Letter to President Barack Obama

December 17, 2009

Dear Mr. President:

First and foremost, the Organization of Eritrean Americans (OEA) would like to extend its heart-felt congratulations to you on your well-deserved Noble Peace Prize.

OEA is deeply concerned about the deteriorating relationship between our adopted country, the United States, and our country of origin, Eritrea. Especially the travesty now underway at the U.N. Security Council, a draft resolution, orchestrated, and managed by Eritrea’s arch enemy, Ethiopia, calling for sanctions against Eritrea for allegedly supplying weapons to Somali insurgents—charges that have repeatedly and unequivocally been denied by the Government of Eritrea and moreover no tangible evidence of Eritrea’s involvement as yet been presented by the accusing parties.

At the heart of the mission of our grassroots organization, is the improvement of US-Eritrea relations. We have been supportive of your foreign policy approaches, especially your emphasis on constructive engagement rather than conflict, reconciliation rather than confrontation, and partnership rather than patronage. However, the previous administration’s policy of confrontation, disengagement, and patronage seems to continue to guide U.S. policy today towards the conflict-ravaged region of the Horn of Africa. If there is one region of Africa that cries for a new approach—an approach of reconciliation, engagement and partnership—it is this war-and-poverty-ridden part of the continent. But, we continue to hear of sanctions, not engagement; of threats, not reconciliation; of punishments, not partnerships. And this is essentially because the US has allowed the minority regime of Ethiopia, that is spending millions of dollars on U.S. lobbying and PR firms to hijack U.S. policy for the region and use it to ensure its political survival. Ethiopian leaders are adept at selling their narrow interest as U.S. national interest in the region.

The travesty is that the UN Security Council finds it suitable to repeatedly consider such charges pushed by Eritrea’s traditional enemies for reasons that have nothing to do with Somalia, while ignoring cases that are critical to peace and security to the Horn of Africa. In fact, this and similar other charges are designed to constantly weaken Eritrea and perpetually prop up the minority regime ruling Ethiopia in the ongoing boarder conflict between the two nations.

The agenda of punishing and sanctioning Eritrea is Ethiopia’s perennial agenda and Ethiopian officials are experts at using everyone and everything to implement this agenda. The US has repeatedly allowed itself to be used in this game of victimizing Eritrea in an attempt to prop minority regimes and keep a tattered empire, Ethiopia, together. The US must learn from the errors of such misguided policies that seem to benefit neither the US nor the region.

As Americans of Eritrean descent, we have a vested interest in seeing peace, stability and security returned to the Horn region. However, imposing sanctions on Eritrea based on unproven charges will not bring peace and security to Somalia or the rest of Horn of Africa. In fact, it is likely to exacerbate the already simmering tensions between the nations in that region.

Respectfully,

Organization of Eritrean Americans
Washington, DC Metro Area.