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Mutilating Eritrea along its lines of cleavage: Unfinished Business

posted 29 Jan 2012, 06:38 by D Woldeab

The United Nations Security Council imposed bizarre sanctions on Eritrea under Resolution 1907(2009) based on unfounded accusations that Eritrea is supporting forces fighting the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and that Eritrea has failed to comply with Security Council requests to resolve a border dispute with Djibouti.  The United Nations has not made its evidence public for a simple reason that it would not withstand scrutiny.  This is not the first time that Eritrea has been subjected to gross injustice and Eritrea’s history is rife with examples of the United Nations and others trying to wipe it off the face of the earth.    

“Eritrea is.......ethnically disunited and economically non-viable, there is no good reason for preserving it as an administrative unit under any form of administration, whether under Individual Trusteeship or restored Italian rule. The right solution would seem to be to dismember it along its natural lines of cleavage.”

You will find the above statement on page 14 of a memorandum written by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the British Cabinet on the 18th of April 1946.    The British National Archive contains countless volumes of documents relating to Eritrea which were at one time classified with headings such as “SECRET”, “CONFIDENTIAL” and “TO BE KEPT UNDER LOCK AND KEY” and warnings for special care to be taken to “ensure the secrecy of document.”  These documents, at times written in a repulsive language, not least the outright disregard to international law, are classic demonstrations of what still goes on vis-à-vis the powers that be and the rest of the world.  The documents also reveal that the injustice perpetuated against Eritrea is merely a continuation of the unfinished business they started long ago.  

There is no secret about the motives behind the sanctions imposed on Eritrea under Resolution 1907(2009) at the behest of the USA and UK governments.  This time, there wasn’t much attempt to cover up the real motive or keep them under lock.  The intentions were made abundantly clear and the message is “toe the line or else......”        

“If Eritrea is given to Abyssinia little harm would be done to the British strategic position” says one of the unclassified documents.  The interest of the people of Eritrea was of little or no interest to the British.   If the strategic goals and interests of the powerful few demand that Eritrea is destabilised or disfigured, so be it.   This remains to be the case today.

The fact that the Bevin-Sforza plan intended to dismember Eritrea was defeated at the UN did not go down well with the British.  They were clearly incensed by the outcome and made it clear they were not going to rest until they saw a complete mutilation of Eritrea.  In a cabinet meeting that the Prime Minster of Britain chaired at the time, the following was agreed:

“It had become clear that there was no likelihood of the adoption by the United Nations of the solution which the United Kingdom Government had hitherto advocated........... should the Interim Committee [of the UN] reject the draft resolution [for federal arrangement], the Government should remain free to return to advocating the former policy of partition”

                                                                                The British Cabinet, 06 September 1950

When the plan to ‘Kashimirize’ Eritrea failed, the federal arrangement was conceived against the wishes of the majority of Eritreans.  In 1952, John Foster Dulles, who later become the  Foreign Secretary of the USA, made it clear why the decision to forcefully federate Eritrea with Ethiopia was taken by the UN.  He said that Eritrea has to be linked with Ethiopia in order to benefit the strategic interests of the USA.  The present day Dulles equivalent, Susan Rice, may not have been as forthright as her predecessor, but we cannot fail to notice the deceit and treachery in her speech after the sanctions were imposed.   Susan Rice worked tirelessly out of a personal grudge and her name will be remembered in the history of Eritrea with disdain along with Dulles, Stafford, Longrigg and many others that caused so much pain and suffering to the people of Eritrea.

It must also be remembered that it was James Bevan, the British Director for Africa, who said that he would not “shoot Ethiopia on the head” for not accepting the decision of the Boundary commission and encouraged Ethiopia to defy an international ruling.   It was Chris Mullin, the British Minister for Africa, who coined the term “accepting, in principle,” the decision of the Boundary Commission.  Tony Blair picked Meles Zenawi in his now defunct African Commission.  It was former British diplomats who advised Meles what to say and what to do and he complied.  The decision of the Boundary Commission has not been implemented for the simple reason that peace in the Horn of Africa will not serve the strategic interests of some of the bigger powers in the world.  Documents classified 30 years from now will no doubt reveal the crimes that are being committed against the people of Eritrea today.

The path that Eritrea has chosen for itself clashes with the domination oriented and hegemonic desire of some Western powers.   The desire to control others by advancing geo-political and strategic interest at the expense of others has always been the motivation behind their foreign policy.  Resolution 1907 (2009) has to be seen within this context.  This is another attempt to bring Eritrea down to its knees.  The United Nations Security Council is yet again being drafted as a cover to subjugate another of its members and disguise the real motive behind this resolution.  Unfortunately, the United Nations, which was meant to protect smaller nations, but has become the tool by which the super-bully of this world subjugates countries that it does not like. 

