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President Issias Aferwerki vs Al Jazeera Feb. 2010

Posted by: thomas mountain

Date: Wednesday, 05 December 2018

President Issias Aferwerki Vs. Al Jazeera; February 2010

This transcript is from an interview done by Eritrean President Issias
Aferwerki and Al Jazeera “journalist” Jane Dutton in February 2010,
shortly after the UNSC passed punitive sanctions against Eritrea based
on what has now been proven to be fabrications. The sanctions are now
history and this interview stands as an example for aspiring
journalists of just how low their seniors will stoop. Every one of the
charges levelled by Ms. Dutton against Issias were fake, yet this
racist white South African woman continued to insult Africa’s leading
statesman for the entire interview. Would she even have considered
treating a white European leader the same way, to rudely insult and
sling falsehoods and fantasy at such a prominent and respected African
leader as Issias Aferwerki? See for yourself…


“Following is a transcript of an interview that Eritrean president
Isaias Afwerki had with Al-Jazeera television of February 20. In this
interview, which Jazeera’s Jane Dutton rightly describes as “rare”,
Isaias tells her that all accusations leveled against him, including
the recent UN sanctions against his country are the work of none other
than the United States.
This time around the United States was also accused by Isaias of
instigating the border war with Ethiopia. Accusations against him, the
Eritrean president said, were mere “fantasies, lies and boring jokes,”
calling the Al-Jazeera journalist an insane liar serving the agendas
of others.” (the above comments are from the original post/not this

Jane Dutton;
Mr. President, in December the United Nations imposed sanctions on
Eritrea for supporting armed groups such as Al-Shabbab. Do you feel
that you have been unfairly victimized?

Pres. Issias;
No, it is a mockery of justice and history. In our political culture
we have never believed and we don’t believe that religion is a
substitute for political problems in any one country or any society.

We have never entertained the idea of Sharia or Islam being a solution
for what many would like to believe. How can anyone possibly accuse
Eritrea of sympathizing or supporting one group over the other? We
have never done that.

The Al-Shabbab themselves claim that your defense ministry visited
them; the African Union has complained about your activities in
Somalia, as has the United Nations. Are you saying that they are all

Where are these evidences in the first place? We never went into
Somalia. The French have two kidnapped hostages there and they asked
our good offices if we ca‰n do anything there. We never promised
anything and we did not want to get involved. But because of that
initiative we went and contacted everybody in Somalia.

Are you, therefore, saying that the Al-Shabbab, the African Union and
the United Nations are all lying?

Pres. Issias;
We believe that Al-Shabbab are Somalis in the first place, whether
they are radicals or moderates, whether they are part of the Islamic
horse or not, we believe that every Somali should be involved in the
inclusive political process.

Why would the United Nations and the African Union say that you are
doing these things?

Pres. Issias;
Where are these evidences in the first place? What are they saying?
This is where I come to say that this is a mockery of justice.

You talk about religion and a lot of people talk about your support
for Al-Shabbab, you being a Christian leader, that being a Muslim

Pres. Issias;
This is nonsensical, this is a mockery, this is a joke.


Pres. Issias;
This is a joke. I do not want to blame anyone for what is happening or
what is being said here or there. What are the evidences? How can you
explain the fact that Eritrea supports this or that radical Islamist…

Are you using Somalia as a battlefield to fight Ethiopia?

It is not a battlefield with Ethiopia. This border issue was a
senseless conflict instigated by the United States in the first place.
And we went to arbitration and arbitration was done almost eight years
now, in 2002. That decision is now blocked by the United States; it is
not blocked by Ethiopia. Ethiopia does not have the resources and the
means to block any decision of arbitration and implementation.
It is a coverup for the failure of the misguided policies of the
United States in the Horn of Africa for the last twenty years.

So, if Ethiopia were to withdraw from Badme, that is the border town
that you are referring to, if they were to withdraw from there, then
would you take this country off the war footing?

Pres. Issias;
We don’t have any problems with Ethiopia; we have never had a problem
with Ethiopia. We have worked with its people for almost two decades
to overthrow a government in Ethiopia, and we want to see a
relationship between Eritrea and Ethiopia based on mutual respect and
commonalities of interests and we have worked for that for decades.

Now we are talking about the misguided policy of the United States
which creates crisis here, political problems there and its attempts
to micro-manage these problems.

