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Monitoring Group's Credibility and Integrity Questioned
By Sophia Tesfamariam
September 10, 2007
Eritrean Americans are outraged by the vitriolic Statements made by Jendayi E. Frazier, the Deputy Secretary of State for African Affairs about the State of Eritrea, its government and people. Charged with an area in the world by virtue of the color of her skin, exposing her lack of knowledge about Africa and especially the Horn of Africa, she set out to blemish the continents image by presenting law abiding Africans as “terrorists”, “extremists”, presenting Africa as a haven for “terrorists”, “drug trafficking”, “diseases and crime”, while funneling illicit arms and weapons to mercenary regimes to the terrorist minority regime in Ethiopia led by her personal friend and Horn advisor, Meles Zenawi, the deceptive Tigrayan Prime Minister, who is responsible for chaos and mayhem in Somalia today.
Jendayi E. frazier’s latest attack on the State of Eritrea this week is unwarranted and ill-advised. The incoherent and racist policy for Africa that is being advanced by ill advised Islam phobic State Department officials using the “war on terror” as a pretext has terrorized innocent populations by pulverizing their villages and homes, creating unnecessary hysteria about Islam the religion and its followers. Disseminating tall tales of “spreading Islamic Caliphates” etc. etc and threatening to put Eritrea on the “US terror list” at the behest of Meles Zenawi and his illegitimate, vote rigging, minority regime says a lot about Jendayi E. Frazier as an official of the US Government, and the African Bureau that she is charged with leading. The minority regime in Ethiopia that Jendayi E. Frazier is shielding diplomatically and politically is one that:
· Has violated international law by invading and occupying Somalia
· Has violated the Algiers Agreements between Eritrea and Ethiopia
· Has violated the African Union and UN Charters by invading and occupying territories in neighboring States, its latest victim being Somalia.
· Has violated over two dozen Security Council resolutions on the Eritrea Ethiopia border issue, and several resolutions on Somalia including the arms embargo on Somalia, Resolution 1724 and 1725 on Somalia
· Has violated IGAD resolutions on Somalia
· Has violated the human rights of the Ethiopian people, detained and tortured thousands, committed genocides in Gambela and in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia
· Has massacred innocent civilians in cold blood on the streets of Addis Ababa for voting it out of office
· Is arming and financing terrorist groups and the “Eritrean opposition” including the Eritrean Islamic Jihad
Jendayi E. Frazier’s "miscalculations" in Somalia have caused the deaths of thousands of innocent Somalis and the destruction of infrastructure and all institutions that provide vital services, not to mention the displacement of over 500000 Somalis from their homes and the pulverization of their farms and villages, all based on intelligence provided by the self serving Prime Minister of Ethiopia and its puppet, the illegitimate Transitional National Government of Somalia led by the two criminal warlords, Abdillahi Yusuf and Ali Mohammed Ghedi.
Frazier is attempting to peddle the latest report on Somalia as fact and is now embroiled in a malicious campaign against Eritrea. It is time to look at the “facts” presented by Jendayi Frazier’s hired guns before she creates another disaster in the Horn of Africa with her heavy-handed, deceptive and irrational tactics.
What makes this latest report on Somalia (http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N07/383/15/PDF/N0738315.pdf?OpenElement ) suspect is, not only the unsubstantiated allegations it makes against Eritrea, which are based on self serving intelligence provided by Ethiopia and other notorious criminals and arms dealers who remain on the US payroll and are well known to Jendayi E. Frazier and her colleagues at the State Department, but also its deliberate omissions of some well known facts about the flow of arms into Somalia and Ethiopia’s and US role in Somalia. Allow me to address the report and its authors.
First of all, it is not a UN Report as these are not findings of an independent panel of UN experts, and was not authored by the UN. Judging from its contents and the political statements contained in it, I am inclined to believe it was authored by employees of the US State Department itself-as was the erroneous Report on Iraq that was presented by Colin Powell to the UN as fact. The individuals that make up the group are also not UN employees. They are hired consultants and judging from the contents contained in the reports, which went to great lengths to make allegations about some States, is the fact that it went to even greater lengths to downplay the more egregious violations by the United States and Ethiopia. This is very telling of where their allegiance lay.
