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UN mulls sanctions against Eritrean officials

Posted by Ethio Tribune on July 9, 2012

The U.N. Security Council has twice imposed sanctions on Eritrea in the past few years for alleged support to Somalia’s Islamist militants. The Red Sea state denies the allegations.

Envoys at the United Nations confirmed that new sanctions against Eritrean officials were being considered.

“The U.N. Security Council sanctions committee on Somalia and Eritrea is still discussing possible new sanctions designations and a decision could be made soon,” a council diplomat told Reuters. The 15-member body is due to discuss Somalia and Eritrea on July 19, the envoy said.

The U.S. Treasury named Col. Tewolde Habte Negash, an Eritrean intelligence officer, as his government’s principal coordinator for assisting armed groups including the al Qaeda-allied al Shabaab in Somalia since 2004.

It also said Col. Taeme Abraham Goitom had helped to shape the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, an armed group whose members joined al Shabaab in 2010 and which has mounted attacks on Somali government soldiers and an African Union force trying to stabilise the country.

Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki routinely accuses the United States of siding with Ethiopia during their 1998-2000 border war for “geo-strategic reasons”.

Ethiopia, a key ally in Washington’s global war on Islamist insurgents, has deployed troops inside Somalia to fight al Qaeda-linked militants.

Officials in Asmara also accuse the United States of masterminding the sanctions that the U.N. Security Council imposed on Eritrea in 2009 and 2011, alleging it had provided funds and weapons to Somalia’s Islamist insurgents. (Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Tim Pearce)

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