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Israel maintains military assets in Eritrea to spy on Iran: report
Xinhua News Agency
December 12, 2012


JERUSALEM, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- Israel has set up military bases in Eritrea to monitor Iran and other hostile activities in the Red Sea, Stratfor Global Intelligence reported Wednesday.

The U.S.-based strategy consultancy firm quoted “diplomatic sources” as saying that the Israeli military presence is comprised of docks and small naval units in the Dahlak Archipelago and Massawa, and a listening post on Mt. Amba Sawara.

“Israel`s presence in Eritrea is very focused and precise, involving intelligence gathering in the Red Sea and monitoring Iran`s activities,” Stratfor said.

According to the report, the East African nation has become an arena of operations for both Israel and Iran, with both vying to bolster their influence in the Horn of Africa.

The Israeli operations in the area are believed to mainly focus on tracking Iranian arms smuggling to militants in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. Ships loaded with rockets and other munitions travel through the Red Sea to Sudan and Egypt, from where the cargo is then transferred via land routes to Gaza or placed on ships bound for Syria and Lebanon.

The Israel Air Force has reportedly attacked arms convoys in Sudan several times in the past, and is widely credited with the October bombing of the Yarmouk munitions plant near the Sudanese capital of Khartoum where Iran had presumably planned to set up a workshop for manufacturing long-range missiles.

Though Israel kept mum on the affair, an Israeli official told The Sunday Times last month that Iran has built a “strategic arm” in Gaza.

“Regardless of the ceasefire agreement (with Hamas), we will attack and destroy any shipment of arms to Gaza,” he said.

According to Stratfor, in addition to Israel, Eritrea accommodates Iranian military operations “relevant to Tehran`s larger goal of controlling the Bab el-Mandab Strait and the water route to the Suez Canal.”

“In exchange for resources, possibly including modest amounts of cash and weapons, Eritrea has exhibited a willingness to become a base of support for Middle Eastern powers,” the report analyzes Asmara`s decision to nurture relations with the two rival nations.

It said Eritrea seeks to befriend Israel for “numerous security and political reasons,” such as Israel`s “close ties with Washington... and to acquire better air defense capabilities to defend against a possible attack from Ethiopia,” as well as “ balancing its controversial relationship with Tehran.”

Eritrea is not the only base for Israeli military operations abroad.

Earlier this month, The Sunday Times reported that numerous reports over the past year have claimed that Israel is maintaining a military presence in Azerbaijan, where it deploys unmanned Predator drones to preemptively strike Iranian missile sites in the event of a war.

According to other reports, Israel has purchased an abandoned airfield in the country from which it could launch a strike on Tehran`s nuclear facilities.

© Copyright 2012. Xinhua News Agency. All rights reserved.

President Isayas says no foreign military base in Eritrea
BBC Monitoring Africa
May 06, 2009

Asmara, 5 May: President Isayas Afewerki underscored that the establishment of alliances and eagerly looking for them that undermine respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity is not the political culture of Eritrea at all. And as such, the setting up of any foreign military base in Eritrea on the part of any party is totally unacceptable, he elaborated.

The president made the remarks in an interview he gave to the Arabic service of Al-Jazeera Television. He pointed out that the rumours being disseminated recently through media outlets alleging that there exist Israeli and Iranian military bases in Eritrea is but part and parcel of the concerted media, diplomatic and economic campaign resorted to and sponsored by the succeeding [US] Administrations in Washington designed to tarnish Eritrea`s image. And if at all there is any party that wishes to confirm this, Eritrea opens its doors to anybody to personally come and prove through travelling to any place at any time at the expense of the Eritrean government, he added. The president said that Eritrea has been exposing the repeated sheer lies of authors who have been concocting such slander.

Replying to a question on allegations that Eritrea is viewed as a `hostile entity` in the region, President Isayas noted that a party that has gone through war does not long for it, and indicated that the problem Eritrea had faced over the past 18 years emanated from acts of provocation and external interference aimed at undermining its sovereignty, and thus was compelled to confront it. In this respect, he explained that the declaration of war in 1998 against Eritrea by the ruling regime in Ethiopia with the backing of the US constitutes a naked invasion in a bid to escape from internal problems. Stating that Eritrea`s foreign relations strategy is based on promoting secure environment, the president underlined that it is ready to work closely with all countries in the region towards achieving this goal.

As regards the Somalia issue, President Isayas pointed out that Eritrea`s concern is the Somali issue and not that of individuals and groups, and hence if at all a lasting solution is to be achieved to the prevailing turmoil and instability in the country, the reconstitution of Somalia should be ensured with the participation of all Somali nationals, and thus assume its rightful role in both regional and international forums.

