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The Unholy Trinity against Eritrea

From Left to Right: Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Djiboutian President  Ismail Omar Guelleh, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud

The Unholy Trinity against Eritrea
Simon Weldemichael
Adi Keih College of Arts and Social Sciences

For approximately the last 75 years, the international community has been extremely hostile towards Eritrea. Eritrea’s struggle for freedom began four months prior to the agreement of the Atlantic Charter in August 1941 signed by President of the USA Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Prime Minister of UK, Winston S. Churchill. Largely, the Charter was an opportunity for the respective leaders to present certain common principles of their countries on which to base their hopes for a better future for the world. Among the points these two great powers agreed upon was to “respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them.”

Historical accounts of Eritrea, however, present evidence contrary to what was said and signed. Great Britain followed an obscene policy, plundered Eritrean wealth and destroyed Eritrean infrastructure,[1] before going on to stand against Eritrea’s independence and proposing a partition of Eritrea.[2] In the hot debate on the future of Eritrea, the UK advised that Eritrea to be given to Ethiopia as a reward:

“In the case of Eritrea, there was a third consideration besides the welfare of the inhabitants and the stability of the region, for the United Kingdom government and the British people thought that Ethiopia was entitled compensation.”[3]

As well, and in many respects much worse, the USA slaughtered the lively hope and prospect of an independent Eritrea, forced upon it the unfair federation of the 1950s and supported Emperor Haile Selassie’s to brutal crackdown on Eritrean protests and resistance. The USA gave the green light, as well as the war materiel and wherewithal, for Ethiopia to torture, anguish, and demolish Eritrea for 40 years. As put by John Foster Dulles at the UN:

“From the point of justice, the opinion of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless, the strategic interest of the United States in the red sea basin and considerations of security and world peace make it necessary that the country [Eritrea] has to be linked with our ally, Ethiopia.”

For Eritrea, America, Britain and Ethiopia can be considered as the first proverbial Axis of Evil that moved in unison to extinguish the flame of Eritrean independence. Their alliance was anchored on the plan to remove any semblance of an independent, viable Eritrea.

In addition to this early Anglo-American and Ethiopian alliance to combat Eritrean independence, subsequent triangular associations have been established to achieve the same end. Recall the largest and longest operation waged by Ethiopia against Eritrea, the Red Star campaign of 1982. Notably, the propaganda and diplomatic efforts were also highly intense, no less than the military dimension of the campaign. The Dergue attempted to isolate the Eritrean masses from the freedom fighters and to cut-off its connection with outside world. In search for an alliance, the Dergue headed to the Aden summit of 1981, leading to the tripartite agreement signed between Ethiopia, Libya, and South Yemen.[4]  Despite its aim to gain military support and to isolate Eritrean struggle, the three party partnership disintegrated in the face of Eritrean resistance.

Similar companionship glued by the hatred of Eritrea was formed again after Ethiopia’s [TPLF] three waves of invasion failed to meet the desired end of overthrowing the government of Eritrea. Immediately after the devastating 1998-2000 war, Ethiopia attempted to pull together Sudan and Yemen to encircle and choke Eritrea. This association proved fruitless and ineffective, ultimately failing like previous alliances formed against Eritrea.

Ethiopia has tirelessly engaged in developing alliances against Eritrea. The alignments, often based on the simple principle of the “enemy of my enemy is a friend” don’t last long and largely fail to penetrate or disturb the military capability, the economic base of self reliance, the national policy of social justice, and the sound psychological consolidation of Eritrea.

Ethiopia, faced with a plethora of significant issues and troubles, now continues its old strategy to form an alliance against Eritrea with neighboring Djibouti and Somalia. After the formation of the League of Nations (1920), Ethiopia used the issue of Eritrea to make her sit with major powers and inherit a seat of honor. Today, remarkably, when the UN Commission of Inquiry presented its flimsy case against Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia were the ones pressing for the adoption of the unwarranted resolution against Eritrea. It is both ridiculous and shocking that these countries could do so, considering their own states “boast” amongst the worst human rights records. Consider the following:

Ethiopia is estimated to have one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. A report by the UN found that nearly 60% of Ethiopian women were subjected to sexual violence[5] and the occurrence of rape is a serious problem.

