An Eritrean Response to the Defective and Intrusive Proposal By Herman Cohen
Hank Cohen should avoid using such obsolete and confusing terms as Abyssinia, or Abyssinians. Abyssinia was used by some in the West to mean Ethiopia or Habesha. If Cohen is using Abyssinia interchangeably with Ethiopia, it would be clearer if he uses only Ethiopia. If he is using Abyssinians to represent Habesha in general in Ethiopia and Eritrea, he should be told that Habesha in Ethiopia are just a portion of Ethiopians and the Habesha in Eritrea are also a portion of Eritreans, and must understand that he is leaving some Ethiopians and Eritreans out unaddressed. Cohen is advised to realize that it is incorrect to use Abyssinians to represent Eritrea and Ethiopia, for the combined populations of Ethiopians and Eritreans are not Habesha, or Abyssinians.
On the reliability of Cohen’s information
Unless Cohen is fishing for more information, he should not rely too much on gossip and allegations. He should have sought reliable information from dependable sources and identify them. Long term policies ought not depend on allegations or gossips. His allegation of the lease of Aassab is not an established fact, and the assumption that the alleged lease of Aassab would also introduce what already exists (Sharia Law) into Eritrea and Ethiopia is false.
The port of Aassab is Eritrean and Eritrea is a sovereign nation and is competent to lease or let others use it otherwise on the basis of Eritrea’s consent. Neither Eritrea nor Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates have, however, announced that the Aasab port has been leased. The new King of Saudi Arabia has consulted with Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Somalia, among others about this issue. Let them speak out if they need to. Whether this information is true or not, Sharia Law has nothing to do with it. Sharia Law has long existed and been peacefully used within the Eritrean Muslim community under a secular (or worldly) law. So there is absolutely no need for Arab Muslim countries to lease Aassab to introduce Sharia Law.
Sharia Law is already in Eritrea, and it makes no sense about introducing a law that already exists. Hence, Hank Cohen should stop to unreasonably aggregate Saudi Arabia and Aassab and Sharia Law as a pivot point for whatever propaganda campaign he is aiming at. That line of reasoning will not work for it is based on falsehood. There is no good reason to tie the expansion of Sharia Law in the Horn of Africa (HOOFAF) to the alleged lease of Aassab for warships. Sharia Law has long existed in the HOOFAF. I don’t know why Hank Cohen is acting ignorant about this, but every HOOFAFian knows about this fact. Cohen should utilize another credible threat/reason to convince people to support his proposals.
On the Red Sea and Eritrea-Ethiopia relations
Eritrea shall respect Ethiopia’s rights of access to the sea based upon the international Law of Sea Convention and Eritrean laws. Eritrea controls its Red Sea coasts and I see no good reason for Ethiopia’s involvement. Eritrea, in its recent press release, said it supports without reservation the combined effort of making the Red Sea a peaceful water way for international usage in collaboration with a coalition of Arab countries. It would be better if all Red Sea littoral countries, including Israel, be involved for that purpose. Ethiopia, though a potential user of sea services, is not however a Red Sea littoral nation. Ethiopia has historically shown that it has an irredentist claim to parts or all Eritrea, and I don’t believe it would be to Eritrea’s best national interest to exploit Red Sea resources together with Ethiopia in the near future. Let each nation stand on its own, and whatever combined efforts proposed be short-term and renewable and renegotiable.
On Ethiopia-Eritrea peace
Peace between the two countries would come only by ending the border war; that border war would end when Ethiopia abides by the verdict of the Border Commission and removes its troops from what the Border Commission determined to be Eritrean territory. Eritrea may be willing to talk to Ethiopia openly and publicly anytime and anywhere on how Ethiopia could remove its troops from Eritrea and the administration of Ethiopian civilians in those areas, but not to change or re-negotiate already determined borderlines.
Otherwise, Hank Cohen could try to convince Susan Rice to influence the TPLF Government to end the border war as it should. Eritrea has long expressed its desire to end the war on the basis of Ethiopian-Eritrean treaty. Hank Cohen should also understand that the Arab countries are not inherently destructive, or against the national interests of Ethiopia or Eritrea, and their coming to HOOFAF is not necessarily detrimental to Ethiopia’s or Eritrea’s national interests. That kind of assumed threat was a longtime fear of the “Ethiopia is a Christian island surrounded by a sea of Muslims” school of thought the governments of Ethiopia utilized to seek help from other powers.
All nations surrounding Ethiopia are not Muslim countries and all Muslim countries have not been a threat to Ethiopia. Everything else, except the political independence of Eritrea and its sovereignty, including the denial of use of their use by irredentists, big power imperialists, terrorists, subversives (but opposition in line with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights excepted), etc. is negotiable.
Eritrea has proposed that it shall negotiate for normalizing Ethiopian-Eritrean relations when the border war is ended. After that the exchange of ambassadors is easier to do. But economic relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea has to be re-negotiated afresh. I prefer for Eritrea not to go back to the pre-war Ethio-Eritrean economic arrangements. Ethiopia has proved itself an unreliable partner in the treaties it signs on. Hence, it would be better for Eritrea to re-negotiate economic and trade relations with Ethiopia anew. I would not choose the IMF as a go-between agent for currencies exchange. IMF is largely controlled by the U.S. and America (no personal or national offence intended, only what is best for Eritrea is considered) has historically stood against Eritrean national interests in time of need, I would prefer an agency, or an arrangement, that is not controlled by America.
On Djibouti-Eritrean relations
A third party is working on bringing peace between the two, and I believe Eritrea would resolve their current conflict accordingly. Eritrea intends to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Djibouti and all its neighbours. I don’t think Eritrea could guarantee the security or neutrality of Djibouti. Only Djibouti can. Djibouti is not neutral as such. Its neutrality is affected by the powers it hosts in its territory. Eritrea intends to end its small conflict with Djibouti, re-instate its friendly neighbourly relations, and deal with it as a semi-independent but, nevertheless, sovereign nation.
Let friends and foes equally know that Eritrea is a sovereign nation and shall make decisions as it sees it fit to its national interests. And Hank Cohen, please desist from using Sharia Law as something new threat in works of being introduced into Eritrea. Extremism, terrorism, irredentism, big power imperialism, among others, and not the regular Sharia Law, are the sources of lack of stability and peace in Horn of Africa. And Revelation, Issaias Afwerki has not invited Sharia Law into Eritrea. Sharia Law was in Eritrea before Issaias ever existed. Talk about something else sensible, please.
Source: From reader’s comment page
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