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Undercover Lobbyist Rethinking Eritrea

The Atlantic Council (AC), an American Think Tank, is hosting a seminar, aptly entitled, “Rethinking Eritrea.” There is no Eritrean in the list of panelists, unless Dan Connell, a longtime friend of Eritrea is considered one.

The meeting is scheduled for today, December 8, 2016, in Washington, DC, for the benefit of the deputy director at AC, Ms. Bronwyn Bruton, the author “of one of the publications being released.” It also seems to be a campaign by Nevsun to prevent the USA from sanctioning its operations, as called for in the September 2016 congressional sub-committee hearing.

Last October, Yemane Gebreab was scheduled to speak at an Atlantic Council event in Washington, DC, by invitation of Ms. Bruton, but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute because the US State Department, citing a White House executive order banning him from entering the US, stated that his visa to the US was to attend UN General Assembly meeting, not to visit Washington DC.

Clearly, Ms. Bruton has become a valuable asset for the Eritrean regime. It is equally clear how she instantly became a self-proclaimed expert on Eritrea after spending a few days there in the spring of 2015. She had returned from her excursion as an expert on Eritrean affairs to the extent that she earned a spot to testify at a congressional hearing, about Eritrea.

Why Ms. Bruton chose to turn into a hyper lobbyist for the Eritrean regime is not known in detail. However, she has been a reliable defender of the Eritrean regime’s strong relation with Nesvun, the Canadian mining company that has dug a huge pit in Bisha, Eritrea, and is extracting gold and copper.

Towards the end of 2014, the would-be Eritrean expert was busy shooting a considerable number of tweets against the TPLF, a member of the ruling coalition party of Ethiopia. TPLF is the archenemy of the PFDJ, the only legitimate party that rules Eritrea. An Eritreans insider said, “Ms. Bruton’s anti-TPLF Tweets caught the attention of the PFDJ, and earned her an invitation to visit Eritrea, and to interview Isaias Afwerki, never mind she is not a journalist by profession.”

When Ms. Bruton graced Eritrea with her presence, Nevsun Resources was in the middle of a campaign shoring support from the diplomats stationed in Asmara, and Ms. Bruton was introduced to the Nevsun campaigners by an American diplomat; she immediately jumped on to the Nevsun bandwagon. Lucky for her, another invitation by the PFDJ followed, and in 2015, “she had a sojourn of a few days in Eritrea.” Thus, an Eritrean expert was born, and Ms. Bruton began to build her “Eritrea Portfolio”, thanks to the PFDJ and Nevsun, she made it her career. Unfortunately, to this day, she never intentionally met an Eritrean opposition except when she bumped into a few by accident.

Follow the money

Facing a UN sanctions regime, and a sanctions committee that diligently followed the money trail, the danger was too close for comfort; the PFDJ and its partner, Nevsun, panicked. However, being foxy and panicky can be very compatible. Thus, the smart Nevsun-PFDJ partnership immediately decided to enlist the favors and services of Ms. Bruton and AC.

Thanks to his diligent and principled journalism, soon Mr. Léonard Vincent, the French journalist, wrote that Nevsun admitted to offering monetary “contribution to the Atlantic Council last year because [it was] impressed by their ongoing constructive work on Eritrea.”

When Mr. Vincent asked the Canadian mining company, if it has sponsored Ms. Bronwyn Bruton’s Atlantic Council. Nevsun replied:

“Nevsun made a contribution to the Atlantic Council last year because we were impressed by their ongoing constructive work on Eritrea. It is standard for a [for] profit company to make a gift to a research institute whose work relates to its business.”

While Ms. Bruton’s mind is wired to ignore reality, the Eritrean regime’s fate is being discussed by the UN and other world bodies who are debating whether to refer the regime to the International Criminal Court (ICC). But she insists on keeping the Eritrean regime on her makeup chair; since she appeared in early 2015 as a fierce defender of the Eritrean regime, she has been attempting to polish the face of the discredited Eritrean regime. Working as a lobbyist while hiding behind the AC “Think Tank” veil, so far, she has not cared to demonstrate a little objectivity and honesty.

