Ethiopia severs ties with Qatar

Claims country is "major source of instability in the Horn of Africa", "good friend" of enemy Eritrea.

Ethiopian troops (photo credit: )
Ethiopian troops
(photo credit: )
Ethiopia broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar on Monday, saying the energy-rich Gulf state has become "a major source of instability in the Horn of Africa." Wahide Belay, a spokesman for Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry, cited Qatar's relationship with archenemy Eritrea. He called Qatar a "good friend" of the neighboring Horn of Africa nation. "Qatar has left no stone unturned to cause harm to Ethiopia's national security," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "All those who are prepared to foment instability in Ethiopia and undermine the country's security have been given support and encouragement by Qatar." Qatar hosts the headquarters of the US Central Command for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to calls for comment, and several ministry officials' mobile phones were turned off. Qatar does not have an embassy in Ethiopia, and Belay said he was unaware of any aid from Qatar. Calls to Qatar's embassy in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, rang unanswered Monday. This is not Ethiopia's first diplomatic squabble. In September, the government ordered the Norwegian Embassy to send home six of its nine diplomats. Ethiopian officials accused the Nordic nation of interfering in its ongoing border talks with Eritrea. Norwegian officials say they were neutral participants in the talks. Eritrea and Ethiopia have been feuding over their border since Eritrea gained independence from the Addis Ababa government in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war. Tensions between the two countries remain high because of Ethiopia's refusal to accept an international boundary commission's ruling in 2002 on the border demarcation which awarded the key town of Badme to Eritrea. In apparent frustration at Ethiopia's refusal to implement the ruling and the lack of UN action to press Ethiopia to comply, Eritrea banned UN helicopter flights in its airspace in October 2005. Two months later, it banned UN night patrols and expelled Western peacekeepers - and earlier this year it started restricting fuel supplies.