Without considering the injustice that the Eritrean people had been experiencing in history (since the mid of the last century) as a result of the actions of the successive American administrations, in the last 13 years the Eritrean people and government faced untold political, military, economic, diplomatic and media pressures and obstacles caused by the US simply because it is feared that Eritrea’s independent choice can be ‘a bad example of a noble cause’ for African and other developing countries. In 1998 when the TPLF regime invaded Eritrea, it was not only motivated by the US government, but the US government also, directly and through its representatives, supplied the regime with huge military and economic support during the war. History has documented the evidence associated with what has been asserted above. In spite of all the support and subsidies extended to the TPLF regime by the US, it was eventually defeated. Further, the TPLF regime faced a second failure on the legal ground. As a result of this worrisome situation, in the last decade the TPLF regime and those forces that preferentially treat it have been doing their best not only to obstruct the implementation of the verdict of the boundary commission but also to demonize the Eritrean government and its leadership. In their attempt to demonize the Eritrean government and its leadership, they present excuses associated with human rights and religious freedom and as part of such excuses they also say that Eritrea plays a destabilizing role in the region, and Eritrea backs terrorist and armed opposition groups. In this regard, they have left no stone unturned in an attempt to demonize Eritrea through the campaigns of some instrumental private press agents and by presenting and filing baseless allegations against Eritrea.
As part of the obstacles directed against the Eritrean government, in June 2001 the US government canceled Eritrea’s membership in the alliance against terrorism. This was done with the intention or hopes to pave the way for filing their nonsense allegation that Eritrea backs terrorist groups and not to allow Eritrea to use some of the budget allocated for East African states that are part of the alliance against terrorism. In its annual human rights report, the US Department of State often mentions Eritrea negatively. The Commission on International Religious Freedom also in its 2003 annual report described Eritrea as ‘a violator of religious rights’. Besides, in terms of violation of religious rights, in February 2004 the US government described Eritrea as ‘a uniquely dangerous state’ and declared a military sanction against Eritrea.
As a continuation of such obstacles, eight years ago on 13 April 2004 CIA and FBI members looted the office of the Eritrean Community in Washington. The fact that CIA and FBI looted the financial assets and documents in the office on the mentioned date was not done suddenly – this date was chosen deliberately; it was not a mere coincidence. While Eritrea claimed that this is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention and asked to have back the stolen goods and documents of its embassy, so far the US governments has not returned them.
In August 2003, the US administration cancelled Eritrea’s membership in the AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act). More importantly, in 2007 the US government officially declared that Eritrea would not be given any fund from what is earmarked (as part of humanitarian assistance) for African countries for preventing AIDS.
Moreover, since 2003 the US embassy in Asmara has been rejecting many senior government officials who applied for entry visa to visit the US for carrying out normal government activities. In addition to this, the US government closed the office of the Eritrean embassy in Oakland and tried to intimidate and pressurize the Eritrean government that it would declare Eritrea a terrorist state. Despite all the intimidation and pressure directed against Eritrea, Eritrea has never deviated from the legal ground and its righteous stand. Besides, the US government also fabricated an imagined conflict between Eritrea and Djibouti as part of the campaigns to blacken Eritrea and to prepare babble allegations against Eritrea. It also tried to negatively associate Eritrea with the situation in Somalia in an attempt to substantiate the baseless allegations. All these things were designed with the intention of creating excuses to deviate from what has to be done legally.
Even though the Eritrean people faced these and other untold pressures in terms of security, political and economic concerns, it was not disrupted as a consequence of the overt invasion as well as the covert conspiracies since the civic consciousness of the Eritrean people far exceeds that of its enemies. To the contrary, Eritrea has progressed well in all aspects of life and particularly it has self-reliantly improved its economy; Eritrea has liberated herself from being a victim of aid- dependency. Overall at this time Eritrea’s economy has been considered one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This is really worrisome for the Washington administration because they compare this achievement with the failures associated with the political and economic situation of Ethiopia where the government, unlike Eritrea, is being treated like a child by the US and other satellite states. The problem is that this has exposed the regime to deeply rooted dependency.
Sanctions – Sign of Frustration
It is to be recalled that the United Nations Security Council passed sanctions Resolution 1907 in De¬cember 2009, reiterated by an addi¬tional Resolution 2023 in Decem¬ber 2011. That these resolutions are a continuation of other UNSC resolutions implicating Eritrea can be attested by their content redun-dancy and repetitiveness.
