by R. Ali
The propaganda war certainly may be hard to read. But it does make some sense that Eritrea does not have ties with Israel; Isreal shares ties and a common ground with Ethiopia and against Somalia, while Eritrea and Ethiopia are arch enemies. Eritrea also does not seem to be under a great deal of Western influence, given its Soviet military hardware and cooperation with Iran including joint exercises. It appears that such rumors serves to weaken and isolate Eritrea and may be playing right into the hands of Israeli propaganda masters.
Here is a press release from the Eritrean government (thanks to anonymous poster on GS):
By Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Apr 22, 2009, 14:42
Quoting obscure Israeli security officials, the Sunday Times published a report on April 19th claiming that "Israel and Iran are conducting rival intelligence operations in Eritrea."
The Sunday Times report further asserted: "Israel is said to have two Eritrean bases, one a 'listening post' for signals intelligence, the other a supply base for its German-built submarines, (while).. Iran has a naval base in (the Eritrean port) of Assab."
The invective against Eritrea has intensified in the past two months for reasons better known to its authors. It is nonetheless clear that it is driven by ulterior motives that transcend the fabricated, individual, events.
The main sources of these relentless vilification campaigns against Eritrea are, invariably, the key western intelligence sources that have refined the art of disinformation. Indeed, while these stories are originally concocted in the murky offices of these agencies, they are often attributed to some obscure "political dissident", "businessman" etc, in order to give them a semblance of credibility. Selected "human rights groups" (Africa Watch, CPJ etc.) and some NGOs are also being used as convenient conduits. The Sunday Times report is not thus a case of sloppy journalism. It is part and parcel of the disinformation campaign unleashed against Eritrea by these intelligence agencies with frantic intensity.
The facts are otherwise the following:
1. Israel does not have, and it never had, any base in Eritrea. But probably in order to sow discord between Eritrea and some Arab States, Israeli intelligence sources have been deliberately spreading, for the past 17 years, false rumours of a military base in the Dahlak Islands. When this lie was proven wrong beyond any shred of doubt, they appear to have come up with the new story of " two bases" . (The listening post is a throw back to the 1950s when the US acquired such a base at the Kagnew Station in Asmara, Eritrea's capital, in exchange for its support to Ethiopia's impending annexation of Eritrea).
2. Iran does not have a base in Assab or anywhere else in Eritrea. True, Eritrea and Iran have recently cultivated very warm diplomatic ties. But this is not different from the warm diplomatic ties that Eritrea enjoys with all other countries in the Middle East. Furthermore, Iran has resident embassies and much deeper economic ties with all other countries in the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Djibouti and the Sudan.
3. At a more substantive level and in terms of abstract rights, Eritrea has every prerogative and the inalienable right, as a sovereign state, to enter into military and economic alliances with any other country of its choice and in accordance with the exigencies of its national interests. If Eritrea has not provided a military base to any country so far, this emanates from its own considered choices. No other country has otherwise the right to approve or veto Eritrea's sovereign choices.
4. As pointed out above, the signing of bilateral or multilateral pacts and alliances is a matter of Eritrea's sovereign right. Eritrea does not, however, subscribe to the notion of providing military bases to other countries. Nor does it need them. Eritrea's sovereign choice has always been, and remains, that of aversion to dependency, polarized alliances and suzerainty.
5. In the context of all these well-known facts, it cannot be difficult to imagine the underlying motivation of the incessant smear campaigns.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
21 April 2009
May 20, 2008
No limit for Iran-Eritrea cooperation: president
TEHRAN (IRNA) -- President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said here on Monday that Iran and Eritrea see no limit for expansion of mutual cooperation.Tehran Times Article