Rethinking Slave Labor

Ms Bruton’s exerts the same efforts to promote the Eritrean regime as she does in discrediting the regime’s opposition. Worse, she believes she can address Eritrean issues while shunning the stakeholders, the Eritreans, from the debate.

The position of Ms. Bruton can be elucidated by the following statement:

“Our decision not to include any member of the Eritrean diaspora on the panel was intentional… the community tends to be very politically polarized (and there are so many contrasting points of view, even within just the opposition side).”

When asked to comment on the above, a veteran of the Eritrean struggle for liberation said, “Apologizers of the regime in Eritrea are continuing to sow seeds of discord among Eritreans and we have to expose them to the bone.”

The above open assault on the Eritrean quest for peace and justice has triggered an initiative by a few Eritreans who are writing a protest letter against “the aggression of Ms. Bruton and AC which seems to tolerate her masquerading as a researcher working for a renowned Think Tank as AC, when all she does is lobbying for Nevsun Resources and the Eritrean regime whose mining operations thrive on the slave labor of Eritrean youth.”

Last September when Ms. Bruton appeared in the congressional hearing of the House Committee on foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, she was not truthful when filling out the Congress’s Truth in Testimony form and failed to disclose that her work is funded by Nevsun. Because of that, according to our source, “staffers were disappointed she didn’t disclose the funding and told the Atlantic Council it will be banned from testifying in any proceedings in the future.”

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and while Ms. Bruton continues to deny her financial relations with Nevsun, and her lobbying role serving the Eritrean regime, a picture of her together with a Nesvun PR officer in a PFDJ propaganda festival, tells a different story. The picture will remain a solid evidence of her involvement and interference in Eritrean affairs, as a propagandist. The picture also tells a lot about the propaganda scheme that Ms. Bruton is involved in; certainly, her involvement is neither research nor journalism. Unfortunately, she is siding with the oppressors of Eritreans and only advancing the corporate interests of her sponsors-–Nevsun. She has effectively aided and is abetting the party that forced the tens of thousands of youth to escape from their country and brave the Mediterranean Sea in pursuit of freedom and a dignified life. Along with Nevsun, she is collaborating with the entity that has been exploiting the tens of thousands of victims of slave labor.

Would Ms. Bruton rethink lobbying instead and make an honest living out of it?

About Awate Team

The PENCIL is awate.com's editorial and it reflects the combined opinions of the Awate Team and not the individual opinion of team members.

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  • Ismail AA

    Selam Awatistas,

    Greedily anticipating an article from the master saay’s assessment on the Atlantic Council pane, I would like to jot a few cursory observations after I listened to the audio at Meskerem.net.

    1. The panelists appeared to be meticulously engaged by the organizers prior to their presentation. Each of them has presented his views (sometimes damning) in the context of his expertise and interest of his would-be sponsors who might need to make use of it.

    2. Each of the panelist ended his presentation with soothing remarks that massaged the ego of the organizers, namely Nesvun and its conduit, the Atlantic Council. The three panelists were unanimous in ignoring the interest of the Eritrean people. They tried to appeal to the regime to open up in its own interest (survival) and the interest of foreign investors. None had mentioned anything on human rights violations except Dan Connell who cited a few things from his visit to the camps in Northern Ethiopia and his encounter with under age refugees. He strongly advocated for helping to end the border issue and paying attention to the stability of the region, and stressing the threat of radical Islam.

    3. From the presentations, it can easily be surmised that all them want the regime to stay on, and wanted the future US administration to goad it to open in the way China, Vietnam, Cuba etc. did. They seemed to opine that if the regime showed willingness to open on the economic realm, the world would not have the plight of the people under the regime terribly intolerable. Their opinions seemed to have been anchored on strategic geopolitical interests of the West and its economic and business benefits that can be accrued from them.

    4. The maximum the Atlantic Council and their person at the panel, Ms. Bruton, wanted to get from the occasion was coming out with clear message that demonstrated the absolute the failure of the UN embargo on the regime, and that it is high time the next US administration grasped the fact and changed course to engage the regime by providing an incentive of applying pressure on the government in Ethiopia to resolve the border conflict.

