It has been a while since the Asmara regime has attained international notoriety for its role as regional spoiler and a rouge regime. The peak was in 2009 when the Security Council found Eritrea's role in undermining the peace and security of Eastern Africa in general, of Ethiopia, Somalia, and South Sudan and Djibouti in particular providing a range support to armed groups including weapons, training, office, etc. besides to direct military provocations on their borders.
Through Resolution 1907/2009, the Security Council imposed sanctions on Eritrea, notably: "all Member States shall immediately take the necessary measures to prevent the sale or supply to Eritrea by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, and technical assistance, training, financial and other assistance, related to the military activities or to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of these items, whether or not originating in their territories"
The resolution and the subsequent resolution 2060/2012 and resolution 2182/2014 did not ask much from Eritrea. All the Asmara regime was asked to do was to cease activities that destabilize the region. In general, Eritrea had to stop harbouring, financing, facilitating, supporting, organizing, training, or inciting individuals or groups to perpetrate acts of violence or terrorist acts against other States or their citizens in the region.
However, the regime has never relented its illegal and irresponsible activities and persisted in its notorious behaviour. These were demonstrated in the investigations conducted b the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea established to monitor Eritrea's compliance with the resolutions. As the Monitoring Group repeatedly demonstrated, Eritrea continued its irresponsible activities.
In 2011, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea revealed that Eritrea plotted to attack an African Union summit in Ethiopia. The terror plot was to "make Addis Ababa like Baghdad". According to the report, Eritrean intelligence services planned an operation to detonate a car bomb at the African Union headquarters where 30 leaders attended. Moreover, the plan included bombing placed between Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's office and Sheraton Hotel, where most of the African leaders were staying. The report said the plan included bombing Merkato, which is said to be the largest open-air market in Africa, in the hope of 'killing many people'.
The report underlined that
"If executed as planned, the operation would almost certainly have caused mass civilian casualties, damaged the Ethiopian economy, and disrupted the African Union summit.
"Whereas Eritrean support to foreign armed opposition groups has in the past been limited to conventional military operations, the plot to disrupt the African Union summit in Addis Ababa in January 2011, which envisaged mass casualty attacks against civilian targets and the strategic use of explosives to create a climate of fear, represents a qualitative shift in Eritrean tactics".
"The fact that the same Eritrean officers responsible for the planning and direction of this operation are also involved, both in supervisory and operational roles, in external operations in Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia and Sudan implies an enhanced level of threat to the region as a whole.
"Although ostensibly an OLF operation, it was conceived, planned, supported and directed by the external operations directorate of the government of Eritrea, under the leadership of General Te'ame [who is Eritrea's external intelligence operations chief in the Horn.]"
Similarly, a subsequent report exposed Eritrea's engagement in destabilizing activities in the Horn of Africa. In particular, the presence of 'credible information 'on Eritrea's support to: Ogaden National Liberation Front(ONLF), Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Afar Liberation Front (ALF), Afar Revolutionary People's Democratic Front, (aka, Ugugumo), Sidamo Liberation Front, Tigrayan People's Democratic Movement, and 'Unidentified fighters from the Amhara and Gambella states of Ethiopia'.
The report further proved the link between Eritrea and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which was dismantled by Ethiopian intervention to Somalia in 2006.
Nonetheless, the Eritrean regime continued, in fact extended, in recent years. The destabilizing supports were offered to new groups such as Ginbot 7 in late 2014. Eritrea's destabilizing engagement encompassed its diplomatic missions and military officers in the recruitment and training as well as operational aspects of Ginbot 7 rebel group, as the monitoring group revealed last years.
Indeed, the Embassy of Eritrea in Pretoria, South Africa, facilitated the recruitment a Ginbot 7 operative by issuing a laissez-passer in 2012 which was used to travel from Johannesburg-Cairo-Asmara to receive trainings of "guerilla" warfare tactics, firearms, hand guns, automatic weapons, explosives and anti-tank weapons". Moreover, the report revealed that Eritrean army personnel were involved in escorting a Ginbot 7 recruit from Sudan soil to a training centre in Harena, eastern Eritrea.
In light of these, it is no surprise Eritrean hands were involved in exacerbating the violence and chaos that occurred in Ethiopia recently. Even though the protests in Oromia had legitimate demands, Eritrea backed terrorist groups attempted to hijack by engaging their sleeper cells, providing arms and turning demonstrations violent.
As the trends of the past years show, Eritrea has the propensity and the means to engage in such acts of destabilization. If that were not the case, there is no reason it would keep on supporting armed opposition groups that aimed to destabilize the region, "including harbouring, financing, facilitating, supporting, organizing, training or inciting individuals or groups to perpetrate acts of violence in the region", in direct contradiction of the Security Council resolutions.
This is Eritrea's track-record that cannot be whitewashed by issuing just one statement of denial. Eritrea should change course or face the consequence of her actions.