This move appears to be a grossly short-sighted attempt to bolster the Somali jihadists as a counterbalance to Ethiopia, from which Eritrea separated in the 1990s. The more the jihadists prevail in Somalia, the stronger a base they will have from which to export the jihad and its goal of imposing Islamic law throughout the Horn of Africa and beyond. And if the current Somali government (such as it is) isn’t “Islamic” enough in spite of broad concessions to sharia, what makes the present government of Eritrea think they are safe in the long run?
“US alarmed at Eritrea ‘arms link’,” from BBC News, May 16:
The US says it is seriously concerned by reports Eritrea is supplying arms to foreign fighters and Islamic hardliners fighting government forces in Somalia.
“This as a disturbing development,” President Barack Obama’s top official on Africa, Jonnie Carson, told the BBC.
Eritrea denies any involvement in arming or financing Islamist militants trying to overthrow the government.
Following a week of violence, 100 people are dead and 30,000 more have fled Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.
There have been a number of reports of foreign fighters, with possible links to al-Qaeda, fighting alongside hardline Islamists of al-Shabaab and Hisbul-Islam, said Mr Carson, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
“We’re extremely worried about the reports.”
“There seem to be fairly serious and creditable reports that al Shabaab does have, amongst its fighters, a number of individuals of South Asian and Chechen origin,” said Mr Carson.
“This is a very disturbing situation and reflects the seriousness of the problem in Somalia.”
Mr Carson also expressed concern about flights from Eritrea were carrying weapons and ammunition to Somalia to supply al-Shabaab.
“There have been numerous reports that the government of Eritrea has, in fact, been supplying weapons and munitions to al-Shabaab.
“These are reports that we do find credible,” he said…