#Eritrea Wot the Fok? a Kinda/Sorta Storify

eritrea yegizaw michael

‘eritrea’ by yegizaw michael

(My apologies that this may be sorta the War and Peace of Eritrea given the length.  Believe me when I tell you that I edited out quite a bit, but his has all been bothering me so much that I just kept going…and going.  If you choose to give reading it a pass, I could hardly blame you.)

This week one slice of the Commie Twittersphere had been providing pushback to a new report by the appointed three-member COIE (UN Human Rights Commission of Inquiry Eritrea) that indicted Asmara (the capital) in this manner:

‘Eritrea has committed widespread crimes against humanity, says UN; Up to 400,000 people in Eritrea enslaved by authoritarian government, UN inquiry finds. Eritreans are one of the largest groups crossing the Mediterranean’; the GuardianThe report calls for the perpetrators be tried at the Hague.

Don’t fault yourself if you couldn’t find Eritrea on a map; I had to go hunting for one.

This ‘report’ is everywhere, and similar hysteria rules.  A couple articles made some modest try at bringing some fairness in the way of Al Jazeera by bringing in two Tweets from the Eritrean Minister of Information in their ‘Eritrea commits crimes against humanity, UN says; UN investigation reports a litany of crimes committed in Eritrea since 1991, including enslavement, rape and murder’.

Well the bastards.  Yesterday there was a charcoal or pencil drawing of a prone man, legs and arms tied together, and being suspended off the ground to a tree limb, clearly being egregiously tortured.  Note was made of ‘drawing used by the permission of the artist’.  Guess what?  It’s been replaced by a photo of lines of bedraggled-looking people. I just went a-hunting to see if anyone knew where it went, where I could find it…and blimey.  It turns out that the UN COIE had published it and another torture drawing within their Eritrea-damning report in 2015, ‘UN accuses Eritrea of ‘possible crimes against humanity’, Al Jazeera(scroll down for torture drawings)

“But the lengthy UN report, issued on June 8, went further by claiming the Eritrean government might be committing “crimes against humanity”. The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea was established in 2014 to investigate possible human rights violations since the country’s independence in 1991. That year marks the end of a 30-year war between Eritrea and neighbouring Ethiopia.

Alongside the written report, the Commission published sketches by an Eritrean torture survivor highlighting the repressive system of Eritrea.”

The recent AJ piece contained this handy graphic, lest you don’t get the thrust.

Print

And boy, howdy, is Amnesty International big on the report, one of the compromised NGOs, in my book (note the first photo) Action!  Response from Eritrea! Like DRNK!  The BBC did permit a reporter to travel to Eritrea, and allowed her to push back on the current narrative a bit, but interspersed her commentary with the true facts. People Mary Harper had spoken with agreed with Ford that many Sudanese and Ethiopian ‘refugees’ did in fact claim to be Eritrean, as that provided them a free landing pass in other countries.

Now there’s the possibility that all of these charges against Isiais Afewerki and the power structure are so.  But as we’re getting only too familiar with the Empire’s plans for regime change for reasons of its own, further investigation and opinion seems in order.  Even supposing many of the report’s charges are true, one might think that it’s the nation’s business, not the Empire’s, or by extension, the UN’s.

Post-WWII, according to the Wiki, Hailie Selassie laid claim to the place in a letter to FDR, and given that the Brits and Amerikans had reckoned that it would be a nice reward for Ethiopia’s help during WWII, they pushed for a subsequently approved UN resolution for Eritrea to be absorbed into Ethiopia as federated states.

“The federal government, which for all intents and purposes was the existing imperial government, was to control foreign affairs (including commerce), defense, finance, and transportation. The resolution ignored the wishes of Eritreans for independence, but guaranteed the population democratic rights and a measure of autonomy.”

Finally in 1991 rebel forces overthrew the Ethiopian military, and: “Following a UN-supervised referendum in Eritrea (dubbed UNOVER) in which the Eritrean people overwhelmingly voted for independence, Eritrea declared its independence and gained international recognition in 1993. The EPLF seized power, established a one-party state along nationalist lines and banned further political activity. There have been no elections since.” 

But the new nation is a mere 25 years old, full of competing ethnic groups, etc., and locals supporting the government say that Ethiopia had been occupying force from 2000 until 2005, and border disputes have been rampant and bloody.

