Eritrea: There Is No Such Thing As “Smart” Sanctions

Eritrea Asmara Mining ProjetLast Thursday, a U.N. Security Council draft called for sanctions including an arms embargo against Eritrea. The alleged sanction in the name of “aiding Islamist insurgents in Somalia” targets at travel bans and asset freezes for government officials and military leaders.

However, there are also claims that the call for sanctions against Eritrea touches on trade barriers for protecting its domestic market. U.N. diplomats said that the resolution was drafted by temporary Security Council member Uganda and has been circulated to other members of the 15-nation panel.

IGAD is supporting the sanction strongly. IGAD member States include – Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. The accusation against Eritrea claims supplying al Shabaab rebels with money and weapons to Islamist insurgents in Somalia.

The draft includes the ban of all sales of weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts  to Asmara. Besides, it is targeting technical assistance, training, financial and other assistance, related to the military activities.”

Eritrea denies supporting al Shabaab and has said that the threat of U.N. sanctions is of “no concern at all’’. However, the Security Council, African Union (AU) and United States insist that Eritrea is destabilizing Somalia. They accuse Asmara of sending plane- and boatloads of munitions to Somali rebels, as well as providing them with logistical support.

Yet it is not clear when the council would vote on the resolution. Nevertheless, diplomats call for the need to revise the case to avoid a veto from China and Russia, which are not pro-sanctions.

Reuters reports that ‘’the resolution would authorize U.N. member states to inspect “all cargo to and from Somalia and Eritrea” via land and sea if there were grounds to suspect that the cargo included banned items.’’

However, the draft is not clear and lacks substance. First of all, the council has yet not provided any evidence on ground regarding the case to the public. Besides, the accusations should not include the issue of trade barriers. The US by itself protects its farmers through subsidies and the same goes to the European Union killing many subsistence farmers in the third world who do not have the capability to compete.

It is very tempting to draw the line between “smart sanctions” and “smart bombs”.  The new “smart bomb”, which helps to shape new geo-political and economic realities, is called “smart sanction” and can hit a specific target like a precision guided munition. They call it modern warfare and it’s like star wars.

Some analyst caution that the widespread belief targeted sanctions could not hurt the ordinary population could be misleading.

Perhaps sanctions are not smart at all as the example of a small island nation in the South Pacific Ocean comprising of an archipelago of about 322 islands and a population of 849,000 shows.

The state is called Fiji and is ranked number 40 in the list of the world’s smallest countries next to Qatar and Cyprus.

Sugar exports and a strong tourism sector were the backbones of the national economy providing major income from foreign exchange and a strong growth in GDP. In 1999, Australia and New Zealand used to have close ties with Fiji because of business interests in tourism, natural resources and fisheries.

In 2006 a military commander of the armed forces staged a military takeover accusing the prime minister of promoting corruption in the government. It has to be mentioned that there had been two military coups earlier in 1987 and 2000. Nevertheless, as a consequence of the coup in 2006 Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the United States followed by the international community implemented the so called “smart sanctions” against the tiny island state.

Academics at the department of economics at the University of the South Pacific warned the international community to be mindful regarding sanctions as they could be counterproductive and hurt Fiji as a whole. They were referring to developments such as the announcement by the Government of New Zealand to exclude Fiji from a guest worker scheme for seasonal workers and stop issuing scholarships to Fiji students.

The danger of “smart sanctions” becomes also evident in the example of how the European Union dealt with the blurry and distorted definitions of targeted sanctions. For example in 2007 the European Union froze funds used to subsidize sugar farmers in Fiji categorizing them as non-humanitarian aid.

It was the experience made in Fiji that generic travel bans on all citizens serving on government or quasi government boards only seemed to undermine governance and social stability. In a recent statement the Australia Fiji Business Council called the international community to lift travel bans because it limits the ability of both the public and private sector from recruiting and training the best available talents.

The fact is that the public and private business sector heavily depends on the freedom of movement of public servants, government officials and local authorities especially in small countries such as Fiji or Eritrea. “Smart sanctions” do not translate into practice in general, not for citizens in Fiji or in any other country of this world.

As a result of the “smart sanction” Fiji’s sugar exporting industry has been harmed and brought to a still stand, tourism arrivals were down by 6% in 2007. The tourism industry is damaged and facing uncertain recovery time. The fact is that “smart sanctions” target the GDP of a country which is basically the same as targeting the population of a nation.

