Eritrea and Iran’s Press TV reporting

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Eritrea and Iran’s Press TV reporting


(MoFA, 11/2/12)- It is a very obvious fact that the regime in Eritrea is exceptionally isolated. Few nations accept the illusion that Eritrea normally acts as a constructive member of the international community. This is not isolation imposed by others. It stems from the activities of Eritrea’s leaders who appear to have worked hard to alienate themselves from the rest of the world, and even more particularly from their neighbors, against whom they have waged all kinds of destructive campaigns. Indeed, Eritrea's leaders for a long time appear to have held the view that an isolated Eritrea is best placed to meet the aspirations of its people.

This contrived siege mentality that Eritrea's leaders have imposed on their own people pays little in the way of dividends. This is hardly a surprise. It would be difficult enough for any small and impoverished nation to develop without some meaningful and constructive engagement with the rest of the world. More surprising, perhaps, is that Eritrea’s leaders, hard pressed to explain why their once dearly guarded and self-imposed isolation is having unintended consequences, have decided to blame almost all the rest of the world for the failure to produce some kind of economic miracle. The list of enemies responsible for this is long and is indeed defined by exclusions rather than inclusions: among those included are the US, the CIA, the West, special interest groups, the media – and Ethiopia is supposedly the executor of their alleged schemes.

However, someone has now come forward from the media to rescue Eritrea – Iran’s Press TV. Press TV was ostensibly launched to counter the lopsided and often decidedly inaccurate coverage by the western media and offer “genuinely accurate coverage of news.” It is excellent to offer really accurate news coverage – but Press TV’s approach is somewhat unsettling. It appears to operate on the basis that anything that disagrees with the world view of any “rogue nation” must be right and it is immediately hailed as suppressed truth. Press TV recent documentary on Eritrea was aptly entitled "The most isolated state", but it was hardly impressive. Indeed, it must largely be seen as futile as it did not address the very international community it accused of 'isolating Eritrea', but the people of Eritrea who know rather better about their own country and its problems than the producers of this documentary, sitting as they do at receiving end of the regime's repressive activities.

The main thrust of the documentary was that despite its isolation, Eritrea is both a political and economic wonder. It is a bastion of justice and of the anti-imperialist struggle. One teenager in the documentary said "Most countries in the world hate Eritrea" because "they are jealous." The narrator repeats the same hyperbolic exaggeration of the Eritrean struggle for independence, claiming that on its own and without support little, weak, Eritrea managed to defeat both the USSR and the USA, neither of which actually had much, if any real interest in Eritrea. Press TV's documentary also served as yet another platform for President Isaias to once again lambast "special interest groups," for sabotaging Eritrea’s progress. Eritrea, which according to the documentary has already achieved food security, has, said the President, never been seriously affected by any sanctions. It will continue on the path of "self sufficiency." Like the other "guerrilla groupies" that used to welcome Eritrea's leaders almost other-worldly claims to miracle-making, Press TV is similarly defending the indefensible.

Press TV cheerfully repeats the claims that Ethiopia, "the US-backed aggressor," is to blame for the campaign to slow down Eritrea's economic progress. It doesn’t seem to matter that not many people in Eritrea have actually seen much sign of this growth “miracle”. Nor does it seem to worry Press TV that Eritrea today generates more refugees per capita than any other country in the world. This is one of a number of acts that flies in the face of Press TV's rosy picture of Eritrea. It doesn’t even mention that Eritrea today ranks among the top three nations in the hunger index.

In fact, overall this documentary does much to lay to rest any illusions that Press TV might be even remotely interested in truth. It does a serious disservice to the very cause it claims to stand for. Indeed, the narrator actually provides little more than a poorly written propaganda piece, which the propaganda department of the Eritrean People’s Front for Democracy and Justice would have been happy to have written. Indeed, they might have done just that.




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