“Our primary strategic goal is to cultivate Eritrea’s next generation and prepare for a post-Isaias era.” US State Department 5 May 2022

Read the policy in full here

This policy is important as its 18 pages give a direction to American policy. Here are some extracts.

Chief of Mission Priorities

Eritrea’s destabilizing military involvement in the conflict in northern Ethiopia that began in November 2020 destroyed any hope that the 2018 Eritrea-Ethiopia peace agreement would usher in a new era of stability and development in the Horn of Africa. Eritrean forces committed widespread and serious human rights abuses in Tigray. In August 2021, the United States imposed Global Magnitsky sanctions on the head of the Eritrean Defense Forces and in November, under Executive Order 14046, sanctioned several Eritrean entities and individuals.

Since September 2021, the Embassy has maintained an NSC-endorsed policy of “disciplined confrontation” with the Eritrean government under which it rigorously challenges government mis/disinformation, seeks to isolate Eritrea’s toxic regional influence, and limits its engagement with political-level regime officials. The policy supports the Administration’s goal to defend and advance American values abroad, including by combatting threats to free societies by limiting Eritrea’s anti-democratic and destabilizing influence in the Horn of Africa. Our primary strategic policy goal is to cultivate Eritrea’s next generation and prepare for a post-Isaias era.”

    Eritrea’s foreign policy – in the context of the Eritrean invasion of neighbouring Tigray in November 2020 is strong.

    With Ethiopia now apparently reconciled with the Tigray administration, led by Getachew Reda, it is interesting to see how this will be implemented. Particularly since Eritrean troops remain deep inside Ethiopia.

    “Mission Goal 3 | Support regional peace and security.

    Description | Eritrea’s foreign policies are inimical to and actively seek to thwart U.S. interests, including the Interim National Security Strategy Guidelines’ INSSG-stated goal to bring an end to the African continent’s deadliest conflicts and prevent the onset of new ones. The Embassy is advancing a broader policy of regime isolation and financial sanctions to limit its ability to perpetuate the conflict in northern Ethiopia. We are working closely with Washington to encourage regional partners, EU members, and others to limit or cease engagement with and support of President Isiais’ regime and to closely monitor the impact of – and regime response to – E.O. 14046 sanctions.

    Objective 3.1 | Limit Eritrea’s ability to undermine stability in the Horn of Africa.

    • Justification | Following the signing of the 2018 peace agreement with Ethiopia, the United States and international community were optimistic that Eritrea was breaking with its past, destabilizing behavior and sought to play constructive role in achieving regional integration and the settlement of regional conflicts. This optimism has not borne out. Eritrea’s military involvement in Ethiopia threatens to destabilize the region and has triggered financial sanctions designed to limit Eritrea’s ability to prosecute the conflict and a diplomatic effort to isolate President Isais and the regime.
    • Linkages | JRS 1.1: Strengthening the capacity of multilateral and regional organizations, government institutions, and civil society to prevent worsening state fragility and the emergence of armed conflict. JRS 1.3: Address the immediate causes of conflict through long-term investments and institution-building in the security sector. INSSG: Protecting the security of the American people.
    • Risks | If Eritrea does not remove its forces from Tigray and begin acting constructively in the region, local conflicts could increase dramatically and destabilize the region. Already, the presence and behavior of Eritrean troops are the biggest recruiting tool for the rebel forces in Tigray.”

    The US State department acknowledges that it is in a competition with China for influence in Eritrea

    Mission Goal 4 | Restored U.S. credibility and reasserted global leadership position the United States as a strong partner for the Eritrean people.

    Description | Due to the large Eritrean diaspora and several successful members of the diaspora, the United States is already the partner of choice for many Eritreans. Through demonstrated leadership in the areas of democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity, we will build on this and make the United States the preferred choice for the majority. This is intended to lay the bedrock for better relations in the future when Eritrea’s current aging leadership, for whom the most formative experience was the independence struggle, exit their positions.

    Objective 4.1 | Embassy identifies and cultivates future leaders and opinion makers.

    • Justification | Current senior Eritrean leaders publicly support the regime narrative that the United States is an enemy that did not support the independence struggle, but the upcoming generations are far more reasonable. In order to have influence in the future direction of the country, we need to actively cultivate this younger generation. China is currently doing the same.
    • Linkages | JRS 3.2: Promote and protect fundamental human rights for all people, including marginalized populations, by improving equality and inclusion to advance human rights, bolster civil society capacity, and support independent and professional media. JRS 4.4: Build the skills of Africa’s current and next generation to adapt to longer-term economic, social, an environmental change. INSSG: Reinvigorate and modernize our alliances and partnerships around the world.
    • Risks | China is actively involved in cultivating the same future leaders, and offers more (in terms of scholarships, fellowships, etc.) than we are able to offer. Therefore, if we do not successfully compete in this arena, we are likely to lose the new generations to Chinese influence.