He further indicated that imposing so-called “government” from the outside and acts of interference through servants only complicate matters rather than bring about a solution. In this connection, the president stressed the need for creating conducive atmosphere and ground for the Somali people to resolve their issue themselves. To this end, President Isayas asserted that Eritrea along with other concerned parties is striving to play modest role.

Source: Shabait website, Asmara, in English 6 May 09

© 2010 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Dubai-based paper says no Iranian, Israeli military bases in Eritrea
BBC Monitoring Africa
April 22, 2010

Asmara, 21 April: Gulf News newspaper has dismissed as unfounded repeated baseless allegations on the part of Western media outlets claiming that there exist Israeli or Iranian military camps in Eritrea.

In an article it published under the title “Eritrea: In pursuit of the truth,” the newspaper, with wide circulation in the Middle East, indicated that its correspondent was given unlimited opportunity to visit different parts of Eritrea, including military facilities. It elaborated that the allegations made by Western media outlets, which were also echoed by some Middle East media organs contain no element of truth whatsoever.

The Gulf News reporter asserted: “We could not see any Iranian soldiers. There were also not any sophisticated weapons or latest technological devices pointing to the presence of any troops from Iran or any other foreign countries in these camps contrary to the allegations made by the Western media.”

The newspaper further explained that its correspondent conducted a tour to Sawa [military training camp in western Eritrea], Kiloma, Assab, Harena, Ras Dumera, Haleb Island, Ras Darma, the Dahlak Islands, Gash-Barka [Region] and other places. The correspondent explained that it could not witness any foreign military base in Eritrea, be it Israeli, Iranian or any other country.

In this respect, the Gulf News correspondent asserted that the report published on 2 April 2009 by the Israeli Maariv daily claiming that “Iran has already finished building a naval base at a desert area near the Eritrean port of Assab” is but a totally baseless allegation.

Also in the course of a tour in connection with the claim that Eritrea is “training opposition forces from neighbouring countries”, the correspondent team visited sites alleged to be camps and found out that there exist no evidence, at all, attesting to this. The Gulf News went on to indicate that its correspondent toured, both by vehicle and on foot, Sawa [which is] claimed to be “training centre of opposition forces of neighbouring countries”, but it did not witness any evidence of the presence of such forces. On the contrary, its correspondent found Sawa to be centre of human resource development in which thousands of Eritrean students complete their secondary education and receive various types of vocational training, the paper elucidated.

It went on write: “During the tour, both by vehicle and on foot lasting nearly two hours, we did not see any evidence or indication of the presence of any foreign forces, be it Somalis, Ethiopians or Iranians.”

The Gulf News further pointed out that its correspondent climbed the Ras Dumera mountain on Eritrea-Djibouti border and confirmed that there exists no confrontation between the armies of the two countries. In this connection, the paper underscored that the baseless anti-Eritrea allegations emanate from the country`s strategic importance.

The paper cited that in a reply he gave to questions whether there exists Israeli or Iranian military presence in Eritrea, President Isayas Afewerki repeatedly underscored that anyone can visit and personally witness the fact on the ground. Accordingly, Gulf News noted that it sent a team which conducted a tour of different parts of Eritrea through land, sea and air and it did not come across any Israeli or Iranian military base, not even Eritrean armed forces in the so-called oil refinery facility where Iranian presence is alleged.

Source: Shabait website, Asmara, in English 21 Apr 10

© 2010 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Israel making “secret moves” to set up Red Sea base for nuclear missiles
BBC Monitoring Service: Middle East
February 28, 2001

A report by the Office of the Arab Boycott of Israel reveals that Israel is making secret moves to set up a military base in the Red Sea from which it will launch nuclear missiles from submarines it has recently purchased from Germany. The report, which will be presented to the Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo in mid-March, notes that Israel tested the launch of Cruise missiles with nuclear warheads from the new Dolphin submarines near Sri Lanka in May. The missiles hit their targets at a distance of 1,500 km.

The report asserts that Israel has a problem with its deterrent capability - that is, its ability to deal Iran a nuclear blow from the sea. Israel considers Iran its greatest threat, especially following the latter`s successful test of its Shahab-3 ballistic missile. The report notes that Eritrea refused to let Israel use the naval bases in the Dahlak Islands to load the Dolphin submarines with missiles that can stay underwater for 30 consecutive days.

The report also affirms that Israel has intensified its efforts to find a military base in the Red Sea to implement its new plan because it cannot implement it in the Mediterranean Sea, in the Persian Gulf or the Arabian Sea because of security and strategic considerations that prevent it from realizing its goal of deterring Iran and the Arab states.

The report states that Israel loaded its submarines with four surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Each of them weighs 3 tonnes, contains 6 kg of plutonium and can cover a range of 1,500 km.

© 2001 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


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