BY RAY JA,
ANOTHER week has brought about another medley of far-fetched rumors and outlandish claims regarding Eritrea. As discussed by Shabait, the latest rumors (about “ties” or visits between Eritrea and Yemen’s Houthis) are part of a concerted effort to insinuate Eritrean links with Iran.
Such rumors and the broader narrative on Eritrea display, in crystal clear view, the poor state of reporting and understanding about Eritrea and highlight many of the worst habits of journalism, media, and academia. More importantly however, the rumors underscore that the focus, as ever, remains firmly set upon “pinning down Eritrea.”
Groundless rumors being tied to Eritrea are not new, and there are far too many to review here. Briefly, the recent rumors are only the latest in a long series of similar propaganda pronounced by rumor mongers (often self-baptized as analysts or regional experts) claiming that – in a supreme suspension of all logic – Eritrea hosts both Iranian and Israeli military bases or installations. While the rumors are a sad indictment of those who conjure up and peddle them, another judgment (ridicule or pity?) is reserved for those who believe them.
But what of “pinning down Eritrea”? How or why does a country like Eritrea – low-income, developing, African – merit such attention? There are straightforward principles and dynamics at work here. Empire seeks to eliminate Eritrea because the country remains independent of Empire’s designs for the continent, refuses to prostrate itself before foreign, imperialist agendas, and because Eritrea firmly and unconditionally believes that the primary beneficiaries of the country’s resources must be Eritreans – not foreign multinational corporations.
Empire’s methods targeting Eritrea involve not only resorting to the aforementioned use of disinformation and propaganda, but also the employment of, as described by anti-imperialism luminaries such as journalist John Pilger and British MP George Galloway, the usual crop of quislings, spies and colonial stooges. For Empire, there’s an eternal search to find a stooge or “local” face who will somehow validate Empire’s previous exploitative actions, present interventionist stance, or future colonialist ambitions.
Recall how, when Jomo Kenyatta was leading the struggle for independence in Kenya, he was denounced as a terrorist leader to whom no one would speak, and all sorts of tame, subservient tribal chiefs were paraded one after the other as possible alternatives with whom Empire could negotiate. Or recall how in Zimbabwe, when it was Rhodesia, Empire tried everything to locate a colonial stooge who would legitimize the racist apartheid system. Remember Bishop Muzurewa? Empire paraded him around the world, and Muzurewa was their great, black hope. They had grand visions that they would install him in power and that, in some sort of sordid reciprocity, he would allow racist Empire to continue to call the shots and pull the strings.
Regarding Eritrea, it takes hardly any time and only a modicum of effort to discover Empire’s proposed stooges and black-faced puppets. And to add considerable insult to substantial injury, in Orwellian, 1984-style, traffickers are paraded heroes, liars pen “fact-based” reports, and human rights champions that claim to care about “poor, vulnerable” Eritreans vociferously demand sanctions and cheer at any and all hardships occurring within the country.
Ultimately, Eritrea remains a unique (dangerous) example of viable social, health, and education developments within a continent long-ravaged by a multitude of toxic elements. As a famous Oxfam report once described the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua as “the threat of a good example”, Eritrea’s independent path represents a threat to the dogma that Africans must be politically subservient, economically dependent, and firmly shackled by the oppressive chains of neocolonialism.
If Eritrea is permitted to succeed and produce tangible, substantive positive changes in the fortunes of its people – within the context of self-reliance – what happens to Empire’s plan of domination if other countries catch wind and begin to follow suit? What happens to AFRICOM and Empire’s carefully-laid plans to expand its presence across the continent, so as to devour it even quicker? Or the rapacious international humanitarian and foreign aid industry…what happens to its collection of lucrative consultancies, “expert” programs, expatriates living high off the hog, sleek fleet of glossy 4x4s, and NGOs scattered across the map? What happens if Africans finally realize – as Latin America has, after 500 years of subversion and domination – that when it comes to Empire, to aid, to foreign meddling, less is more?! No no! Such a proposition is far too dangerous to countenance, and even the smallest spark of it must be extinguished as soon as possible…lest it catch on and lead to something far greater or uncontrollable.
In this context, choke the country with sanctions. Pass travel warnings and scare off investors to “make the economy scream.” Tacitly approve a foreign military occupation, and quietly support repeated acts of military aggression.
As Eritrea continues to swim and not sink, expect to see more disinformation.