Can you say that that is your relationship with Ethiopia? Please
explain to me what your relationship is with Sudan because you have
alleged connections with the GEM and the SLA?

Pres. Issias;
This is again a distortion of history. It is a deliberate distortion of facts.

The Sudanese government has said that it stopped GEM fighters from
coming into your country….

Pres. Issias;
They have never said that. No Sudanese government or official has said
that because they can not prove that. It is said in the name of
Sudanese officials and the government and this is a distortion of

Who then was responsible for pulling the GEM out of the peace talks…

Pres. Issias;
No, no, no, never! That never happened. In Abuja when negotiations
were under way we said this is not a solution. There has to be a
conclusive and comprehensive peace process in the Sudan to address the
issues of Southern Sudan, Eastern Sudan, Central Sudan, Northern Sudan
and Darfur. We have never entertained the idea of intervening this way
or that way to support one group against the other.

All those allegations were being leveled against Eritrea as being one
of the main backers in destabilizing this region, the Horn of Africa…

But then again who has been destabilizing the Horn of Africa? Who has
been supporting warlords in Somalia for the last twenty years? Who has
intervened in and invaded Somalia? Who has wanted to put governments
from outside? We have had three strategic interventions in the last
eight or ten years where people have tried to impose governments from
outside. None of these has worked…

And that is not what you are doing in this region….?

Pres. Issias;
….this is destabilizing Somalia and by destabilizing Somalia, you
destabilize the region.

You are friends with Israel and Iran. How do you balance the two?

Pres. Issias;
That is another joke. Why would the United States impose an arms
embargo on Eritrea, a small country with limited resources, and not
impose sanctions on the alleged role of Iran in the region? How can
you possibly appreciate the logic behind this position of the United

Ok, so how can you explain the role that Iran has in this region…..

Pres. Issias;
There is no role for Iran in this region. Eritrea is not for sale.
Eritrea is not for sale not to Iran, not to Israel not to the United
States, not to anybody.

If Eritrea is not for sale, then how do you justify providing arms to
the Hamas…?

Pres. Issias;
We don’t even have any diplomatic relations with any Palestinian organization.

But you are allowing Iran to supply arms to Hamas through you…?

Pres. Issias
Where are the evidences? Do we need weapons from Iran? If we want to
give weapons to anyone, we don’t need it from Iran. We don’t need
weapons from Iran. We have more than we need. We can arm three or four
governments. We don’t need weapons from Iran. We do not have the
political will to work on behalf of anybody in this region. Never!

If it is not political will then what is it? Because they are going
through you into the Sudan….

Pres. Issias;
There is no Iranian presence in this region. Not in Eritrea.

There is Iranian presence in Assab. They have a military base there
and they are helping you with your oil refinery….

Pres. Issias;
I would invite you to go and visit Assab. There is no refinery there.
This is a joke; there is no refinery there.

Well then the evidence, as well as Israeli planes that stopped arms
shipment to the Sudan, where they got Iranian revolutionary guards…..

Pres. Issias;
Where are the evidences? Where are the evidences? Can you prove to
anyone that you have evidences to say that Eritrea is shipping arms to
anywhere else in the world?

You have a relationship with Iran as well as Israel. How do you
balance that? Or are you saying you have no relations?

Pres. Issias;
Not at all How can you possibly and logically understand such a
contradictory reality?

That is why I am asking…..

Pres. Issias;
….Why, why, why….Why would you ask? Why would you ask without
evidences? It is a surprise to me. It is even a joke to me. I don’t
even see any logic of bringing Israel and Iran together working in
Eritrea. How can one person sensible understand that logic?

But that has raised questions…Many political analysts believe that the
next proxy war between Iran and Israel is going to take place on your
soil. Are you prepared to be the next Vietnam?

Pres. Issias;
This is a joke. This is giving Eritrea a name beyond its means. These
are fabrications. These are allegations without facts to prove them on
the ground. It is sometimes a surprise why people want to sell these
lies to any sensible person in the region. It does not make sense.

It is also well documented that you are helping Iran through your
Assab Port, sending arms to Yemen to support the Houti fighters who
are fighting against the government as well as Saudi Arabia. Can you
explain your actions?

Pres. Issias;
It is senseless. It is senseless. Who would want to destabilize Yemen?
We have all along, for the last twenty years, supported the government
of Ali Abdellah Saleh genuinely…

So do you deny that you are supporting the Houti’s in Yemen?

