Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold

The US should agree to abstain rather than veto a resolution to lift Sanction on Eritrea– Herman Cohen, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa

Herman Cohen, Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1989 - 93)
“A normalization of relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia following the end of UN sanctions should follow with the normalization of relations with the United States that would open the door to military-to-military cooperation of the type that would enlist Eritrea in the war against Islamic terrorism in the Horn coming from across the Red Sea.” – Herman Cohen, Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1989 – 93)

By Herman Cohen,

After being part of Ethiopia for forty years, the people of Eritrea held a referendum in April 1993 and decided to establish an independent state.  The referendum took place in the aftermath of a thirty-year insurgency against two successive Ethiopian regimes waged by the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF). At the same time, an allied insurgent group, the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), took over power in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, after the military collapse of the Soviet-supported regime headed by President Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Between 1993 and 1998, the two “brother” governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia, headed by the EPLF and TPLF, enjoyed excellent relations.  They maintained a common economic system that allowed landlocked Ethiopia full access to the Eritrean Red Sea ports of Asab and Masawa, including control of their own handling facilities for the transit of cargo.

The relationship started to cool in 1997 when the Eritreans created their own currency, the Nakfa. They did this without arranging to establish a system of daily settlements for cross border trade between their currency and the Ethiopian Birr.  This could have been done through a facility provided by the International Monetary Fund. Without such a facility in place, the Ethiopian Government announced that all cross border trade had to be settled in US Dollars.  This resulted in a financial setback for Eritrea because of its limited access to hard currencies.

In 1998, the Eritrean Government complained that Ethiopian government representatives, including police, were beginning to encroach on Eritrean territory near the border town of Badme in southwest Eritrea.  According to Eritrean sources, four of their police officers who went to Badme to investigate turned up dead.  Again, the Eritreans said that they had no choice but to retaliate with military force against the alleged Ethiopian encroachments and murder of their policemen.  The Ethiopian Government denied all of the Eritrean allegations about encroachments and the killing of Eritrean policemen, claiming that the Eritrean military attack was totally unjustified.

Instead of negotiations, the Eritrean action triggered a massive Ethiopian armed response, unleashing a major bilateral war that lasted two years, and that caused approximately 100,000 dead and wounded on both sides.

Under Algerian Government mediation, a cease-fire was accomplished in 2000. In view of the border as the ostensible main issue in contention, the Algerians established the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission (EEBC) to arbitrate the exact boundary line. While the EEBC was doing its work, the long border remained heavily armed on both sides.

The results of the EEBC arbitration upheld Eritrea’s main claims on the border delineation.  The Ethiopian Government made a public statement agreeing to the arbitration result, but insisted that it would not proceed to delineate the final border settlement until they could have bilateral discussions with Eritrea. The Government of Eritrea declared that it was open to discussions without any preconditions, but insisted that Ethiopia first had to delineate the border pursuant to the arbitration decision.  This total stalemate in the bilateral relationship has continued until the present, with both governments holding to their inflexible positions.

Because of the stalemate, the border has remained heavily armed on both sides.  This situation has caused particular hardship to Eritrea. Because of the country’s small population, young men conscripted into the armed forces to patrol the long border have had to serve for indefinite periods without knowing when they would be demobilized and returned to their families. As a result, over the past decade thousands of young Eritrean have ‘illegally’ left their country to seek asylum in the other countries, including Ethiopia, Egypt, Israel, the Emirates and southern Europe.

In addition to the expensive armed camps on both sides of the border, the situation of ‘no peace—no war’ has resulted in a total stoppage of cross border trade, and the loss to Ethiopia of Eritrea’s convenient nearby ports for Ethiopia’s exports and imports.  Ethiopia’s only access to the ocean since the war began has been via the 900 mile antiquated railway from Addis Abeba to the port of the neighboring country of Djibouti at the entrance to the Indian Ocean from the Red Sea.  In addition to the long distance between Djibouti and Addis Abeba, port fees in Djibouti are excessively high.

To make matters worse, both Ethiopia and Eritrea have become ensnarled in the chaos of Somalia since that government collapsed in 1991. The rise of the Islamist group Al Shabab, with abundant assistance from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula caused Ethiopia to send troops to Somalia at various points from 2006 to the present day. Between 2006 and 2010, the security crisis in Somalia has caused relations between Eritrea and the United States to deteriorate badly. In 2008, the George W. Bush Administration declared Eritrea to be a “state sponsor of terrorism”, thereby triggering US trade, investment, and travel sanctions against Eritrea and its leaders. The reason was the identification of Somali Islamist extremists attending a Somali political dialogue meeting in Eritrea. Indeed, this caused the US Government to become so enraged that the American Assistant Secretary of State for Africa expressed to desire to reopen the EEBC arbitration decision in order to favor the Ethiopian border claims. This request was not adopted.

The Obama administration accused the Eritrean Government of allowing the transit of arms to Al-Shabab – the reason for this  alleged support being that Eritrea wanted to help an enemy of Ethiopia, thereby putting pressure on its neighbour to implement the arbitration decision.

