Eritrea: Cohen, "Port of Assab, Ethiopia Have a Right to Use it"

Asmara (HAN) December 30, 2014 – Public diplomacy and Regional Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Church News for regional Partnership and Cooperation. By. Herman Cohn – The Port of Assab is Eritrean Land, but Ethiopia Should Have Right to Use it for regional transport and commodities access.  Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen said he wanted to set the record straight about his recommendation during the 1991 London Conference on Ethiopia, Eritrea and Port of Assab of Eritrean Red Sea Coast.

After being part of Ethiopia for forty years, the people of Eritrea held a referendum in April 1993 and decided to establish an independent state. The referendum took place in the aftermath of a thirty-year insurgency against two successive Ethiopian regimes waged by the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF). At the same time, an allied insurgent group, the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), took over power in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, after the military collapse of the Soviet-supported regime headed by President Mengistu Haile Mariam.

FORMER U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen  said he did not say the port belongs to Ethiopia, contrary to what some in Ethiopia had attributed to him, and that he only recommended Ethiopia and Eritrea maintain a common economic union after Eritrea’s independence allowing Ethiopia to use the port.

“There are some people in Ethiopia who said that during the London Conference of 1991 I recommended that the Port of Assab belonged to Ethiopia. This is not correct. What I recommended was Ethiopia and Eritrea maintain a common economic union after Eritrea’s independence and, in that way, Ethiopia could use the Port of Assab,” he said.

FORMER U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen  said that before the war of 1998, Ethiopia used a section of the port for their imports and exports, which means that Assab did not belong to Ethiopia, but it had access to an exclusive zone.

You can comment on the above article by posting your comments on the space provided below . Feel free to express your views regarding the security issues of the Article.


Background Story of 2014: Ethiopia’s Right to Sea,  an Article 125 of Geneva Convention


1. Land-locked States [Ethiopia] shall have the right of access to and from the sea for the purpose of exercising the rights provided for in this Convention including those relating to the freedom of the high seas and the common heritage of mankind. To this end, land-locked States shall enjoy freedom of transit through the territory of transit States [Eritrea] by all means of transport.
2. The terms and modality for exercising freedom of transit shall be agreed between the land-locked States [Ethiopia] and transit States [Eritrea] concerned through bilateral, sub-regional or regional agreements.
3. Transit States [Eritrea], in the exercise of their full sovereignty over their territory, shall have the right to take all measures necessary to ensure that the rights and facilities provided for in this Part for land-locked States [Ethiopia] shall in no way infringe their legitimate interests.  tesfa news


Photo: Herman Jay Cohen is a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs


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21 Responses to “Eritrea: Cohen, "Port of Assab, Ethiopia Have a Right to Use it"”

  1. mohandis

    I wonder when I see that Eritrea was part of Ethiopia for centuries,and we let them easily with that port knowing that our country would remain for any case we don’t have any right remaining an less Eritrea decides.

    1. Wediasmara

      do you have any proof Asseb belonged to Ethiopia with the exception of the 40 yrs of unjustified occupation of Eritrea? There was no Eritrea or Ethiopia before 1890’s, if you want to go back to pre-colonial era, please give Jimma, Ogaden, Oromo lands to its indigenous people first. in other words, there was NO clear border in pre-colonial era in Africa…so hush

      1. endetnesh anchiager

        Having Eritrea separated from Ethiopia is like having a cancerous leg or arm amputated. After amputating that worthless land and people here we live in peace and economic progress while Eritreans are still itching. The only remaining income left for Eritrea is the handout sent from diaspora. The port could not be a single meal, poor Eritrea that its people want to forget. Have you read this:

  2. Abiy Demessie Yifru

    This is is not the time to talk about Assab all of us we know it belongs to ethiopia,only bc of meles zenawi

  3. Readers might be interested in looking at the article on normalizing relations between the US and Eritrea at

  4. Wediasmara

    Ethiopia has no RIGHT to use the port as long as the TPLF occupies sovereign Eritrean land. Even after they leave from the occupied land, the relations got to be normalized and they must pay big bucks to use Asseb. It has been sovereign Eritrean city forever (except during Eritrea forced marriage with Ethiopia for 40 years).

