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Eritrea: A Missed Opportunity?

Eritrean government officials attending a meeting in Asmara

Eritrea: A Missed Opportunity?

By Dr. Samuel Mahaffy,

In the same week that Japan sent a delegation to Eritrea, laying the groundwork for a new embassy there, the U.S. State Department issued a new travel warning about Eritrea painting a grim picture of Eritrea as an unstable and dangerous country.  As the global community continues to open to both diplomatic missions in Eritrea and exploration of economic and trade opportunities, the question must be asked:  “Is the continuing effort by the U.S. to isolate and paint a negative picture of Eritrea misguided?”  It appears to be very much the case that invisiblizing Eritrea is not contributing to peace and stability in the Horn of Africa or improving bilateral relations.

When the White House hosted the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Eritrea was one of only three African nations excluded from the invitation list.  The Summit was a transparent effort of the United States to catch up with relationship building that China has been fostering with African nations for some time.  It is time for the United States to catch up with the rest of the world and seek respectful and open dialogue with Eritrea. The cause of regional peace can only be served by positive engagement with the country of Eritrea which has consistently eschewed extremist groups.  Unlike neighboring countries that have demonstrated ambition for expansionist control, Eritrea has demonstrated that its focus is on maintaining the integrity of its own borders as an independent nation.

The newly released U.S. State Department warning against travel to Eritrea is a thinly veiled rehash of a systematic strategy to portray this nation in a negative light.  In the process, accurate and current information and analysis are sacrificed.  The misrepresentations of the state-of-affairs in Eritrea are blatant and disturbing in their inaccuracy. The implied suggestion that Eritrea has been involved in ‘high seas piracy” plays on Western ignorance about the region and particularly the coastal waters around the Horn of Africa. The suggestion that the capital city of Asmara is unsafe because of armed citizens roaming the streets at night does not match reports that come every week from Eritreans living in Asmara or U.S.-based Eritreans visiting the city.

While the role of the U.S. State Department to caution citizens about parts of the world where travel might be dangerous is valued and respected, broadly inaccurate portrayals of conditions in Eritrea do not serve the cause of either peace or regional stability.  Instead, they simply ferment mistrust and the honest and respectful communication that must happen if there is to be peace and prosperity in the region.

It is time for the U.S. to wake up to the reality that the strategy of isolating Eritrea simply has not worked.  Eritrea has one of the highest per-capita number of diplomatic missions in East Africa. (  Eritrea is increasingly being recognized as a stable country in a volatile and conflict-ridden region.

Eritrea is not without its faults. My recent engagement as a speaker at two gatherings of Eritreans from around the world left me with the impression that the Eritrean community and leadership are candidly open about areas where improvements are needed.  By teleconference with Asmara, Eritreans asked a variety of questions that were answered in a transparent and direct way by the Office of the President of Eritrea. Positive change begins with engagement and dialogue.  The strategy of isolation of Eritrea should simply be pronounced as ineffective and abandoned.

Eritrea is here to stay as an independent nation charting its own course.  Respectful engagement with Eritrea is an opportunity that should no longer be missed.


Dr. Samuel Mahaffy is a U.S. citizen born and raised in the country of Eritrea.  He has been involved in conflict transformation work for several decades.  He is an independent consultant and facilitator and writes frequently on topics relating to peacemaking and Africa on his website at

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Eritrea: A Missed Opportunity? Reviewed by Admin on 2:31 AM Rating: 5



  2. 'Positive change begins with engagement and dialogue.' A Great saying! Truth will prevail!
    It is good if all close friends of USA realized this. No body will win a war unless loosing yr loved one, no body will benefit by fighting each other. If there is a will it is too easy to understand the good situation for very democrat and civilized developed countries with the advanced modern technology. GOD is great and have big eyes to see who is betrayed.
    Let The Almighty be with those who are genuine!

  3. Mr. B.Adal warns every citizen of the world with 1%-100% Black skin complexion (our brother from a white mother Obama is also included) risks of travel to USA and strongly recommends any Black people not travel to Southern States of USA since there is increasing possibility a black person will not leave alive from southern states especially from places like Ferguson Missouri. This replaces the Travel Warning for USA of March 3, 1991 (Rodney King beaten by Los Angeles Police Department) to remind Black people the ongoing black beating & shooting concerns in USA.
    Take it easy korakoor woyane.

  4. ን ኢርትራ ውሑዳትን ፅፉፋትን ማሓዙት ሃገራት ኢየን ዘድሊያኣ..ናይ ዝብዝሑ ኣይኮነን, ባዕል ኣሜሪካ ካብ ዝቕርባኻ, ክርሕቃኻ ይምረጽ.

