Meeting With IAF Chief of Staff Ben Eliahu & Meeting With Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki

Meeting With IAF Chief of Staff Ben Eliahu

Meeting With IAF Chief of Staff Ben Eliahu

In early December, JINSA’s Executive Director, Vice Chairman of the Board and Director of Special Projects met privately with Maj. Gen. Eitan Ben Eliahu, Commander of the Israel Air Force (IAF), and members of his staff to discuss the status of the IAF’s relations with the Pentagon and the U.S. Air Force, as well as JINSA programs and goals. JINSA’s extensive contacts with the Turkish military and the upcoming Flag Officers Program in Turkey were of particular interest to the Israeli delegation, and plans for the annual Flag and General Officers Trip to Israel and the Military Academies Program in Israel were also discussed.

General Ben Eliahu indicated that relations with the United States were smooth and that Israel was assessing its future hardware requirements in coordination with the American military. He praised JINSA’s work with the Pentagon and senior military officials, and suggested ways to enhance JINSA’s relationship with the IAF.

Meeting With Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki

A delegation of JINSA leaders met with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki December 13 outside of Washington, D.C. President Isaias, in town on a state visit, had just earlier met with President Clinton and National Security Advisor Anthony Lake.

Forcibly annexed by Ethiopia in 1962, Eritrea gained independence in 1991, after a 30-year fight. About the size of New York State, Eritrea sits just below the Sudan and holds 600 miles of Red Sea coastline making it a strategically important state. Israel recognized this and quickly formed strong ties to President Isaias’ government. Today, Israel is one of Eritrea’s strongest partners in its daunting task of rebuilding a country torn apart by three decades of war. Almost unique for an impoverished land, Eritrea has looked to cut the amount of foreign aid it receives from the United States. President Isaias recognized early on the dependency cycle such aid can result in.

In the meeting, President Isaias made two major points:

1) Eritrea and the United States are united in their concern about the destabilizing behavior of the current Islamic fundamentalist government in the Sudan. President Isaias hopes for better policy coordination between the United States and its friends in the region. Were the U.S. to make clear its desires in the region and especially concerning the Sudanese government (which the State Department has labeled a supporter of terrorism) Eritrea could, on her own, deal with Khartoum’s leadership. President Isaias pointedly told the JINSA group that he needed neither money, training nor weapons, just clarity of policy.

2) President Isaias echoed a long held view of numerous observers of the current negotiations when he said many who criticize Israel’s compliance with the Oslo Accords have no standing since they are the very same governments and individuals who criticized the acceptance of the accords by the Palestinians and the Israelis.