Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold – By Hank Cohen

Afwerki2

Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki has stated that ‘Eritrea cannot fulfill its destiny without Ethiopia.’

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 Birrh.  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 Etritrean 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 that the country was 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.

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75 thoughts on “Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold – By Hank Cohen

  1. Pingback: Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold | TesfaNews

  2. “over the past decade thousands of young Eritrean have ‘illegally’ left their country”

    I challenge you to make a more biased statement.

    Number of Eritrean Refugees Last Year WORLDWIDE: 18,000
    “More than 1,500[18,000/year] Eritreans, including unaccompanied minors, flee the country monthly.”
    http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/eritrea
    Number of Ethiopian Refugees Last Year in YEMEN: 84,000
    “Some 84,000[7,000/month], or more than 80 per cent, of the arrivals [in Yemen] were Ethiopian nationals.”
    http://www.unhcr.org/50f5377e11.html

    Its interesting how you made no mention of the fact that 30% of Ethiopia is suffering from goitre as a result of “no peace no war.”
    Is there a reason why the fact that ’28 MILLION Ethiopians suffer from goitre’ is not important enough to mention in your article?

    “In Ethiopia, around 28 million people suffer from goitre, and more than 35 million people are at risk of iodine deficiency. More importantly, 50,000 perinatal deaths are related to iodine deficiency each year in Ethiopia.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2980888

    “But Ethiopia is landlocked and its soil is iodine-poor. The country used to get its salt from the Eritrean port of Aseb, where iodization factories added the nutrient. But since the war, most Ethiopian salt comes uniodized from the salt flats of northern Ethiopia.”
    http://www.cumberlandnewsnow.com/Living/2008-03-27/article-374203/Lack-of-iodine-from-distant-war-causes-health-problems/1

  3. Good article!

    Time for Ethiopia to step up….however they have no national interest in moving out of the disputed area unless it guarantees them cheaper access to the sea or they are forced to( i.e through US government foreign policy)

  4. Selam, Mr Cohen, good to hear from you once again. Two points:
    “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 is exactly what I, an Eritrean, would see as the best way forward. You have my vote on this one, Mr Cohen.

    “This dialogue could have the benefit of a neutral mediator, or not, depending on the wishes of the two governments”. Once Ethiopia agrees to the above proposal, I would prefer for the two countries to be left alone to work on the implementation aspects without the “help” of any mediator(s). Although the trust and relationship between the two nations has been severely damaged, I believe both are now at a point where they would be fully capable to apply mutually beneficial policies and agreements towards the development of their respective nations without undue pressure.

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  6. This is extremely good and heartening news Mr Cohen for I can not begin to describe the sense of despair and injustice which the occupation of Badme has brought upon the peoples of Eritrea. EEBC decisions must be respected and President Isaias Afewerki must be given due credit for the excellent job he has done under trying circumstances. Repeal sanctions!

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  8. It is refreshing to see an argument based on a more pragmatic approach to improving relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia — and important first step towards improved security and stability in the region. Nevertheless, it would be nice if the root of US engagement in the region did not always seem inexorably to return to combating the ‘threat’ of Islamist militancy.

  9. Pingback: Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold – By Hank Cohen - EthioExplorer.com | EthioExplorer.com

  10. Mr. Cohen seems to see the beneficiaries of his game plan to be other people than the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia. How credible can he be without mentioning the extensive human rights abuses? Is he going to sell us the idea that all the internationally acknowledged abuses and bottom rankings in almost all indices (especially for Eritrea) is due to the “No war no peace”? Is he promising the dictators will be good people and stop abusing their people once they sign an agreement. Their peace agreement or lack or it, is a minuscule issue compared to murder, kidnapping, slavery and all sorts of inhumane things happening there. But again, that is not an issue for Mr. Cohen, his clients are not those poor helpless people, he has to satisfy his paying customers. Off course, not article of Mr. Cohen will be complete without throwing the “Islamic terrorism” card.

  11. Wow! Where were you up to now? didn’t you hear Isaias declaring the border problem is no more a problem or there is no problem as such. Or is your ear infected. America should first consider the system. We are not interested on individuals or a group. If you are from the west do you want to be ruled by a totalitarian dictator? To talk and to do are different things. Now, either walk with the interest of the people or get out of their way. your comments, analysis or whatever you call it is not to the interest of the people or the youth. We want a system change. The border issue is no more a problem to Eritrea or Ethiopia. Do you listen and understand.

