While Eritrea has in the past been repeatedly accused of supporting Somalia’s Islamist militia Al Shabaab, a charge it strenuously denies, the current report catalogues Afewerki’s growing notoriety in the world of terrorism finance, and in particular the global web through which these funds are routed, with Kenya serving as a global transaction distribution hub.
The report details the country’s activities in funding the terror group, following the money trail from its citizens in the diaspora in Europe and North America, through Dubai and the Eritrean embassy in Nairobi, and into the hands of Al Shabaab, all the while concealed in convoluted and opaque informal financial networks.
That is The East African reporting on Eritrea’s support for armed groups in the wider eastern African region. Mr. Afewerki’s actions are a threat to regional security for the following reasons:
1. Eritrea’s (opportunistic and cynically instrumental) use of Islam as a galvanizing force (against “Christian” Ethiopia) threatens to ignite a wider regional conflict that would probably include North Sudan and Egypt. The reason this is likely is because:
(a) Remember that the use of the waters of the Nile continues to be a source of friction between Egypt and the riparian states of eastern Africa. Egypt itself has in the past been linked to armed groups in Somalia opposed to Ethiopian rule of the Ogaden region. Both countries have a history of funding rival clan militias in Somalia. In all of this the principle of my enemies’ enemies’ are my friends will most likely apply.
(b) Because of its own problems with South Sudan, North Sudan might have an interest in using Eritrea’s networks to destabilize its southern neighbor. Recently the government of South Sudan banned all people of Somali origin from entering the country by land for security reasons. Juba clearly suspects either direct or indirect links between Khartoum and the myriad armed groups in war-torn Somalia
2. Given that the groups it supports (e.g. al-Shabaab) have other enemies besides Ethiopia, President Afewerki has effectively declared war on countries like Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan and Kenya that have also either been attacked or threatened by al-Shabaab. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of these EAC states decided to materially support the Ethiopian side the next time Addis and Asmara fight over their barren disputed border lands.
Isaias is indeed a BAD BOY.
Having said that, Eritrea sent a gave the SLPA a lot of help during their civil war. There are still a lot of Eritreans in South Sudan. who are running bars and driving taxis etc. They came over as light artillery and tank drivers. Men AND women. The SLPA loves the Eritreans. Of course, the Eritrean resistance was also with Meles when he rolled into Addis and finished off the Derg and we know how the Isais/Meles relationship ended. I really don’t think they’re silly enough to make common cause with Khartoum. The Sudanese government in Khartoum messes EVERYTHING up
Look, horrible things are happening in the Ogaden. Things no one talks about. I shed no tears for Ethiopia if somebody is helping the OLF. Helping al Shabab as documented in the UN Monitoring Group report, however, is just stupid — you’ve already succinctly explained why. I think that’s why the Eritreans have shimmied back to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and guess what, they’ve been welcomed with open arms.