By Peter Clotty | Voice of America (VOA)
Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu said Ethiopia’s admission of its military attack is a calculated ploy to divert the international community’s attention from its continuous 10-year occupation of Eritrean territory.
He expressed little surprise that Ethiopia embarked on what he called “a military bellicosity that encroaches on Eritrea’s sovereignty.”
Abdu said Eritrea is not to blame for what he said is Ethiopia’s failure to resolve its internal crisis.
“By its own admission, it’s an aggression against the sovereignty of Eritrean territory,” said Abdu. “The internal crisis in Ethiopia is due to the marginalization and exclusion of minor Ethiopian groups [because] of the regime’s narrow and backward policy of divide and rule being conducted by the Ethiopian regime.”
Ethiopia announced its forces attacked a military base inside Eritrea as an act of retaliation after accusing its neighbor of sponsoring groups that have carried out attacks inside Ethiopia.
Ethiopian government spokesman Shimeles Kemal said Ethiopian troops moved 16 kilometers into Eritrea early Thursday and launched what he called a “successful attack” against two military posts used by “subversive groups.”
Ethiopia has often accused Eritrea of backing rebel groups that attack targets in Ethiopia’s Afar area. But, Abdu said Ethiopia’s accusations that Eritrea supports terrorism are like accusing (inventor) Thomas Edison of supporting darkness.
“We have fought terrorism long ago before it became the talk of the town for politicians… and who are these terrorist subversive groups?” asked Abdu. “Almost all Ethiopians are fighting against the regime for the obvious reason because the regime is pursuing a narrow, corrupted policy, which services a very small family of the elite.”
Abdu said Asmara resists being dragged into “this kind of acrimony and provocation.” He said the Eritrean government is pondering its next line of action.
In its “final and binding” ruling on April 13th 2002, the UN-backed Eritrean and Ethiopian Border Commission awarded the town of Badme to Eritrea. But, Asmara insists Addis Ababa has repeatedly refused to implement the ruling.
Abdu said the UN Security Council has yet to take disciplinary action against Ethiopia’s decision to ignore the ruling for the past 10 years, despite Asmara’s repeated requests.
“We have been asking the Security Council to take serious measures against the Ethiopian regime, which is occupying our sovereign territory. The United Nations has not fulfilled this mandate and has not taken necessary measures,” said Abdu. “The United Nations should take action, legal punitive measures against the Ethiopian regime for its violations against the Eritrean and Ethiopian Border Commission verdict.”
The United States has urged both sides to exercise restraint. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington is seeking further clarification from Ethiopia about its intentions.