Saturday, September 08, 2007

US warns Eritrea

Listen carefully, the next question is worth $500.00!

Tell me two things about Eritrea?

You are proably thinking, I have never even heard of Eritrea. Don't feel bad I predict most people haven't either. So why am I posting something about Eritrea? Simple, we may not know much about Eritrea but it appears the U.S. goverment has been paying close attention to it.

From the BBC:
The US has issued Eritrea with its strongest warning yet over its alleged support for terrorism.

Before I give all the information from that story let me give some basic facts about Eritrea:

From Wikipedia:
Eritrea (Ge'ez: ኤርትራ ʾĒrtrā) is a country situated in northern East Africa. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast. The east and northeast of the country have an extensive coastline on the Red Sea, directly across from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The Dahlak Archipelago and several of the Hanish Islands are part of Eritrea.

From the CIA Factbook:
Eritrea was awarded to Ethiopia in 1952 as part of a federation. Ethiopia's annexation of Eritrea as a province 10 years later sparked a 30-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991 with Eritrean rebels defeating governmental forces; independence was overwhelmingly approved in a 1993 referendum. A two-and-a-half-year border war with Ethiopia that erupted in 1998 ended under UN auspices in December 2000. Eritrea currently hosts a UN peacekeeping operation that is monitoring a 25 km-wide Temporary Security Zone on the border with Ethiopia. An international commission, organized to resolve the border dispute, posted its findings in 2002. However, both parties have been unable to reach agreement on implementing the decision. In November 2006, the international commission informed Eritrea and Ethiopia they had one year to demarcate the border or the border demarcation would be based on coordinates.

A map:

To read both articles follow these links:

To see a complete Country profile follow this link:

Now let's look at why the U.S. goverment is issuing a warning:

US gives stark warning to Eritrea
By Elizabeth Blunt BBC News, Addis Ababa

The US has issued Eritrea with its strongest warning yet over its alleged support for terrorism.
A senior US official said the presence of an exiled Somali Islamist leader in Asmara this week was further evidence Eritrea gave sanctuary to terrorists.

The gathering of further intelligence could lead to Eritrea being named as a state sponsor of terrorism - followed by sanctions, the official said.

The Eritrean government has accused the US of deliberate distortion.
A full scale war of words is now going on between Eritrea and the United States.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, said the presence of Hassan Dahir Uways at a meeting in Asmara was further evidence that Eritrea provided sanctuary for terrorists.

Rogue state

The Eritrean ministry of information website has just published a 35-point condemnation of US foreign policy accusing Jendayi Frazer herself of deliberate distortion.

Speaking at the end of a visit to neighbouring Ethiopia, Miss Frazer said that Eritrea's nasty words about the US were not a significant concern.

What had got her government's attention was Eritrea's actions to destabilise other countries in the Horn of Africa and, in particular, evidence that they were harbouring terrorists.
Miss Frazer said that this was about more than just simply considering Eritrea as a rogue state in the region.

It was quite specifically Eritrea's relationship with recognised terrorists which could lead to its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.

This, in turn, she said would bring a change in the nature of its relationship with the US and in the ability of the US and other countries to provide assistance to Eritrea's government.

Story from BBC NEWS:

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 10:44 PM   2 comments links to this post


At 12:42 AM, Blogger Simon Mace said...


The US foreign policy as it currently applies to the horn of Africa is creating a mini Iraq, mainly due to ill informed and incompetent State Dept. officials.

As John Prendergast, who used to work for the National Security Council and the State Department put it:

When it comes to the Greater Horn, however, the Bush administration has simply not implemented its own policies. By relying on sporadic military strikes and continued support for autocrats without broader political planning, it has combined the worst elements of its current strategy in Iraq with the Cold War-era policy of cronyism.
Read full article ...

Please find below a letter I wrote in response to a CFR interview article. You will probably find it a bit long, but it gives you a highlight of what is going on and what mistakes are being made.

Dear Sirs


I am writing this e-mail in reply to the web interview article dated August 22, 2007 on the CFR site.

In the main, I agree with Mr Lyons , but disagree on few points as well. I will try to clarify the points with some evidence.

Mr Gwertzman:
Did Ethiopia invade Somalia because the United States asked it to?

Mr Lyon:
It's important to note that Ethiopia moved into Somalia not as the puppet or proxy for the United States. Ethiopia had its own very specific national security interest relating to Somalia. Ethiopia saw stepped-up attacks on Ethiopia as originating in Somalia, aided by Eritrea. Ethiopia saw this as a real threat to the Ethiopian state and region. That's why Ethiopia invaded, I believe, rather than just because the United States said "Go get al-Qaeda."

