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A Crisis of a Ruling Regime or An International Conspiracy? A Glance at the Administration of the Battle

(This document was sent to awate.com by Tesfai Sherif and is being republished for the third time in 14 years. After publishing it for the second time ten-years ago, we still find it relevant to today’s Eritrea. 3/20/2015)

Editor’s Note: In mid-April 2001, we received the following message from the author of the article which follows: “Greetings…I send the enclosed to awate.com hoping it will be fit for publishing in the Internet through awate.com. It is the view of an EPLF cadre and was translated [to English] from another language. The name [of the author] might be a pseudo-name. Your compatriot, Tesfai Sherif, Asmara, April 12, 2001.” We responded: “Dear Tesfai Sherif, Any input especially from those who are inside the system is very welcome. We salute all democratic patriots who aspire to see a better Eritrea where fairness and justice rules and where the dignity of Eritreans is claimed back. On this occasion, we would like to extend our greetings and solidarity in your just struggle.” Originally published in April 19, 2001, the document has achieved a classic status and the identity of “Tesfai Sherif” a subject of much speculation with many of our readers who are often asking us for a copy. Recently, we learned that the archived copy is missing and we are re-publishing it, after placing sub-headings for ease of reading. Enjoy!


The morning of May 12, 2000, when the third round of the fighting which officially started on May 12, 1998 with the declaration of the Ethiopian parliament, was astonishing for all those who thought that Ethiopia will not start the war.

Ethiopia’s threats of war are nothing more than an attempt to exploit the international public opinion by exerting a psychological pressure on all those who feared the incidence of catastrophes in the region. Doing this was intended to secure Ethiopia their diplomatic support and indulgence and assist the conviction that Eritrea should be pressured to follow a different course of action. This would in turn strengthen the regional and international position of Ethiopia as a country, which possesses both force and the right to use it but is diligent enough not to use it. An added advantage was to absorb the public dissent against the ruling minority ethnic group inside Ethiopia, the deterioration of the economic situation, the wide­spread famine and the culmination of the activity of opposition forces. All these were intended to be countered by envisaging a foreign aggression.

The achievement of this scenario had no place in the mind of Eritrea’s formal centers including those who had no doubt that the third round of fighting will start. More than that, these centers were confident of victory when the fighting takes place. This impression was further engraved in the calculations of the general Eritrean public both inside and outside the country. However, Eritrea chose not to take the initiative for purely strategic diplomatic considerations, leaving the Ethiopian side to decide when, where and how to start the attack. It was later discovered that the estimations of the Eritrean leadership was not accurate as it was in only one day that the Ethiopian troops managed to advance deep into Eritrean territory. The Ethiopian forces broke one of the most important fronts.

It was clear that the numerical and armaments superiority was not the only reason for this early penetration, which was unexpected even to the Ethiopian forces. The Ethiopians smuggled their troops through an unguarded part of the front that was used by both sides to infiltrate their military intelligence personnel, a fact that demonstrates the tactical and intelligence superiority of the Ethiopian side. Although the Ethiopian army suffered severe military losses amounting to 2 SU25 airplanes, a fighter helicopter and 16 tanks in only the first 3 days of fighting, it did not stop until it reached the outskirts of Barentu town in the fourth day marching over the bodies of more than 27,000 of its members. Seeing the military methodology that the Ethiopian army has been following right from the start of the war, the number of casualties may be enormous. On the fifth day of fighting, the Eritrean government declared its withdrawal from Barentu, following a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers that lasted for 45 minutes. That day was the worst day for Eritrea.

The occupation has added a new impetus to the Ethiopian army, as Barentu was the capital city of the largest Eritrean administrative regions that represents the country’s food basket in addition to its strategic location along the road linking Eritrea with the Sudan. It was evident that Ethiopia had the upper hand as far as troop numbers was concerned as the victory had a potential of being exploited to lengthen the age of the ruling Tigryan ethnic minority regime. This was achieved in spite of the enormous human losses, which were not unexpected to the Tigrayan military commanders.

Although the Eritrean army managed to maintain its human and logistical capacity, the very fact that the entire western front was broken had thrown a huge morale damage upon the Eritrean people. A real human catastrophe was at hand as a great portion of the inhabitants of those areas were forced to flee their homes. These were either displaced and became homeless or fled to take refuge in the Sudan. The new refugees added to those of the sixties and seventies at a time when preparations were underway to repatriate 163,000 of the long-time refugees from the Sudan starting from May 2000, the month when the fighting of the 3rd round started.

At the political level, the border conflict came back to square one and the TPLF was given a new bouncing ground which could enable it to extend the age of its rule in the absence of effective political forces which could mobilize the Ethiopian people into a robust political struggle against the regime and create a viable political alternative that changes the “history” and “Sea” complex that dominates Ethiopian preoccupation about Eritrea. Following the battles of the central front as well as the battles of the Alitiena-Mereb front and prior to the start of the battles of the Assab front which were much more intensive and concentrated in the military sense, Eritrea declared its withdrawal to its May 1998 positions.

Several important and legitimate questions concerning the way we dealt with the conflict that came up with a neighboring state, which used the border issue as a pretext to hide the real motives and all of a sudden turned into questioning the very existence of a sovereign state and people. The most important of these questions included the following:

  • Why did we reject the American proposal right from the start when it is the same proposal that we have received today after the great human, material and moral losses that the two years war has caused?
  • Wouldn’t it be possible to avoid all the losses by accepting the proposal when it was tabled?
  • Why do we feel weaker and retreat into giving concessions whenever a new battle is fought? Accepting the Framework Agreement when we lost Badime; followed by suddenly accepting all the in Algiers, and recently followed by withdrawal from Badime. Wasn’t it possible to calculate the political and military losses before the fighting actually took place?
  • Why did we lead our people into believing in absolute victory and total contempt of the enemy as was evident in the meetings of the authorities and the people without mobilizing it to accept any potential losses or at least imply the force of the other party?
  • Do we have the necessary political, diplomatic and administrative capacity? Did we utilize our, existing human, material, organizational and intellectual capabilities effectively?
  • Why did our relations with the neighboring countries deteriorate in the past few years? Was it because of the evil will of those neighbors or because due to our ill treatment of the issues of good neighborliness?

These questions are being asked by lay-men in the streets, politicians, intellectuals and even high-ranking officials in the state. I do not believe that these questions are caused by the psychological impact of the fighting or motivated by an evil intention will aim at throwing the responsibility upon certain individuals. On the contrary, these questions were being fermented in the minds of every citizen and were postponed because victory was the ultimate objective for which all means were left free of any reins.

After Barentu, hopes were high that victory will come in the remaining three fronts, namely the central front, the Alitiena-Mereb front and the Burie front. On 23 May 2000, fighting started at the central front and the Alitiena-Mereb front. The pushing Ethiopian army tried to achieve victory in the first few hours of the fighting which started at 4:30 a.m., and was forced to retreat bearing huge human and material losses amounting to 5 Mig 23 and 21 fighter planes. However, dramatic developments took place in the third day of the fighting. The OAU appeal to withdraw to the May 1998 positions, to stop fighting and to start negotiations without any preconditions was accepted and consequently Eritrean forces withdrew from Zalembessa. Although such a position was not new in nature, the acceptance of the appeal in such a situation did cause a disturbance to every Eritrean. What made it more perplexing was that most people believed our army was not only in a better position but also had the upper hand according to a statement made by the director of the Office of the President to the CNN. It was also stated that our army had advanced nine kilometers inside Ethiopian territory along the Alitiena-Mereb front.

On 6th June 2000 the Eritrean government issued a blurred statement in which it confirmed that the Ethiopian army withdrew from all Eritrean territories in western Eritrea. That was the moment when the Ethiopian army was vandalizing the villages in upper region and was advancing towards the town of Teseney. The Eritrean statement was based on statements given by the Ethiopian Minister of Defense and Prime Minister declaring the termination of the war. Following these statements the battles of Teseney and Assab were carried out in a Marathon speed before the signing of the Agreement on the Secession of Hostilities in Algiers on 18 June 2000.

The curtains of the political, diplomatic and military theaters of the fighting were far from being closed as the Ethiopians tried to invest every gain to influence the content of the agreements signed under the auspices of the OAU, UN and the US government. The first fruits of their victory became evident in their ability to impose a security zone 25 kms. wide inside Eritrean territory, which was a best result scenario that the Ethiopians dreamed of at the beginning of the conflict with a possible achievement of rendering demarcation irrelevant. Whatever the results of the political formulae for the resolution of the conflict and the Eritrean people’s lack of confidence in our ability to manage the fighting, one may attribute the reasons of failure to the following subjective shortcomings of the state:

  1. The absence of institutionalized system of work in Eritrea and the lack of clarity in drawing the internal and external policies;
  2. The weakness of the intelligence service or the absence of its role;
  3. The non-qualification of the military commanders in terms of military and administrative expertise and the control of the war by non-military persons.