Pres. Issias;

This is a fantasy in the minds of those who want to sell the idea and
create a sense of threat and fear in this region so that they can
manipulate it for their own agendas.

There is no refinery in Assab in the first place. There is no
presense…you want to go there tomorrow and see who is there and who is
not there?

And to assume that your allegations are facts and try to find an
explanation for that assumption. I say it is crazy.

It is all a fabrication. We sometimes wonder and bother why all these
fabrications are made about things that do not exist on the ground.

Is this also a fabrication? The United Nations says that you spend
200,000 to 500,000 dollars supporting fighters?

Pres. Issias;

In Somalia and around the region. Is that also a fabrication?

Pres. Issias;
This is another joke, this is another joke.

How can your country….that is from the United Nations…..

Pres. Issias;
It is boring, it is boring. When jokes are repeated again and again
they become so boring.

How can you as a country afford to be on this war footing. It's not
twenty years….

Pres. Issias;
This is a fantasy on the part of those who think that we are on a war footing.

It is crazy. It is the imagination of people who can only be
categorized as insane, who fantasize on things that do not exist in
real terms.

If your country is not on war footings then how come there is so much
repression? There is no freedom of the press, there is no freedom of

Pres. Issias;
I can understand where you come from, and this is another boring joke
based on fabrications.

Can people leave this country when they want to?

Pres. Issias;
Did you enjoy the show yesterday?

Can anybody leave the country when they want to?

Pres. Issias;
Did you enjoy the show yesterday?

Can anybody leave the country when they want to?

Pres. Issias;
Did you see the people on the streets? Anybody can leave this country anytime.

Can they get a passport?

Pres. Issias;
What is it to get a passport from a country that you deserve to be a citizen of?

What about freedom of the press? Eritrea jails more journalists than
any other country in the world. Why do you have to resort to that?

Pres. Issias;
These are lies.

You don’t jail journalists?

These are lies. These are lies of Al Jazeera international
deliberately distorting facts to give the impression that this country
is in a war footing and so many things such as Iran is here, Israel is
here, we are supporting Houtis, we are supporting terrorists you name

You are using these lies to serve an agenda to destabilize this region.

I would never do anything to destabilize the region….

….Lies and lies and lies and lies.

…..I am trying to get to the bottom of the truth

Lies and lies without providing any evidence, trying to blame it on
the United Nations sometimes when the United Nations has not said
anything, trying to blame it on the government of Sudan when Sudan has
not said anything.

Let us talk about the people who live in this country. If I could just
mention the United Nations statistics, 63,000 Eritreans applied for
asylum last year alone, and that 1,800 cross over every month into
Sudan and Ethiopia…

Pres. Issias;
These are lies. These are your lies.

So people are not leaving the country?

Pres. Issias;
Where….where… give me the evidences, give me the evidences. Give us
the evidences, we would like to see the evidences. According to those
reports the population of this country is out of town by yesterday.
According to those statistics…

But the most high profile you have had is your football team in Kenya,
they are seeking asylum, the athletes in Scotland, they are seeking

This is news to me. It is news to me…


Pres. Issias;
Really. I have never heard anything like that and I am not bothered if
people go there and ask for asylum. I am not bothered if people are
looking for jobs in the United States or Europe. Why would I bother
about that?

One of the reasons that many of the people leave is because of the
indefinite military service, for both men and women. And the fact that
you can never leave. Why is there this indefinite….

Pres. Issias;
Again another lie.

It is compromising your credibility as a media outlet. And coming up
with a pack of lies and trying to convince anyone by putting them as
facts on the ground and trying to give the impression that these are
things that exist in the real world.
Israel is here, who is not here….

But Israel is here, they have got a military base….

Pres. Issias;
Everyone is here, Iran is here….I mean how can you possibly imagine
that people will trust and believe what you tell them. You are talking
about lies and …..

Every single question I have asked is backed up with a lot of research
and facts so…with all respect, Mr. President, I am just trying to find
out how your country operates. I find your country very fascinating…

Pres. Issias;
It is a good exercise for a journalist to ask questions about a number
of things but to come up with a pack of lies and a pack of
fabrications and trying to prove those by posing them as very innocent
questions in order to give credibility to or to discredit your
sources…. You are discrediting your sources, you are discrediting the
United Nations when you come and tell in the name of the United
Nations when the United Nations has not said anything like that.

