View Full Version : Eritrea: catch all

08-14-2007, 02:32 PM
Here's (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6944846.stm) a piece from the BBC web site.
US moves to shut Eritrean mission

The United States has ordered the closure of Eritrea's consulate in California, in a sign of worsening diplomatic relations.
US embassy officials in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, say the decision is due to a string of restrictions imposed on its embassy.

One would think a super power would be above such petty squabbling.

Ken White
08-14-2007, 05:03 PM
Nuance and stupidity countered by nuance and stupidity are the name of the game -- and that's what, generally, it is...:(

08-14-2007, 07:30 PM
Nuance? I think it's plain stupidity. This is the nation to nation equivalent of 2toddlers in a sandbox.

In fact, on Sunday I was at the park and my toddler, let's call him US and another toddler, let's call him Eritrea, were in the sandbox together. Let's call the sandbox the Horn of Africa. While US was busy building a huge castle in the Ethiopia corner, Eritrea was burying US' toys in the Somalia corner. US came over to Somalia and started digging with his shovel in Somalia and uncovered the stolen contraband, I mean toys. US shoved Eritrea. Eritrea threw sand in US' eye. I (let's call me the UN) stood by and pointed out that the US really shouldn't be in Somalia, anyway and why won't Ethiopia and Eritrea play along together. I suggested that Ethiopia, now actively playing the Somalia corner, give Eritrea back the hand full of sand it had taken from Eritrea. Both the US, Ethiopia and Eritrea ignored me and went about their business...

Ken White
08-14-2007, 09:26 PM
-- diplomacy as currently practiced, that is -- and that my sarcastic 'nuance' (a cover word for refusal to honestly state ones concerns and take care of ones interests) was perhaps itself too nuanced or too diplomatic. I also note that you (at least in that situation) and the UN (most always) seem to be equally ineffective? ;)

In short, I agree. Pity about the Foreign Office, the State Department and Turtle Bay living in a world that seem to have passed them by...

08-14-2007, 11:38 PM
Shouldn't the next step from the US be to use the force at Camp Lemonier to conduct some punitive cross border ops into Eritrea? Let's not forget to bring an AC-130 strike into downtown Asmara and maybe use some standoff ALCMs, launched from a B-52 loitering over, say, Libya, in violation of its air space. To ice it all, there needs to be a US press release with intimate details about the ALCM strike so that the rest of the Islamic world can join in the outrage over the Crusaders "invasion" of Libya or wherever the aircraft happened to be tracking at launch time. :eek:

Ken White
08-14-2007, 11:50 PM
FSOs reaction to the suggestion, no more, from a military guy that his approach to diplomacy is just a tiny bit too conciliatory and thus is unlikely to achieve his aims.

There is a middle way... :)

08-23-2007, 09:19 AM
US Considering Terror Label for Eritrea

It's posturing and negotiation, but to me, this is poor diplomacy. Is the U.S. at the "diplomatic death sentence" stage yet with Eritrea?

Afewerki is no diplomat and is likely to either not respond or respond with anger. Does the US gov. really want to continue this pissing match and is it ready to slap the terror label on Eritrea, causing more unecessary suffering for ordinary people?

If anyone can explain the logic behind this move, I would appreciate it. From where I'm sitting, this is asinine.

08-23-2007, 11:53 AM
Is this part of a secret US plan for a return of Eritrea to Ethopia, as a reward for the great efforts of the Ethiopian forces combatting terror in Somalia? :eek:

08-23-2007, 12:20 PM
Perhaps this idea came from the same people who fed the UN the line about Somalis fighting alongside Hizbullah in 2006?

Tom Odom
08-23-2007, 01:24 PM
I take all of this as more of the same let's put a white hat on one side and a black hat on the other, when neither side is what it appears to be. What I don't get is the eager attitude to jump into this particular mud pit and wallow around with the players, all of whom love mud, feces, and blood.

Stay out of it. Contain. Offer hiumantarian assistance.


08-23-2007, 02:16 PM
Whatever happened to promoting stablility? This is provoking instability. Frazer strikes me as someone who should know better. Of course, that's with the caveat that she is actually thinking and acting on her own....

The Europeans apparently see no problem in dealing with Eritrea, even embracing Eritrea as a "Key partner". It's almost like they do it just to cheese the USG off...