What does institutionalized work mean? I don’t think there is any contention among the holders of different ideologies or theories as to what institutionalization means. Although there might be some differences in understanding, the general conception is that an institution is a group on rules and guidelines that specifies the rights and duties of individuals and groups and organizes their relations in the framework of a structure where the most important component is accountability and participation in decision-making. Institutional work might be described as being contrary to individualized work and both are totally different. However, an institution may include both the institutional and the individual aspects in running its functions and in this case it becomes either semi-institutional or semi individualistic. The clear-cut difference lies in whether it is the individual represented in the person of the manager or president that decides everything purely depending his personal charisma and whims which are necessarily far from perfection or whether it is the institution that takes decisions by the consultation of those with the necessary expertise in accordance to a clearly defined organizational structure that specifies the mandates, duties and limits of responsibility especially when the issue concerns public interest in the case of a cooperative society or a state.

In the case of a state, institutionalism expresses itself in the form of the following:

  • The national constitution;
  • An elected parliament;
  • A civil society composed of crafts or professional associations, independent syndicates, popular organizations, political parties, individual notables with considerable social and cultural weight and an independent press.

The ideas, aspirations and feelings of the society are channeled through these veins to feed into the centers of decision-making concerning political, economic policies and the issues of war and peace and other issues deciding the destiny of the population provided that a system of accountability, transparency and responsibility is set in place. The question that poses itself is: do we in Eritrea where the age of our independent nation is only 10 years, have something of all these?

I.A.1 Constitution

Formally we do have a constitution that has not been implemented yet, although some of its provisions, namely those concerning language and civil law, which are crucial matters in a pluralistic society, do not express the aspirations of a wide sector of our people. The most important problem hampering the establishment of institutionalization lies in freezing the constitution. It is evident that revolutionary traditions and mentality dominated the thinking of our leadership. The strong inclination towards individualism in the political decision-making has also been a major obstacle to the development of institutions with the exception of the current war situation that has exploded with Ethiopia since two years ago.

I.A.2 Parliament & The Council of Ministers

There is also a parliament where half of the members are the members of the Central Committee of the organization who were elected in accordance with the organizational traditions in which candidates were predetermined in lists prepared by the organizational leadership, and specifically by the Chairman of the organization, and not on the basis of expertise or trust of the electorate. The other half is composed of ordinary citizens elected by the general public in an election where no adequate preconditions were laid down. The defect lies not on the existence of such a parliament but on its functioning as even the most fabricated parliament in the world functions a thousand times better than this parliament.

The National Assembly does not even have an office and does not hold regular sessions. It is presided by the President of the state who calls for sessions to convene whenever he wishes to do so. The purposes of most of the meetings are for enlightenment about developments or for hearing the reports of the cabinet of ministers and for approving them. The meetings have never come out with resolutions with the exception of pointing out, in the concluding communiqué’, to the importance of the issues that were discussed. There hasn’t been any voting system and the national assembly has never asked executive personnel or taken disciplinary steps to correct him as a legislative body controlling the executive body would be expected to do. It is only the President that is mandated with the first and last say on the concluding statements of the assembly.

I think the basic reason for all these lies in the Marxists traditions of the organization and the negligence of those in charge towards the magnitude of their responsibilities. Moreover, the strength of the personality of the President and his inclination towards contempt of institutionalization and towards dwarfing the capabilities of his companions as well as his interest in having a say on everything, has greatly contributed to rendering the institution a mere puppet.

The Council of Ministers is totally ineffective. Any member in the council of ministers is appointed and expelled to and from the council by a letter from the President for reasons that are exclusively known only to the President. The Council does not have regular meetings and its sessions are limited to each Minister presenting the report of his Ministry and to listening to a briefing by the President on the current situation of the country. Major national issues such as foreign, security and economic policies are not discussed seriously.

The council does not have any voting system concerning the issues that are raised in the meeting and it is the President that declares the opening and the closing of the meetings, inconsiderate of the holders of a different opinion in the council. I don’t think the President returns to the council of ministers when he decides to establish new ministries or appoint new ministers or firing existing ministers. Neither does he return to any party when whenever he appoints new officials as the appointment is not declared by any proclamation except an internal circular. Some people, especially foreigners, deal with ministers or general directors who have been fired from the posts as if they were still in the same positions. May this be excused by the situation of war or the imperative of developing the country economically? The legitimate question that may arise can be: is the minister a professional appointee whose mandate relates to his expertise on the issues entrusted to him or is he a political appointee who bears full national responsibility on what he does?

A. 3: Civil Society

The civil society in Eritrea does not have any effective existence. This might be due to the situation of displacement, destruction and anxiety that the Eritrean people have been exposed to for a long time before independence. The component parts of a civil are spontaneously developed entities and may not develop in a non-democratic environment. The only existing structures are the mass organizations of the workers, women and youth that were established by the organization during the armed struggle.

These mass organizations belonged to the organization. Moreover, their organizational make-up does not enable them to represent the aspirations of the masses whose names they bear. Political parties are non-existent and the leadership of the organization developed a historical phobia regarding the establishment of political organizations or parties ever since both the EPLF and the ELF adopted the policy of “the field does not bear more that one organization”. Although this policy imposed by the need to excuse the infiltration of either organization to the other, it later became the EPLF’s theory for the achievement of national unity and economic & social development. However this theory may have positive implications, the non-existence of political forces that compete with the PFDJ has caused a stagnation in the operational development of the efficiency of the organization and the government which became the main reason for administrative procrastination, nepotism, corruption and bureaucratic retardation as well as the negligence towards the crucial issues of the development of the nation and the society.

These cases are continuing to grow and flourish in spite of some sentimental restrictions that are being placed without any legal or institutional justifications. As we are evaluating the causes of the defeat in the latest round of fighting, the question that we may raise is: what relation does institutionalization have with victory or defeat in a battle?

I. B. Monopolizing Power

In his book titled: ‘The storms of war and the storms of peace,‘ the great writer Mr. Mohammed Hasenein Haykel states:

The responsibility of peace and war making is too great to be left for the decision of a single person, even if he is a head of a state or a popular leader with a paramount popular support. The risks of wide popular participation in this process may waste one opportunity, but the risks of the monopoly of decision-making by one person may result into a real catastrophe.

These words are not a result of abstract theoretical assumptions, but stem from the experience of a country that is geographically not far from us but is more than a century far from us in all respects of life especially in the cultural and institutional fields. He was referring to the era of President Anwar Al-Sadat who underestimated the role of the ancient institutions in his country and surrounded himself by a group of his trusted friends whose main role was to applaud and present statements of loyalty instead of presenting ideas and advises which could necessarily be presented only by the experts whom he did not like not because they were traitors but because he could not stand.

Finally he totally monopolized all decision-making and started to claim perfection and contempt everything, until he was hated by all Egyptians and ended in the most tragic way. This incident took place in a country with relatively strong institutions. In a small, newly born poor country endowed with a pluralistic society and is still feeling its way to identify itself where utilizing the capacity of every individual is a crucial imperative, monopolizing power by an individual becomes a double catastrophe.

If we accept what Haykel said as applicable to our situation too, why don’t we dare to look into our own face? Who are we and what situation do we live in? It is true that we are a sovereign state, but we are loaded with a revolutionary tradition, which has its impact on our behaviors and the actions of government sectors because it IS built-in in our thinking and its influence is felt in all government operations and even in the whole life-style of our society. The most important expression is seen in the vagueness of public policies, the assignment of responsibilities and accountability. If one becomes more specific and precise, the crucial issues of foreign policy, security, defense, economy, education and others may be seen against this reality. How are these important national components administered? As we evaluate the relations of war and institutionalization, the issues of foreign policy, security and defense count among the top priority. How have we been dealing with these issues both before the current conflict with Ethiopia started and after that?

I. C. Foreign Policy

Assuming that the basic aim of establishing relations for every country is to exchange benefits and interests with its counterparts as well as to strengthen its ability to face dangers when they come, diplomatic literature summarizes the main activities of the task of diplomacy in the following three areas:

  • Observing the development of trends and incidents;
  • Protecting the interests of the state;
  • Negotiating on whatever concerns the state;

In this connection, the head of the department of international law and ex-dean of the faculty of law at the University of Alexandria, Dr. Ali Al-Sadik Abuheif, says:

Observing whatever touches the interests of the state without falling into the trap of partisan inclinations is a difficult task that requires scrutinizing information with great care and ascertaining their objectivity in such a way that avoids mistakes caused by misinformation as great care is also required in their coordination and analyzing what may be useful and requires the state to be informed of it.

