The Ethiopian-Eritrean Cold War Heats Up
Struggles over telecommunications in the region involve a number of countries. In mid February, Lebanon condemned Ethiopia for its practice of jamming satellite television signals, a practice designed to prevent “the increasingly popular Eritrean Television from being viewed in Ethiopia,” but which also has the effect of keeping out Lebanese shows broadcast over the Saudi-based Arabsat network. Ethiopia has extensive jamming expertise, as it has also been blocking signals from Al-Jazeera Arabic, Voice of America (VOA) and Deutsche Welle (DW).
Ethiopia and especially Eritrea are generally viewed as repressive countries; Human Rights Watch has gone so far as to call Eritrea a “giant prison.” In Reporters Without Borders most recent assessment, Eritrea has the world’s most restrictive press regime, exceeding even North Korea, whereas Ethiopia ranks 127th out of 179 countries rated. The Christian Science Monitor, however, recently reported that Eritrean opposition groups have become very sophisticated in using the Internet to spread their messages. As the article notes, the sizable Eritrean diaspora has been crucial to maintaining the flow of information into the despotic country.
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