Weapons supplied by Eritrea continue to crop
up in arsenals of Somali Islamic terrorists. One of the militias supported by
the Somalia Islamic Courts has received SA-18 shoulder-fired surface to air
missiles (SAMs) via Eritrea. The SA-18 is a Russian designed weapon. Eritrea
denied the reports. The Islamic Courts appear to have received other weapons
and explosives (including explosive belts for suicide bombers) from Eritrean
August 8, 2007: The Ethiopian
government said that "offensive actions" by its military and security forces in
the last two months had killed 502 rebels in the Ogaden region. Around 170
rebels had been captured. Ethiopia usually refers to the rebels as
"terrorists." The offensive was launched after an an attack in April by ONLF
forces that killed 74. Rebels
accuse the Ethiopian government of
committing 2,395 "extrajudicial killings" (ie, death squad murders) in the Ogaden
August 7, 2007: The Ogaden
National Liberation Front (ONLF) warned foreign firms to not engage in oil and
natural gas exploration in the Ogaden.
The ONLF rebels believe exploration activities aided "war crimes" being
committed against the people of the Ogaden (crimes presumably committed by the
Ethiopian military). Most people in the Ogaden are Somali.
July 30, 2007: The UN extended
the mandate for UNMEE (UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea) for another six
months. The UN also called on Eritrea to withdraw troops from the Temporary
Security Zone (TSZ). Apparently Eritrea has kept a contingent of troops in the
TSZ since early last fall. While the
Eritrean force was originally believed to be 10,000 troops, subsequent reports put the figure at 1500 to
2000 (a regiment or brigade). Still, it is a violation of the neutral zone. The
UN also called on Ethiopia to withdraw forces it has deployed near the TSZ.
July 29, 2007: The Ethiopian
government is trying to find ways to "de-conflict" brewing trouble as nomadic
and pastoral tribes confront drought conditions. Some of the trouble in the
Ogaden desert region stems from fights over water holes and pasture land. Also,
sedentary farmers complain about pastoralists grazing their herds on farmland.
July 24, 2007: The Ethiopian
government told the Red Cross it would have to pull its aid teams out of the
Ogaden region. Ethiopia accused the Red Cross of "interfering with the
political situation" in Ogaden. Essentially the Ethiopian government accused
the Red Cross of aiding Ogaden rebel groups. The Red Cross claims its aid teams
have been working on water and sanitation projects in the region.