The Washington Post uses the 2019 Nobel peace prize to push a false narrative on Eritrea


Serawr Information Centre 

15 October 2019

The Washington Post published a report titled “Why Eritrea didn’t win a Nobel for its peace accord when Ethiopia did Despite signs of good will, critics say not much has changed between Ethiopia and Eritrea”.  The intention of the report is not only to demonise Eritrea and its leader through misinformation and misrepresentation of the facts, but also to cover up the real context and the fundamental issues so as to advance their own false narrative.  

Washington Post answers the question it posed: ” the decision to only award the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize to Ethiopia’s Abiy was hardly surprising. Eritrea’s Isaias leads a military dictatorship and his government has been compared to North Korea and accused of possible crimes against humanity”.

Furthermore, it went on to quote Eritrean activists to back up its  claim above, which happens to be the kind of tactic that was used to wage information war  on Eritrea for the purpose of the Western led regime change policy on Eritrea. The failure of this policy was actually one of the fundamental factors that led to the positive change in relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia, which is now being celebrated. 

The pretense of impartiality or objective reporting has long been abandoned by the mainstream media. The Washington Post report is one-sided and does not provide any space for alternative voice.  The “Eritrean activists” that the Washington Post quoted to advance its narrative are regime change activists, who are fundamentally engaged in undermining national interest of Eritrea including advocating  for sanction on Eritrea that contributed to the suffering of the Eritrean people.

Another fundamental issue, in which  the Western policy makers and mainstream media complicate African affairs is by personalising and sensationalising complicated political issues. The removal of the leaders that  they perceive to be standing in the way of the Western interest, is subscribed as a magic solution; whereas the leaders they favour, are chosen and promoted as heroes. The recent history of South Africa, Libya and Venezuela are some of the many examples that can be given.

Now let’s look at the fundamental questions that the Washington Post is trying to cover up. In discussing the positive relations or the peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, it is important to ask what the main cause of the conflict was, how it was resolved and why it could not be solved earlier. These are the questions the mainstream media ignore as the answers reveal a major victory for the Eritrean government and the negative role the Western countries played in delaying the resolution; thereby prolonging the suffering of the people of both countries and the Horn of Africa region at large.

Before discussing the above points in detail, there is one more news for the Washington Post and the other media organisations that are framing the story of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali to attack President Isaias Afwerki. Eritrea does not suffer from the deep-seated malaise there is in other countries – the need for Western validation. As a matter of principle and culture, while the role of individuals is recognised, the focus of any crediting of national accomplishment goes to the masses at the grassroots, who sacrifice the most.

Consequently, President Isaias does not seek or expect any validation from any  Western institution. During the early 1990s, the Western media praised Eritrean President as one of the “new breed of African leaders” and the country received considerable positive international media  coverage. When an Eritrean magazine excitedly asked the President about this great media coverage, not did he not think of it as much, but he also did not see the need for such validation and that the validation that matters most was the internal one.

Of course, the President knew the motive behind the positive narrative was based on assumption that Eritrea would accept the new world order that was then declared as “The End of History”. The Eritrean people went through immense suffering and sacrificed the blood of so many while fighting against Ethiopian regimes supported by the world superpowers to win their independence in 1991, expecting no less and no more than full ownership of their own destiny. 

Given its history and character, Eritrea was not ready to join the jubilation of the new world order. Following its independence in 1994, Eritrea charted its journey of new chapter in a document, “A National Charter for Eritrea”.  The charter states: “It is not copied from books or from the charters of other countries. It starts from the realities of our country and society, and from our rich experience. It does not borrow wholesale any analyses or formulas that are fashionable in today’s world either. Rather, by critically examining all ideas and relating them with the realities of our society and our experience, the purpose is to chart an independent line that works for Eritrea”.

It is natural to ask why Eritrean President was not also awarded the Nobel Prize, considering  as the Norwegian Nobel Committee noted “an important premise for the breakthrough was Abiy Ahmed’s unconditional willingness to accept the arbitration ruling of an international boundary commission in 2002”; which Eritrea unconditionally accepted 17 years ago. Not only was Eritrea’s  plea to the world to force Ethiopia to accept the ruling, ignored, but the West also attempted to resolve the problem through its regime change policy on Eritrea. 