    5. I could sense this from the first, and only, question Ms. Bruton asked after the presentations ended. This could have been the common point with which the panelists might have been expected to end their engagements, and which could have been the agreed endgame between the Atlantic Council and the regime i.e. discrediting the embargo at the minimum. But the Djibouti Embassy representative had spoiled the occasion by straightforwardly opposing the lifting of the sanction, who called for putting up the pressure on the regime to behave and talk to its neighbors and resolve outstanding disputes and conflicts.

  • tes

    Dear AT,

    This is great work of exposing those who are working with PFDJ for the sole reason of filling their drying pocket. Atlantic Council is not interested on Eritreans at all but to work on behalf of the dictatorial regime in Asmara. As Hayat Adem highlighted it: if she was aware of the Eritrean polarization, she could have questioned first and foremost w”why it is therefore?”.

    Equally, we need to work on the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Christine N. Umutoni. She is number one agent of PFDJ mafia. She is every where to speak on behalf of the regime and trying to give him a good colour. Exposing this officer should be done without delay.

    The once famous South African Ambassador, M. Iqbal D. Jhazbhay is now disappearing though he played a great role before Eritrea was officially accused of its involvement with Al-Shabab. This shameless South African Ambassador, as his Bio outlines is an expert on Somalia, and his stay in Asmara was a perfect opportunity to play his dirty role on the complication of Somalia. Now that PFDJ is squeezed from the Somali case, this disgruntled and shameless ambassador’s activity is limited with the Gold mining Industry.


    • Nitricc

      Hey Tes, PIA wants to say something to you.

      “ሓድሽ ነገር ኣይኮነን። ሓደ በዚ ግዒሩ፡ ሓደ በዚ ፈኪሩ፡ ሓደ ከምዚ ገይሩ፡ እንተተባህለ፡ ኣነ ናይ ኣኽላባት ምንባሕ ጥራይ ኮይኑ’ዩ ዝረኣየኒ። ንኣብነት ሃገራዊ ኣገልግሎት ባርነት’ዩ ይብሉ። ሃገራዊ ኣገልግሎትሲ መኽሰሲ ኮይኑ? ኣብዚ ቀረባ እዋን ዝሞተ ህቡብ ተጓሳጣይ ናይ ኣመሪካ መሓመድ ዓሊ ክለይ ትፈልጥዎ ኢኹም። ኣመሪካ ኣብ ቬትናም ኣብ ዘይሃገራ ከይዳ ክትዋጋእ ከላ፡ ንሱ ሓደ ካብ’ቶም “ዘይከተትኩም” ተባሂሎም፡ ተኸሲሶም ኣብ ቤት ማእሰርቲ ዝኣተዉ’ዩ። ንወራር ኢልካ ግዱድ ዕስክርና ኣተኣታቲኻ ትስርሕ ነይርካስ፡ ነቲ ሃገሩ ዝሃንጽ ዘሎ፡ ንሃገሩ ዝከላኸል ህዝቢን መንግስቲን ገበን ይፍጽም ኣሎ ኢልካ ይኽሰስ? ግን ትርጉም ዘለዎ ኣይኮነን። ከምዚ ዝኣመሰለ ዘረባታት እንድሕር ካብ መገዲና ዝኣልየና ኮይኑ፡ እንተድኣ ዘሰክፈና ኮይኑ፡ ኣብ’ዚ ሃገር የለናን ማለት’ዩ።

      ስለዚ ከም’ቲ ኣቐዲመ ዝበልኩዎ፡ እዚ ናይ ኣኽላባት ምንባሕ ጥራይ ስለዝኾነ፡ ብዛዕባኡ ብዙሕ ዘጨንቕ የብልናን፡ ካብ መስመርና’ውን ዝኣልየና ኣይኮነን። ተጻብኦታትን ሽርሒታትን ምስ ግዜ እናበነኑ ዝኸዱ እዮም።”
      ፕረዚደንት ኢሳይያስ፦

      • tes

        Selam Nitricc,

        DIA has said to me millions of such arrogant messages since independence day. But he never asked me what I have to say. And for this I am fighting. What I fight for is not to listen me rather to weed-him out with his stupid arrogance.


  • ናሁሰናይ ሰላም

    Dear Awates,
    I was very proud of you when I saw some of your articles being a matter of serious discussions in one big European Conference I attended recently organized by the EU. After looking carefully into the matter, I found out that they often use your awate website as a credible and respected source of valiable information input about the situation in Eritrea and other issues or at least they use your articles as a starting point to make their own deeper investigations into the matter.
    Good job Awate.

