The Makings of a Terrorist State

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In fact, Eritrea’s role as a destabilizing force in East Africa has been in play since 1991 when Eritrean President Issayas Afewerki led the country to independence from Ethiopia. Since then, Eritrea has at various times gone to war with Ethiopia, Yemen, Djibouti and Sudan, the most bloody conflict being a border war with Ethiopia between 1998 and 2000 that claimed over 80,000 lives.

So, given its past track record, it wasn’t too surprising that even prior to the release of the UN report, the Inter-Government Authority on Development (IGAD) — a six-country security and economic partnership that includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda — had called for toughened UN and African Union sanctions against Eritrea for its terrorist activities.

Ironically, however, Eritrea was once an American ally in the war on terror. In fact, Eritrea was one of the “coalition of the willing” — those nations that supported the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. That support was underscored in May 2004 by the Eritrean ambassador to the United States who said that Eritrea stood “ready to assist the United States in any way it can.”

However, by 2005 Eritrea had quickly slipped out of favor with the United States and much of the international community due to its repressive human rights abuses. So, by November 2006, Eritrean President Issayas Afewerki had reversed course and broke ties with America, claiming that the US was now “an historic enemy” of Eritrea.

At that same time, Afewerki began accelerating Eritrea’s descent into a rogue state by seeking ties with extremist groups and regimes all over the world. To that end, Afewerki began focusing Eritrea’s relations on countries like Libya, Sudan and Iran.

Most disturbing perhaps has been Eritrea’s push to become a military launch pad for Iran. Specifically, in 2008 Iranian ships and submarines reportedly deployed an undisclosed number of Iranian troops and weapons — long-range and ballistic missiles — at the Eritrean port town of Assab on the Red Sea.

The Eritrean-Iranian military agreement had been preceded by an accord between the two nations that called for Iran to “revamp, manage, and exercise complete authority” over production and maintenance of Eritrea’s oil refining facilities. As the world’s second largest importer of gasoline, Iran has been able to refine its crude oil in Assab to cover shortages it faces at home from Western sanctions on refined products.

Yet, all this nefarious activity has been unable to qualify Eritrea alongside Cuba, Syria, North Korea and Iran as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Instead, it was named by the State Department in May 2011 as a Specially Designated Country — along with Israel — for “not cooperating fully with US anti-terrorism efforts.”

So, while some in Washington may not view Eritrea as being the greatest global threat, as demonstrated in the latest UN report, it’s certainly not been for a lack of trying.

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  • john

    What a load of rubbish. You dont know anything about Eritrea. Eritrea has made excellent progress in healthcare , agriculture, fisheries, economy etc despite being held hostage and triying to be held back from positive progress by meles zenawi's leadership and possibly other groups who want african nations to be dependant on them. You cannot fool everyone and if people look closely that is the case. This country started off very successful and UN monitoring group and internatinal rule of law states that the land fought over with ethiopia in 1998 belongs to eritrea but ethiopia is not pressured, or told to leave but they wanna act like they are peacemakers and a great ally in the region without careful consideration. The have made more problems e.g, in somalia then eritrea has by invading it and creating a monster . They are known liars, cheats and professional actors who smile around but stab people in the back, they have been stealing aid money since 1985. ALl these years and they still dont buy tractors but buy tanks yet journalists like you play blind or dumb to that. In Eritrea Malaria has been reduced by over 85%, polio and other communicable diseases are non existant, child mortality rate has been reduced major etc. sea water farms, fog water projects, mining, hpspitals, healthcentres, drip irrigations, dams and many other things that have changed the life and wellbeing of many eritreans especially in the rural where no services existed. This article seems like a copy and paste from the meles zenawi puppets websites and very biased, one sided and concluded with no research what so ever. LONG LIVE THE PRICIPLED, DEDICATED, HARDWORKING and BEAUTIFUL ERITREA/ERITREANS!!!! role models to many african countries.

    • Flipside

      I really enjoyed this rebuttal.

    • eritrean

      hey this bloger is paid to post this lies in his blog I bet.

    • The Truth

      Great response…whoever wrote this article is nothing but a professional propagandist…as many western journalist are reduced-to today. Journalism is dead…and Frank and his likes are the ones who killed it.

      • Truthful Eritrean

        Why don't you let Dawit Issac be the judge of that? He's the Swedish-Eritrean journalist who's been languishing in your gulags for years, in case you've forgotten.
        See how the criminal regime treats the prisoners:

    • Tony

      Ethiopia should oust Meles from power, invade the Tigray part of Ethiopia (Eritrea) and create a greater Ethiopia! Eritrea cannot claim that it is a country just like the IRA cannot claim that it is not a terrorist group. So to HELL with Eritrea and its pathetic people who claim that they are Ethiopian whenever they get into trouble.

