrea.
3. Presenting military and financial backing.
4. Connecting these elements with its network of diplomatic relations and with the Islamic extremism and terrorist forces.
The question that forcefully presents itself is that, what is the real problem between Eritrea and the three states?
In fact, Eritrea does not have the least problem with any of these states. Paradoxically, the Eritrea government and the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (P.F.D.J) did their best to help each of the three states to curb their chronic problems. The evidences are:-
A. The Eritrean government organized the first ever meeting between the Ethiopian regime and its opposition in the capital Asmara in 1992 in the context of its bids to nurture peace and stability in Ethiopia.
B. President Isaias Afwerki among other high officials in the Eritrean government lead sincere diplomatic efforts in 1994, to narrow gap between president Ali Abdalla Salih and his former vice president Ali Salim Abeid, in a bid to avert a civil war between the brothers in Northern and Southern Yemen, to sustain the Yemeni unity.
C. Since the day of Liberation in 1991, Eritrea has focused all the political efforts at its disposal to broker a genuine solution to the Sudanese problem.
These are the honest historical and political efforts that stem from a sense of brotherhood, friendship and co-operation in the one hand and pursuance of realizing peace, stability and security in the African Horn and the area south of the Red Sea basin on the other. The ultimate goal is to make possible a common groundwork leading to development, prosperity and welfare of the nations of this part of the world, that suffered most from wars, conflicts, famines, chronic poverty, that exposed these nations to be a soft prey for killer diseases that ruthlessly sweep across their common borders.
But what can Eritrea do, all by itself, in the presence of reckless systems in Addis Ababa, Sana’a and Khartoum -- regimes/systems that failed in dealing responsibly and objectively with their domestic problems? For that reason they embarked on creating a series of conflicts with Eritrea, in desperate and poor attempts to cover their internal problem. The best evidence is this:
The Ethiopian regime created the border conflict with Eritrea from nothing in 1997 and hurried to an all out war in 1998 in an attempt to subvert the national sovereignty of Eritrea, and undermine the unity of the nation. After an atrocious three-year war, the Ethiopian agenda was dashed upon the relentless stand of the nation, government and defense forces. Ethiopia was dragged to the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities in Algeria on June 18, 2000, then the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on December 12, 2000. As a result the Commission for the Border Demarcation was set up at The Hague and it gave its final verdict on April 13, 2002. Ever since, the Ethiopian regime is trying to realize its atrocious agenda against Eritrea by all means. Ethiopia entangled itself in a series of endless quarrels with the international peacekeeping forces on the one hand, and with the cartographic unit commissioned to draw the border and later with the verdict of that unit.
It is worth mentioning here that the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), through its web site in the Internet declared on October 11, 2002, that the Ethiopian forces entered to ten kilometers in the Temporary Security Zone in the northeast of Zalembessa and opened fire on the Indian contingent in the area. What an evidence! This is apart from what the Ethiopian forces have been engaged in violation of the T.S.Z and the acts of plunder and atrocities against the Eritrean civilians residing there.
The Yemeni government had not presented any territorial claims over some islands in the South of the Red Sea in the period prior to the Independence of Eritrea, whether during the era of Emperor Haile Selassie or the era of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. All of a sudden, it embarked on imposing facts on the ground against free Eritrea. The Eritrea government had categorically rejected that policy, and worked on dealing with the matter with prudence, suggesting to the other side right from the commencement of the crisis as follows:-
1. The calm and friendly bilateral solution of the conflict.
2. In case of failure, a third friendly arbitrator should be involved.
3. In case of the failure of that mediator the whole file of the problem should be referred to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
However, the Yemeni government brushed aside all the Eritrean proposals and resorted to force. Eventually, the Yemeni government was forced into the principle of submitting to international law. The French mediation between the two countries succeeded and they signed the Paris Agreement on May 21, 1996, according to which an international arbitration court was set and it issued on December 17, 1998, its first decision that provided for the question of sovereignty over the disputed archipelagos in the Southern Red Sea that lead to contention between Eritrea and Yemen, and the second and final award of the Court issued in December 12, 1999, was concerning the maritime delimitation.
