Ethiopia grooms Somalia for Eritrea intervention?

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, in a recent visit to Mogadishu, refused to give a date for Ethiopian troops to withdraw from Somalia, saying Somalia’s transition government and civil society leaders had asked Ethiopia not to abandon the Somali people. (Shabeelle Media Network, May 29) Now reports are mounting that Somali troops are actually headed for Ethiopia. The pro-Islamist Somali website Somaaljecel reports that Somalia’s President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, his Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi, and Ethiopian Foreign Minister Mesfin agreed in talks at Mogadishu “that it is the interim Somali government’s turn to help the Ethiopian government, which is planning to go into war with Eritrea soon.” (Somaaljecel, May 26)

Another pro-Islamist website, Goobjoog reports that over 5,000 Somali transition government soldiers have been deployed in Ethiopia for training—and some have been stationed along the Eritrean border in preparation for renewed hostilies. Goobjoog also says the Somali troops will be used in operations within Ethiopia against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). (Goobjoog, May 28)

In a commmuniqué, the ONLF reports that Ethiopian security forces have unleashed a wave of terror in the east of the country since the May 28 bombings in Jijiga and Degah Abur, with “indiscriminate shooting of civilians” leaving dozens dead. (ONLF commmuniqué, May 30) Ogaden Online News reports massive arrests of civilians in the region, including municipal officials. (Ogaden Online News, May 31)

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has issued a new report blasting the governments of Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea alike. In Somalia, civilians continue to suffer from factional violence as rival groups compete for political power, the report finds, accusing the transition government of failing to provide security for aid deliveries to 400,000 displaced persons in desperate need. In Ethiopia, arrests and political trials of opposition party leaders, journalists and human rights defenders remain widespread, as do deaths of civilians at the hands of security forces. In Eritrea, thousands of prisoners of conscience remain imprisoned, and religious minorities are barred from practicing their faith. (IRIN, May 24)

All sources via BBC Monitoring.

See our last posts on Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.