The Chairman of the Eritrean People's Democratic Party (EPDP) issued a statement dated 8 January 2018 expressing deep concern about the dangerous "clouds of war gathering on both sides of the Red Sea" and urged the governments of the region to "immediately close the military bases of external forces and withdraw from the alliances that do not serve the best interests of the peoples of the region".
EPDP Chairman Menghesteab Asmerom's statement, which provided abundant background to the conflicts and security tensions in the entire region, also asked all parties concerned to resolve their differences only peacefully.
The EPDP statement referred to the bad governance, wars and natural calamities that victimized the peoples of the region for too long and in particular mentioned the suffering of Eritreans, not only because of a chain of wars since Italy colonized the territory over a century ago, but also of the three wars imposed on them in the past 26 years of their independent existence.
It also reminded Eritreans the be "fully aware of the fact that regional and international factors also influence and affect the future of Eritrea" and that it is time for them to see "bigger picture" and start to jointly face the challenges ahead of them. Printed below is the full text of the Statement.
EPDP Statement on Tensions, Alliances
in the Horn of Africa and Red Sea Basin: The peoples of the Horn of Africa have been victims of bad governance, drought and armed hostilities for a long time. This fact is made clear and apparent by the number of Eritreans, Ethiopians, Somalis and Sudanese refugees scattered all over the globe.
The Eritrean people have, in particular, been subjected to the adverse effects of incessant wars and armed campaigns ever since the advent of Italian colonialism [precisely 127 years ago]. Even in the past 26 years of its independent existence, Eritrea extended the list of wars by adding up armed conflicts with Yemen, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Yet, what is prevailing in the Horn of Africa and the Middle Easter region at this very moment is not peace, stability or prosperity but wanton destruction and suffering.
Unfortunately, peoples of the region are witnessing a proxy war in Yemen conducted by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition in support of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Houthi clansmen supported by Iran. Eritrea has become part of the ongoing hostilities by providing military base to the Saudi-led coalition in the Eritrean Red Sea province of Denkalia, and, according to some reports, it sent armed units to Yemen. In return, the Eritrean regime is receiving millions of dollars in cash and in the form of petroleum thus enabling itself to linger its dictatorial grip of power in the country.
Egypt, with its unresolved misunderstanding with Ethiopia over the construction of a dam on the Nile River, has become part of the Gulf Coalition. The Sudan, which currently has its own problems with Egypt related to their unresolved border claims over the Halayeb Triangle and Sudan's intention to make full use of its share of Nile waters, opted to be in good terms with Ethiopia. On top of this, the ruling party in the Sudan (National Salvation Front) has not been happy with the action taken by the Egyptian President Abdulfatah al-Sissi against Sudan's friendly regime (Muslim Brotherhood) of deposed President Mursi. It is to be recalled that Turkey and Qatar provided political asylum to senior leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, while Turkey's President Erdogan suspected Egypt for having supported the attempted coup in his country. All these events fueled mutual mistrusts within the wider region.
It is clear that Egypt and Eritrea are on the opposite alignment of the joint Sudan and Ethiopia front. Eritrea's Isaias Afeworki visited the United Arab Emirates, and the Ethiopian President Hailemariam Desalegn toured Qatar. The recent visit of senior Egyptian military officials to Eritrea, the rumoured supply of arms, and the initiation of training centers in Eritrea's Sawa for forces opposed to governments in the region seem to have provoked Sudan's declaration of a state of emergency in the Kassala region. It also closed its border with Eritrea by sending thousands from its special rapid deployment units to the area. These developments did indeed heighten security tension between the two.
It is observed that Sudan, which formally remains part of the Gulf Coalition, it nevertheless continues to strengthen relations with Turkey, probably on the basis of religious and ideological grounds (Muslim Brotherhood) that both share with Qatar as opposed to the Wahabist Sunni line of Saudi Arabia. In the midst of this contest for political influence in the Horn of Africa and Red Sea Basin, Turkey is establishing military bases at Sewakin in the Sudan and in Somalia thus igniting Egyptian and Arab fears of old Ottoman-Turkish like expansionist move to the Red Sea which Arabs wish to call their own backyard.
The clouds of war gathering on both sides of the Red Sea are big threats to this important commercial route and hazardous to the peoples of the region. The Eritrean People's Democratic Party (EPDP) thus expresses its deep concern about the ongoing formation of military alignments recounted above in addition to the Russo-Turkish-Iranian front opposed to the US-Israeli alliance, and President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a fact opposed by many parties in addition to the Muslim-Arab world. The intensification of the simmering conflicts and crises appears to be adding fuel to existing problems in the Horn of Africa countries and thus plunge the peoples of the region to the worst situation imaginable.
We therefore strongly call upon governments of the Horn of Africa region to resolve their problems peacefully and immediately close the military bases of external forces and withdraw from the alliances that do not serve the best interests of the peoples of region.
Also at this critical juncture, the EPDP wishes to again ring the bell to the Eritrean people and our organizations opposed to the ruling regime to be fully aware of the fact that regional and international factors also influence and affect the future of Eritrea. Therefore, it is high time that they thus stop petty squabbles within the family and instead look at the bigger picture and start to jointly face the challenges before them and their state.
In conclusion, we appeal to all concerned parties for restraint and cessation of hostilities in Yemen and also ensure the most immediate provision of humanitarian assistance to the suffering people in Yemen.
Happy New Year!
Chairman, the Eritrean People's Democratic Party (EPDP)
8 January, 2018