Ever since the International Court ended its mission, the Yemeni government did the unthinkable to get round the decision reached through baseless interpretation and deliberate mystification of the verdict, and by pursuing provocative actions against Eritrea not only in the field of propaganda, but by practically violating the sovereignty of the Eritrean territorial water. Had it not been for the wise and calm responses of the Eritrea leadership the situation in the Southern Red Sea region would have deteriorated to unwelcome consequences.
Here, too, rises a persistent question. What does Yemen demand from Eritrea
In fact, Yemen has so much causes that compel it to ride rough waves to provoke Eritrea. In the mean time, we focus on one point that is the true problem Yemen has with the verdict of the International Court. Dissatisfied with the verdict, it wants to gain more territories by pressuring Eritrea from all sides and rout the whole matter, in order to gain what it could not gain by legal means. Neither Eritrea, nor international law and international legitimacy accept the illegal moves of Yemen.
However, the question still must be asked as to what those Yemeni demands are.
The Yemeni side maintains that the decision of the International Arbitration Court gives the Yemeni fishermen the right to traditional fishing in the Eritrean territorial waters, just as it has given the Eritrean fishermen the right to traditional fishing in the Yemeni territorial waters. It need not be mentioned that the verdict reached by the Court on October 9, 1998, was crystal clear, transparent and gave no room for any misinterpretation. Article 527 of that verdict provides the following:
I. “The islands, islet, rocks, and low-tide elevations forming the Mohabbakah islands, including but not limited to Sayal Islet, Harbi Islet, Flat Islet and High Islet are subject to the territorial sovereignty of Eritrea;”
II. “The islands, islet, rocks, and low-tide elevations forming the Haycock islands including, but not limited to, north east Haycock, middle Haycock, and South West Haycock, are subject to the territorial sovereignty of Eritrea;”
III. “The South West Rocks are subject to the territorial sovereignty of Eritrea;”
IV. “The islands, islet, rocks and low-tide elevations of the Zuqar-Hanish group, including, but not limited to, Three Foot Rock, parking Rock, Rocky Islets, Pin Rock, Suyul Hanish, Mid Islet, Double Peak Island, Round Island, North Round Island, Quion Island (13 43’N, 42 46’E), Chor Rock, Greater Hanish, Peaky Islet, Mushajirah, Addar Ail Islets; Haycock Island (13 47’N, 42 47’E; not to be confused with the Haycock Islands to the southwest of Greater Hanish), Low Island (13 52N, 42 49’E) including the unnamed islets and rocks close north east, and south, Lesser Hanish including the unnamed islets and rocks close north east, Tongue Island and the unnamed islet close south, Near Island and the unnamed islet close south east, Shark Island, Jabal Zuquar Island, High Land and the Abu Ali Islands (including Quoin Island (14 05’N, 42 49’E) and Pile Island are subject to the territorial sovereignty of Yemen;”
V. “The island of Jabal Al-Tayr, and the islands, islets, rocks and low-tide elevations forming the Zubayr group, including, but not limited to Quoin Island (15 12’n, 42 03’ E), Haycock Island (15 10’N, 42 07’E; not to be confused with the Haycock Islands to the southwest of Greater Hanish), Rugged Island, Table peak Island, Saddle Island and the unnamed islet close north west, low is land (15 06’N, 42 06_) and the unnamed rock close east, Middle Reef, Saba Island, Connected Island, East Rocks, Shoe Rock, Jabal Zubayr Island, and Centre Peak Island are subject to the territorial sovereignty of Yemen; and”
VI. “The sovereignty found to lie with Yemen entails the perpetuation of the traditional fishing regime in the region, including free access and enjoyment for the fishermen of both Eritrea and Yemen.”
So much so, the International Court of arbitration had clearly confirmed this matter in its decision concerning the maritime delimitation between the two countries on December 17, 1999, specifically in article 103 that reads as follows:
“The traditional fishing regime is not an entitlement in common to resources nor is a shared right in them. Rather, it entitles both Eritrean and Yemeni fishermen to engage in artisanal fishing around the islands which, in its Award on Sovereignty, the Tribunal attributed to Yemen. This is to be understood as including diving, carried out by artisanal means for shells and pearls. Equally, these fishermen remain entitled freely to use these islands for those purposes traditionally associated with such artisanal fishing the use of the islands for drying fish, for way stations, for the provision of temporary shelter, and for the effecting of repairs.”
