Eritrea: Embargoes and sanctions without credible link to Al-Shabaab

Asmara (HAN) October 27, 2014. Public diplomacy and Regional Security Industry Tracker news.   The government of Eritrea still maintains it has nothing to hide from SEMG and is a victim of a conspiracy. Given that SEMG reports appear to give Eritrea a ‘clean bill of health’ on Al-Shabaab, it has not lifted SEMG’s persona non grata status. Instead, Eritrea has gone on the offensive against the UN’s SEMG. A recent episode has been Eritrea’s hostile action against SEMG in engineering the sacking of the Group’s expert, Dinesh Mahtani days before the Group’s report was to be presented to Sanctions Committtee. All this clearly reeks of the same conspiracy Eritrea attempts to sell the world it faces as a State.

Over the years SEMG has been unable to conclusively prove the State of Eritrea maintains a credible link to Al-Shabaab in violation of United Nations resolutions. The most the UN monitors have been able to achieved were its damning findings in 2011 that Eritrea had overtly supported Al-Shabaab from its embassy in Nairobi (but this was prior to the passage of Security Council resolution 1907).

Reports of Mahtani’s sacking (some also claim he resigned) first broke via the suspicious Eritrean-funded blog “Inner City Press” on 7 October 2014. On the blog, it claimed Mahtani had been fired for issuing a “regime change” letter on UN letterhead (see, This act apparently exceeded Mahtani’s authority as a technical expert. United Nation Experts have no political mandate, according to UN watchers, and Mahtani’s letter was “too political.”

Reading Mahtani’s letter one does see how the official got into trouble but it still begs the following questions:

How did Eritrea land its hands on a UN confidential letter and what interest would Eritrea have in using the letter to engineer Mahtani’s firing?
Why the letter leaked to an Eritrean funded blog?
Why have the mainstream media and serious blogs refused to carry the Mahtani ‘story’?

According to the contents of Mahtani’s letter, it was issued on behalf of one Ali Abdu, a former senior Eritrean official who had defected from the Eritrea. Unconfirmed gossip from the Eritrean community in Nairobi claim Ali Abdu was cooperating with SEMG and had simply asked for a commendation letter acknowledging his assistance to SEMG. Assuming this is true, one can safely concluded Ali Abdu couldn’t have handed Eritrea intelligence a copy of his commendation letter.

A more plausible explanation is that Mahtani’s and possibly other SEMG members’ email accounts were compromised Eritrea intelligence agents posing prospective sources. According to a former SEMG expert who had “resigned” in January 2014, he had been accused of being paranoid over suspicions that SEMG was being “monitored.” Judging by the leak of Mahtani’s letter, the former expert was indeed not paranoid but merely being cautious.

Mahtani’s “regime change” letter presented Eritrea a political win against its perceived enemies. As the “victim” a role Eritrea plays exceedingly well, it was able to present the letter as “evidence” of SEMG’s attempt to undermine its regime. While “regime change” is not in SEMG’s mandate, the current political and economic trajectory in Eritrea indicates a regime in free-fall and one soon to collapse. When the regime eventually breaks it will fall to regional and international actor to pick up the shattering pieces that are left of the brutal regime. In doing so, Eritrea’s rescuers will ultimately seek “transformative and transitional’ figures to steer Eritrea back to its rightful place. It’s inconceivable that regional and international capitals are not gaming out Eritrea’s inescapable implosion. The point here is that Mahtani’s letter seemed to be pointing out the obvious.

According to friends of Mahtani in Nairobi and New York, it was clear Eritrea was working hard to undermine SEMG and Mahtani personally. Mahtani was the lead investigator who in 2011 had uncovered damning evidence implicating the Nairobi embassy of Eritrea in funding, arming and training Al-Shabaab.

The reading of SEMG’s 2011 report paints a clear picture of an Eritrea State that sponsored terrorism in East Africa.

Like most ill-thought plots they are riddled with holes and glaring mistakes. Eritrea’s mistake seems to be its impatience in exploiting the “regime change” letter, and leaking it to “Inner City Press”, that finally bungled up a premeditated smearing operation by Eritrea intelligence against the UN. Open source information clearly shows Inner City Press is funded by Eritreans. The blog seemingly also acts as Eritrea’s second unofficial mouthpiece behind the indefatigable Sofia Testamariam and her conveyor-belt-like pro-Eritrea regime “articles.”

Eritrea having to resort to Inner City Press as part of its smear campaign against the UN and Mahtani is revealing of Eritrea’s current international standing, and the height of its desperation. Not one mainstream media outlet or serious blogger would pick up the “regime change” letter by Mahtani. One obvious reason must be it was a non-story and a poor attempt by Eritrea to smear the UN and one of its experts. Granted Mahtani made mistakes but the obvious manner in which Eritrea went about trying to undermine the UN was all too clear to the mainstream media who to Eritrea’s frustration have refused to air its propaganda.

Eritrea may longer be guilty of still funding, arming and training Al-Shabaab but the Mahtani “regime change” letter shows the level to which Eritrea will sully itself in order to deliberately undermine and smear the UN and one of its workers. HAN reporting notes and  Hassan Abdule


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  1. The fact that Ethiopia is still illegally occupying sovereign Eritrean territory and the UN’s complete silence on the issue, the fact that an UN official operated outside his mandate calling for regime change, and the fact the sanctions are still in place despite zero evidence all show how dysfunctional and corrupt the UN system really is. No evidence, no sanctions!

