At the present, in a time when the Eritrean Government is working hard with the International community to lift the sanctions; for the U.S. government to impose unilateral sanction on the Eritrean Navy based on baseless allegations of trading military arms with North Korea is unsubstantiated.
It goes without saying that the Eritrean government has been compelled by the present circumstances to protests against the United States.
As is well known, Eritrea has been under two illegal Sanctions, resolution 1907 and 2023, induced on the nation by the United Nations Security Council under the guidance of the United States ever since 2009 and 2011 respectively.
Security in the Horn of Africa is at a teetering point of stasis or slowly unraveling. The US-brokered Algiers Agreement ending the 1998-2000 border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia concluded in virtual demarcation instead of physical due to Ethiopia’s refusal, with US backing, to honor its treaty obligations.
In the Sudan, implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended decades of civil war between the north and south, remains incomplete; conflicts also persist unresolved in other parts of the country, most notably in Darfur.
Somalia’s struggle continues as a failed state. Complicating the region further, a border skirmish between Eritrea and Ethiopia came to life six month ago with the hopes to divert the Ethiopian population’s displeasure with their government against the good people of Eritrea.
Ethiopia is on the verge of imploding and the U.S seems to back the regime. Now, the underlying reason to take a unilateral sanction on the Eritrean Navy appears to be punishment for its refusal to endorse failed US policies in the region.
A cursory look on the Security Council’s Resolutions 1907 and 2023 shows that the sanctions package was indeed the crescendo of a series of decisions or resolutions by the UN under the umbrella of U.S. targeting Eritrea.
Notwithstanding the redundancy and repetitiveness of the content found in the cluster of resolutions, the key objective was to portray Eritrea as a rogue and recalcitrant state, deserving the ire of the world community.
For Eritreans (as well as many other regional observers), not only do the sanctions lack basis and remain counterproductive, they reveal a long-existent and glaring double standard.
Dr. Fikrejesus Amahazion on his ‘Examining International Sanctions: The Case of Eritrea‘ notes, while setting aside the considerable issue of the dubious legitimacy or basis for the original adoption of sanctions against Eritrea, it is starkly apparent that their continued imposition is essentially illegitimate.
Simply, the pretexts for them are non-existent. In a statement made at the United Nations (UN) on September 27, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Michael Keating, stated that “I have seen no evidence of Eritrea supporting Al-Shabaab.”
While indicating that the sanctions imposed on Eritrea were illegal and unjustifiable, the Government of Eritrea to this very day still abides by International Law, whilst expressing its concern and is trying to find ways to repeal the Security Council’s decision.
These and other data cited throughout history prove the United States have invented and hastily concocted story of the Eritrean Government as destabilizing the horn of Africa.
At the moment, US strategic interests in the Horn of Africa center on preventing Ethiopia from disintegrating. As such, the Horn of Africa in general and Eritrea in particular have suffered from flawed US policies for decades. Having orchestrated Ethiopia’s initial annexation of Eritrea and then backing its continued occupation politically and militarily, the US and the international community have, unfortunately, played a damaging role in Eritrea’s history. Particularly during the 30-year war for independence, the destruction experienced in Eritrea was tremendous, including human atrocities, mass displacements and economic ruin.
The effects of these experiences along with their psychological, cultural and social ramifications are still being felt today and will do so for some time to come.
With this, first, the pending unilateral sanctions being imposed by the U.S. is happening because the United States wants it to happen and that is unfortunate because Eritreans look up to Washington to exercise fairness and justice in dealing with the nations in this fragile and war-ravaged part of Africa. History, and particularly that of Eritrea and Ethiopia, has repeatedly shown that any big power policy devoid of balance, fairness and justice only leads to war and destruction which this sub-region of Africa has had too much of the last 60 years.
Second, this new unilateral sanction on Eritrea navy is only based on allegations that Eritrea has breached its sanction on arms embargo by engaging in arms sales with North Korea. This is a “calculated policy” of the United States to further tarnish Eritrea’s image in the eyes of the international community. The Eritrean Government emphatically denies these allegations.
Third, the Sanctions against Eritrean Navy, states that pursuant to the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation ACT (INKSA), that the United States has decided to impose sanctions against the Eritrean Navy.
The hypocrisy is, it is to be reported back in 2007 a US State Department spokesman acknowledged that it knew Ethiopia received a shipment of military equipment from North Korea, the “scandal” behind this story is, North Korea was added to the then ISA (Iran, Syria Non-proliferation Act) one year before, which prevent it from selling certain weapons. However, being that Ethiopia is a U.S. ally battling radical Islamic radicals in Somalia; the U.S. looked the other way.
Since the 1970s, Ethiopia has been in the company of North Korea’s most loyal military customers. Amongst other things, Pyongyang has been a source of munitions, armored personnel carriers, tanks and tank parts, artillery and rocket fuel.
In addition to these forms of assistance, North Korea has helped Ethiopia construct, operate and upgrade two weapons factory complexes—today known as the Gafat Armament Industry and Homicho Ammunition Industry. From Ethiopia’s perspective, contracting to North Korea for the initial supply of weapons production technology was a means of reducing long-term dependence on foreign military suppliers. Further reports indicate that Ethiopia is suspected of violating the arms embargo by buying ammunition from the North’s top arms dealer, Korea Mineral Trading General Corporation, or Komid.
According to a leaked Wiki-leaks document, which was classified by Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, it is Ethiopia who has a strong military relationship with North Korea, accepting military facilities in operating the Ammunitions factory found in Ethiopia. This military interdependence has two purposes; first, production of ammunitions, not only for small arms but also RPGs and BM-21 and enhancing the capability of advancing AK47 rifles.
In violation of the INKSNA, Ethiopia itself acknowledged its strategic arms supply relationship with North Korea, by which adamantly oppose the US scrutiny for not to be sanctioned by the US; as at this moment astonishingly blames Eritrea accusing it has violated the INKSNA.
This shows, to what magnitude the US led international community is willing to purse double-standard treatment for states, who decline to follow the military and political corporate agendas of the self interested powers.
Justice will hardly reign when the US, instead of being an unsullied peace broker, favors Ethiopia over Eritrea, demands subservience from Eritrea or seeks to extend its sphere of influence in the Horn region regardless of whose rights are violated or trampled.