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Qatar mediate peace deal with Djibouti and Eritrea 10, June 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Horn of Africa, Qatar.
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Qatar, the Middle East’s mediator in chief of recent years, has mediated a peace between Djibouti and Eritrea. Their conflict was a long-running border issue which prompted clashes in 1996, 1999 and 2008. Under Qatar’s leadership, the Emir, Hamad Al Thani, will head up a committee to appoint an international firm to delineate the border. Both sides have agreed to abide by the results.

Eritrean troops have withdrawn from the areas that they had previously controlled in Djibouti. They have been replaced by 20 (twenty) Qatari soldiers. (Hmmm)

This is the latest success for Qatari mediation. In Lebanon and Darfur in recent years Qatar achieved agreements where countless actors had failed. They are, however, not always successful. In Yemen in 2007 a Qatari arranged cease fire only for it to break down some months later.

I’m personally very interested in these meditations. Specifically, I want to know how Qatar does it. I don’t really think that the Emir and the Foreign Minister are involved in the ‘nitty gritty’ but then again, their Foreign Ministry is so small that there are precious few others to do the work. I think that there are some specific Qatari-Eritrean relations at play. The history between Qatar (if not the Gulf) and the Horn of Africa is complex, but – essentially – there has been a significant amount of emigration from the former to the latter in the past half a century or so. Alas, (as you can tell) I don’t know too much about it. Inshallah, I’ll find out. If anyone as some specific ideas or can recommend some books etc, please let me know.

Gulf News’ intrepid reporting in Eirtrea 21, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Horn of Africa.
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I’ve stumbled upon a nice little blog by a guy who freelances for various newspapers and magazines. I found it via his recent piece in FP ‘Dubai goes Legit’ which I heartily recommend. Yet it is a later article that caught my eye, one where he lambasts Gulf News, a favorite hobby of mine.

I have been quite vocal (verbal?) in my criticisms of Gulf News. My main problem is that it functions as a PR vehicle for the Dubai government and the quality of its writing and analysis is terrible. However imagine my surprise when I saw this headline online. “Eritrea denies training rebels for Iran, Yemen”.

A real story about a real issue with regional significance. It seemed too good to be true. Sadly it was. As soon as the second paragraph, I knew I was in familiar GN territory.

Gulf News was given exclusive access to the military facilities and this correspondent toured the war-torn country and did not find any evidence of training for foreign fighters.”

What a shocker. GN was chaperoned around the most repressive country on Earth and did not find any training camps. What would the alternative be? That they did find evidence? This story should have been killed from the start, and whatever Abdul Nabi Shaheen’s credentials as a journalist, he most likely has limited experience a military inspector.

The low point in the whole tired exercise is this sub-head:


Gulf News wins!!!! The UN loses!!!!! Actually journalism loses and GN’s reputation as being purveyors of nonsense wins too.

To recap: Eritrea is one of the most brutal regimes on the planet – they are not going to bring any journalist to a site where anything untoward is going on. This is so blindingly obvious, yet somehow GN is acting as if it has scooped the world. It hasn’t, it has just regurgitated the propaganda of Afewerki’s government.

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