I don't agree with you on this point. Please watch a clip from the UK channel 4 program from Feb 2007
It starts with

Channel 4 news has obtained an exclusive document revealing America's role in the planning and execution of last month's Ethiopian invasion of Somalia.

As the report shows, how ever much the State Department tries to deny it, the evidence is there.

Mr Gwertzman:
Let's talk a bit about Eritrea, because U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi E. Frazer had a briefing last week in which she said that the United States is considering adding Eritrea to the list of states sponsoring terrorists. Why does Eritrea not make an effort to win friends with the U.S. government?

When it comes to Eritrea, the US foreign policy has a reputation to being biased towards Ethiopia.

After the second world war (1952) before the U.N. with the assistance from United States federated Eritrea to Ethiopia, the then U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles said

"From the point of view of justice, the opinion of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless, the strategic interests of the United States in the Red Sea Basin and world peace make it necessary that the country be linked with our ally Ethiopia."

Unfortunately, this attitude still exists in the State department. Following the the decision of "Permanent Court of Arbitration" in the Hague to give the controversial town to Eritrea, the United States (guarantor) to the final and binding decision was perfectly positioned to exert pressure on Ethiopia to accept the decision and demarcate the border but it did not.

Mr Lyons:
It's difficult to compel Ethiopia for starters and, second of all, the United States has multiple interests with the Ethiopians and is reluctant to do so.

Again I don't agree with your conclusion. Ethiopia receives at least half a billion dollars in humanitarian aid per year and much more in military aid. This gives the United States a lot of clout on the Ethiopian decision making process.

To give you an example , when the opposition (CUD) leaders to the current Ethiopian government were in the verge of being sentenced to death, the uproar from Ethiopian diaspora and the threat of congress to cut military aid was the main reason behind the Ethiopian government U-turn to pardon the opposition.

This is what Sen. Patrick Leahy has to say.

Mr. President, during the Cold War we supported some of the world's most brutal, corrupt dictators because they were anti-communist. Their people, and our reputation, suffered as a result. Now the White House seems to support just about anyone who says they are against terrorism, no matter how undemocratic or corrupt. It is short sighted, it tarnishes our image, and it will cost us dearly in the long term.

In my opinion the multiple interests of the United States in the horn of Africa, still can be better served by the United States being impartial guarantor and enforcing the rule of law when it comes to the final and binding decision of the border. This way both countries can stay strategic partners to the United States.

The recent threat by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi E. Frazer to include Eritrea on the list of states sponsoring terrorists is ridiculous, verging on incompetency.

The United States has not got that much leverage to pressure Eritrea with.

Eritrea can be accused of many things but to put it on list of states that sponsors terror is not going to fly.

"Eritrea Could Teach U.S. Much to Combat Terror" is what Rumsfield has to say in 2002, as Eritrea on its own was fighting Bin Laden and his gang crossing from Sudan trying to cause a spark between cohesive Christians and Muslims.

Link for full article.

Mr Lyons:
The immediate thing that has raised the focus on U.S.-Eritrea relations is the United States has evidence that the Eritreans have been providing military assistance to the Islamic Courts in Somalia, to groups the United States regards as affiliated with al-Qaeda, to groups that are attacking Ethiopia, the U.S. strategic partner in the region. So the United States has ratcheted up the pressure to say "Eritrea, you must stop this assistance you're providing to these groups that the United States regards as terrorists in the Horn of Africa."

Sadly the so called evidence seems to be based on the widely discredited UN report that accused half a dozen countries including Eritrea of sending 2000 soldiers. When Ethiopia with the aid of US rolled into Somalia, there was no evidence of any Eritrean presence.
The same report also claimed 700 odd Somalis were fighting in Lebanon against IDF. IDF and the UN in Lebanon denied finding any Africans.

Link for full article

In conclusion, Eritrea's frustration is understandable. In the past it has done all the right things when it comes to fighting terror and assisting the United States and Israel in the horn of Africa.It was one of the few secular African countries to offer its ports,utilities and air space.

It is about time the State department recognizes the expanding real threat on the ground and change their policy towards Eritrea.

The border issue needs to be prioritized !!


Simon Mace

As of Sat 8th Sept, Ethiopia has refused to go with the process of border demarcation.

Guess what? The united States is not saying any thing as a guarantor and enforcer of the final and binding decision, for fear of distabilizing Ethiopia, that inturn is infuriating Eritrea and losing confidence with US.

Hope this has been enlightening.

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