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Arab states spent $130bn to destroy Syria, Libya, Yemen: Algerian PM

Press TV – November 12, 2017

Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia says some regional Arab states have spent $130 billion to obliterate Syria, Libya and Yemen.

Ouyahia made the remarks on Saturday at a time when much of the Middle East and North Africa is in turmoil, grappling with different crises, ranging from terrorism and insecurity to political uncertainty and foreign interference.

Algeria maintains that regional states should settle their differences through dialog and that foreign meddling is to their detriment.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy since 2011. Takfirism, which is a trademark of many terrorist groups operating in Syria, is largely influenced by Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia.

Libya has further been struggling with violence and political uncertainty since the country’s former ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed in 2011 and later killed in the wake of a US-led NATO military intervention. Daesh has been taking advantage of the chaos in Libya to increase its presence there.

Yemen has also witnessed a deadly Saudi war since March 2015 which has led to a humanitarian crisis.

Last Month, Qatar’s former deputy prime minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said the United Arab Emirates had planned a military invasion of Qatar with thousands of US-trained mercenaries.

The UAE plan for the military action was prepared before the ongoing Qatar rift, but it was never carried out as Washington did not give the green light to it, he noted.

In late April, reports said the UAE was quietly expanding its military presence into Africa and the Middle East, namely in Eritrea and Yemen.

November 12, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Eritrea “Massacre” That Never Happened

By Mela Ghebremedhin | Black Agenda Report | November 8, 2017

Mass protest. Mass rally. Indiscriminate gunshots. Mass casualties and death. These are some of the sensationalist words and phrases used to create buzz and portray events as simply black and white. They are often also used without nuance or context. Recently, Eritrea made the headlines after a group of teenagers walked down the streets of Asmara to voice their discontent at their school being closed. Shouting “Allahu Akbar”, the boys, mostly aged around 14-15, were walking from their neighborhood, Akria, towards the Ministry of Education.

Many Eritreans on the sidewalks, in shops and restaurants, and otherwise within the city center looked on in confusion, particularly with the chants of “God is Great” in Arabic. Generally, such loud, public proclamations are rare in a society long known for its sense of collective tolerance and respect. After some members of the group threw stones at several policemen, authorities dispersed the crowd and fired some shots into the sky. In total, the entire incident lasted several minutes, with no casualties or injuries.

However, almost instantly, reports of the incident were twisted, mashed, mixed and remade to provide an account that was quite far from the reality. One of the most culpable was Aljazeera. Lately, it seems that anything negative is a treasure for Aljazeera. Associated Press, reporting from Ethiopia, the BBC, and others followed not too long after. The statement by the US Embassy in Eritrea, warning its citizens from going to the city center, was also somewhat ironic considering that people in the streets of Asmara are far safer than those in the US, who must regularly confront police brutality and killings, stop and frisk campaigns, regular mass shootings, and general violence.

Ironically, as more time passed by, the more twisted the reports became. By Wednesday, the story was completely distorted. The Washington Post and its Ethiopian writer – with an extensive history of reports on Eritrea that later ended up being debunked – stated that 100 were injured and 28 killed, despite the fact that there were no casualties and no one was injured. Notably, it was overlooked that the source for the claim was the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organisation (RSADO), which is based in Ethiopia and is an internationally recognized terrorist group.

The Washington Post and its Ethiopian writer – with an extensive history of reports on Eritrea that later ended up being debunked – stated that 100 were injured and 28 killed, despite the fact that there were no casualties and no one was injured.

Expectedly, news outlets jumped on the new “fact” of multiple deaths and the story quickly began trending on Twitter. Repeated efforts at clarifying and providing an accurate account of the event were made by Eritreans, located both in the Diaspora and on the ground in Asmara, but they were largely ignored. Instead, self-titled experts on Eritrea and acknowledged regime change activists fueled the fire, and spread inaccurate, false accounts. Others would continue the lies by shifting the source of the youths’ discontent, and also claiming that the Internet, telephone lines, and power in the capital were cut – despite things proceeding as normal in the city. Soon afterwards, almost as expected, the AJStream started sending private messages to many on Twitter, inviting them on their show. Obvious, right?

It is hard to understand how, instead of pursuing the truth or trying to provide an objective, balanced account, mainstream media rejected information or views of people tweeting from on the ground in Asmara, dismissing them as “supporters of the dictatorship” or “regime sympathizers.” What mainstream media failed to understand, however, is that the great majority of Eritreans – regardless of gender, class, or faith – were disappointed and angry towards the youngsters. Eritrea is not a country divided along religious or ethnic lines.

Shortly after the brief, small incident things returned back to normal. Some men – ordinary civilians – did stay out during the night, but only to ensure that there would be no more incidents. Notably, no militia or army personnel were called in to stand guard; in Eritrea, the people themselves have a sense of ownership and civil responsibility, and the prevalent attitude was that no such incidents should happen again. Women even brought them food and drinks, and it was quite telling that both Muslims and Christians were standing together in solidarity and community, side by side. However, on the other side of the world, the media and the Internet were abuzz with fake news and false accounts.

It should be noted that, by law, Eritrea follows a secular system where religious schools and national curriculum of education are separate. The issue with the school being shut down was that some of the speeches by the staff were found to be radical and could have posed a threat to the tolerance and peace prevailing within the country. Similarly, in the past, other schools, such as Cathedrale (Catholic) and St. Mary’s (Orthodox), were also closed down illustrating that this latest closure had nothing to do with discrimination.

According to Eritrea’s National Charter of 1994, “the diverse cultures of Eritrea should be a source of power and unity. The national system should be secular, separate from religion, yet respectful of the equality of religions” (PFDJ 1994:9). This vision was enshrined during the long, bitter armed struggle where people from all layers of Eritrean society – regardless of religious background – came together to win the country’s independence.

