Michael Rubin is currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he spends his time churning out misleading information and lies about the Red Sea State of Eritrea and the Horn of Africa. Rubin was a political advisor in 2003 to the Coalition Provisional Authority during America’s disastrous invasion of Iraq. He also claims to have spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. The misinformation and disinformation in both cases cost the lives of many Americans and led to a disastrous foreign policy. One would think Michael Rubin would have learned his lesson from both.
Michael Rubin is not qualified to write as an expert on the Horn of Africa
Eritrea is a country located in one of the world’s busiest trade routes along the Red Sea in the Horn of Africa. The Red Sea, which connects to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal, is one of the world’s busiest waterways. Over 22,000 ships sailed through the Red Sea in 2022 alone, making it one of the world’s most vital maritime routes between Europe and Asia.
Countries bordering the Red Sea—Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea to the west; Saudi Arabia and Yemen to the east—have always played an important role in America’s foreign policy. America’s rivals China and Russia have also recognized the region’s importance, and they are vying for influence in the countries of the Red Sea basin. Both Russia and China have military bases in Djibouti, and Russia recently signed an agreement to set up an additional base in Sudan.
Rubin has nothing in his profile that indicates any expertise or direct engagement with countries in the Horn of Africa except for a brief stint teaching US Navy and Marine units deployed at sea about the Horn of Africa. His shallow knowledge and understanding of history, culture, and society are clearly visible in his articles. Rubin simply regurgitates what he read from untrustworthy sources and adds his own distortions to an existing scuttlebutt. Misleading the public in such an important region of the world is irresponsible. With his disinformation campaign, Rubin merely serves as a megaphone for some anti-Eritrea groups, similar to what happened before the US invasion of Iraq with Ahmed Chalabi. Chalabi was an Iraqi “politician, connoisseur, dirty-tricks coordinator, and spy all thrown into one,” who was “accused by the CIA of passing US secrets to Tehran.” If Rubin was wrong about Chalabi, he is doubly wrong about Eritrea and the Horn of Africa.
Michael Rubin lacks credibility
Black Lives Matter!, end of story. It is no longer acceptable to perpetuate negative stereotypes about blacks in America or in Africa, and it should not be accepted about African countries.
“The Eritrean Embassy in Washington’s attacks on the United States Holocaust Museum are essentially run for the course,” Rubin says in his piece “It’s Time to Get Serious About Eritrea.” The Eritrean Embassy, whether in Washington, DC or elsewhere, has never attacked the Holocaust Museum. The Eritrean Embassy urged the US Holocaust Museum not to be misled by misinformation spread by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is listed as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian Parliament and is renowned for disseminating disinformation. By repeating TPLF claims about the “Tigray Genocide,” the Museum was diminishing the crime of “genocide: the deliberate and systematic destruction of a group of people because of their ethnicity, nationality, religion, or race.” That had never happened in Tigray. The decision by the US Holocaust Museum to join the cacophony of falsehoods concerning genocide is a disservice to the very purpose for which the Museum was formed. The Eritrean embassy was justified to point out the error. This was clearly not an attack on the museum or its goal. One can only assume Rubin purposefully included the untruth in the article to sow discord between Eritreans and the Jewish community.
Rubin goes on to say in the same piece, “Recently, [President Isaias] also encouraged turmoil in Djibouti and attempted to intervene in Sudan’s delicate situation.” Neither the Djiboutian nor the Sudanese governments have alleged that Eritrea meddled in their affairs. It appears the lie was inserted to play to the false narrative that Eritrea negatively interferes in the affairs of its neighbors. Michael Rubin again falsely asserts in the same article that “[President Isaias] pondered attacking Somaliland in order to obtain a port on the Red Sea at one point.” This is a ridiculous falsehood because Eritrea has two large ports and multiple harbors on the Red Sea and does not border Somaliland and has no need for its ports. Rubin’s previous writings about Eritrea include similar inaccuracies and replicate online misinformation. The fact that his employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), does not hold him accountable demonstrates how little the AEI values black life. This type of dodgy operation would not have been tolerated if it had been directed against any European country or Israel.
Michael Rubin is an unethical lobbyist
Hiiraan.org, a Somali website, has a piece headlined “Michael Rubin, a lobbyist pleasing his clients. It is time to debunk his clientelism mission in Somalia.” The article claims that after being hired to represent Somaliland, Michael Rubin began to “irresponsibly and erroneously” attack the Somali administration. In a piece headlined “Michael Rubin and his Warmongering Campaign of Disinformation” the National Council of Eritrean Americans (NCEA) asserts that Rubin is a hired gun who executes the dirty job for those who paid him. Rubin is of course entitled to advocate for any group he chooses, but he shouldn’t be permitted to mislead the public about topics and areas he is incredibly ignorant about.
The battle for Africa is raging, with China, Russia, Europe, and other countries vying to influence the many resource rich countries. Unfortunately, there are very few who have the intimate knowledge to understand the diverse African countries. Those who have little knowledge have found free reign to spread their disinformation. Unfortunately the chores of misinformation have been used as an excuse to sanction Eritrea. Destabilizing Eritrea based on lies and misinformation will not benefit the people of Eritrea or the world. If Rubin and others find an ear in Washington, US foreign policy will inevitably repeat the same mistakes it has made in the past. It is high time reasonable minds reject Rubin and his lies.