The Group was based in Nairobi and comprised the following experts: Bruno Schiemsky ( Belgium), arms expert and Chairman; Melvin E. Holt, Jr. ( United States of America), arms expert; Harjit Kelley ( Kenya), maritime expert; and Joel Salek ( Colombia), finance expert. There was something that I found to be quite extraordinary in the manner with which this Group conducted its investigations. According to their reports, the Group traveled to Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Africa and Uganda and Yemen to conduct their investigations. While I can understand why they didn’t go to Somalia, I can’t understand why they never visited Eritrea or Sudan or Djibouti etc. to gather information and conduct a thorough investigation?
What did the group think they would find in Kenya, who was party to the US and Ethiopian plan invade Somalia and install the Transitional National Government of Somalia, Kenya’s progeny?
What credible information did they believe they were going to get from Meles Zenawi’s regime and his handlers at the US Embassy in Ethiopia, such as the US Defense Attache Richard Orth, who were behind the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia, and also behind the secret prisons in Ethiopia?
Here is an excerpt from an article by African Analysis (http://africannewsanalysis.blogspot.com/2007_04_08_archive.html) that provides some insight as to who Richard Orth is and his relationship to Jendayi E. Frazier and how the US media is working in tandem with the US State Department to vilify Eritrea:
“…The Washington Post lashed out at Eritrea for supporting Islamist "terrorists" in Somalia and lauds the efforts of Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer in threatening Eritrea with sanctions. What the Post will not tell its readers is that Frazer is a known supporter of American dictator clients… from Rwanda's Paul Kagame, to Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, and Ethiopia's Meles Zenawi. The Post will not report that Frazer's close colleague in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, is U.S. Army Col. Richard Orth, the U.S. Defense Attache…Although Frazer was officially with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard during most of the Clinton administration, she worked closely with Orth and the Pentagon's and Defense Intelligence Agency's African bureaus…”
On November 17-19, 2006, Wayne Madison Report reported the following on Orth:
“…The arming by the U.S. of both the Ethiopians and Somalis in preparation for war is nothing new. In fact, WMR and this editor have reported extensively on the past and current covert intelligence activities of the U.S. Defense Attache in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, U.S. Army Colonel Richard Orth. He was present in Rwanda the day after U.S.-supplied surface-to-air missiles struck the Rwandan presidential aircraft on April 6, 1994, assassinating the Hutu presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and triggering Rwandan and Zairian/Congolese civil wars that took the lives of over 5 million Africans. Orth, as Defense Attache in Kigali, Rwanda, lorded over the transformation of that country from a French-speaking nation to a U.S. client state with English-speaking refugees from Uganda put in charge. Orth then proceeded to take over as U.S. Defense Attache in Uganda where he cemented the U.S. military presence in that nation. He then moved on to Addis Ababa where, as Defense Attache, he aided Meles Zenawi and helped prepare Ethiopia's incursion into Somalia, bolstered the U.S. military positions in Djibouti and Somaliland, tilted U.S. policy to favor Ethiopia in its border war with Eritrea, coordinated Horn of Africa intelligence activities…”
The Wayne Madison Report in a May 2007 article also wrote the following:
“…Colonel Richard K. Orth is not well-known outside the circles of Africa specialists who have tracked America's insidious role in some of Africa's bloodiest civil wars. Orth is what is known in U.S. intelligence circles as an "operations area specialist." He now serves as the U.S. Defense Attache in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he oversees overt and covert U.S. military assistance to the Meles Zenawi regime and Ethiopian-backed groups seeking to overthrow the government of Eritrea and roll back that nation's long-fought independence struggle against Ethiopia…Orth also oversees the joint Ethiopian-U.S. military foray into Somalia as well as at least three secret CIA detention camps in Ethiopia where prisoners, accused of terrorist links, have been rounded up from around the world…In Addis Ababa, Orth has not only provided U.S. military and intelligence support to the Ethiopian dictatorship but has overseen U.S. training of African military units via the Pentagon's Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance Program (ACOTA)…”
My guess is that the monitoring Group was not there to conduct an honest investigation, but rather to manufacture facts to effectuate Jendayi E. Frazier’s sinister and dangerous agendas for Somalia in particular, and the Horn region in general.
I am going to leave the information related to other countries mentioned in the report and limit my comments to the part that deals with Eritrea. Bear with me, the tale is sordid and the players are as unsavory as those who purport to present this slanderous manufactured “expert” report for fact. This article will endeavor to show how the Group put their allegiance to the interests of others above that of the truth and the United Nations, and produced a politically motivated report filled with far-fetched innuendos and purposefully manufactured facts.
