Eritrea Sanctions

Yesterday, the UN Security Council voted to impose sanctions on Eritrea, 13-1, with Libya voting against and China abstaining. The UN charges Eritrea with supporting the al Shabab rebels in Eritrea; according to the BBC, “the resolution places an arms embargo on Eritrea, and also imposes travel bans and asset freezes on businesses and individuals.”

Much of the international community has considered Ethiopia Eritrea a pariah state since the early Bush administration, so the sanctions come as no surprise, but I wonder whether they are effective politics. We will judge the tree by its fruits – Does the flow of weapons to al Shabab decrease? Does Eritrea’s behavior change? Does the Horn stabilize? – but frankly, there is no reason to expect shifts in Eritrean policy.

One effect of the Security Council’s decision is already clear. With relations between countries in the Horn of Africa and the US strained, the sanctions exacerabate hostility between the US and Eritrea. A statement by the Eritrean government on the sanctions focuses on America’s role in the process:

The United States has simply employed its preponderant influence to ram through unjustifiable sanctions against a small country. What is shameful is that the United States has been allowed to use the platform and authority of the United Nations to perpetrate injustices against the people and Government of Eritrea; for the second time in recent history. What is shameful is that other major powers in the UN Security Council cannot go beyond expressing their disappointment, mostly in private meetings, to check the excesses of Washington. What is shameful is that the United States can turn the tables and victimize an innocent nation for the very crimes that it is responsible for in the first place. Because the truth is, the United States is mostly responsible for the mayhem and suffering that is bedeviling Somalia today. Indeed, it is common knowledge that as intractable as the Somali crisis is, there were real hopes of a turnaround for the better in 2006. For reasons that defy reason, the Bush Administration then acted to roll back those promising developments to instigate and support Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia. That single debacle claimed the lives of thousands of innocent Somalis, made half a million people homeless and aggravated the humanitarian crisis in Somalia to unprecedented levels. But then, the Security Council is not taking action on the basis of justice and legality. It is taking action on the basis of the existing power balance in a largely unipolar world. This does not bode well for international justice and peace. This is why today is a shameful day for the United Nations.

I do not quote the Eritrean government to agree with it, but rather to say that when the US and the UN make decisions, those decisions have political consequences. If this measure does not improve conditions in the Horn, one could call it bad politics. And if it proves to be bad politics, who gains? China, the abstainer, and Libya, the would-be African hegemon. Now everyone’s anted up. We’ll see how the cards fall.

4 thoughts on “Eritrea Sanctions

  1. What you need to ask is who is benefiting from this and who is pulling the strings.
    Ethiopia is benefiting to the tune of $3billion, and the other countries that make the IGAD (Djibouti, Uganda etc) who instigated all this are the main beneficiaries of the WOT in Somalia.
    It is typical concocted propaganda to hide their own involvement and Ethiopia’s crimes.
    The sad thing is AU and UN are being used as a rubber stamps for the few countries adventures in Somalia and in the Horn of Africa.
    In 2007 the UN monitoring group published the same falsified report that claimed 2000 Eritrean Special forces were dispatched to Somalia before the invasion, yet not a single Eritrean soldier was found dead or alive in Somalian soil. You are a journalist, go and ask the UN where did they vanish to ?
    But there are evidence upon evidence of the US, Ethiopia, AU peace keepers running arms in Somalia. Here are few links from Reuters incase you have forgotten.
    Have you asked why the very Ilyushin 76 that the UN monitoring group accused Eritrea of using to transport arms, crashed in lake victoria transporting American Dyncorp contractors and AMISOM soldiers ?
    Well never mind, we live in make belief world, where Ethics and Justice does not exist

    • This idea of doing an interview with the UN is a good one. I will see about writing to them – I don’t currently have any contacts there.

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