In 2009, Senior Eritrean officials met in Rome with the American Permanent Representative to the UN, Susan Rice, and the US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Ambassador Johnny Carson. The American delegation was apparently not satisfied with the Eritrean rebuttal of the allegations about their allowing the transit of arms to Shabab. There were also accusations of Eritrean support to insurgents opposing the Ethiopian regime from within. As a result, Ambassador Susan Rice introduced a resolution in the UN Security Council calling for sanctions against Eritrea.  The resolution, UNSC 1907, was enacted in a watered down version of the original harsh US draft, but nevertheless caused Eritrea to become something of an international pariah.  This situation continues.

However, as far as external support for Shabaab is concerned, all available intelligence indicates that Eritrea has not had any contact since 2009.  Earlier intelligence reports, denied by Eritrea as fabricated, indicated Eritrean facilitating the transfer of funds to Shabaab – nothing of that sort has been reported since 2009 by any source.  Those of us who know Eritrea well understand that the Eritrean leadership fears Islamic militancy as much as any other country in the Horn of Africa region.

In recent months, positive signals have been coming from both countries.  Eritrean President Isaias Afewerke has been quoted as saying that Eritrea cannot fulfill its destiny without Ethiopia. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, has said that he is willing to go to Eritrea to engage in dialogue.  In short, the wartime tensions of 1998-2000 no longer have a logical basis for continuing to exist. Normalization of Ethiopian-Eritrean relations promises a win-win future for both nations.

In view of the absence of any intelligence, real or fabricated, linking Eritrea with Shabaab for over four years, the UN Security Council should terminate sanctions imposed in 2009 by UNSC resolution 1907.  Since European Union governments have maintained normal relations with Eritrea since the country’s independence, one of the European members of the UN Security Council should propose a resolution to end the sanctions. The US should agree to abstain rather than veto such a resolution.

To break the stalemate between Eritrea and Ethiopia over the implementation of the EEBC boundary decision, there needs to be a mutually face-saving solution. I propose that

Ethiopia offer to accept a symbolic initial takeover by Eritrea of territory awarded by the EEBC, followed by the same day opening of dialogue with a totally open agenda. 

This dialogue could have the benefit of a neutral mediator, or not, depending on the wishes of the two governments. Here again, one of the neutral Europeans should have the ability to inspire confidence in both sides.

A normalization of relations, following the end of UN sanctions against Eritrea, would have immediate benefits for both countries. A resumption of Ethiopian use of Eritrean ports would provide economic benefits to both countries with trade resuming in both directions. Both sides would also be able to demobilise the border with important cost savings.

Both countries, of course, continue to have important human rights issues.  Normalization of bilateral relations would make it easier for the US and the international community to encourage political and governance reforms.

Finally, the normalization of relations between the United States and Eritrea would open the door to military-to-military cooperation of the type that would enlist Eritrea in the war against Islamic terrorism in the Horn coming from across the Red Sea.

Yes, the time has come to bring Eritrea in from the cold.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Herman J. ‘Hank’ Cohen is Former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –



    • Bisrat Ghirmay

      N'kid tray Deki Ere , there are more of Cohen tune to be surface, long live the formidable Eritrean people and its bold leadership of unflinching insistence of truth . Erfi tray netsne

  • daniel

    I agree with Mr Cohen with the exception where he proposes a possible dialogue by the EU in order to 'mutually face saving solution'

    1)Eritrea has nothing to 'save face' about. It was compelled to go to war in order defend its territory which has every right to do and has been vindicated in court of law.

    2) it is Ethiopian junta who has to 'save face' and come up with plausible excuses for it people why it declared and waged a destructive war, the task made even harder as it has nothing to show for its hundred of thousands dead soldiers.

    3) Ethiopian withdrawal is not subject to see access or trade but unconditional. Since when ha it become ok to compelled others to trade with you on the basis of occupation?

    So in an nutshell it is not Eritrea problem as far as Ethiopia is concerned. Leave our land without if and buts.

    • Teddy Sheda

      @daniel , Thanks for speaking whats in our hearts and minds .

      @ Gizat : i suggest you recheck your " Every Respectable international Media " this is the most ridicules phrase i ever heard. When was the last time you really saw all this words being attributed to the MSM? As for your information about who staretd the war I suggest you read the following link written by Real , Respectable Scholars who have no side or anything to gain.

      • Gizat

        Teddy Sheda
        Fair enough, Thank you for the link. It is an article in respectable journal(is this also the second most rediculeous phrase you have heard in your life?) so I will read it in my earliest convenience. But from the abstract I understood that its about the claim from the EECC was unhelpful and not in its jurisdiction(correct me if I am wrong). But that doesn't make the decision and the evidences false.
        Now be my guest and give me any independent sources that either states Ethiopia triggered the war or Bademe wasn't under peaceful administration of Ethiopia pre-May 1998. don't use propaganda sources just give me anything neutral then I will be in your side in condemning Ethiopian government for declaring a war.

