APRIL 2004

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
prairie fire."

Eritrean separatism had its roots in World War II. In 1941, in the Battle of Keren, the Allies drove Italian forces out of Eritrea, which had been under Italy's rule since the end of the nineteenth century. Administration of the region was then entrusted to the British military until its fate could be determined by the Allies. Britain, however, sought to divide Eritrea along religious lines, giving the coast and highland areas to Ethiopia and the Muslim-inhabited northern and western lowlands to British-ruled Sudan. In 1952 the United Nations (UN) tried to satisfy the demand for self-determination by creating an EritreanEthiopian federation. In 1962, however, Haile Selassie unilaterally abolished the federation and imposed imperial rule throughout Eritrea. In January 1974, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) handed Haile Selassie's forces a crushing defeat at Asmera, severely affecting the army's morale and exposing the crown's ever-weakening position.

On 29 May 1991, ISAIAS Afworki, secretary general of the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), which then served as the country's legislative body, announced the formation of the Provisional Government in Eritrea (PGE). Eritrea became an independent state on 24 May 1993, following an internationally monitored referendum in which citizens voted overwhelmingly for independence from Ethiopia. The Eritrean People's Liberation Front, which led the 30-year war for independence, has controlled the country since it defeated Ethiopian armed forces in 1991. With independence from Ethiopia on 24 May 1993, Eritrea faced the bitter economic problem of a small, desperately poor African country. The economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with over 70% of the population involved in farming and herding. The 30-year war for independence from Ethiopian rule left some 30 perccnt of all Eritrean households headed by women. Approximately 200 persons were injured or killed during 1998 in incidents involving unexploded ordinances including land mines. There are an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 land mines in the country, mostly laid by Ethiopia during the 1961-1991 war in which Eritrea fought for independence.

This brings us to how come the victim in this invasion, Eritrea, is being blamed for her own rape? In the case of Dan Connell, who has been appearing in front of rather sparse crowds during his national speaking tour on this matter (he only drew 10 people to his Wash DC FPIF presentation, 3 of whom were from the Ethiopian embassy) a serious conflict of interest is apparent. Dan Connell, who has refused all requests for confirmation on this matter, has a long time relationship with one of Eritrea's most prominent enemies, Gail Smith. Ms. Smith was reported to be the Africa desk head of the National Security Council during the invasion of Eritrea in June 2000 and has been charged with making statements calling for regime change in Eritrea and threatening the assassination of Eritrean President Issias Aferworki, charges made by leaders of the Eritrean American community. Dan Connell has yet to admit publicly to the fact that Gail Smith was his former wife and partner, going back to the early 1980's. Dan Connell is also listed as the Horn of Africa consultant to Human Rights Watch, whose Wash DC Advocate is Tom Malinowski, another former heavy hitter in the National Security Council during the June 2000 invasion of Eritrea
and one who has been charged by the Eritrean community in the US, as well as the Eritrean government, with being a part of the attempt at regime change in Eritrea. Eritreans are well justified in describing this as a case of the fox guarding the chicken coop.

To conclude, what has been portrayed as a fratricidal border conflict between one time comrades in arms, is actually another matter all together. Eritrea has been raped, and those committing, or complicit, in this crime have been almost totally unopposed in their attempts to blame the victim.

One can only hope this article will provoke readers to take a second look at this matter. The Eritrean people both at home and abroad have proven their support for their government in the form of demonstrations of thousands in Europe, the UK and the US. Shouldn't this at least give us pause to reconsider?
Thomas C. Mountain©
US Eritrean Peoples Friendship Association
(808) 239-8112

for more on this see
Holocaust in the Horn; The War Nobody Remembers by Thomas C. Mountain

US Behind Invasion of Eritrea

PUBLIC RECORD OFFICE. LONDON. UK. Among the bundle of papers, a series of letters of 'slight' relevance to the current demarcation of the borders between Eritrea and Ethiopia reveal themselves.

British Embassy. The Hague.

The date?

3rd March 1948

There are more - more collections of old papers and official documents that signed and sealed the fate of millions for decades to come. It is ironic that these papers are preserved for posterity in a safe and well ventilated 'bunker' while some of the people the documents refer to, in their hundreds of thousands or millions, have been suffocated, dealt with and subjected to all sorts of motions and violations.

It's endless. Too many or, if you so wish, too much is out there to be digested in one single day. Maybe not even in a lifetime.

Are we going to have, fifty years from now, a similar collection of old official papers and files to account for the decisions being taken in the present and in high places or offices - decisions and documents that sign and seal the fate of unsuspecting millions on the ground?

What will the next generation say then?

Will they just be or become some 'other' or unknown quantities and casualties of memory in the history of time?

For now though, let the record that is being made public speak for itself while the swans fly away to outer space.....

Gabriel Guangul