In its November report the Group presented the following statement without providing the readers any proof of the allegations peddled against Eritrea:
“…On 26 July 2006, at 07.45 AM, an Ilyushin aircraft (IL-76) containing an arms shipment for the ICU arrived at Mogadishu International airport…The IL-76 departed from Assab, Eritrea, indicating a flight plan designating a destination of Hargeysa (Somaliland), but the aircraft went to Mogadishu. The IL-76 used the call sign or LFT-1221. The IL-76 has the Kazakhstan flag painted on the tail. The registration number on the fuselage of the aircraft starts with the following pre-fix: UN - which is the code for Kazakhstan…”
In the July 2007 report, the Group unabashedly repeats the allegations and more:
“…In its previous report (see S/2006/913), the Monitoring Group provided detailed information concerning an IL-76 cargo plane transporting arms and fighters from Eritrea to Mogadishu (paras. 43-53). When presented with the foregoing information by the Monitoring Group, the Government of Eritrea denied that the flights had taken place…During the current mandate, the Monitoring Group obtained a copy of the contract of sale (annex I) of the IL-76 aircraft to a company in Eritrea. A person intimately familiar with the transaction confirmed the information contained in the previous report of the Group added that the company that had purchased the aircraft was a front for the Eritrean Government. The person also indicated that a down payment of US$ 200,000 had been paid by Eritrean diplomats based in a Gulf country to the seller of the aircraft…”
The Group never divulges the identity of the person that is “intimately familiar with the transaction” or that of the “Eritrean diplomats” that paid the $200000. From the first time I read the two reports on Somalia, I felt that there was something fishy going on and now I am more than convinced, because there is credible information out that raises serious questions about the reports credibility and integrity, not to mention this particular group of “experts” neutrality and ability to present an unbiased report. There is credible information available that dispels this and other erroneous allegations against Eritrea. Allow me to present some of them.
Douglas Farah, a journalist who has written extensively about arms dealers who have contributed to the conflicts in Africa wrote the following in his latest book, “Merchant of Death”, in which he chronicles the life of Victor Bout, a notorious arms dealer on pages 254-255 of his book:
"At the same time as the Lebanon crisis, a group of radical Somali militias operating under the banner of United Islamic Courts seized control of Mogadishu, the battered Somali capital…quickly consolidated their hold over the city's international airport, a crumbling facility nearly abandoned by foreign aircraft over the past decade. Then, on July 26 and again on July 28, exited residents near the airfield streamed outside after hearing a rumbling from the sky. They watched as a droning Ilyushin Il-76, with the flag of Kazakstan painted on its tail, descended from the barren horizon and taxied down the airfield's dusty runway…Journalists were banned from the airport, but several stationed just outside the field managed to snap pictures of the aircraft, using telephoto lenses. The plane's identifying tail number, required by international aviation regulations, had been stripped off, preventing any attempt to learn who was behind the weapons shipments…Within weeks, intelligence officials concluded that the flights were carried out by Bout's air network."
Bout has been implicated in running guns and missiles to combatants across the world, from the Taliban and Northern Alliance in Afghanistan to the UNITA rebels of Angola to Liberia’s former tyrant, Charles Taylor. He has been blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury from doing any business in the United States, faces an arrest warrant for money laundering in Belgium, and was aggressively pursued by the Clinton administration. Unfortunately, individuals within the Bush Administration not only have prevented Bout from being apprehended and persecuted, Condoleezza Rice is mentioned as the person who has instructed US intelligence to “look but not touch” Bout, and unbelievable as it seems, Bout has also been hired the US to deliver arms in Iraq and Afghanistan. What makes this relationship strange is that the US knows he is also supplying arms to the Taliban and yet they keep him on the payroll.