        • Teddy Shead


          I suggest you read the whole article . I know it is a bout the EEBC but as a side line ( and very interestingly it states it as a sure thing , not even a matter of contention ) about the fact that Ethiopia did in fact start the aggression, not by its military mind you , but by posting a second local government using local Militia, whom were acting under the direct order of the TPLF hard cores.
          Its a know fact that the US has out right refused to comment on who actually started the aggression, except to state those careful crafted words " Eritrea did in fact use its army to respond to the minor situation created in the Bademe area" Never stating what situation or who caused the situation .
          As a conclusion please be aware that highest PR success the TPLF won was convincing the Ethiopian people that Eritrea is the aggressor.

          • Gizat1

            Teddy…I modified my username because the system deleted my comment(probably for the low rating in the previous comment)
            I read the article, its interesting one. But its purely academic work to show the technical fault in the EECC(not about the EEBC by the way). In fact He/she stated clearly "It may be that the Claims Commission’s decision on the merits was a sustainable one. It may be that Eritrea was in fact responsible for violations of Article 2(4) in 1998. But, without going into the merits of the claims in any depth, I will show that the Commission’s approach gives grounds for serious disquiet"
            So neither his intention nor the article was to show who started the war, rather to show EECC had no jurisdiction to see who started the war. whether it had jurisdiction or not, let the lawyers debate on that. But who triggered the war? even if its not paramount importance now, it helps people like Daniel to change their attitude, probably it might help the normalization process.
            You said it was weynae's PR success, ironically you are the one who is believing a state media from an opponent who claims it is a victim as the only reliable source. you are trashing all independent medias and international court decision and all evidences. in your part you haven't provided a single independent source .

          • Teddy Shead

            Gizat 1

            I am not being a blind follower if that's what you mean. Trust me after all is said and done the truth will come out . There are a lot of actual handwritten letters exchanged between PIA and the late MZ regarding the forced eviction of the local Eritrean administration and trying to put a new one that came from central Tigrai. And the weird part is even The late PM seemed worried and looked like he was trying to stop any further escalation. Although i have no evidence right now, it might be a stunt pulled by the inner hardcore TPLF crew , side steeping the PM and other moderates . Don't forget the one World War started over a simple assassination . and same case here, light a match over a minor issue , escalate it by shooting officers who came to negotiate and discuss issue . and no matter what I believe the ones who screams the loudest is usually the one trying to hid something.

          • Gizat1

            Teddy Shead
            I highly doubt Ethiopian killed negotiators(not only there is no evidence apart from Eri claim but also its such a savage act that cannot be justified ). But for the sake of argument lets say they were killed? So that gives Eritrea a right to mobilize a full scale military? Teddy so in your perspective if the Ethiopian claim "they insulted us before we killed them" that will make Eritrea the starter if the war? and how about then the if Eritreans say they gave us a cold face before we insulted them?….Teddy that is not how it work.
            In hindsight we know Eritrea had a legit claim of border. even if it was not legit you can claim. I can claim Asmara belong to Ethiopia. as long as I don't use force, I might be stupid but not illegal.
            If you are not blind follower just try to see what OAU, US-Rwanda was trying to do. They were repeatedly asking Eritrea to withdraw its forces and go through legal channels. Ethiopia at the time was so patient(the unprepared military capacity played a role here). continue……

          • Teddy Shead

            Gizat 1

            Ok, You seem to be forming an honest opinion so i will be upfront with you as well. I am well aware how misinformed most Ethiopians are of the whole situation . I will also explain to you our point of view. Also As you have said the point will be a mute one after peace.
            I know it looks like Eritrea was the stubborn and bad boy of the situation but that's because you are looking at starting from May 98. The most significant events actually began in 1997. Specifically ( my opinion ) the Publication of a Map of the Tigri region , which included a very large piece of land from Eritrea . A Mistake? No. It was done purposely and to instigate a response. The Eritrean Gov went through proper channels and never got it reversed or even removed. Although the map had largely been dispersed within the need community of Tigri people in many key positions.

          • Teddy Shead

            Gizat 1

            Even ignoring this the hardcore ones ( mostly based in Tigrai at that time ) sent a civil administration team with a militia team to forcefully evict the local administration and take over without any provocation. Another Accident ? No I don't think so . After numerous back channel negotiations and I assure you the Officers were shot , True Eritrea responded with force. I will like to remind u of a saying " Jeraff Erasu Gerfo Erasu Yechohal " .
            But never forget that Eritrea has suffered for over 30 years in non stop war and destruction , and look at the population and arms in-balance Eritrea and Ethiopia had , it is unreasonable to even think Eritrea would want war or any aggression with anyone. This does not mean we will be pushed over in any way, or that we will ever compromise our Principles in any form or shape. We have never asked for what doesn't belong to us and nor shall we ever let go anything that belongs to us. Any Peace will have to be based on this , no negotiations or any such deals unless the EEBC decision is accepted and implemented.

          • Teddy Shead

            Correction . The Saying " JErafe Rasu Gerfo Rasu yechohal " is for the Rwanda, US OAU , Ethiopia etcs loud accusations and rush to save the day.

          • Etr


            I admire your patience in trying to talk sense to this "Gizat".

            However, of I were you, I wouldn't waste my time trying to educate the uneducable. Afterall, every Eritrean, and every truth- and peace-loving Ethiopian already knows the truth and reality.

