THE UN Security Council earlier this month warned Eritrea it would consider action against anyone undermining peace in Somalia.
Monday, July 27, 2009
The warning followed an unprecedented appeal by African Union leaders to impose heavy sanctions on Eritrea for its alleged support to the Islamist insurgents, al-Shabaab.
Somalia’s President Sharif Ahmed, in an interview with The New Vision, accused Eritrea of helping al-Shabaab with arms and training, which has caused the deaths of many civilians and AU peacekeepers.
The arms supplies are in breach of a UN embargo that allows such shipments only to the Somali government. President Ahmed also accused Eritrea of being a transit route for foreign fighters who see Somalia as the next battleground for holy war.
For Eritrea’s leader, Isayas Afeworki, the main reason for backing the jihad in Somalia is to hurt Ethiopia, which supports the Somali transitional government. The two countries fought a bitter border war between 1998 and 2000 which killed tens of thousands of soldiers.
After the war ended, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, a body founded by the UN, established that Badme, the disputed territory at the heart of the conflict, belongs to Eritrea. But as of today, Ethiopia still occupies the territory. The two countries should stop fighting their war in Somalia.
Uganda, which is currently holding the presidency of the UN Security Council, should lobby for immediate and severe sanctions against Eritrea. At the same time, it should call upon Ethiopia to comply with the findings of the boundary commission and withdraw its troops from Badme.
Uganda should also use its intelligence on the ground to expose and condemn other countries aiding the Somali insurgents. The Enough Project, an American think-thank, believes arms shipments to al Shabaab have been paid for by Iran and Qatar.
Lastly, Uganda should use its clout to advocate more troops, equipment and funding for the AU peacekeeping force to enable it secure at least the entire capital.
Considering the threat a take-over by a group linked to al-Qaeda poses to the stability of the region and the whole world, the 4,300 peacekeepers are shamefully inadequate.
Source: New Vision, July 27, 2009