When taking into consideration the unjustified war waged against Eritrea; the numerous obstructions to the implementation of the bor¬der ruling; and the frequent slan¬derous campaigns against Eritrea; it’s easy to see that the resolutions, despite voiced by the UNSC, are nonetheless part and continuation of the historic hostility of the US administration against Eritrea and its people. The question remains, however, why?
Leaving aside the US geopoliti¬cal strategy that victimized Eritrea and its people for over half a cen¬tury, the factor that caused US ad¬ministrations to follow antagonist policies against post independent Eritrea is their National Security Strategy drafted in the wake of the Cold War. This strategy aimed at dividing the White and Black Af¬rica in four zones to ensure Ameri¬can security and economic inter¬ests in the region. Instead of trying to enhance its bilateral relations with all sovereign states, however big or small, the US opted to build ties with few selected countries, which it claimed were ‘strategic’ by its standards, and control other countries through them. This strat¬egy was however unrealistic, and its impracticability and destructive outcome was vividly seen in our region, the Horn of Africa.
Although Eritrea knew that this harbor-based US national secu¬rity strategy was wrong and inef¬fective, believing that it was the US administration’s choice and its own affairs, Eritrea, amid its reservations, has been closely monitoring the situation and its dangerous consequences. In the first seven years of independence, this had no any direct impact on it. As Eritrean independent political and economic choice grew sturdy and exemplary however, the US administration also grew alarmed. Therefore, in an attempt to dis¬rupt the positive Eritrean progress, which was termed by the US as ‘a dangerous precedent’ in the region, it used its regional anchor to wage war against Eritrea.
The large scale offensives of the TPLF regime, however, failed to realize their intended objectives as they were foiled by the committed resistance of the Eritrea people. After its defeat, the US continued its hostile maneuvers. When the border case was taken to court and a ruling passed upon, the US posed different hurdles obstructing the implementation of the ruling and compromising international law. But the truth never stays hidden. The TPLF offensives were foiled, and the ruling was not reversed nor stopped from being imple¬mented. These are the first and second defeats of the Washington administration. Alongside the war it waged through its subservient the TPLF regime, the Washington ad¬ministration’s attempts, by way of its Intelligence Agency, to disrupt the Eritrean people’s unity, hamper Eritrean economic progress by im¬peding investments, upset the po¬litical and security condition of the country and discourage Eritreans through psychological warfare… all failed miserably. And this third failure obliterated the unrealistic expectations of the US administration.
The cause for the invasion in Somalia and its utter failure was also caused by the wrong US national security strategy. The efforts of the Somali people for the reconstitution of their country were perceived [by the US] as a direct threat to her ally in the region, Ethiopia. That’s why the US extended not only political but also financial support, includ¬ing military assistance including the direct involvement of its fighter jets, to Ethiopia when the latter in¬vaded Somalia violating the UNSC resolution 1725 calling for “Re¬spect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia.”
Noting the calamity that the actions taken against Somalia would eventually bring to our region, the Government of Eritrea voiced its objections from the very beginning. In early 2006, six months prior to the invasion, President Isaias Afwerki had presented at a news conference in Rome the four salient points outlined below:
1. External Interference
In the face of any external in¬tervention, the political reality in Somalia could assume a polarized scenario, which then again could lead to further conflict. Thus, mili¬tary intervention by any side should be avoided.
2. The Case of Somalia and International Terrorism
Associating the Somali issue with international terrorist activi¬ties is not in the best interest of the people of Somalia. Therefore, a re¬alistic political approach should be considered.
3. Political Process of the Somali National Reconciliation
The Somali issue should and could only be resolved through an internal political discussion aimed at national reconstitution. The role of external forces or partners in peace should be limited to only providing a conducive atmosphere and giving supportive counsel to the domestic political dialogue among the Somalis.
4. The Issue of Land Ownership
Regarding the specter of territo¬rial claims and disputes between Somalia and its neighbors raised by the current situation in Somalia, the Government of Eritrea believes that territorial disputes and claims can only be settled by strict ad¬herence to the sanctity of colonial boundaries.
Realizing that problems in Somalia, or any other country in the region for that matter, directly result in the disturbance of regional peace and stability, and negatively influence all states in the region, the Government of Eritrea not only had every right but also a moral and rightful obligation to voice its reservations. Every country also has its sovereign right to adhere to a policy it deems right. But this firm Eritrean policy, which pro¬motes the right and true solution to the problem, was hardly tolerated by the US administration.
