Counter-Terrorism: September 14, 2005

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A secular Moslem country of about 4.5 million, Eritrea is a one-party state with a poor human-rights record, controlled by the authoritarian Isaias Afwerki and the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), formed out of the original national front that led the Eritrean fight for independence from Ethiopia (1961-1993). The country occupies a dangerous part of the Horn of Africa, surrounded by a number of hostile neighbors, notably Sudan and Ethiopia, and close to Yemen, a potential failed state, as well as Somalia, which continues in anarchy. There is evidence that a number of insurgent groups are active in Eritrea, with at least the tacit support of several of its neighbors.

In 1999 several Eritrean dissident groups created an umbrella group, the Alliance of Eritrean National Force, for the purpose of overthowing the PFDJ. In 2002, the Alliance changed its name to the Eritrean National Alliance (ENA)

ENA, based in Ethiopia under the leadership of Heruy Tedla Biru, is made up of quite a number of groups. Their precise alignments, policies, goals, and strengths are highly uncertain. Some are believed to be mutually hostile, and tend not to cooperate.

Eritrean Islamic Salvation/Eritrean Islamic Jihad. Possibly affiliated with Al-Qaeda, it apparently has about 2,500 members, and seeks an Islamist state in Eritrea. Led by Sheikh Khalil Mohammed Amir. The movement operates in the northern parts of the country, from safe areas in Sudan, which is believed to be a major source of support.

Eritrean Liberation Front. Apparently supported by Ethiopia. Originally founded in 1960, the ELF fragmented into several groups over the years, the most notable of which are, 


oEritrean Liberation Front Central Command. A marxist-oreinted group.

oEritrean Liberation Front Revolutionary Council. Reportedly the most democratically-inclined group in ENA.

Eritrean Democratic Resistance Movement (Gash-Setit). Operating in southwestern Eritrea, apparently with Ethiopian support

Eritrean Initiative Group

Eritrean Kunamas Democratic Movement

Eritrean People's Congress

Eritrean Revolutionary Democratic Front/Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Eritrea/Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Eritrea. A radical Marxist group led by Hamid Turky.

Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization. Led by Amin Ahmad, the RSADO seeks to separate the Afar tribe from Eritrea and unite it with Djibouti. It does not appear to be supported by the government of Djibouti.

 


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