Containing Eritrea, the North Korea of Africa

Containing Eritrea, the North Korea of Africa

Sanctions should be reimposed on Issaias Afwerki’s regime

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki stands for a military parade after being welcomed by Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed upon his arrival at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. The official visit is part of the consultative Tripartite Summits of the Heads of State and Government of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, according to Eritrea's Minister of Information. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

May 26th 2022


Dictators seldom improve with age or time in office. As they grow accustomed to untrammelled power, they forget why restraint is a virtue. As they punish truth-tellers, they hear more lies. After years of tyrannising their own people, they wonder if they can get away with bullying foreigners, too. Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un are not the only despots who menace their neighbours. Eritrea’s Issaias Afwerki is equally malign.

He is the only leader his country has known in three decades of independence. He has turned it into a hot, dusty prison camp. He has fought wars against two neighbours, stirred up trouble in several others and, in 2020, sent troops into Ethiopia’s civil war, where he is seen as the main obstacle to ending that bloody conflict. Restraining him would be a public good.