The Sana'a Axis: An Axis of Historical Belligerence (Part II)
By: Eritrean Center for Strategic Studies (ECSS)
November 8, 2002

Political Analysis

The trilateral axis of belligerence against the Eritrean people and government has officially been established at the Sana’a Summit of October 15, 2002, that brought together President Ali Abdella Salih of Yemen, General Omer El-Beshir of the Sudan and the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi does not come as something new. This three-pointed conspiracy of the regimes of Khartoum, Sana’a and Addis Ababa, particularly for those who are not familiar with those who do not know the history of conspiracies against Eritrea perpetrated by this trio, the whole affair seems to be only a recent all out conspiracy.

However, we are not saying this recklessly, or accusing others for the sake of accusation. Rather, we have logical, substantial grounds and indisputable historical evidences that we have at present in our possession, even on a limited scale, before we elaborate them at a later date in extensive book format.

The Eritrean people know for certain that the trio's conspiracy dates back to the days of the armed struggle, at various levels and stages in a bid to undermine the Eritrean nation’s right to self-determination. It is not our wish to open the black history of the trio currently forming the Sana’a axis and their failed attempt in vain to put down the flame of the Eritrean revolution during the days of struggle. We rather prefer to shed some light and focus on the distribution of subversive roles between the governments of the Sana’a Axis since the dawn of Eritrean independence in 1991 until today.

1. The Sudan, unsuccessfully, sought to create instability and security hazards for Eritrea since the eve of the latter's independence until 1994.
2. Yemen planned the Islands' crisis in the Southern Red Sea in 1995, which was later legally resolved through an International Court of Arbitration in 1998.
3. From 1998 to 2000, Ethiopia launched an all-out war against Eritrea. Sudan was implicated in that offensive when the NIF regime opened its eastern borders with Eritrea for the benefit of the Ethiopian forces in order to get round and execute a flank attack on the Eritrean forces in the western front during the Third Offensive in May-June of 2000. In addition to that, it was the Director of the Sudanese foreign intelligence apparatus who first connected the Eritrean fifth-columnists with Ethiopia. That director was none other than Dr. Kutbi Al-Mahdi, the current political advisor of the Sudanese president. Dr. Kutbi on October 14, 2002, had the audacity to pronounce on the Sudanese TV service, “Eritrea has become a burden on the region.”

Here we shall elaborate on the main pillars of the conspirators Sana’a axis states, one after the other, so that substantial facts can be at hand for all, on the one hand, and so that those conspiracies should be exposed, on the other. This precedes shedding light on the agenda of each of the sates comprising the Sana’a axis, that is the Sudan, Yemen and Ethiopia.

First: The NIF Regime of Khartoum

By the time of the demise of the Ethiopian forces at "Nadew Ezz" (Nadew Command of Afabet), in March of 1988, following a massive military blow by the EPLF forces, the road to the Massawa Port and Asmara was opened. As a result, and before the end of that year, the National Islamic Front (NIF) of the Sudan established the so-called the Eritrean Jihad Movement (EJM), even before the NIF rose to power in the Sudan through its "Coup-d'Etat" almost a year later.

By then the world was anticipating the total liberation of Eritrea, while the fundamentalist Islamist and terrorist movement was meant to be a Trojan horse, in case the independence of Eritrea became a reality, or at least the E.J.M would be a bargaining card for the NIR regime when needed. All that was formulated on the basis of "The Doctrine of Necessity" another coinage of the Khartoum regime.

No sooner had the Eritrean independence taken place, than the Khartoum regime started its series of conspiracies against free Eritrea by backing and sheltering the terrorist, fundamentalist and Islamist elements. Khartoum went as far as opening its borders with Western Eritrea to terrorize the innocent locals and their civic installations.

Not only that, but Khartoum amassed Afghani-Arabs in the border area in pursuit of certain agendas like creating a religious rift between Moslems and Christians to ultimately create a religious rift and civil war, in the hope of disrupting Eritrea’s national unity and also to create turbulence within the infant state of Eritrea before its structural foundations were put firmly in place. Last, but not least, the real agenda remains the same: to install a puppet regime, typically copied from the Coup-d'Etat minded, fundamentalist and extremist regime in Khartoum.

