Ethiopia: The North Korean Connection


April 13, 2007: U.S. intelligence believes that Eritrea is backing called Shabbab, a group aligned with Al Qaeda. Eritrea denies this and blames the continued violence in Somalia on Ethiopia, backed by the U.S.

April 11, 2007: The Ethiopian government said that its troops in Somalia had detained 41 "international terrorists." The terrorists come from 17 different countries. Ethiopia said that foreign investigators would be allowed to question the detainees. Somalia has been a base area for Al Qaeda and its affiliates. With its various clans, each village and neighborhood can be something of a separate country. Thus it's relatively easy for a terrorist with cash to buy some protection. The Ethiopian offensive, however, re-made the local rules. Many of the terrorists ran and were picked up as they tried to make their way past Ethiopian troops. Some clan chieftains may have decided to turn in a few of their "guests" as a gesture to the new Somali government, which is an ally of Ethiopia.

April 10, 2007: A US State Department spokesman acknowledged that it knew Ethiopia received a shipment of military equipment from North Korea. The shipment arrived in January. The shipment was apparently spare parts for tanks. The "scandal" behind this story is that North Korea is under sanctions that prevent it from selling certain weapons. However, Ethiopia is a U.S. ally battling radical Islamic radicals in Somalia, so the U.S. looked the other way. Moreover, spare parts, might be regarded as being in a "gray area." North Korea is a major, and low cost, supplier of spare parts for some elderly Russian type weapons, like T-55 tanks. North Korea is one of the largest users of T-55s in the world (actually, a Chinese copy called the T59).


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