Re: Millennium Challenges of the Bahire-Negash Fiasco in the Horn demands serious shift in policy of Engagement
It is becoming apparent that the new operatives of the historic Bahire-Negash the Red Sea administration of Ethiopia, currently known by some as Eritrea is in the middle of cultural, religious, state and economic controversy and outright disruption of the region.
Atempts by people of good will to tame this rather dangerous outfit over the past 17 years has resulted in total failure.
The following developments are clear signal that we have a serious problem in the Horn and no amount of political, cultural and economic negotiation is going to work.
It is time to wake up! the fire is raging and is likely to burn every one! There is a need for a serious shift in policy and approach of the Horn Crisis to address the root cause of the problem that generates the incessant fire that is likely to change the make up and constitution of the region in this millennium.
Please read the attached information, how the religious, cultural and socio-economic modus operande is shifting at a lightening speed.
Proactive and Pre-emptive Global Strategy is needed Fast!
The time to wait and see is over! We need proactive engagement to change the outcome of the Horn Fiasco. Please read on! Get informed and make informed choices.
Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises & Partners for Peace and Prosperity
Illegal appointment of new Patriarch by Eritrean government 24/04/2007
In an indication of increasing government control of the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC), a renegade bishop has been declared its new Patriarch 16 months after the ordained pontiff was illegally removed from office.
According to a report on the Eritrean website asmarino.com quoting Orthodox sources in Asmara, Bishop Dioscoros was selected as Patriarch in the presence of government officials and other “reluctant” bishops who “took no part in the decision”.
The Asmarino.com report indicates that Yoftahe Dimetros, a government-appointed lay-person who assumed the role of General Secretary of the Holy Synod in violation of the church’s constitution, is reported to have overseen Dioscoros’ appointment.
Dimetros was instrumental in engineering the unlawful removal of Patriarch Antonios in 2006. He is also reported to have authorized the seizure of the Patriarch’s robes of office and pontifical insignia in February this year.
Reports indicate that Dioscoros’ consecration is set to take place on the Day of Pentecost. In the meantime, Abune Antonios, the legitimate Patriarch of the EOC, has remained under a stringent regime of house arrest since his illegal dismissal from office in January 2006. Later that year, and in an indication of future developments, a government news release referred to Dioscoros as “His Holiness” and “Head of the EOC”.
Patriarch Antonios is one of approximately 2000 Christians currently detained without trial or charge in Eritrea. On 31 May, Christian Solidarity Worldwide Worldwide (CSW), Release Eritrea and Christian Concern for Freedom of Conscience (CCFC) will hold a rally outside the Eritrean Embassy in London to protest at the continuing detention and mistreatment of Christians and other prisoners of conscience in Eritrea.
Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of CSW, said: “This is yet another low in the sad litany of Eritrean government interference in church affairs. In addition to the appalling mistreatment of the legitimate pontiff, who continues to be held without charge or trial, the Eritrean authorities appear determined to usurp the authority to appoint a leader for a church with a 17 century history. CSW calls for the immediate release of Abune Antonios and his reinstatement as head of the EOC. We hope the Orthodox Papacy will issue a strong statement on this unwelcome development. Such an unprecedented level of state interference in church affairs is wholly unacceptable in this day and age.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1.Since his ordination by Pope Shenouda in April 2004, Patriarch Antonios is reported to have been increasingly resistant to the government's continual interventions into church matters. In January 2005, and for the first time ever, the traditional Orthodox Annual Christmas message was not aired on national media after the patriarch allegedly objected to the detention in November 2004 of three Orthodox priests from the Medhane Alem Church. The patriarch also opposed requests to close down the church, which is linked to the Orthodox renewal movement and attracts thousands of young people.
2.In 2005, Asmarino.com reported that prior to his removal from his administrative duties, the Patriarch had increasingly begun to challenge the regime on spiritual grounds, and had objected to government intrusion through Mr. Dimetros in the administration of the Patriarchate. Mr. Dimetros is said to have repeatedly clashed with the Patriarch as he attempted to coerce the Orthodox Church to adopt government inspired policies. He is also reported to have accompanied an Eritrean Bishop to Egypt to the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church in July in an attempt to persuade the Papacy to oust Patriarch Antonios.
3.The Patriarch was officially removed from office in January 2006. However, a living patriarch can only be ousted if he is seriously ill, commits grievous sin or if he adheres to heresy. Moreover, such a removal can only be undertaken by appropriately mandated church authorities. In a robust letter challenging his arbitrary removal from office, the Patriarch excommunicated several people, including Mr. Demitros, and implored Bishop Dioscoros to refrain from unspecified ‘negative activities’.
1. Ethiopia Faces Military Escalation From Rebels Inside Its Borders
26 April 2007
Tuesday’s attack on a Chinese-run oil field in eastern Ethiopia is said to be one of the largest operations carried out by a regional separatist group known as the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).
The attack was reportedly carried out by 200 gunmen and left 65 Ethiopians and nine Chinese dead. David Shinn is Adjunct Professor of International Studies at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, and a former US Ambassador to Ethiopia. He tells VOA English to Africa reporter Howard Lesser how a generation of ONLF fighters have started to expand the scope of their fight for independence from Addis Ababa.
“Up until now, most of their efforts have been very small.
They would occasionally attack any government’s convoys into the Ogaden. They took a few hostages. They normally would let the foreigners go eventually. And they would normally let Somali-Ethiopians go eventually. But if they managed to capture either a member of the army in the highlands or even a civilian from the highlands, they probably killed them. But that didn’t happen very often. These were small events, and this recent incident was by far the biggest thing they’ve ever done that I can recall.
