Eritrea and US – It takes two to Tango!


By Berhane Alazar

As Eritreans, with no access to the inner workings of governments, most of us suspected it all along, what looked obvious to many who have witnessed the lopsided relationship Eritrea has had with various US administrations for the last 50 years!.

Thanks to Wikileaks recent release of some avalanche of US State Department cables, however, the world is mystified about the shoddy and undiplomatic language about anyone and everyone except those inept personnel at the State Department!           

As I said earlier, I do not believe any Eritrean was surprised about the bad language and somewhat vengeful attitude the US Ambassador to Eritrea, Mr. Ronald McMullen, felt about Eritrea and its leadership. I don´t want to reprint the entire Eritrea cables here for, by now, most of us have probably seen the cables and read them. Suffice is to mention the unwarranted threat of force the US was willing to use against Eritrea should Eritrea fail to succumb to US whims!

In one of the cables he sent to Washington, Ambassador McMullen was quoted of saying “Senior Eritrean officials and Members of Eritrea’s ‘American Mafia’ [senior party members who have lived or studied in the US] have taken the lead in signaling interest in improved relations.”

But in spite of the noble gestures those Eritreans showed, the resentful diplomat, stating that the US is only interested in improved relations if Eritrea ends its “Support for Somali extremists”, he finished with a crude warning: “Based on recent history, how do you [CNN reporter] think we would react [against Eritrea] to a major al-Shabaab terrorist attack against the United States?” In fact another sinister US design against a sovereign Eritrea was aptly demonstrated by the bitter Ambassador when he said the “Isaias regime is one pistol shot away from implosion.”

In another unforeseen encounter, McMullen smugly notes that “General Sebhat, Eritrean Defense minister, chose to spend the evening celebrating Groundhog Day at the US Ambassador´s residence on President Isaias´ birthday”.

The ungratefulness and plain undiplomatic behavior of the Ambassador was once again displayed when he was quoted as saying that his hosts offered him “A sour, semi-fermented traditional drink called, aptly, ‘sewa’.”
Now, if the Ambassador had any decency at all, he would and should have done his level best to work with the people who “Had signaled interest” for betterment of relations between the country he represents and Eritrea, instead of ridiculing them by calling them “American Mafia”. This reminds me of another inept “Diplomat”, Dr. Jendayi Frazer, in her August 17, 2007 press conference, when she shamelessly questioned our “Americanism” by referring us as “Eritreans living in the United States!”

As if we needed any reminder of the injustices successive US administrations have been committing against Eritrea, Mr. McMullen finds it amusing that the US would react like it did in Afghanistan should it [and only it] decides that Eritrea is not falling into Washington´s demand! Talk about arrogance! He further appears to bask in the idea of what he termed “Implosion” developing in Eritrea for which the US would support!

With “friendship”, made in USA, who needs enemies?

And here is my favorite one. If the good Ambassador would have paid attention to Eritrea´s ways and norms instead of shuffling back and forth to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen during his stay in Eritrea, then may be, and just may be, he would have learned that “Birthday parties” are seldom celebrated by the older generation in Eritrea. In fact, it is a safe bet that President Isaias probably forgot about that particular day. So, to imply anything sinister on the part of General Sibhat by not attending the President´s birthday is imbecilic at best.

And as if to place an exclamation mark to the rudeness of Mr. McMullen, he shows his ingratitude to his benevolent hosts and in fact insults the Eritrean people by associating ´Suwa” with sewage.

That being the case, how wise is it for the Eritrean government to continually and unilaterally seek a better relationship with the government of the United States, a government which has never responded in kind except for the utterance of some rare and infrequent diplomatic niceties?

Just a thought!

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