Monday, January 13, 2014

Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold (Part II)

The UK-based African Arguments published on 13 January 2014 my commentary titled "Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold (But It's Harder than It Sounds)."  This is follow-on to the commentary by former assistant secretary of state Hank Cohen published by African Arguments on 16 December 2013 and carried below.  I agree with Cohen's goal of normalizing relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia, but recent history between the two countries makes it more difficult than it might appear.  As for an improvement in relations between Eritrea and the United States, this depends as much on Eritrea as it does on the United States.  


  1. Mr. Shin, you nailed the source of the problem of the two countries visa-vis USA,
    "Although the United States might decide to try again to improve relations with Eritrea, it will not do so at the expense of its ties with Ethiopia."
    What does it say about Washington maintaining cosy relationship at the expense of Eritreans. At this day and age people are well informed about the US's foreign policy in East Africa. To say the least Washington has the hot potato at his hand, Ethiopia. Washington has to decide which one to save, The TPLF regime or Ethiopia. I hope Washington do the right thing for the sake of its own interest and ought approach Eritrea with a good faith.

  2. Mr. Shin I accept you as a friend of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. You work to date is a clear statement to this effect. Just a comment.

    I believe that the Government of Ethiopia was very near to try to hand over Badme to Eritrea in 2004. It had started agitating that the war with Eritrea was not fought "for a piece of land but rather for the rule of law and nor do you accept a court ruling because you like it or it is fair and just but because it is mandatory for civilized existence, And is also possible that the international community would impose sanctions and Badme is not worth the sacrifice". With this arguments and with the promise of relocating affected population to greener pastures, the TPLF tried to convince its caders and Tigray population, especially those that would be affected by the dislocation.
    However, this effort had to be abandoned quickly, just after two meetings, due to fierce opposition from both the cadres and the local population. I believe TPLF understood that handing over Badme to Eritrea would be an act of suicide. It was not an action that could be implemented and leave TPLF/EPRDF in power. I also believe that Isayas knew this. Therefore, he kept insisting settling the issue of Badme before everything else.

    I do not think the situation has changed much after 10 years. As long as Isayas insists in Ethiopia handing over Badme before peace negotiations, there can no peace agreement. This would be acceptable to Isayas as it would let him stay in power indefinitely by keeping Eritrea mobilized. But this will most likely darken any prospect of Eritrea continuing as a nation.