In today’s Eritrea, implementing a secular system has helped ensure peace and tolerance in a region known more for its ethno-religious volatility, violence, and tensions. What mainstream media and individuals looking for storm and chaos in a general sea of calm totally fail to understand is that Eritreans have a long history of struggle. Eritreans paid a heavy price for independence and sovereignty, and the people condemn any signs of conflicts, violence, discrimination, or division. Thus, despite the continuous efforts to disturb this harmony, the country remains united and will continue to work toward a society based on peace, love, tolerance, and mutual respect.

Mela Ghebremedhin is a freelance journalist based in Asmara, Eritrea.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 2 Comments

UAE expands military presence in Africa, Mideast: Report

Press TV – May 1, 2017

The United Arab Emirates is quietly expanding its military presence into Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East, a US report says.

According to the Associated Press, the UAE has new overseas bases on the African continent after deploying expeditionary forces to Yemen and Afghanistan.

The UAE is taking part in a Saudi war on Yemen to restore a former government to power, which has killed about 12,000 people so far.

Yemeni sources have revealed that the United Arab Emirates is trying to establish control over the strategic island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea, which Yemen’s resigned president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi had rented out to the Persian Gulf kingdom for nearly a century.

According to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, the UAE is building an airstrip on Perim or Mayun Island, a volcanic island in Yemen that sits in a waterway between Eritrea and Djibouti in the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait.

UAE military bases in Africa

The UAE has also been building up a military presence in the Eritrean port of Assab, the US-based private intelligence firm Stratfor has said.

Satellite images show new construction at a once-deserted airfield, which Stratfor links to the UAE. It also reported development at the port and the deployment of tanks and aircraft, including warplanes, helicopters and drones.

“The scale of the undertaking suggests that the UAE military is in Eritrea for more than just a short-term logistical mission supporting operations across the Red Sea,” Stratfor said in December.

South of Eritrea, the UAE agreed with the authorities of Somalia’s breakaway northern territory of Somaliland in February to open a naval base in the port town of Berbera.

Previously, the UAE international ports operator DP World reached an agreement to manage Somaliland’s largest port nearby.

Moreover, the UAE is suspected of launching air raids in Libya and operating out of a small air base in the North African country’s east, near the Egyptian border.

The seven-state federation also deployed special forces troops in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks to support the US-led alleged war against the Taliban.

The UAE, currently, hosts Western forces, including American and French forces, at its military bases.

The UAE has seen its military grow in recent years. Back in 2011, it confirmed working with private military contractors, including a firm reportedly tied to Erik Prince, the founder of the infamous US security firm, formerly known as Blackwater, to build up its military.

The Associated Press also cited Colombia’s media reports as saying that Colombian mercenaries were serving in the UAE’s military.

In 2014, the UAE introduced compulsory military service for all Emirati males aged between 18 and 30. The training is optional for Emirati women.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War

By Eric Draitser | New Eastern Outlook | 21.11.2015

In the wake of the horrific terror attacks in Paris, world attention will once again be focused on the issue of refugees entering Europe. While much of the spotlight has been rightly pointed at Syrian refugees fleeing the western-sponsored war against the Syrian government, it must be remembered that the refugees come from a variety of countries, each of which has its own particular circumstances, with many of them having been victims of US-NATO aggression in one form or another. Syria, Afghanistan and Libya have of course been targeted by so-called ‘humanitarian wars’ and fake ‘revolutions’ which have left the countries fractured, divided, and unable to function; these countries have been transformed into failed states thanks to US-NATO policy.

What often gets lost in the discussion of refugees however is the fact that a significant proportion of those seeking sanctuary in Europe and the US are from the Horn of Africa: Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea primarily. While there is some discussion of this issue in western media, it is mostly ignored when it comes to the first three countries as news of fleeing Sudanese, Somalis, and Ethiopians does not bode well for Washington’s narrative as the US has, in one way or another, been directly involved in each of those countries.

However, in the case of Eritrea, a fiercely independent nation that refuses to bow to the diktats of the US, the country is presented as a seemingly bottomless wellspring of refugees fleeing the country. Were one to read solely the UN reports and news stories, one could be forgiven for thinking that Eritrea has been mostly depopulated as hordes of Eritrean youth flee the country in droves. But that narrative, one which is periodically reinforced by distorted coverage in the media, is quickly being eroded as increasingly the truth is coming out.

Countering the Eritrean Refugee Propaganda

The popular understanding of Eritrea in the West (to the extent that people know of the country at all) is of a nation, formerly ruled by Ethiopia, which has become the “North Korea of Africa,” a systematic violator of human rights ruled by a brutal dictatorship that uses slave labor and tortures its citizens. As such, Eritrea is immediately convicted in the court of public opinion and, therefore, becomes a convenient scapegoat when it comes to migration. In fact, it seems that the propaganda against Eritrea has been so effective, with the US and Europe so keen to take in anyone fleeing the country, that it has become the stated country of origin for thousands upon thousands of refugees from a number of countries. It seems that African refugees, regardless of their true country of origin, are all Eritreans now.

Take for instance the comments by the Austrian ambassador to Ethiopia who unabashedly explained that, “We believe that 30 to 40 percent of the Eritreans in Europe are Ethiopians.” Depending on who you ask, the numbers may actually be even higher than that. Indeed, being granted asylum in Europe is no easy feat for African refugees who, knowing the political agenda of Europe and its attempts to isolate and destabilize Eritrea through promoting the migration of its citizens, quickly lose their passports and claim to be Eritreans fleeing political persecution.