In Djibouti, women have regularly been subjected to rape by government and rebel forces. In mid April of this year, Djiboutian women living in France went on hunger strike for 19 days to protest alleged rapes committed by troops in their home country.[6]

In 2011, a Thomson Reuters poll found that Somalia was ranked among the top five most dangerous countries for women. Fewer than three years later, Human Rights Watch concluded that “Here [in Somalia], rape is normal.” According to UNICEF, children make up one third of Somalia’s victims of sexualized violence.

Thus, it is highly ironic that the government of Somalia, controlling an area that does not extend much farther than the outskirts of the capital, Mogadishu, pompously accuses Eritrea for gross human rights violations and proclaims that it hopes to bring justice for the people of Eritrea.

Thus, it is highly ironic that the vassal state Djibouti, which long ago handed over its sovereignty to more than six major powers and remains torn apart by internal dissension and conflict, points the finger at Eritrea, a fiercely independent nation that has achieved many of the UN’s MDGs.

Thus, it is highly ironic that Ethiopia, described by many as a large prison of nationalities, itself responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses and genocides – of Oromos, Ogadenis, Amharas, Gambellans, Sidamas, Somali’s, Afars, and other nationalities – and a country known for mass hunger (currently more than 15 million of its population are yearning for bread), accuses Eritrea. How can Ethiopia decry Eritrea’s challenges, while it numerous reports describe how,

“Since 2009, the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation has been used to target political opponents, stifle dissent, and silence journalists. … Spyware that monitors all activity of an individual’s computer, including logging of keystrokes and recording of Skype calls.”[7]

Moreover, it is troubling that Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of donor aid in Africa, receiving almost US$4 billion in 2014, which amounted to 45 percent of its budget.[8] Sadly, donors remain silent in their criticism of Ethiopia’s human rights record and appear disinterested in taking any significant action to investigate allegations of abuses.

It is sadly ironic that a country like the USA, host to a lively civil society and strong constitutional protections for many basic rights, in reality routinely violates numerous rights, at home and abroad, and then uses the rod of human rights to punish others around the world. How is it that the “leader of the free world” has over 2.3 million people locked behind bars in state and federal prisons – the largest reported incarcerated population in the world – [9] or that one in five women is sexually assaulted in college.[10]

I present these few facts neither to tarnish the reputation of other countries nor to promote our standing. Rather, to promote a balanced and rational understanding of the issue. In conclusion, the current unholy trinity of Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia, blessed by USA to rally against the independent and confident Eritrea, will not last long and will not succeed in its objectives because it lacks substance.

Africa should stand in unity to protect its continental interests and refrain from making itself a harmful instrument of the western world. The statement of the Eritrean delegation at the UNHRC - 32nd Session, given by Yemane Gebreab, was substantial in that it reminds all that the consequences of the HRC’s resolution will not be limited to only Eritrea but will instead engulf the entire region. The time is ripe for Africa to “observe calmly, respond carefully, stand firmly, behave wisely, and act decisively.” While Eritrea faces a myriad of difficulties, it remains inconceivable for the country to kneel down and accept the conspiratorial plot of the unrighteous.

Finally, my last remarks are for those who myopically cheer the unwarranted resolution against Eritrea: “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be Holden with the cords of his sins.” Eti ekuy seb, b’abesa’u yhnkol; begmad hatyatu kea y’eser (Proverb 5: 22).

1. Alemseged Tesfay; Aynfelale 2007: 137 -142
2.  Ibid: 317-352
3.  Habtu Gebreab: 122
4. Melake 2005: 42
7. Human Rights Report 2015: 226
8. bid 228
9. Ibid  581
10. Ibid 593

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