[Marxism] Lost Eritrea
gojack10 at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 18 13:44:06 MDT 2004
Eritrea markets role in "Coalition of the Willing"
afrol News, 26 May - The Eritrean ambassador to the United States in a
speech in Washington last night maintained Eritrea's special role as a key
US ally in the "Coalition of the Willing" in fighting the so-called "war on
terrorism". The increasingly isolated country was even fighting al Qaeda on
Eritrean soil, the ambassador told his American audience. Eritrea however
still is playing second fiddle in the US' regional diplomatic efforts.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, Eritrean ambassador Girma
Asmerom yesterday pledged "his country's support in the global terror war,"
according to a press release from the Eritrean embassy. Mr Asmerom in his
speech re-emphasised Eritrea's "support for the United States and the
'Coalition of the Willing'."
Eritrea and Rwanda have been the two African countries most clearly
pronouncing their total support to the US-led invasion and occupation of
Iraq, despite an African Union (AU) resolution last year, condemning a
unilateral US attack on that country. Both the government of Asmara and of
Kigali have aggressively sought to become the leading US allies on the
Ambassador Girma in his speech said that Eritrea's support to the
controversial US-led "war on terrorism" also had been translated into
action. "Eritrea has made it clear on a number of occasions that it stands
ready to assist the United States in any way it can," he explained.
Eritrea had offered, among other things, its resources, "including the use
of its facilities along its 1,200 kilometre strategic Red Sea coastline, two
major deep water ports in Assab and Massawa, and the new airport near the
port of Massawa that can accommodate any size airplane; blanket flyover
rights; and the sharing of intelligence," said Mr Girma.
Eritrea, located in the troubled but strategic African Horn region, is close
to where much of the anti-terrorism campaign is organised. The Arabian
Peninsula, including Yemen, is just across the Red Sea and Eritrea borders
with Sudan and is close to Somalia.
The Eritrean government's plea to become the US' main strategic partner in
the region has however not been heard. The US and its allies - including
France and Germany - have chosen neighbouring Djibouti as the location of
their military and intelligence headquarters in the region.
Further, both Ethiopia and the yet-to-be-recognised state Somaliland have
offered the US government their cooperation - including the use of its
facilities - to a degree paralleling Eritrea, although in a less noisy
manner. In the wider region, the US also counts on the full military support
of two partners of its own choice and taste; Kenya and Egypt.
For the US and its traditional European military partners, Eritrea remains a
difficult ally to lend its full support. The conflict between Eritrea and
Ethiopia basically remains unresolved and could at any time break into open
warfare again. Neither the US nor its European allies can afford to choose
side in this conflict, in particular given Ethiopia's important role on the
Further, Eritrea has turned into one of Africa's worst dictatorships during
the last years, where grave human rights abuses have turned systematic. The
Eritrean government is seen as a star example of the growing public opinion
in Western countries on how the so-called "war on terrorism" is legitimising
human rights abuses in Third World dictatorships.
In his Washington remarks, ambassador Girma turned to exactly this point.
Eritrea itself had been "the target of terrorism," Mr Girma maintained. He
outlined the activities of so-called "Eritrean terrorist groups," connecting
these to America's number one enemy, al Qaeda.
According to ambassador Girma, these groups included the Eritrean Islamic
Jihad Movement (EIJM), "which is a member of the umbrella organisation of
terrorist groups," and the Eritrean National Alliance (ENA), "which has
links to Al-Qaeda and whose members have trained in Afghanistan and Sudan."
The activities of these groups included "the planting of land mines in
pastoral and agricultural fields, the shelling of civilian and humanitarian
transports, the destruction of public facilities including schools,
hospitals, and water supplies, and the cold-blooded murder of innocent
civilians," according to the Eritrean ambassador.
- In line with our commitment and contribution to fight terrorism, Eritrea
sees itself as linked with the world and the United States in the noble
cause to defeat fundamentalism and global terrorism, said Mr Girma. "Indeed,
we are charter members of this fight," he added.
Critics however maintain that the Eritrean regime is using the "fight
against terrorism" to gag the last remnant of an opposition in the country.
Even the US State Department repeatedly has accused Eritrean authorities of
systematic human rights abuses, including torture. Instead of growing a
closer ally to the US, the Eritrea regime has actually become increasingly
internationally isolated during the last years.
By staff writer
© afrol News
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