The protection of the interests of nationals requires observing the implementation of agreements and conformity with the norms of international law. It also requires intervention at a proper time to prevent any imbalances with regard to the legal rights and interests of the nationals. If that is not possible, requests should be presented for improvement and compensation at the incidence of jurisdiction. All these should be done with strict care to discreet communication considerate of the cultural and other characteristics of the counterparts in such a way that it only implies to them what should be done without commanding them to do it and convince them of the seriousness of the matter before surprising them with deeds.

The task of Negotiation covers a range of purposes both with the aim of straightening the problems of the past and paving the way for future relations. It also serves as a preliminary task for the signing of agreements and conventions which are the grounds by which the relations are formalized and strengthened. If these are the main building stones of diplomacy, how are things processed in Eritrea?

Do we have a researched foreign policy or do we work on a day-to-day basis? With respect to the foreign policy issue, the general perception has been that we do not have a clear strategy to deal with states in accordance to their political, geographic and economic importance. All our behaviors show that we have been dealing with our diplomatic relations subject to our emotions, whims, reactions and subjective anticipation, which have dominated the factors of national interests. This has significantly influenced our treatment of different nations. The foreign policy rhetoric has been reflecting the fact that we are ignorant as to the norms that govern diplomatic relations.

We started our first homework as an independent state with a fierce attack upon Saudi Arabia in our mass media, followed by an attack upon the OAU at its regular summit held in Cairo in 1993. We also attacked, through statements made by our highest government officials, the Arab League of Nations expressing contempt on its role and effectiveness. We severed our diplomatic relations with the Sudan abruptly and threatened to overthrow the regime in a few months inconsiderate of our interests in this neighboring state where a third of our population still live as refugees, employees and traders in different towns and villages within its borders. The reason that we claimed was the support given by the Sudanese government to the Eritrean Jihad group which is essentially superficial since this group does not possess the popularity that may enable it to threaten the stability of our nation and society. Moreover, our language of describing the international system of relations was so blunt that it roused the anger of the great powers.

We described the international system by saying: “the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the domination of the world by one country has resulted into a relationship of subjugation among states”. Such statements were said by high-ranking government officials although everybody may read that such statements did not coincide with the reality of our tiny developing country. However, such statements may reflect the stuffed grudges of the poor countries, which necessarily alerts the rich western countries that view the new world order as the culmination of a perfect social system.

I.C.1 – OAU

We have still not gained the membership of any regional organization with the exception of the OAU, which is historically dominated by Ethiopia. This influence was clearly demonstrated during the two years of our conflict with Ethiopia. Our membership in the OAU has been forced by the destiny of our geographic reality irrespective of the previous positions of this organization on the Eritrean case, which did not preclude some of its member states to take a positive position with regard to our just cause.

I.C.2 – Arab League

Although we have established diplomatic relations with many Arab states, our reluctance to become members of the Arab League of Nations has been the main cause of the reservation of many of the Arab states that supported us during the armed struggle. Membership in the Arab league, irrespective of whether the organization is effective or not and whether Eritreans are Arabs or not, has also been the demand of a considerable part of the Eritrean population resulting from their cultural and religious links with the Arab world. We did not only reject the membership of this organization, but have also been responding with great sensitivity and emotion to every question posed by a simple journalist with regard to this issue. This behavior had a great impact of the non-response of many Arab countries to our requests for support in several occasions although they did not deny the justice of our cause. The Arab reaction during our conflict with Yemen over the Hanish-Zuqar islands, our conflict with the Sudan which threatened our national security, and even our current conflict with Ethiopia which is targeting our very existence have clearly shown the reservation of the Arabs towards Eritrea. On the contrary these counties have shown a great sympathy with Eritrean opposition groups and continue to support them under different pretexts, in spite of their undisputed knowledge that these groups obtain the reasons of their existence from the mistakes that we commit both internally and externally.

I.C.3 – NGOs

The expulsion of NGOs and their description as immoral and inhuman was the peak of our challenging encounter with the western powers that view them as the most important means of materializing the new world order. Were these undertakings researched at least at the lowest levels? And if they were actually studied by academicians, researchers, or experts of international cooperation, were they ever presented to the National Assembly or the Council of Ministers or at least to the Central Committee of the organization for discussion and approval? If the proposals were actually studied, then the blame lies on those who conducted the researches as well as the legislative and executive bodies that approved them. And if they were the result of the personal initiatives of the President of the state, then here lies the real problem which actually becomes a double catastrophe.

I.C.4 – Ethiopia

After independence the only country that we trusted was Ethiopia in spite of the knowledge of every cadre in the organization and its leadership that the TPLF had evil plans which it demonstrated in the eighties in an undisputed manner. We seemed to forget whatever might have aroused suspicions although what our President stated by saying “we are thinking beyond what is called the border” and “we are ready to found a confederation with Ethiopia” does not represent the thinking of the organization’s cadres or the feelings of the Eritrean people who could not forget the wounds of the past just because an ethnic minority which congratulated Eritrean independence, not because it could change the developments on the ground but because it would have been the first loser of opposing Eritrea’s independence, has come to power in Ethiopia.

In many agreements of bilateral cooperation we did not make the necessary reservations such as the compensation for the pensioners and demanding for war reparations which are legally acceptable demands and do not affect the bilateral political relations between countries which have agreed on the principle of national independence. This great appreciation of the leadership of the TPLF would have been in harmony if the other side also demonstrated a similar feeling even at the superficial level. However, the TPLF leadership did not hide their feelings and intent.

Issues such as claiming the ownership of “Badime” and “Bada” are nothing new. These claims started in the eighties although there was an intentional negligence from our side, for which we do not know the reasons. Moreover, the Ethiopians were unilaterally demarcating the places and creeping gradually towards the Gash River, probably to materialize the ancient map of old Tigray known as “Mereb-Milash”. Since 1994, the administrations of the Gash Barka region as well as our consulate in Mekele were sending reports notifying of developments concerning this issue. These reports were, however, neglected with contempt by the concerned government authorities in Eritrea and were viewed as the result of unjustified emotions. The activities of changing the marks across the border by the Tigrayan militias were described as being the deeds of some fanatics in the Zonal Administration and were not adopted by the TPLF, which was taken as a strategic friend, as an organization.

In 1997 there came a new development as all the Eritrean inhabitants were deported from Badime in an organized manner. This incident was pictured by the Eritrean Television, which also conducted some interviews with the deportees, but the program was prohibited from being broadcast. The village of Adi-Murug in the Bada area was also occupied in about the same time. In spite of all these developments, banning any information from the public and misinformation of the public continued as it was. I doubt if even the above mentioned institutions were informed of what was happening, let alone discussing the developments or drawing plan to challenge them or studies to provide consultancy to those in charge. Such a situation is difficult to imagine.

Modem history has not witnessed any President who concealed the information that his territory has been occupied, from his own people, ministers and army and whose only preference was to appeal to the invader under the pretext that there are more important interests than the occupation of his land and the expulsion of his population. What could those interests really be then? Whether consciously or not the phrase “strategic relations” was repeated frequently by our officials and especially by those who served as diplomats in Ethiopia. The same situation continued even after the occupation of Adi-Murug in which case it might have been intended to justify what had happened in a situation where the excuse was worse than the original misgiving. After the explosion of the conflict all efforts were aimed at mobilizing every bit of the national capabilities towards facing a tangible danger and a surely expected victory based on the assumption that the enemy we were fighting was ignorant. Nobody knows what our military and diplomatic plans have been and whether there was room for any marginal concessions to avoid the risk of war as we are a small nation and are in need of saving our national resources instead of being cornered into fighting the war. This, however, must not imply an underestimation of the factor of protecting the national pride. It is only intended to refer to the importance of consulting, an issue where there is no contention that we lack it very much not only in this case but also in all other cases.

The objectives of the Tigrayans were not clear to the cadres as well as to the general public, as the sudden shift from the status of a strategic friend to a fierce enemy was perplexing to everybody. However, the historic Ethiopian animosity towards Eritrea and the alertness of the Eritrean people towards the possibility of the return of the colonizers in addition to their knowledge of the mentality of the TPLF and the consequent public suspicion of the relations that existed at that time enabled us to absorb the shock. It was not the President’s sudden discovery of the Ethiopian plot that mobilized the Eritrean people in such a surprising speed. This was a major blow to the Eritrean government’s policy that bided everything in establishing strategic relations with Ethiopia where a significant sector of its population could still not swallow the independence of Eritrea.