I did discover that Glen Ford had been on TRRN in 2015 with ‘The Big Lie Behind the Eritrean Exodus Across the Mediterranean’  (the transcript)

PERIES: Now Glen, why are they doing that? The United Nations report and the Amnesty report and the IOM that I just cited, all are calling for the protection of the refugees coming across the border, coming across the Mediterranean. So what’s wrong with providing protection to them?

FORD: Well, you just read the copy, the language, which said that Eritreans should be given that special consideration, that they certainly are political refugees. If the question is, why is the United States carrying out this long campaign against Eritrea, it’s because Eritrea wants to be an independent country. It’s been called by some the Cuba of Africa. It does not wish to entangle itself in all of these corporate webs of the World Bank and the IMF and such. It doesn’t want to sign any kind of treaty with AFRICOM, the U.S. military command, which has agreements with all but three countries in Africa, Eritrea being one of them. All of that makes Eritrea an enemy country. Enemies can be lied about at will.”

If this full-court press against this tiny nation, pop. 6 million is bogus, what could some of the reasons be?  Wiki says about the economy:

“Eritrea has an extensive amount of resources such as copper, gold, granite, marble, and potash. The Eritrean economy has undergone extreme changes due to the War of Independence. In 2011, Eritrea’s GDP grew by 8.7 percent making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

80% of the Eritrean workforce are employed in agriculture. Eritrea’s main agricultural products include sorghum, millet, barley, wheat, legumes, vegetables, fruits, sesame, linseed, cattle, sheep, goats and camels.”

Also mentioned was the fact that even during the Ethiopian/Eritrean border war, the nation continued with infrastructure development: highways, rail lines, dams, airports, seaports on the Red Sea, a long coastal highway, and so on.  Can’t have that, eh?

But is it possible that a resource war for Eritrea is on the way?  If it’s happened in Burundi, it’s still covert, but the drums are still beating over these same issues in the Western media.  Egad; even scanning that diary makes me ill: Sam Power, Kagame,Obama, with able assists by some folks doing critical Empire analysis, including Glen Ford and Ann Garrison.

Nick Turse covers the Dark Army’s doings well, and says that 51 of the 53 African nations have a US military presence, primarily JSOC/special ops/contract forces.  Last year he’d counted 674 secret ops in Africa, and names a hella lot of them. Mind you, I don’t believe that his noting that Africom had failed in its mission is so; rather, that their ‘failures’ are just what the doctor’s ordered in the name of Never-ending War. Have they and/or the CIA-heavy USAID and NED been busy in Eritrea, fomenting for regime change or an R2P?  Would that dovetail with the fact that the nation disdains the West’s ‘gifts’ of IMF loans, NATO/Africom membership, and wants to be self-sufficient?  Similar pre-putsch civil strife has been documented in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and may be underway in Bolivia and Uruguay right now.

Would the nations’ being on the Red Sea be another reason for the hegemon desiring to control it?  Shipping lanes north to the Suez Canal and Mediterranean, for instance? Is that another reason why Ethiopia is so keen to own and occupy it?  Look at the nations it borders, especially Djibouti, home of the first major US drone base in Africa.

Horn-Africa-Map

But let’s look at some Tweets by Filmon Zerai @EritreaStruggle, ‘presenting awareness on Eritrea’s current struggles w/ neo-colonialism.

The link goes to: ‘What the UN Gets Wrong About Rights in Eritrea ; A finding of crimes against humanity would be indefensible, said the Atlantic Council’s Bronwyn Bruton, by Ashish Kumar Sen.  Comments are a bit of a food fight.

And the Eritrean Minister of Information and some folks (not all) on #Eritrea Twitter)

Well, hell’s bells; I hadn’t found this looking for it at wrongkindofgreen (scroll down for Vimeo):

Cripes, I finally remembered to look for Wikileaks on Eritrea: ‘WikiLeaks Exposes that Sanctions Imposed against Eritrea are politically motivated’, 28 April 2015, ecssonline.com   Cherry-picked, for certain; there are loads of other cables from Ambassador McMullen expressly annihilating President Isaias.  The one above features the usual cast of characters: Condi Rice, Sam Power, Susan Rice, sanctions, sanctions.  Others are outrage at being served ‘sheep innards, and without a fork!!‘, ‘Isaias is a madman!  sort of hysteria.  But obviously, the point was to isolate the nation, impoverish it, even down to trying to prevent remittances from citizens working out of the country. There were  claims that Asmara was supporting Al Shabaab in Somalia, as well; who knows?

I’ll leave you with this sublime photo of the hills of Eritrea I saw on Twitter.  Please offer anything you know, suspect, dig up on this subject, and we’ll all appreciate it.  Cool way to stack hay, yes?

eritrea hills

10 responses to “#Eritrea Wot the Fok? a Kinda/Sorta Storify

  1. I find this almost fait accompli very interesting vis-a-vis China’s move in Africa.

    It doesn’t want to sign any kind of treaty with AFRICOM, the U.S. military command, which has agreements with all but three countries in Africa,

    Since the United States adopted publicly a policy of torture, it seems that accusations of torture are the international counterpart of domestic accusations (such as against Dilma) of corruption. Interesting that the team goes well beyond NATO.

    The US military must be running out of space in Djibouti and seeks another basing option at the lower end of the Red Sea. Geographically for the China to Europe trade, the Horn of Africa is as strategic as the Straits of Molucca. And there is a full carrier group around the corner in Bahrain. Whether creating a shipping choke point or preventing one, making Eritrea and Djibouti the Norfolk VA and Charleston SC of the Horn of Africa would be a pretty convenient way to forwardly deploy. Also would provide an overland southern access to Sudan.

    I wonder what the other two countries not signed up to Africom are. Might Sudan be one?

    • thanks for reading it, and making such good points, thd. at least up to 2013, s. africa was resisting africom. but interestingly enough, africom’s website only talks about ‘our areas of responsibility, then comes Eritrea, which fought for decades for its independence, and then demands that its resources should be used to feed, heal, educate and house its own people. It also insists that the entire Horn of Africa should enjoy freedom and self-determination. ‘Dangerous’, isn’t it? What if the people in neighboring Ethiopia, Somalia, or DRC, begin paying attention and demanding a similar type of a society and government?” with a map and list. egypt has special status, lol..but both sudan and s. sudan are on their list, but even s. africa. from what i’ve noticed on their twitter account, they are drawing more nations in w/ major carrots when possible, plus, yanno, selfies.

      i hadn’t thought of either the fifth fleet in bahrain, nor overland routes through sudan. i did read a comical piece by africom biggies back in the day, just swearing that african nations were sick and tired of not realizing much lucre from the chinese for their resources. but of course that’s not why bush created the africa desk, but for security!

      but then…remember africom and sea-basing? ‘no need to ask a host country for permission’ that way. but yeppers, i’d have to think that being on that choke point, as you call it, is a major reason for all of this. good luck eritrea.

      on edit: er…i’d forgotten the ink. fixed it.

      on edit again: eric draitser at jason’s CPsays that zimbabwe declined africom, as well.

    • good on you, jason. and yes, it looks like a match, doesn’t it? i’ll read, not just scan, as i can, but i hadn’t seen the 2009 wikicable mentioned. sounds like another usaid/obama program to train young eritreans toward capitalist credo or something, yes?

    • now the thomas mountain at your link was about currency and capital control, a bit beyond me. but clicking on his name brought this one from 2015, and oy:

      susan rice as author of sanctions against eritrea to kill mining, maintaining poverty (moar destabilization, of coure), 2 of the 3 members of the COIE had called fro regime change, never having set foot in the country. and this, and yes, O got her installed as head of USAID, according to their twit account, jeezum crow:

      “Gayle Smith, whom Obama is presently trying to install as head of the USAID, the main source of cover for US Intel agents in the third world, has a long history of first hand involvement with Eritrea going back to her rookie days as an undercover CIA agent posing as a journalist during some of the most challenging days of the Eritrean 30 year war for national independence.

      “From being a “journalist” in 1991, Gayle Smith turned up as Chief of Staff at USAID in 1994. Journalist to Chief of Staff in 3 years? One could say she caught then Secretary of State Madeline Albrights eye, for 4 years later Ms. Smith was African department head at the National Security Council (under Tony Lake, later failed nominee for CIA Director, now head of UNICEF).
      As head of African operations at the NSC Gayle Smith helped launch the Ethiopian invasion of Eritrea which culminated in a May-June 2000 war that left almost 150,000 dead Africans (123,000 Ethiopians and 19,000 Eritrean).”