How they were able to put together a force that large in an area that is somewhat removed from their core area of strength – it’s a little bit north of where they would have most of their ability to maneuver – is fairly impressive,” he said.
Ethiopia has blamed Eritrea for supplying the uniforms and arms for Tuesday’s attack by the ONLF, which operates in a large region of Ethiopia that is inhabited by ethnic Somalis fighting for their independence from Addis Ababa. Ambassador Shinn admits he lacks hard proof, but suggests that Asmara may have started enlisting Ogaden fighters to open a new front against Ethiopia as Eritrea escalates its long-running border conflict with its southern neighbor and both countries continue to collide militarily in the civil war in Somalia.
“It’s possible that Eritrea has provided indirectly some military equipment to the ONLF through Somalia. But it’s part of Eritrea’s policy to do whatever it can to create difficulties for Ethiopia because of this unresolved border issue between Ethiopia and Eritrea. And that’s why Eritrea has been very involved in Somalia, going back to early last year,” he says.
Ambassador Shinn points out that despite the high oil field death toll this week, China’s mining interests were minimally affected by the assault.
“They haven’t even found oil yet. There clearly are gas reserves in the Ogaden. But this is just at the prospecting stage. There’s no pipeline. There’s no way to move anything out of there. So it only has an impact on whatever potential was there. But what it would have a greater impact on is the Chinese may decide to rethink engaging in what are effectively conflict zones.
They have run into a little bit of a problem in the Gulf of Guinea, and they potentially could have problems in Sudan. At the moment, the oil fields in Southern Sudan are very quiet. The Chinese are also interested in potential oil fields in Darfur,” he noted.
2. Ethiopian Rebel Group Denies Support From Eritrea
By Alisha Ryu
25 April 2007
An Ethiopian separatist group, which has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's bloody attack on a Chinese-run oil field, is denying allegations by Addis Ababa that arch rival Eritrea is supporting the rebels in their bid to destabilize Ethiopia. VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu in our East Africa Bureau in Nairobi has this report.
Condemning what the Ethiopian government called a terrorist attack, Addis Ababa says the rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Front, known by the initials ONLF, worked side-by-side with Eritrea in carrying out Tuesday's raid on a remote oil field in eastern Ethiopia's ethnically-Somali Ogaden region.
Ethiopia says neighboring Eritrea is using the ONLF to start a proxy war to destroy Ethiopia's economy. The two nations have been bitter enemies since they fought an unresolved border war nearly a decade ago.
A member of parliament in Somalia's Ethiopian-backed transitional government, Awad Mohamed Ashureh, says his government is also deeply concerned about what it also believes are deliberate efforts by Eritrea to create trouble for Ethiopia.
The governments of Somalia, Ethiopia, and the United States have accused Eritrea of providing weapons and training to radical Islamists in Somalia, who are among hundreds of insurgents currently battling Ethiopian troops in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
"We were trying to have negotiations between the ONLF and the government of Ethiopia. Now, it seems that Eritreans are igniting the situation by supporting dissidents and the opposition in Ethiopia. This will have an impact on the whole Horn of Africa," Ashureh says.
In a telephone interview with VOA, ONLF's vice chairman, Abdul Khadir Hassan, dismissed allegations that Eritrea is providing his group with weapons and other supplies.
The rebel leader said that the ONLF has no problem obtaining guns at any time from a wide variety of people and groups throughout the region - even from the Ethiopian army.
"Everywhere, you can get arms. There is weapon in Somalia, Ethiopia, even Ethiopian soldiers, they give us. There is corruption inside the Ethiopian army," Hassan says.
Officials in Asmara also denied that Eritrea is aiding the separatist ONLF They accuse Addis Ababa of using Eritrea as a scapegoat for its inability to settle disputes with Ethiopia's numerous ethnic groups.
Nine Chinese oil workers and at least 65 Ethiopians were reportedly killed during the hour-long gun battle Tuesday, which the ONLF described as a military operation against Ethiopian troops guarding the oil facility.
Chinese and Ethiopian officials say seven Chinese workers were also abducted. But the ONLF says it is holding six workers and they are being treated well.
The ONLF was formed in 1984 to fight what it calls the marginalization and brutalization of ethnic Somalis by the Ethiopian government. About a year ago, the separatist group warned foreign oil companies not to make deals with the Ethiopian government because Addis Ababa did not have any authority in the Ogaden region.
3. Eritrea elects new Orthodox Church head
Wed 25 Apr 2007
ASMARA, April 25 (Reuters) - Eritrea's Orthodox Church has named a new head but a Christian group condemned the move on Wednesday as a sign of growing state interference in church affairs in the Red Sea state.
Abune Dioskoros was named fourth patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, replacing former head Abune Antonios, according to a statement in a government-owned English newspaper.
It did not say why the old patriarch had been replaced.
British-based Christian group, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said the appointment was illegal, and that Antonios had been placed under house arrest.
"A renegade bishop has been declared its new patriarch sixteen months after the ordained pontiff was illegally removed from office," the group said on its Web site www.csw.org.uk.
"This is yet another low in the sad litany of Eritrean government interference in church affairs," CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a statement.
"Such an unprecedented level of state interference in church affairs is wholly unacceptable in this day and age," he added.
CSW said Antonios was one of some 2,000 Christians detained without trial or charge in Eritrea.
Eritrea's population of under five million is split roughly equally between Muslims and Christians, the majority Orthodox.
Its government routinely denies such accusations of interference, but has been accused by human rights groups and the U.S. State Department of violating religious freedoms.