Brief geo-political history of Eritrea

Eritrea is one of the newest and most promising nations in Africa. Eritrea recently fought and won one of the longest wars in the world. Following thirty years of bitter armed struggle, Eritrea gained total national independence and became self-governing in 1991 in a stunning defeat of the occupying Ethiopian forces which also helped liberate Ethiopia from the Soviet-backed Ethiopian Regime, Mengistu’s Derg, the last in a series of forceful hindrances (10-years of British occupation, coerced federation with Ethiopia, and the subsequent 30-years of forceful annexation by Ethiopia) to its legitimate quest for de-colonization.



Like all African countries as we know them today, Eritrea was established definitively as a separate Nation State as a result of Colonialism: End of Feudalism and ethnic territorialization, and the emergence of Nation States and National identity. There existed no Nation States or countries in Africa prior to the advent of Colonialism (The Scramble for Africa).

Eritrea was first established as a Nation State by Italian Colonialism together with its sister Italian colonies of Somalia and Libya. At the end of Italian colonialism and at the time when the fate of former Italian colonies was decided, Somalia and Libya were granted national independence while the question of the Italian colony Eritrea remained unresolved because of the geo-political and strategic significance of Eritrea to the global strategy of The Arabian Peninsula, where 2/3 of world oil reserves lied. Hence, Eritrea was denied national independence; instead Eritrea was transferred by the colonial powers to British colonialism for the period 1941 – 1951. At the end of British colonialism, in light of the strategic significance, and against the expressed will and wishes of the people of Eritrea, the UN decided in 1952 to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia for a period of 10 years, at the end of which the people of Eritrea would be given a chance to decide over their political fate via a referendum. In 1962, with the silent consent of the UN and USA, and again against the expressed will of the people of Eritrea, Ethiopia unilaterally dissolved the “Federation”, forcefully annexed Eritrea and declared it to its 14th province, similar to the way Iraq attempted to annex Kuwait and declare it to its province in 1991.

In fact, according to colonialists’ agreements at “The Conference of Berlin (1884-1885)”, annexing a territory, putting up occupier’s flag, effective administration, and defense of the territory meet the requirements for a colonial territory. That is what Ethiopia accomplished in Eritrea. Faced with the deaf ears of the international community, the USA and the UN, Eritrea was left with the only option of waging a 30-year war for national independence and self-government, which was effectively attained in 1991. The referendum of 1993 was nothing but a pro forma and a sheer diplomatic courtesy to bring “formal”closure to the UN resolution that forcefully federated Eritrea with Ethiopia, [UNGA Res.390 A (V)].

Geography: Eritrea occupies a strategic position along the world’s busiest shipping lanes and the Middle East oil fields, and is also a major factor in the stability of the socio-politically volatile region of the Horn of Africa. Eritrea is borderd to the North and West by Sudan; South by Ethiopia; South-East by Djibouti, and to the North-East by the Red Sea.



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