Migrants – Eritrea aligned with Qatar or Shabaab?

If the immigrants want to go to Germany, if Germany says they are more than happy to accept upwards of 500,000 per year, why doesn’t the EU simply step in and fast track them from Hungary, Greece and Italy to Germany? Seems to me it would solve the problem completely.

The UK which is not technically a part of the EU and does not have to comply with the immigrant acceptance rules, has taken in refugees from Eritrea, Pakistan and Syria. Eritrea? Not in the news much… A small country in the horn of Africa, Eritrea has quite an interesting history.

It is said to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, and the home of the Queen of Sheba. It has been ruled within Christianity, conquered and ruled under the Ottoman Empire and seized by Italy as the Italian Eritrea. It was ruled by the British and then became a federated conscript of Ethiopia. The UN granted Eritrea independence in 1993 and it was taken over by the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front. They held to Marxist ideologies which became unpopular and the group evolved into what is the ruling party today – the Peoples Front for Democracy and Justice. Nice sounding – but still communist in its ideology.

The president under this rather oblique sounding organization is Isaias Afeworki who has been in office since 1993. So much for the Democracy part. The country continues to fight all its neighbors, most specifically, Ethiopia for which it harbors distinct animosity.

Then something very strange happened.

Situated across the Red Sea from Yemen and Saudi Arabia, Eritrea has been home to the al Qaeda affiliate Shabaab. The country has been likened to North Korea with its dictator rule and government controlled authoritarian power grid. Most of the refugees claim that the requirement for military service which can be 10 to 40 years is the primary reason they flee the country. Others talk of torture and human rights. But hugely compounding the immigration problem is that often human traffickers get ahold of the immigrants, capture them and hold them for ransom. Many that flee are Christian. Some have been captured by ISIS and executed.

In 2006, the Qatari royal family government who had befriended Afeworki, gained permission to build a $115 million resort on the Eritrean island of Dahlak Kebir. The first phase included 48 bungalows, a desalinization plant, pools and electrical grids is completed. But the relations between Afeworki and Qatar have somewhat soured and the project is on hold.

So what is the connection? Why would the Qatari’s want to build a $115 million resort in a country that has been called the North Korea of Africa?

The Qatari government has for years been accused of supporting Al Shabaab in their fight against the Somali’s. The US accused Qatar of funding the insurgents through a sort of money laundering scheme that funneled cash through Eritrea to Shabaab in Somalia. I imagine this ‘private resort’ in Eritrea houses a number of Shabaab militants as a safe house.

And now, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are collaborating to install appropriate governments in Yemen, Syria, and Libya. I imagine the fear is that their loyalties could extend to ousting the current president of Eritrea so as to gain the domination of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Why?

Qatar is nowhere near the Red Sea situated on the other side of Saudi Arabia. Taking control of Eritrea could help put Eritrea on the map and give Qatar a boost in power – a win-win situation for Qatar, but what about Isaias? The building of what was to be an international playground resort may have been pretty good incentive for Isaias – given the amount of revenue that would undoubtably be generated. Qatar’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has been friend and foe changing on a dime. Gaining power means gaining allies.

So, as the Middle East is redefined, and countries are gobbled up and spit back out anew, the US may be unwittingly creating a Frankenstein only to learn too late...be careful what you wish for ’cause you just might get it

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