Ethiopia is the North Korea of Africa, Not Eritrea
|Ethiopia is Africa's North Korea|
Ethiopia is the North Korea of Africa, Not Eritrea
With all the talk of free press in the West, you'd be surprised to learn that many to most journalists' opinions are still shaped/influenced by the political moods of their respective governments. Nowhere is this more evident than in the United States, where reporters produce positive or negative "country narratives" based on U.S.' political relations with that country.
This real, but unofficial U.S. policy was alluded to by an unnamed senior U.S. official to the Washington Post last year. He said:
“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.”
Not surprisingly, for neutral journalists, human rights observers and tourists who have actually visited Eritrea, they regularly comment that the country is nothing like North Korea.
Recently, Lloyd Lipsett, an international human rights lawyer, who visited Eritrea on two occasions, pointed out that the media's characterization of Eritrea as the North Korea of Africa is a lie:
First, there are some differences between external reports and from what I was able to observe on the ground. Frankly, I expected a more militarized and overtly repressive environment than I witnessed in Asmara and at the mine (Nevsun's Bisha mine) site. I acknowledge my investigation did not delve into civil and political rights issues that are reported about Eritrea. But my first and second impressions of the country, and particularly of the mine site, do not concord with the characterization of Eritrea as the North Korea of Africa.
Even before landing in Eritrea, AFP Correspondent Jenny Vaughan got the sense that Eritrea is really not the North Korea of Africa after observing travelers who were visibly proud and excited about visiting the country. She wrote:
There was a quiet (although at times no-so-quiet) pride on display. My plane from Frankfurt to Asmara, mostly full with Eritreans, was buzzing with excited anticipation. It was an indication that Eritrea is not the "open air" prison or the "North Korea of Africa," as it has been crudely labeled in the past by its enemies
For seasoned tourists, it's a no brainier: Eritrea is more like Italy than North Korea.
From at least external appearances, Lonely Planet had it right — Asmara felt much more like Naples (Italian city) than North Korea." Said Paul, an American tourist who visited Asmara in May. "In fact, it is unquestionably the most beautiful African capital city I’ve visited. It’s truly pleasant to stroll around on foot, with wide sidewalks, towering green trees, and minimal traffic."
Despite visitors of Eritrea describing the country as a "slice of Italy", many sloppy journalists looking to get more visitors to their site continue to propagate Eritrea is the North Korea of Africa. Part of the reason why is because the United States and Ethiopia are actively pushing for this country narrative as part of their strategy to demonize Eritrea.
Ironically, it is Ethiopia that best fits the description of an "African version of North Korea". While Eritrea has no ties with North Korea, most seem to neglect, or are unaware that Ethiopia is one of the few countries in Africa that maintains strong ties with North Korea. This close relation isn't limited to politics, either.
For over a decade, Pyongyang and Addis Ababa have been working together on a number of military areas, including purchasing of arms and tanks with U.S. assistance that were in violation of UNSC Resolution 1718 (2006). Michael R. Gordon and Mark Mazzetti for the New York Times wrote:
“…Three months after the United States successfully pressed the United Nations to impose strict sanctions on North Korea because of that country’s nuclear test, officials in the Bush administration allowed Ethiopia to complete a secret arms purchase from Pyongyang in what appears to be a violation of the restrictions, according to senior U.S. officials…The United States allowed the arms delivery to go through in January in part because Ethiopian troops were in the midst of a military offensive against Islamic militias inside Somalia, a campaign that aided the U.S. policy …”
North Korea even opened munition factories in the Ethiopian towns of Ambo and Gafat, that according to former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, Donald Yamamoto, produces rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), BM-21 (truck mounted rocket launchers), and modified AK 47 rifle.
Eritreans and Arab Satellite providers are well aware of who the real African North Koreans are. Every time ERI-TV (Eritrean TV) is jammed by Ethiopia - which means numerous other Arab satellite channels on the same frequency being jammed too - they are reminded of the North Korean technicians based in Mekele that are doing the jamming for their ally, Ethiopia.
But it wasn't until the death of Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi that many journalists and observers had a first hand glimpse at how culturally similar North Korea and Ethiopia have become over the years. When the tyrant's death was finally announced, after weeks of lying about his poor health, the regime forced tens of thousands of people in Addis Ababa to cry hysterically for a man they despised. And it wasn't your normal grief for someone you don't know. It was outright cartoonish that outdid North Korea's Cry or Die style of mourning that Kim Jong-il had received a year earlier.
Indeed, from political, military and even the way both countries heavily rely on aid for survival, it's apparent who the real "African version of North Korea" is. The only difference is Ethiopia's country narrative is shielded from stating the obvious due to to their willingness to be vassals for Uncle Sam.
Related Reading: Ethiopia: Africa's North Korea | Ethiopia is the "North Korea of Africa"
Ethiopia is the North Korea of Africa, Not Eritrea Reviewed by Admin on 2:34 PM Rating: