By Daniel Berhane
Not many Americans are aware or have any idea that a very grave injustice is being committed in their name; as the USA has been working frantically and pulling strings aggressively to impose additional sanction on an African country, Eritrea, at the United Nation. This is being done without having to prove the allegations or provide any evidence.
The current injustice that is being committed on Eritrean people can not be viewed in isolation without looking at the role of the main players in the region, particularly the US and the Ethiopian regime – Why is Eritrea being punished? How is the US conducting itself in imposing additional sanction on Eritrea? Is Eritrea destabilizing force in the region as the US and Ethiopia allege? Who are the responsible parties for the untold suffering of the people of the region? How is the US viewed by the people of the region in relation to its role and possible consequences for future American generations?
For the Eritrean people and the people of the Horn Africa region at large, this act and the consequences of the policies of the US on the ground, are viewed as Americas declaration of war on their very existence. What is puzzling is that the fact these policies, are not only resulting in the suffering of the people of the region but also compromising the interest of the US itself. This raises very serious questions not only about the policies and the competence the US officials, but also the US political system.
The Horn of Africa region – one of the most troubled regions in the world- has exposed Americas double standards and contradictions in its values and policies to the maximum
The US, finds itself, engaged in imposing additional sanction on Eritrea; poor yet a very promising country that has been making rapid progress in education, basic health, life expectancy and economic growth according to international agencies and institutions. Why would then the US want to exterminate such progress?
While a revised draft resolution on Eritrea has been circulated in the name of Gabon, which is said to have been watered down from an earlier draft that banned companies from investing in mineral resources and prohibited the payment of a remittances tax; the US has still managed to add references to both targets, which it will be able to exploit at later times.
Furthermore, the content of the draft still remains very strong and has widened its scope. What started out as Eritreas alleged support for Islamist rebels in Somalia and Eritrea-Djibouti border dispute – has now extended its focus to Eritreas alleged role in destabilizing the Horn of Africa region.
This has demonstrated the central objective of US-Ethiopia sponsored sanction on Eritrea is not about concern for terrorism or the stability of the region; but to defend and allow the Ethiopian regime, the closest US allay, to have the upper hand in the ongoing problem between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
The US has not only brought its morality as low as it can ever get, by these acts, but also in the very dangerous way it has sought to accomplish its current mission to impose additional sanctions on Eritrea violating the right of the country, using its influence, and breaching, exploiting and sidestepping regulations and procedures of the UN – thereby, reducing the United Nations to a tool for prosecuting nations without due process and fabrications in the name of the UN.
The different stages involved in the process of imposing the additional sanction has been riddled with lies, manipulation, bullying and denying Eritrea the chance to defend itself. The first stage was preparing the ground work the UN sanction monitoring group that is supposedly independent produced a report making allegations that include Eritrean plot to bomb the African Union Summit in Ethiopia and Eritreas alleged support for Islamist rebels in Somalia.
The main source for most of the allegations -in particular the alleged plot to attack the AU- solely came from Eritreas arch-enemy, Ethiopia. Hence the quality of the report is closer to fiction. Not only has the US brought itself to the level of the Ethiopian regime, but it has also brought the UN down to the same level.
After all the Ethiopian regime, according to the leaked cables from the American embassy in Ethiopia confirmed the Ethiopian regime planted three bombs in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa: An embassy source, as well as clandestine reporting, suggest that the bombing may have in fact been the work of the GoE security forces. The regime went on to blame Eritrea and Oromo Liberation Front, just as the monitoring group does about the plot of the AU.
This is the same group that produced several false allegations including the presence of 2000 fully equipped combat troops from Eritrea” in Somalia to justify the US backed invasion of Somalia by the Ethiopian regime. According to the wikileaks cables this information was also supplied by Ethiopia, yet, the group had not had to explain itself. On contrary, it has been allowed to make much wilder allegations with no evidence to support. Is this the justice the UN offers to the victims?
The next stages were getting a draft circulated in the name of African countries as the US did not want to be seeing committing injustice against a small African country and the final process for the voting to take place. However, in crucial periods in the process the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, has been playing a very aggressive game and leading from the front in getting the final draft and rushing the process without having Eritrea to defend itself and refusing to give enough time to experts.
One would hope Susan Rice would not take victimizing a small African country as heroic act or getting her own way as a big victory. This is no victory; it has only brought shame to the US in the eyes of the victims and people at large who are watching the historic injustice.
In the era of the information age, people of the region and the world at large are aware of who is doing what and the responsible bodies for the crisis, the region finds itself. Thus there is no need for any pretention or for the US to hide behind international organizations and name of African countries at its service.
