By Elias Meseret
Ethiopia says the al-Shabab military group that is now controlling towns in different parts of Somalia has not reached a level to directly threaten Ethiopia’s security.
In an interview, minister Bereket Simon, Government Office of Communication Affairs, gave to Capital last Friday, he said Ethiopia is closely watching the situation from inside its borders.
“It is a fact that al- shabab is playing a key role in destabilising the Horn of Africa region and it has made some gains in recent days with the support it is getting from different foreign bodies,” he explains, “but we believe the recent Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Minister of Council resolution that Eritrea should be sanctioned is a welcome move.”
Somalia’s new government has welcomed calls by neighboring countries for the United Nations Security Council to impose an air and sea blockade to prevent hardline Islamic insurgents from easily accessing weapons and fighters.
Bereket stressed that IGAD’s resolution has shown that member states have started to say ‘enough is enough’ to Eritrea: “It is a clear testimony that member states and every peace loving country are voicing their concern over Eritrea’s destabilising effect.”
Somalia’s current government has often accused Eritrea of supporting hardline Islamic insurgents, including al-Shabab, who have vowed to eventually take over the country through violence. Eritrea denies that it has assisted the group.
There has been a United Nations arms embargo on Somalia for many years, although indications are that weapons are readily available for hardline Islamic insurgents.
Described by Washington as a terrorist organization with strong ties to Al Qaeda, al-Shabab has refused to recognise the new Somali government, vowing to violently take over the country and impose a strict form of the Islamic Sharia law.
“The African Union condemns the aggression perpetrated against the Transitional Federal Government and its institutions, as well as the civilian population in Mogadishu, in particular, and Somalia in general, by armed groups, including foreign elements,” Jean Ping, AU Commission Chairman, said at the IGAD’s ministerial meeting that condemned Eritrea.
“I should, at this juncture, warn that such attacks, if continued will be considered as an attempt at unconstitutional change of government contrary to relevant AU instruments and will call for immediate punitive measures.”
Wahde Belay, spokesperson of the ministry of foreign affairs, concurred with minister Bereket that Ethiopia has no reason to go back to Somalia now. “Regardless of what some media outlets say, we will closely monitor the situation in Somalia by staying within our border,” he told Capital, “if we think our security is threatened directly, we will act accordingly.”
Wahde argues that despite the insurgents not being willing to negotiate, the current government is still not getting support from the international community.
“Foreign fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, USA and Canada; among others, are joining the al- Shabab now. So, prompt support should be extended for the government,” he argued.
In a related development, Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin met with ambassadors in Ethiopia of countries that are members of the UN Security Council last Friday.
According to Wahde, the minister has called upon the ambassadors of the USA, the UK, China, France and Russia to pass on IGAD’s resolution to their respective governments.
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