… while Eritrea continues its questionable policies in the region

The UN Monitoring Group's Report on Somalia and Eritrea which was released in November last year, disclosed consistent evidence of Eritrean support for armed groups operating in both Ethiopia and Djibouti as well as proof of Eritrean support for the anti-Djiboutian movement. It also noted the new strategic military relationship between Eritrea and Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates that it argued might involve providing military assistance to Eritrea that was banned under UN arms embargo. We detailed the comments of the Monitoring Group in November 12 this past year: (http://www.mfa.gov.et/web/guest/-/the-un-monitoring-group-concerned-at-eritrean-arms-embargo-violations).

Even after the release of the UN Monitoring Group, reliable sources have provided evidence that the Government in Asmara has continued to intensify its destructive activities in destabilizing the region. Eritrean authorities have continued to provide financial and other forms of assistance to terrorist groups. Far from claims that it "reduced" support to the Al-Shabaab, there have been recent reports that Eritrea is scaling up its relationship with its long-time collaborator once again, becoming involved in maritime shipment of weapons. This, of course, is a violation of the latest UN Security Council arms embargo resolution 2317, adopted on November 10, 2016.

There is also evidence that Eritrea has launched an aggressive military expansion program over the last few weeks. Military intelligence sources indicate that Eritrea had expanded the training program at the Gedhem Training Base, approximately 13 Km south of the port of Massawa. The country's naval forces use the Gedhem Training Base. Other reports show that there are ongoing expansion activities at the new military and naval base at Assab Airport along with recent arrival of more armored fighting vehicles.  

As the UN Monitoring Group underlined in November, Eritrea has also continued its consistent support for armed groups operating in Ethiopia. These include the newly "remodeled" Patriotic Ginbot 7, some of whose leaders have withdrawn to the US expressing concern over Eritrean control of the organization, leaving Dr. Berhanu Negu as a sole surviving leader, approved by President Isaias. Three weeks after the Monitoring Group Report was released, an Eritrean-backed terrorist attack by Ginbot 7 was foiled in northern Ethiopia. Local men and women along with local security forces in northern Tigray Regional State intercepted a group of 113 attempting to infiltrate into Ethiopia. Fifteen of the group were killed in a shoot-out and 73 captured during the operation. It was a very clear indication that the Government in Asmara was not taking the reports of the UN Monitoring Group Report seriously, and that it was determined to continue its efforts to destabilize Ethiopia and disrupt development inside the country by supporting destructive elements.