- Eritrea's President Isaias Afewerqi continues on his anti-Western crusade. Receiving Iran's new ambassador to Asmara, the Eritrean leader said he fully supported Iran's controversial nuclear programme, noting that the US was in no position to criticise Iran after having used nuclear arms against other nations.
According to a statement released by Iran's Foreign Ministry, last weeks presentation of credentials by Iran's new Ambassador, Reza Ameri, to President Afewerqi had been a pleasant event. The new Iranian non-resident Ambassador was told that "Iran's nuclear achievement is source of pride for us and we support the country's stand in this regard."
Iran's "nuclear achievement" is a highly controversial issue in international politics as the fundamentalist regime in Tehran refuses to adhere to transparency demands by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), disrespecting international conventions. This has led to a widespread suspicion that Iran's nuclear programme not is exclusively for peaceful use but may include plans to build an atomic bomb.
President Afewerqi, according to the Iranian government, nevertheless ridiculed IAEA's and Western nations' demands Iran stop suspicious parts of its nuclear programme in accordance with international treaties. "The US, which possesses nuclear weapons and have used it against other nations, is not authorised to specify who should or should not take advantage of nuclear technology," Mr Afewerqi was quoted as saying.
"Iran's capability to produce nuclear energy is its legal and undeniable rights," President Afewerqi allegedly said, adding, "If there should exist [nuclear] confinement, it should include countries like the US, and not Iran which intends to make a peaceful use of the nuclear energy."
Iran has on several occasions been urged by an unanimous UN Security Council to increase transparency of its nuclear programme and stop the most controversial parts of the programme. These Security Council resolutions have also been supported by non-Western members such as China, Russia and South Africa. Even the African Union (AU) and Arab League have urged Iran to stand by its international obligations.
Eritrea lately has been rapidly drifting away from mainstream diplomacy, heading towards a small club of nations opposing anything their - mostly autocratic - leaders define as "Western interests". Washington calls them "pariah nations", and the club of very different states has started to unite diplomatic efforts and is trying to strengthen trade ties. The club, in addition to Eritrea and Iran, includes nations such as Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba, Belarus, Burma and North Korea. Countries like The Gambia, Sudan and Libya from time to time join in with support.
Not surprisingly, Eritrea's increasingly autocratic leader Afewerqi has started improving relations with many of these "pariah" nations since he branded the US as arch-enemy in November last year. Just one month later, he asked the Tehran government to send an ambassador and deepen ties. Also relations with Sudan, Libya, Belarus and Cuba have gradually deepened during the last two years.
President Afewerqi, according to a statement by the Asmara Ministry of Information released Thursday last week, had stated that the appointment of an Iranian ambassador would now "lay the groundwork for the development of Eritrean-Iranian relations."
The Iranian Ambassador, on his part, was quoted as saying that the appointment of ambassadors by both sides "represents a major step in the strengthening of diplomatic relations between the two countries." He further had indicated "Iran's readiness to cooperate with Eritrea in infrastructure and trade."
While Iran and Eritrea now formally have deepened their ties and defined future fields of cooperation, few expect this cooperation to become of major real importance, rather of symbolic importance. None of the Eritrea's new partners has economic means to launch larger projects or investments in the poor Horn of Africa country. Meanwhile, most Western donors and investors are pulling out of Eritrea.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.