            To the rest, I'd simply say: MiHret yewridellom!

          • Gizat1

            Sorry for the typos here is the corrected version
            Teddy Shead
            My friend I would have appreciated you, if your statements were backed by neutral and independent sources. If another country incorporated your territory to its map, at least you would notify UN or other international organizations like OAU before you mobilize an army and tanks. let me move to the most important point. Normalization. If I were you I would pressure my government to a dialogue. The land is occupied anyway , So I can't see a reason not to start a dialogue. I am not sure if you are too young to remember events in 2000. Those principles you are talking about were not respected, were they? After all a politician is not a religion leader, he/she should do what is best for its citizens. thank you for the civil discussion. peace

          • Gizat2

            I see some of my comments are deleted. I always try to
            be fair in my view and avoid hate speech and the like. I am not sure how the admin saw my comment as inappropriate.
            Alright then, that will make this my last comment and visit of this page. I can't have a constructive comment while my opinion being censored. Wish you the best

          • Etr

            Gizat said, "…that will make this my last comment and visit of this page."

            THANK YOU!!

            That is by far the most sensible thing you've said on this thread!

  • Monkey

    From an American ex-official this is the best Eritrea will get. I think his article is balanced except he ignored the negative role of the US in this debacle.

  • herminator

    Herman Cohen is onto something. He is right! It is time to end the stupid sanctions. I think the West now knows that Eritrea can NOT be intimidated. It will NOT give in to threats. Glad to know the Western world has come to that realization.

    Make no mistake about it. Herm Cohen is only channeling the current thinking of the US Administration’s Africa desk. These guys generally don’t go out on a limb on their own.

    I love how he exposed Jenday Frazer and her desire to reopen the EEBC decision.

    Bravo Herm!

    • Rahwa Tesfai Ghermai

      Totally agree with everything you just said @Herminator. This

      is the best news we’ve heard from the US in a long time and the

      Jenday Frazer thing came as nothing short of a revelation to me.

      As for “saving face”, well, The Land of Punt has never known to be

      two-faced so I wonder what it is the Americans could possibly

      mean? REPEAL ILLEGaL US SANCTIONS! Awet n’Hafash!

  • Terabaribna

    There was an opinion piece written by an Eritrean awhile back that appeared on this website (tesfanews) and argued for the same thing. Here is the link below.

    • Thanks brother for reminding me. I shoul pull it to the front page for a couple of days as it can go very well along with Herman Cohen's article – the Eritrean version though.


    people please the Obama administration does not run the show, there are other bigger organizations that run the USA policy if you get my drift.

    • Dave G Meskel

      You are head on there are special interest groups running the show here: I smell oil/gas energy companies here. Don't forget these groups know more than any Eritrean about Eritreas natural resources. Mobile found gas in the red sea in 1969 and BP did exploration in the Asseb area but results not released.so go figure…>

  • Shumbash

    The idea looks plausible. A positive stark from the side of America. On the phrase "Ethiopia offer to accept a symbolic initial takeover by Eritrea of territory awarded by the EEBC, followed by the same day opening of dialogue with a totally open agenda" I do'nt agree. There must be a time lap for the demarcation to start first, becaduse Thiopia ia use to speak two different explanations for the same thing in one day

  • wahiyo

    As Monkey said this is the best you will get from any ex-official of USA. But what i wanted to correct is that Herman Cohen got one thing wrong. George W. Bush Administration never declared Eritrea to be a “state sponsor of terrorism”, Rice did state that it will be declared but never officially was declared. In fact she pushed hard for that to happen. It seems to me they were using it as stick so to speak or a threat.

    • That part is right. The motion has been dead on arrival thanks to the ENOUGH project and the late Senator Donald Payne.

    • Aba Tirreg

      I believe it was Jenday Frazer who was trying hard to list Eritrea as a "state sponsor of terrorism" before the Bush administration rejected or killed the idea. As for Susan rice, it was all about revenge for "armature diplomat" comment during US-Rwanda peace broker deal.

      • wahiyo

        Yeah you right it was Frazer. I was thinking it but got the wrong name.

  • Fenkel

    There you are again I will consider this article us formal apology from Stat department to Eritrean people .Us for the tittle of your article you are just nonsense Eritrea is stronger than you people under stand . This is defeat stat department can hardly swallow good luck the first defeat took you 30 years to take it but this time it is by far shorter than anticipated.

  • Shumbash

    This Idea looks plausible. But the phrase which states "Ethiopia offer to accept a symbolic initial takeover by Eritrea of territory awarded by the EEBC, followed by the same day opening of dialogue with a totally open agenda" should have a lap time for the dimarcation to start first. Ethiopias Government is used to give two different explanations for one thing in one day. No one should relay on them.

  • Terry

    Now is time for course correction towards Eritrea,it is not pure coincidence for a sudden fairness to tried and failed elimination policies,i would say with out imposing conditions,Eritrea is fighted terrorism more than the terrorism breeders.

    • Terry

      correction. have fought terrorism.

  • Mee

    Selamyukun u r the one who don't like peace. Shermuta!!!!

