Isolating a Nation

by THOMAS C. MOUNTAIN

Award winning independent producer Afshin Rattansi, a frequent contributor to CounterPUnch, has released the groundbreaking documentary “Eritrea; A Nation In Isolation” on PressTV.

The first authentic documentary on Eritrea since its independence 21 years ago and filmed in Eritrea during the carnival week leading up to Independence Day  Afshin and his crew seemed to have gone everywhere. All unannounced and spontaneous. From secondary school classrooms to the crèche in Eritrea’s largest textile factory. From the first Islamic house of worship built on African shores to the Tank Cemetery, where Eritrea has collected many of the thousands of Ethiopian tanks its fighters destroyed in 30 years of independence warfare.

And especially on the streets to see over 100,000 mainly young people crowding the streets every night marked by an absence of robberies , fights, drunkenness or public disorder. The excitement of the Eritrean youth seemed to have become contagious, catching hold of Afshin’s crew and the usual skepticism they are noted for melted away on seeing for themselves what a nationalistic high everyone was on. A week of partying in the streets by hundreds of thousands and not a firearm in sight speaks for itself one will find.

Having shared the experience first hand, six times now since moving to Eritrea in 2006, I may have become a bit blasé about something so extraordinary but Afshin and his posse’s being here to share this with us rekindled my sense of enthusiasm and every night found me dancing in front of a string of stages set up along Liberation Avenue in the heart of the capital Asmara.

“Eritrea: A Nation In Isolation” captures the spirit of what could arguably be called Africa’s one real success story, with the fastest growing economy and lowest rate of HIV/AIDS infections. And all the while having to fend of a string of armed assaults by the western funded Ethiopia army.

For once a journalist documented the real, on the ground based reality of this little country smack in the middle of the Horn of Africa, now one of the most strategically critical regions in the world. My only regret is that at a short 25 minutes, the scheduled time slot for docs on PressTV, Afshin had to cover to much ground to quickly. Isolating a nation is what the west maybe trying to do, but as Afshin’s contribution to the historic record shows, it isn’t working.

Thomas C. Mountain is the most widely distributed independent journalist in Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at thomascmountain at yahoo dot com.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Ellen Taylor
The Voyage of the Golden Rule
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Franklin Lamb
Return to Ma’loula, Syria
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”