This conspiratorial official policy of the NIF regime against Eritrea reached its climax in 1994, forcing the Eritrean government to sever diplomatic relations with Khartoum's government. It is true to say that the NIF subversive acts against Eritrea nearly closed down as a result of the crackdown on the part of the Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF) on the terrorist elements -- be they Eritrean, Sudanese or Afghani-Arabs -- and they were repulsed from the border area in a successful mop up operation by the EDF. Thus, the Yemeni state took over the lead of conspiracy against Eritrea in 1995, the Hanish-Zugher crisis in the Southern Red Sea region was a mere pretext created from nothing other than the continuation of the war by proxy policy.

Second: The Yemeni Conspiracy

The Yemenis were about to cause a military face-off with the Eritrean naval forces which, as was expected, quickly controlled the general situation, forcing Sana’a to bow to the inevitable and eventually signing the Paris Accord in May 21st, 1996. That agreement provided for the peaceful resolution of the conflict on legal basis before an international arbitration body. That was exactly the Eritrean stance from the outset of the conflict over the Hanish; contrary to the Yemeni's belligerent stance that rejected the legal resolution, under the illusion that it can impose a de facto solution on Eritrea by sheer force. The upshot of the whole contrived crisis was that Yemen was eventually forced to avert from the logic of hostility to submit to the arbitration through International Law.

The official Yemeni demands even included sovereignty over the entire Archipelago of Dahlak, alongside all the islands and islets in the Southern Red Sea region, under the pretext of safeguarding the “Arab national security” there, claiming that it was threatened by Eritrea which is “connected with strategic relations with Israel and the USA,” according to the Yemeni allegations.

The paradox here is that the Yemeni government is intending to protect “Arab national security” from a power like the USA, itself a protector of the same Yemeni government! Yet, the question remains: How can the Sana’a regime protect the “Arab national security,” being threatened only by visions and imaginations of the Yemeni rulers, at a time when the Yemeni authorities are in a state of utter helplessness even to impose security inside Yemeni borders and its territorial waters?

In fact, the Al-Qa’ida terrorist network operates more freely all over Yemen without being checked in any way whatsoever. Furthermore, the local Yemeni terrorist groups routinely challenge Yemeni government security forces, carrying deadly operations whenever and wherever those groups wished. Given this state of affairs, Al-Qa’ida organization found the way open to carry out, every once in a while, one of their brand of terrorism in the Yemeni ports against the Western vessels. On top of it all, the notorious local tribal terrorists continue their kidnapping on a daily basis, more than any other country in the world. In fact, there is no way for comparison of the state of anarchy that reigns in Yemen even with the second worst country in this respect. It can safely be concluded that the domestic situation of Yemeni security and stability is evidently in a sad and poor state.

Consequently, because of the insecurity both in the Yemeni ports and waters as well as the interiors, many Western countries decided a package of measurements like forcing their vessels not to call on Yemeni ports either on the Indian Ocean or the Red Sea. Furthermore, being soft targets, Western countries warmed their nationals against seeking tourism in the country for sheer security precautions, unless necessity dictates otherwise. In the wake of this atmosphere of insecurity that prevails in Yemen, the international insurance companies raised their fees by 300% on ships who call on Yemeni ports.

Such facts speak for themselves; simply because they confirm and expose the voices of some Yemeni figures who call on the Sana’a government to see to it that remedies be found for the lack of security, both for its own citizens as well as foreign nationals, on its soil or for navigation in its territorial waters, instead of wallowing in useless rhetoric, such as “guarding Arab national security” which is allegedly threatening the region. A government, any government, ought to know its limits.

Furthermore, it is absurd for the Yemeni government even to make insinuation about American presence in Eritrea; there simply is no ground for comparison between the huge American presences in Yemen, with the diplomatic American liaison in Asmara. Yemen has become like one of the 50 American States, given the number of the teams of FBI, the CIA plus the special units of the Pentagon for the purpose of battling the terrorist groups or perusing the Al-Qa’ida international terrorist network sheltering in Yemen. In addition to this, there is the American Marines presence in their surveillance of the Yemeni territorial waters in the Southern Red Sea region, particularly in the aftermath of the fatal attack on American Battleship, the USS Cole, on October 11, 2000, by Yemeni terrorists connected to the Al-Qa’ida network. Everybody can remember the very recent attack against the French Vessel, the Limburg, just about a month ago on October 6, 2002. What more do the Yemenis want to say?