    • selamyukun

      Chill man,do no be inferior,if you intellectually challenged you can ask for help ,we are ready to educate you,your lack of critical thinking is obvious, that is the only reason you resort to insulting .

  • Dave G Meskel

    I guess my prayers will come to be answered soon and that is settle this border issue between these two brotherly people and the Economic benefit for Eritrea is enormous.
    So I was glad to hear that Sudan's Bashir is entertaining the idea of bring the two sides in one table and have a cup of coffee in Khartoum, but to hear Mr. Cohen Meles Chenawi's best friend to propose a good proposal in my opinion, is a good start and new years gift to the Eritrean people lift this fake sanctions. Deki Ere we need to swallow our pride and settle these border issue once and for all. I hope the president shows a desire to settle the border issue now, instead of leaving this mess into the shoulder of next generation Eritreans to settle, If true this will be written in the books of big things Isayas Afewerki did to his people and his own legacy on top of serving and dedicating his whole life for the betterment of the hallal meriet Eritrea. not only did he lead the revolution, he also demarcated it…wow that would be great.

    • Peace

      It is good to be optimistic but with vigilance and precaution.The border "issue" has never been a border issue and we and they all know.We know and they know the details but they are coming back simply because they exhausted all options.But ,thank God, the TRUTH and the JUstice is going to prevail
      All has to do with "their Interest" and only "their INEREST" and that is the American Policy,which is not unfair only but totally unreasonable and even destructive to their interest.Their double standard approach always back fires to them.They never won any war and they are the breeders of the International Terrorism just for their interest only..
      Back to the Eritrean issue.Remember the geo-political, economic and military advantage of Eritrea.They tried the destructive way to take advantage of it by even considering the reversal of our Independence ,if not, placing a puppet Government.All failed,hence,the only chance they have is the way they started,whcih is Good news for all of us,God willing.

      • Peace

        The recent discovery by their Econmic Intelliegnce Services about Eritrea's potential has a great role.
        Not only that, the anticipated role of China and Qatar is threatening their interest.
        Consider almost a trillion dollar worth of Potash project besides the hidden massive gas and oil reserves in N Massawa besides all the booming precious metal mining their Econmic Intelligence services are telling them.
        We just have to be prudent and vigilant.
        It looks like Eritrea may get a real and good Christmas gift soon.–Insh'Allah-God willing!
        Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

  • Helen

    Wait , normalizing a relation with Ethiopia? that means our constitution will be implemented and there will be election? so that means one person will not have unlimited power? It seems a good idea,But do you think sure the president will want that?

    • Meriet

      First thing is first, but rest assured he will be elected 10 times over.

  • massawa

    Dear Helen,
    What does he got to lose for having election. He will be the one that will be elected by landslide. So, let's not make the issue about the president like our enemies wish to be. This about the future of both countries. Hope to hear a good news soon!

  • Etr

    "Afewerki has been quoted as saying that Eritrea cannot fulfill its destiny without Ethiopia."

    Is this man making up stories, or did I miss PIA saying that?!

    • I can assure you that the guy just produced that quote from behind his ears just to make his theory palatable.

      • Etr

        That's what I thought!

        PIA is THE LAST PERSON to utter those words!!

        What amazes me is, it's been DECADES since they've been watching this man, and yet, they still haven't figured him out!

  • Teddy Sheda

    A really Surprising Article coming from Herman Cohen. Who would have thought he would havea change of heart. This NEW YEAR will Certainly bring some well deserved Good News.

    Amelak Teray Yetahweso ! .

  • ErenaBella

    The day is nearing for us to see the NEW day and sigh 'temesgen!', feel sorry for the doubters, impatient, koreyti, yet be understanding and forgiving. As for the evil, Hasadat……herirrrrr kumtrrrrr belu ms melue aKbrot 🙂

  • B.Adal

    Mr. Cohen:
    From the outset, your idea seems very clever to bring the two parties (Eritrea and Ethiopia) closer. If this idea was coming from someone with a lot of wisdom (e.g. Mandela), it will be easily acceptable, however if this is your idea or the idea of your friends in the Ethiopian/US governments, then it is hard for Eritreans to trust you or the Ethiopian/US government, based on US track history against Eritrea that started from the evil designs of 1952 under the cover of “united nations”. Your talk on “Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold” may seem more like feeling of guilt for US past crimes committed against the people of Eritrea. I am not sure if your new ideas are coming as the result of your old age or just another ploy to try what has not worked so far, i.e. defeat Eritreans. If you are sincere to resolving the issue of border between Eritrea and Ethiopia, then do the noble thing: ask your friends at the state department to force the party (Ethiopia) that has refused to implement the verdict of the EEBC that was final and binding.

  • dany

    I will pray until i see the outcome.

  • Gadura

    WOW he can't say this unless he's told say so by the White House admins,SO 2014 looks the end of our miseries,inshallah deki EREY ,wuHud aybekhenan yakil enkuaE belo.well done for our resistance .am I optimistic for saying so?!!