In 2007 the GDP of Fiji dropped by 7% hurting directly the people of Fiji. In the list of countries ranked by their GDP Fiji dropped by 16 places from number 137 in 2005 to 153 in 2008. The problems between the current Fiji government and the international community have not improved and constructive dialogue has been replaced by tension and mistrust. The latest development is that Fiji is turning its back on the West looking for new allies such as China, which has strategic interests in the Pacific region.

Fact is there is no such thing as “smart sanctions” and isolating Eritrea might make things worse for Eritreans. The good news is there is hope that the permanent UN Security Council member states China and Russia might block any resolution to put sanction against Eritrea in place.

The question is does it make a difference or not? Just recently a student holding an Eritrean passport in Europe told me, “I have been one of the best performer at my University and was competing for a scholarship at my faculty due to a lack of funds. They refused to support me because today it can make a big difference, whether you are Eritrean or Kenyan. There was a time not too long ago you could get scholarships from Universities in places such as Canada, USA, England, Netherlands and Sweden without any problem. This has changed! We are singled out!”

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By Editorial Team
  • almaz

    Can it get worse? Aren’t things bad enough already? Time is ticking for all of us!

  • Tesfai

    They should leave Eritrea alone- we know whats best for our country – LONG LIVE ERITREA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • tewelde/ Norway

    Eritrea needs to be alone and sure the Nation will able to fed herself and the poor Africans ,,,, most of Africans are rich in their nature but poor in their heads,,,but Eritrea has a good thinking Government which the west did not want to see and hear about that,,,, Eritrea will win all odds againt her…. long life to ERITREA…..

    • yonas

      innocent until proves guilty

      no proof just speculation from corrubt Igad members.

      we wil prevail with or without sanction.

    • Yohannes Haile

      When was the last time you been in Eritrea? Things are very bad right now. The Government is doing what it can, but it is way beyond their capability. People are living like under sanction without the sanction. Stop insulting other countries. Our government is not very far off than any other African countries.

    • AlIiot

      That is why DIA instigate war with all its neighbour.Moron.

  • Yapi Yapo

    These western hungry for power nations need to stop. All they do is steal from other nations through varies means and by putting corrupted government officials.

    And I’m tired of these African leaders that are quick to screw their neighbor over for a white men.

    I hope Eritrea does not face the same consequences as Indonesia, Guatemala, Chile, Cambodia, Jamaica, East Timor…etc

    Look up the documentary Life and debt.

  • trutht

    aren’t the americans wh help the pirates at the south of red sea including its stooges kenya and ethiopia, are’nt the americans who provide the somalians with amunition to instigate war agains each other including the nasty dog in adis ababa , isn’t fair to judge thing in partiality , what the westerners do not want to accept is the consiousness of the people through out the world , you have to adopt it the people in 21st century isnot like those who conquered them in 19th century every thing have changed because this is the reality , that is why the recession happens because the westerners donot want to admit the reality in ground , think twice

    • AlIiot


  • trutht

    eritrea will prevail despite the sanction whether it is smart or stupid eritrean live on their own capability so doesn’t make any matter but the stooges if one month pass with out a pay off from west their people will kill each other this is for the parasite dictators in africa but president ISSAYAS AFEWERKI is popular among his people that is why eritrea is thriving

    • AlIiot

      That is why he is hurting his neighbours through bullet and tens of thousands of refuges.

  • Denden

    While it is true that sanctions under any terminology will hurt Eritrea and Eritreans and thus we, Eritreans, from all sectors should stand against such moves, I don’t think it is appropriate to mix consequence of being singled out with individuals’ failures to compete in academic environments. As such there is NO such thing that singles out Eritreans with Eritrean passport from competitively getting scholarships in western universities. As an individual in academic world, I would be very interested to hear which university blocked him/her from competing and getting scholarship due to the fact that he is Eritrean with Eritrean passport. If CapitalEritrea can find out which department, faculty and university did this, then please post it here for the public so that those of us with means to rectify it can go ahead and scrutinize the institute.

    I advice CapitalEritrea to double check points of interest before posting them to the public which can be misleading.

    On the other side of the argument it is my strong belief that we Eritreans, especially those in diaspora, should be vigilant and open minded in search of the truth and evidence for the activities of our government in our region. IGAD and AU are claiming our government is dis-stabilizing Somalia, right? We are asking for evidence and arguing that if no such evidence comes forward then the whole claim must be false. This sounds logical from the onset although a statistician would have argued “Absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence!”