Indeed, the US, as the most powerful country on earth as it has could impose sanctions on Eritrea; specially given Eritrea has no strong economic connections with the permanent members of Security Council that have the veto power. However, do the US current policies on the Horn region, benefit its national interest? Is Eritrea really the destabilizing force in the region?
The main focus of the US on the Horn of Africa region is said to be combating terrorism. The US has invested considerable amount of resources for this purpose. Somalia – a country that has not had a central government for two decades- has been the area where the greatest concerns are as far as terrorism is concerned.
However, a glimpse look into the development of the last six years shows that the US policies together with its closest allay Ethiopia, have been the main source of contributing factor for take over of the large part of the country by Somalia Islamist youth, Al-shabab. Therefore, Al-shabab is more or less a product of US policy.
The rise of Al-shabab came about as the US rashly determined to get rid of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) fairly moderate coalition of Sharia courts that emerged and managed to bring a relative peace and sense of hope in the country in 2006. To make matter worst, it was Ethiopia, a traditional enemy of Somalia that invaded the country.
The elder leaders of the Islamic Courts Union escaped the invasion and made their way to different countries, while the youth fought the Ethiopian occupation until it withdrew its troops. The leaders, who escaped, lost their credibility, while the Al-shabab, expanded its power base- controlling much of the country. The irony is the US now finds itself trying to install a government lead by the same leader of the Islamic Courts Union that it helped overthrew.
The US further missed a big window of opportunity after the Ethiopian regime withdrew its army from much of Somalia. This was an opportunity to start an inclusive dialog amongst all Somalia factions and the traditional leaders. Yet again, the US rushed and quickly formed the present Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
What is the other major problem the US has in the region? The US’s partners including the TFG, the AU troops, Djibouti and Ethiopia are in the partnership for different reasons. The TFG is incompetent and most of the people involved in the structure are more interested in sharing the funds the US and the other Western countries provide. According to the recent US congressional hearing on Somalia, much of the funds provided could not be accounted for.
Ethiopia has the most divergent interest from the US. Fighting terrorism is not its agenda. It views the legitimate struggle of the Ogden people as terrorism. In the last two decades Ethiopian regimes main effort and intention have been ensuring Somalia remains disintegrated through armed incursions and disrupting peace initiatives.
The consequences of flawed US policy on the Horn of Africa combined with several blunders and incompetence of US officials including the former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer and the now US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice – have allowed the Ethiopian regime to have a greater say on the way the US conducted itself in the region and freely allowing the regime to destabilize the region, commit untold atrocities on Ethiopian people and the region at large, and illegally occupying Eritrea territory.
These have put the US in direct conflict with the struggles and aspirations of the people of the region and in undermining and violating the rights of nations and international laws. Sadly the United Nations has also failed to live up to its obligation by allowing the organization to be used and manipulated by the US.
The US is one of the witnesses and guarantors of the Agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The US has not only failed to live up to the agreement on its part, but it has also been one the main obstacles in resolving the problem.
The US has gone as far as encouraging the Ethiopian regime to withdraw from the legal ruling – it agreed to abide by. This was revealed by the wikileaks in conversation the Ethiopian prime Minster and Jendayi E. Frazer, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
When Ethiopias military adventure failed and legal concussion of the Eritrea-Ethiopia border problem was reached, the policy pursued, was to hold Eritrea hostage of the no-war-no-peace situation in a hope it would collapse from economic and political pressures. The US has not only favored Ethiopia, but it has actively been trying to weaken Eritrea for the last decade.
The US has worked tirelessly with the intention of speeding up the collapse the country – ensuring financial assistance for development from the western governments and institutions were withdrawn; discouraging any foreign investment, and efforts to isolate Eritrea diplomatically using its massive influence on many countries.
Hence, the current sanction and aggressions are only a continuation and are not new. Ethiopia and the US failed to defeat Eritrea through unilateral action and now have chosen to use the UN to achieve their objective.
Eritrea is not the destabilizing force in the region. On contrary, Eritrea has played a very constructive role in putting an end to armed conflict in Eastern Sudan, and the huge role it played in peace deal reached in South Sudan. Eritrea is being punished to give the Ethiopian regime an upper hand in the problem between the two countries and for advocating for the right and principled solution to the crisis in Somalia.
In concussion, US should evaluate its policies on the region at large. It must immediately stop pushing for additional sanction on Eritrea and review its relations with Ethiopia and correct the regime from the path of destruction. Sponsoring armed invasion and overthrowing governments or imposing one on countries in contradiction with the will of the people will only bring about short-term victories and tragic and devastating wars in the long-run. The US should seriously look at possible consequences of its current foreign policies on the future American generations.