NOVEMBER 22, 2014
“When we say our asset is our people, its value and power are not determined by what we physically possess but by the spiritual force that cannot be shattered by what our enemies can deploy in terms of the size of the army of its armaments. If there is any quantifiable measure of the distinctively Eritrean character it is reflected in our history of the struggle for national survival which the sacrifice of a whole generation has realized.” – General Sibhat Efrem
BY AMANUEL BIEDEMARIAM
During an interview, April 7/2014, RT, former US Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul said that the US imposed sanctions are an “act of war.” He states,
“If two countries get in war, one of the most important things that they do is that they put down blockade – they prevent trade so the various countries can’t get their raw products. So, in that sense, the economic sanctions is doing something that happens in wartime, and that is preventing a government from getting certain things that are needed for the war.“
The US, using Ethiopia as a client state, has been waging wars against Eritrea for decades. The aim is to kill nationalism, dissolve Eritrea, drive out Eritreans, and force them to assume Ethiopian nationality by any means to dictate regional and global terms.
Contrary to these sinister motives, however, Eritreans have changed their trajectories to favor Eritrea. Eritrea was able to unshackle Eritrea from the US and Ethiopian traps and free itself against impossible odds. That is what makes Eritrea’s independence unique.
Eritrea is the only country in Africa that earned freedom with blood after a 30-year armed struggle against the will of the US, the Soviet Union, after defeating successive Ethiopian regimes.
Furthermore, Eritrea understood, to ensure freedom, a nation must follow an independent path and emancipate based on a mindset of Self-Reliance. A country must use all challenges as a pedestal to the next step. With that as the basis, Eritrea embarked on nation building-process that prioritizes human capacity building.
The self-reliance-mindset-based progress is what successive US administrations tried to stop. The war that Ethiopia started in 1998 aimed to prevent Eritrea from seeding the foundation. However, Eritrea kept marching. They ignited a war they believed would last six months and have gone on for 17 years. In the process, Eritrea managed to peel-off-all hurdles and is seeding stronger foundations that will serve generations of Eritreans.
Militarily, what they tried to achieve failed. As a result, the US and Ethiopia put new mechanisms to isolate Eritrea and weaken her into submission. First, there was an attempt to place Eritrea on the list of nations that sponsor terror. The US Congress rejected it thanks to the hard work of Eritreans and late Congressman Donald Payne.
After the US Congress rejected the Bush administration, the US and Ethiopia pushed for UNSC Resolution 1907 (2009) sanction to weaken Eritrea economically and militarily. The sanctions are illegal for many reasons. They denied Eritrea a chance to defend itself at the UNSC. They denied President Isaias an entry visa into the US until the very last minute. By then, the decision was at hand.
Sanctions are, as Congressman Ron Paul stated, an act of war. The arms embargo that the UNSC Resolution 1907 (2009) levied aimed to tie the arms of the people of Eritrea so Ethiopia could have its way militarily.
The sanctions are a continuation of the war plan, evidence that the US agenda has not changed and that the machinations continue unabated. The resilience of the people of Eritrea and their ability to outmaneuver the US and Ethiopia overcame their traps, and to their dismay, Eritrea came out on top.
Why did the US / UN Sanctions on Eritrea Fail?
The sanctions are an integral part of the regime change agenda—the arms embargo aimed to deny Eritrea the ability to defend herself. The economic sanctions were intended to hasten hardship and arouse social upheaval. The sanctions are in their fifth year, but did they achieve what they intended?
In 2009, when the UN announced the sanction, President Isaias Afewerki made a simultaneous announcement that killed the embargo on arrival. He said Eritrea had achieved food security and has a reserve.
When a nation fails to feed its people, then that nation is prone to social upheavals. Considering where Eritrea started, achieving food security with reserve is a significant achievement. Particularly relative to the African continent dependent on handouts for survival. Food aid is a tool that the West uses to control developing nations. The sanctions failed explicitly because:
- The sanctions are supposed to create a wedge between the people and the government. However, the UN process and the unfair ways the US maneuvered the sanction incensed the people of Eritrea that protested worldwide to express their discontentment and affirmed solidarity with their government. The people and government came closer and dealt a blow to their plan.
- The illegal arms embargo aimed to deny Eritrea the ability, the inalienable right to defend herself. Did that work? The people of Eritrea are capable of defending their sovereignty no matter the circumstance or shortages. No sanction will stop them from defending Eritrea. After the imposition of the embargo, Ethiopia used force, and Eritrea repulsed many times.
- On the contrary, the minority regime is crumbling, leading Ethiopia towards instability and social unrest. Ethiopia is in no position to threaten or wage wars against Eritrea. A direct result of Eritrea’s efforts that turned the table.
- The sanction’s initial intent was to take control of Eritrea’s mining revenues. Controlling the revenue stream means governing the nation. But, where is that plan now? No sanction can deter Eritrea’s directions primarily because of how Eritrea manages its resources and the economy. It is far-sighted, with meticulous methods by placing the capacity building in the center.