    • Fithawi

      Does this mean we Eritreans are ignorants enough to figure out what and where the problem lies.I don’t think it requires a great deal of intelegence who the real culprit is.The evidence are right there right under our nose to tell for themselves unless we are in a complete denail.
      It’s no secret that our people paid a river of blood and sweat for freedom, human rights, justice and the rule of law. Today none of them prevail in our beloved motherland and our people are subjected to an immeasurable and unthinkable atrocities committed by a handful of people who claim to be our own.
      Arbitrary execution,imprisonment without the due process of the law and worse, disappearances of individuals without trace become the order of the day.
      On the economic front,we all know the situation our people are in right now unless we try to deny it as well.For the innocent ones it only takes one phone call home and find out what is going on. Our proud people turned to be beggers in the street of Asmara.So instead of supporting our poor people, our dictator and his cronies prefer aiding,arming and organizing rebel groups from all over the region.Hamasen and Embasoira hotels are full of people from the neibouring countries waiting in line for an order to destabilize thier respective countries.What evidence do we need that this regime is playing with fire.We witnessed the Somalis conducting a conference in Asmara after our dictators sneaked Dahir Awye out of Somalia.WHAT IS OUR INTEREST OUT OF ALL THESE?
      So my compatriots,we should be in favour of sanction because it has no consequence on our people as they are suffered too much already but for sure it is going to have a serious impact on the greedy dictators which is a welcome first move.It is going to be the begining of the end.

      • kibrom

        Well done mate !

        • AlIiot

          Right minded Eritrean I ever seen.If your type were on power the horn of Africa will be in more than peace.

  • hi

    if there was a time for Eritreans to unite its now these American and English pirates are once again sailing the seas looking to attack east Africa they have a base in poor small dijubito talk about conflict of interest and abuse of power

    remember Eritrea these English and Americans are nothing but pirates there history is unique in that they left their lands stealing raping abusing other countries to gain money there greed is capitalism there heart is money and their brains is evil these people are the modern Romains remember god will eventually punish them

  • Yohannes Haile

    you said “… The good news is there is hope that the permanent UN Security Council member states China and Russia might block any resolution to put sanction against Eritrea in place…”
    Russia and China what interest do they have in Eritrea? At the end of the day all UN member countries, all they care is their interest. In the past China rejected UN sanction against Sudan, to protect their oil investment. Neither China nor Russia has any significant investment in Eritrea at this time. Government Eritrea needs to learn how to play this wicked game.

  • Amiche

    During 30 years struggling in Eritrea no country helped to EPLF to get our independece except the people of Eritrea.Brother and sisters we have to stand together again for our country …the night even its longer the day will come.

  • Fithawi

    Dear Writer,

    First of all i would like to thank for sharing your concern about the expected sanction against Eritrea. I honestly share the concern you have because it really in the end hurts the innocent people. However, our focus should be why does the UN (international community) want to penalize eritrea by putting the sanction? I think we have to make our voice against our own leaders. I think we should be able to address our messy political system at home. I don’t agree with some innocent eritreans who believe in linking that what Eritrea was betrayed during the federation by the international community and what the expected sanction against ertirea is all about. These two things are completely different. For the former one it was cristal clear even by those powerful countries like US that they betrayed eritrea and its people. However, for the latter one, the only person to be blamed is the eritrean leader for his stubborn and foolish leadership that put eritrea and its people in misery. Think of Eritreans’ sufferring in the histroy of the county, our people have never ever been suffered in such huge amount. It is really beyond ones imagination what we have been seeing happening in eritrea today.

  • Wedimeret

    How ironic. Look at the IGAD member countries who are pushing the sanctions draft against Eritrea. Except Sudan who has a normalized relations with Eritrea, the rest have a vested interest to see sanctions and other harsh measures taken against Eritrea.
    The timing of this sanction draft and its announcement is very well planned by the enemies of Eritrea to scare and deter any kind of prospective investors who wish to invest in Eritrea and take advantage of the many benefits that it has to offer.
    As always, this challenge will be met with courage and vigilance, and in the end, Eritrea will come out of it victorious.

    Yitref hiji, abti aziyu zinkur ewan keman hizbi eritra aytedahlen.
    Eti kelbi yinebih eta gemel dima tisigum kea nioblom nikulom zelaeti hizbi eritra.


    • AlIiot


  • Edin Nur

    We have to stop meddling in internal matters of our neighbours.
    We have to clean our house, allowing the foundation of multi party system and free elections.
    We have to free all illegally imprisoned Eritrean patriots.
    We have to allow free expression of opinion and freedom of worship.
    Then our enemies will have no reason to levell charges against us or attack us.
    To reach this goal we need a free elected government which rules not by whims but strictly under constitutional rules.
    That is all.
    It is no time to defend a dictatorship.