But who can blame these people when the US itself has established specific policies and programs aimed at luring Eritrean youths away from their country? As WikiLeaks revealed in a 2009 diplomatic cable from the US Embassy entitled “Promoting Educational Opportunity for Anti-Regime Eritrean Youth,” the former US ambassador to Eritrea Ronald K. McMullen noted that the US:

… intends to begin adjudicating student visa applications, regardless of whether the regime is willing to issue the applicant an Eritrean passport and exit visa …With an Eritrean passport and an F1 visa in a Form DS-232, the lucky young person is off to America. For those visa recipients who manage to leave the country and receive UNHCR refugee status, a UN-authorized travel document might allow the young person to travel to America with his or her F1 in the DS-232.…Due to the Isaias regime´s ongoing restrictions on Embassy Asmara, [the US] does not contemplate a resumption of full visa services in the near future. However, giving young Eritreans hope, the chance for an education, and the skills with which to rebuild their impoverished country in the post-Isaias period is one of the strongest signals we can send to the Eritrean people that the United States has not abandoned them…

Using the twin enticements of educational scholarships and escape from mandatory national service, the US and its European allies have attempted to lure thousands of Eritreans to the West in the hopes of destabilizing the Asmara government. As the Ambassador noted, the US intention is to usher in a “post Isaias [Afewerki, president of Eritrea] period.” In other words: regime change. And it seems that Washington and its European allies calculated that their policy of economically isolating Eritrea through sanctions has not effectively disrupted the country’s development.

And it is just such programs and guidelines which look favorably on Eritrean migrants which have motivated tens of thousands of Africans to claim that they all come from the relatively small Eritrea. The reality however is that a significant number of these refugees (perhaps even the majority) are actually from Ethiopia and other countries. As Eritrea-based journalist and East Africa expert Thomas Mountain noted in 2013:

Every year for a decade or more than a million Ethiopians, 10 million and counting, have left, or fled, their homeland… Why, why would ten million Ethiopians, one in every 8 people in the country, risking their lives in many cases, seek refuge in foreign, mostly unwelcoming, lands? The answer lies in the policies of the Ethiopian regime which have been described by UN investigators in reports long suppressed with words such as “food and medical aid blockades”, “scorched earth counterinsurgency tactics”, “mass murder” and even “genocide”… Most of the Ethiopian refugees are from the Oromo nationality, at 40 million strong half of Ethiopia, or the ethnic Somalis of the Ogaden. Both of these regions in southern Ethiopia have long been victims of some of the most inhumane, brutal treatment any peoples of the world have ever known.

There is little mention of this Ethiopian exodus which, for a variety of reasons, is suppressed in the West. Many of the refugees simply claim to be Eritrean knowing that they stand a far greater chance of being admitted into Europe or the US if they claim origin from a blacklisted country like Eritrea, rather than an ally such as Ethiopia, a country long seen as Washington’s closest partner in the region.

In fact, Ethiopia is consistently praised as an economic success story, with the World Bank having recently announced that the African nation is the world’s fastest growing economy for 2015-2017. Despite this alleged ‘economic miracle,’ Ethiopia is still hemorrhaging population as citizens flee in their thousands, providing further evidence that outside the glittering capital of Addis Ababa the country remains one of the most destitute and violent in the world.

The same can be said of South Sudan, a country created by the US and Israel primarily, and which has now descended into civil war sending more than 600,000 refugees streaming out of the newly created country, with another 1.5 million internally displaced. Somalia remains a living nightmare for the poor souls unfortunate enough to have been born in a country that is a nation-state in name only. According to the UN, Somalia boasts more than 1.1 million internally displaced refugees with nearly 1 million refugees located outside the country. Taken in total, Ethiopian, South Sudanese, and Somali refugees comprise a population greater than the entire population of Eritrea.

However, Somalia, Ethiopia, and South Sudan are all strategic allies (read clients) of the United States and its western partners; Eritrea is considered persona non grata by Washington. This fundamental fact far more than anything else accounts for the completely distorted coverage of the refugee issue in Eritrea. Put another way, refugees and human trafficking are a convenient public relations and propaganda weapon employed by the US to demonize Eritrea, and to tarnish its project of economic and political self-reliance.

Refugees as Pretext, Independence Is the Real Sin

Eritrea has been demonized by the US and the West mainly because it has refused to be subservient to the imperial system. First and foremost among Eritrea’s grave sins is its stubborn insistence on maintaining full independence and sovereignty in both political and economic spheres. This fact is perhaps best illustrated by Eritrean President Afewerki’s bold rejection of foreign aid of various sorts, stating repeatedly that Eritrea needs to “stand on its own two feet.” Afewerki’s pronouncements are in line with what pan-Africanist leaders such as Thomas Sankara, Marxists such as Walter Rodney, and many others have argued for decades: namely that, as Afewerkie put it in 2007 after rejecting a $200 million dollar “aid” package from the World Bank, “Fifty years and billions of dollars in post-colonial international aid have done little to lift Africa from chronic poverty… [African societies] are crippled societies… You can’t keep these people living on handouts because that doesn’t change their lives.”

Of course, there are also other critical political and economic reasons for Eritrea’s pariah status in the eyes of the so called “developed world,” and especially the US. Perhaps the most obvious, and most unforgivable from the perspective of Washington, is Eritrea’s stubborn refusal to have any cooperation, formal or informal, with AFRICOM or any other US military. While every other country in Africa with the exception of the equally demonized, and equally victimized, Zimbabwe has some military connections to US imperialism, Eritrea remains stubbornly defiant. I suppose Eritrea takes the notion of post-colonial independence seriously.

Is it any wonder that Afewerki and his government are demonized by the West? What is the history of US and European behavior towards independent African leaders who advocated self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist ideology? The answer is self-evident. Such ideas as those embodied by Eritrea are seen by Washington, London, and Brussels as not only defiant, but dangerous; dangerous not only because of what they say, but dangerous because they’re actually working.

Naturally there are legitimate concerns to be raised about Eritrea and major strides still to be made in the political and economic spheres. Social progress is an arduous process, especially in a part of the world where nearly every other country is racked with violence, genocide, famine, and a host of other existential crises. But the progress necessary for Eritrea will be made by and for Eritreans; it cannot and must not be imposed from without by the same forces that, in their humanitarian magnanimity, rained bombs on Libya and systematically undermined, destabilized, and/or destroyed nations in seemingly every corner of the globe.

Refugees should be treated with dignity and respect. Their suffering should never be trivialized, nor should they be scapegoated as terrorists. But equally so, their tragedies should not be allowed to be cynically exploited for political gain by the West. The flow of refugees is an outgrowth of the policies of the Empire – the same Empire that continues to transform this crisis into a potent weapon of destabilization and war.

November 21, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Eritrea, Human Rights, and Neocolonial Propaganda

By Eric Draitser | New Eastern Outlook | June 17, 2015

3423423411The East African country of Eritrea is once again being demonized internationally as a systematic violator of human rights. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has issued an allegedly damning report detailing what it claims are “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations” taking place in Eritrea. Media coverage has similarly echoed those claims, presenting Eritrea to a western audience as a backward and “brutal dictatorship,” playing on the traditional stereotypes of totalitarianism from East Germany to Stalin’s Soviet Union.

However, a closer and more critical analysis of both the report, and the true agendas of the western institutions promoting its narrative, reveals a vastly different motivation to this report and the continued anti-Eritrean narrative. It could be called politically motivated propaganda, and that would be correct. It could be called a distorted and biased perspective rooted in fundamental misunderstandings of both politics and history, and that would also be correct. It could, quite simply, be called abject neo-colonialism of the worst sort, and that too would also be correct.

For while the UN and western media portray Eritrea – a country most westerners know nothing about, if they’ve ever even heard of the country at all – as little more than a “Third World dictatorship” because of its alleged violations of human rights, they conveniently ignore the actual human rights issues that Eritrea champions, making it a leader on the African continent, and a country that in many ways should be held up as a model of human development and adherence to true human rights.

Eritrea leads the way in Africa on issues ranging from the prevention and treatment of malaria, HIV/AIDS and other preventable diseases, to access to clean drinking water, literacy promotion, and countless other issues. But none of this is deemed worthy by the UN for inclusion in a report about “human rights.”

This is of course not to suggest that Eritrea, like every other country in the so called “developing” and “developed” worlds, is without problems, as that would be simply false. Rather, it is to note that a truly objective report that actually sought a substantive analysis of human rights in Eritrea, rather than a politically motivated propaganda campaign, would have revealed a country busy transforming itself and its people, leaving behind the decades of colonial oppression and subjugation, beating an independent path for itself.

But of course, this is the gravest sin of all in the eyes of the western ruling class and the institutions it controls. Abject poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, death from preventable diseases, and many other hallmarks of African underdevelopment – these are all fine in the eyes of the West, so long as you follow their IMF, World Bank, UN rules of the game; so long as you “respect opposition,” “respect democracy,” and act “inclusively.” But, when a country chooses to create its own system, and pursue its own national development (white neocolonial opinions be damned), it is immediately cast as the great villain. So too with Eritrea.

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at the facts.

The UN Report: A Critical Look

The UN OHCHR report presents a vision of Eritrea that is, in many ways, at odds with reality. While forms of political repression and non-conformity to western conceptions of democracy are highlighted and repeated ad nauseam, other critical aspects of human rights are entirely ignored. Moreover, the UN report was limited in its scope because of lack of access to the country, thereby forcing the report to rely exclusively on the testimony of expatriate Eritreans and those with an obvious political bias and grudge against the government of Isaias Afewerki. So, far from being objective, the report is, by its very nature, a one-sided portrayal of the situation in the country. The report notes:

The commission finds that systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Government of Eritrea and that there is no accountability for them…The enjoyment of rights and freedoms are severely curtailed in an overall context of a total lack of rule of law. The commission also finds that the violations in the areas of extrajudicial executions, torture (including sexual torture), national service and forced labour may constitute crimes against humanity. The commission emphasizes that its present findings should not be interpreted as a conclusion that international crimes have not been committed in other areas.

While of course there is a shock value associated with phrases like “extrajudicial killings,” “torture,” and “crimes against humanity,” these claims need to be interrogated carefully. It is impossible to say the extent to which these claims are either wholly true, complete fabrications, or partially true embellishments concocted by expatriates with an anti-government personal and political agenda; it is not unreasonable to assume that it is a combination of all three.

However, it is useful here to ask whether countries like the United States, for instance, would also be guilty of “extrajudicial killings” and “torture” were a similar investigation conducted into the seemingly endless, dare I say systematic, police murders of American citizens, especially people of color? Or what about the now universally accepted fact – publicly acknowledged even by President Obama who blithely declared “We tortured some folks” – that the United States systematically tortured prisoners throughout the so called “War on Terror”? Or that the US continues to hold countless inmates, again disproportionately people of color, in long term solitary confinement, a common US practice decried as torture by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E Méndez of the very same OHCHR?

But of course none of these uncomfortable truths are good for the narrative of “backwards African dictatorship,” and therefore, they are not part of the story. Nor does the report define exactly what it means by “national service.” However, those with knowledge of Eritrea’s domestic policies, which is almost no one in the West, understand that “national service” especially includes national military service, a practice used by many countries, including the US darling Israel, among many others.