Irrespective of whether the objective of the Tigrayans was to expand the area of the Tigray administrative zone or whether it was to control Eritrea and establish a satellite government in it or whether it was to divide Eritrea into ethnic entities in order to enable it to establish the Tigray-Tigrigna project, it was appropriate to present the choice of war and peace for discussion by the council of ministers or the executive committee of the organization. It was necessary to subject the selection of the negotiating team to consultation so that they could be chosen on the basis of their expertise. It was evident that this was not done, as the President’s statements, which were adopted as policy following every television interview, became the only reference the cadres of the organization as well as for government officials.

I.C.5 – Great Lakes

With regard to our regional relations, the most stupid move we made was our interference in the affairs of the Great Lakes region. I don’t know what was actually meant by that. We sent our army to a region which may be called the Balkans of Africa in addition to its being a region of conflict of interests between the companies of two of the major powers of the world, the USA and France. Were we representing the US? And was it in need of that? If that was the case, what did we get in return, as every service should have a price? What were the interests that were envisaged in a region where Eritrea does not have any geographic, historic or cultural links? We do not have any economic interests in that region as several countries, such as the Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya, with much greater economic capabilities lie between Eritrea and the Great Lakes. Why did any of those countries interfere to support one of the parties if economic interests could be guaranteed by a military intervention in the support of one of the parties fighting in a conflict purely ignited by internal factors? Some of the cadres who were supportive of Eritrea’s role in the Great Lakes region were excusing it to the existence of markets for the products of our factories whose markets were restricted to Ethiopian. This wisdom is based on the perception that we have become an imperialist state which opens market by its troops, which I think is top ignorance.

Our President, who is actually the President of the newest, poorest and smallest state in our region, spoke to the leaders of the countries of the Great Lakes region as if they were students expected to learn from his experience and expertise. Because of this ignorant perception and because of our adventurous and childish policies, we were subjected to the contempt of others who considered us to be ignorant of the basics of diplomatic relations and of trying to preach Plato’s’ idealistic ambitions aiming at creating an exceptional situation in the Horn of Africa which is plagued with poverty, famines and wars. What added to the absurdity of the attempt was that, this Horn of African Utopia was to be imposed by Eritrea. What maters is whether the idea was presented to either the national assembly or the council of ministers or the central committee of the organization. I don’t think it was ever presented to any such body, otherwise it would have been subjected to discussion and would have definitely been rejected because it is really difficult to convince anybody with such an idea. The problem lies in neglecting the existing infant institutions irrespective of the quality of the people who them make-up, although I do not suspect the capacity and seriousness of the cadres of the organizations if the issues were ever presented to them for discussion. Are we carrying on the same route without stopping to look into ourselves? Until when?

I.C.6. – A Weak Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In the rich developed countries all diplomatic personnel starting from the Ambassador to the lowest ranks, are appointed on purely professional considerations, although in some cases political appointments, for partisan considerations or considerations related to preserving social balance, may exist with respect to Ambassadors or councilors or may be First secretaries. We haven’t been following and clear guidelines for the appointment of our diplomats, resulting into emotional appointments that are not based on any factors of experience or expertise or studied political calculations. This has influenced the functioning of our embassies, which became choked with unqualified individuals who could not deal with the diplomatic and consular responsibilities of the embassies. This was carried out at the expense of the state and has thrown the blame on government and the PFDJ. The general conception is that our embassies have not been able to communicate with both the Eritrean nationals abroad as well as the formal and informal counterparts of the hosting countries.

The institutional weakness of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has rendered it totally dependent on the Office of the President. Although it is customary that the relationship between the foreign service and the head of state is very close in all countries, it is the institutionalized contribution of the foreign service that strengthens the foreign policies of the government by participating the process of decision-making. Did we make efforts to build an institution that can accomplish these tasks? Definitely no, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which would be expected to accumulate, experience has been vulnerable to a severe instability of its personnel and has so far witnessed four ministers after independence. Similarly the diplomatic personnel have also been very instable to the extent that most Ambassadors have a high feeling of job insecurity. Changes, which do not depend on any institutional criteria, are left to continue. Structural changes do not seem to settle down in the current shape although there is no logical evidence that the new structure introduced anything better than what the old structure had. Supporting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with new technical and professional personnel as well as institutionalizing its operations in such a. way that every political decision, foreign policy and even event-specific statement may be subjective to in-depth professional scrutiny will definitely have a profound positive role in following sensible policies with the neighbors as well as the world at large. The will never happen unless our leadership is convinced of the importance of institutionalization.


I. D.1. Economic and Monetary Policies: Theory & Practice

Our economic policies advocate “free market economy and free competition” in such a way that everything is decided in the market in accordance to the laws of demand and supply. Accordingly, the government has since a considerable amount of time been working towards the privatization of large enterprises previously owned by and inherited from the Ethiopian government. However, there is a clear contradiction between what we believe on, in theory, and what is actually on the ground.

Many investors are complaining from the customs and bureaucratic barriers, the retarded performance or government institutions, the ill behaviors of the employees as well as their poor communication skills. Access to land has been the major problem facing both national and foreign investors, leading investors, especially those coming from the Gulf States, to prefer Ethiopia. This was also true for Eritrean investors until the border conflict with Ethiopia erupted. This makes it imperative to also privatize politics, as it is impossible to envisage a privatized economy while politics is still under a monopolistic control. In other words it is difficult to harmonize between what is almost “communism” in the political life and a free market in the economic life. A market economy can only be a result of a democratic life-style or vise versa. We cannot stick to a one party system and advocate a free market economy, which are necessarily contradictory orientations both philosophically and technically.

The only possible solution is for both to be conformed: either introduce a directed economy by nationalizing all enterprises or privatize politics. The later coincides with the general orientation of our world today. This requests the joint work of all national capabilities in such a way that it considers the institution of the society, instead of depending on the efforts of individuals whose comprehension, even of Eritrean social reality, has proved to be limited. Aspects of a communist economic system are evident in the enterprises that the organization owns in wide varieties of economic sectors. This is not a taboo in its own, because protecting the society from greed of traders is necessary and important. However, extending the scope of competition to cover all traders and in all fields is an issue that contradicts the economic philosophy that we claim to believe in. Moreover, those with limited capital who make-up the growing class of national capitalists can not in any way compete with government-owned enterprises, even if we assume that the latter will not exploit their status which necessarily obstacles the development of a free market economy. Most important is that these enterprises where employees are not allowed adequate incentives to develop performance towards a free market economy are potential areas for corruption, fraud and nepotism

The corruption incidents discovered within the Red Sea Company two years ago, might partially be due to the absence of a system of accountability and inspection and partially due to the lack of trust of those caught dirty handed. The greatest part, however, lies in the lack of incentives both for the employees as well as the employer. The owner of these enterprises, the political organization, failed to set up control mechanisms that could guarantee the safe performance of its economic institutions, consequently, running the risk of being exploited in the interest of individuals categorized, by the organization or some of its cadres, as important persons or active members. Where this was done in the absence of clear parameters for the assessment of individuals, it necessarily leads to political, social and financial corruption and nepotism. It is not impossible for these enterprises to be plagues by these phenomena, as its administrative system does not expose their management to inspection and control.

I.D.2: Hiring Policies and the Just division of Wealth

In Sudan, just a few kilometers away from Eritrea, a fierce war going on for about fifty years has claimed the lives of more than one million Sudanese nationals. The cause of this war may be summarized as being caused by “unjust division of wealth and power”. What is peculiar about this is that even the part monopolizing both “wealth and power” does not deny that the unjust distribution is the cause of the war. However, it excuses the choice of war by camouflaging it with the pigments of identity, culture and religion and throws the blame on the others while protecting the privileges it has gained irrespective of how they were gained. This might be attributed to the fact that preventing privileges is a matter of instinct and finding excuses for that is a natural thing too. It is appropriate to ask: Do Eritreans share wealth and power equally? The answer is no.

More than 90% of the government’s employees belong to the Tigrigna ethnic group. This reality might have been caused by several reasons such as the low educational standards of the other groups, most cadres of the EPLF belonged to the Tigrigna. However, the major reason for not hiring the other ethnic groups lies in the problem of language. MaNy of those who received their education in the countries of the Middle East could not be admitted to work according to their specialization because the did not master the Tigrigna language. Those who were lucky to find a job were absorbed at the Ministry of Education as teachers. Most of them, however, turned their backs on the country and immigrated. Some of them probably joined the voices of opposition against the government. Some others, feeling betrayed, went to the Gulf countries to search for jobs, although the country is really in need of them. I believe that this issue represents one of the core issues of the organization’s leadership, as it touches the issues of national unity, the social and political stability and the issues of social rights and justice upon which the philosophy of the organization is based.