- The global appetite for resources is enormous, and Eritrea possesses essential resources the world needs today, making enforcement impossible. For example, China will do all it can to have access to Eritrean potash.
- The sanctions levied on Eritrea failed because it is unjust, illegal, politically motivated, agenda-driven, and does not serve the greater good. Moreover, sanctions overall have become a tool used by the US to further its global agenda. It limits its effectiveness because it works to counter the interests of all nations except the EU.
The sanctions failed because Eritrea is willing and able to pay the price to endure. However, the regime change is their primary plan. After the 2000 ended with the Algiers Agreement, Eritrea faced an unofficial arms embargo and sanctions before the UN-sanctioned it. Had that happened to any other nation, that nation would have buckled.
Ethiopia on the South, Yemen across the Red Sea, and on the North-West by Sudan encircled Eritrea. These hostile nations made a security pact to isolate and deny Eritrea her natural trading paths. These neighboring countries placed the stringiest form of economic and arms embargo to suffocate Eritrea into submission.
However, in a short time, Eritrea brilliantly managed to break through the threats and reestablished a strategic relationship with the people of Sudan and Yemen. After hard work and strategic maneuvers, Sudan and Eritrea have opened their borders with free trade agreements. Yemen is in chaos and, Ethiopia is on the brink.
The architects: Meles Zenawi is dead; the people of Yemen ousted Ali Abdullah Saleh and ran to Saudi Arabia after demonstrators burned his face. The ICC is hunting President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan.
Eritrea was amongst the first recipients of US-engineered sanctions and machinations. These sanctions are far-sighted and part of ill-conceived agenda designed to undermine Eritrea’s sovereignty by any means. Evidence is abundant on how successive US administrations abused UN systems and regional actors to gain the upper hand on Eritrea.
However, it is nauseating to see the US and the so-called “humanitarian organizations” proclaiming Eritrea’s demise ad nauseam. They call Eritrea tiny, frail, hungry, and inferior-to-her-gigantic neighbors, etc. At the same time, they are devoting tremendous attention and resources at the highest levels to bring her to her knees.
What this shows, however, is Eritrea’s strength. Eritrea is always able to meet these challenges and complete its plans. As a result, Eritrea managed to stand up against these sophisticated US machinations and exposed them. Sanctions are a death sentence. The US reserves sanctions to powerful nations. Just three years ago, Russia was pondering whether to vote or reject Eritrean sanctions. Today Russia and Eritrea are on the same boat-both under US-engineered sanctions. However, the perseverance paid in the and sanctions or not Eritrea prevailed.
Eritrea Sanctions within the Global Context
One of the reasons the UN US sanctions are no longer effective is that it does not serve the greater good. The US is not the custodian of global interest. Sanctions are tools the US uses to further its interests at the expense of all others.
When the US and EU failed to impose sanctions on Russia through the UN, the US and EU passed their sanctions against Russia. The question is, how will these sanctions influence Russia and, what are the global implications? What does it mean to the viability of the UN?
Russia is a resources-rich, nuclear-armed powerful nation with veto power at the UN. The US and Russia have competing strategic interests. What the US does against the national interests of Russia is perceived as an act of war and part of a regime change strategy. That suggests a split at the UN and a return to the Cold War-like environment.
The US Asia Pivot also means an amped-up challenge on China and its interests worldwide in the East. While at the same time, China has expanded its economic sphere of influence using its financial upper hand around the world, especially in Africa.
The US is working with its EU allies in pursuit of these agendas. This juxtaposition has brought China and Russia closer. India, Brazil, and South Africa have found an alternative to the West that historically marginalized them and joined the BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China South Africa alliance. The BRICS are looking to expand their sphere of influence globally.
Furthermore, in the past, the UN’s workforce has focused more on humanitarian and human rights issues that the US, EU, and their agencies exploited to further their agendas. The UN failed to work on plans that foster development, partnerships, and cooperation. The UN became a tool of the West. Hence, the new multi-polar world found alternatives to the US-led UN because the UN failed to serve as a vessel for greater cooperation and international relations.
As a result, China and Russia precisely and the BRICS have become alternatives to the US and the West. The BRICS are vocal and intent to challenge the West. For example, on May 20, 2014, Russia and China released a joint statement,
“Moscow and Beijing have rejected the imposition of sanctions as political tools and condemned attempts at “encouraging and financing” regime changes in other countries.”
Sanctions are an act of war. Ethiopia’s first significant step against Eritrea was to reject Eritrea’s ports and stop all trades with Eritrea. In effect, Eritrea was under unofficial sanctions for a long time. But when that failed, they legitimized the sanctions through the UN.
The global geopolitical juxtaposition will ultimately neutralize the UN and mitigate US’s hegemonic agendas worldwide.
Eritrea, however, withstood the punishments and managed to lessen its impact because of the people’s unity, willingness, and ability to endure. Also, Eritreans have an eye for a brighter future, and based on history; they know that victory is a must. In this fight, what the people of Eritrea demonstrated to the world is they are the custodians of their future. Nothing or no one can change that.