Since the 1940s, Eritreans have not stopped demonstrating and demanding for their rights to be respected.  Our forefathers travelled across lands and oceans to hand in petitions and call on the United Nations to respect their rights.  The streets of European cities including Geneva have witnessed numerous Eritrean demonstrations in the 70s and 80s.  22nd of February 2010 will be another day when thousands of Eritreans from all walks of life will flock to Geneva and other major cities in the world to make their voices heard.   Still, it will yet again be another historic day when Eritreans will make their stance against a gross injustice.   The sanctions imposed on Eritrea are simply unjust and unacceptable for a number of reasons worth repeating here:-

1.      The accusations levelled against Eritrea by the Somali Arms Monitoring Group used as a basis for the sanctions, have been proven to be fabricated beyond any doubt;

2.      Resolution 1907 (2009) was passed despite a telling absence of credible evidence to support the allegations that were made against Eritrea.  The government of Eritrea has vehemently denied the accusation and its consistent request for hard evidence to support the accusations has been ignored.  Any self respecting judge anywhere in the world would have thrown the case out of court for lack of evidence.  The UN has become a law unto itself;

3.      Whilst the UN Arms Monitoring Group made equal allegations against eight other countries relating to the violation of the Somali Arms Embargo, only Eritrea has been targeted for sanctions.  In one of the ‘Eritrea bashing’ sessions at the Chatham House recently, Martin Plaut of the BBC who is a known basher, admitted in public that Eritrea has been used as a political punch-bag by the UNSC.  Others who have been demonizing Eritrea for years admitted in private at the meeting that the sanctions were uncalled for and unfair.

4.      The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has admitted that there is no evidence linking Eritrea to the Monitoring Group’s charges.

5.      The UN Somalia Sanctions Committee and the South African UN representative Mr Dumisani Kumalo has reported that 80% of all ammunitions available at the Somali arms market was supplied by Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopian troops.  Amnesty International confirmed on the 21st of January 2010 that US shipment of arms to the Transitional Federal Government is being used to commit war crimes and human rights abuses in Somalia.  It is unthinkable for Eritrea to deliver weapons to Somali insurgents with a large French and American Army presence in the area.

6.      The description of the allegation against Eritrea by the UN Security Council has changed from “providing arms” to the insurgency to “providing political, financial, and logistical support”.    This itself is an admission by the accusers that there is no evidence of Eritrea supplying arms to Somali insurgents.   Imposing an arms embargo on Eritrea at a time when it is at war footing with Ethiopia and is fighting against terrorists armed and supported by Ethiopia is therefore a clear violation of its right to self defence against attack under Article 51of the UN Charter;

7.      With respect to Djibouti, Eritrea has made it clear that the problem can be resolved through bilateral efforts and failing that Eritrea is willing that the matter to be  addressed legally. This is a principled stand given the reputation of the UN in complicating issues.  

8.      Any observer would agree that the situation in Somalia is made worse as a result of Ethiopia’s invasion of the country at the behest of the US government.

9.      The UN Security Council failed to take action against Ethiopia for violating the final and binding border decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and illegally occupying Eritrea’s sovereign territory.  The Guarantors of the agreement have consistently failed to take action against Ethiopia for failing to implement the verdict as well as several UN resolutions.  Imposing sanctions on Eritrea is therefore a travesty of justice.   

The above demonstrates that the sanctions imposed on Eritrea are totally unfair and unjust. Resolution 1907 (2009) has nothing to do with bringing peace and stability to Somalia or the region as a whole.  It is intended to weaken and destabilize Eritrea.  It is an attack on the people of Eritrea and it is a crime against humanity.

The malicious act of trying to dismember Eritrea that started in the 1940s is still an unfinished business for some.  The plan may have taken a different form, but the attempt to destroy Eritrea as a unified nation still continues unabated.  

The aggression against Eritrea and its people will no doubt continue.  Until June 2010 when the sanctions are reviewed again, we expect unremitting accusations against Eritrea to create further pretexts to impose economic and other sanctions.   It is important that all Eritreans and peace loving citizens of this world oppose these unfair and unjust sanctions and defend the interest of the people of Eritrea.

Eritreans all over the world are getting ready for the forthcoming worldwide demonstrations on the 22nd of February 2010.  They will be expressing their anger and outrage at the Unjust, UNfair and UNacceptable sanctions imposed against Eritrea.   On this historic day, we should all stand up united and be counted for the people of Eritrea.  Here we come, Geneva......yet again. 

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