This might seem simple for many of us mainly because of the failure to understand what it actually means for those who were targeted. This negligence might also have been caused by the hypocrisy of attempting to become superior to unjustified emotions emanating to the sediments of social backwardness. This evasive perspective is widely spread among the leadership and the cadres of the organization. This definitely is sediment of the era of ideologies. However, the continuation of the situation as it is will be catastrophic to the nation. Should we, therefore, face this enormous national problem with all courage and consciousness or should we wait until it culminates to divide the nation between a part revolting against those privileges and another struggling to defend the privileges under nationalistic slogans and with state mechanisms. This situation, however might not be at hand now, is definitely coming!

Some countries have introduced quota systems to ensure the participation of the various ethnic, religious and social groups in both wealth and power as a legal guarantee to preserve the balance and prevent the risk of one group controlling the other. During the armed struggle enough care was taken to maintain a balance at the leadership level. However, a balance restricted to the leadership is not adequate as far as it does not reflect the existing social reality. A binding legal arrangement guaranteeing the equity of the various groups a possibility that does not endure any sort of hypocrisy or burring the heads in the sand as rights and duties should be defined in the form of legislation and systems. They should never be left to be decided by individual whims and assumption of goodwill. This may be done, not only by introducing the quota system, but also by a number of other ways. I believe that treating the problem of language would enable all citizens to compete on equal basis because the difference in the educational qualifications is not so large as to preclude the equal participation of all social groups in the employment channels.

The government has closed the Central Personnel Administration (CPA) in spite of the importance given to this institution in the constitution by allowing the government to establish a corporation of its employees. Wouldn’t it be better to enhance this institution instead of closing it until a new one is established? Whatever the reason might be, closing the CPA was not right since it has led people to feel insecure as far as their professional future is concerned. Employees have also felt insecure as to the possibility of government intervention into their rights. The monopoly of government employment by one ethnic group is a kind of government intervention into the rights of part of the citizenry either due to the absence of the proper legislation or due to lack of follow-up by the government or the organization.

Public wealth is, to a large extent, represented by the private sector especially under the current economic orientations. The infant private sector needs the facilities to develop and these facilities are manipulated by the government and the organization in both financial and procedural aspects. What may be observed today is that credit and procedural encouragement are undertaken on the basis of unknown criteria. In some cases, membership in the organization, previous or current, is taken as a criterion. However, various forms of fraud, nepotism or favoritism might be carried out under this flexible camouflage unchecked if individuals who are short sighted or unconscious of the gravity of the matter are left to decide on its fate and this category of people have a dominant existence among the cadres of the organization. Most of our cadres do not shy from exhibiting a fanatic love for the organization while they may be ignorant of the composition of their society. These things are very dangerous especially in a society loaded with all sorts of social diseases, with a high potential for corruption and saturated with the culture of nepotism, regionalism, religious sectarianism etc.

During the previous years of privatization, 27 factories were sold to the public among which only two were sold to Muslim citizens. Although this phenomenon might not be the responsibility of those who organized the sale of those factories, it still represents a dangerous indicator for the widening gap in the appropriation of wealth on religious and regional parameters. Wouldn’t it be possible to set-up some controls to evade the further widening of the gap and the increase in public dissent? This is indeed a great political issue concerning the future of the nation and should have been heeded enough attention by an organization planning to become a popular party encompassing all ethnic and social strata as it is crucial for the sustainable stability of the nation.

I.D.3: The Land Issue

The problem of land ownership is the most sophisticated problem in this country. Although the people’s attachment to their land does not vary by regions across the country as it belongs to the village or the tribe, the concerned Italian legislation has rendered land a public ownership in the lowlands while it remained to be a private property in the highlands (i.e. Risti & Dominiale). It is disappointing that this legislation has still remained effective in spite of the new government declaration shifting ownership to the state

The Dominiale law allows the nationalization of land theoretically owned by a village in such a way that it may be shifted to an individual from a different locality risking the development of a flaw in the culture of tolerance among the groups which form this society. Although the idea that land belongs to the state and may be accessed by any Eritrean seems to be just, the reality is that it actually concerns specific localities. The price will certainly be very dear if we persist on challenging sentiments.

The other system is the land tenure system where rent is paid to the owners. Although this method has become obsolete in most parts of the world as a kind of disguised slavery, this dishonorable method is still relevant in our revolutionary country which, among other things, has fought to liberate its nationals. We still have farmers who pay rent to the landlords who reside in the towns and might even not know the location of the piece of land. It is disappointing that the administrations are protecting this phenomenon under the pretext that the legislation of state ownership is still pending implementation. Is it possible for the slogan of “one people & one heart” to be realistic at a time when sentiments of inequality are evident among individuals in this society? The fact that the whole Eritrean people stood behind its government at the time when the national sovereignty has been challenged can not be an expression of public satisfaction to the existing relations between the government and its citizens as well as between the citizens and its administrations. It instead represents the high degree of national commitment of this people. The current handling of the question of land in both town residence and agriculture neither helps neither economic development nor national unity among the component groups of the society. Its change, therefore, is an issue that does not endure any procrastination or excuses.

I.D.4: Development and Monetary Issues

Eritrea is considered to be the only country that does not discuss its budget at the Cabinet of Ministers let alone at the National Assembly which is currently serving as the national parliament. National priorities are determined by the Macro Policy Office, which is composed of a single person. The office does not have any assistants with the relevant expertise and expedience and may not be described as an institution but as a single person. Everything concerning financial issues starting from the hiring of every individual employee up to the country’s development priorities are determined by the director of this office which was recently up-graded into a Ministry and the same director became its Minister. The President justifies and decides on all economic and financial issues. In the context of a level of centralization exceeding even the centralization of communist systems, it is difficult to attribute the profound growth rate that we have achieved to the wisdom of our economic policies. Anybody, including the most ignorant, can easily guess that the cause of the growth rate was the enormous amounts of money transferred by nationals in the Diaspora added to the laborious culture of the Eritrean people or probably the great austerity of government expenditure if that may be considered as a credit for the government because in many cases it is carried out at the expense of developing important sectors and projects seeing that prioritization of highly subjective and experts are not consulted.

A delegation of the World Band that visited Eritrea last year and studied the banking systems in the country wrote a report that strongly criticizing the monetary policies of in our country. Criticism was specially directed to the Commercial Bank of Eritrea for refraining to give out credits for long-term projects under the pretext that depositors’ money should be kept out of risk. Instead, the bank prefers to pile idle bank notes and guard them while they continue to count the interest rates of their depositors. How can, in view of this situation, claim to have sound economic and monetary policies that serve our development efforts?

I.D.5: Social Security

Immediately after independence, the government stopped workers’ contributions to the fund of social security claiming that it will replace the Ethiopian social security laws by another national legislation. However, to date the government has not enacted any such legislation and has not delegated other bodies to carry out the activities of social security and those which attempted were discouraged by the interventions of the employees in the President’s office and the Macro-Policy Office. The issue of social security still remains pending a decision, consequently leaving the thousands of employees with the unwarranted risk of a gloomy future of their children. Continuation of trials in such a manner that they may not affect the future development of the concerned legislation was necessary. It is really shameful that Eritrea is the only country in the world with no legislation or system of social security while all others irrespective of the economic or political philosophy they follow have some sort of social security.

In the western countries, the social security system is an important component of the national economy. It contributes to national development by securing the future of families and is passed from one generation to the other and is used as a source of funding to the state at the time economic hardships. The social security system is also an important means for the accumulation of national savings, which are considered to be essential for economic growth and supportive to social and political stability. Was the issue seriously viewed from all comers? I don’t think the issue was studied by people with the necessary experience and expertise. The issue of social security has to date remained subject to the moods of certain executive bodies and consequently the people lost 10 years of their age under the fear of a future without knowing the prospects of its end.

I.D.6: Education and the Issue of Language

Intellectual and technical interest in politics requires reading history first, because those who do not know what had happened before they were born are destined to live as children all through their life-time.

I quoted this sentence from a book written by the great writer Mr. Mohammed Hasenein Haykel because I thought it fit for some of our officials who occupy important positions that can influence the current orientations of our society and the future of the coming generations. These people are not only ignorant of the history of our people; they are also ignorant of the current cultural situation, social orientation and aspirations based on the firm self-consciousness of their own society.

