International Crisis Group's Latest Report on Eritrea: Garbage In, Garbage Out

By Ghidewon Abay Asmerom September 22, 2010 "GIGO" as an abbreviation for "Garbage In, Garbage Out" is a common phrase among computer programmers. It illustrates the fact that "computers will unquestioningly process the most nonsensical of input data (garbage in) and produce nonsensical output (garbage out)." This is exactly what the latest Crisis Group report on Eritrea did. Despite a semblance and camouflage of professionalism, it is a report that has recycled refuse that has been out in the dumpster for the past nine years.

One doesn't have to go further than the footnotes to see the source of the trash. It is the same rubbish that was previously collected at the waste receptacles called the Chatham House, the Red Sea Press, the Oslo Center, or an exclusive conference in Belgium. Any genuine analyst would have immediately realized that the collection was meant for shipment to a landfill, not for use in a high-caliber analysis. However, not to the judgment of ICG analysts "in another capacity!" They have chosen to package it afresh hoping the junk will stick better this time around.

Who are the people quoted as sources by the report? There are those who "have an axe to grind" and a long term grudge against the Eritrean government. Some are "agent handlers", who were caught with their pants down. Others are pseudo experts with zero-knowledge of the intricacies of the area and without even the minimum knowledge of the languages the people whose lives they are trying to screw; their sole interest is to get academic papers or thesis that potential referees will not pick to pieces. There also three people known for their outright hostility against Eritrea's right to self-determination with their record of smear campaign and wrong analysis going back to 35, 25 to 15 years. They were wrong then and are wrong today.

Of course the chief source of the stench is a phantom source cited 40 times in the footnotes and conveniently labeled as: "Crisis Group analyst's interviews/field notes while in another capacity." In what "another capacity" was this ghost analyst in Eritrea? In a diplomat, journalist, NGO-operative, or missionary? Why are we not told about it? Talk of transparency! Could it be the whole report was outsourced and that ICG is not comfortable enough to tell the truth to its readers.

This is not the first time for an "Eritrea is doomed" analysis to be pronounced. Eritreans have been subjected to such kind of propaganda decade after decade for more than 70 years. From the Chief British Administrator of Eritrea, who had declared as early as 1945: "the single Eritrea of to-day is doomed. Dismemberment, in some form and to some extent, must be the alternative," to an Israeli historian who predicted in 1982: "Eritrean victory may realistically be excluded as a future possibility. The chances of those identified with Eritrean nationalism achieving it by military victory over the Ethiopian armed forces seems very remote," to a Briton who in 2003 stated: "Contrary to a superficial judgment that may treat the BCEE [sic] allocation as favouring Eritrea over Ethiopia, this allocation is in my view particularly catastrophic for Eritrea; indeed, it seems to me to go a long way towards destroying Eritrea's future as a viable independent state." Eritrea has proved all these wrong. The same is going to be true with this "dooms report" of the ICG.

Presenting a farrago of lies and recycling known slurs against the Eritrean Revolution, its Government and President has turned the ICG report more of a propaganda piece rather than a credible report worth anyone's dime. It is a report designed to shore up Ethiopia's ugly image and detract Eritrea from its steady path to chart its own future of progress and development. It didn't work in the past and it will not work today. Thus this ICG report should be destined to where it belongs: a landfill. After all it was collected from a refuse, "Garbage In", and is a mound of rubbish, "Garbage Out."