The Yemeni state has got every right to sign all sorts of agreements with whichever country it likes (and the US is not excluded here); however, it would be unacceptable if that same Yemen tried to subject Eritrea to a protectorate position, by simply spreading desperate lies to defame Eritrea, attempting to divert international and national attention from it glaring domestic problems. Such propaganda could have been effective in the medieval ages of long ago, but in the world of today, where the whole globe is viewed as a small village in which everyone knows everything about the other, far or near, the Yemeni regime should know the fact that it is simply unqualified to create lies from nothing. On the contrary, such lies only help in exposing the innermost realities in the Yemeni high echelons of power concerning these conspiracies against Eritrea.

The conclusion is that the naked conspiratorial plans of Yemen against Eritrea continue, unabated, even after the decision of international court concerning the conflict over the islands with Eritrea in 1998. It just took another form and color according to circumstance and the prevailing situation.

The outlook for Yemen seemed so bleak, just as they were for the Khartoum regime prior to that. Hence, the Woyane regime came in view in this mirror, full of cracks to try its luck in continuing the conspiracy against Eritrea, starting from 1998.

Third: The Woyane minority regime and Ethiopian Aggression

As for the Woyane minority Tigrayan regime, under the pretext of unfounded and starkly belligerent whims, they claimed indisputable Eritrean territory in the border areas in 1997 and hurriedly declared war on Eritrea soon afterwards, to the extent that within three years only, the minority regime carried three successive military offensives in May 1998, February 1999 and May 2000 respectively. After sustaining heavy casualties, both in troops and military hardware, the Ethiopian government was at long last dragged to the negotiating table in Algeria on June 18, 2000, having achieved not the slightest goal in its agenda, which centered mainly around the hope of dismantling the Eritrean military power and, if possible, toppling the national Eritrean government and consequently subjugating the Eritrean people, dividing their national unity after which it would install a puppet government of traitors in Asmara which would be utterly pro-Ethiopia and subservient to the Woyane. Ultimately the intention was to balkanize Eritrea on the basis of ethnicity, in the Ethiopian model, paving the way for ceding over the Eritrean coastal areas to Tigray region, particularly, and Ethiopia in general.

All this was supposed to pose Ethiopia as a regional power at the expense of Eritrea. The reason behind this adventure is that the Addis Ababa rulers harbor the absolute conviction that they are incapable to redraw the region of the African Horn according to heir vision as long as Eritrea exists as it is now, as an independent state that acquires its political and diplomatic weight supported by a viable military power. This apart from Eritrea has a promising economic future made possible by the developmental leaps that it has achieved in many fields. This was testified to by the UNDP even amidst circumstances described as unfavorable.

Unfortunately for the Woyane, the Ethiopian agenda for war soon deteriorate into personal rivalries. The political leadership of Ethiopia suddenly developed a severe case of inferiority complex when they compared themselves to the qualities of a charismatic leader like President Isaias Afwerki, particularly when matters came to the diplomatic, political, regional, continental and the international theater. That was the psychological motive behind it all. The vicious propaganda attacks, freely unleashed against Eritrea on daily basis are no more than a blind groping for a venting of their suppressed negative emotions.

In the event, the Ethiopian military machine had practically proven itself ineffective in the face of the steadfastness of the Eritrean people, government and defense forces. On the other hand, the internal crisis and squabbles within the Ethiopian regime have aggravated, leading Ethiopia out of the game of exchanging the conspiratorial roles. The whole affair was again entrusted to Yemen, which restarted with its usual provocative actions against Eritrea in the Red Sea, being pushed from behind by both the Khartoum and the Addis Ababa regimes.

Sana’a's Provocations and Blackmailing

Following the failure of the three military offensives that Ethiopia waged against Eritrea, and the subsequent succumbing of the Ethiopian regime to legal arbitration by signing the Agreement of Cessation of Hostilities in Algiers, Ethiopia temporarily withdrew out of the stage to take care for its domestic crisis, and the role was once again was relayed to Yemen.

Once again, the showdown commenced with Yemeni fishermen as the spearhead for aggressive acts. They provocatively started fishing inside the Eritrean territorial waters, a practice paralleled by another round of war of words unleashed against Eritrea by the Yemeni propaganda machine. The Yemeni media unnecessarily started beating the drums of war. Of course, the green light for this rabid campaign was given by the political leadership to instigate a flare up of the situation in the Southern Red Sea region. This coincided with the halt of the Ethiopian offensives.

This time around, too, the formal Yemeni reading of the political, military, economic and social realities in Eritrea was erroneous. Yemen believed that Eritrea had come out dispirited and weakened by the Ethiopian offensives. Thereby it miscalculated that Eritrea was an easy prey for any humiliating provocations and blackmailing; hence, Yemen thought it could extract more compromises and concessions from Eritrea which it could not previously acquire by way of legal arbitration, in terms of having the right for fishing in the Eritrean territorial waters. The attempt, as we explained in the first part of this study, was again futile.