  12. While I agree with his conclusion, there is a factual error in Mr. Cohen’s assertion that, “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.” Because, Ethiopia’s access to the port of Djibouti is not via the “900 mile antiquated railway”. Actually, the railway has been out of service for many years now. Rather, Ethiopia’s access to Djibouti is via a road link, the same as it used to be with Assab or Massawa. Furthermore, the distance from Addis Ababa to Djibouti is no further than that of Addis Ababa to Assab (Addis Ababa to Assab is 878 Km, while Addis Ababa to the port of Djibouti is 888 Km). Therefore, for all intents and purposes, the distance to the two ports is identical. Since I do not have the actual figures, I can’t comment about whether the port fees are “excessively high” or not.

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  15. Good article, let’s first get lights in our homes and let the other side use our sea! US always will be in our pocket hope not in our blood as we do not get any food or oil from them in eritrea! After this all we will talk about humanitarian, people who wants to kill the presedent do not talk a lot, just do it people like me we will bray for piece and we will ask piece fully people to leave their chair if they have had any crime, the same way we are doing here in Toronto “ford”!

  16. You have already (rightly) mentioned that the cause of the war is when “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”. The war was for economic reason (and also ego of the then leaders) not a border war, what has changed after that which would lead to normalization?
    Now lets go to your reasoning to support bringing back Eritrea from the cold. The advantages of doing so for Ethiopia, according to ur article, are
    1. “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 ”
    -’expensive armed camps expensive armed camps’ : expensive armed camps is less expensive that the cost possible war with Eritrea once this stale mate is broken.
    -’ total stoppage of cross border trade’: well this is not a big problem from Ethiopia’s perspective. Ethiopia can better benefit by doing ‘border trade’ with bigger and economically stronger countries like Kenya, Sudan and the like.
    -’the loss to Ethiopia of Eritrea’s convenient nearby ports for Ethiopia’s exports and imports’: Actually fact on the ground is Assab port is not any closer than that of Dijibouti. The distance from Addis Ababa to Djibouti is no further than that of Addis Ababa to Assab (Addis Ababa to Assab is 878 Km, while Addis Ababa to the port of Djibouti is 888 Km [or even 771 KM using the other route]). Therefore, for all intents and purposes, the distance to the two ports is identical.

    2. “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……….port fees in Djibouti are excessively high ”
    -’Ethiopia’s only access to the ocean since the war began has been via the 900 mile antiquated’ : If u follow the Ethiopia/Eritrean case as u claim then u’d have known that the “900 mile antiquated railway” has been out of service for many years now. Rather, Ethiopia’s access to Djibouti is via a road link, the same as it used to be with Assab or Massawa. Besides there is inter regional rail project from Kenya-Djibouti-Ethiopia-South sudan (Not to mention the Somali land port that has been recently offered) which would provide Ethiopia with more port options and more viable savings.
    -’port fees in Djibouti are excessively high’: Actually the port fee’s from port Djibouti are according to agreements (international rates) and Djibouti has more than once decreased the price of using the port as per mutual agreements ’8a good will act that might not be expected of Eritrea given the current animosity)

    3-”However, as far as external support for Shabaab is concerned, all available intelligence indicates that Eritrea has not had any contact since 2009.” : I thought u were ‘close observer’ of the situation in Eritrea? how can u miss the recent report from the Eritrea Somalia monitoring group that is suffice enough to show that Eritrea’s destabilizing activities are continuing. Bu then again that the US issue to be decided ..I leave it to your policymakers

    4- ” 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 is ur most dangerous piece. You have already mentioned that 100,000 life’s are lost in the border war which makes it impossible for Ethiopians to give any piece of land that we believe is rightfully ours. Going through with ur suggestion would definitely illegitimize the Ethiopian government and create chaos which will be in nobody’s interest including the US. The only compensation that can be accepted by ordinary Ethiopians to give up Badme would be if we get Assab port which was ours in the first place .. (And I believe Mr Cohen u’ve offered to give us our port assabe[coz u know its rightfully ours] back in the London negotiation though Meles refused)

    I don’t mind in bringing Eritrea from the cold as the people who are neighborly brothers are suffering. But I strongly oppose it being suggested at the expense of Ethiopia.Eritreans should be given the space to decide their own fate, neither Ethiopians nor US involvement is appreciated in bringing them out ‘from the cold ‘.