EU embraces Eritrea in search for Horn peace

08-23-2007, 02:32 PM
The Europeans apparently see no problem in dealing with Eritrea, even embracing Eritrea as a "Key partner". It's almost like they do it just to cheese the USG off...

EU embraces Eritrea in search for Horn peace

Balance of power politics being played at its most basic. Remind you of the "Great Game" played between England and Russia over Persia/Afghanistan by any chance?

08-23-2007, 02:52 PM
Last time I checked, Afwerki and most in his government were Christian, struggling to suppress their own Islamic insurgency and backing the Sudanese Christian rebels (SPLA) against the Islamic government of Sudan, which by the way the US and Ethiopia supported. Eritrea supports the Islamic factions in Somalia in a proxy war against Ethiopia.

It's a big damn mess, but Eritrea doesn't support terrorists...but I guess it all depends on what you define a "terrorist" as...

Tom Odom
08-24-2007, 01:12 PM
but I guess it all depends on what you define a "terrorist" as...

Exactly!!! And that is why I chack my wallet these days when someone starts throwing the "T-word" around..

08-24-2007, 03:15 PM
Last time I checked, Afwerki and most in his government were Christian, struggling to suppress their own Islamic insurgency and backing the Sudanese Christian rebels (SPLA) against the Islamic government of Sudan, which by the way the US and Ethiopia supported. Eritrea supports the Islamic factions in Somalia in a proxy war against Ethiopia.

It's a big damn mess, but Eritrea doesn't support terrorists...but I guess it all depends on what you define a "terrorist" as...

Has "Terrorist" replace "Communist" in our lexicon of the big bad guys?

Ken White
08-24-2007, 06:12 PM
politicians. The Troops then and now use 'bad guys' or other less complimentary appellations regardless of the opposition's ideology which is essentially irrelevant or his tactics which the troops can easily adapt to -- if their seniors let them....

Watcher In The Middle
08-25-2007, 04:16 AM
Eritrea supports the Islamic factions in Somalia in a proxy war against Ethiopia.

Back when the Islamic Courts were riding high in Somalia (before the Ethiopian intervention), there were a number of reports of Russian made charter flights moving "special shipments" (read: probably weaponry) into Mogadishu (believe it was).

I wouldn't be at all surprised if this step is one of those actions where the US government wants to make sure that those type of shipments don't reoccur, and they are trying to "persuade" the air charter companies that such dealings for Eritrea (shipping weapons) wouldn't be such a good idea in the future.

Probably one or more of those companies told them that there's no violation involved, so why should they pass on business. Well, the US government looks to want to give them a legal reason not to do this type of business.

Also, doesn't designating a specific nation as a "terrorist" nation give the US Treasury carte blanc to start designating businesses/governments as being engaged in terrorist/supporting activities, and therefore can limit their access to financial credit markets?

That's a hammer.

08-25-2007, 04:38 AM
There has been an UN Security Council arms embargo on Somalia since 1993, I believe. Violated by many groups, of course.

I seriously doubt the either the TFG or the ICU and its associated clans are looking to issue bonds In London or Geneva. Though, given today's markets, who knows --- maybe the Fed will push Citigroup to buy up some mortgage-backed SIVs for some prime Mogadishu beachfront?

08-25-2007, 07:06 AM
Watcher, are you referring to the UN Monitoring Report for Somalia which highlights evidence of an Eritrean purchase of a small plane from a company in Belarus that was used to fly arms into Somalia? The way I understood it was that it wasn't a "charter" but a purchase, but the end is the same.

Regarding the terrorist label and finances, one of the main pillars (if you can call it that) of the Eritrean economy is a 2% tax on eritreans in diaspora and more importantly, remittances from Eritreans in diaspora to Eritrea. The latter really keeps ordinary Eritreans afloat. If the terrorist label allowed the Treasury to block these remittances, it would be a huge disaster for normal Eritreans.

By the way, this is a pretty good blog on the subject

Watcher In The Middle
08-26-2007, 03:12 AM
Regarding the terrorist label and finances, one of the main pillars (if you can call it that) of the Eritrean economy is a 2% tax on eritreans in diaspora and more importantly, remittances from Eritreans in diaspora to Eritrea. The latter really keeps ordinary Eritreans afloat. If the terrorist label allowed the Treasury to block these remittances, it would be a huge disaster for normal Eritreans.

Well, if the US government is going where it looks like they want to with this "Terrorist" designation, Treasury will be able (if so motivated) to put the squeeze (and it is a really effective squeeze, no doubt about it) on any international bank and/or corporate entity moving money internationally.