  • Hayet

    The world knows who wanted war for what reasons, and who said Eritreans only for Eritreans!! I do not think that Eritrea can not fulfill its goal with out Ethiopia; However, its the other way around and Samson said its other companies that can not fulfill its goal with Eritrea. As Eritreans we must be very careful of what we are wishing for and what we are aiming for.. Is it peace with the west and its pet Ethiopia,or a long dream of Eritreans that have passed away for that idea which is a very powerful country which it will not be open to colonization and tricks of another country and a country which has a stabile economy with a peace between its people WITH IN ERITREA. Something got to give!!

  • Fenkel

    "Finally, the normalization of relations between the United States and Eritrea would open the door to military-to-military cooperation of the type that would enlist Eritrea in the war against Islamic terrorism in the Horn coming from across the Red Sea.
    It is better to look else where because Eritrea isnot ready to do the derty jobb for USA..

  • Berhe

    Mr. Kohen is not speaking for himself or randomly, I believe he is to facilitate like in 1991 to what has to came. My be things r moving along behind the Curtain like one brother implied "Dave G Meskel".
    Let's hop it is all for good & the benefit of aware people inshallah . Berhe

  • journalist

    Herman Cohen is the second person to expose Jenday Frazer. Remember John Bolton also wrote about her desire to reopen the EEBC decision in his book and how he disagreed with her. She was the worst. Weyane teweshimoma nerom. It's like she was Weyane's spokesmen or something even when she talked. She always repeated Weyane's talking points.

  • rez1947

    Whether Mr. Kohen speaks for himself or not, the formula he is forwarding, in my opinion, is good and will benefit Eritrea. It’s only if the sanction is lifted, the border is demarcated, normal relation with Ethiopia is established and the country is admitted to IGAD that building a democratic society and vibrant economy in Eritrea is possible. The current situation is unsustainable as it directs our attention and our resources (both material and human) to defense rather than promoting democracy, the rule of law and building a vibrant and competitive national economy.

  • Zula

    Mr. Kohen, mambo jumbo is basically to save weyane from the burning fire it's not about Eritrea; it's about Ethiopian to save from Ginbot 7, Demit, other opposition and the general Ethiopian public. This time around the Ethiopian are very serous the US government is afraid they are going to lose one of their puppet government if they don't act quickly if weyane is gone the entire region it's going at peace once and for all no more US government meddling in the horn. If there will be peace negotiation with our government they ought to be careful we don’t want to lose Ethiopian people trust. At end Mr. Kohen should right his article let's save Ethiopia from burning fire instead of bringing Eritrea from the cold.


    To me the title of an article means everything to me, if I am going to comment on this particular article , It seems to me that Mr. Cohen is basically saying that Eritrea has been punished enough and kicked out of the so called hot or warm house of the Elites and now let us bring the bad boy Eritrea inside the warm house because the bad boy Eritrea has been punished enough for not agreeing with the Elites. As Mr. Cohen himself is a strong supporter of Ethiopia you can just look at his name and tell for starters. I have one thing to as Mr. Cohen who are you really working for Sir? And why are you basically referring to GREAT-ERITREA as if she is one of your own child? I never trusted Mr.Cohen Once again this is just my view. Thank you again Tesfanews.

  • Ahmed Musa

    For me as an Eritrean the sentence that says after being part of Ethiopian for 40 years says enough that the US government and for that matter the Ethiopians realized that Eritrea was never part of Ethiopia as a country it was a forced union of Eritrea with Ethiopia for 40 years period. Ethiopians need to stop saying we are one << we are not>> we are Eritreans and you are Ethiopians. The rest is ……

    • Challa

      Ahmed Musa, you are an Ethiopian whether you like it or not. You may deny it but your children and grand children will accept it and they will be ashamed of you for ever.

  • Tesfahiwet

    I disagree with the title as it is misleading. Eritrea is neither out nor in the cold, thanks to its people all over the world giving it the warmth and love it needs. Also, I am not sure why he chose to ignore the historical background how the US manipulated the UN to federate Eritrea and ignore the struggle for almost 30 years until the victory at Afabet in1988. For the benefit of his readers who may not be well informed about the crimes against the Eritrean people, he should have at least included a paragraph explaining how Ethiopia annexed Eritrea after 10 years of federation. Furthermore he should have the courage to call on the US government to lift the sanctions and help uphold the rule of law by implementing the EEBC verdict without delay. As far as I am concerned, this article and its content does not go all the way for a man with one foot in the grave I expect more courage and honesty without trying to please all. You can not be with both sides, you are either for the promotion of rule of law or aginst

  • rez1947

    If I am asked to choose between having democratic and economically prosperous Eritrea and supporting the Ethiopian opposition, I will surely choose the former. I also support dialogue with Ethiopia, but this should come after the demarcation of the border between the two countries is completed. I feel that the Eritrean people have sacrificed a lot in support of the Ethiopian opposition whose leaderships are enjoying themselves in Asmara. Do you remember how the leaders of the Eritrean struggle for independence were living t in trenches under the same condition of ordinary Tegadalai?