  17. Pingback: Hank Cohen’s initiative to get Eritrea back into the fold forgets peace out in the cold | THE ETHIOPIA OBSERVATORY

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  19. Pingback: Herman Cohen Proposes new solutions to Ethio-Eritrea problem | yabedew / ያ - በደው

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  21. I just read the comment above by ‘Ethiopian’ and im quite shocked with what im reading.’1000,000 lives were lost so impossible for Ethiopia to hand over Badme’ & ‘Badme should be swapped with Eritrean port Asab’, How ridiculous is that, both are Eritrean sovereign territories. This is very revealing to me, its shows me that Eritrea was the righteous one simply defending itself from Ethiopian aggression & expansion. Yet there is no mention of this by the media except negative news.Now i understand the stance Eritrea has taken, this is injustice on the part of the western media & powers on this small proud & surprisingly strong militarily & mentally African nation. Thanks Mr Cohen for a great revealing article.Iv learnt alot about the situation.

  22. It is really sad one politician decides on the death of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. TPLF is a Terrorist organization, the al Qaida of the Horn of Africa which is a great menace not only for Ethiopia but for the Horn of Africa and the world at large. Please say no to woyane ethnic fascists, ethnic cleansing and state terrorism in Ethiopia. http://vimeo.com/18242221
    http://vimeo.com/16687994
    http://www.ecadforum.com/2012/12/19/from-ethnic-liberator-to-national-atrocities-the-tale-of-tplf
    http://www.ecadforum.com/articles/torture-and-arbitrary-detention-in-ethiopia
    http://www.ethiomedia.com/2012_report/3705.html
    http://www.celebrityworth.com/richest-politicians/presidents/meles-zenawi-net-worth

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  30. I believe that Eritrea were not one day in hostility towards America , but rather the contrary, the history of America towards the Eritrean people always hostile and negative attitude … It was the culmination of American attitudes unjust ban in 2009 without clear justification … As Mr. Cohen believes that bringing Eritrea from the cold depends on the review of the U.S. policy towards Eritrea and its people .. In the belief of America was serious about normal relations and the relations of friendship and common interests, they must respect the privacy of the Eritrean people and their leadership … According to those Eritrean privacy and respect can be constructive relations of friendship and economic and political interests shared .. Contribute to the benefit of the two peoples, Eritrean and U.S. ..

  31. I second what Salina said below! Mr. Cohen is not concerned about the poor, over abused Eritrean people. Mr. Cohen business as usual, right! Fundamental things such as human rights, democracy, rule of law, well-being of the East African region else are lip service. I believe the Isaias regime is as rogue as ever if not worse after the sanction. Making the ringleader of terrorism monitor his peers sounds like a really good plan!

    “Salina says:
    December 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Mr. Cohen seems to see the beneficiaries of his game plan to be other people than the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia. How credible can he be without mentioning the extensive human rights abuses? Is he going to sell us the idea that all the internationally acknowledged abuses and bottom rankings in almost all indices (especially for Eritrea) is due to the “No war no peace”? Is he promising the dictators will be good people and stop abusing their people once they sign an agreement. Their peace agreement or lack or it, is a minuscule issue compared to murder, kidnapping, slavery and all sorts of inhumane things happening there. But again, that is not an issue for Mr. Cohen, his clients are not those poor helpless people, he has to satisfy his paying customers. Off course, not article of Mr. Cohen will be complete without throwing the “Islamic terrorism” card.”

  32. I second what Salina said below! Mr. Cohen is not concerned about the poor, over abused Eritrean people. Mr. Cohen, this is business as usual, right! Fundamental things such as human rights, democracy, rule of law, and the well-being of the East African region are all lip service. I believe the Isaias regime is as rogue as ever if not worse after the sanction. Making the ringleader of terrorism monitor his peers sounds like a really good plan, ha!

