By Bereket Kidane,
As 2015 comes to an end, let’s look back at the dynamic year that it was for Eritrea. Among other things, 2015 will be remembered as the year that saw anti-Eritrea forces go bankrupt.
The year was dominated by significant sports achievements by Eritrean athletes. Eritrean cyclists made history at the Criterium du Dauphine and Tour de France where they conquered the French Alps and made history by being the first Africans to ever compete in Le Tour, the most prestigious of the Grand Tours of cycling.
Daniel Teklehaymanot made history when he won the Polka Dot jersey as the best climber at the Criterium du Dauphine and then continued to wear the leader’s jersey as the King of the Mountains into the early and middle stages at the Tour de France putting Eritrean cycling on the world map. Daniel’s stage victories inspired a polka dot fashion craze among Eritreans at home and the diaspora.
It was also a year that saw Eritrea capture its first gold medal at a truly global event when the teenager Girmay Gebresellasie won a gold medal in a stunning upset victory at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing making history for himself and his country. The cycling team had won tons of gold medals in continental and international competitions before but Girmay’s gold medal win in Beijing was truly a global one.
2015 was also a year that saw FIFA-sanctioned international soccer match return to Eritrea when professional players of Eritrean heritage like Henok Goitom and Senay Berhane easily met FIFA’s eligibility rule and represented the country of their ancestors in FIFA-sanctioned fixtures for the World Cup. That one did not have a happy ending as yet another soccer team fell prey to human traffickers, but the recruitment of international stars with Eritrean heritage to play for the Red Sea Camels is sure to continue into the future. One can even imagine future Eritrean national soccer teams that are mostly composed of Europe-based players in the not too distant future.
On the governance front, after an exhaustive process of drafting and research that took several years, the Government of Eritrea ratified and put into effect a new Civil and Penal Code. The new Civil and Penal Code that replaced the Transitional Code that had been implemented following independence is another milestone in the maturation of the Eritrean State.
On the politics front, there were some truly significant achievements and watershed moments in Eritrean history as well. It will be remembered as the year when Western countries led by Europe came to their senses and stopped their destructive policies toward the State of Eritrea. It will be remembered as the year when the European Union’s misguided, non-sensical hostility toward the State of Eritrea went out the window and engagement came back in. Truly a significant achievement indeed!
All the more significant when one considers the fact that Europe was not dictating to Eritrea as it does to other African countries but instead changed its perspective to see things from Eritrea’s viewpoint. The recently signed €200 million economic cooperation package is a harbinger of things to come in terms of partnerships that can create jobs and infrastructure at home for Eritreans.
Yet another significant achievement in politics was the breath of fresh air coming from the US Chief of Mission at the American Embassy in Asmara. Earlier this month the Honorable Louis Mazel made a trip to the world class open pit mine run by a Canadian company in Western Eritrea to learn firsthand and share his observations with the world that far from being a slave camp, Bisha is a mine run by Western fair labor standards and that if anything the mining industry in Eritrea should be upheld as a model of how to run an environmentally and socially responsible mining in developing countries.
His firsthand, in-person observations at the mine have delivered a huge blow to Sheila Keetharuth’s and Mike Smith’s Salem Witch Hunt. During his trip to lowland Eritrea, the Honorable Louis Mazel visited with locals, put on a turban, white jelabiyas, sandals and engaged the locals in a sword dance looking very much like the modern day Peter O’Toole from the 1962 epic film Lawrence of Arabia. Should we call him Louis of Eritrea? We can tell the Honorable Mr. Mazel is a good sport.
Still another significant achievement in the politics/international arena was Eritrea’s improved relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two important client states of America. Relations had always been excellent and brotherly with the State of Qatar.
The signing of the Red Sea Security and Cooperation Agreement was a watershed moment between the State of Eritrea and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shattering the damaging myths and falsehoods spread by anti-Eritrea forces that prevented economic and business ventures between Eritrea and the brotherly neighboring Arab countries for years. Some of it was no doubt as the result of US pressure applied on Arab states as part of an overall effort to isolate Eritrea regionally, but that too seems to have gone by the wayside and hopefully has become a relic of the past.
The Ethiopian leader recently spewed some gibberish about not being consulted or terrorism or something asinine of that nature that doesn’t make any sense but does he not know that it is not the Kagnew Station era anymore? Eritrea is now a sovereign nation with its own seat at the United Nations that can legally enter into any kind of arrangement it wishes with any country on this planet.
Most of all the year 2015 will be remembered as the year when anti-Eritrean forces declared for bankruptcy liquidation. If the fat lady has sung yet, she is on her way to the microphone.
As Eritrea welcomes a new year in which it will proudly celebrate a silver jubilee anniversary, it has become a country that’s been tested under fire and came out victorious.
Sad to say goodbye to 2015 but 2016 will be even better for Eritrea with improved relations and understanding with all its partner nations.
Happy Holidays to Eritreans around the world whether you are living in a country that celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Winter Solistice! Enjoy the yuletide!