  • Truthful Eritrean


    Don't be surprised if you read many more critical comments for your objective expose of the totalitarian dictatorship of Eritrea. Like all totalitarian dictatorships before him, the Eritrean tyrant has thousands of gullible cult worshippers in the diaspora who will defend his brutal regime while enjoying the freedom of democracy in thier adopted, Western countries. And, like all cult worshippers, they have to be de-programmed from years of indoctrination by the criminal regime in Eritrea. The only way to do that is to keep publishing objective articles like this in the hope that it might help them see the real nature of the regime they believe in. continue…

    • Flipside

      I doubt you are Eritrean. The purpose of this article and your defense of it are that Israel was using Ethiopia as a buffer against Islamic Africa and retain access to the Red Sea. Israel tried to block Eritrea in the war for independence. Eritrean liberation movements then, if course aligned against Mossad. Now this Hasbara is trying to convince the American public that Eritrea is evil.

      • MixMChess

        What? Israel never tried to Block Eritrea's independence and they established relations immediately after Eritrea's independence in 1993. Relations between the two countries are close despite Israel's ties with Ethiopia. Seriously get a life and stop obsessing over Jews and Israel

        • Flipside

          Incorrect. In the 1960s, Israel provided military assistance to Ethiopia to prevent the independence of Eritrea during the reign of Selassie to gain recognition as a state, and again under Mengistu up through Operation Solomon, specifically airlifting out the Beta Israel because of the political upset on behalf of the Eritreans. Sorry, dude. Facts of history. Israel wanted access to Eritrean seaports and waterways and sought to get them through Ethiopia. Israel wanted to keep Arab nationalists out of the Red Sea countries.

      • Truthful Eritrean

        Why do you thinl I'm not Eritrean? Do I have to tow the party line to be Eritrean. Some of us still have a mind of our own and can objectively look at the present situation from different and informed perspective. Your injection of unrelated issues to the discussion proves you are ill-informed.

        • Flipside

          Because you are Defense Intelligence Agency BS.

          • Truthful Eritrean

            I'm flattered. I'd be honored to serve this sweet Land of Liberty in that capacity. Secondly, the two (being Eritrean national and DIA) are not necessarily mutually exclusive. lol

  • Truthful Eritrean

    …The truth of the matter is that this regime is the worst regime the Eritrean people have ever encountered. The brutality towards its own citizens makes the likes of Menghistu Hailemariam (former Ethiopian dictator) look like choir-boys. It is a regime that incarcerates, tortures, and kills thousands without due process of law. Not even a single independent newspaper is published in that contry. All journalsts have either been arrested, fled the country, or died in torture chambers. Even the the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church is in house-arrest since 2007. The list is endless.

    Let's hope this regime is brought down soon and the people are free from oppression.

  • John

    Is this guy even serious? Iranian troops inside Eritrea? How much are you getting paid to demonize Eritrea? This is insane the hog-wash you are spewing.

    “If there is one country where the fighting of extremists and terrorists was a priority when it mattered, it was Eritrea,” said Ted Dagne, an Africa specialist for the Congressional Research Service. – By Jeffery Gentlemen, Sep 18, 2007, New York Times

    • Mike

      Please dude, Ted Dagne is another worshipper of the criminal dictator of Eritrea. I wouldn't be surprised if he is consulting them and giving them informations they shouldn't have. Look at the video taken in Juba last month and see Ted standing next to the regimes political advisor and getting a hug from the dictator himself about 00:01:40:
      He should be investigated about his connection with these thugs.

  • Tekle

    If life inside Eritrea was so progressive, why are tens of thousands of its citizens risking their lives to leave every year?

    • john

      If nigeria has so much wealth and minerals and economy etc why do so many people leave?? Why do so many people leave Ethiopia to europe middleast etc?? Why so many ghanians leaving too? Many African countries hve that problem and i dont think any is immune. Its sometimes personal choice and sometimes tricks and human trafficking as well as making people believe that all is easy in Europe when Europeans are saying enough is enough and no more jobs, hard economic times etc even for their own people. Dont go on as if Its only Eritreans leaving. Some want to support their families from abroad and find its not like they hoped for. Stop distorting facts with your bs. At the end of the day Eritrea has laid the concrete foundations in health, agriculture, education, mining, energy (windmills, solars), fisheries, tourism, jettys, factories, etc and now want to develop full on more infrastructure. These are very important steps and can be developed more if peace in the region is brokered. Ethiopia need to leave our occupied territory. We hav done this through many of our self reliant policies and good partnership too that doesnt just eat our country away like witnessed in Ethiopia where they lease and sell land the size of uk to indians so they grow food in the fertile Ethiopian land and ship to their countries but Ethiopians get USAID. We dont want these kind of things. We dont want constant aid and not change anything for our people, we believe in working hard and moving on in a peaceful path.

  • berahn

    Tekle, don't be moron. Let the US or other western countries give a chnce for Ethiopians restlement programs, that was the experiance we witnessed in the 80's millions have left Ethiopia. Don't fool yourself.

    If you are a teenager now check back history.

  • Asdf

    Pure on pure propaganda. Please list your sources of the allegations you made or any evidence whatsoever to back up your accusations.

    Eritrea is a rogue state simply because the US likes to have the world in it's pocket and when a country isn't as willing it would do whatever it can to destabilize it.