    Thanks dr. Samuel Mahaffy for the article and your consideration.

  5. MR. Mahafay, you said....

    By teleconference with Asmara, Eritreans asked a variety of questions that were answered in a transparent and direct way by the Office of the President of Eritrea.
    If it is true when was the T. Conference held, what were the questions and any reference?

  6. The US are working so hard to isolate and paint a negative picture of Eritrea. because they fear in the end Eritrea will shine. If Eritrea stand by its own feet with out any handouts the other African countries will learn the success of Eritrea. And that will destroy the long term dependency of Africa on the western countries.

  7. How do you figure Eritrea is standing in her own two feet.

    Dud, don't you know people have to go to a neighboring country for an X-Ray or. MRI. Eritrea is barely functioning.

  8. How do you figure Eritrea is standing in her own two feet. u say, Because am still in it.

  9. You damm ass clueless, you just talking with out knowlage.why don't you solve the problem instade of pointing fingers. Why don't you ask what is the root of this problem? Who is hiding behind excuse and as America is the problem. If you think the leaders you have are the real one you don't know poltics.those leaders u have are Caword, Caword leaders always do the same thing put every body in prison. Mengestu, haileslasie, ...history was a witness never and will never work by putting people in prison. Ask why this G15 are still in prison? If your leaders have a gut let them free.then we will see if your leaders are from the people by the people.those G15 leaders are educated morethan your DIA, they fought morethan him for the country, and now g15 are a light for the darkness, we know who cares for eritrea.let me tell you some thing say something against DIA they will give you a name the next day , they don't even care you were supporting them.this is all about power, isias never did good thing he will not do anything good.

  10. What is better: to be shot or hanged immediately or to be jailed?

    Eritrea is the only country in history that imprisoned instead of killing people accused of high treason during a war time.

    Shaebia, cowards? PIA, dictator?

  11. Ok do you think the problem get solved when you bow to the worst enemy, who killed your people, bombed the cities and still occupying your territory? Thats what you who oppose the Government of Eritrea do. You lick your wound from across the border or encourage the young to leave the country, so that they end up in the hands of smugglers or in libya and israel suffering to death. Does that help the prisoners? Nope !

  12. No body sid we have to bow to our enemies. This the time to expose DIA is hiding behind excuses. This is about the rules of the law. Are you telling me to save eritrea isias should put every body in a prison? Are u telling me all the causes of the problem from Sinai to Libya to italy is because of America and weyane? If someone is serving a country for free and if one tell the government to change the policy and detained by DIA, is it right? If all those people in persion were the problem why is eritrea is not better now? And you said the government, the is no government in eritrea.a government includes the branches is into a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary. Why we don't have that? because the parliament is against eritrean people. Why DIA doesn't give the power to yemane gebrab? Or others part of the government? Whyyyyy???? It is simple he is dictator. .the sad part is what ever DIA play the game is not smart.

  13. If what you say is true, tell us what is the solution? Knock our enemies doors? Enslave to foreigners? Hate eachother calling names PFDJ, EPLF, opposition and challenge eachother? Is it the solution for our future Eritrea? Why a child grown with opposition families must hate PFDJ ? Why should a YPFDJ must hate the others? We are all Eritreans? Why divide by region/religion? Why dont we work for UNITY and solve our insider difference? Why give the enmy a space among ourselves? Eritreans call themselves for HABESHA and come closer to tgrayas and it is sad when they work against their own country and people because they hate the government. Why should we act irresponsible against our hardgained independence? We areworking against our own interest. Our tegadelty freed Eritrea UNITED but today Eritreans are divided into pieces by the means of different excuses, why?
    UNITED WE SURVIVE, DIVIDED WE FALL.APART ! Those who dream about freedom, democracy, human rights will remain with no country to talk about too if we are not smart enough to solve our problems hand on hand. Think twice.

  14. I heard ISIS has base in eirtrea and I saw it in the news ..ur nation is fucking full of terrorist and the majority woapens found in Somalia ,came from your nation ..I know the truth hurts but stop hiding it bcoz it's really stupid if u do ...London and israil terrorist attacks ,the first suspects were the eirtreans ,so take your bullshit to ur sing-a-poor..

  15. Try to investigate before criticizing! Y will regret otherwise.

  16. If you are accusing DIA to be a dictator and y believe in democracy why giving a name? Eritreans are born devious. Take yourself out from yr devilish character and start loving yrself. If y love yrself y will love others because one who loves himself will not hate others.

  17. Sorry I used devious wrongly. I wanted to say 'are not born devious'.


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