WHAT do US president Donald Trump’s accession to power, the war in Yemen, Europe’s migration crisis, a Red Sea property boom, and a UN prison inspection have in common?
According to this fascinating article in Foreign Policy, they’re all factors in Eritrea’s apparent emergence from years of international isolation.
On the whole, the article argues, Africa’s strongmen are all rejoicing at Trump’s rise to power.
In Eritrea’s case, several hundred of its troops are said to be fighting in the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen, which “has sparked a rush on Eritrean coastal real estate by Gulf states looking to base their troops there,” FP reports.
To try to stem the flow of migrants to its shores, the European Union approved in 2015 a 200-million-euro aid package for Eritrea, the biggest single source of refugees to Europe between 2014 and 2016.
The EU has also promised support to train judges and security services in Eritrea, while Britain plans to open an international development office in Asmara.
Recently, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was even allowed to tour a prison in Eritrea.
And, after decades of being almost totally closed off to the international media, some 50 foreign journalists were allowed to visit in the year up to May 2016. Support for the sanctions imposed on Eritrea in the wake of its devastating 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia “is gradually eroding”, not least, according to FP, because “there is no evidence that Eritrea is still supporting al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.”
All this, the article says, has left Eritrea’s arch-foe, Ethiopia, in a quandary, fearful that President Isaias Afwerki will “use his growing financial resources to step up support for armed opposition in Ethiopia.”