  5. Alem

    Isaias Afewerki: the Founding Father of Modern Slave Eritrea

    By In depth Africa

    By Woldu Tekle

    It is common knowledge that Dictator Isaias Afewerki Abraha is the founding father of the modern slave Eritrea state. The objective evidence for that assertion is overwhelming. He was the designer of the disastrous Ethio-Eritrea war which cost thousands of young people lives, The main engineer of the slavery camp of SAWA, the CEO of the Eritrean youth exodus, the investor of Eritrean youngsters’ kidney trade in the world market, the leader of Human trafficking in the Horn of Africa, the commander in chief of the death of all the victims in the Mediterranean Sea, and above all he is the founder of all kind of human disaster and misery in Eritrea. His record of accomplishments as a dictator of the modern slave Eritrea is beyond belief. He and his few comrades founded the most notorious communist party (PFDJ) and created a paralyzed society in the post-independence 23 years period.

    PIA truly has been and still is modern slave Eritrea’s “indispensable dictator.” The essential man not only betraying our dreams but also in successfully destroying our unity and identity for the last 23 years.

    The Eritrean people today are aware of how close the Eritrean identity came to being put at great risk as a result of the extraordinary betrayals witnessed during the 23 year brutal rule of Isaias Afewerki. The youth exodus is leading this poor country to hell and it is the real test for its existence.

    PIA is critical in designing the collapse of the Eritrean state. With his great skills as a divider and with his extraordinary tactics of misleading, Eritrea today is on its way to a 21st century failed state. It is a record of failed leadership he will always be remembered as the worst dictator the world will ever witness. He is a disgrace to our society and to the country as a whole.

    He is also the essential man in leading the country at this juncture of its shameful history. He has proven to be corruptible. He is clearly the greatest failed leader and has been a secular figure before and after the liberation of this poor country.

    Distrustful, and determined to hunt his fellow fighters by false accusations and lies, PIA is the rarest of men in disappearing and killing innocent people without mercy. His evil behavior combines self-obsession and disillusionment. His arrogance and ego-centric behavior leads him to become a 21st century monster. He has dedicated his entire life to fulfill his dream of power by building a strong, criminal communist party in the name of liberation.

    He has been against the west democracy in order to undermine human liberty by burying all the legal system in the entire country. In the name of sovereignty, he has committed unimaginable crimes including the creation of the most notorious ERA’ERO PRISON. PIA and his PFDJ Party are known for their nasty crimes including torture, and killings by disappearing innocent Eritreans without due process.

    In conclusion, PIA and his party (PFDJ) are responsible for all the crimes committed and man-made disasters during their entire rule. They bear responsibility for the Ethio-Eritrea war and the lives lost in the name of national security, the creation of the slavery camp of SAWA, the ERA’ERO prison, the Eritrean youth exodus, the modern human trafficking, all the deaths in the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea, the recent Lampadusa tragedy, the sale of Eritreans to the Bedouins in the Sinai desert and the inhuman kidney trade, the mass torture and killings during the last 23 years, the political, social, and economic injustices in the entire society. PIA and his Party will be brought to face all the charges mentioned and unmentioned above and justice will prevail soon. We the people are determined to bring all the criminals and give them a chance a day in court. Justice will not remain silent forever.

    NOTE: This is a response to the author of “ISAIAS AFEWERKI: The founding father of modern Eritrea,” in Tesfa News which is one of the mouthpiece of PFDJ media outlet. The author is out of touch of the Eritrean political situation. He chose to be the servant of PIA by trying to make an unfounded theatre in order to buy supporters to the dictator at the time Isaias is on his way to his grave. The author is ill-conceived to decorate PIA as visionary and inspirational leader despite all the crimes committed by him and his notorious communist party. The author is purposely trying to convince the silent majority of the Eritrean society by making an argument that PIA was a revolutionary hero and the guard of the new created Eritrean state. He is aware that PIA is losing support even among his die-hard supporters in the Diaspora and he is clearly worried by the turn out of the 40th Bologna festival of PFDJ which was ended with shame and disgrace. The reality is the author still cannot read the Eritrean people mind. He is denying accepting that the Eritrean people are already divorced from PIA and his man-made popularity. He is still leaving in the era of “WEDI AFOM BRI NSU ANBESA ASHAKRU NEBRI…..OR ISAIAS NEBIY syndrome.”

  6. abe

    sleep on it we didn’t we wont need it

  7. seyoum777

    Ethiopia is growing without the Port of Assab. Ethiopia is doing fine. The Port of Assab should not be a bone of contention.

  8. abagedir

    when did the last time USA officials think for good of Eritrean people because of their greedy desire our fathers fought for thirty years and here they came to preach us what is good for our well being get the hell out of Africa we are well in our own. stop breeding problems and conflicts then came in other door with selfishness solutions. Ethiopian and Eritreans care more each other with out your ugly policy’s.