The officials in the Ministry of Education are a tangible example of this category of people. Their handling of the issue of languages seems to be caused by their ignorance of a great part of the Eritrean society including the composition of its culture. As the educational policy of every country is an important component of the political policy, their level of political consciousness should have been high enough to understand the political, cultural and historical ramifications of their policy instead of handling it in a purely academic perspective. The actual performance of those officials ascertain beyond any doubt their ignorance of the reality of the society they deal with. Even their academic perspective which shows their interest in the “mother-tongue” has not been scientifically sound. In this connection, the following three realities are not an area of contention.

Education in the mother-tongue, which is practically designed for the non-Tigrigna, has been totally rejected by the concerned communities including all their social strata, although the concerned officials at the Ministry of Education have greatly exaggerated the society’s acceptance of education in the mother-tongue. This rejection is shared by all ethnic groups with the exception of the Tigrigna and to some extent the Kunama and the Nara, probably because education in the mother-toung is acceptable at least to the elite in the latter two ethnic groups. The fact that the rejection is equally shared in both the urban and rural communities does imply that it has not come up due to antagonistic mobilizations by political anarchists or by those who received their education in the middle east and may link the issue to their personal interests, as has been claimed by the officials in the Ministry of Education. Instead the rejection of education in the mother tang has had historic, religious and cultural roots. Are we, namely the Ministry of Education or the Government, mandated to uproot this reality and substitute it with a new alternative in spite of the rejection of the beneficiaries? Why should we do that? Is there any national emergency that necessitates overriding the will of half of our population?

The issue of language in Eritrea has always been a political issue, both at the level of education and ordinary usage, and whoever claims otherwise is either ignorant to the realities of his society or is a hypocrite either intentionally or unintentionally bearing evil intentions that might harm the unity of our society.

Does the Ministry of Education have a mandate to deal with such issues of destiny? The answer is that it does not have any such mandate. The issue of imposing education in the mother-tongue has never been presented to the national assembly as we have never heard it being presented to the council of ministers either although the latter does not have the mandate to decide on issues with such a magnitude of importance. The Ministry of Education, which rendered the children of Eritrea a laboratory for experimenting the theories of its theoreticians, has also introduced religion as a subject of education without even preparing the necessary teaching materials. This consequently opened the doors wide for different religious sects to compete over what to teach the children. People, both Christians & Moslems, criticized this policy in our limited mass media. However, the Ministry of Education which deals with education as its own fenced property refused to heed any attention until it was finally convinced that the policy could not be pursued anymore and abandoned the religious education after wasting several precious years from the children’s life. The phenomena of applying the rules of physics in treating the deepest of our problems does imply that those upon whom we depend to educate our children will themselves remain students throughout their life-time wasting our time and the time of our children in vain. This particular institution and its educational philosophy have to be changed immediately without delay.


Is there supremacy of law in our country? Of course no. Because it is difficult for any country which does not have legal, administrative, political and economic institutions that operates in accordance to a written legal script to claim any supremacy of the law. If it might be intended to refer to the respect of human rights in such a way that nobody is subjected to arbitrary imprisonment, torture, humiliation, disappearance for any one reason or another without the decision of a court of law, then this does not exist in our country.

We have heard of the criticisms of our officials including the President to the courts of law as well as to some legal provisions, however, the supremacy of law can not be imposed by the courts of law without the committed will of the political system. The existence as well as non-existence of the rule of law is a direct reflection of the convictions and orientations of the political regime, which may impose the rule of law when preserving the dignity of the system and its President becomes imperative and may override it when an escape from accountability becomes necessary. The regime may substitute institutions that work in accordance to the law by individual decisions in all levels and individual persons might be polished to become more prominent at the expense of the legitimacy of institutions. This has been our situation in the past few years although a constitution has been accomplished and shelved with no effect to remain a fading candle at the end of the tunnel in which we are. And yet, reaching the end of the tunnel does not seem to be easy.

The past few years has witnessed great numbers of imprisonment and hijacking with no legal basis. The role of the Prosecutor General has been to cover up the political system and to legitimize such illegal acts as a necessary component of the mechanism that protects the political regime. The year 1995 witnessed a wide spectrum of imprisonment and hijacking in many Eritrean towns of citizen suspected of supporting the “Islamic Jihad Movement”. The hijackers used different methods that reminded us of the Ethiopian colonial era leading people to stand against the Eritrean government and the PFDJ and convinced them the government is actually against the Islamic religion and not against the Jihad movement. It is believed that the movement does not have any popularity that might enable it to threaten the stability of the country. Why don’t those convicted of destabilizing the country’s stability be presented to a court of law? How can people fell safe under circumstances when any person might at any time be vulnerable to acts of hijacking or disappearance in such a way that his family or anyone else does not know his whereabouts? How can whoever perpetrates such horrors speak of the supremacy of law? How can such a government convince its people that it is a government that works for the well being of its people? Can a person who is vulnerable to arbitrary hijacking feel the importance of a dignified economic life?


“In the near future you will hear the best news in your life: ‘our Tigray’ will regain its well deserved status in history”

All work is evaluated by the results and every human effort is supported by the mind. Good work is always the result of good thinking and vise versa. Excellent results that were not preceded by a conscious mental activity or sensible logical thinking can only be caused by coincidence or by capacities outside the human ability. It is, therefore, logical to view any social, economic, cultural or military achievement in terms of the efforts made to lay the necessary per-requisites for its success and not in terms of the achievement it self.

Success in battles has always depended on the availability of technology, intelligence and training. Although the human component is equally important when faith in the cause of the fighting and national spirit are concerned its role is limited especially in conventional warfare between organized armies where the protection of territories, towns and economic establishments or their attack to paralyze the enemies economic capacity becomes imperative. Our last war with Ethiopia has been of this type. Good knowledge of the enemy and the availability of detailed information of its capacities and plans play an important role in taking the initiative or evading risks. The central decisions of wars, which decide success or failure, are built upon this information component.

What was the role of our national intelligence services in this war? It is extremely difficult to know the answer due to the difficulty of obtaining such information. The security and intelligence services are the national institutions, which are immune to any disclosure of information concerning their role and functions except in situations of ultimate necessity. It is, however, possible to evaluate its performance depending on the results.

Before independence, the EPLF had a strong intelligence service. In spite of the accusations of corruption, nepotism and grouping pointed to its administrators and in spite of its ethnic composition, which still persists, it did play an important role in the final victory of the revolution. It basically depended on the nationalistic spirit as well as effective organization and administration. In other words it depended on the expertise of its administrators and the consciousness of the Eritrean people towards the nobility of its mandate as every Eritrean who could be reached by this institution was a potential spy or agent who was ready to do whatever was assigned to him/her.

This institution, which should have been an embryo for the development of a national security and intelligence system, was dismantled after independence. Its administrators who gained considerable experience and expertise during the armed struggle were relegated to new government posts, which had nothing to do with their previous biographies. All its members were dispersed into positions where they could not contribute any significant services. By the time the government started to reorganize the system, its members had reached a stage of frustration that could not enable them to play any important roles. The allegedly unjust distribution of military ranks also added water to the mud. Many of them were demobilized vowing to see what the government will do without them. Many think that the new commanders of the system could do better in other posts that just the posts, which they do not know anything about.

Following its reorganization, several other years were wasted in structuring the new system and stuffing it with new faces for reasons which are not clear. Without venturing into the capabilities of individuals or the budgets or the functioning or the definition of national challenges, it may, therefore, be rightfully claimed that we do not have an efficient security and intelligence service relative to the magnitude of risks surrounding our country. It is because of this fact that we are ignorant about the economic, military and political realities inside Ethiopia, leading us to depend of on given assumptions about the cultural jealousy and psychological complexity of the Tigrayans as the main motivator of their political policies as well as about the lack of ethnic harmony and the anticipation of the disintegration of the Ethiopian empire.

The penetration of the Ethiopian army deep into Eritrean territory in light of the campaign not only directed to the Eritrean local consumption but also in the official circles that the Ethiopian army will disintegrate and flee if the war starts has made it clear that we depended on mere political assumption rather than on confident intelligence information.

The intelligence service is the most important political institution in modem countries. Its role is, therefore, not restricted to the mobilization of spies and the collection of raw data. The most important of what such an institution can provide to the state is the analysis of such information and the presentation of political alternatives of action. This task requires the gathering of the best national economic, political and scientific expertise. This in turn requires the allocation of huge amounts of budget which can rightfully be justified by the national priorities of the country. What does the national security strategy look like and what are the issues that may be considered as threats to the national political, economic and social stability? One can only speak on this based on the general aspirations of the Eritrean people as well as the declared principles of the organization. An observation of the progress of the issues on which our intelligence services concentrated in the past few years suggests that we do not have a long term strategy representing the real national security threats.