How can a media outlet with credibility come up with such lies?

Let us talk about the drought in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea, as
others, is suffering from it and yet you are reluctant to let aid
workers into your country. What is the justification for that?

Pres. Issias;
When we have enough food, why do we need someone to feed us?

Because two-thirds of your population is suffering….

Pres. Issias;
Why do you want to spoonfeed us when we have enough food?

How come two-thirds of your population is not getting that food?
Pres. Issias.
Then again how can you possible say and imagine that I am hungry when
I am not hungry? Why do you want to believe that? Why do you want to
believe that people are hungry and in need of your support? Why do you
want to believe that?

That is a very, very sad state of mind for people to believe that they
can go and feed people when people are not even in need of feeding.

Go and feed the victims of Katerina, go and feed the people of Haiti,
if you really want to…..

So there is no need for food aid….

Pres. Issias;
We don’t need any food aid. We can feed ourselves. I am only bothered
by why you want to feed us.

How much support do you have in this country? You have been leading
this country for the past 18 years and you have been liberated for
twenty years. Last year there was an assassination attempt on your
life. Where did that come from and who was behind it?

Pres. Issias;
This again is another fabrication, another lie. I mean how can you
possibly believe that there was an assassination attempt? Why, why
would you believe that such a thing occurred? It came as a surprise
when I heard that. I said these people are crazy, they are out of
their mind.

Imagining things that do not exist and fantasizing on what they wish to see,
why do you do that?

You promised Eritreans political reforms, but there are no political parties…

Pres. Issias;
We do not make promises. I don’t make promises to anyone. It is like a
wealthy person who controls everything and promises these people that
he is going to tip them today, tip them tomorrow, tip them the next
day….We do not make promises and the people here don’t need promises.
No one here promises anything to anybody.

There is no such commodity called democracy. There is no such
commodity promised by one person to the people of a country.

Will you allow other political parties to operate? Will you allow the
constitution to be released? Will you allow an open political system
that is governed by the people?

Pres. Issias;
By the people like in China?

People who will call on the government to justify….

Pres. Issias;
Again you are assuming that you are talking on behalf of the people of
this country. Let the people talk.

I am asking you…how you define…..

Pres. Issias;
….Let the people talk, let the people talk. The people will have to define it.

Human Rights Watch says that you are turning this country into a giant
prison and creating a human rights crisis….

Pres. Issias;
You can walk around and see if that is true again. It is a lie.

Why then do people come under the orders 'shoot to kill’, if they want
to leave this country?

Pres. Issias;
No, no, not at all. If you are telling thousands are leaving this
country then how do you think that can happen? If you are telling me
that hundreds of thousands have left this country and asked for asylum
how can you imagine that happened?

Who do you consider your friends?

Pres. Issias;
Where do you mean?

In the world…

Pres. Issias;
 A few, a bunch of liars may not be my friends but the whole world is
behind Eritrea. Everybody is asking why all these lies? Why all these
sanctions? Why this and that?
It is an expression of the support of people. The minimum you can
imagine sensible people asking simple questions about all the
fabrications they hear everyday. That is by way of questioning the
credibility of those telling the lies.

This means, it is a support for the one which is being victimized
without any evidence. That is very important to remember.
And those people who are asking the simple questions are behind Eritrea.

Can you just tell us a little about your aspirations?

Pres. Issias;
We don’t need war. We have fought for so many decades and we know what
it means to go into war. It is very senseless to imagine that you can
waste your time and resources doing things that do not deserve any

We are focused on doing ‘the right things in this country. And we
don’t need to do it by forcing people to believe this or that. People
are seriously engaged in what they are doing to change their quality
of life.

Those who have never tried it may fantasize about going to war. We
have been there for so many decades, almost two generations.

At least we will not be like Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan.
We are better off.

We are number one in this continent.”

This transcript is by an unknown author though it sticks pretty much
to the interview. Identifications of speakers before questions and
answers are by this writer. Again, every single one of Jane Dutton’s
charges was based on fabrications and fantasy, fake news planted in
the international media by the very same type of “journalists” as Ms.
Dutton et. al at Al Jazeera, never mind BBC, CNN, France24 ad nauseum.

Thomas C. Mounfain is an independent journalist in Eritrea, living and
reporting from here since 2006. See thomascmountain on Facebook,
thomascmountain on Twitter or best reach him at thomascmountain at g
mail dot com
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