London: The strange court case against Eritrea by the Qatar National Bank

2019-05-14 19:20:08 Written by  Martin Plaut Published in English Articles Read 117 times

May 14, 2019 News

This is most peculiar. Why did the Qatar National Bank go to a London court to try to win back $250 million from Eritrea?

The details are sketchy, but come from an authoritative source: Law 360 – which supplies information to business.

Below is as much as I can see at present.

Service Row Delays Qatari Bank’s $250M Eritrean Loan Fight

Law360, London (May 10, 2019, 6:23 PM BST) — A London judge Friday opted not to decide if Qatar National Bank can give Eritrea notice of a $250 million lawsuit over an unpaid loan outside of normal diplomatic channels until…

So what could be behind this?
On the one hand there has been speculation that Eritrea is running out of money and finding it hard to repay loans.
On the other hand we know that relations between Eritrea and Qatar were excellent at one time.
There was even a story that the Emir of Qatar was building a luxury resort on the Eritrean island of Kebir in the Red Sea. Images of the resort appears on the internet.
dahlak development - Eritrea 2
But relations between Qatar and Eritrea have been frozen since 2015, when Eritrea decided to change sides and move to back the Saudi-UAE war in Yemen.
The rift had wide implications.
This is what Statfor (a global security intelligence firm advising business and government) said.
“In the case of Eritrea, when the UAE military was ejected from Djibouti at the beginning of the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen in 2015, Abu Dhabi quickly engagedwith the government in Asmara over access to its port of Assab. Until then, Eritrea had been close to Iran, receiving aid and allowing the Iranian navy use of Assab. Eritrea also had good relations with Qatar, which had kept a contingent of troops along a disputed Djibouti-Eritrea border until Eritrea sided with the UAE and Saudi Arabia in their dispute with Qatar. Eritrea cut ties with Iran and agreed to allow the UAE to build up military facilities just across the Bab el-Mandeb from Yemen’s southwest coast. The bases there have played a crucial role in the UAE’s ability to conduct military operations in southern Yemen, including the amphibious assault to retake Aden from Houthi forces in August 2015. In exchange, according to experts, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have helped modernize Eritrea’s power grid and have given in-kind assistance of oil, among other aid. According to the U.N. panel of experts on Somalia and Eritrea sanctions, Eritrea deployed around 400 troops to Yemen as part of the coalition forces. Eritrea’s budding ties to the UAE and Saudi Arabia – an apparent lifeline offering relief from its international isolation – triggered an alarmed response in Addis Ababa.”
Ever since, Qatar and its media house, al-Jazeera, have taken a much tougher line with Eritrea.
Al-Jazeera now regularly carries hard-hitting exposes about Eritrea and the fate of Eritreans.
All of which leads us back to the London court case. We will have to see how this develops, but the Eritrean state keeps much of its finance off-shore and squabbles with its hosts in foreign lands are hardly surprising.
What was the loan taken out for? And why, as the report states was it “an unpaid loan outside of normal diplomatic channels”. We await further developments.
 
Last modified on Tuesday, 14 May 2019 21:29