I've actually seen (heard, actually) the effects of Section 311, which allows the Treasury Department to designate a bank a "primary money-laundering concern". There isn't a bank out there ANYWHERE that wants to even get within several country miles of getting slammed with that one by Treasury. Consequently, they'll do literally anything to get out from under than one.

The problem I see with this whole issue of designating nations as 'Terrorist" to allow for imposition of these types of financial countermeasures is that it's pretty comparable to the old adage of "When you have a hammer everything looks like a nail." It's one thing to use it against Iran or the DPRK, but "Eritrea"???

I guess if it's "Do this or send in military forces", well, I'll take this option. The reality is that this is just another level of force projection, only it's financial. But it is very effective.

My viewpoint is that there has to be much more to this story for the US government to go to all this effort. And it is a whole lot of effort.

Btw, the story I read on the aircraft into Somalia wasn't a small aircraft, but a rather large 4 engine Russian made cargo charter that was done very covertly. Was not from the UN Monitoring report.

Also, thanks for the link.

08-26-2007, 11:55 AM
Watcher, let me throw this out and see what you think about this theory. It's a given that Eritrea is trying to oppose and weaken the Ethiopian government. There have been claims made that Eritrea has even tried assassination attempts against Ethiopia. See:


If Eritrea were able to get rid of the Ethiopian government of Meles Zenawi, then what does this do to US policy and objectives in the Horn? What does this do to stability in the region? How would the US government prevent this from happening? Looking at US actions in this perspective might provide some answers.

Just a theory. I really have no information to support it.

Watcher In The Middle
08-26-2007, 06:08 PM
If Eritrea were able to get rid of the Ethiopian government of Meles Zenawi, then what does this do to US policy and objectives in the Horn?

Gonna make me work today, huh?:)

Well, my first thought is that "US policy" towards that entire region is substantially being driven by Lord Palmerston's quote of “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”

Problem is, we appear to have conflicting "permanent interests". Nobody back here in the US wants to get too tight with any governmental entity in the Horn area where the government has any real "dirty hands" from being involved with ethnic cleansing, no matter how limited. But, then they also apply the exact same rules to nations dealing with Islamic extremists (GWOT).

Well, if you base everything you do as a nation on both those two principles in the Horn of Africa, there's just about nobody out there you can deal with. And I'm hard pressed to see how a policy of "talking to and dealing with nobody" is a better alternative.

My second thought is that the US government appears to have realized to some extent that there are some pretty severe limits to force projection into that entire area. In fact, the extremely limited US involvement with supporting Ethiopia in dealing with the ICU in Somalia looks to have been relatively effective, at least in the sense that we didn't have "Blackhawk Down Part II".

The real problem I see a little further down the road is that any new administration here in the US will automatically decide that US troops in Iraq = Bad, but US forces in Darfur = Good. And they will not realize how this affects everything in the Horn.

What does this do to stability in the region?

Smart As**d Answer: There Is Any?

Real Answer: ""Power abhors a vacuum". Say goodbye to the now removed autocrat, say "Hi, good to see you" to the new successor. Truthfully, we're really not going to have too much say, because you know that there's going to have to be retribution if something like that were to happen. National honor, not to mention tribal influences will demand it. And we're hamstrung anyway with our two contradictory principles (noted above) being applicable directly to what can best be described as an "ethnic fault line area".

How would the US government prevent this from happening?

Short answer: I don't think we can. Our only real chance at having an affect would be if any alleged and completely unverified special operations training programs were happening within the Horn area, and such alleged and completely unverified operations would make all the parties stop and think before they did something really stupid.

And yes, I really did get a picture of that Unicorn this morning.

Let me pitch an idea back to you. It strikes me that one of the most useful things we could do in the entire Horn area would be to mount an active naval crackdown against piracy, which has seriously increased around Somalia. Such a crackdown could have a really positive effect. You wouldn't be talking about massive military forces, and that could have a substantial amount of positive effects (safer transportation, fishing, aid shipments into Somalia, etc.). Now, the most immediate downside of this would be the potential for a massive outflow of refugees from Somalia wanting to take refuge under the protection of the US led anti-piracy forces.

08-27-2007, 04:02 AM
Good work. Thanks.

An alleged and unverified Unicorn spotting in the horn! These unicorns do get around. It would explain why the E&E haven't come to blow yet...I once had an alleged and unverified sasquatch spotting in the horn, but that's another story...