    “Salina says:
    December 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Mr. Cohen seems to see the beneficiaries of his game plan to be other people than the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia. How credible can he be without mentioning the extensive human rights abuses? Is he going to sell us the idea that all the internationally acknowledged abuses and bottom rankings in almost all indices (especially for Eritrea) is due to the “No war no peace”? Is he promising the dictators will be good people and stop abusing their people once they sign an agreement. Their peace agreement or lack or it, is a minuscule issue compared to murder, kidnapping, slavery and all sorts of inhumane things happening there. But again, that is not an issue for Mr. Cohen, his clients are not those poor helpless people, he has to satisfy his paying customers. Off course, not article of Mr. Cohen will be complete without throwing the “Islamic terrorism” card.”

  33. I congratulate Herman Cohen for his courage and pragmatic proposal which reflects his deep understanding of the Ethio-Eritrea situation.

    No sensible Ethiopian or Eritrean would like to see the stalemate continue indefinitely… the restoration of peace and progressive democratization can be achieved better through engagement not isolation… Certainly peaceful co-existence between the two countries will also have dividends beyond Ethiopia and Eritrea…

    I hope the people in power and the Obama administration take note of your recommendation and advance this forward…

  34. The article is biased. It is meant to help Eritrea but Eritrea can only be helped by removing Issayas Afrworki. He is the problem and I wouldn’t see peace in the region while Issayas, the trouble maker, still in power. Any attempt by Hailemariam to start negotiation is going to lead handing of Badema, escalation of the conflict and may be removal of Hailemariam from power.

    So the shortest rout to peace to push Issayas out or wait till nature take care of him.

    Any attempt will only lead to resumption of war not peace. Because Issayas is a person from the Middle Ages and couldn’t possibly understand a rope to climb down from his ego.

    So the solution is to help Eritreans remove Issayad to create a doctatic and open society so that any deal can be honored. Honor is not in the dictionary of Issayas.

  35. 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.

  36. I don’t buy into what Mr. Cohen is trying to preach with this article. I have always thought our brothers in Asmara are good at winning arguments even when they don’t have the facts. Look at what happened in Algeria after the 1998 war … Ethiopia won the war with such a terrible cost; and then, quietly and disturbingly, handed over the diplomatic victory over to Asmara! Perhaps yet another case of Meles Zenawi unable to decide which side to be. So, I am not surprised now that they had Mr. Cohen speak for them as if they were the good guys in the neighborhood.

    I do want Asmara and Addis to live in peace like the same people they are … the problem is, Asmara’s very existence is predicated on exploiting Addis using access to the sea. I am sorry, but I just don’t see any other good cultural, economic, or political reason for Asmara’s existence as a nation separate and different than Addis. Without this intent to exploit Addis using access to the sea, Asmara simply doesn’t know what to do with the independence it had supposedly won. What I mean here is that the independence had never been lost. Forget what Mr. Cohen said about Asmara being a part of Ethiopia for forty years, Asmara had been Ethiopian for thousands of years! What we have here is a case of one brother trying to outsmart the another. We love our Asmara brothers, but we won’t be outsmarted.

  37. First of all great article by Mr Cohen.Secondly there isn’t no ‘winners’ in that dreadful so-called ‘border’ war as someone has commented above. It is not a game. To the contrary people who actually know exactly what happened during that war would say that Ethiopia suffered a huge defeat. They officially declared the war and had accomplished none of there goals i.e. take Asab or remove the current Eritrean regime, despite the great amount of loss of its soldiers Ethiopia gained nothing to justify that war. The reality is that there is still this mentally with some Ethiopians who see Eritrea as part of there country. This is dangerous, as history tells us the Eritreans are ruthless when it comes to there national identity and sovereignty put into question. Herman Cohen’s proposal is great for the sake of peace,to implement the EEBC’s ruling. But the sad reality is that Ethiopia has thus far refused to do so,as you can clearly see they have territorial ambitions. Despite violating the boundary commissions ruling they manage to get away with it with tacit approval of the US. But how long will this last? We shall see.

  38. You say, ..People in Asmara are ruthless when it comes to their national identity and sovereignty ..

    I am afraid you are speaking out of the same old complex we are so tired of ( I think it’s inferiority masking as superiority); the fact of the matter is that Asmara is still struggling to build a new identity, and the heart breaking result had only manifested itself as a boon to sadist human traffickers.