  2. @jumbo Badme is Ethiopian. Its residents are ethiopian and EPLF confirmed on the map drawn with tplf that it was ethiopia. Once becoming a nation, they decide to revert back to italian map. You are thieves. If you truly believe in right to self determination, you will let the badme ppl vote . Stay on your side of the river kelbi!

  3. Eritrea Is Innocent :
    The hall world knows now that we didn’t support any terrorists Ethiopia will vacate from our territories sooner or later Meles Zenawai passed a way and the problems he created still exist we were thinking the new Government will change attitude but let us see we will remain intact and strong with the cooperation and help from God and friends sympathizers around the world.
    Long Live Eritrea
    Gift of the mighty Red Sea

    • My dear Bilen no institution or government is accusing our beautiful Eritrea or our Eritrean people they are just accusing the unelected tyrant ISAYAS AFEWORKI for jailing our brothers and sisters, for closing our independent news papers and for forcing our youngsters to slavery (agelglot).

  4. 1- How can a human being with a functioning brain detain another human being for 5,10,15,20,23 years and watch them decay and die in prison?. (The criminal ISAYAS did)
    2- How Cruel can you be, and who gave you the right or authority to jail thousands of innocent Eritreans and watch them decay and die in jail?. (The criminal ISAYAS did)
    3-What kind of ruthless heartless criminal can you be, to let thousands of our Eritrean kids to grow up with out fathers and mothers, and what do you tell your daughter?
    4-ISAYAS what kind of twisted dysfunctional brain can you have to betray your comrades and your people just to satisfy your hunger for power?
    5-ISAYAS are you delusional or brain dead to enslave our youngsters for endless years for a worthless cause in the name of AGELGLOT?.

    The embargos and sanctions are the result of criminal acts against innocent people by the criminal unelected regime of ISAYAS AFEWORKI regardless of his position with his terrorist buddies of al-shabbab. Very soon It is a given, justice and truth will be prevailed and peaceful democratic Eritrea will flourish.
    Related news…….Disgraced Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega arrived from Paris to complete a 20-year sentence for three murders and possibly face further court action.
    FUNNY…… Every morning an old Eritrea man would come up to the newspaper stand, and buy a copy of Haddas Eritrea, he check the front page and then toss it angrily into the near-by bin. The newspaper-seller was intrigued.
    ‘Excuse me sir, he said to the man, ‘Every morning you buy a copy of Haddas Eritrea from me and chuck it in the bin without even opening it. What do you buy it for?’
    ‘I’m only interested in the front page,’ replied the man. ‘I’m looking out for a death notice.’
    ‘But you don’t get death notices on the front page,’ said the newspaper-seller, taken aback.
    ‘I assure you, the death notice I’m looking for will be on the front page. (hopefully it will say the snake, fox or scorpion of NAKFA killed himself or shot by his body guard)
    Awetn selamn nhzbi Eritrea

  5. I hope the supporters of tyrant criminal dictator Isayas Afeworki are watching and learning from BURKINA FASOs event.
    Hopefully you can avoid bloodshed and burning of our city by joining your brothers and sisters to force the dictator to release our brothers and sisters from jail and peacefully step down and hand down power to the rightfully owners HZBI ERITREA.
    Violent Protests Topple Government in Burkina Faso
    Burkina Faso — The government of Burkina Faso collapsed on Thursday as demonstrators protesting President Blaise Compaoré’s plans to stay in office after 27 years surged through the streets of Ouagadougou, the capital, overrunning state broadcasters, setting fire to Parliament and torching the homes of the president’s relatives.
    The venting of rage was the most serious challenge to Mr. Compaoré’s grip on power since he took office in 1987. His whereabouts Thursday night were unknown, and a senior adviser to the president of neighboring Ivory Coast — a longtime ally of Mr. Compaoré — said that he believed the leader’s days were numbered.
    “I am giving him 24 to 48 hours before he is forced to step down,” said the official, who requested anonymity to speak about an ally. “I don’t see how he can continue to hold power.”
    “Under tyranny it is right to be a rebel!”
    ― Robert Fanney
    Way to go our BURKINA FASO brothers and sisters I hope the tyrant is burning inside the building.

  6. GREAT NEWS…A tyrant in Burkina Faso got deposed by the shear force of the people and as expected the military sided with their people. I wonder which way this wave of freedom is blowing. I wonder if the next one will be the criminal in Eritrea or Zimbabwe.
    BBC NEWS>>>>Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore is no longer in power, an army spokesman has told demonstrators in the capital, Ouagadougou.

    Mr Compaore had earlier said he would step down after a 12-month transitional government had ended. (what a joke 27 years plus 12 months…..One extra is already way too many and way overdue)

    However, the opposition continued to demand that he resign, angry at his attempts to amend the constitution and extend his 27-year rule.

    On Thursday, protesters set fire to parliament and government buildings.

    There were cheers when the army spokesman told the crowd gathered in front of army headquarters on Friday that Mr Compaore had left office, Agence France-Presse reported.

    Mr Compaore earlier said he had agreed not to seek another term, but that he would remain in power until a transitional government had completed its work in 2015. (He had the chance to step down gracefully and become an older states man)

    However, the opposition rejected his statement. Its leader, Zephirin Diabre, urged protesters to occupy public spaces.

    “He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery”. ~Harold Wilson

    I hope the people of Burkina Faso will capture this criminal before he escapes (unless he is burned to death in the building) so they get back the money he looted from the treasure of the country and dealt with justice.
    I hope this wave of freedom engulf Africa.
    ” Sometimes when things seem falling apart, they may actually be falling into place” author unknown.