Of course, it would be wise to here make the distinction that, unlike the apartheid state of Israel which uses its military for the purposes of oppression and occupation, Eritrea fought a protracted and bloody war against the former colonial masters in Ethiopia, having had ongoing military conflicts with their neighbor for nearly the entire, short existence of Eritrea as an independent nation. With a relatively small population and, proportionately speaking, a long and porous border with a hostile nation with a history of subjugation of Eritreans, it is not at all unreasonable to have a robust military apparatus fueled by mandatory military service.

One should also recall the way in which such reports, and brazen distortions, have been used by the UN and the OHCHR in the recent past. In perhaps its most shameful moment in recent history, the former High Commissioner Navi Pillay was instrumental in building the justification for the disastrous, illegal, and blatantly neocolonial, imperialist war against Libya. Pillay actually took the lead in disseminating anti-Gaddafi propaganda in the first weeks of the destabilization campaign, making her the leading edge of the propaganda assault, lending her reputation and position with the UN in order to bolster the anti-Gaddafi narrative. In late February 2011, Pillay stated:

More needs to be done. I encourage all international actors to take necessary measures to stop the bloodshed… thousands may have been killed or injured over the past week… Although reports are still patchy and hard to verify, one thing is painfully clear: in brazen and continuing breach of international law, the crackdown in Libya of peaceful demonstrations is escalating alarmingly with reported mass killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of protestors… Tanks, helicopters and military aircraft have reportedly been used indiscriminately to attack the protestors… The Libyan leader must stop the violence now…  Libyan forces are firing at protestors and bystanders, sealing off neighbourhoods and shooting from rooftops. They also block ambulances so that the injured and dead are left on the streets.

The facts that have been gathered since the illegal aggression against Libya have all contradicted every assertion that Pillay and the OHCHR made in early 2011. As Dr. Alan Kuperman wrote in his report Lessons from Libya: How Not to Intervene, published by the prestigious Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University:

Contrary to Western media reports, Qaddafi did not initiate Libya’s violence by targeting peaceful protesters. The United Nations and Amnesty International have documented that in all four Libyan cities initially consumed by civil conflict in mid-February 2011—Benghazi, Al Bayda, Tripoli, and Misurata—violence was actually initiated by the protesters. The government responded to the rebels militarily but never intentionally targeted civilians or resorted to “indiscriminate” force, as Western media claimed. Early press accounts exaggerated the death toll by a factor of ten, citing “more than 2,000 deaths” in Benghazi during the initial days of the uprising, whereas Human Rights Watch (HRW) later documented only 233 deaths across all of Libya in that period.

Needless to say, the credibility of the OHCHR took a major hit in 2011 with that ghastly episode of outright lying, propaganda, and service to the foreign policy agenda of the West. So too should one be skeptical of their similar distortions on issues such as Eritrea, which in many ways are similar to Libya.

In fact, it is no coincidence that Eritrea’s closest ally in the world was Libya and Gaddafi. As the US Government-funded Center for Naval Analyses wrote in a 2010 report,

“In the 1990s, Qadhafi made numerous attempts to mediate the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict, but Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi was uninterested in separate negotiations… Qadhafi even went so far as to propose a Sahelian-Saharan peacekeeping force, to which Eritrea agreed and Ethiopia did not. Qaddafi subsequently helped finance Eritrea’s military campaign against Ethiopia.”

It seems then that, far from being a coincidence, Eritrea is, in effect, getting the Libya treatment in terms of the propaganda and distortions.

But the real question is why? Why is Eritrea so reviled by the vaunted so called “international community”?

Eritrea’s Real Sins: Independence and Human Rights

All countries demonized by the West, attacked economically and politically, have done something to earn them the ire of the so called “liberal democracies” of the developed world. Of course, it is never the seemingly innocuous pretexts that institutions such as the UN OHCHR invoke.

First and foremost among Eritrea’s grave sins is its stubborn insistence on maintaining full independence and sovereignty in both political and economic spheres. This fact is perhaps best illustrated by Eritrean President Afewerki’s bold rejection of foreign aid of various sorts, stating repeatedly that Eritrea needs to “stand on its own two feet.” Afewerki’s pronouncements are in line with what pan-Africanist radicals, Marxists such as Walter Rodney, and many others have argued for decades, namely that, as Afewerkie put it in 2007 after rejecting a $200 million dollar “aid” package from the World Bank,

“Fifty years and billions of dollars in post-colonial international aid have done little to lift Africa from chronic poverty… [African societies] are crippled societies… You can’t keep these people living on handouts because that doesn’t change their lives.”

Naturally, such a radical departure from the tried and true cycle of financial aid and debt servitude, corruption and endemic poverty, is seen as a threat by the neocolonial establishment as manifested in the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other financial institutions. But the real danger is not simply the ideology, but its success. As the LA Times noted in its profile of Eritrea in 2007:

The self-reliance program began a decade ago but accelerated sharply in 2005. Relying on its meager budget and the conscription of about 800,000 of the country’s citizens, the program so far has shown promising results. Measured on a variety of U.N. health indicators, including life expectancy, immunizations and malaria prevention, Eritrea scores as high, and often higher, than its neighbors, including Ethiopia and Kenya… It might be one of the most ambitious social and economic experiments underway in Africa.

In the eight years since 2007, Eritrea has made even greater strides, becoming the only African nation to reach its Millennium Development Goals in 2015. Eritrea now boasts a roughly 98% immunization rate, incredible reductions in malaria, diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, and other preventable diseases. Eritrea has reduced infant mortality by two thirds and maternal mortality by nearly 80% since independence. Literacy rates have increased dramatically, access to basic health care, clean drinking water, and many other essential human rights have all been greatly expanded, all while accepting no foreign aid.