    In spite of the support it has received all these years, so far the Ethiopian opposition has not liberated an inch of a land within Ethiopia and almost all of its armed group are still living in Eritrean territory, clothed and fed by the Eritrean government. I don’t think the group is ready for the sacrifice that this kind of struggle would require which makes Eritrea’s support a futile exercise and unnecessary drain on the economy. What is ironical is that Eritrea is supporting a staunch chauvinist group like Ginbot-7 who still accuse (both verbally and in writing) the Woyan for supporting the independence of Eritrea and for making Ethiopia landlocked. Please read the book, Yenetsanet Goh Siqed by the chairman of Ginbot-7, Dr. Birhanu Nega. It’s not that difficult to imagine what challenge Eritrea will face if and when this group succeeds in reaching the pinnacle of power.

    • meriet

      Once border is demarcated our problem will be almost gone. We have to help Ethiopians oppositions with a good faith. Even we have no control what they think we shouldn't stop from cooperating with them for the betterment of future generation.

      • daniel

        I am with you rez1967. So long as they respect our sovereignty, what happens with in their border is for Ethiopians to worry. Our only concern is looking after and building Eritrea. Any country seeking bilateral relationship is welcomed other than that we are more than happy to mind our business. Mind you Eritrea never asked to involve in Ethiopian affair. She is been forced too.

  • An influential American policy review website aka “Council on Foreign Relations” today endorsed the recommendations outlined by Amba. Cohen.

    The following is what it wrote in support of the compelling case made by Ambassador Cohen for a rethink of U.S. policy on Eritrea:

    The former assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Herman J. (Hank) Cohen wrote an important article in African Arguments entitled “Time to Bring Eritrea in From the Cold.” For those involved in policy formulation and implementation in the Horn of Africa it is a “must read.”

    In a few short and lucid paragraphs Ambassador Cohen reviews the sorry history since 1997 of the tangled relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia, with the complications posed by Somalia and al-Shabaab, the jihadist organization with ties to al-Qaeda, and the U.S. response. By 2008, the administration of President George W. Bush determined that Eritrea was a “state sponsor of terrorism” and imposed sanctions. Subsequently, President Barack Obama’s administration said that Eritrea allowed arms shipments to be delivered to al-Shabaab. In 2009, the administration sponsored a UN Security Council resolution (UNSC 1907) that in effect made Eritrea the international pariah it is today.

    But, times change. Cohen recalls that “all available intelligence” indicates no Eritrean contact with al-Shabaab since 2009. Further, as Cohen points out, Eritrea is fearful of Islamic radicalism. There are signs of a warming in the relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea. This confluence provides a special opportunity for a new approach to Eritrea with positive implications for the Horn of Africa. Normal relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea would be a win-win not only for both countries economically as well as politically, but also for the Horn of Africa region.

    How to move forward? Specifically, Cohen suggests that a European member of the Security Council should propose the repeal of UNSC 1907, and the United States should agree to abstain. He also proposes a face-saving solution to the long standing border issues between Ethiopia and Eritrea, to be mediated by a neutral European nation.

    Cohen shows that the benefits for U.S. policy would be significant. Normalization of Ethiopian/Eritrean relations would open the space for the United States and others to encourage better governance in both countries, and military cooperation between the United States and Eritrea could materially assist in the struggle against jihadi terrorism in the region.

    Ambassador Cohen makes a compelling case for a rethink of U.S. policy in the Horn and he proposes a practical strategy for moving forward.

  • Etr

    This may not be a actual endorsement of Cohen's recommendations, but if that were the case, the Council on Foreign Relations is indeed VERY influential on the US foreign relations policy!

    • eri-for-ever

      Etr I agree even tho not open endorsement it look's like they are dancing around the same topic.

      • Etr

        Yes, I agree.

  • Ermias Zewoldemariam

    This article by Mr. Cohen is both good and suspiciously bad. The good parts are that the West is sending us some sort of positive messages. They want engage with us (hopefully with good intentions). Its great that they are considering lifting the unjust sanctions but the lifting of them should not be tied with with normalization of relations with Ethiopia. The sanctions should be lifted because A) they are based on fabricated stories. B) After releasing the bogus stories and then later after looking for smoking guns only to find Nothing. C) Eritrea has never supported al-shabab. The only reason they try to say we support terrorism and al-shabab is because Aweys a Somali leader(warlord,terrorist,war hero, I don’t know???) attended a peaceful conference for all Somalis in Asmara. Now to the other parts of this article that were no so positive. STALEMATE,) I’ve heard this said over and over for a longtime. We should all be honest, there is no stalemate. The proper thing to say is obstruction to international law or occupation. MUTUALLY FACE SAVING, why would Eritrea need face saving, face saving from what? The most troubling part of the article is,ETHIOPIA TO OFFER SYMBOLIC INITIAL TAKEOVER BY ERITREA OF LANDS AWARDED BY EEBC. Why would we SYMBOLICALLY INITIALLY TAKEOVER. There is nothing symbolic about returning something that belongs to us. Also why say initially, as if they are implying its not the final “takeover “. We are not waiting for offers, Ethiopia has made plenty of offers but that does not interest us. What we want is for Ethiopia to respect international laws and accept unconditionally the FINAL and BINDING rulings.