  39. The truth is that Ethiopians still dreaming about Eritrea should accept the glaring reality that Eritrea is an Independent nation. Like i have mentioned above Eritrea’s history speaks for itself. It defeated one of the most well armed African Armies to gain its independence, despite Ethiopia receiving huge support from two super powers the US & USSR. Not only that it co-created the current Ethiopian rulers TPLF, EPLF armed and trained them and took them to Addis in 1991 after liberating the whole of Eritrea.That is quite extraordinary to witness from an African nation, thus why i am so fascinated by this extraordinary country. The only viable peace for generations to come is Mr Cohens proposal. As regards to Eritreans leaving there country,it is natural for them to do so under the circumstance. The fact that Ethiopia is still occupying Eritreas land despite the final & binding ruling,this forces Eritrea to defend itself,this is an act of war, Eritrea should be commended for it’s stance,for not to engaging in Ethiopias hostile acts. I can guarantee to you that if Eritrea forcefully kicked out Ethiopia out of Eritreas land,which Eritrea has every right to do so, Eritrea would be portrayed as the ‘bad guy’, by Ethiopia’s backers mainly US, that is the honest truth. Finally the amount of Eritreans leaving are not as much as it is being propagated, the majority are in there country building and at the same time defending Eritrea. There are also alot of Ethiopians claiming to be Eritreans as asylum seekers,which they know is easier for them to be accepted if do say there Eritreans.

  40. I am not interested in getting into this or the other side being superior over the other; that’s what you guys are good at; this is boring to me, remember I believe we are all one people.

    Asmara won it’s so called independence when the Soviet Union suddenly withdrew its military, diplomatic, and economic support for the illiterate soldiers who, unfortunately, happened to control Addis at the time. There is nothing more to it. The U.S. wanted the communist regime in Addis to fall with its Soviet protectors, not provide it military support, get your history together.

    Now, if you want to proceed with this disastrous path, go for it. But we all know that only foreign powers who want to contain Addis will benefit as a result. However, Addis will never allow these foreign powers to dictate its destiny; and that starts by refusing to pour money over to their representatives in Asmara.

  41. Using two names ‘Alem’ & ‘Addis Alem’,want help you back your ridiculous arguments. As a Military Analyst, i would go as far as saying that it was the 1988 battle of Afabet, where the Ethiopians & there soviet generals suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of EPLF, that forced the Soviet Union to start quitting its support for that war,which ended up in theres and mengistus collapse.

  42. Mr. Cohen: I believe you are an American, or are you not? Everyone knows the government of Eritrea is bent on demonizing your country and yet in your article you argued in its favor. Come on! Be a good citizen; protect your country with a breastplate of nationalism! Stand for USA – a country that owes you a lot. Eritrea is a sworn enemy of USA and you should stop resuscitating it from its current deathbed.

  43. Pingback: Opportunity for TPLF/EPRDF to right the wrong and for Ethiopia to reclaim its legal and historic rights | Time for change

  44. Danny boy, You must not be serious when you call yourself “military analyst.” You first need to know the difference between names and the danger in making strange statements. You then need to be freed from a sub-reality you’ve created for yourself. Battle of Afabet was in late 1987 not 1988. Mengistu’s fall began when he had executed several generals and took on the leadership for which he was not the right person. Get your facts right. I congratulate you on the news that the tiny nation of Eritrea defeated Soviet superpower and Ethiopia! Hang onto that for dear life. The expert that you are go ahead and enlighten us on what happened during the 1998-2000 border clash with Tigrai.

  45. You are correct Alem, Mengistu murdered the generals, including general Fanta Belay, when they attempted to push him out to make the critical adjustments that were required at the fall of the Soviet Union, further exposing Addis for “the mythical heroic tegadelties” to walk in unmolested.

    But we understand where the brother from Asmara is coming from: Arab money won’t be enough when you set out to invent a new nation; you also need a good dose of fairy tales.