Having, understood the futility of its provocative and blackmailing acts, the Yemeni side decided to mess up the whole region, as it tried before. However, Eritrea spectacularly frustrated that plan too; with the burning issues of terrorism, security concerns inland as well as off-shore, the Yemeni regime found its boat actually overloaded, if not about to sink. So the question of overthrowing the Eritrean government was suddenly thrown into the lap of the NIF regime of Khartoum, which tried to find a scapegoat in Eritrea for the fall of the garrison at Hamashkoreib to the hands of the Sudanese opposition forces, on the 5th of October, 2002.

For that reason, the Khartoum NIF regime directed countless accusations and allegations against Eritrea as the mastermind behind the Sudanese government's military setbacks in eastern Sudan. And thus we come full circle back to square one, so to speak, with the threat on the part of the NIF regime to take political, diplomatic and military action against Eritrea. A threat that can only been imagined to be carried by none other than terrorist elements who are being sought for by international justice, among a handful of mercenaries and traitors.

The Sana’a Soap Opera Summit

For the farce to reach its anticlimax, the poor political scenario of the Sana’a axis, produced another boring and sinister small play, directed by Sebhat Negga, one of the Woyane key leaders, aided by Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister, assisted by Seyoum Mesfin, the Woyane Foreign Minister, and Major General Samora Yunis. The cast of the whole puppet show was to be played by the same traitors, terrorists and agents of yesterday’s garbage thrown out of the Eritrean context, those who could not be worse today.

The least that can be said about such elements, formed by a political fabric of childish leftists, Islamist fundamentalists, Arabist mercenaries and opportunists, all irrelevant to the Eritrea of today, were assembled together by the leaders of Khartoum, Sana’a and Addis Ababa. The combination played the harp of territorial compromises in case they assumed power in Asmara. Could there be an uglier betrayal to one’s own nation? Could there be a more base and depraved treachery by these elements who dare to speak on behalf of the Eritrean nation? Eritreans are aware of the high treason that became so habitual and a byword for these elements against the Eritrean sovereignty.

A look into the agenda of each of the components of Sana’a Axis reveals how much disparity exists among the three regimes. As for Khartoum, it has Islamist fundamentalist covert intentions towards Eritrea. On the other hand, Sana’a, from the period of Eritrean pre-independence it used to support only those factions in the Eritrean organizations that have Arabist tendencies or leanings. Now, those fragmentations are no more in the political landscape, Sana’a switched to be part of an unholy alliance against the Eritrean national interest.

As for Addis Ababa, the interests are territorial rather than ideological, as is the case with the aforementioned partners. Being the worst of all, the minority Woyane regime in Addis Ababa seeks to fragment the Eritrean people on ethnic, religious and tribalist lines similar to the Ethiopian model that enabled it to tighten its grip on the Ethiopian nation. The same divisive agenda is already being tried in Somalia.

These differences in the agendas of the states comprising the Sana’a Axis of belligerence are attributed to the political nature of the trio. It simply means that the whole process is based on tactical and provisional calculations. There isn’t any common strategic ground for them other than the enmity towards Eritrea, the people and the land.

It can safely be concluded that this Axis is not durable due to its inherent contradictory political nature and the different agendas that each party has towards Eritrea. In fact, all of the trio states have failed to solve their domestic crises, which have accumulated to a degree utter political bankruptcy, leading to further psychological depressions, reaching the point of total paralysis in every field. It is no wonder, then, that they resorted to a policy of trying to escape to the front towards their demise, after having exhausted a policy of retreating backwards.

Practically, this Sana’a Axis has no chance of survival, let alone to move a single stone from this lofty Eritrean mountain. It is no more than a tempest in a tea cup. Being an axis of tactical conspiracies, and not an axis of strategic co-operation, the Sana’a Axis is without any future, indeed.

Potentially posed for diminishing and vanishing at any moment, the Sana’a Axis is no more than a marriage of convenience utterly devoid of morality and ethical code of conduct; it is illegal, to say the least. Hence, it has no acceptance not only in the international community, but also among the fraternal peoples of the Sudan Yemen and Ethiopia.

The deadly virus that will eat away at this Axis is as visible as its present signs. In the near future we will witness either its explosion or implosion.