    Edin Nur

  • Proud Eritrean

    It is a shame Museveni and his foreign minister are playing with fire. The Ugandan army in Somalia are selling weapons, they are killing innocent Somalis, if you don’t believe just google it and you will find out they are the one who are destroying Somalia. Again, we will ask them, where is the proof that Eritrea is helping Al-Shebab? Just one month ago, the leader of Al-Shebab was boasting that sooner or later they will bomb Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea. Eritreans were the first victims of Bin Laden, when he was in Sudan the first country he sent his Jihadist terrorist was to kill Eritreans. Therefore, Eritreans are still fighting terrorist that are sneaking in from Sudan or Ethiopia to kill innocent Eritreans. That is why Eritrea is strong on terror. Now, are they going to use Somalia as their Iraq excuse WMD? Eritrea as any other country has the right to defend itself. Countries like Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda should be sanctioned. Then there will be peace on the Horn of Africa.

  • Proud Eritrean

    Edin Nur??? I can bet you there is no name or word that is spelled Edin. You can pretend all you want to be one of us, but you are no Eritrean. Nice try but you can check on of the Ethiopian website and post your face accusations. President Isaias Afewerki, doesn’t own a mansion. He doesn’t own a car. I can fill this page what kind of a man and Eritrean he is. You see, great and courageous Eritreans like him struggled for over 30 years, they brought the Eritrean independence and they are still guarding Eritrean sovereignty. Show me one country that has leaders like Shaebians. Just one country please? You can’t! There are none on this planet. No matter what Eritrea will always prevail. The truth is always on our side. We haven’t invaded or attacked any of our neighbors. If you have the proof bring it on. Ethiopia attacked Eritrea. Yemen tried to snatch by force Hanish and now Djibouti is also trying to play the same weyane excuse. The border dispute where there is none. Now Uganda has to jump on the bandwagon. You see, Eritrea is a country that has no corrupt or cruel leader like Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. So people like you who live in a glass house shouldn’t try to throw a stone, because what goes around comes around. You need to stop pointing your bloody finger at us before you clean your dirty finger. Long live Eritrea!

  • Edin Nur

    Dear Proud Eritrean,
    I am interested to read your comment on this link:

    Best Regards
    E D I N

  • Mekonen

    History shows the strength of the people of Eritrea lies in their ability to unite when times get tough. If there is no unity we all will fail weakened from inside by our own brothers and sisters.

    Remember? Eritrea comes first! Without Eritrea there will be no you and no me!

  • Concerned

    A real concern for Eritrea. Is the Eri gov’t supporting somali’s al shebab for real? Justifications of some sort would have been good; either way.

  • feven

    what i don;t really understand is, what is the sunction for. If that is for interfering in somalia’s isue, isn’t it ethiopia, which clearly violate the sovereinty. and Uganda should be the one which should be sunctioned for interfering in rebublic of congo’s problem. THIS IS SHAME FOR AFRICA. I THINK AFRICA NEEDS TO BE RECOLONIZED.

  • asmarino

    we are in the road to become one of the devoloped countries.
    we have contrioled epidemic like cholera and malaria and crime free country.

    i dare any one from the world to have achieve all this in one given time. yes none.

    proud to be eritrean
    proud to be asmarino
    most of all proud tob eritrean and peace loving citzen of the world.

  • samrawit

    you with the fake name of fithawi let me tell you something. You are purly not eritrean >You are purly from Tigray North Ethiopia. I know your writing and style of writing. I have had such writings only from you. So you do not need to pretend as an Eritrean. There are No Eritreans that will right in such a way. Your pretend to be Eritrean. Just tell your foolsh mum to beleive you. So your writing must be send to your Aiga .com and or to your Ethiopian websights so that they can read your writing. Eritrean we read it but immediately we can see your smell there. Not nice smell. so stay away from Eritrean Business. if You have to say you have a lot of problems in Ethiopia with 17 Million people on ration and hand outs. 7 million on cash for work denoated by Europe and America. 7 million on hunger and 5 million un registered and an accounted for begars and starving all over the counry.

    you need to write to your woayne about the invasion of somalia and the crimes they commited on the broad light killing 20,000 Somalis. they send poor Ethiopian soldiers who were killed and dragged on the streets of Megadisho.
    write to your woyane for terrorizing ethiopian ormos, Ogadenis,amahras and the Anauk. If there is any sacntion it was to be acted on ethiopia as the distabillllsing Agent in the horn. So You have a lot of worries to be concerend other than writing about eritrea pretending to eritrean. There is No Eritrean like you. We do not have Eritrean like you. You are not fithawi- You are Negerawi. Nagram and msluy /Tigraway. Get lost

    God Bless Eritrea and its peace loving people.

