Skip to comments.Update: Eritrea's Oakland consulate closed
Posted on 08/14/2007 3:41:13 PM PDT by csvset
The Eritrea Consulate's office in downtown Oakland was shuttered to visitors Tuesday after U.S. State Department orders, the latest salvo in an escalating diplomatic conflict with the impoverished East African country state.
The State Department informed Eritrea last week that the consulate must be shut down by Nov. 8, citing restrictions imposed on diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Asmara, including travel curbs, the refusal to grant visas to U.S. officials, and the non-delivery of diplomatic pouches, which is in violation of international protocols.
By Tuesday morning, however, the Consulate Office in the Tribune Tower on 13th Street in downtown Oakland was already shut, with the remaining staff members declining visitors. The consulate general was not at the office. Some staff members appeared to be preparing boxes and furniture to move out.
Bay Area Eritreans and Ethopians said the closing of the consulate, office would present a hardship.
"People all the way from Seattle to Los Angeles come to the consulate's office," said Mike, an Eritrean native with family in Oakland who works in Sacramento. He did not want his last name used for what he said were political reasons. He said closing the Consulate office was "a sad strategy" by the U.S. to influence the ongoing conflict between Ethopia and Eritrea.
Eritrea fought a bloody 1998-2000 border war with its arch-rival neighbor and key U.S. ally Ethiopia that is still unresolved.
A State Department spokesman, Karl Duckworth, said the actions by the Eritrean government limiting American officials movements led to the decision. "Together, these actions by Eritrea significantly interfere with the ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide consular services to U.S. citizens and others in Eritrea," Duckworth said.
Tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea remain high and Washington has accused Asmara of playing a negative role in Somalia, where U.N. experts have said Eritrean authorities of supplying weapons to Islamic militants. At the same time, Eritrea's increasingly authoritarian leadership is accused of clamping down on internal dissent and hindering the work of aid workers, including those affiliated with foreign governments.
The U.S. Agency for International Development was forced to close its Eritrea operations in December 2005 because the government objected to its presence.
Under the terms of the order, which was delivered on August 8, Eritrea has 90 days "to close the consulate and terminate the functions of all consulate personnel working there," he said.
Officials with Eritrea's Embassy in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment.
U.N. experts have said Eritrean authorities of supplying weapons to Islamic militants.
Throw all of the SOBs out of the country.
Heck, just let the Ethiopians know that we would support them taking over that country ... say in exchange for a permanent naval port, air base and army post.
Ahhhh, Another poor little country being pushed around by big, bad America. They should appeal to France for some foreign aid.
Damned good thinking TaxControl!!
Give yourself an “Attaboy!!” for creative diplomacy!!
It was part of Ethopia until about 15 years ago.
Including the Christians? You might be interested to know, that many so called Eritrians here are Christians who came here to escape Communism back in the bad old days. At the time, there was no Eritrea. But if any of them want to visit their former digs, it’s the Eritrean consulate they go to to get their visas. Of course, if I were any of them, I would not want to visit Eritrea at this point in time.
Is it possible that this 2% tax revenue Eritrea manages to milk from it expatriates in the United States and abroad is used to buy the weapons the U.N. recently reported being sent to radical Islamic militias in Somalia?
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