Just as the Government of Eritrea had foreseen, the situation in Soma¬lia deteriorated after the invasion. The people of Somalia, opposing the invasion and consequent two transitional governments, strengthened its opposition spreading it towards the coasts of Somalia and the Indian Ocean, thereby posing an international concern.
The hasty and unstudied actions the US took had it and its subser¬vient regime stuck in a prolonged war quagmire. And following its utter failure, as common as it is for gambler to bet more when losing, the US, instead of learning from its lesson, resorted to incriminat¬ing Eritrea for its mistakes. The allegations associating Eritrea with Somalia hence emanate from the failure of the misguided and erroneous policies of the US Administration. The US-led UN sanctions are therefore nothing but mere signs of frustration and have no legal justifications whatsoever.
It’s to be recalled that in the aftermath of the foiled invasion of Somalia, The US had unilaterally imposed sanction on Eritrea, and conducted frequent campaigns re¬iterating that it could include Eri¬trea in its list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism.”
The second sanctions resolu¬tion was made to be passed by the UNSC so as not to make it look like direct US hostility against Eri¬trea. Elaborate plans were drafted to make the imposition of sanctions resolution look like an ‘African Ini¬tiative.’ The CIA, which has been in the habit of engaging regional and international organizations as tools of forwarding American interests, through its agents it infiltrated into the organizations, made sure that the regional body IGAD and the African Union urged the UN Secu¬rity Council to impose sanctions on Eritrea. All allegations however, lacked persuasive evidence. And in an effort to avoid questions, the US resorted to pressuring and other deception techniques.
Speaking on the US-backed first UNSC sanctions resolution, Presi¬dent Isaias said the following in his speech on the occasion of the 19th Anniversary of Eritrean Indepen¬dence Day:
“The issue basically lacks any legality and is essentially designed to cover up other main and funda¬mental issues, and thereby diverting matters to meaningless direction through derailing the appropriate path. As such, the people and Gov-ernment of Eritrea dealt resolute rebuff, both in letter and spirit, to the conspiracy. On top of that, we have officially challenged the Se¬curity Council as regards: 1) What the accusation leveled against us is all about? 2) Who the accuser or accusers are? 3) Who the arbitra¬tor or judge is? What about its le¬gal authority and methodology? 4) Why our right to self-defense has not been respected? 5) Irrespec¬tive of the accusation, its authors and their excuses, our right to self-defense in an independent and just forum should be respected so as to ensure our determination to deal with the issue on the basis of facts, legality and justice. And this because we are well aware of the fact that there exists no accusation based on legal ground, but rather a mere political gimmick deliberate¬ly resorted to on the eve of specific holidays.”
When sanctions resolution 2023 was passed, the then Chairman of the UN Security Council Ambassa¬dor Vitaly Churkin had expressed his impressions on the resolution:
“The contents of this resolution lack credible evidence and unnec¬essarily extend the mandate of the Monitoring Group. We would like to make particular mention of the so-called planned terror act in Ad¬dis Ababa during a summit of the African Union there. The Russian Federation categorically rejects terrorism in all its forms and mani¬festations but in this case, the UN Security Council was not provided convincing evidence of Eritrea’s involvement in this.”
As mentioned above, the resolu¬tion had no legitimacy or any legal foundations. But it had as objec¬tives several targets, which can be summarized in the following points:
1. Tarnish the image of the Gov¬ernment of Eritrea and its leader¬ship, for challenging and refusing to endorse the misguided policies of the US, and drive a wedge between them.
2. To portray Eritrea as a rogue and disobedient state, thereby os¬tracizing it from the world com¬munity.
3. To punish the Eritrean people, who, in lieu of political subservice and economic dependency, have been registering miraculous prog¬ress through hard work?
Nevertheless, even these frustra¬tion-induced measures could not achieve the intended goals. The ex¬perience of the last two years has proven that the sanctions imposed upon Eritrea cannot hamper its promising progress. And this has resulted in increased frustrations and anxieties. The recent military provocations are a vivid example. And as long as Eritrea firmly sticks to its right and legitimate position, all this anxiety will unquestionably wear off. And just like the people of Eritrea had collectively said back then: Let’s just march forward…!