United States begins consular service in Asmara
April 28, 2013
In what could be interpreted as a sign of thaw in relations, the Obama administration began consular service in Eritrea for the first time since 2010. This step towards partial diplomatic relations comes amid the United Kingdom announcing it will work to ease sanctions against Eritrea, a position likely taken with approval from Washington.
The U.S. embassy in Asmara has also suggested its administration would like to send an ambassador to Eritrea but informed Madote that "the Government of the State of Eritrea has refused to date to accept any ambassador from the United States."
Ronald McMullen, the former U.S. ambassador to Asmara from 2007-2010, is partially responsible for the current position Eritrea has taken. McMullen's cowboy diplomacy was very counterproductive to US-Eritrean relations. Damning cables written during his 3-year tenure attest to his malicious intentions for the Red Sea state and its government.
Eritrea, which is the only African country to reject USAID, has made a number of attempts in recent months to normalize relations with the U.S. Whether these positive efforts are reciprocated remains to be seen. What is almost certain is the U.S. will continue to demonize Eritrea through the media in an attempt to demoralize its citizens and shape perceptions, which has unfortunately become a staple part of its foreign policy in Africa.
“The countries that cooperate with us get at least a free pass,” acknowledged a senior U.S. official who specializes in Africa but spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. “Whereas other countries that don't cooperate, we ream them as best we can.”
But there are signs the U.S. may be changing its tunes in Africa. Recently, the U.S. apologized to Zimbabwe for sanctioning their nation after the Mugabe administration redistributed land back to the native inhabitants from European settlers. Those sanctions, like those imposed on Eritrea, are unjust human rights violations intended to harm their country's citizens. Perhaps John Kerry, the newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State, will continue to improve relations with African countries by taking a similar approach towards Eritrea.
|Senior Eritrean officials attending independence festivities in Asmara stadium - 2012|
| Sophia Tesfamariam discussing U.S.-Eritrean relations with |
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden
|Ronald K. McMullen, former U.S. ambassador to Eritrea. - photo credit: John Anderson|
A popular Latin America joke: Why has there never been a military coup in the United States?
Answer: because there's no U.S. embassy there.
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