At UN, Djibouti Admits French Copter Flights, Blames
Eritrea for Shoot-outs, Distributes Photos
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
June 24 -- The standoff between
Djibouti and Eritrea was explained, at least by Djibouti, on Tuesday.
Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf said Eritrea's motive is to gain control
military position and associated waterway at Doumeira. While advancing
position, according to Youssouf, scores of Eritrean soldiers deserted.
said, was when the shooting started on June 10, implying that Eritrea
its own defecting troops. Djibouti responded, and soon there were
captured soldiers on both sides.
Press asked Minister Youssouf about Eritrea's claim that French
landed on or near its territory, and that an Eritrean speedboat was
sunk, allegedly by non-Djiboutian forces. To his credit, Youssouf did
these questions. Video here.
He acknowledged that a French helicopter had carried
him, his President and Prime Minister Dileita Mohamed Dileita to the
area, so they could see for themselves. He agreed that an Eritrean
was recently sunk, but said that Djibouti itself has been responsible.
that a Velo-bound, hundred-some page pamphlet prepared for submission
Security Council on Tuesday afternoon contained proof and even photos
Eritrea - Ethiopia border, per UN -- Doumeira and even-handedness not shown
Inner City Press obtained a copy of the
pamphlet, which strangely is dated February 2008, before the conflict
The timeline inside, however, contains Djibouti's version of events,
by the hour. On June 10 at 12:30, "the Eritrean troops opened fire to
("empecher") their soldiers
from deserting," the Djiboutian
presentation says. At 6:40 p.m.,
"the hour of prayer," the Eritreans again opened fire, the pamphlet
Eritrea's side of the story? It appears that Eritrea will not make a
presentation to the Council on Tuesday afternoon. [In fact, they did,
To the President of
Abdallah Salih, Eritrea has called the conflict a
and has blamed it on the United States. There are reports that the U.S.
second base in Djibouti, closer to Eritrean territory.
Press asked Minister Youssouf how much of the conflict may spring from Djibouti
having hosted Somali talks between the Transitional Federal
portions of the Alliance to Re-liberate Somalia which have since left
Youssouf acknowledged some connection or effect, speculating that
against peace in Somalia because it wants Ethiopian troops to have to
there. Since Eritrea has not held a UN
press conference, we must look elsewhere their views. According to
they have said there'd be peace if Djibouti "takes its hands off the
affairs of the Somali opposition, and if the U.S. pressures Ethiopia to
Eritrean territories based on the ruling of the Eritrea-Ethiopia
Eritrea's Permanent Representative to the UN did, in fact, refer to the
EEBC in prepared
remarks, here. After the Council's session, Inner City Press asked
U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff if the U.S. intends to build a second
base in Djibouti. Video here.
Not that I know of, Wolff said, while the U.S. Mission's Deputy
Spokesman suggested asking the Pentagon, not the State Department.
Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert about his
country's helicopter shuttling Djibouti's leaders to the Eritrean
border. We have a defense agreement, he said, adding that everything
they do is at the request of Djibouti. Video here.
Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson answered
Inner City Press than Ban has "never spoken to the President of
Eritrea." Okay then. We will continue to follow these issues.
* * *
These reports are
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
here for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA
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earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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