December 14, 2012 | Posted by admin

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 Sudanand 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 Iranhad 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 inEritrea
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, Eritreaopens 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 USconstitutes 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 Eritreaalong 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.