When the Yemeni part tried to directly or indirectly go round the International Court’s decision, Eritrea presented a letter to the court demanding clarification to the Yemeni allegations of the Yemeni right to traditional fishing in the Eritrean territorial waters. The reply of the court was clear cut in two letters sent to both governments, the Eritrean and Yemeni governments, one on February 25 and the other on March 31 of 2002, certifying the accuracy of the Eritrean understanding to the Court’s decision, in letter and spirit; and the nullification of the Yemeni interpretation for the same Court’s decision. The Yemeni side, contrary to its former and later allegations, confirmed to the Court that it did not have any difference with Eritrea over the interpretation of the verdict. This happened before it raised these new allegations. Consequently, Eritrea looks on the file of its conflict with Yemen as to have been legally resolved and closed once and for all. However, if the Yemeni side wants to reopen this file and to return back to square one, Eritrea considers it as absolutely a Yemeni affair and it is not ready to compete with Yemen at such reckless policies. The Yemeni government, solely, bears the consequences not only in front of Eritrea, but also in front of the entire international community, because it obviously tried to unilaterally nullify a decision reached by an international body.
Before assuming power through a coup d'état in 1989 the NIF regime of Khartoum established the so-called “Eritrean Jihad Movement,” it also opened training camps for that movement’s terrorist elements. Sudan also opened its borders to the Arab Afghans to carry subversive acts against civil Eritrean facilities, in addition to their planting of mines in the public transport roads. A number of innocent Eritrean civilians are still falling victims for that.
Eritrea had repeatedly urged the Khartoum regime to stay away from its grave policies, but to no avail. By the end of 1994 Eritrea was compelled to severe diplomatic relations with the Sudanese regime. In 2000, President Omer Al-Beshir admitted that it was the Sudan that wronged against Eritrea and not the reverse; he went on to attribute that wrong to the existence of two heads of state, Beshir himself and Dr. Hassan al- Turabi at the top of the state hierarchy.
It is true that the diplomatic relations between Asmara and Khartoum were back to normal in 2001, but the attitude of the Khartoum regime towards Eritrea had not changed, despite the tremendous diplomatic efforts carried out by Eritrea, on levels of government and PFDJ in the quest for peace, security and stability in Sudan.
1. After the fall of the Hameshkoreib garrison to the Sudanese opposition forces on October 5th 2002 the Khartoum regime lost bearings altogether, unjustly accusing Eritrea of military intervention in the eastern Sudan to back the opposition.
2. The Sudanese minister of foreign affairs Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail immediately announced over the state media organs that “the Sudan will respond politically, diplomatically and militarily to deter the Eritrean aggression.”
3. Dr. Kotbi Al Mehdi, the Sudanese presidential adviser, in a statement to the Sudanese TV Service on October 14, 2002. said, “Eritrea has become a burden on the region.”
4. However, no sooner than the foreign affairs minister backed down from his threats of “military deterrence” to state before the Sudanese T.V. cameras that the mission of the Sudanese government is centered on “rescuing the Eritrean nation from its government.”
5. The Sudanese government sees the salvation of the Eritrean nation can only be achieved in the hands of the fundamentalist terrorist elements like the “Islamic Salvation Movement” and the “Jihad Movement” two closely allied organizations to the Al Qaida of Osama Bin Ladin. Thus, the formal Sudanese media organs were freely servicing the terrorist warlords as Mohammed Ahmed Salih “Abu Suheil,” Salih Mohammed Osman and Arafa Ahmed Mohammed, among others.
6. The governor of Kassala state, General Adem Hamid Moussa announced, “The border between Sudan and Eritrea will remain closed until the tyrant regime of Eritrea falls” according to the Sudanese newspaper Al Rai Al’am of October 19, 2002.
