The Economist: Ill-Informed or Malicious?

The reports and narratives depicted by The Economist about Eritrea are deliberately misguided often times with minimal or no fact-checking.
Most reports and narratives on Eritrea are deliberately misguided. Context and critical thinking are nonexistent. Many of the stories and reports are released and published often with minimal or no fact-checking.

BY ZERAI SOLOMON

The Economist, supposedly one of the stalwarts of the British media empire, published two articles about Eritrea entitled, Inside Eritrea, Africa’s gulag state and Containing Eritrea, the North Korea of Africa, on the 28th of May 2022. The first article is purported to be written by a correspondent of The Economist who had managed to ‘slip into’ Eritrea, while the second is a lead-up article to the first.

The Economist pursues a policy of anonymity and does not publish the names of the writers of the articles as a matter of principle. A most perfunctory perusal of both articles would reveal the shockingly poor level of journalism — if one can dare even call it journalism.

It is no wonder that the contributors do not want their names associated with such a blatant piece of unbridled propaganda to absolve the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) and its handlers from all responsibility for the current state of Ethiopia, in particular the region of Tigray — a region and people that the TPLF is supposedly fighting for.

As the name of the correspondent who ‘slipped’ into Eritrea has not been revealed, it is very difficult to establish whether the person actually visited Eritrea as checks cannot be made. However, reading through the article that is supposed to be written by a person from within Eritrea, the reader cannot but notice the lack of detail.

For starters, there is no description as to how the writer got into Eritrea. There is no detail about the weather, the traffic, and essentially no description of Asmara to lead one to believe that the writer, let alone ‘slip’ into Eritrea, has ever been to Eritrea.

On the one hand, while the reader is expected to believe that Eritrean society is tightly controlled, the writer would like the reader to believe that a random person that they met in a nameless café in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, was willing to openly discuss their plans to illegally cross the border — a very dangerous thing to do if The Economist is to be believed that is.

To make it seem that the writer had contacts in Asmara, a western official who is described as being involved in the mediation between the Ethiopian Prime Minister and the TPLF (well worth noting that the Ethiopian government has denied any such talks taking place) is quoted as saying that he had consistently tried to engage with Eritrea.

In a typical fashion which is evident throughout the article, the important information of where this ‘Western Official’ is based or where the conversation with the ‘correspondent’ took place is rather conveniently omitted.

As the ‘correspondent’ has been at pains to tell us that the article is about what they learned after they ‘slipped’ into Eritrea, it would be safe to assume that this ‘Western Official’ — if indeed he exists — must be in Asmara. If this is the case, how then can he take part in meditation between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF while in Eritrea when both protagonists are in Ethiopia?

The article by ignoring the positive role that Eritrea has played in stabilizing the region, especially in the past four years, and bringing the entire region from the brink of calamitous disaster that had been planned by the TPLF and its handlers, desperately tries to pin all blame on Eritrea for the situation in Ethiopia, especially the sorry state that the Tigray region finds itself in as a consequence of the dreadful and ill-fated decision by the TPLF leaders to resort to military action in November of 2020 having had ignored all peaceful overtures by both the Eritrean and Ethiopian governments to resolve any outstanding issues.

Not once does the article touch upon the excess of the TPLF and the political (the TPLF’s decision to hold illegal elections in August\September of 2020 against the explicit instructions of the Ethiopian government in a bid to undermine the authority of the Federal government is one such example) and military blunders that it had committed which finally drove it to launch an ill-advised and barbaric attack on the Ethiopian army bases in the Tigray region in the early hours of 4th November 2020.

Though the article seeks to display Eritrea as a spoiler in the region, it conveniently ignores the TPLF’s role in bringing about misery and death to millions of Ethiopians, when edged on by its western backers it had ignored the peace initiative of the Ethiopian government in early 2021, choosing instead to destabilize the entire Horn of Africa region by launching military attacks in a futile bid to usurp power by capturing Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

It is quite clear that the primary purpose of the articles is not to give an ‘insight’ into Eritrea, but to try and rehabilitate the fortunes of the defunct TPLF by making it seem that the Ethiopian government — which has designated the TPLF as a terrorist organization — and the TPLF are engaged in talks.

The article even makes the preposterous claim that the TPLF will be forced to launch a military attack on Eritrea if Eritrea does not join these ‘talks’.

Unwittingly, The Economist has in stating that the TPLF will be forced into military action if Eritrea does not come to the negotiating table, has let the cat out of the bag and has revealed what can only be seen as the TPLF and its handler’s ultimate desire: to attack Eritrea in a bid to draw Eritrea into the crisis and give the western handlers of the TPLF an excuse to impose embargos and sanctions again on Eritrea i.e. to ‘contain’ Eritrea.

What The Economists and others like it who have taken it upon themselves to resuscitate the TPLF should realize is that they are not just fighting against Eritrea and its leadership, but against the entire people of the Horn of Africa.

It will bode well for The Economist and others if they were to listen carefully to the Ethiopian people and mark their words when they say, “The debt of gratitude that Ethiopia owes Eritrea, for standing shoulder to shoulder with Ethiopia during her darkest moment, can never be repaid.”

Furthermore, those who have an axe to grind with Eritrea should for their own benefit be aware that, like any nation in the World, Eritrea has an unalienable right to self-defense and is ready to execute this right with its full might and within the context of international law and norms.