  • samrawit

    There is one thing I would like to mention

    Eritrea is a very proud Nation of principles. and justice. It never invaeded any country. It never internevened militarily in any neighbouring country’s affair.. Eritrea never supported terrorists. Eritrea never shipped weapons to somalia. Eritrea never distabilzed any country. If anyone copmes comes to destroy Eritrea. yes Eritrea gives a losson and a blow to its enemies. But never ever would violate any peace of any country. So what is the lier by the name Fithawi – let call him HASSAWI saying here. He is supporting sanction against Eritrea. What can we expect from a Hassawi Woyane , a Tigrayan. Isn’t the woyane who has been working on this for the last 5 years to put eritrea on the terrroist list of the Us. all this sanction or is a plot by woyane. and it will fail miserably. this sanction is nothing than a political desire of the woyane. and now they have lined up with Museveni another tug like Meles Chenawi. Sanction is not going to do any harm to Eritrea. Eritrea is proud and strong it is not going to be scared by this hoyhoy of woyane and his tuggish cliques. The the Bojbaj Hassawi Fitahwi is telling us he supports sanction and I say to you the Hassawi woayne type tigrayan by the fake name fithawibut I have given you the name HASSAWI, NOT FITHAWI Eritrean people are not to be affected by the wishes of failed individuals.

    sEE YOU NEXT YEAR WHEN /ERITREA WILL BE MORE STRONGER MORE ADVANCE, MORE PEACEFUL AND ITS PEOPLE PROSPERING AND LIVING IN PEACE. Eritrea is a good model for any country in the world. as it is pricipled and working hard for peace, democracy and development.
    God bless Eritrea
    Long live the Eritrean people’s unity .

  • kibrom

    I think the proposed ‘official sanction’ on Eritrea should go ahead and implemented as Eritreans have already been sanctioned by their own government for a decade now! People are not in a position to feed themselves working from with in, thus mass exodos to other countries is now the norm in todays Isaias’s Eritrea. Shortages of food and medicine are commonplace. Patient Eritreans depend on their friends and relatives to get their prescribed medicines from abroad! Eritreans have nothing to lose from sanctions infact on the contrary they will gain from it. They will get media attention. Leaders will be isolated and disempowered and this will lead to their eventual demise. I hope china and Russia won’t stop this from happening!

  • Yohannes Haile

    Kibrom aytigage. I cannot believe an Eritrean calling a sanction on his people and country…
    They (UN) are calling a sanction because Eri government about to get a return on their mining investment. This is terrifying for our neighbor in south and our enemy at large.
    Yes, there is a shortage in food and all essential material. Sanction will make it worse for our ordinary people. I am not government supporter and I am pro democracy and rule of low. sanction is not the way to go for your hate/dissatisfaction you have with the government on Eri. Sanction is a direct threat to our country existence. We have to fight this. This is not about Eritrean government this about our survival as a country.

    Thank you

    • john

      I am Eritrean and I suport for ” smart ” sanction if and only if it targets isayas afewerki and his gang –pfdj!.this will end the stupidity of isayas once n for all

  • Awet

    I agree with you Yohannes under no circumstance an Eritrean should support sanctions against his own country. A man who loves his people and country could not wish any harm to his fatherland.

    Keep it up Yohannes! We need such values and culture of tolerance in order to brighten up the future for our generation!


    Sanction why??? as you know dear citizens of ERITREA the whole thing is about killing eritreanism and our love for eritrea.the main goal of the so called UN or US is to tell us we think better for ERITREA,we care much for eritrea, we want Eritreas best and so on… can count it.the situation in somalia is out of their hand, they tried to control by any means including their slave meles.they just failed in all ways.Now for their failure they want Eritrea to be responsible, dear Eritreans I believe the solution for Somalia is not my bussiness to speculate but I strongly believe leave somalia for themselves and see what will happen.they want sanction just to halt eritreas ECONOMIC renaisance by any means.who would belive their clear lies about Eritrea ships weapon to somalia while they suround the area with their war ships and their friends active intelegence participation.Be informed dear ERITREANS the whole thing is to kill the little hope the Eritrean people got from the minning industry.May God help ERITREA AND ITS PEOPLE! GOD BLESS ALL ERITREAN!!

  • Teazabi

    Ke serkeni zerakhiwos ke melseley ney amno.

  • Ibrahim

    YEs, yes to sanctions to an illegitimate regime. I think smart sanction will work. After all that is how the racist regime in South Africa was brought down to its knees. The pro- racist regime argued then, the sanction will harm the black africans more than the racist regime. Boy were they not wrong?

  • Leah Solomon

    damn haters leave my country and president alone