After independence, it seemed that the threat (according to the activities that could be observed) was represented in Islamic fundamentalist groups and the ruling regime in the Sudan in addition to what remained of the Eritrean liberation organizations. It was evident that this threat was exaggerated much greater than its actual magnitude leading into unreasonable moves such as dragging people out of their homes and into the unknown and consequently instilling terror in people. This phenomenon might have had a negative impact on the national unity as it is also contrary to letter and spirit of the National Charter of the organization as well as the National Constitution. Moreover it represented a violation of human rights and subjected the Eritrean government to the criticisms of the international community including the American government and human rights organizations and weakening the status of the Eritrean government in the international arena.

The Ethiopian government was considered to be a friend of the country and the reports concerning the activities of the almost 100,000 Tigrayan community members in Eritrea as well as the atrocities of the zonal administration in Tigray were not taken seriously by our authorities. This does signify that it is the individual whims and emotions of our leaders that decide the orientations of our intelligence and not the basics of our national interests. On the contrary, the Ethiopians managed to establish a strong intelligence service in the past few years making use of the growing Tigrayan nationalistic sentiments. They managed to establish strong mass organizations through their Embassy and its branches in Eritrea as they have also managed to exploit the emotional sympathies that could not be justified by any principle of the norms of interstate relationship that our leadership had with the Woyane.

The efforts of the top leadership of the Ethiopian regime concentrated on convincing our leadership that the Tigrayans who are the geographically, ethnically and ideologically closest to the Eritrean people in addition to their being comrades in arms were threatened by Amhara chauvinism as well as other Oromo, and Afar ethnic movements which may, in the long run, have a counter effect on Eritrea too. The Ethiopians also managed to convince the Eritrean leadership that incursions into Eritrean territory and the re-drawing of the border, the maltreatment and expulsion of Eritrean nationals and the confiscation of property that was actually done on the ground were the acts of Tigrayan zonal peasants who were not far sighted.

The war the exploded with Ethiopia all of a sudden did signify an enormous security vacuum. The three rounds of fighting that followed showed that the information that our leadership have about the enemy are inadequate leading people to lose faith on those in charge of the battle. Following the start of the conflict all the opinions that were choked came up to the surface, some perplexed and suspicious and others waiting to see what the wisdom of the strategic relations with Ethiopia will come out to be. Many chose to be silent although that might not signify being passive as they might have not found the appropriate channels of expression.

“I have no doubt that the Woyanes will declare war against us however I do not know when and why precisely!” quoted by a long time fighter who visited Addis Ababa in 1995 and presented his report to the Head of our intelligence service who responded to him with contempt.

III. Handing Over of the Military Command to Unqualified Persons

Eritrea never had a professional army neither before nor after independence. Those who fought during the armed struggle were trained for the post independence situation and the national zeal as well as practical experience was their only motivation. After independence, there was no serious national plan for the establishment of a professional army. The only thing that the government did was the minimization of the number of the army leaving only the number needed for national Economic and social imperatives. Nobody, except God, exactly knows how the demobilization was actually carried out or what the criteria for mobilization actually were. However, there are a number of issues that influenced the effectiveness of the army.

Immediately after independence and at the time when the Minister of Defense was assigned, a struggle which remained choked by the circumstances of the pre-independence situation emerged between those with “loyalty” and those with “expertise”. This was the reason for the frequent changes witnessed in the period 1991-1994 reaching to three persons for the same post namely and consecutively Ali Said Abdella, Petros Solomon and Mesfin Hagos. In 1994, Sibhat Efrem was named Minister of Defense with the rank of General.

The new minister was militarily less experienced that his predecessors as he had also less acceptability among the army. The problem did not lie in the lack of his experience as it is not necessary that a minister should become a military expert as case which might be true only in situations where institutions that define the responsibilities of each individual. The problem lay in the fact that these frequent and arbitrary changes caused factors of internal power politics deprived the country of the requisite stability to build a professional army. The issue or organizing the army was one of those that led the previous minister of defense to present his resignation. Although such issues have been restricted at the top leadership levels it is difficult to know the exact details. However, it was evident that the differences between those army commanders and the President were caused by the latter’s intervention in every detail and his lack of confidence on those who feel that they should have a say on the organization and administration of the army. This was the reason why the army wasted five years of its age in conflicts between army commanders and the President.

Following the time when the army took shape and a military training institution was established to follow-up training within the military units, its operation did not start immediately in spite of the insistence of lower-rank officers at the levels of colonels at the preparation of a curriculum and the commencement of training of the army which started to get bored of staying idle in the barracks and whose members do not have the qualifications of any ordinary member of an organized army. This situation continued until the start of the conflict with Ethiopia in 1998. Even after the start of the conflict, the issue of training did not receive the attention that it deserved. Instead of that, the concentration of efforts focused on the participation of the army in production to fill the gap of the part of the labor force that went for the national service. It would have been worthwhile if the numbers sent to Sawa for the national service could have been decided in such a way as to devote the army into training and raising its fighting capacities. It was unwise to stuff the Sawa with militarily unfit trainees or professionals who could contribute more in other fields of production.

Those who organized the training seemed to give more attention to training the army on military etiquette, which differentiates between the different ranks of the army rather than concentrating on raising the fighting capacity of the army. When the Imbatkala military training center known as the Martyr Affa’s College opened, all the army was trained on military etiquette as a prelude to differentiating the living conditions and habits of army officers and ordinary soldiers. This would have been more effective if it were followed by an overall up-grading of the army. It was however latter misused by the higher rank officers who exploited it to concentrate the moral as well as material class benefits of the army. The government, accordingly, allowed army units to own pieces of land to produce their needs and licenses to sell cold drinks and beer. As this was done in the absence of a system of accountability, it is widely believed that it introduced elements of financial and moral corruption among the higher rank officers.

The ability of the Ethiopian army to penetrate the trenches of the Eritrean army twice (first during its attack and occupation of Badime area and second during the late third offensive) has shown that the understanding of the political leadership to its army and military command is different than what is actually on the ground. It is not an area of contention that our military leadership is incapable of administering a battle that is necessarily different from that of our liberation struggle. The question that is more important is: what has the role of our political leadership been? Was there a coordination of all the military, economic, political, diplomatic and organizational components of the war? Or was the conflict handled in a comprehensive manner? All evidence suggests that all these were totally missing. In such a case, whatever the will, courage and insistence to succeed might be and whatever the level of intelligence of the commanders might be, it is impossible the lead a successful battle in the absence of an institution and the contempt of a leader or leadership of the battle for institutional conception. There is no doubt that this is the crux of the matter.

When the relations between the two countries were excellent, it was observable that the Ethiopians were interested in building a strong military institution. The Woyane rejected the idea of demobilizing its army and the establishment of a national army composed of all the nationalities. This was the reason for their difference with the Oromo Liberation Front, which compelled the latter to go back to opposition. There were also a number of evidences which supported the assumption that the Woyane was preparing for war against Eritrea.


After all these, what is to be done?

The answer is: there has to be a change. Where should change start from and how? Is it feasible to bring about a superficial institutional change? Yes!

In the history of social movements, there are two types of change. The first is radical change and can only be done through a revolution against the pillars of an established system. The second is a corrective change and is usually done by the system itself. Any political party or institution may undertake a corrective change to preserve the consistency of its being and to be able to keep-up with the progress of changes. In this case a balance and coexistence has to be reached between the winds pushing for radical change and ability of the system to stand pressures and to renovate itself into an acceptable shape.

In our situation what is demanded and what is practically feasible is corrective change, but how? The first step is to accept the fact that there is a chaos of conception in a ruling regime that may be identified by vagueness of internal and external policies, the absence of institutions and the rule of law, the reluctance of the leadership to introduce mechanisms of accountability and transparency, the deep perception of the leadership that its existence is imperative and can not be rid of. The second step is to appeal upon the emotions of our armed struggle which may stiffen the cadres of the organization against radical change but may result into the desired corrective change because the propensity towards a centralized democracy and individualism in decision-making will likely persist for a long time even after the commencement on institutionalization. A compromise might be reached between the trends for radical change and conservatism that have emerged in the organization, which has reached an extreme, level of disorganization.

Radical change may only come through time in an organization in the process of transition from a situation of ideologies and closed organization into a stage of institutionalization and openness.

