December 26, 2009 – The United Nations Security Council imposed an arms
embargo and other sanctions on Eritrea today in a move that in effect
brands the country a pariah state.
The UN voted to punish Eritrea for illegally supplying arms to
al-Qaeda-linked Islamic insurgents in Somalia and for occupying disputed
territory on its border with Djibouti.
The 13-1 vote, with Libya against and China abstaining, represents an
escalation of condemnation of Eritrea, which has repeatedly been accused
of destabilizing the Horn of Africa since it gained independence from
Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war.
Eritrea has gone to war against both Ethiopia and Djibouti and backed
al-Shabaab Islamic rebels battling the internationally recognized
government in Somalia, despite an arms embargo on that country.
Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Britain's UN envoy, said he hoped Eritrea would
heed the warning sent by the Security Council in adopting today's
"The United Kingdom urges Eritrea to stop its illegal actions ... and to
engage constructively with international partners to help increase
stability in the Horn of Africa," he said. "The nature of the
international community's engagement with Eritrea in future will depend
on that response."
But Eritrea's ambassador to the UN rejected the Security Council
resolution, blaming Ethiopia and the United States.
"The Security Council has decided to impose sanctions on Eritrea on
fabricated lies mainly concocted by the Ethiopian regime and the US
administration," Araya Desta, the Eritrean envoy, said outside the
The Security Council resolution is a rare case of "secondary sanctions"
being imposed on a country accused of sanctions-busting in another
A UN monitoring group has accused Eritrea of secretly shipping arms,
including missiles and explosives, to Islamic insurgents trying to
topple the Western-backed transitional government in Somalia, which has
not had an effective government since the overthrow of the dictator
Mohamed Siyad Barre in 1991.
The resolution demands that all UN member states, "in particular
Eritrea, cease arming, training and equipping armed groups and their
members, including al-Shabaab, that aim to destabilize the region or
incite violence and civil strife in Djibouti".
The arms embargo will cover imports and exports of arms into and out of
Eritrea, and calls on other UN members to inspect all suspect air and
sea cargo to or from Eritrea and Somalia.
The resolution also imposes a travel ban and asset freezes on "the
Eritrean political and military leadership" and other individuals to be
designated by a UN sanctions committee.
The measures were drafted by Uganda, a Security Council member with
peacekeeping troops in Somalia, after a request for sanctions against
Eritrea by the African Union.
Even so, Libya, the current African Union president, voted against the
resolution saying that, as a former target of UN sanctions over the
Lockerbie bombing, it opposed any UN sanctions on an African nation.
Source: TimesOnline, Thursday, December 24, 2009