I think the US government should seize that island between Yemen and Eritrea they fought briefly over a couple of years ago (Sakhalin?) and make it a US Naval base. I'm sure nobody would mind. Seriously, I would love to see the US Navy chase around pirates, but I would think of "black ship down" and would think twice...

09-06-2007, 06:55 PM
I hope the Unicorns have the good sense to keep out of this area.

US foreign policy seems to have reverted to a cold war black & white mode with Islamic replacing Communist and playing the part of black with white being painted liberally using the ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ maxim. Regretfully some, nay most, of those daubed in white paint are in reality an extremely dark grey.

Where to begin? The US giving the nod to Ethiopia to invade Somalia to oust the UIC is unbelievably short-sighted, after 16 years of chaos there was an area of stability creeping out from Mogadishu, piracy was down and the UIC had popular support. Yes the law was Sharia but then the population was predominantly Muslim so this would seem a lot more reasonable – to them - than our legal system. Were there AQ and other terrorist organisations with influence in the country? Sure, ditto for any Muslim country. If removing their influence was the goal it would have been a much better option to pat the UIC on the back for what they had achieved, work with them on piracy, engage them diplomatically, offer financial/reconstruction aid & quietly work towards the removal of those with overt links to terrorism. The current strategy is doomed to failure, the Ethiopian occupying force is universally hated - and their operational tactics are making them more so. The puppet government has no power base. The UIC have not gone away and will return once the Ethiopians withdraw, as they must if they don’t want to just be picked of a few at a time. The AU forces are no keener to deploy than ours would be for obvious reasons, they will not be welcome and the people look back at the UIC rule as the halcyon days.
Eritrea feel betrayed by the UN for not enforcing the terms of the cease fire agreement with Ethiopia (Badme et al) and, while they probably would prefer to not get involved in Somalia, can’t risk the Ethiopians becoming entrenched so will aid anyone fighting them as a matter of national defence (as a side note I suspect they principally blame the US for manoeuvres within the UN on behalf of Ethiopian interests). So now we have Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea in the game.
While international interest in Sudan is principally focused on the humanitarian disaster in Darfur and the attendant destabilisation in Chad, the bigger problem comes in 2011 in the south. After years of fighting the SPLA agreed a truce with the north which lead to an interesting new constitution which encoded a defacto split into north and south. The south kept the SPLA army, had a different banking system and has the right to raise taxes but the key feature is article 222

The Referendum on Self-Determination
222 (1) Six months before the end of the six-year interim period,
there shall be an internationally monitored referendum, for
the people of Southern Sudan organized by Southern
Sudan Referendum Commission in cooperation with the
National Government and the Government of Southern
(2) The people of Southern Sudan shall either:-
(a) confirm unity of the Sudan by voting to sustain the
system of government established under the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement and this
Constitution, or
(b) vote for secession.

Despite international sanctions the economy has shown healthy growth helped by becoming a net oil exporter – the constitution has a lengthy section on how this oil is to be divided up. Much of the friction between the north and south has – surprise, surprise – been about oil as the majority of the fields are in the south but the pipeline, ports and refineries are in the north and the perception is the north is trying to grab what it can now prior to risking the south – and its oil - voting for independence. The big questions are will the north really just say OK if the south exercises this option and even if the south does go for it how will it export? Kenya seems the logical route if relations with the north fail. Given the growth in strength of the MB in Egypt and the deteriorating situation in NE Congo (and its relations with Uganda) this whole area needs as little interference from the West as we can manage, fools (and Unicorns) go in …

09-07-2007, 07:50 AM
Speaking of Eritrea and the UIC, I wonder how this Congress is playing with the State Department...

Congress for Liberation And Reconstitution Opens in Asmara

Shabait.com (Asmara)

6 September 2007
Posted to the web 6 September 2007

The Somali Congress for Liberation and Reconstitution opened in Asmara today. More than 350 people representing different social groups of Somali society, including leaders of the Union of Islamic Courts, clan heads, intellectuals, community elders and religious leaders are taking part in the Congress.


09-07-2007, 12:03 PM
After posting yesterday I read this today on the UN boundary commission's frustration re Ethiopia/Eritrea
Warning of new Horn of Africa war : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6982244.stm
and note from a Guardian ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/alqaida/story/0,,2164165,00.html ) post that both Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys & Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed are in attendance at the Asmara congress.

