August 18, 2011 (ERITREA) – President Isaias Afwerki has come out and strongly condemned Al-Shabab for their fanatical ideologies and disintegration efforts of Somalia.
President Isaias denounced Al-Shabab in Uganda, where he was invited for a three-day visit to discuss regional stability, as well as increasing bilateral relations, at the request of President Yoweri Museveni.
“Al-Shabab is an extremist group whom we reject outright and have no reason to politically or financially be involved with a group that goes against our moral compass,” said Isaias.
“Shabab is serving the interests of those who want to maintain the disintegration of Somalia and give al Shabaab an opportunity to flourish and broaden its influence in Somalia.” Isaias added.
When asked by a reporter about alleged claims by the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) of Al-Shahab being financially supported by Eritrea, Isaias stated, “These accusations are built on assumptions, innuendos, guesses about this matter.”
“We don’t have a tradition of hijackings, kidnappings, (or) bombings in our history … It’s cowardly and it’s not part of our history… Now to simply fabricate and accumulate these lies and disseminate them to create an aura of suspicion about this or that on our credibility doesn’t work,” President Afwerki said.
The President of Uganda, who has contributed the lion’s share of troops to Somalia, agrees with Eritrea’s claims.
“The bombing here was done by al Shabaab but the issue here is that al Shabaab is not supported by Eritrea, that’s what Isaias told me and I accept it because he’s an honorable comrade, he’s not somebody who has walked out of the slums.” Yoweri Museveni said to reporters.
Western diplomats and regional analysts also seem to agree that there’s no real evidence to suggest Al-Shabab is being supported by Eritrea as well.
“There is very little evidence to suggest that Eritrea has, or is currently, supporting al-Shabab.” said Crisis Group’s Horn of African analysts, Mr. EJ Hogendoorn.
“There is essentially no concrete evidence that Eritrea continues to supply or assist Al Shabab over the past year and a half,” EJ Hogedoorn added.
Western diplomats have even encouraged Eritreans to remain vocally skeptical about alleged claims of Eritrea’s support of Al-Shabab.
“A number of ambassadors accredited to Eritrea remain vocally skeptical about Eritrean support to al-Shabaab and its ilk”, secret Wikileaks revelations of Mr. Ronald McMullen, the former U.S. ambassador to Eritrea revealed.
Other western diplomats have linked this alleged claim of Eritrea’s support of Al-Shabab by a few junior U.S. diplomats to that of Saddam Husien’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMD) claim.
“Are your claims of Eritrean support for al-Shabab like those of Saddam’s WMD program?”, said an unnamed western diplomat to the former U.S. ambassador to Eritrea, Mr. Ronald McMullen.
Eritrea’s excellent record in combating global terrorism revisited.
When the tragic incident of 9-11 took place, Eritrea was one of the first countries to assure the United States that it was morally obligated to assist it anyway it can on combating terrorism. Eritrea was also one of the few African states to join the Bush administrations “coalition of the willing”.
In a 2002 visit to Eritrea, the former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged the United States can learn a lot about battling terrorism from Eritrea.
“Rumsfeld noted the history of Eritrea when he said that the country of about 4.5 million people “has considerably more experience than we do over a sustained period of time” in battling terrorism. He said the United States can benefit from that experience.” By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service
Eritrea is one of the few nations in Africa with an extensive track record on combating terrorism, including fighting Osama Bin Laden himself.
In 1991, Osama moved to the Sudan and created his first training camps to attempt overthrow Eritrea’s Government and establish an Islamic State. Osama used his vast wealth and charisma to recruit Sudanese nationals, along with some Eritrean Islamic Jihadist and trained, armed and funded them in eastern Sudan military camps (this is why Eritrea created Sawa, Eritrea’s version of West Point in 1994, to combat Osama’s growing threats in eastern Sudan).
When Osama ordered his troops to attack Eritrea in 1994, Eritrea’s battle hardened military made quick work of his troops that likely numbered around 1000 men. After defeating Osama’s first Al Qaeda troops, Eritrea worked with the Clinton administration to pressure Sudan’s Al-Bashir to remove Osama Bin Laden from Sudan. It was only when Eritrean commandos were secretly neutralizing Osama’s commanders in the Sudan that Osama felt no longer untouchable and decided to flee the country in 1996 and head for Jalalabad, Afghanistan. With an established history in combating terrorism, it’s easy to understand why the leading Horn of Africa expert, Mr. Ted Dagne, stating the following quote about Eritrea to New York Times:
“If there is one country where the fighting of extremists and terrorists was a priority when it mattered, it was Eritrea,” said Ted Dagne, an Africa specialist for the Congressional Research Service. – By Jeffery Gentlemen, Sep 18, 2007, New York Times
Eritrea’s commitment to peace and security in the region.
In addition to joining IGAD, denouncing Al-Shabab, and working with Uganda to stabilize the region, Eritrea has been working relentlessly to facilitate peace agreements in Eastern Sudan, Darfur the Sudan and South Sudan, whom Eritrea enjoys excellent relations with.
Recently, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon took note of this and came out to applauded Eritrea’s “contribution to peace and stability in Sudan.”
“Eritrea is an important regional actor and its role for peace in Sudan has been significant.” The Secretary General said. He mentioned Eritrea’s facilitation of the East Sudan Peace Agreement and Eritrea’s role in the Darfur peace process, as well as Eritrea’s continued support for South Sudan as examples of Eritrea’s growing contribution to peace and security in the region..