Christine Umutoni, the UN Resident Coordinator in Eritrea, explained that “What we see as development partners, what is responsible for this success is community participation, the enabling environment, leadership, strong mechanisms for prevention, value for money and coordinated inter-sectoral approaches.” Umutomi also added that Eritrea has put a tremendous amount of energy into developing innovative alternatives to tackling difficult health and human issues including temporary maternal clinics and mobile medical units, as well as knowledge of migration patterns and remote areas.

In other words, Eritrea has managed to rapidly, and in earnest, embark on a process of economic and social transformation that the West is constantly advocating for African nations. However, Eritrea has done it on its own terms, without being enslaved by the financial institutions of global capitalism, and that is what makes it a target for demonization rather than praise. Why, one might ask, are the human rights of the rural poor, the unborn and infants, those living in grinding poverty, not taken into consideration in the so called OHCHR report? Are human rights only restricted to a small minority of political discontents whose grievances, even if justified, are relegated to the realm of politics and speech? This is not to diminish the importance of such issues, but rather to illustrate the sheer hypocrisy of the selective use of the term.

Of course, there are also other critical political and economic reasons for Eritrea’s pariah status in the eyes of the so called “developed world,” and especially the US. Perhaps the most obvious, and most unforgivable from the perspective of Washington, is Eritrea’s stubborn refusal to have any cooperation, formal or informal, with AFRICOM or any other US military. While every other country in Africa with the exception of the equally demonized, and equally victimized, Zimbabwe has some military connections to US imperialism, Eritrea remains stubbornly defiant. I suppose Eritrea takes the notion of post-colonial independence seriously.

Eritrea also rejects the neocolonial notion that it, and Africa broadly speaking, should be little more than a cash cow of natural resources, especially mineral resources, for the developed world to exploit. Eritrea’s President Afewerki said in a recent interview:

Your location could be a comparative advantage. If you have a long coastline, then you develop fisheries, develop your services industry – shipping, transportation – air, land. Provide industry and manufacturing… Africa can produce its own food and grow more. Why aren’t we able to do that? You have to produce something. Emphasize sustainable sectors. Agriculture is a sustainable sector. You need to put in place agriculture infrastructure. It’s a strategy commodity for communities… You need to think least on mineral resources (for economic development)… Gold glitters but it blinds people… If you forgo agriculture because you have gold, you go into a trap. If you forgo comparative advantage that you have because you have gold, then you make a big mistake… Food sovereignty and local production, local manufacturing and development are more critical than depending on resource exploitation. You must have a balance, comprehensive program that takes stock of your comparative advantages in different sectors and local needs first… Local markets are everything.

Is it any wonder that Afewerki and his government are demonized by the West? What is the history of US and European behavior towards independent African leaders who advocated self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist ideology? The answer is self-evident. Such ideas as Afewerki expressed in the interview are seen by Washington, London, and Brussels as not only defiant, but dangerous; dangerous not only because of what they say, but dangerous because they’re actually working.

You do not see Eritrea depending on US and European NGOs, nor do you see the major western financial institutions enslaving the country with the unsustainable feedback loop of debt and aid. Instead, you see a country steadily emerging from decades of war and oppression, building a society from the ground up. Certainly there are problems, and changes of various kinds will need to be made as with all systems as they mature and evolve. But this is not what the US and its allies want: they need Eritrea to be brought to heel. And this simply cannot and will not be accepted by Eritrea, no matter the sanctions, no matter the demonization, no matter the demagogy.

Neocolonialism comes in many forms: political, economic, social, cultural, philosophical, psychological, etc. It is undeniably true that Africa, and indeed most of the Global South, continues to be enslaved by the neocolonialism of the former colonial masters. It is also true that the neocolonial status quo is not to be challenged. Eritrea is one of the few countries doing precisely that. And it is for this reason, that it is demonized and vilified.

And it is for precisely this reason, that it must be defended.

June 17, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

Africa’s Cuba: Eritrea Endures 13 Years of Illegal Occupation and Sanctions

By Elias Amare | Black Agenda Report | April 15, 2015

Monday, April 13, was the 13th anniversary of the ruling of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC), and the continued illegal occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories by Ethiopia since then. Also, it’s been well over five years since the US engineered unjust sanctions at the UN Security Council against Eritrea in late 2009.

In a “Global Action Day of Resistance,” Eritreans and their friends worldwide held rallies, online petitions, cycling tours, etc., to protest these injustices against Eritrea, a country in the Horn of Africa that many progressive analysts are recognizing as the “Cuba of Africa.” In the US, Eritreans in the Bay Area, California, held a protest rally in Oakland.

In Europe, more than twenty five cyclists from ten different countries (Canada, Denmark, Eritrea, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK), starting in Goteborg, Sweden, stopping in over ten German and three Swiss cities, rode over 1700 km, highlighting along the way the truth about Eritrea and its people and how, despite repeatedly being wronged by the west, the country is forging forward and has become an oasis of peace and harmony in the Horn of Africa.

The demands of this Eritrean Global Action Day of Resistance are:

An immediate and unconditional implementation of the 13-year old, final and binding, boundary decision and an end to Ethiopia’s illegal occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories, including the town of Badme; and

An end to the illegal UN sanctions imposed on Eritrea in December 2009, which have long been proven to be based on totally fabricated and falsified “evidence” by Ethiopia and its handlers.