While I am posting links here are a few more that may be of interest to those following this area.
Good map of oil producing areas in Sudan
and more data on oil production
Juba Post comments on referendum (NB this is in english so most of the comments - predominantly pro independance - are from the diaspora and may not be representative of the population as a whole)
and this article on concerns re an impending north/south demarcation dispute
Sudan Interim constitution in english

09-12-2007, 11:13 PM
New Somali alliance threatens war


"We have two-track options - first is the liberation of Somalia through military struggle, the second is through diplomatic efforts," said Zakariya Mahamud Abdi, spokesman for the Somali Congress

"We warn Ethiopia to withdraw immediately. It is now or never and in a few weeks they will not have a route to withdraw," Abdi said.

09-24-2007, 01:14 PM
I just found this small article in the USIP Special Report on "Terrorism in the Horn of Africa" dated January 2004. A bit dated, but interesting given recent events between the USG and Eritrea and overall US Policy in the GWOT.

Eritrea’s inclusion in the “coalition of the willing” threatens to widen the gap between moderate and radical Eritrean Muslims due to the regime’s use of the “war against terrorism” to eliminate all dissent.


Outlook and Recommendations

The United States fostered democratization and constitutional rule in Eritrea from 1991 to 2001. In 2001, when democratizing Eritreans demanded constitutional governance, the U.S. decision to refrain from taking an unequivocal stand against the systematic elimination of pro-democracy advocates sent the message that only acts of violence and terror—not democratic reform—will bring about change. Current U.S. policy in Eritrea vacillates between two poles: unconditional support for a regime that joined
the “war on terror” and episodic signals of disapproval for the regime’s crackdown on dissent.

U.S. policy should disengage from the increasing authoritarianism of the current regime which has alienated the majority of its civilian—secular and non-secular population. Failure to do so may lead to growing support for more militant elements within EIJM and the ENA.

10-11-2007, 02:47 PM
Earlier in this thread (post #18) I voiced my concerns regarding the medium term danger to the stability of Sudan in particular, and the Horn in general, having more to do with the much more formidable SPLA than the problems in Darfur. The North’s failure to make progress with the boundary commission, and various other outstanding differences, seems to be exposing cracks already:-

Sudan's southern rebels walk out

The BBC title refers to them as rebels but they are constitutionally a major part of the government and it is difficult to see how the the president remains any legitimacy without their inclusion.

12-01-2007, 11:10 PM
I don't think it will come as a galloping shock to anyone following this story but it is now official: the deadline has past without any movement on the ground.


This story is surreal, bizarre and extremely frightening. We are in danger of having a war over a boarder that both parties now claim to accept.

05-13-2008, 07:22 PM
Eritrea's president Afwerki accuses CIA (http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL13745161)of funding operations to lure youth away from Eritrea. I'd like to see his "evidence"...Baywatch? It may be our countrie's single most successful psychological operation....

The quotes about holding an election are priceless, too. Man, there's losing touch and then there's touching losers...okay, that doesn't really make sense, but you get the point.

05-18-2008, 03:21 PM
Sudan clashes prompt UN pull-out (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7402305.stm)

The UN has withdrawn non-essential staff from Sudan's town of Abyei after a day of clashes between government forces and southern former rebels.

Abyei is the key to Sudanese Oil and to the north south problem. The interim constitution affords it a special status at the time of the constitutionally promised 2011 referendum. (links and more details in posts #18 & 20)

06-03-2008, 12:07 PM
Navies to tackle Somali pirates

The vote means nations will be able to send warships to tackle pirates
The UN Security Council has unanimously voted to allow countries to send warships into Somalia's territorial waters to tackle pirates.

The resolution permits countries that have the agreement of Somalia's interim government to use any means to repress acts of piracy for the next six months.

Twenty-six ships have been attacked by pirates in the waters in the past year.

The vote came as the UN launched separate peace talks with factions involved in Somalia's conflict.


The article also covers the UN backed Djibouti talks. The problem is the parties attending - but not talking directly to each other - are the interim government (who have no support or power beyond that of their Ethiopian military backers & US political backers) and the ARS (the same mob that formed as the ALS in Asmara last Sept.). The ARS are mainly old UIC members but don't including the Al-Shabab wing which seems to be becoming the pre-eminent force on the ground. So it is unclear who - if anyone - the parties not talking represent.