Victor Bout is well known to US intelligence as is evidenced by this statement from Douglas Farah’s book:
“…We have developed a large body of information of what Mr Bout's organization is doing" in the Horn of Africa, one U.S. intelligence analyst said. "I am alarmed at what he is doing as it undermines Centcom's counterterrorism strategy in the region…”
In addition, Douglas Farah, in a 29 July 2007 article wrote:
“…Twice in one week the airport at Mogadishu, Somalia, was the scene of something almost unseen in the past decade-the landing of two large Soviet-era IL-76 cargo planes… On the first flight, the plane was painted with the “UN” markings denoting Kazakstan registration, with no other identifiers. The second flight may have been the same aircraft, and if not, was a similar Il-76… Hmm, so an unmarked Soviet-built aircraft probably carrying large amounts of weapons, flying to remote airstrips …Kazakstan registration… Fits a certain M.O. There are not many people in the weapons world who can provide the weapons and the transportation, who know the terrain and the militia leaders…Bout has registered his Reem Air in Kazakstan, including an IL-76, and has flown regularly smaller planes to Somalia in recent times, from Sharjah, UAE…No one else has that kind of track record. Intelligence officials are desperately trying to find any further markers on the aircraft. But if it flies like a duck and quacks like a duck, it just might be a duck…”
It is not only the flight IL-76 that got my attention but also that the Group monitoring the embargo on Somalia never mention anything about Victor Bout in either one of their reports, while previous Panels of Experts monitoring the embargo on Somalia have. Why is that?
Apart from his relationship with the Pentagon, I set out to find out more about Victor Bout and his associates. Not surprisingly, I found out that he was not only well known to the State Department but to Jendayi E. Frazier and Meles Zenawi too. Turns out Richard K. Orst, the US Defense Attache in Ethiopia, is a close friend of Jendayi E. Frazier had used Bout to deliver arms to various groups in Africa including Rwanda. I wonder why the Group conveniently left out that information too. If the objective is to stem the flow of arms into Somalia and to prevent more killings, why is the State Department not pursuing Victor Bout and others instead of creating diversions by erroneously accusing Eritrea?
Let us get back to the IL-76 because it is supposed to be the most damning part of the report and the one accusation against Eritrea that Jendayi E. Frazier is hoping to make stick through Group-her hired guns. The Group had annexed to the report on Somalia, a “Contract of sale of an IL-76 aircraft to Eriko Enterprise ( Eritrea)”. According to the “Contract”, the buyer is a certain Kelati Haile for Ertirea and the seller is Evgueny Zakharov (of Aerolift Company). According to the Group, Eriko Enterprise was a “front” for the Government of Eritrea and this copy of the “Contract” was supposed to some how prove Eritrean involvement in the arms transport to Somalia.
Since I have been collecting information on Somalia for over a year, it was not hard to find the 18 February 2007 Sunday Times report (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article1400655.ece) by Jon Swain and Brian Johnson-Thomas who were reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa. They reported a very interesting but at the time a very puzzling story about a man, Evgueny Zakharov, the owner of Aerolift who claimed he was transporting Eritreans to Somalia. It didn’t make sense then, but it does now. Here is an excerpt from that news report:
“…Zakharov said his involvement began after he was approached by a General Tambi of the Eritrean People’s Defence Forces… Tambi offered to buy Zakharov’s Ilyushin 76 transport aircraft carrying the Kazakhstan registration number UN 76496 for $1.5m (£770,000), even though the normal price for an aircraft of that vintage and condition is just $1m…Zakharov went ahead despite the unusual contract conditions that stipulated secrecy. He insisted the contract should specify that the new owners were not to use the aircraft to make arms flights…However, he said last week that the Ilyushin made three sanctions-busting arms flights to Somalia from the Eritrean port of Massawa, bringing out the masked men on the return legs…When Zakharov discovered the Eritreans’ real use of the plane was for arms shipments and for flying the masked men from Somalia, he cancelled the contract…Contacted last week, Tambi denied all knowledge of the deal. However, The Sunday Times has a copy of the contract signed in Moscow and Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, between Aerolift and Eriko Enterprise of Asmara on July 21…”
At the time, Eritrean American’s such as myself were puzzled; the name ‘Tambi’ did not sound Eritrean. It was not much later that we discovered the name belonged to John E.Tambi of Sierra Leone, one of the experts hired by Kofi Annan to monitor the embargo on Somalia (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=11744&Cr=somalia&Cr1=
). But why did he present himself as an Eritrean? Was he trying to implicate Eritrea? Why is the UN not questioning Tambi’s involvement in this sordid affair?
The report includes a copy of a bill of sale for the Ilyushin-76 UN-76496, once of Viktor Bout's GST Aero Air Company, which according to the Group was sold to Eritrea by the same Evgeny Zakharov of Aerolift Ltd, a Virgin Islands company. Obviously this man is not a credible source and inclusion of the bill of sale by the group in their second report as proof of Eritrean culpability is not only suspect but also raises even more disturbing questions about the Group, the credibility and integrity of their report and not to mention the efficacy of the UN which is seems to be catering to State Department officials once again, to effectuate US policy.
