Press Release: Daily Telegraph: Journalism at its Lowest Ebb of Integrity…
Reporting on Eritrea for the Daily Telegraph of the United Kingdom, Damien McElory, manifested the art of distortion and deceit by trying to align Eritrea with al-Shebab.
President Isaias Afwerki and the Delegation led by Andrew Mitchell, the British Shadow Foreign Secretary, discussed a wide variety of issues; amongst them, Somalia, bilateral cooperation and the role of NGOs. Mr. Andrew Mitchell expressed his appreciation of the President’s deep knowledge of the situation in Somalia and referred the analysis as compelling. Furthermore, Lord Ashcroft, part of the delegation and present at the meeting, clearly entertained the views of the President on the role of NGOs.
Although the journalist was not privy to the meeting, President Isaias had summarized to him the gist of the discussions during his brief interview that lasted above five minutes. But Mr. Damien chose to ignore the briefing and to write something else because, it seems, he had come to Eritrea with an already drafted story. Indeed, his article starts with an alleged statement by an unidentified diplomatic source who claims that the Obama Administration had recently “warned Eritrea”. This was a blatant lie hinged on an incident that never took place and to which Eritrea could not be associated by any stretch of imagination.
Eritrea’s stance on Somalia has been repeatedly echoed by the Government of Eritrea on several occasions. It is also borne out by the facts on the ground which clearly demonstrate that the meddling of external forces has only exasperated the situation in Somalia. Eritrea has no other agenda except the maintenance of peace and stability in our region. Eritrea’s argument originates from the full knowledge of the Somali society and the prevailing realities on the ground. Ignoring the complexities and intricacies of the cultures and experiences of any given society, is the beginning of a failed endeavor.
The most amazing aspect of the Somalia situation is that, initially, the external actors vigorously searched for pretexts to justify their intent of intervention, and claimed the presence of 2000 Eritrean forces in Somalia. Consequently, the Western Media called it a proxy war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The U.S. backed invasion of Somalia was initiated with pompous fanfare and statements of arrogance. At the time, Eritrea warned of the possible consequences. After two years, the pretentious statements of Ethiopia were nowhere to find. They “graciously” accepted a humiliating defeat and hit the road back home with tens of thousands of their dead soldiers left behind. Now, the perpetrators of this fiasco are looking for a scapegoat for their failed policy in Somalia. In this regard, Eritrea has become the target again.
Eritrea has been consistently calling for a comprehensive peace process in which all Somalis have a say in the installation of a lawful and legitimate government. What is more noble than calling for the widest possible participation of the people of Somalia? Eritrea never aligned itself with one group of actors in Somalia. Damien McElory’s inference that Eritrea is courting al-Shabab is a plain fabrication, to say the least. No one group is a solution, but only part of a solution in Somalia or elsewhere, for that matter. Contrary to what Damien McElory insinuates, Eritrea champions the Somali people at large. And at no time has Eritrea claimed to have aligned itself with any isolated group.
Piracy is a disease that was able to mushroom because of the anarchic situation in Somalia and, is indeed, a threat to be reckoned with. But how do you go about curing this disease without addressing the fundamental problem? It is Eritrea’s genuine belief that once the Somalis engage in and complete the reconstitution of their country, piracy will disappear.
The Delegation and the “journalist” had a half day visit to a village in the peripheries of Asmara, with a successful Water and Sanitation Project of which Andrew Mitchell expressed his delight with the appropriate application of Britain’s tax payers money. Not a word was mentioned of this success story in the Daily Telegraph. Instead, the “journalist” chose to disseminate fabricated and deceitful stories about Eritrea and tried to appear as if he has researched his story extensively.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs