Eritrea, an ancient and gorgeous land of Africa, was the cradle of Adulite history, one of the four civilization of early history. Eritrea has rich history and tradition. Many monuments testify to the wealth of Eritrea's pleasant past. Eritrea's name is derived from the Red Sea whose waters appeared red owing to the algae at certain seasons in the past. The Greeks and the Romans called it "Sinus Aerityres," and "Mare Erytreum", both meaning Red Sea.
Eritrea is the home to various ethnic groups like Bilen, Tigre, Tigrigna, Rashaida, Hidareb, Afar, Nara, Saho and Kunama who practice their various lifestyles, languages and traditions. Since the time immemorial, Eritrea's geographical position in the Horn of Africa, has been one of the world's great cross-road routes of Africa, Asia, Arabia and Europe.
Eritrea is Raped; Blaming the Victim
By Thomas C. Mountain
In June of 2000 Africa's largest, best equipped army invaded one of the worlds smallest, most resource poor countries and carried out a scorched earth policy of rape and pillage rarely seen in the annuals of modern history. The victim, Eritrea, with a population of some 3.5 million people,
was invaded by Ethiopia, population approximately 70 million. At the height of the invasion almost 1.5 million Eritreans were driven from their homes and land and became refugees in their own country. Ethiopia has admitted losing 123,000 soldiers during the invasion and Eritrea puts her losses at 19,000 killed in action.
During the invasion the Ethiopian army destroyed everything they could not carry away and in the process wiped out 75% of Eritrea's agricultural production. Rape, murder and some of the most barbaric actions seen inmodern times, including the desecration of cemeteries, where carried out everywhere the Ethiopians managed to capture. Since the fighting ended a "final and binding" UN border demarcation has indisputably established that Ethiopia invaded Eritrea and that a large, well armed and belligerent Ethiopian army continues to occupy large areas of Eritrean territory. The border demarcation has also conclusively demonstrated the truth of the Eritrean's claims that the Eritrean army never set foot outside of Eritrean territory. Under international law and the UN Charter concerning the right to self defense, Ethiopia was the aggressor and Eritrea the victim.
Many observers of the Horn of Africa were horrified by this invasion. The question that must be asked is how did this happen, or more importantly, given the poverty and lack of resources available to both countries, where did the funds come from that paid for this war. The answer to both these questions is not very complicated or difficult to determine. In Ethiopia's case, their own government's economist stated publicly that Ethiopia spent some $3 billion on invading Eritrea during the time period of 1997-2000. This figure is identical to the amount of foreign aid Ethiopia received during this time period, mainly from the US, EU and Canada. Ethiopia's entire national budget from domestic sources has been estimated to be only $1 billion a year, or about $13 per person annually. Ethiopia is overwhelmingly the largest recipient of foreign aid in sub saharan Africa. With its only significant export being coffee, which brought in less than 20% of the amount spent on the invasion of Eritrea, Ethiopia could not have carried out the invasion of Eritrea without the support of her foreign donors. The question that has not been asked is where these donors ignorant of what Ethiopia was doing with their aid? Remember, while Ethiopia was invading Eritrea in June of 2000 some 12 million Ethiopians ere experiencing a major famine due to a drought.
Didn't Ethiopia's donors know what was being done with their aid, almost all conveniently in the form of cash grants?
Where Eritrea got its funds to defend itself is from its citizens living abroad. In 2000 alone, Eritreans in the diaspora repatriated some $400 million to the government of Eritrea in the form of direct donations and a voluntary 2% annual income tax paid by all Eritrean citizens outside the country. It has been estimated that over 80% of the disposable income available to the Eritrean government comes from the Eritrean diaspora. If Eritrea is a dictatorship as many in the western media and NGO's would have us believe, it is difficult to explain how Eritreans abroad are so willing to continue supporting their government. Either the Eritrean people are fools or those outside condemning the Eritrean government have got it all wrong.
The $3 billion dollar question is one that no one other than this writer seems willing to address. If the western powers donated billions of dollars to Ethiopia and Ethiopia used this money to invade Eritrea, don't these donors share the blame? Are we to believe that the intelligence communities of the western powers were not aware that the Ethiopians went on a very public arms buying spree that lasted for over 3 years? That inspite of the widely publicized findings of think tanks like the UK International Institute for Strategic Studies, which reported that by mid 1999 Ethiopia had already spent at least $460 million on arms from Russia, Bulgaria and Israel, are we supposed to believe that the CIA was not aware of this? We know the CIA has problems with its intelligence, but claiming they were unaware of the diversion of over $1 billion in US aid to arms purchases begs
Eritrea has publicly charged the CIA with being a direct participant in the war, charges made as well by this writer and featured on the front pages of the Eritrean press. Independent investigations carried out by a number of Eritrean American researchers and community leaders have brought to light evidence that coroberates charges made by the Eritrean government of a CIA coup and assassination attempt against the Eritrean government and President Issias Aferworki during the height of the fighting in June of 2000. It would seem that not only was the rape of Eritrea funded by the west but the Ethiopian governments repeated calls for regime change in Eritrea were supported by the west as well.
The question remains, why would Ethiopia want to invade Eritrea and overthrow the Eritrean government? This is not a difficult question to answer for Eritrea controls what is the best access to the Red Sea for Ethiopia, the ports of Massawa and Assab.
Under Haile Sellasie, Ethiopia was given Eritrea and her ports by the US and the UN. It was only after a 30 year long war for independence that saw the Eritreans defeat and overthrow the Mengistu regime that ruled Ethiopia were these ports once again no longer under the direct control of Ethiopia.
The present regime in power in Ethiopia has repeatedly called for the re-colonialization of Eritrea, in
particular, the retaking of the port of Assab by Ethiopia.
Why would the western powers want to see the destruction of the State of Eritrea? The answer to this is needs to be the subject of another article, but to put is simply, Eritrea remains the threat of a good example. With an independent foreign policy, including warm relations with Libya and China, as well as an economic independence and increasing self sufficiency, Eritrea was, and is, a growing challenge to the neocolonialist economic policies of the western financial institutions that have dominated Africa for the past half century. Until the renewed Ethiopian aggression starting in 1998,
Eritrea had the fastest growing economy in Africa with the least amount of control by foreign financial institutions. As such, Africans and others, were starting to ask why their economies were falling apart while Eritrea was doing so well. As Eritreans like to say, "a single spark can start a