Group recycles discredited disinformation to blame Eritrea

In an article on the heinous terrorist attack in Kenya last week published on the Heritage Foundation website, an ill-informed group of writers tries to recycle disinformation that was universally condemned as baseless and highly politicized in an attempt to tar the young Africa nation of Eritrea as a sponsor of terrorism.

The article, labeled as Issue Brief #4059, rightly calls for vigilance to combat the terrorist Somali group al-Shabaab that killed more than 60 innocent men, women and children in Nairobi, Kenya, last week.

However, it makes the horrendous mistake of associating secular Eritrea, which has been fighting terrorism since its birth as a nation in 1993, with the Islamist Somalia group, which openly declares its affiliation with al-Qaeda. “Eritrea continues to use the terrorist group as a proxy force against Ethiopia and their long-running disputes,” the group says. In an attempt to give its assertion an air of legitimacy, it quotes “a panel of U.N. experts [which] recently emphasized Eritrea’s ongoing involvement in undermining the security environment in Somalia.” However, the writers know or should know that the report by the this “panel of U.N. experts” was found to be groundless and highly politicized by almost all of the members of U.N. Security Council when it was presented to them last summer. Here is the list of nations on the Council which found the report unacceptable: Norway, Italy, South Africa, Russia, China ... Even the Somalia Government itself has rejected the report by the U.N. Monitoring Group to which the writers were referring.

And based on this baseless data from a discredited “panel of U.N. experts,” the article calls for the listing of Eritrea “as a state sponsor of terrorism.” This is the kind of unbridled and malicious campaign we have been witnessing over the last years coming from Eritrea’s traditional enemy, Ethiopia, and its Washington-based highly-paid lobbyists.

However, we would like to think that the group of the current article is uninformed or misinformed about the facts on the ground in the Horn of Africa in general and Eritrea in particular. Otherwise, it is preposterous to try to link Eritrea to terrorism. It fails to distinguish between those who fight against terrorism and those who sponsor or support it. This young African nation has been fighting terrorism since long before September 11, 2001—since the mid 1990s when Bin Laden set up shop in neighboring Sudan. Eritrea was in fact his first target. Eritrea is still fighting against two of al Qaeda’s cells that Bin Laden created in the 1990s—the Eritrean Jihad Movement and the Eritrean Islamic Salvation Movement—that Ethiopia has been coddling as part of the so-called alliance it finances and trains to destabilize Eritrea.

If anyone thinks isolating Eritrea serves U.S. interest, they have no clue what American national interest is in the troubled Horn of Africa region or who could genuinely stand on the side of the American people. A sound US policy for the Horn of Africa requires a thorough understanding of the complexity of the issues that define the crises that engulf the region. The OEA believes that a short-sighted policy for the Horn of Africa is likely to jeopardize long-term U.S. interests in the region, and even the rest of the continent.