UNITED NATIONS (AP)
The U.N. Security Council was expected to approve an arms embargo and other tough sanctions against Eritrea for supplying arms to opponents of the Somali government and refusing to resolve a border dispute with neighboring Djibouti.
The U.N.’s most powerful body was likely to approve the sanctions resolution on Wednesday, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
It would ban the import and export of weapons to Eritrea and call on U.N. member states to inspect all suspect air and sea cargo between the Red Sea nation and Somalia.
The draft resolution would also impose a travel ban on individuals — including Eritrea’s political and military leadership — who violate the arms embargo, obstruct a border settlement with Djibouti, or “perpetrate acts of violence or terrorist acts against other states or their citizens in the region.” The financial assets of these individuals as well as government and private companies responsible for similar violations would be frozen.
The Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Somalia would designate the individuals and companies subject to the new sanctions against Eritrea.
Eritrea earlier this month called the proposed resolution “politically motivated,” saying it was based on “unfounded accusations.”
The African Union asked the Security Council to impose sanctions on Eritrea for providing support to armed groups trying to destabilize Somalia.
A U.N. panel monitoring an arms embargo against Somalia has accused Eritrea of secretly shipping large quantities of arms, including missiles and explosives, to Islamic insurgents trying to overthrow the country’s Western-backed transitional government.
Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991 when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other, plunging the country into chaos and anarchy. The fragile U.N.-backed government and an undermanned, poorly resourced African Union peacekeeping force have struggled to defend government buildings, the port and airport in the capital, Mogadishu, against the militant al-Shabab group and other Islamic insurgents.
The draft resolution demands that all U.N. member states, “in particular Eritrea, cease arming, training and equipping armed groups and their members including al-Shabab, that aim to destabilize the region or incite violence and civil strife in Djibouti.”
The African Union expressed grave concern at Eritrea’s failure to withdraw its forces from the Djibouti border.
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war. It has been feuding over its border with Ethiopia ever since, and uncertainty over its border with the tiny port nation of Djibouti led to hostilities between the two countries twice in the 1990s.
In June 2008, the Security Council condemned Eritrea for launching an attack against Djibouti, a key U.S. ally in the Horn of Africa, which the U.S. said left 44 Djiboutian soldiers dead and many more missing. The council called for a cease-fire and urged the two countries to withdraw their forces from the border, which overlooks key Red Sea shipping lanes. Djibouti did withdraw, but Eritrea has not.
The draft resolution demands that Eritrea immediately comply with the 2008 resolution and pull back its troops. It also demands that Eritrea provide information about Djibouti combatants missing in action since the clashes.