Hank Cohen’s initiative to get Eritrea back into the fold forgets peace out in the cold

18 Dec

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory

Herman Cohen’s article, Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold, is incomplete for a peace initiative between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Just a scratch on its surface reveals that in a two part equation, he shows preference to single-mindedly see Eritrea’s problems addressed. With closer inspection, therefore, naked is its lack of thoroughness for a peace initiative, the arguments of which appear in Africa – News and Analysis of December 17, 2013.

Nobody is against peace, especially amongst brotherly peoples. Therefore, I would stress my support for genuine peace initiative between the Ethiopia and Eritrea. If it pleases Mr. Cohen, I could go a step further and state my confidence that assured peace between these two poor nations could enable them to transfer their resources to development from consumption by their respective politico-security-military gluttons.

Nevertheless, a stark deficiency in Mr. Cohen’s idea of peace initiative between Ethiopia and Eritrea is the degree of his indifference to the pathetic human conditions, which he seems to recall seeing them through distant lens. For instance, he only touches en passé the human rights records of the two regimes. For a former State Department official, from whom the world expects a lot more and better, the preponderant indifference, visible in his initiative, does not seem to give the necessary weight to the peace he wants to see between the two countries.

Might I note, thus, it cannot be lost on him that Ethiopia is a friend of the West and equally China’s. Unfortunately, none of these powers has summoned its courage to disapprove of the horrendous human rights problems and compel their end, especially the horrifying manner and heavy-handedness by which the Addis Abeba regime treats the people.

If Mr. Cohen tells the world, as does the Ethiopian regime, all those young Ethiopians are fleeing their country because of economic hardships and on a daily basis – despite the enormous risks to their lives – he would need to do a thorough re-examination of his current premise. In our history, we have seen it time and again that extreme poverty and repression are terrible mixes; they compel people into flight rejecting their home and reality, no matter what they encounter along the way to unknown destination.

Moreover, the use by Ethiopia of the machinery of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for picking up its political opponents, including bona fide refugees, from across East Africa region, has become another political anomaly of this troubled region. IGAD, a sub-regional machinery designed to serve the goals of development in seven countries [Djibouti, Eritrea (suspended), Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda], has now become an added tool for human rights violations with legalization of unlawful extraditions under Ethiopian pressure and current chairmanship, whose gavel it intends to keep ad infinitum in its hand.

Sadly, Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan have been drawn by the Addis Abeba regime’s breaches of national and international laws, politely carrying out its extradition biddings. They have been known to act at Addis Abeba’s behest in facilitating its hunt for its political enemies. Because of those actions, it is no secret that genuine refugees – even those registered with the United Nations – have been returned and some of them continue to rot in prison in Ethiopia, constantly subjected to horrifying abuses; some others have perished because of the torture, as sub-regional civil society groups report.

*Message with the same import appears as initial response to the article in Africa – News and Analysis.

2 Responses to “Hank Cohen’s initiative to get Eritrea back into the fold forgets peace out in the cold”

  1. Alem December 21, 2013 at 21:58 #

    Mr. Cohen’s proposal is no different from his proposal in London 22 years ago. His interest is, understandably, to advance American regional interest – that is, war on terrorism and access to minerals and oil. Eritrea will be the beneficiary of this new/old 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. Please check reports by Global Financial Integrity in Washington, DC [$16.5 Billions in less than a decade transferred to banks abroad by Ethiopian rulers]; that is, such an amount is in US and UK banks. It would be a scandal of scandals to unearth how and by who this is happening.

    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.

    Two months ago the ageing Tplf boss Sebhat Nega was in Washington, DC where he may have consulted with Cohen and Bereket H/Selassie. It is interesting that dictator Isaias’s statement that Eritrea needs Ethiopia to fulfill its destiny was near-identical to Bereket’s two years ago. In other words, Eritrea would like to return to becoming a coffee exporter! And the means to achieve this? Fear. Islamic extremists, of course. Exactly what the late-Meles used to milk the US taxpayer’s dollars at the same time dismantling pro-democracy grassroots civil societies. That is how one wraps the US around one’s little finger. You may go back and check for yourself: every time Obama Admin tinkered with its policy toward Ethiopia, Meles and his party reported an imminent Islamic invasion or set explosions in the capital [investigation and reporting of which is done by ruling party agents].

    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.


  2. Peter December 22, 2013 at 23:26 #

    Hank Cohen bio
    Independent Director
    Hyperdynamics Corporation Oil and Gas
    We are exploring for hydrocarbons offshore Guinea (Conakry) in West Africa
    Consultant on Africa
    We invest in power plants, both thermal and renewable, as private investments: build, own, operate. Revenues are earned from the sale of electric power under longterm power purchase agreements.

    We provide advice and assistance to US companies doing business in Africa.

    A Washington DC based consulting firm specializing in assistance to US companies doing business in Africa, and assisting African governments with their foreign relations.
    Consultant on Africa
    Assistant the company with their pending investments in iron ore production in Cameroon and Republic of Congo.
    Organized meetings between African Ministers of Finance and counterparts in donor countries in order to discuss good governance, rule of law, and other incentives to private investment.


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