  • sara

    Dear awtistas,
    Astonishing to see our “muzingu” friend
    Was in the party. How come ? And why
    He is not mentioned in this article?
    I gues the mixtirawit debdabe saay wrote about is doing its job.

    • sara

      Apology, our muzimgo name is mentioned in the article.

      • sara

        Kiburan enda awate,
        Apology, I just noted our muzongu name is mentioned on the article.

  • Brhan

    Dear Awate,
    I salute your style: journalism in action. I am sure it will result. One of factors which contributed to the expulsion of PF(JD) representative in Canada, was the role played by writers who not only exposed the regime’s mafia style work but also gave a lesson to the regime and its puppets in Canada that they can’t play their dirty game any more.
    Continue the good job!

  • blink

    Dear Hayat
    You know why they tend to forget and even some times even do not care about the injustice that is happening to their neighbors , well here is some of the reasons
    1. We could not offer them best solution
    2. We have a sale out people who wish to divide the Eritreans based on religion , region and Ethnicity
    3. We have a very bad bad neighbor who could not even put a very good opposition like G-7 and other Ethiopian opp.
    4. We have a very weak and some times evil oppositions who could not look their face on the mirror
    5. we have a very bad bad politians and even activists who has lost the reality with their people
    6. The list goes on and on until Afar nation dreamers and also some of them goes as far as Agazians with dead dreamer

    why do you think the people does not want repeat the time of 1975 -1991 , I mean why do not they look for window of justice ???? You must know some info from your trusted Somalis

  • Yoty Topy

    Hi Hayat,
    According to the article, the Eritrean Gov approached her on an account of, let’s just say her colorful language on TPLF. What I am curious is who was the person who proselytize her? I have heard her give interview and I must admit that take away the accent , the way she frames her TPLF rhetoric one could almost mistaken her for any native who has axe to grind with TPLF.

    One doesn’t just get up and form these views. Or is it the case that she combed the region for opportunities to exploit and then went on about her business?

    Coincidentally, I heard the other day Thomas Crown being interviewed on the radio. He kept on referring to Eritrea as a ‘Socialist State.’ I am curious if this is actually an official statement or just ferenj going rogue. But the part I found amusing was when he countered the ‘Police State’ narrative by saying that ‘If you come to Asmara, you will see that cops don’t carry guns. So, how can you say it is a ‘Police State?’

    • blink

      Dear Yoty Topy
      I was surprised he said the word socialist too , simply none sense . How come he openly stated that way ? I guess they want change the meaning of dictatorial to socialist , who knows , you know the west do not care where the cake is , they will just do their home work on how to eat it. Sad , sad . If you follow the news EPRDF is accused of many things especially the arrest of the opposition figure after his tour in Europe get arrested and the news was all over .You know Eritrea is a socialist state ?????????? i can not stand this term .Lets see ,North korea was the best match for some of awate forum comers and for many others, yet here we are after so many years it becomes a socialist state ,at the same time Ethiopia is in Emergency, waww Meles could have vomited if he was alive now.

    • Saleh Johar

      Ho Yoty Topy,

      Let me volunteer a partial solution to your riddle. Because colorful language didn’t come as a gospel in one night.

      1. She starts to work on Somalia.
      2. She critizized Ethiopia for invading Somalia.
      3. She discovers a job related to the region (description of job withheld for now)
      4. Ethiopia frustrates her attempt to get the job
      5. She writes vitriolic materials against the TPLF.
      6. The PFDJ discover that.
      7. Based on the Eritrean constitution, article 9, ‘zbar 43 of 2014, the PFDJ sends her an engagement ring , she accepted the proposal.
      8. Yoty Topy is wondering how did they beat me to the proposal 🙂

      I hope that explains a few things.

      • Yoty Topy

        Hi Saleh Johar,

        It does:)

        I guess a little bit of reading on her bio would have helped in conneting the missing pieces. Thanks.

  • Hameed Al-Arabi

    Salam Awate Team,

    Really, a great profoundly thought analysis. Thank you very much.