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Eritrea Faces Down Security Council (Sophia Tesfamariam)

posted 29 Jan 2012, 06:30 by D Woldeab

I borrowed the title for this article from page 345 of John Bolton’s book “Surrender is not an option”. Here is an excerpt: 
“…At one point I had a USUN staffer say at a Council experts meeting that the headline so far was “Eritrea Faces Down Security Council.” Characteristically British deputy perm rep Adam Thomson responded protectively that such a statement was “wounding to the Council, as indeed true statements often are…” 
Today, it is Eritrea’s statements of truth that are “wounding to the Council” and it has decided to shut Eritrea up. I believe the title is appropriate for this piece, because, just like the US, surrender is not an option, and in defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Government and people of Eritrea are once again forced to face down the UN Security Council. The UN Charter is clear, no State may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measures to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights, and yet today, the United States and United Kingdom governments want to do just that. Why? 
Why are some members of the Security Council, and especially the United States, pushing for sanctions against Eritrea? It is really quite simple….payback. It is payback for what Washington perceives to be Eritrea’s “arrogance”. If we were to follow the western media and the many orchestrated campaigns against Eritrea, it would not be hard to find the many contentious issues that have soured US-Eritrea relations. From USAID and NGOs in Eritrea, to the UN peacekeeping mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE), to Washington’s policy in Somalia, there is a lot that has happened. It looks like Washington has now decided to punish Eritrea for not toeing Washington’s line and is using any and all pretexts-Somalia, Djibouti, peace and stability in the Horn etc. etc. in pursuit of the illegal, unjust and unfair sanctions against Eritrea. 
The call for sanctions against Eritrea is a result of an unprecedented campaign by Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda, all egged on by Ethiopia and the United States in a continuation of a hostile 60-year history between the US State Department and Eritrea. It is a culmination of several hostile acts and statements against Eritrea by US diplomats in the last 10 years. As if the 8-year long threats and vilification campaigns spearheaded by incompetent and vindictive junior diplomats in the Bush Administration, such as Jendayi E. Frazer, were not enough, the assault continues today in the Obama Administration with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the lead, Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Johnny Carson, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and several other US officials making unsubstantiated allegations and threats of actions against Eritrea for exercising her sovereign rights. 
Today, I want to address one of the contentious issues that have brought US-Eritrea relations to a head and the one issue that the US is using to rally other members of the Security Council-who stand to loose when a lucrative peacekeeping mission goes under. It is the issue of UNMEE, the United Nations peacekeeping mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia. It should be recalled that the US had openly threatened to punish Eritrea for not allowing the UN Mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) stationed in a 15.5-mile (25-km) zone to remain in its territories indefinitely, as was envisioned by Kofi Anann, Ethiopia and its handlers. 
Reuters, in its 22 April 2008 news with a glaring headline, “UN council angered at Eritrea over border force” reported another threat made by Alejandro Wolff, Deputy Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations: 
“…U.S. envoy Alejandro Wolff said there was "a mood in the council of great, great dissatisfaction at the manner in which Eritrea has handled this," and accused the Eritreans of "shooting themselves in the foot…In the long term Eritrea will pay a big price for this misjudgment," he told reporters, without elaborating…” 
Without addressing the merits or de-merits of peacekeeping, allow me to take a look at the scandal-ridden UN peacekeeping mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia, its 8-year long tenure and its unceremonious disbanding in February of 2008. 
On 18 June 2000, a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CHA) was signed between the Governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia. In accordance with the CHA, a peacekeeping mission, the United Nations Mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) was deployed with a clear mandate. UNMEE was to monitor the cessation of hostilities; monitor the redeployment of Ethiopian troops; and monitor the 25,000 square kilometer temporary security zone (TSZ) established along the Eritrea Ethiopia border, entirely on sovereign Eritrean territories. 
In addition to a clear mandate, UNMEE also had a clear end date. According to the 18 June 2000 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed by the Governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia: 
“…The Peacekeeping Mission shall terminate when the delimitation-demarcation process of the border has been completed …” 
The Algiers Agreement which was signed on 12 December 2000 in Algeria by H.E. President Isaias Afwerki for Eritrea and by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for Ethiopia and witnessed and guaranteed by Secretary General Kofi Annan representing the United Nations, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of the Democratic Republic of Algeria, President Obasanjo of Nigeria, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright representing the United States, Secretary General, Salim Ahmed Salim representing the OAU, and Senator Renato Serri representing the European Union, and states that the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) alone had the sole authority and mandate to delineate and demarcate the Eritrea Ethiopia border. The EEBC delivered its delimitation decision on 13 April 2002 and its decision on the “virtual demarcation” (demarcation by placing coordinates on maps) came on 30 November 2007. 
In the years leading up to the “virtual demarcation”, the EEBC’s work was interrupted, not just by Ethiopia’s intransigence and belligerence, but also by the US State Department, Jendayi E. Frazer and Kofi Annan, who came up with several other interventions of their own. A detailed list of Ethiopia’s numerous obstructions to the EEBC’s work, as well as intimidations and harassments of the Commission and its staff, can be found in the 26 November Statement of the Commission to the Security Council. Ethiopia, emboldened by the diplomatic, financial, and military shield and support it received refused to allow for the physical demarcation (pillars on the ground) of the Eritrea Ethiopia border. Here are a few examples of the political interventions that emboldened Ethiopia to blatantly flout international law. 
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan interfered with the work of the Commission in a bid to hijack its sole mandate (to delimit and demarcate the Eritrea Ethiopia border) according to the Algiers Agreements. The first attempt by Kofi Annan to interfere in the work of the Commission came by way of Lloyd Axworthy’s appointment as his Special Envoy. As the record shows, in an interview with IRIN on 5 January 2004, Axworthy exposed the true mission of his assignment by saying: 