      Fuck the Imperium and all its cohorts.

      in the ha ha ha category:

  2. More Andre Vltchek from 2014: ‘Eritrea still standing, still tall!’, RT op-edge

    and if it isn’t a barn-burner, i dunno what is. i hesitate to even bring any pithy paragraphs there are so many. many like: we don’t call it socialism, but many here in government are marxists’.

    okay; the tab was still up:

    “This entire part of Africa is now under the absolute and brutal control of the West: Somalia and Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as South Sudan.

    It is mainly because this is one of the richest parts of the world, in terms of its raw materials – one of the richest and therefore, one of the most devastated. In just the two last decades Western countries, and their multi-national companies, mostly though their proxies (client-states like Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya) have managed to murder around 10 million human beings. And in terms of the standard of living, the people in this part of Africa are patently the poorest on Earth.

    Then comes Eritrea, which fought for decades for its independence, and then demands that its resources should be used to feed, heal, educate and house its own people. It also insists that the entire Horn of Africa should enjoy freedom and self-determination.

    ‘Dangerous’, isn’t it?

    What if the people in neighboring Ethiopia, Somalia, or DRC, begin paying attention and demanding a similar type of a society and government?”

    nope we can’t have that.

  3. I haven’t anything to contribute about Eritrea, sorry, but this about neighboring Ethiopia might be of interest, historically speaking.

    http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/ethiopian-students-protest-against-emperor-selaisses-regime-1967-1974

    The brief analysis in the lower segment of this article confirms my own distant memory, as does this paragraph from the emperor’s obituary at the New York Times, August 28, 1975:

    “…Ironically, Haile Selassie initiated the changes that lead to his downfall – the military training program that exposed Ethiopian officers to representative institutions in the United States, and Haile Selassie I University, where students learned to think about political economy. The Emperor, however, could not seem to adapt to new concepts, and he lost touch with his subjects in recent years, showing more affection for his pet cheetahs and dogs, diplomats said, than for his human entourage.”

    Well, he was quite an old despot by then, and he did abolish slavery in 1945.

    I happen to know that academicians from the University of Utah were very much involved in setting up said H.S.University because my in-laws were on that team – but my search of Utah links came up with nothing. I guess they really didn’t want to be remembered for doing so. (The cross that I have in my small chapel is an Ethiopian one my father-in-law gave to me on his return.)

    • ethiopia does indeed play a huge role in eritrean history. mentioned currently by the #hands off eritrea folks are ‘tyrants like selassie and menelik’ and rails against the western mythology of the abyssinans’. i looked up menelik, and there were at least two, the first said to be a son of king solomon, whoa nellie.

      seems selassie’s strategy was counter-intuitive as to shutting down protest and student newspapers, no? at least in this country the PTB get that gatekeeping ngo’s provide a little pressure from the cooker. petcocks? yes.

      cool on the cross. now this is unsurprising itself, but that the blogger knows how deeply the foundation is involved in global politics, weapons sales, and so on is very cool. long ago when i still watched teevee, i’d sometimes see bubba, our ‘first black president’ on late night shows, and get airsick from seeing how much audiences cheered him.

    • Thanks for the background on Haile Selassie. Made me look up the Wikipedia entry just to find out when he abolished slavery de jure.

      What prompted me to do that is the story of a college friend of mine who post-college entered the Peace Corps and was assigned to Ethiopia. An agricultural adviser in a rural village, he noticed periodic flights of helicopters into the the village or nearby one. On learning from locals that the helicopters were Saudis snatching people for slavery in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he reported the incidents to his supervisor and to the local government contact for the area. Shortly thereafter he was bounced out as persona non grata and left the Peace Corps. He was no idealist, but he was not prepared for this turn of events from his own government. When I last heard from him, he was an Ag Extension Agent in the US.

      The Emperor and his law were primarily in Addis Ababa. Like a lot of other countries, different undertandings of law existed outside the national capital.

      The assumption in the 1970s, given the alignment of the successor government, was that the coup was Russian-sponsored. Sure would be nice to declassify everything about the Cold War to make sure.

  4. Thanks for the biographical notes about the players. Looks like CIA-driven policy to some degree, doesn’t it. Because of the extensive operations and use of cover, it makes all USians suspect and increases the danger of travel. People who are discouraged from travel outside their borders in which they meet ordinary people have little idea what is going on either there or here. Being viewed as a potential Edward Lansdale or Emily Pollifax is not a Rick Steves style of travel.

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