  9. kidist777

    The regime in Asmara successfully converted the Port of Assab into a quenching spot for Camels of the Afar. Good job Issayas Afewroki. Ethiopia is using other ports. It is Eritrea who is losing the most.

  10. Elias David

    Check out this article on US normalizing relations with Eritrea at

  11. Gizaw

    Ethiopia has enough headaches without Assab as a port. Leave alone Assab port for Ato Issayas Afeworki. Hopefully, Mr. Herman Cohen would like to build a beach house for his achievement in the fragmented Ex-Ethiopian lands.
    I hope Mr. Cohen stops talking about Ethiopian/Eritrean people. Both sides noticed what he did in 1991. I swear this guy would instigate us to another war. We have enough problems at hand.
    By the way Congratulations to Eritreans for the independence in 1991. You deserve your dreams!
    Stay peaceful,
    Good luck

  12. axmed

    Herman Cohen is correct that Ethiopia has the right to use the port of ASAB. It is about time the people and government and the REAL ERITREAN people reclaim their land by any means necessary. Regime change would be the best and the less harmful than what the what demented Isayas is inflicting on his people.

  13. Yang

    Eritrea VS weyanes Ethiopia respectivly : Self relignt and hard working VS Relief addicted with nil vision.

  14. axmed

    Eritrea is a property owned and run by small number of Isayas and his clans. For the rest it is the biggest open prison just like North Korea. Hell on earth is what I remember of Eritrea and Isayas a maniacal dog devouring the people for he has the gun.

  15. Ethiopian government was rejecting to use Eritreans port, both Assab and Massawa.
    It is advantages for both countries if Ethiopia use Eritrean ports. Ethiopia save unnecessary transportation cost from port to the aimed point and Eritrea earn money from port income and from other services.
    But this is happened when they solve their problems and make work on the their countries.
    Selam for all !

  16. Abe

    Misleading tittle! Need economic peace so Ethiopia can use the port, don’t mean Ethiopia have the right to use the port.

  17. Saba


    Do you want a proof? You are the living proof because you are just THE LITTLE AGAME. You speak the same language with THE BIG AGAME, you eat the same food, you dress the same, you look the same, and you even dance the same dance dubbed “THE LUGGAGE CLAIME” or “THE CAROUSEL” or “THE MARY GO ROUND”. If your big brother who is having fun f***ing your backside right now (THE BIG AGAME ) and his land TIGRAY belong to Ethiopia , you too LITTLE S*** AGAME and your land belong to Ethiopia. Your only claim to a separate identity is nothing noble as race or language or culture but a shameful subservience to your former colonial master and a dutiful worship of the white race while the rest of Ethiopia bled to save your sorry arse from Italian enslavement. People like you defile the memory of my father who hails from the land you now call “Eritrea” but was a true patriotic Ethiopian. I detest you and your kind.

  18. Alem

    Don’t you think it would be wiser to listen and understand the entire content of the speech before you spew your venomous comments. since when did conflicts got resolved by name calling and insults. If we are not willing to resolve our issues with civilized dialog I don’t think it will bring resolve to our differences and create stable region . The conflict was not between the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia but rather between self serving politicians and criminals. Regardless how the conflict started or end, one thing we can agree about is there is no substitute and there no any other option, but to create lasting peace and focus on our mutual benefit. Our generation has got an obligation to come up with a lasting solution for us and for the coming generation, and invest our knowledge and recourses to transform not only our region but the entire Africa so we cleanse the negative images associated with Africa ie. hunger, disease, conflict, and migration.
    Dictators and tyrants love conflict and it is a proven way for them to keep their tyranny, they instigate and create conflicts and wars so they can silence opposition and uprising in the name of NATIONAL SECURITY. Unfortunate for us Africans our continent is infested with this criminal dictators, and unless our new generation get wiser and stand up against tyranny and dictatorship (like BURKINAFASO, TUNISIA) it is a sure thing our continent stays as a dark continent for generations to come. Dictators like ISAYAS AFEWERKI, ROBERT MUGABE, OMAR AL BASHIR, MUSEVIENI, and a lot more, their time is way way way way overdue and people need to rise up (like Burkinafaso) and replace them with democratic leaders.
    We Africans need to start thinking about building a prosperous, civilized and democratic Africa with visionary leaders (not the decaying tyrants we have) so we can stop the brain drain migration and compete with the rest of the world.

  19. Please don’t talk about asseb and massawa the water is by Eritrean blood no body even touch or see it.If any person try the hand of Eritrean people is not short it doesn’t matter issaias afwerki or Cohen it’s Eritrean blood .You don’t have the right even to open your dirty mouth.Thank you

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