"… The boundary commission's decision needs to be developed…I think there is a different kind of process that may be helpful…" 
Annan and Frazer orchestrated the very transparent “Meeting of the Witnesses” ploy which introduced a “technical facilitator”. Parroting the minority regime’s deceptive arguments and excuses, she introduced General George Fulford, who she figured could serve as a “technical facilitator” to the EEBC. He was brought in to assist the EEBC with the drawing of a “workable boundary”. According to Frazer’s interview on Voice of America's "Straight Talk Africa" on 1 February 2006, “…the demarcation has to be done according to what is just and reasonable…” Frazer also tried to introduce a “satellite technology” map at an EEBC meeting in the spring of 2006. General Fulford “rather unwisely, wrote to Eritrea's Legal Counsel saying that he was seeking operational latitude to shift the boundary by about 1km”, presuming to put Badme within Ethiopia. 
Eritrea has since learned that the US State Department and Jendayi E. Frazer had made several other attempts to reverse, revise and change the EEBC’s decision. Frazer wanted Badme, the flashpoint for the conflict that was unequivocally awarded to Eritrea, to be ruled Ethiopian. The first revelation of Frazer’s illegal attempts came from John Bolton, US Ambassador to the United Nations. In his recently published memoir – “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad” (Threshold Editions) –Ambassador Bolton states that in February 2006, Jendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs informed him that she wanted him to “reopen” the 2002 EEBC decision. 
Bolton describes his surprise at Frazer’s position, because in January 2006, he had gotten the Security Council to agree to a Frazer-led “U.S. initiative” on the border issue. Bolton believed that the “Initiative” would focus solely on the expeditious implementation of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s (EEBC) Final and Binding decision delivered on 13 April 2002. He was in for a surprise. Here is what he wrote on the now infamous Page 347: 