What can be deduced from the preceding analysis goes as follows:
1. The Khartoum regime is the one that intervenes in the Eritrean domestic affairs; in fact, it excused itself to speak on behalf of the Eritrean people and even planning to remove their national government.
2. The Sudanese government provides shelter, helps and hosts terrorist elements to whom it opens its border with Eritrea to enable them to carry trans-border attacks against the Eritrean citizens.
3. The Khartoum regime revived its old aggressive policies against Eritrea, spreading its false accusations in the aftermath of the fall of Hameshkoreib to the hands of the Sudanese opposition, surprisingly, after the Sudanese regime signed an agreement on cessation of military operation all over the Sudan on October 15, 2002, with SPLA.
4. Eritrea is always in the heart of the African Horn where it belongs and can never be a burden on it. On the contrary, Eritrea, ever since her independence, had borne the brunt of aggression from hostile neighboring regimes. Dr. Kotbi Al Mehdi should be ashamed to claim that Eritrea is becoming “the burden of the region.” In essence, it can safely be said, that it is the Sudanese regime, of which Dr. Kotbi Al Mehdi is part of, that is the burden not only on Eritrea but on the Sudanese nation, the African Horn and the world at large, and the evidences are:
4.1 The NIF regime came to power through a coup de état in June 1989, toppling a democratically elected government.
4.2 The regime systematically carried grim acts of torture and brutality against the Sudanese people in the notorious so-called “GHOST HOUSES.”
4.3 The Sudanese government has routinely waged a policy of annihilation against the peoples of the Southern Sudan.
4.4 Indeed, the international humanitarian bodies denounced the detestable acts of slavery carried by that regime.
4.5 After it assumed power, the NIF regime started exporting its brand of terrorism through the “Popular Arabic Islamic Congress” to all corners of the world.
4.6 Who does not know about the attempts on lives against international figures like:
4.6.1 President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in Addis Ababa in 1995;
4.6.2 President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea in 1996 by the terrorist Nasr el-Din Abu Al-Kheirat .
4.6.3 Last but not least their attempt to assassinate Mr. Anthony Lake, the former US National Security Adviser in 1996.
5. In the same pattern, the Khartoum regime gave shelter to terrorist elements most wanted by the international community like Carlos the Jackal and Osama Bin Ladin among others.
6. On October 21, 2002, the NIF regime of Khartoum committed grim atrocities and arbitrary arrests among Eritrean nationals residing in the Sudan. The agents of the regime’s security apparatus raided the complex of the Eritrean community in Khartoum and arrested several Eritreans among whom were two of the Eritrean embassy personnel.
Observers are expecting more such measurements against the Eritreans in the coming few days to come by the Khartoum regime, giving no heed to the voice of reason.
Now, the reader can make his/her own judgment concerning the question as to who is the real burden on the region. In effect, we can conclude that the Sana’a Summit between Ethiopia, Yemen and the Sudan is no summit that drew plans that would benefit the broad range of the masses of the region as much as it was a summit of conspiracy against the Eritrean nation, its unity and sovereignty in all spheres. Lessons drawn form the historical experience affirm that the three regimes are running counter to the interest of their own people, let alone the broader range of the African Horn and the Southern Red Sea region. These trio cannot give what they do not possess in the first place.
To sum up, then, the three regimes of the Sana’a Summit are not only working against Eritrea alone, but also against the laws and rules of the international community, and the evidences are:
1. Once the Border Commission declared its decision concerning the drawing of the border with Eritrea, on April 13, 2002, Ethiopia constantly put hurdles after hurdles in the way of the UN Peace Keeping Force and the border Mapping Unit, in order to halt the decisions being put on the ground.
2. On the other hand, the Sana’a regime is trying to evade the two decisions taken by an international arbitration body, by deliberately misinterpreting the decisions issued October 9, 1998, and December 17, 1999, respectively.
3. Finally, the Khartoum regime, instead of solving the crisis bedeviling its people, it made it its business to go and solve the problems of the Eritrean people, directly or by way of the terrorist elements it hosts inside the Sudanese territories, aiding with all the facilities they need, in stark challenge to the international laws, starting with the laws of the African Union, IGAD principles and the UN norms.