Although Eritrea does not seek or expect any award from any Western institution, the country at large is pleased for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for the deserved recognition. The Award will also help in advancing the peace and new cooperation in the region farther.

Going back to main questions stated earlier, the main reason that led to the materialisation of  the peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, is the removal of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) from central power. 

The TPLF  was able to destabilize the region – committing untold atrocities on Ethiopian people and  illegally occupying Eritrean territory with the support and full protection of Western governments. The Western media also acted as an extension wing of the foreign policy on Ethiopia and Eritrea. While they sensationalised and glorified other public protests in other countries, the protests of the Ethiopian people against the TPLF  were largely ignored. When the issue received some coverage, it was rather to downplay the significance of the protests, and putting a positive spin for the regime.

Eritrea had also been the subject of intensive information warfare. In the past two decades so many stories were manufactured, including to justify sanctions, tarnish the image of the country and manufacture crisis within the country. The propaganda law “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”, seem to have worked well. Stories that were dismissed as laughable and ridiculous initially, have come to define Eritrea.  That is why we still have the media organisations like the Washington Post employing the false and discredited comparison of Eritrea to North Korea.

In the first two years of the dispute, the TPLF  carried out three massive invasions that caused the loss of thousands of lives and material destruction. When its military adventure failed, Eritrea and Ethiopia signed the Algiers agreement that gave its final and binding ruling in 2002. There was a great hope that the international ruling would finally bring peace. Eritrea unconditionally accepted the decision, while Ethiopia rejected it using different pretexts. Then the TPLF and the US pursued a policy to hold Eritrea a hostage of the state of  no-war-no-peace that was meant to produce a regime change in Eritrea. However, the outcome of the long and very difficult cold war resulted in the defeat of the TPLF.

In short, Eritrea’s normalization of relations with Ethiopia is the result of Eritrea’s two-decade long struggle for peace. The strategic partnership of Eritrea and the people of Ethiopia brought down the TPLF regime to its knees. That resulted in the withdrawal of  the US support for TPLF leading to the rise of Dr. Abiy Ahmed to power, a leader fit for the great moment. 

Another  narrative the Washington Post tried to advance is that “not much has changed between Ethiopia and Eritrea”.  The points of their reporting of departure and ending only deal with the consequences and not with real causes of problems. They are happy to point out the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia was opened briefly and is now closed, but they shy away from addressing the reasons and context behind-  as it does not serve their agenda.

Although the TPLF has been kicked out from the centre of power in Ethiopia, it is still the main obstacles to the positive changes that are taking place in Ethiopia, and to the ongoing peace process between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The TPLF has been injecting money to instigate ethinic conflicts in Ethiopia and to destabilise Eritrea. The TPLF refuses to hand over criminals including the former head of Ethiopia’s intelligence agency, who is wanted for the assinationn attempt on Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed and other crimes. 

TPLF can only thrive where chaos, conflict, divisions and hate, prevails in Ethiopia and in the relations between the two countries. As Prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, recently confirmed, after the opening its border with Ethiopia, crimes including assassination attempts were carried out in Eritrea, which led to the closing of the border between the countries.

In conclusion, Eritrea faced  enormous challenges, including military invasions, sanctions, political and economic pressures that affected  Eritrean people greatly. The ugly war that was waged on Eritrea required a rule of engagement fit for the challenge. Eritrea has come out of the trying times that put its very existence into question as a formidable nation and with its principles intact.

By now it should have been clear to these elements  that are trying to create a false narrative that the game is really over. Eritrea is in the process of  refocusing its effort and resources towards improving the living stand of its people. Eritrea is dealing with all the consequences of the past two decades. Eritrea is also in the process of building a strong and organized system that will make sure the popular participation, protect the rights of its people and that can withstand and adapt to future domestic, regional and global challenges. Equally, building on the peace process with Ethiopia and greater cooperation in the region at large, remain to be some of Eritrea’s priorities. There is no doubt that  with the great cooperation between both countries, the obstacles the TPLF poses will also be eradicated. 


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