The Group needs to explain how Aerolift, a Sierra Leone-registry UAE-based company, which went out of business after being blacklisted in March, 2006 managed to sell Victor Bout’s aircraft to Eritrea on 21 July 2006? They also need to explain how is it that Victor Bout was seen flying it in Somalia on 26 July 2006 when the plane was supposed to be in Eritrea’s possession? They also need to prove that “Eriko Enterprise” exists. This is too serious a matter to be left unchallenged and the Group must be held to account for the report and its contents.
There is more. There is another story reported by the same two journalists and another Russian who is also connected to Victor Bout and a transaction for an airplane that adds to the suspicious activities of the so called Group monitoring the embargo on Somalia and the report they produced. In a 15 July 2007 story entitled “Exposed: the Somalia arms boycott breaker”, (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2076015.ece) the two journalists Jon Swain and Brian Johnson-Thomas write about Alexander Radionov and how a reporter posing as a liaison for the UIC had contacted Radionov. Here is what they wrote:
“…The journalist, posing as an intermediary for the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), contacted Alexander Radionov, who had previously come to the attention of the UN and other international organizations over suspicious arms flights in Africa. In an exchange of telephone calls and faxes the Russian agreed to help in return for a large fee…It was in a fax from Guernsey, chosen because of Bout’s former business links there, that the journalist told Radionov he wanted to charter the Antonov for two flights from the Yemen to “GPS coordinates in central southern Somalia”, an area occupied by the rebel UIC. He went on to tell Radionov “the flight will not be declared” and asked for help in finding parachutes for the air drop. …In his faxed reply Radionov asked for the approximate distance to the dropping zone from a Yemeni airstrip so that, for flight declaration purposes…Radionov concluded: “We would like to receive in advance total amount $200,000 [£98,000] for aircraft positioning. The cost of each flight will be $50,000 plus ground expenses and fuel required…”
As if that was not enough we also find out that the other aircraft, the Boeing 707, also a Victor Bout airplane and used by the same Alexander Radionov, a known associate of Bout is supposed to have leased it to Eritrea to run arms in Somalia. The outfit that the Russian Alexander Radionov is associated with is an Oregon based company SIMIX Ltm. and Radionov is the representative conveniently located in Kenya. Is that the $200000 that is supposed to have been paid by “Eritrean diplomats in the UAE”? How many other such operations did this Russian conduct? Is this not something that should have been in the Group’s report on Somalia?
Something is not right here and I have a feeling the Assistant Secretary and her colleague at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa are behind this illicit affair. The UN Security Council must check the veracity of the information provided by Jendayi E. Frazier and her associates, including the mercenary regime in Ethiopia led by Meles Zenawi and stop this madness.
There is ample information about Ethiopia’s clandestine activities in Somalia and also that of the CIA’s role in arming and financing the warlords in Somalia, but the latest report on Somalia which attempts to point fingers at Eritrea conveniently leaves out information about Victor Bout and his associates and the fact that he is well known to Richard K Orth and Jendayi E. Frazier who are behind the deliberate and calculated deceptions and cover ups for Meles Zenawi’s crimes in Somalia and the region.
The accusations against Eritrea are categorically false and it is a shame that the Assistant Secretary of State has chosen to abuse the powers of her offices to engage in such a slanderous campaign against the Government and people of Eritrea in order to protect Meles Zenawi and his regime. She not only compromised the credibility and integrity of the UN system, but is also damaging the credibility of the US Administration she purports to serve.
The United States Congress must investigate Jendayi E. Frazier’s activities in Ethiopia and reign in this obviously biased and vindictive individual before she causes more deaths and destruction in the Horn of Africa. The Government and people of Eritrea should not be scapegoats for her “miscalculations” and deliberate falsification of facts and she should be held to account for the humanitarian disasters in Somalia and Ethiopia caused by the mercenary minority regime in Ethiopia led by Meles Zenawi that she is bending over backwards to defend and protect. The US Administration, which has moved to remove officials with higher ranks who have lost the confidence and trust of the people should consider removing this junior diplomat before she places the US in yet another Iraq-like intractable situation.
The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!
Source: American Chronicle