November 12, 2017 – The United Nations reported that Eritrea’s military received help from the United Arab Emirates and possibly Russia, companies in the past year. According to UN, the assistance would violate a United Nations arms embargo on Eritrea.
Thirteen Eritrean air force and navy cadets received training at U.A.E. military colleges and seven at Emirati engineering institutions between 2012 and 2015, the investigators said in a Nov. 8 report to the UN Security Council, citing testimony from five cadets who defected. The U.A.E. has been building a military base in Eritrea, whose port facilities two months ago appeared to be “almost complete with multiple vessels docked,” the investigators said, citing satellite imagery.
U.A.E. tanks and artillery have been present between the port facilities and an airport that is also being developed, the investigators said. A U.A.E. Foreign Ministry official didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel didn’t comment directly on the allegations.
Eritrea, a one-party state that sits on a key shipping strait linking the Red Sea and Suez Canal, has been under UN sanctions since 2009, following allegations President Isaias Afwerki’s government supports Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Somalia. UN monitors said two years ago that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen may have been offering Eritrea monetary compensation for the use of its land, airspace and territorial waters.
In an emailed response to Bloomberg’s questions, Information Minister Gebremeskel criticized “unwarranted sanctions” based on “false allegations” it supported the al-Shabaab militant group. UN investigators said they found no conclusive evidence of support given to the fighters nor of large shipments of weapons and ammunition between the two countries.