Eritrea is at risk of becoming a failed state, according to a new report from the International Crisis Group. It says internal repression coupled with international military conflict means the country is becoming increasingly isolated in the Horn of Africa.
The report says during the past decade Eritrea's government has clamped down on dissent on a colossal scale.
It says Eritrea's jails are full of political prisoners, journalists, and religious dissidents who are regularly targeted by the state.
ICG's E.J. Hogendoorn says Eritrea has also undergone major military mobilization – a policy that has hit the country's youth hardest.
"It has mobilized almost all of Eritrea's youth into so-called national service," Hogendoorn said. "So essentially, if you are a young Eritrean you are indefinitely serving in the military or in national service."
The report says Eritrea has fought either directly or indirectly with Ethiopia, Yemen, Djibouti, and Sudan and been involved in conflicts in eastern Sudan, Somalia, and Darfur.
An estimated 80,000 people were killed in a two-year border dispute with Ethiopia that ended in 2000.
Hogendoorn says Eritrea's militarization affects the entire region.
"The Horn of Africa is very much an interlocked region and what people need to recognize is that if they want to promote peace and stability in other places, such as Somalia, what needs to be recognized is that regional players play a big role in that instability and as such those regional problems need to be addressed holistically," Hogendoorn added.
Hogendoorn says the Eritrean government uses an ongoing border dispute with neighboring Ethiopia to justify repression. He says Ethiopia has not fulfilled border promises made in the Algiers Agreements, a 2000 deal between the two countries.
The U.N. Security Council, he says, should urge Ethiopia to accept the border ruling.
"It needs to put pressure on Ethiopia to abide by these border rulings in an effort to move the process forward and to try to foster some sort of normalization of relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea," said Hogendoorn.
Mohamed Dalmar is a Britain-based political analyst from Somaliland. He says Eritrea is key to stability in the Horn of Africa.
"Eritrea is now at the center of a troubled region," Dalmar said. "And if another failed state that crumbles is added into the picture I think it will be rather disastrous."
Eritrea faces UN sanctions for allegedly supporting Islamist rebels in Somalia.