  • rez1947

    I don’t know how some are reading this, but as far as I am concerned, when one reads this message one understands that the Council is in agreement with Cohen’s position. Period. This and the recent successful UN country visit is positive development for Eritrea. Thank you TesfaNews.

    • Etr


      It was only one person's opinion on the Council's blog-site. That's different from an endorsement or a recommendation.

      We both want the same thing. But it's prudent to be cautious in one's optimism.

      • Brother Etr,

        The council's website is not a one man online magazine like TesfaNews nor does the endorsement comes from one person. Not at all. Anything that is posted there must have the consensus and collective understanding of its advisors. Posting means endorsement. Nothing in between. It's not a general news website. It is rather like one of the hundreds of American external policy advisory think tank websites.

  • Meron

    This is the result of Eritrean steadfastness. Very principled people.

    • challa

      You wish

  • daniel

    No matter how the Americans try to spin it, the bottom line is, the US conspired to subdued Eritrea through all possible means including an attempt to freeze her out from International sphere. When all that failed, now they want to bring her out from the cold? The facts are the Americans have learned the lesson that they can not bribe or arm twist Eritrea, so they are contemplating the idea of friendship rather than outright hostility.

    Full credit to the resilience of our people and steadfastness of our leadership.

  • Nine Kamels

    Interesting. Mr. Cohen and the CFR are making statements to prepare for the eventual lifting of the sanctions. The decision must have been made already.

    Also, we must remember Mr. Cohen, made somewhat similar statement a few months ago so this is nothing new, except that this time he is writing it down. Infact I remember him saying that the US has mishandled the relationship with Eritrea. He is a veteran diplomat. He understands the HOA.

    Clearly US policy is changing since the events of summer 2012. The woyane never understood the US has only permanent interests. Eritrea is becoming stronger and woyane weaker, therefore the change in policy. Probably the US does not want to wait until the fall of woyane for normalization.

    I am not bothered by the half truths in the statements of Mr. Cohen, but I am extremely wary about his desire for military cooperation. I hope we keep our distance from the Empire.

  • Alem

    Mr. Cohen’s proposal is no different from his proposal in London 22 years ago. His interest is to advance American regional interest – that is, war on terrorism and minerals and oil. Eritrea will be the beneficiary of this proposal. Ethiopian rulers are despised by the general public and they know it; they have miserably failed to raise the living standard for the majority. Much of revenue is from aid money and much of that ends lining pockets of same rulers who talk at great length about growth and transformation.

    Multiparty democracy is unthinkable the way things are. It is the one antidote to quash terrorism. Donor governments know all this and still prefer to uphold a system that is no less a police state. Cohen’s proposal should be vehemently opposed as is the silly idea of “normalizing relations.” Ethiopian opposition groups should distance themselves from Eritrean leaders. Ethiopians should distance themselves from opposition groups that nurture contacts with Eritrea. Eritrea is and will be a separate nation from Ethiopia. Isaias Afewerki knows his days are numbered. He will go to any length to extend his tenure; that fox.

    Opposition inside Ethiopia should keep mobilizing and readying the public and also not get too close to the disoriented opposition outside our homeland, especially Ginbot 7.

    With Cohen’s first shot ringing the battle now should be waged in the public policy arena. Ethiopians with the appropriate expertise and deep concern for our homeland have their work cut out for them. When it comes to Ethiopian security and economic interests one should not trust the Brits or the Americans.

    US/Britain: How about democracy-aid? Ethiopia: The last time you promised that you installed a liberation-cum-tyrannical group and look what we have – a one-party police state. US/Britain: This time it is serious. Ethiopia: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

    • Etr


      I'm not so sure even YOU believe your own statements (pulled out of thin air), let alone expect other readers to take them seriously.

      And you have the audacity to dole out recommendations?! LOL

      Neighbor, you're on the wrong website!

      • Alem

        Sorry Neighbor I did not know I was dealing with a mind reader. Could you please direct me to the right website? How about wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  • Etr

    No need to be sorry. You're not the first one to make this mistake. You could perhaps try "the spoof", "Aigaforum", "the onion",…. All fake "news" sources.

    Thanks for the well wishes! Merry Christmas to you too, but I'll wait until September to wish you a happy new year.


    • Alem

      You got me good on the New Year thing 🙂

      • gmetkel

        every body is debating about Eritrea , we eritreans we beleive eritrea is great & a land of heroes , lets come to the points , we do not have to depend such indviduals like mr herman cohen , he is retired @ this time , may be u think his suggetion could help to soluve the problem . who gave usour indepedence no body , we eritreans sacrificed , the same way lets do our part , i am not talking to those daunts , ( qbutsat ) but to those lovable . merry christmas & happy new year .

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  • Eritrawi

    who will trust a Jew (Herman Cohen)? let alone The Great Satan u.s.

  • merhaba

    Dear Herman Cohen ,and the Us state Department ,David Shinn ,Princeton Lyman .How can we believe you ?What is your hidden Agenda.in Eritrea.You ware sparkle the fire in the beginning, and Now You are ruining to bring peace .I don't know I get lost .God help Eritrea .Eritrea Doesn't want No one thak God for our government and people.We don't need hidden Agenda.

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