UN report: Eritrea arms, Ethiopia fuels Somali insurgents

A new report to the UN Security Council finds that Eritrea has secretly supplied “huge quantities of arms” to a Somali insurgent group with supposed links to al-Qaeda, in violation of an international embargo. “Somalia is awash with arms,” the Monitoring Group on Somalia said in its report handed in to the Security Council last week and leaked to the AP. It accuses Eritrea of flying shipments of surface-to-air missiles, explosives and other arms to the Islamic insurgent group known as the Shabab. Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu called the accusations a “big lie,” adding: “These allegations are not new and we know where they are coming from. The UN is acting as a megaphone of the United States.” But the report also has criticisms of Ethiopia. It accuses Ethiopian troops of using white phosphorous bombs against insurgents in a April 13 battle that left 15 fighters and 35 civilians dead—one of many such abuses. “Whatever little confidence there was in the ability of the transitional Somali government to rule is fast eroding,” the report states. “Antagonism against Ethiopia is at a crescendo, clearly not being helped by the Ethiopian army’s heavy-handed response to insurgent attacks involving the use of disproportionate force.” (AP, AlJazeera, July 26)

See our last post on Somalia, Eritrea and the struggle for the Horn of Africa.