Yemen’s Houthi forces attack Eritrea’s Airport, Navy base : rebels

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

September 21, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – An Eritrean opposition group, Red Sea
Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) on Wednesday said that Yemen’s Houthi
group have attacked the international Airport of Assab, a port city in the
Southern Red Sea Region of Eritrea.
[image: JPEG - 25.8 kb]*A Houthi Shiite rebel carries his weapon as he
joins others to protest against Saudi-led airstrikes at a rally in Sanaa,
Yemen on 1 April 2015 (Photo: AP/Hani Mohamed)*

Ibrahim Haron, leader of the armed opposition group told Sudan Tribune that
Houthi forces stationed in the island of Hanish and Zagar have also
attacked the headquarters of the Eritrean naval forces in Assab by firing
mortar rockets thereby causing a serious damage.

The attack comes days after reports disclosed that Saudi Arabia has
transferred some 5,000 Yemeni militants to Eritrea for military exercise in
the Red Sea country.

According to the reports, Riyadh is transferring the militants from Aden to
Eritrea’s Assab port to go under military trainings and then be sent to the
Saudi provinces bordering Yemen to back the Saudi led war in Yemen.

The Eritrean government has dismissed the reports saying “a preposterous
lie peddled for some ulterior motives”

The opposition leader said Eritrean authorities have imposed a tight
security cordon in the areas following Monday’s attack.

Ibrahim said Eritrea government motive to cooperate with the Saudi-led
coalition is because Asmara has a long standing border dispute with Yemen.

The countries had previously engaged in a bitter war with Yemen over the
disputed Islands of Hanish and Zagar.

In 1998, the international Tribunal of the international Committee ruled
the islands in favour of Yemen; Eritrea however refused to accept the
ruling.

He added that Eritrea had been serving as a base for military training for
anti-Yemen groups in order to create destabilization and instability in
Yemen and in the region at large.

“When the situation in Yemen changed and appeared new events and the
emergence of coalition forces, Eritrea favoured the Arab coalition to
ensure financial, political and military gains” Ibrahim told Sudan Tribune
by telephone from the Eritrean-Ethiopian common border.

*ERITREAN PILOT DEFECTS*

Meanwhile the Eritrean opposition group today alleged that an Eritrean Air
force pilot has defected to Saudi Arabia by flying a military Aircraft.

According to opposition officials, the Eritrean pilot defected on Tuesday
along with his two aides becoming the latest members of the Eritrean Air
force to defect from the reclusive east African Sea nation.

The Captain pilot and two of his aides flew to Jizan region in south of the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The defectors have asked for political asylum but it is not yet clear if
the kingdom has grant them an asylum.

Ibrahim said the latest defection is a big blow to President Isaias
Afeworki led regime.

He says it is an apparent sign of growing discontent of the air force
personnel and the military against the oppressive region.

In previous years, there have been defections in thousands from the
Eritrean army, navy and air forces as the regime retains grip on power for
over two-decades.

President Isaias has been in power since the country gained independence
from Ethiopia in 1993.

(ST)

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