During the past two decades since its independence in 1991, Eritrea’s foreign policy had been characterized by conflict and confrontation. It maintained pretty much troubled and usually violent relations with all its neighbours. Likewise, its relations with major powers at the international arena had been strained, particularly since the beginning of the last decade. Its relations with donors and human rights agencies have also being extremely troubled mainly because of the regime’s intolerance, fears of external subversion, and gruesome human rights record. An analytical approach based on conflict of interests may proffer a partial explanation, but it hardly explicates Eritrea’s militarized foreign policy. This article contends that an account of the absence of democratic norms and institutions ― that ensure accountability, transparency, and institutional checks and balances in policy-making ― better explains the country’s awkwardly troubled foreign policy. In line with the democratic peace (DP) proposition, it is argued that the ruling party’s embedded authoritarian political culture and absence of democratic rule in post-independent Eritrea have seriously jeopardized the new nation’s foreign policy.
Key words: Foreign policy, democratic peace, conflict, EPLF/PFDJ, political culture, institutions.
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