From the Jamestown Foundation last Oct.
Splits Developing in Somali Insurgency (http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2373704) By Sydney Irving

This rather strange piece on Afewerki stealing $10million of the ARS's money.

As always when dealing with this area it is tricky to know what to believe.

(LOL I just ran the spell check and was a little hasty with the 'change all' button - I think I have replaced all the arse's back to ARS's)

06-03-2008, 05:51 PM
See, Afwerki is a friend of the US in the GWOT....Afwerki may be a lot of things, but I seriously doubt he's a thief.

04-01-2013, 03:53 PM
An ICG report, 28 pgs. on this forgotten country, partly as it appears to rebuff all external interest and is a dictatorship:http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/africa/horn-of-africa/ethiopia-eritrea/200-eritrea-scenarios-for-future-transition.pdf?utm_source=eritrea-report&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mremail

01-25-2014, 11:37 AM
A year since the last post this forgotten country gains an advocate in a retired DoS diplomat:http://africanarguments.org/2013/12/16/time-to-bring-eritrea-in-from-the-cold-by-hank-cohen/

08-17-2015, 10:52 AM
A series of articles in The Guardian on this forgotten country, where 3% of the population have fled, even though there is no war today, just a strict dictatorship.

Amongst the thousands of migrants / refugees trying to reach Western Europe are plenty from Eritrea; which may explain these articles and I have only linked two.

One ends:
But migrants tell a different story. Welde Giorgis left Eritrea in 2006 because he no longer believed internal reform was possible. The average Eritrean is now “a helpless victim”, he says. “And that’s why you see these large numbers of Eritreans leaving the country at great risk to their lives. Many die from dehydration in the Sahara. Many have drowned in the Mediterranean. Many have become victim to organ harvesters in the Sinai. But nobody cares. Eritrea has become an earthly hell, an earthly inferno for its people – and that’s why they are taking such huge risks to their personal lives to escape the situation. It’s become unliveable.”

I did find this bizarre (from the same article):
Eritrea’s own government blames human trafficking networks for the exodus, and this week even asked the UN Security Council to help combat the smugglers who are “dispersing and debilitating our human resources” (http://www.trust.org/item/20150730143310-k5qo6/?source=jtOtherNews2).

Why we left:http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/17/inside-eritrea-glimpse-africas-most-secretive-state-two-men

12-30-2015, 05:53 PM
Once again The Guardian report on Eritrea, this time from within:http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/23/eritrea-conscription-repression-and-poverty-recipe-for-mass-emigration

A taster:
The prosaic truth is that this is just another of the nasty regimes that persist in parts of the world. Eritrea is a one-party state with no elections, has had no functioning civil society since 2001 and, with at least 16 journalists currently behind bars, is ranked bottom of 180 countries assessed in Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index. The regime sows paranoia and uncertainty, leading to divergent views over how far the limits of free speech can be tested.

A recent UN inquiry on human rights described extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, indefinite military conscription and forced labour. Its report found “a pervasive control system used in absolute arbitrariness to keep the population in a state of permanent anxiety”.

03-28-2016, 10:03 AM
IIRC Eritrea has been a rather lonely nation diplomatically, but the war in the Yemen may have changed this:
In May 2015, Saudi Arabia and the UAE concluded a new military security partnership agreement with Eritrea allowing the Gulf coalition to use its land, airspace, and territorial waters for Yemen operations. The agreement also included a thirty-year lease for the port of Assab, on Eritrea's coast, as a UAE naval logistics hub. Since September, the UAE has used Assab as a launchpad for amphibious operations against Yemen's Red Sea islands and in November began flying strike sorties over Yemen from Asmara International Airport -- strikes that followed an agreement with the Eritrean government to refurbish the airport. Four hundred Eritrean troops were also contracted to serve embedded with the UAE armed forces in Yemen.

Sudanese hold force for Aden. In mid-October, UAE landing craft transported two Sudanese battalions equipped with BTR-70 armored personnel carriers from Assab to Aden.

06-08-2016, 11:10 AM
Last month the BBC had a reporter in Eritrea, first to report on:
This week marks 25 years since Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in a conflict which lasted three decades. Rights groups criticise the East African nation for its lack of democracy, media freedom and its policy of forced conscription, which can last for many years. But the Eritrean government has organised huge celebrations.Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-36358235

A less restrained, wider report:
The migration crisis in Europe has thrust Eritrea under the spotlight. Last year, more people fled to Europe from this small, secretive nation than from any other African country.Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-36469286

09-01-2016, 07:51 AM
Profile of former Bucknell professor Berhanu Nega, leader of Ethiopian dissident rebel group Ginbot 7

09-08-2016, 05:26 PM
Hat tip to WoTR for this article on the UAE's expanding role in Eritrea:http://warontherocks.com/2016/09/west-of-suez-for-the-united-arab-emirates/

A "taster":
As part of the partnership agreement, the United Arab Emirates concluded a 30-year lease agreement (http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2015/802) for military use of the mothballed deep-water port at Assab and the nearby hard-surface Assab airfield, with a 3,500-meter runway capable of landing large transport aircraft including the huge C-17 Globemaster transports flown by the Emirati air force.

09-23-2016, 08:14 PM
Not sure what to make of this article, which starts with:
An Eritrean opposition group, Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) on Wednesday said that Yemen’s Houthi group have attacked the international Airport of Assab, a port city in the Southern Red Sea Region of Eritrea.

11-08-2016, 11:00 PM
A book review:
Hopes were high in May 1991 when the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) captured the Eritrean capital, Asmara, and helped the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) overthrow Mengistu Haile Mariam, the Ethiopian military dictator. It was thought that the movement which had been fighting for decades for independence would usher in an era of peace, unity and equality for the Eritrean people, explains Professor Keith Somerville in this review of Martin Plaut’s ‘Understanding Eritrea. Inside Africa’s Most Repressive State’.Link:http://talkinghumanities.blogs.sas.ac.uk/2016/11/08/eritrea-the-ultimate-garrison-state/
What a description:
But it is hard to see what could be worse for Eritreans than the current situation.

02-04-2017, 07:33 PM
An interesting commentary on how the EU appears to be "bending" its rules and principles to provide aid to Eritrea, mainly to stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

01-12-2018, 12:10 PM
...a conflict looming since longer might go active: namely, multiple and usually inter-related tensions between Eritrea and various of its neighbours (except for Ethiopia, of course) are high again.

Since about a week, there are tensions to Sudan:

Sudan shuts border with Eritrea (https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/sudan-shuts-border-with-eritrea-state-media-20180106-2)

Sudan declares popular mobilisation on border with Eritrea (https://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64450)

Summary: the governor of Kassala State, one of two states declared by President Omar al-Bashir to be in a six-month state of emergency, approved a proposal by the Popular Defence Forces for the militia to set up a mobilsation committee in the state. The PDF is widely believed to be the military arm of the National Congress Party. This comes amid rising tensions including the deployment of other militiamen/Sudanese Defence Forces to the Eritrean border, as well as reports that Egypt has sent reinforcements to one of it's military bases in the region (apparently: Berbera, in Somaliland). Ethiopia has recently accused some Egyptian officials and the government of Eritrea of funding opposition groups.

Mind: UAE - which meanwhile operates one base in Egypt, too - has bases in Eritrea and Somaliland. Unsurprisingly, Egypt is aligning itself with Eritrea.

06-20-2019, 10:05 AM
A new edition of this book and from the publisher's summary:
The most secretive, repressive state in Africa is haemorrhaging its citizens. In some months as many Eritreans as Syrians arrive on European shores, yet the country is not convulsed by civil war. Young men and women risk all to escape. Many do not survive — their bones littering the Sahara; their bodies floating in the Mediterranean.
Still they flee, to avoid permanent military service and a future without hope. As the United Nations reported: ‘Thousands of conscripts are subjected to forced labour that effectively abuses, exploits and enslaves them for years.’ Eritreans fought for their freedom from Ethiopia for thirty years, only to have their revered leader turn on his own people. Independent since 1993, the country has no constitution and no parliament. No budget has ever been published. Elections have never been held and opponents languish in jail. International organisations find it next to impossible to work in the country.
Nor is it just a domestic issue. By supporting armed insurrection in neighbouring states it has destabilised the Horn of Africa. Eritrea is involved in the Yemeni civil war, while the regime backs rebel movements in Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti.This book tells the untold story of how this tiny nation became a world pariah.

08-03-2019, 08:57 AM
A Canadian newspaper Q&A with the author Martin Plaut, the former Africa Editor of the BBC’s World Service, of the updated book (cited above). There's also a 17 min Vice documentary (undated). I note Eritrea's population is 3.6m and in Ethiopia there 600k refugees.