Ethiopia is accused of aiding Somali pirates
By Abdul Rahman Shaheen, Correspondent
March 15, 2009
Riyadh: Eritrean Minister of Information Ali Abdu accused some parties in the Ethiopian government of aiding and abetting pirates off the coast of Somalia in the Red Sea. "They are extending logistic support to the pirates besides harboring them at the Ethiopian camps located on the Somali-Ethiopian boarder regions. Ethiopian Troops gave them protection even inside Somali territories before their pull out," he said.
Speaking to Gulf News during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Ali Abdu accused that some decision makers at the Ethiopian government are the real beneficiaries of piracy, which brought them millions of dollars.
'"After carrying out each and every act of piracy, pirates used to flee into the Ethiopian camps on the Somali border," he said while reiterating that it is impossible to end this criminal activity without returning sovereignty to the government of Somalia and driving out all the regional and international players, especially the Ethiopian elements that are interfering in the internal affairs of the lawless country.
According to Ali Abdu, the issue of piracy on the Red Sea is directly linked to the anarchy and political instability in Somalia. "If this is not the position, why are these acts of piracy restricted to the Somali coast alone? Why aren't they taking place on the coasts of Eritrea or Sudan or Yemen? he asked.
Denying reports about Iranian security or military presences on the Eritrean coast, the minister challenged those who raise such claims to produce substantial evidence for it. "These were false notions and were tantamount to the claims that have been raised ever since 15 years about the security and military presence of Israel on the Red Sea off the cost of Eritrea," he said while stressing that Eritrea is an independent sovereign country maintaining diplomatic relations with various countries in a way protecting the interests of the people of the country.
"We have never made relations with any country either in the East or the West in a way putting at risk the interests of our people. Likewise, we are not in need of the support of the military forces of any country," he clarified.
Replying to a question about Eritrea's continued opposition to the new government of Somalia under President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed even though several countries came forward in recognizing it, Ali Abdu said that this was nothing to do with Sharif Sheikh Ahmed or Abdullah Yousuf or anybody else.
"Rather we are only concerned about the security, sovereignty and stability of Somalia. It is unacceptable for Eritrea to recognize any government in Somalia that was imposed by one foreign country or the other," he asserted.
According to Ali Abdu, the government of Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is a group of individuals pushed to the Somali leadership. "Recognition of the new Somali government by some countries is not a significant thing as these countries' role in Somalia was that of mediation.
That doesn't mean that the government is really representing the people of Somalia," he said while drawing attention to the fact that the new government, though recognized by a large number of countries, is still facing stiff popular resistance in the country.
Ali Abdu noted that Eritrean government last month underlined the need for pulling out of the African Peace Keeping Forces (AMISOM), comprising of 3200 troops from Uganda and Burundi, from Somalia in order to ensure peace and security in the violent-stricken Horn of Africa country. "Eritrea sees that it is inevitable to establish durable peace in Somalia. Ending the so called foreign interference and occupation should be put as a mandatory condition for realizing the aspirations of Somali people in rebuilding the war-ravaged country," he said.
The Eritrean minister renewed his country's solidarity with the government and people of Sudan against the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Sudanese President Omar Bashir on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Darfur region. "Such decisions would undermine the sovereignty and unity of Sudan.
Eritrea has rejected outright the arbitrary move of ICC on the very first day. We are of the firm view that the ICC move is posing a threat not merely to Sudan and its president but to all the countries in the region as well," the minister said.
Referring to a question about Eritrea's rejection of a Libyan initiative to solve the border dispute with Ethiopia, Ali Abdu said that the International Border Commission that was constituted following the Algiers Accord of 2000, had come forward with the final settlement of the border dispute between the two countries. "There was an agreement between the two countries earlier to accept provisions of the settlement.
However, the Ethiopian regime disavowed the agreement and refused to implement its provisions," he said while rejecting any new initiative to settle the differences with Ethiopia as ‘they are not at all political'. "On the other hand, they are purely legal concerning with occupation of our land. We are determined not to hold talks with the neighboring country unless it withdraw forces from the Eritrean territories," he said.
Ali Abdu refused to comment on the allegations of former US Administration that Eritrea was behind inciting troubles in Somalia. "False accusations against Eritrea were gone with the Bush Administration. Everybody knows the positive role of Eritrean government in Somalia as well as in its efforts to solve the problems in eastern Sudan, its mediatory role between Sudan and Chad and efforts to solve the Darfur problem,' he said.
Referring to the government of Barack Obama, he hoped that the new US Administration would adopt a balanced and peaceful approach in its dealings with Eritrea. Ali Abdu blamed former President Bush for deteriorating the relations between Eritrea and the United States.