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Eritrea is an easy target for Ethiopia
The isolated, friendless regime of Isaias Afwerki will find few international protectors against Ethiopia's military incursions
Ethiopia's military incursion into neighbouring Eritrea, reinforced by weekend follow-up attacks, has received remarkably little international attention – and no outright condemnation, in the west at least. Britain said it was "deeply concerned" but declined to censure Addis Ababa. The US piously urged "restraint". Eritrea's demand that the UN security council punish Ethiopia has been met by deafening silence.
Such insouciance over an unprovoked assault by one sovereign state on another would be hard to imagine if, say, Argentina sent troops back to the Falklands, or Russia decided to finish the job in Georgia. But the isolated, friendless Eritrean regime of President Isaias Afwerki, the subject of UN and regional sanctions, is an easy target. And Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's prime minister, is a key US "war on terror" ally. Hence the diplomatic silence (which Eritrea interprets as connivance).
Isaias Afwerki is a piece of work, as Americans say. Cables sent from the US embassy in Eritrea's capital, Asmara, by the then American ambassador, Ronald McMullen, and first published by WikiLeaks and the Guardian in December 2010, described the country Isaias has run with an iron fist since independence from Ethiopia in 1993 as a basket case: "Young Eritreans are fleeing their country in droves, the economy appears to be in a death spiral, Eritrea's prisons are overflowing, and the country's unhinged dictator remains cruel and defiant," McMullen wrote. "The Isaias regime is very good at controlling nearly all aspects of Eritrean society.
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