  46. You shouldn’t,try hard to cover your tracks ‘Alem’ aka ‘Addis Alem’, anyone can see right through it. Anyway that is irrelevant. No matter how hard you try,you can not rewrite history,Eritrea’s Military success is written in stone and is quitly admired by top General’s around the world. Trust me, i know,as i have had a lengthy conversation with a US General on African Military, one country specifically he had admiration for was Eritrea and so he should, give credit where its due. EPLF was a truly extraordinary organisation. Self-reliance was part of its core ideology, as it had no support from foreigners,it had to depend on itself,on its people. So your assertion of ‘Arab money’ has no bearing & is completely false, to the contrary it was Osama binladin’s ‘Arab money’ when he was in Sudan, that was financing & supporting terrorists to attack the newly independent Eritrea. But this was swiftly dealt with by the Eritrean security forces. While you are free to fantasize about Eritrea & it’s ports, but in reality there is nothing you or your country can do about Eritrea’s Independence. The only road to peace in the HOA is Mr Cohen’s proposal. Ethiopia’s territorial ambitions, will only result in the complete disintegration of Ethiopia into smaller separate states,which no one wants see. Peace is needed in Africa,especially in the HOA.

  47. No Arab money? …. Oh boy, are you delusional or what?? You must be some clueless shabia cadre accustomed to getting away with misleading illiterate tegadelties. You are not in Sawa my man.

    Now, we all know Meles Zenawi sold us out over to his old Arab benefactors; and you are right we cannot reverse this debacle so fast or so easily. But we are not totally without options either. Meles is gone now, Addis will never continue to reward Asmara’s bad behaviour consorting with Ethiopia’s historic enemies. This means Addis will never get into negotiations without first resolving the question of Asab. Let Addis get Asab back first; after that, should Asmara still prefers to go it alone, Addis can live with that. But not right now, not right now when Asmara is still holding out to make Addis pay to use a port that had always been rightfully its own.

    If Asmara is going to go it alone, then let its Arab friends pay for it, not Addis. You cannot shoot us in the leg and make us pay for the bullets. That’s not right.

  48. I have only thing to say to you, as i don’t like to waste my time on people who like to lie, and that is, if you want Eritrea’s port Asab, please feel free to go to the frontline and try take it yourself. Don’t expect others to die needlessly to steal land that don’t belong to them,that had already had happened during the 1998-2000 war, where your country men perished in there 10′s of thousands in human waves, they were mainly Amharas & oromos. The end result was no Asab,no nothing. The TPLF sent them to there certain death, history will judge them for that.

  49. Never suggested going to war; war is a hidious thing even when true enemies are fighting, we are brothers; and don’t waste your time trying to get me into who is tough and who is not; all I care about is that we can protect our collective interests when we fight together as brothers like in the old days .. remember Adwa. The civil war doesn’t tell you anything.

    I will repeat what I said: If Asmara is going to go it alone, then, let the Egyptians, who stood to reap the benefit, pay for it, not Addis.

    You see, I do believe that port exploitation is the only motivation behind Asmara elite’s decision to run towards the Egyptians, and away from Addis. There is just no other good reason.

    Why should Addis pay to sustain Egyptian conspiracy to undermine it?? It doesn’t make sense at all.

  50. Pingback: Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold (But It’s Harder than It Sounds) – By David Shinn » Ayyaantuu News Online

  51. Pingback: Eritrea: Time to Bring Eritrea in From the Cold (but It’s Harder Than It Sounds) » erigazette.org | erigazette.org

  52. Pingback: Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold (But It’s Harder than It Sounds) | Wiyiyit

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  54. Pingback: Princeton Lyman: Previous attempts to ‘bring Eritrea in from the cold’ have proved difficult, but we should still try » erigazette.org | erigazette.org

  55. There is not need for Ethiopia to have any relationship with Eritrea. We don’t need Aseb and please do not use that as an execuse. For your information, the distance to Djibouti is shorter than to Aseb by 100kms. There are many ports around Ethiopia that can server different parts of the country: Berbera, Port Sudan, Mombasa, etc. We are better of without any relationship with Eritrea. Let them keep theire country and we keep ours.

  56. Pingback: Bringing Eritrea in From the Cold: We Need to Un-Break the US-Ethiopia-Eritrea Triangle – Awet T. Weldemichael | EastAFRO.com

  57. Pingback: Bringing Eritrea in from the cold: we need to un-break the US-Ethiopia-Eritrea triangle – Awet T. Weldemichael Posted on January 17, 2014 » erigazette.org | erigazette.org

  58. Mr. Cohen,

    The two nations were not brought together through the 1952 federation! The people of the two nations share the same history and culture, to date.

  59. Pingback: Eritrea – US Relations Holds the Key to Eritrea – Ethiopia Normalisation Kidane Eyob » erigazette.org | erigazette.org

  60. Pingback: Eritrea: Bringing Eritrea in From the Cold – We Need to UN-Break the U.S.-Ethiopia-Eritrea Triangle | Wiyiyit

  61. Pingback: Eritrea: We Need to UN-Break the U.S.-Ethiopia-Eritrea Triangle | AfricaHot

  62. Pingback: Eritrea: Bringing Eritrea in From the Cold – We Need to UN-Break the U.S.-Ethiopia-Eritrea | malachiss

  63. the criminal gang of dictator iseyas keeps co-workers who systematically try to undercut democracy and free speech all over the world.

    WHAT WE CAN DO IN DIASPORA
    1. if you know a member of the criminal regime, check out where he or she works.
    especially if the employer is a public agency, inform the employer about the criminal labor of the person. same thing with people working in the education (also private) sector.
    many of them work AS “VOLUNTARY ASSISTANCE” AND BLOWBEAT new REFUGEES in diaspora!

    2. if you see a group of the CRIMINAL REGIME MEBERS RUNNING A CLUB/association (pretending it was beneficial) to collect money which at the end is fundrsing for jailing, killing, torturing eritrean people,
    stop it: anounce to your local officers, that this is not beneficial but anti-democratic, evasion of tax and criminal!
    3. if you see members of the criminal regime CHEATING REAL BENEFICIAL CLUBS /association (e.g. clubs of people who want to help people in the 3rd word), write a letter to every important instance (copy) for this club and alert them of the criminal intensions! otherwise they will steal the money which was meant for humanity issues!

    4. if a CRIMINAL MEBERS OF TH „EMBASSY“ wants you, your mother/father or whoever to pay the 2% „tax“, announce it to the police – otherwise you could even be charged for cooperating with criminals. (don’t forget the exact name of the person.)

    5. if your familymembers/friends are rushed or browbeaten to join the labor of the criminal regime in anyway – e.g. by participating in clubs, paying money – annouce it to the police. don’t forget the exact name and address of the person!

    6. if you see a high profil of the propaganda worker of the criminal regime in online comunity like forums, don’t let them speak alone: give voice to the voiceless, don’t let them distrubte their evel messages full of lies.

    7. if you see an FAMOUS PERSON working „backstage plan“ for the criminal regime, announce it to the newspaper. the readers have the right to know the truth.
    It is our judical and ethical duty to protect the democracy which protects us by prohibit the labor of iseyas and his gang in diaspora!!!

    YOU CAN DO ALL THESE ANONYMOUSLY IF YOU WANT.

    e.g. write digital letter, print it multiple and send it to several liable instances.
    Or simply write an email. check the net for adresses an contact persons. you can shortly mention why who prefer to write anonymously – don’t worry, everybody will see!

  64. We got our freedom by the many sacrifices that our people paid and we are building our country by our blood, sweat and tears. The people and the government of Eritrea together have both contributed.

    We Eritreans believe in justice and that is why we continue to contend for the land that we received from the border commission. Peace is the best option but the implementation of this demarcation should be a primary goal.

    I believe that peace between the people of both countries can be brought out of peace in this issue.

    Both of these countries can live at peace economically and politically and mutually help each other if this a primary action.

  65. Pingback: “Time to bring back Eritrea from the cold” – A reply to Ambassador Hank Cohen | Time for change

  66. Pingback: “Time to bring back Eritrea from the cold” | Ethioviews Media

  67. Pingback: “Time to bring back Eritrea from the cold” | Ethioviews Media

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  69. Pingback: “Time to bring back Eritrea from the cold” | IndepthAfrica

  70. Pingback: “Time to bring back Eritrea from the cold” – A reply to Ambassador Hank Cohen By Professor Minga Negash January 26, 2014 » erigazette.org | erigazette.org

  71. Pingback: Reports of ‘negotiations’ with Ethiopia is just a ‘hearsay’ : Isaias - EthioExplorer.com | EthioExplorer.com

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