Ethiopia’s Occupation: a Threat to Regional Peace

The Algiers Agreement was signed in December, 2000, in Algeria by President Isaias Afwerki for Eritrea and by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for Ethiopia and witnessed and guaranteed by Secretary General Kofi Annan on behalf of the United Nations, Senator Reno Serri (EU Special envoy for the Horn of Africa) on behalf of the European Union, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on behalf of the United States, Secretary General, Salim Ahmed Salim representing the Organization for African Unity (OAU), now the African Union.

The Algiers Agreements, brokered and authored by the US State Department, called for the delimitation and demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border and that punitive actions would be taken against the party that did not abide by its treaty obligations.

The independent and neutral Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) delivered unanimously its final and binding delimitation decision on 13 April, 2002, and because of Ethiopia’s intransigence the Commission, which was ready to demarcate the border physically, was forced to publish its virtual demarcation decision on 30 November, 2007. Eritrea had fully accepted the decisions; Ethiopia, however, has rejected it calling it “totally illegal, unjust, and irresponsible” and has refused to abide by the EEBC’s demarcation directives. Ethiopia, in breach of international law and its obligations under the Algiers Agreement, continues to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories, including the town of Badme, the casus belli for the conflict. As the EEBC had stated it in its final report, “Ethiopia has so persistently maintained a position of non-compliance with its obligations in relation to the Commission.” Furthermore, Ethiopia has failed to comply with the Commission’s Order of 17 July, 2002, that required Ethiopia to “return to Ethiopian territory of those persons in Dembe Mengul who were moved from Ethiopia pursuant to an Ethiopian resettlement program since 13 April, 2002.”

UN Sanctions: a Travesty of Justice

Though the pretext for the unjust UN Security Council sanctions on Eritrea, first on December 23, 2009 (Resolution 1907) and the other one from December 5, 2011 (Resolution 2023), were to “serve” peace and security in Somalia, as the past five years have made clear, punishing innocent Eritrea based on false premises has neither brought peace to Somalia nor security to the Horn of Africa. The very forces that orchestrated lies against Eritrea are still wreaking havoc in the region. Former US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs and veteran Ambassador Herman Cohen said it well a year ago:

“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 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.”

There is no, and there has never been “intelligence, real or fabricated,” that links Eritrea to any form of extremism in the Horn of Africa other than what the Ethiopians provided the Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group. All evidence indicates that most of the fabrication against Eritrea has been generated by Ethiopian operatives at home and abroad, its highly-paid lobbyists in Washington, D.C., and other capitals, as well as the Ethiopian minority regime’s Western enablers.

As for the Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group, this is a group that has lots of problems when it comes to credibility. This is a group that cannot “execute its responsibilities and mandate with professionalism, impartiality and objectivity.” It is a Group that is influenced left and right “by political considerations outside of its mandate.”  The disgraceful exits of Dinesh Mahtani (its financial expert), in the fall of 2014, after he was caught red-handed advocating for “regime change” in Eritrea on behalf of the UN, and before that the firing of coordinator Matt Bryden for his dubious behavior as a monitor, are two latest cases that show this monitoring group has completely lost its legitimacy as an impartial UN investigative body.

In fact, the group has completely lost its credibility among many UN Security Council members, including some of its permanent members, Russia and China. In response to the Group’s 2013 report, the Russian Permanent Representative, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, dismissed it as “dishonest and politically motivated.” Besides China and Russia, the Group’s report was also dismissed by Norway, Italy, and South Africa. Even the Somali Government itself has wholesale rejected the Monitoring Group’s report.

Both UNSC Resolutions 1907 (2009) and 2023 (2011) were incubated in the U.S. and hatched in Ethiopia. US Ambassador Donald Yamamoto is quoted by one of the Wikileaked cables admitting that the US had “advised the Prime Minister and his senior leadership … any case against Eritrea should be raised by other countries. Any charges levied by Ethiopia would be viewed only in the context of their border conflict.” The 2011 sanctions were also adopted under the false accusations orchestrated by the US using Ethiopia and Kenya as actors. On the absurd accusation from Ethiopia, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia said, “the Security Council was not presented with convincing proof of Eritrea’s involvement in that incident. We have not seen the results of any investigation of that incident, if indeed there was one.” On the accusations from Kenya, the UN Monitoring group itself admitted that it “has found no evidence to substantiate allegations that Eritrea supplied Al-Shabaab with arms and ammunition by air in October and November 2011. No evidence to substantiate the allegations that one or more aircraft landed at Baidoa International Airport between 29 October and 3 November 2011, or that Eritrea supplied Al-Shabaab in Baidoa by air with arms and ammunition during the same period.”

This US-Ethiopia conspiracy against Eritrea gets as far as the US giving an approving nod to Ethiopia to employ terrorist groups against Eritrea. One of the Wikileak cables says: “Meles said one option would be to directly support opposition groups that are capable of sending ‘armed propaganda units’ into Eritrea. Meles said that the groups with the most capability to operate inside Eritrea are those ‘that you don’t like from the lowlands, like the Keru’ who he said would be ‘much better able to survive in Eritrea.’” This is a jihadist terrorist group that had murdered a Canadian geologist in cold blood in western Eritrea and is responsible for the March 20, 2015 attempt to sabotage the Canadian owned Bisha gold mine in Eritrea in the vicinity of the area the Americans and Ethiopians were talking about 5 years ago.

All these US hostilities against Eritrea stem from the fact that Eritrea has refused to be subservient to misguided US policies for the region. As Professor Richard Reid, a history professor at SOAS, University of London, put it, US policy is biased in favor of Ethiopia and against Eritrea “for all sorts of reasons” one of them being:

“Eritrea was seen as a bunker state; they were less easy to control. Ethiopia had a more reliable military perhaps. Their policy was more directable and perhaps predictable. Whereas Eritrea, from the mid 1990s, it was clearly seen as unpredictable and couldn’t be relied upon to do certain things that Washington might want to do.”