“…For reasons I never understood Frazer reversed course, and asked in early February to reopen the 2002 decision, which she had concluded was wrong, and award a major piece of disputed territory to Ethiopia. I was at a loss how to explain that to the Security Council, so I didn't…” 
The recently leaked 26 June 2006 UN memo from Mr. Azouz Ennifar, Acting head of UNMEE to Mr. Jean-Marie Guehenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations also details her attempts to scuttle the demarcation process. 
In addition to refusing to take punitive actions against Ethiopia for its refusal to abide by the EEBC’s delimitation and demarcation decisions, directives and orders, the Security Council ignored and downplayed Ethiopia’s numerous violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreements from the get go. From the establishment of the TSZ to the issue of direct flights and more, Ethiopia undermined UNMEE and prevented it from fulfilling its mandate. 
The Security Council and Kofi Annan also ignored the conduct of UN peacekeepers in Eritrea. For the record, allow me to mention the most notorious incidents, which by the way contributed to the widely reported, but never explained “restrictions of UNMEE’s movement in Eritrea”. Furthermore, coupled with all the political problems associated with the UN Mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia, the conduct of its peacekeepers added other grave concern to the Government and people of Eritrea. UNMEE violated the trust of the people of Eritrea by committing various offenses during their 8 year long stay in Eritrea. the offenses included espionage, housing criminals, sexual abuse, prostitution, pedophilia, murder, pornography, defacing the national currency, prostitution, human trafficking and more. 
Despite the often repeated and widely distributed lies about UNMEE and its mission, the reasons for its failure and subsequent disbanding rests solely with the UN, US and Ethiopia. On Page 344 of his book, John Bolton writes about Ethiopia’s refusal to comply with the Algiers Agreements and UNMEE. He wrote: 
“…The Security Council, after three years of watching the grass grow, should now determine whether both parties were still prepared to adhere to their commitments. If so, then demarcation should proceed, or if not, it was time to terminate UNMEE, which was simply propping up Ethiopia’s flat out violation of its commitments…” 
In the end, UNMEE had become an occupation force. It was occupying fertile Eritrean territories in the Gash Barka region of Eritrea, Eritrea’s bread basket and was hindering Eritrea’s development and efforts for ensuring food security. 
In February 2008, a couple of weeks before Ban Ki Moon´s and the UN’s unilateral decision to "relocate UNMEE to Ethiopia", the Secretary General and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) orchestrated a two-week long defamation and vilification campaign against the Government and people of Eritrea in order to justify UNMEE´s "relocation to Ethiopia". Citing flimsy and exaggerated pretexts such as "Eritrea cuts fuel to UNMEE", "Eritrea refused to allow food delivery" etc. etc. hoping to garner public sympathy, without ever consulting Eritrea, or getting permission to cross Eritrea’s international borders, acting like thieves in the night, Moon and his cohorts in Ethiopia decided to move UNMEE equipment and personnel across the Eritrea Ethiopia border on 13 February 2008. 

The decision to "temporarily relocate" UNMEE troops from Eritrea to Ethiopia, which led to its eventual disbandment, was done through closed consultations between the UN Secretary-General and Meles Zenawi, the leader of the minority regime in Ethiopia, on the fringes of the AU summit at the end January 2008. Eritrea was kept in the dark about this decision until the day earlier before the UN troops had completed their preparations to cross the border to Ethiopia. As it happened, the UN informed Eritrea through the 12 February 2008 "Note Verbale" regarding the relocation to Ethiopia that was scheduled to take place in the morning of 13 February 2008. UNMEE was also relocating to sovereign Eritrean territories still under Ethiopian occupation and the Eritrean Foreign Ministry expressed its concerns and more in its 5 March 2008 Press Release: 

"…The UNMEE Force Commander (FC) further informed Eritrean Government authorities in Asmara that relocation would be for the contingent on sector west to move to Badme; from the center to Zalambesa and from the east to Bure. The FC had no answer when asked how they could contemplate moving troops to Badme if this was relocation to Ethiopia. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) later denied and retracted the information…The Government of Eritrea was not provided in advance with the plan for the movement, handling of the Mission's heavy equipment and other necessary details…" 

My European sources in Asmara tell me that the US Embassy in Asmara circulated malicious and erroneous rumors amongst the diplomatic core about Eritrea confiscating UNMEE’s equipments, which the western media was only too happy to disseminate without any verification. On 30 July 2008, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1827 terminating the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), because it could not justify its continued presence on sovereign Eritrean territories. According to the UN, equipment from the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), including 400 accommodation units were deployed in Mogadishu in support of AMISOM, following the liquidation of that operation in Eritrea. 
If the US led Security Council is angry about UNMEE’s unceremonious disbandment, it has only itself to blame. Had it enforced its decisions and resolutions enforced the EEBC decision and international law, the UN Mission would have been a success and the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia would have been living in peace within their internationally recognized borders. 
Finally, the Security Council does not have the right to punish Eritrea for exercising its sovereign rights which are protected under the UN Charter. The US and Eritrea may have had , and may continue to have, many political differences, but that does not give the US the moral or legal right to use the Security Council as a bully pulpit to subordinate Eritrea’s sovereignty, security, stability and development in order to advance its own interests in the region. 
The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!