The United Nations lifted sanctions against Eritrea on Wednesday, lifted an arms embargo on the strategically located East African nation for ten decades, and strengthened precarious peace in one of the world's most volatile and strategic corners.
Governed by President Isaias Afwerki since then, Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1993 and has received numerous allegations of human rights abuses, including allegations of crimes against humanity against his own people. The United Nations estimates that more than 9% of the population has fled in recent years.
For two decades, the security measures imposed by neighbors and historical opponents, Ethiopia, a long-standing border dispute with Djibouti and the authoritarian rule of Afwerki, isolated 4.5 million poor countries as it became known as North Korea's Africa.
In recent months, however, a peace agreement with Ethiopia and rapidly warming relations with Djibouti have opened the nation south of the Suez Canal.
The Suez ̵
Eritrea closely adjoins Djibouti and disputes between the two countries and the war In Yemen, on both sides of the Bab-el-Mandeb strategic road, a conflict connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, and not just as critical Transit route for goods on the way to Western markets, but also as a hub for anti-piracy operations in the US and the European Union.
In addition to lifting the arms embargo, the United Nations Security Council lifted a travel ban and freeze of credit, potentially paving the way for an economic opening and allowing Eritrea to be more involved in regional conflicts, including in Yemen.
The Information Minister of Eritrea welcomed the vote, thanked the country's allies and acknowledged the "energetic resistance" of the people.
A regional UN expert told the Wall Street Journal that the lifting of sanctions is usually intended as a peace and security measure The pressure to lift it was created by the signing of a peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia in September.
Ernst Jan Hogendoorn, Deputy Director for Africa at the International Crisis Group, said the move was the final concrete step towards regional thawing.
"Today is important because it is another step towards ending Eritrea's international isolation. Geopolitically, Eritrea will now be able to play a stronger regional role. "19659004" Wednesday's UN vote came after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's pressure to lift sanctions and was not linked to the original allegations. Behind the embargo: Eritrea supported militant groups in Somalia, a lawsuit denied by the government.
The move offers the prospect of investing in the crisis-ridden economy of Eritrea, home to a large military base in the United Arab Emirates and housing a 715-mile Red Sea coast near the Suez.
Neighbor Djibouti, from The diplomats said they were initially reluctant to support the lifting of sanctions for possible economic competition Eritrea's access to the Red Sea is now supporting its dissolution, and Ethiopia is investing heavily in ports in neighboring countries to ensure that it can export its produced goods. 19659004] The election is significant Ending political victory for 72-year-old Mr Afwerki, whom some analysts say has done little to overhaul the political system of Eritrea.
Tibor Nagy, deputy secretary of the US State Department for Africa, said in September that it was too early to think about lifting the 2009 sanctions on Eritrea, citing alleged human rights violations.
Mr. Hogendoorn said Mr. Afwerki must quickly make political overhauls to ensure a smooth transition of power in the future. "We warned that the international community must plan to ensure that [a transition of power] does not lead to widespread violence in the country."
There have been right-wing groups since the Ethiopia peace agreement and subsequent demilitarization along the border. According to Human Rights Watch, there was a massive outflow of refugees from Eritrea, of which 15,000 left in September.
Eritrea has never held elections and there is no independent media. Compulsory, indefinite military service offers little or no wage.
"The President used the conflict with Ethiopia as a justification for perpetual service. The hope is now that the sanctions will be lifted and the peace treaty in force, the national service could end, "said Felix Horne, senior researcher in the Horn of Africa at Human Rights Watch.
Jonathan Cohen, acting US Ambassador in the US, said the US supported the decision because of the lack of evidence linking Eritrea to Somalia-based al-Shabaab militant group, and warned that challenges remained in other areas, particularly in the context of the border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti.
"This is a historic moment of great opportunity for the Horn of Africa, but there is much more to do, especially to answer questions about the disposition of missing Djiboutian troops and the final status of Djibouti Eritrea Border, "said Cohen.
– Jessica Donati
contributed to this article.