Sunday, November 1, 2015

Eritrea: more Perils of Nationalism

After decades of being oppressed by Ethiopia and wracked by rebellion, Eritrea finally achieve independence in 1993, Now, thousands of Eritreans are fleeing the country every day, mainly into Ethiopia.
They are not fleeing civil war. Instead, they are escaping indefinite military service and repressive measures, such as forced labor and widespread imprisonment, that may, according to a recent UN inquiry, constitute crimes against humanity.

Eritrea’s descent into its current humanitarian crisis began with its 1993 independence. President Isaias Afwerki made a set of bad foreign policy choices that entangled the country in conflicts with each of its neighbors. Eritrea began a proxy war with Sudan in 1994, only one year after gaining independence. Two years later it instigated a war with Yemen by forcefully taking over the disputed Hanish Islands in the Red Sea. And as recently as 2008, it was engaged in border skirmishes with Djibouti that resulted in several dozen casualties. Of the many conflicts that Afwerki started, the most consequential was the border war with Ethiopia in 1998, which claimed an estimated 100,000 lives.
Got that: the descent into crisis began with independence. The citizens of many nations that gained their independence in the twentieth century found this rather than solving their problems, this only exchanged their old problems for new ones. Sometimes worse than what they had before.

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