Yemane Interviewed on Sanctions, Somalia &
21 -- After the Eritrea
meeting of the UN Security
Council on July 19, which Inner City Press was one of only two
outlets to go to cover, and of the two the only one to write about it,
to the UN reached out to offer an interview with Yemane
Ghebreab, special political adviser to President Isaias Afwerki.
with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on July 8 in Juba, the day
before South Sudan's independence. In the UN read-out afterward, and
in response to questions from Inner City Press, the UN insisted that
the topic of Somalia was not discussed, that “the read out speaks
Ghebreab on July 21 told Inner City Press that Somalia was in fact
discussed with Ban. Video here.
sources in the
Security Council's closed door July 19 meeting said happened there,
Yemane Ghebreab denied that Eritrea has supported the Al Shabaab
rebels in Somalia. For this proposition, he argued that Eritrea is a
secular country, half Christian, and would not support Islamists.
that in the close door meeting the US, represented by Ambassador
Susan Rice, had urged further sanctions on Eritrea, including some
that would bar the diaspora from sending money home for development
projects, and block investment in mining, including by American
asked Yemane Ghebreab to contrast the positions of the US under
Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Yemane Ghebreab replied
that “we knew Susan Rice when she was with the Clinton
administration,” but now things were very hostile, that the US
alone wanted more sanctions. (Other Security Council sources later
disagreed with this assessment, while identifying the US as “the
that the US will support Ethiopia whatever it does, including
“violating international law” by holding on to Eritrean territory
including Badme, and buying 200 tanks while asking for aid money.
Inner City Press asked if he thought that Ethiopia being tapped as
provider of troops for Abyei in Sudan further isolated Eritrea. We do
not begrudge them their peacekeeping role, Yemane Ghebreab in essence
asked Yemane Ghebreab about the recent defections by Eritrean
athletes; he replied that was merely “migration."
Press asked if military aged males are not allowed passports. There
is “national service,” he said, like the draft the US had in the
Vietnam War era.
asked if the family of people who defect are punished. “Only if
they are complicit,” Yemane Ghebreab said. He said his country
became independent as the Cold War ended and things have not worked
out in the Horn of Africa as they had hoped. He said there is hope.
* * *
“Bashed” Despite Badme Land Claim,
the meeting to be closed to the press and public, but cannot invite
non Council members into its consultations. So it was called an
interactive dialogue and was held not in the Council chambers but on
the second floor of the UN's temporary North Lawn building.
Wang shook his head and told Inner City
Press he did not think the Council could solve this problem.
the middle of
the meeting, French Ambassador Gerard Araud emerged, bought a pastry
and stood eating it while studying a three dimensional carving of the
1269 B.C. treaty of Hattusilis and Ramses II, given to the UN by
Turkey in 1970. Next to him was a stone carving given to the UN by
Syria, a topic he's said to have raised in the Council's
consultations on July 18.
quipped of the Eritrea meeting, “They are not
kissing each other.”
the format that developed for the meeting,
saying that further “Eritrea bashing is not productive."
Eritrea Perm Rep Araya Desta, present at the meeting
added, of Eritrea, “they are isolated in their neighborhood, their
neighbors do not
like their foreign policy including in Somalia.”
while it had won a court decision that Badme and
other land belongs to it and not Ethiopia, the decision has not been
implemented. One Council member said that additional sanctions may be
imposed on Eritrea.
spiral: where will it end? Watch this site.
Footnote: the last
we heard from Eritrea at the UN, one of their representatives gave a
long speech at dawn before the meeting to approve the UN Peacekeeping
budget could be approved. Eritrea at the UN is always well spoken....
* * *
Is In Eye of Beholder, Meles Ego Blocks a Deal?
On Eritrea's request the UN Security Council will
meet on July 19. But the meeting is now turned against Eritrea, with
not only Ethiopia
Somalia but also Djibouti, Uganda and other set
to get its [behind] kicked,” a
Security Council member told Inner City Press on Monday night.
“They're not going to know what hit them.”
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on July 8, he asked
for “three hours” to make his case, including against sanctions.
But sanctions aren't set by Ban Ki-moon, but rather by the Council.
Eritrea got thrown out of a meeting on Somalia at the
last minute at the insistence of Uganda, now it will be barrage on
as more than
one Council member told Inner City Press, why not pressure Ethiopia
to give back the strip of land in Badme that Eritrea won? “They
they'd have no leg to stand on,” as one member put it. “Meles
Zenawi is ready to give it back, but he doesn't want Eritrea gloating
This from a
person who called Eritrea repressive, accusing it of not giving
passports to any male between 20 and 40 years old.
problem have to await the next generation of leaders? Watch