As is the case, at the behest and manipulation of the governments of the US and Ethiopia, on Wednesday 23rd December 2009 the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), imposed sanctions against Eritrea. The illegal sanctions against Eritrea which was adopted in the name of the UN, among other things, includes an arms embargo, travel restrictions and a freeze on the assets of Eritrea’s political and military leaders. In reaction to the UNSC sanctions imposed against Eritrea, I wrote then an article on January 14, 2010, titled “The UNSC Sanctions against Eritrea: “Based on Hard Evidence or Utter Lies?” In response to my article, many Eritreans from many parts of the world have written to me and genuinely asked to provide them with explanations as to how these sanctions will harm the Eritrean people. Many other Eritreans have also written to express their active support and solidarity. I shall therefore now attempt to address the issues and concerns raised by my compatriots
- Why Do I Oppose the Sanctions?
I opposed the harsh and unwarranted Resolution 1907 (2009) of December 23, 2009 made against Eritrea, especially so the arms embargo on the state of Eritrea while the country is still on a war footing with its arch enemy, TPLF/EPRDF Ethiopia, because, according to the UN charter, denying a country the right to buy arms for self-defence purposes is absolutely forbidden and illegal. Herein lie then the absurdity, illegality and dangers associated with the restrictions imposed against Eritrea. Furthermore, these inconsiderate sanctions embolden the TPLF rulers of Ethiopia, who are still occupying Eritrean sovereign territories illegally, to attack Eritrea with their crazy and unattainable political objective of effecting regime change in Eritrea. And I must say, God forbid, if war reignites again between the two countries, it is going to have a devastating impact not only in Eritrea and in the Horn of Africa, but also beyond the borders of the region. Indeed, if war starts now, it is going to be the mother of all wars ever fought in the region, and therefore the very existence of Eritrea and Ethiopia as we know them will be threatened seriously. This is the reason why these sanctions are not only unlawful, but also an irresponsible act committed by the great powers against a small and very young country.
The resolution against Eritrea is also illegitimate because there is no hard evidence to support the accusations levelled that the country poses a serious threat to its neighbours, or that it supplies weapons to groups opposed to the UN-supported transitional federal government of Somalia.
Indeed, the only document I personally have seen issued in the name of the UN which attempts to implicate Eritrea without any valid evidence is the “Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia”. Formed pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1676, November 2006, this group, amongst other things, alleges that Eritrea has deployed 2,000 soldiers to fight alongside Islamic Court fighters in various areas of Somalia. What is more, the said UN-sanctioned report also states that, in July 2006, Somali Islamic militants supported Hezbollah’s efforts in its war against Israel. In return, Lebanon reportedly provided weapons and training to the Somalis, with the help of Syria and Iran. The document also claims that Iran attempted to exchange arms for uranium. Furthermore, it details the “rampant arms flows” and military supplies to Somali Islamists from various African and Middle Eastern nations including Eritrea, Libya and Egypt. The report also alleges that military instructors from Eritrea, Egypt and Libya were involved actively in Somalia, providing training to Islamic fighters.
These allegations were rebuffed in two letters written in 2006 by the highest officials of the Eritrean government. The report of the UN Monitoring Group thus lacks in its entirety any credibility, inasmuch that the authors of the document provide no sources whatsoever for their information.
Additionally, has anybody asked why sanctions have been imposed only against Eritrea and not against the other countries mentioned in the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia? In other words, why was Eritrea singled out for sanctions? Indeed, if it was out of genuine concern for the peace and security of the region, shouldn’t the UNSC impose sanctions against the main culprit, Ethiopia, for its ugly involvement in Somalia?
In any case, since the authors of the report have totally failed to back up their claims with hard, or indeed tenuous, facts, many observers of the region consider it to be the work of intelligence operatives from countries deadly opposed to Eritrea. For the same reasons, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has also failed to be transparent on the Eritrea case or to present any hard evidence to corroborate these accusations other than stating that their “facts” are classified. As far as I am concerned, information which cannot be disclosed to the accused cannot be used also as authentic evidence, and in most cases information of this nature is obtained from intelligence sources which may or may not be based on facts. This is also why the authors of the Monitoring Group on Somalia could not provide the sources for their information and why the UNSC also failed to disclose the facts to the public related to the Eritrean case. In addition, referring to the report submitted by the Monitoring Group on Somalia, the UN Envoy for Somalia, Mr. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has admitted openly that there is no hard evidence to link Eritrea with these accusations. Moreover, the allegation that Eritrea deployed 2,000 soldiers in Somalia was proved later to be complete and utter nonsensical lies and pure fabrication. To clarify this issue further, following the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia in December 2006, with the exception of two journalists armed with cameras, not even one armed Eritrean soldier was found dead or alive in Somalia. This is then the truth and the whole truth surrounding Resolution 1907 against Eritrea. The rest is designed to confuse both you and me.
