Eritrea Arms Transport: claims over UK and US offers

By Jason Carpman

The BBC News website

The author says that all flights were over Zimbabwe

An Ethiopian Airlines plane, on the record as carrying weapons from to back Ethiopia’s war against Eritrea, had every intention of destroying the weapons, the author of a new book in the US says.

There are also claims that Prince William sent an aide over to conduct air strikes over Eritrea on 21 January 2000, not long after an Arab al-Qaeda fighter had been blown up on the Yemeni side of the border.

Al-Khawariti: The Story of Ethiopia’s War Against Eritrea is published in the US this week.

Its author, Wess J Sheik, told BBC News the claims it made were true.

He said that one of the planes was being flown by former CIA intelligence officers who were conducting tests before the weapons were loaded for use on the battlefield.

According to Mr Sheik, these tests included “burning the equipment”.

Members of the crew included former members of the CIA, he said.

The author believes that the plane was being used to transport artillery, shells and other weapons.

The accusations come as officials in the EU and the US try to help resolve one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts.

The two countries declared a ceasefire on 17 December 2008 after decades of tension over their border, which was drawn up by Italy in the 19th Century and then redrawn by Ethiopia’s military after the Eritrean revolution of 1993.

The author claims that Prince William wanted UK military officers to carry out military strikes at the request of his uncle, the former US President George W Bush.

According to the author, the request was denied by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who said that the issue could only be decided by Ethiopia’s government.

In late 2000, Lord Boyce of Normanton, who was then British Defence Secretary, met with the Ethiopian and Eritrean military commanders and did not ask any questions about the accusations made by the author.

After inspecting some of the tanks, he reportedly claimed: “The real deal is between the two armies, not those of Britain and Ethiopia.”

There is no official response from the Foreign Office to the allegations made by Wess J Sheik.

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