Eritrea. According to Countryaah official site, Eritrea remained one of the world’s most isolated states during the year. International fears that the country, as well as its neighbors in the Horn of Africa, would be affected by the severe drought in the region were dismissed by the government as a “devastating plot”.
The UN reported an increased flow of refugees from Eritrea. Each month, approximately 1,600 were estimated to cross the border into Sudan and almost as many to Ethiopia. Most, however, were described as well-educated younger people who usually sought refuge in order not to be called in to the armed forces. Visit ABBREVIATIONFINDER for the acronym of ERI that stands for the country of Eritrea.
Eritrea’s isolation is partly self-elected because of the regime’s strong suspicion of the outside world. But after being involved in armed conflicts with all neighboring countries during their short period of independence, Eritrea is viewed with equal suspicion by the surroundings. Ethiopia accuses Eritrea’s regime of actively supporting Ethiopian separatist movements and there is widespread suspicion abroad that the leadership of Asmera is financing the Islamist militia al-Shabab in Somalia. According to a UN report in July, Eritrea had backed al-Shabab’s plans for blast attacks during the African Union summit in Addis Ababa in January.
In connection with the publication of the UN report, Eritrea surprisingly applied for re-entry into the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) regional organization, which left the country in 2007. The answer was that the application would be properly addressed, but IGAD’s opposition to Eritrea is strong.
At the request of the organization, the UN Security Council in December decided that mining companies active in the country must ensure that money from their operations is not used to destabilize the region. IGAD had called for tougher sanctions, but several countries felt they could have harmed the population.
There was no news during the year about the Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak who has been incarcerated without trial since 2001.
The draft of the new Constitution, which foreshadowed a presidential-like regime together with the end of single-partyism, once elaborated by the commission, underwent a complex process of verification: it was subjected to the scrutiny of international experts during two conferences held in June 1994 and in January 1995, and was subsequently discussed in assemblies that involved the population and the army. The final text was ratified in May 1997 by a Constituent Assembly made up of 527 members, coming from the National Assembly, representatives of Eritrean refugees and those elected in regional assemblies, with a 30 % quota reserved for women.
In the regional context, Eritrea initially maintained good relations with Ethiopia, but saw progressively worse those with Sudan, which had also supported the struggle of the FPLE in the past, accused of training in its own territory the members of the military wing of the Islamic ǧihād, a radical opposition group to the Afewerki government. The conflict with Sudan favored the approach of Eritrea to the United States and Israel, which considered the government of Khartoum one of the reference centers of Islamic fundamentalism. Difficult and conflicting, starting from 1995, were the relations with Yemen for the dispute concerning the sovereignty over the Ḥānish islands in the Red Sea.
At the beginning of 1998 there was a rapid deterioration in relations with Ethiopia, which in May resulted in a real war waged by both sides in a climate of growing heated nationalism. The conflict originated from an ancient controversy, relating to a strip of land along the border with Sudan – the structure of which had been defined by international treaties of the early twentieth century -, but it also seemed fueled by conflicts of an economic nature, which occurred after the decision of Eritrea to mint its own currency (November 1997), and by Ethiopia’s concerns about the possibility of using Eritrean ports. The first attempts at mediation led by the United States, which had established good relations with the two countries, and by the Organization of African Unity proved to be ineffective.