Ethiopia severs ties with Qatar

April 21, 2008

“The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has decided to break diplomatic relations with the State of Qatar,” said a government statement received by AFP.

“Ethiopia has displayed considerable patience towards Qatar’s attempts to destabilise our sub-region and, in particular, its hostile behaviour towards Ethiopia,” the statement said.

“Qatar has now, however, become a major source of instability in the Horn of Africa and more widely,” it added.

“All those who are prepared to foment instability in Ethiopia and undermine the country’s security have been given support and encouragement by Qatar.”

It went on: “This has gone beyond Qatar’s strong ties with Eritrea. It has indeed provided direct and indirect assistance to terrorist organisations in Somalia and other areas.”

“Whether in Somalia and in other parts of the Horn of Africa — including within Ethiopia — Qatar has been one of the most important supporters of terrorism and extremism in our sub-region.”

The statement also accused Qatar of using its “media outlets” to undermine Ethiopia.

On April 11, the Ethiopian foreign ministry had already sharply criticised the Qatar-based news network Al-Jazeera for airing a series of TV reports on Ethiopia’s restive Ogaden region.

The Ethiopian authorities have imposed a news blackout on the vast area populated by Somali-ethnic Muslims and slapped touch restrictions on humanitarian work.

The foreign ministry had been particularly upset by a report on the activities of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), the separatist rebel group it has been battling for years.

“Al-Jazeera is using inaccurate and misleading information, fabricated by opposition elements backed by a state which makes no secret of its efforts to destabilise not only Ethiopia but also the entire sub region,” it had said.

“It is hard to ignore the fact that Al-Jazeera broadcasts out of Doha, the capital of Qatar. Qatar is a close ally of Eritrea. It would be totally unrealistic to imagine that any Al-Jazeera program on Ethiopia could be anything other than seriously biased.”

Addis Ababa accuses neighbouring Eritrea — which acquired its independence from Ethiopia in 1993 — of supporting the ONLF and other opposition movements.