- Sanctions harm the Poor and not Government Officials
The question I am asking to myself here is this: why do I believe and advocate that sanctions harm the poor people in society and not government officials? Let me now explain and answer my question by providing some concrete and tangible examples. As the brutal and ugly experiences of Iraq and Zimbabwe – just to mention two countries that have been victimised by UNSC sanctions – have demonstrated, sanctions have a devastating effect on the people and not the government officials against whom the sanctions are said to be directed. Indeed, in both Iraq and Zimbabwe, it was first and foremost babies, children, old men and women who paid the highest price with their lives – and not the government officials of these countries. The people who died in both countries died because of lack of basic needs such as medicines, baby food, clean water, sanitised food and medical equipment. It was indeed reported that in Zimbabwe people were exposed and condemned to eating grass and wild roots, and even licked the dust in order to ensure their survival.
Likewise, sanctions imposed against Eritrea are most likely to harm the Eritrean people, especially so the most vulnerable members of the country’s society. It is heartbreaking to think that those already suffering from asthma, diabetes and lung- and heart-related problems, pregnant and breast feeding mothers, babies and children, the elderly, and economically marginalised members of Eritrean society, especially so those who live in malaria-infested regions, are going to suffer and die.
Why do I say so? I say so because, in the absence of established private import-export businesses in the country, most if not all of the medicines which could cure the ailments I have just mentioned have to be imported, and to import them the country and its political leadership have to have access to foreign currency. As far as my knowledge is concerned, all of the large import-export corporations in the country are owned and run by the PFDJ Eritrean government. Consequently, if strict sanctions are imposed on the government and the right to have access to the country’s foreign currency deposited in foreign banks is denied, how is it possible then for Eritrea to import all those life-saving medical and baby food items?
And how are all the development projects which are in the pipeline, especially so the agricultural projects which aim to enable the country to be self-sufficient in food production, to continue if the government cannot import fertilisers and other major agricultural requirements? How is the country going to import important hospital equipment and other essential spare parts?
If what I have stated above is true, would this not then directly jeopardising the lives of the Eritrean people as a whole? Do you think the authors and perpetuators of these ugly sanctions are not aware that the Eritrean people will be suffering greatly as a result of the so-called smart sanctions imposed on Eritrea? Who are these ladies and gentlemen at UNSC trying to fool? They could only fool those Eritreans who have special political interest in allowing themselves to be fooled, in order to promote their narrow and selfish political interests at the expense of the interests of the whole nation and at the peril of its people.
In view of what I have stated above, for me, it is rather incomprehensible to listen to people, who identify themselves as Eritreans, telling the Eritrean people not to demonstrate because the sanctions are not geared against them, but only against the government. This is similar to telling the chicken that the fox is not after her and will not harm her, as the fox is only after the eggs. What educated fools have the gall to tell their people such political fiction, which you could only dare to tell to a child at his/her bedside in order to make him sleep? This, though, is exactly the aim of the Eritrean political groups that support the sanctions, i.e. to confuse the people in order to make them fail to recognise the fatal aims of their enemies and to make them stay asleep until the enemy knocks on their doors.
For all of the above reasons I have stated, I discard the politically motivated presentations and the naming of the resolutions against Eritrea as “smart sanctions” and further reject the portrayal that the sanctions will not affect the Eritrean people as a cynical and deceptive formulation. I therefore consider the presentations of the sanctions as an underhanded ruse designed to divide Eritrean society between supporters and opponents of the sanctions. In so doing, the major political aim of the Security Council is to destroy the unity of the Eritrean people and in so doing weaken their ability to undertake solid, concerted resistance against the illegal UNSC-imposed sanctions. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, to say that the UNSC resolution does not affect the Eritrean people is political stupidity, which is just as good as saying to the hen that the vultures hovering over her head and positioning to attack are only meant for her, the mother, but not to her children. Obviously, this is deliberate political deceit designed to confuse the hunted by the hunters of the powerful nations and their Eritrean political allies, in order to take the people of our country by surprise. Nevertheless, unlike in the 1940s, this time the hunted will not lend their ear to the representatives of the hunters, because the hunted today have their own intellectuals capable of defending them against far bigger and voracious global political hunters.
Tuesday, 09 March 2010 01:36 Drs. Tsegezab Gebregergis