The guardian, Wednesday 21 March 2012 21.00 GMT
It was good to read the analysis piece by Simon Tisdall (20 March) on the apparent silence in the west about the recent military attacks and incursions into Eritrea by Ethiopia. As he points out, the Meles regime in Ethiopia has refused to accept the UN-resolved peace line following the 1998-2000 war, and Eritrean submissions to the UN and the big powers have been studiously ignored.
Yet the article then describes Eritrea as a totally controlled and economically failing society, which is far from the case. Not only has it avoided the famines which recur in the Horn of Africa, it is developing its own self-sufficiency and self-reliance philosophy and practice with results in agriculture, reforestation, water distribution, healthcare provision, gender awareness, and some participatory democracy, notwithstanding the postponement of formal elections to the national parliament. Its determination to devise its own path to recovery and development alongside its geopolitical location costs it dear in terms of isolation, but the fact it is not a willing partner in the "great game" of power politics has been made worse by the determination of the US and other western powers to trash its status and actions, and wrongly continue to accuse it of fomenting support for al-Shabaab. Eritrea would like, from all evidence I have, to live and let live. It is the US and its Ethiopian neighbour who have their own agenda and which beget the dirty tricks.
The accusations made against President Afewerki's regime and its external policy are at best unfair, and at worst deliberately incendiary, and its economy is certainly not in the "death spiral" which US ambassador McMullen attributed to it. It is far from being some equivalent of North Korea or an error-inducing environment, it hosts mining companies which deliver a useful social dividend to the state, unlike so much of the globe, and is in constant dialogue with its diaspora, including those who have opposed the leadership. It deserves a better press.