Source: Eritrea digest
“In short, the issues we have with Eritrea remain: it is still holding US Embassy employees prisoners; it still won’t account for US citizens including Ciham Ali, and it is reputed to have 10,000 prisoners”
US To Eritrea: Nice Try, But No Reform, No Sanctions Relief
It is a bad day for PFDJ which almost always means it is a good day for the Eritrean people.
The Isaias Afwerki regime appears to have calculated that if it makes peace with Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti, why, then, there is no reason for the United States not to normalize its relations and, more importantly, suspend its opposition to the UN lifting the UN sanctions.
ፍርፍር ኢላ ልበይ
After all, according to PFDJ’s self-deceiving narrative, it did nothing wrong to get itself sanctioned: it was all the Obama Administration and the Meles Zenawi Government colluding to punish it for its “independent political stand.” Thus, when it invited Somali president Mohammed Abdulahi Formajio and got him to write a statement saying sanctions should be lifted, it was so sure it would be, it was already lecturing the UN that they should not have been imposed to begin with. Since then, it calculated that Djibouti is the last hold out and it started doing what it could have done 10 years ago: acknowledge it has a problem with the country and seek expedited mediation. Similarly, of course, it could have saved the Eritrean people 12 years of agony if it had recognized the system that ended up giving Somalia President Mohammed Formajio. But back then, it was lecturing the world on the importance of bringing Al-Shabab to be part of the government. But now, we are good neighbors, so lift the sanctions already!
The United States is not buying it. The US House Foreign Committee has a subcommittee named Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. This is the same subcommittee that sanctioned Ethiopiafor its gross human rights violations when it was governed by #Gameover TPLF-core EPRDF. Its chairman, the Honorable Chris Smith, recently headed a delegation that just returned from a fact-finding mission to Ethiopia. After rightfully chronicling all the positive changes initiated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, he turned his attention to the “repressive” state of Eritrea” and has this to say:
In short, the issues we have with Eritrea remain: it is still holding US Embassy employees prisoners; it still won’t account for US citizens including Ciham Ali, and it is reputed to have 10,000 prisoners. We hope to see the same reforms conducted in Ethiopia over at Eritrea.
Subsequently, Ambassador Tibor Nagy, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, was invited to testify. In response to a direct question by Ranking Member of the subcommittee, Karen Bass as to whether he thinks Eritrea will reform the National Service, he had this to say about what he called a “fortress state”: that it is “critically important for Eritrea to do domestically what it is doing internationally” and “….that goes, for example, to the sanctions regime. Eritrea cannot assume, by saying wonderful things and opening good relations with the neighbors, that it will automatically lead to sanctions relief. There has to be concrete actions taken. And we, of course, will remain engaged that say things that will not be popular. But they have to be said.”
In summary, the United States, both at the legislature (congress) and the executive (State Department) is showing moral clarity: that a government which runs a repressive state, a “heinous” indefinite conscription and a “fortress state”, should not expect to be rewarded even if it has taken positive steps and reversed its destructive posture. Thank God Herman Cohen is not at the State Department. Here’s hoping, but not expecting, the European politicians to take note.