Map Of Horn Of AfricaEritrean government ‘support’ of Islamic extremism flourishing in Somalia has continued unabated. The Obama administration says Eritrea’s behavior poses a direct threat to its national security and a serious danger to international peace. It is no surprise that the US has heightened its rhetoric against Eritrea’s alleged arming and funding of the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab mujahedins who want a Somali society under strict Sharia laws.

The Obama Administration says Eritrea’s “spoiler” role in Somalia is unacceptable. The US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, has said her government will take “appropriate steps” if the Eritrean government fails to withdraw in “short order” its backing of Al Shabab and other violent extremists.

Some experts view Washington’s criticism of Eritrea as coming close to calling it a state sponsor of terrorism. It was a replay of the Bush administration’s threats of putting the Eritrean government in its list of terrorist states.

While speaking of possible UN sanctions against Eritrea, the Obama Administration has been bolstering President Sharif Ahmed’s beleaguered government in Mogadishu. It has stepped up transfer of weapons and funds to the African Union Peacekeeping Mission and to the Transitional Somali Government under Sharif Ahmed. The Eritrea topic is also expected to be highlighted when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Ahmed in Nairobi on Thursday as a matter of ‘mutual concern’.

The Eritrean government has meanwhile not budged an inch reaffirming instead its view that it is Washington that has to change its policies on Somalia and the Horn. No African state has come up in support of Eritrea.

This pariah status is becoming firmer as the government continues to align itself with America’s enemies in Somalia. Still, the Obama administration appears uncertain when to call for UN sanctions even though the African Union has long endorsed such an idea.

At the risk of being called soft on terrorism, the Obama administration has only been sending conciliatory signals. At this pace, one of two things may need to happen before the Obama administration takes steps against the Eritrean government: the US would respond swiftly if Al Shabab, while still being ‘backed’ by Eritrea, were to take over the country installing a hostile Islamist state; or if Al Shabab commits terrorist acts against US interests outside Somalia.

Time is running out for Eritrea’s intransigence. The Eritrean government should begin mending fences and join hands in the effort to pacify Somalia and stabilize the rest of the Horn region.