Date: Wednesday, 25 April 2018
April 25, 2018
Rome,(askanews) – The first “over a decade” visit by an American Deputy Secretary of State in Eritrea is “an encouraging sign that the US government intends to play its part to normalize relations” after years of isolation policy towards of Asmara. A normalization of bilateral relations that could favor a “resolution to the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia”, whose border is still militarized 18 years after the end of the war of 1998-2000, as well as an “improvement of the human rights situation in Eritrea” , denounced several times by the UN and by humanitarian organizations as a triggering factor for the flows of Eritrean migrants arrived in Europe. So Bronwyn Bruton, Deputy Director of the African Center of the American think tank Atlantic Center and expert of the Horn of Africa,
“It’s the first time in more than a decade that an American deputy secretary of state visits Eritrea,” remarked Bruton, responding via email to a request for comment from askanews. For Bruton, who has repeatedly visited Eritrea, meeting with President Isaias Afewerki, government officials, diplomats and UN personnel, this visit is “an encouraging sign that the US government intends to do its part to try to normalize the relationships, a long-awaited effort “.
For the American analyst, in fact, precisely the tense relations between Washington and Asmara “have hitherto prevented a solution to the conflict on the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia and have offered space to the Gulf nations to increase their military presence in the Horn of Africa”. The ongoing war in Yemen in 2015 and the crisis between the Gulf countries have indeed had repercussions in the African region, leading the United Arab Emirates, already militarily present in Somalia, to position itself in the Eritrean port of Assab, on the Red Sea, to front of the commitment assumed by Asmara alongside the international coalition led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Instead, Riyadh started building its own military base in Djibouti.
“Better relations with Eritrea will also allow the United States to have more influence in the Horn of Africa at a time when instability, especially in Ethiopia and Somalia, is taking on crisis proportions,” Bruton said. Clear reference to the anti-government protests underway since the end of 2015 in Ethiopia, where the state of emergency still exists despite the openings demonstrated by the new premier Abiy Ahmed, settling only at the beginning of the month, but above all the fragility of Somalia, already torn since 30 years of civil war and today in fact the scene of the clash between Qatar and Turkey on one side, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia on the other, for having decided to maintain a neutral position in the dispute broke out last June between the countries of Gulf.
“A constructive engagement” with Washington’s Asmara, compared to “the punitive policy” adopted by the former administration of Barack Obama, could also “bring improvements to the human rights situation in Eritrea”, Bruton concluded. The Obama administration has in fact supported in 2009 the adoption of UN sanctions against Asmara for alleged support for the Somali jihadists Shebab. Accusation not proven in recent years by United Nations experts in charge of investigations. Asmara has always branded sanctions as “unjust and illegal”.