Denial of Remittance: Violation of Eritrea’s Right to Development

The much talked about 2% Rehabilitation and Development fund that Eritreans in the Diaspora pay, also had nothing to do with Somalia; it has been a target of the US from as far back as 1999 (during the Eritrea-Ethiopia border war). A leaked US diplomatic cable from Asmara makes it clear that the Americans were bent on “disrupting the hard currency supply chain” so that they can “significantly and detrimentally impact the operations of the GSE [Government of the State of Eritrea]”.

We also read in the Wikileak cables that the Americans were strategizing with the Ethiopians on this very evil scheme. As the Late Ethiopian Prime Minister said then, “Isaias’ calculations would be shattered, if the U.S. and others imposed financial sanctions on him and particularly cut off Isaias’ funding from Qatar and other countries and the important funding from the Diaspora in the U.S.” Another Ethiopian official repeats in the Wikileak cables that “cutting off the flow of money to Eritrea was essential. Particularly, remittances from the U.S. were a major source of funding for Eritrea.” The Ethiopian officials were assured by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Karl Wycoff “that the U.S. remains committed to achieving a UNSC sanctions regime against Asmara and continues to broaden the discussion beyond the P3 and Uganda with a hard push by USUN” and that “USG was also expanding efforts to undercut support for Asmara,” noting for example he had been sent on “a trip to Cairo, Riyadh, Jeddah and other cities both to promote efforts to undercut flows of support to Asmara.”

Despite all these conspiracies and hostilities, however, Eritreans believe a long-term and fruitful relationship between Eritrea and the other nations in the region is essential for maintaining peace and security, and fighting off poverty and extremism in the Horn of Africa. Therefore, Eritreans and their friends are demanding that all progressives urge members of the UN Security Council to do what is moral and ethical: to lift these unjust sanctions against Eritrea.

During the past decade and a half, the priorities of Eritrea have been to achieve food security, eradicate diseases such as malaria, decrease infant and maternal mortality rates and increase access to education to all sectors of the population. Based on its own and other independent evaluations, Eritrea has achieved modest successes in these efforts. However, Ethiopia’s continued occupation of Eritrean territories and a de facto state of war is violating Eritrean people’s right to development, dignity, security and peace. All this has been made possible because the USA and Europe are continuing to bankroll Ethiopia’s defiance and aggression.

Eritreans worldwide are therefore calling on all progressive peace- and justice-loving friends and organizations to support their demands for peace and urge their national governments to reign in the lawless minority regime in Ethiopia that continues to wreak havoc over the lives of the peoples in the Horn of Africa region in general, but the people of Eritrea in particular.

Elias Amare is a journalist/researcher and peace activist based in Asmara, Eritrea. To learn more about Eritrea’s struggle against unjust imperialist sanctions visit http://eritrean-smart.org/

April 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

Where Will the U.S. Strike Next in Africa?

 A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | August 8, 2012

Under the direction of the United States, the UN Security Council recently extended sanctions for another year against the northeast African nation of Eritrea. The country of 6 million people, nestled against the Red Sea, is on America’s hit list. In the imperial double-speak of Washington, Eritrea is described as a “destabilizing” force in the region – which simply means the government in Asmara has refused to buckle under to U.S. military domination of the Horn of Africa.

Back in 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatened to “take action” – and, by that, she meant make war – against Eritrea if it did not stop supporting the Shabab resistance fighters in Somalia. There was no evidence that Eritrea was, in fact, arming the Shabab, and there is no evidence that Eritrea is doing so, now – as the UN Monitoring Group on Eritrea and Somalia admits.

The monitors, who are, in effect, tools of U.S. policy, reported that they found “no evidence” of Eritrean aid to Somali fighters over the past year, and concluded that, if such assistance exists at all, it is “negligible.” Yet, the UN Security Council, under U.S. pressure, extended the sanctions, anyway. Washington claims that Eritrea’s alleged support for the Shabab has only halted because of the sanctions, and it’s, therefore, too early to lift them – which amounts to punishing Eritrea for having the wrong intentions, whether it acts on them or not.

It is, of course, not little Eritrea that is destabilizing the Horn of Africa, but the United States, which has made the region a front line in its so-called War on Terror. Washington’s closest ally in the neighborhood is Ethiopia, from which Eritrea won its independence in 1993, after a 30-year war. The U.S. instigated, armed, financed and gave logistical support to Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia, in 2006, plunging that country into what United Nations observers called “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.” Under American direction, Kenya also invaded Somalia, in the midst of a great famine, last year. The U.S. bankrolls, arms and trains the nominally African Union force that occupies Somalia’s capital, and has turned neighboring Djibouti into the main base for the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM.

And there sits Eritrea, surrounded by warring American puppets, interfering in no one’s affairs, yet determined to defend her sovereignty – accused by the world’s biggest and most aggressive power of destabilizing the region.

Eritrea’s real sin is to be one of the very few nations in Africa that do not have military relations with AFRICOM, the U.S. war machine. That puts a bulls-eye on her back, along with Zimbabwe and Sudan, which U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice demanded be blockaded and bombed back in the George Bush administration. Barack Obama’s Africa policy is an extension and expansion of Bush’s aim to militarize the continent, and the much older U.S. policy to create chaos and horrific human suffering in those regions it cannot directly control. In practice, Obama’s doctrine is the same as Bush’s: “You are either with us or against us.”

Eritrea rejects that doctrine; that’s why it is a target. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 1 Comment