How may the current stage be passed? How may defeat be exploited for transition towards institutionalization? Many believe that the current defeat, which is actually unjust to describe as defeat, will have a positive impact if all cadres irrespective of their individual inclinations, are notified of the real ruling defects which have always been attributed to external factors. This must at least be done at the leadership levels, which will definitely play a great role in correcting our mistakes. This defeat can corrected many of the mistakes we committed in our internal policies. The issues that need correction may be sub-divided into long-term solutions and solutions related to the problems at hand. The methodology of correction may follow one of the following scenarios.

IV.A Scenario No. 1

Conduct a provisional conference for the organization in a period not more that five months with the main objective of assessing the performance of the government and the organization since 1994 in general and during our conflict with Ethiopia in particular. All cadres of the organization may attend the conference on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Length of service in the armed struggle;
  • Governmental and organizational responsibility held;
  • Intellectual and social status;
  • Representation by direct voting from army units as well as organized components;

The methodology of preparation for the conference may be done:

  • The leadership of the government and the organization may prepare papers for discussion in such a way that they are presented for comments to potential participants so that the papers will be informative and not instructional;
  • The leadership may assign a committee to administer the discussions;
  • Individuals may be assigned to prepare papers for the development of the performance of the organization and the government as well as on institutionalization and economic and legal issues;
  • The papers may be discussed in groups;
  • The discussion results and recommendations of the provisional conference may be presented to the Fourth Organizational Congress which may follow in not more than five months for approval.

IV.B. Scenario No. 2

The assessment may be conducted by higher leadership in the government and organization. The assessment may be presented first to the 19-member Executive Committee and then to the 75-member Central Committee of the organization. Such an assessment will most likely be a justification of what was actually done to evade confrontation within the members of the said committees some of whom might feel the pulse of the public demanding for change, or those who may have personally been disadvantaged or the minority who are convinced of the need for change. The members of the national assembly, which usually holds its meetings following the meeting of the Central Committee of the organization, are more radical than their compatriots in the organization with respect to improving the performance of the government. The most likely consequence will be that the leadership will admit some of the subsidiary mistakes committed and will accept the start of institutionalization in order to absorb the demands for change. The will result into a difference of opinion among the cadres of the organization and most of the important issues will be postponed to the Organizational Congress. The most important potential gain of the provisional conference will be the hastening of the organizational congress.

IV.C. Scenario No. 3

There might be a continuation of the silence concerning internal situations by concentrating on public campaigns revolving around anticipated Woyane military offensives as well as the challenges of economic rehabilitation with the aim of absorbing the public trends for change so that the government and organization may conduct a quite evaluation of their performance. Such an alternative will widen the gap among the cadres of the organization and may become an opportunity for groupings. It may consequently lead into absolute dictatorship either through the establishment of a semi-military regime or through the expulsion of those dissatisfied with the existing situation of rule.

It is likely that this is the alternative preferred by the leadership, especially the President, as well as those who feel that their being is dependant on his existence in power. The consequence will be a frustration among the membership of the organization with regard to establishing an institutional government meeting the aspirations of the Eritrean people. It can safely be claimed that the cycle of political and social instability, typical of African countries, will start from here. Democratization and institutionalization will be subject to the whims of a single individual holding the stick over whoever raises his voice. The security system will be more selective and more sectarian and tribal. Self-protection will dominate over the protection of the nation under the pretexts of nationalistic slogans. Eritrea will be isolated from the international community as the Americans will maintain the same position as far as the Eritrean government continues to treat the Eritrean people as a baby that is too young for democracy and has to wait for the beautiful morning when its government will one day declare freedom.

It is very sad that this scenario is the most probable to be preferred by the current leadership including the President and his executive office.

How can the cadres of the organization mobilize their efforts towards the best of the scenarios?

Assuming that Scenario No. I is the best in avoiding the nation from the horrors of a dictatorial regime, and assuming that the President as well as the Secretary of the organization will prefer Scenario No. 3 or in best cases Scenario No. 2, the first scenario, which may be acceptable to most members of the central committee, may be presented to the meeting of the central committee provided that they insist upon its implementation even if it demands voting procedures. Such an act, which contradicts the traditions of the organization, will have several positive outcomes, the most important of which are the following.

  • It will be possible to conduct an evaluation of the past experience without getting into personal confrontations and pointing of fingers;
  • It will guarantee a wide sector of the cadres and consequently absorb the current discontent, which is also in the interest of the leadership if it is conscious of it;
  • Securing the preference by voting will introduce a new culture replacing the tradition of consensus and may contribute to the democratization of the organization and the development of a culture of dispute settlement in based on democratic principles as well as the norms of civil society;
  • Pressure in taking the first alternative also requests the breaking of one of the organizational pillars of the EPLF forbidding any grouping around opinions.

The right to grouping or lobbing to advance positions or marketing of ideas is one of the sacred principles of democracy and civil society. These principles are, however, not acceptable by dictators and totalitarian systems as they are in contradiction to the principles of “democratic centralism” or are acts of “people who do not know their society” or those “who import ideas from the west.”

The cadres of the organization who have to date been implementing these ideological principles in the totality will now need to revolt at least partially against democratic centralism with the help of the enlightened part of its leadership in order to avoid any explosion of the situation. Pushing towards the first preference seems to be feasible as it is only a tiny part of the change that the Eritrean people is aspiring for. A deep feeling of responsibility and an absolute faith in the ability of its leadership as well as the necessity of seeing a democratic Eritrea adhering to the modem norms has always dominated the thinking of the cadres of the organization.

Frank discussions calling things by their names have, however, only started recently and more specifically after the current conflict with Ethiopia. Transforming the narrow organizational mentality of the members of the central committee of the EPLF is definitely not an easy task especially in view of the low intellectual standards of the membership. Any attempt to change from the inside or to influence the views and decisions of the President for whom any parallel opinion is viewed as a personal assault is, therefore, full of risks.

The 75 members of the central committee may be subdivided into three categories. The first category is composed of enlightened members who believe in the importance of change in all ruling aspects and may adopt the first scenario or present a better one and is ready to bear the arbitrary consequences of its moves. Although this category represents a tiny minority within the central committee, it may draw the support of the silent majority if the preference is determined by voting in view of the wide spread public respects that it enjoys. The second category sees its professional future as being liked to the maintenance of the current situation. This category is also a minority and does not enjoy any significant respect among the membership. The only source of its influence is derived from its proximity to the President who always prefers to keep those evicted from public respect close to him. The third category represents a majority, which does not have any specific views and has low intellectual standards due to the backgrounds of their entering the central committee. This group does feel the pulse of the public and may not object to any changes. They may also not object to change due to the fact that they are not beneficiaries of the benefits presented by the organization. It is, anyway, important that these people understand that the alleged defeat was due to a failure in the ruling regime and not due to the magnitude of external conspiracies as the President and his group is likely to claim in any assessment that they make.

The main aspects of the long-term solutions may be described as follows:

  • Recognition of the situation of cultural multiplicity and therefore establishing the following:
  • A national charter with clearly defined provisions;
  • Concentrate on the distribution of wealth and power among the Eritrea society;
  • Avoid political, economic and cultural discontent based on ethnic, religious or linguistic identity;
  • Narrow the gap among social classes.
  • Recognize the reality of political pluralism and issue laws establishing political parties and free press without any delay and excuse because such laws may not be postponed or prohibited under any pretexts including the situations of war.
  • Issue laws governing administrative functioning through the participation of all social groups or at least the two cultural groups due to the difference in the cultural backgrounds of the intellectuals of each group and considering the differences in the interest based perspectives of the components of the Eritrean society.
  • Establish a permanent commission for government employees including in its membership equal numbers of people representing the two religious and cultural groups.
  • Issue laws for equitable development with emphasis on the least developed regions and a special care in including representatives of the disadvantaged groups in the membership of development committees.
  • Tackle the problem of land ownership radically and permanently with consideration given to demographic aspects without leading each group to stick to its own territories. The problem of land ownership in towns should consider the preservation of the architectural heritage without jeopardizing the comparative national advantages.
  • Draft a foreign policy primarily based on the protection of national interests and considering the cultural and geographic identity of the nation and reflecting the aspirations of the Eritrean people including all its cultural and linguistic groups. For instance a foreign policy similar to that of the Sudan may be adopted as it reflects a country with Islamic, Christian, Arab and African identities. Although the foreign relations of the Sudan are influenced by those factors the actual relations are established by considering the national interests of the country. Eritrea as a new, small and poor nation characterized with a bipolar religious and cultural identity is in need of following a wise and objective foreign policy that is not too sensitive to evasive idealistic ideological principles. There is no need to avoid listening the words of we versus they as real unity may only become true by respecting the cultural multiplicity and calling things by their true names in all policies concerning our society.
  • Review our economic philosophy and assess the actual output on the ground. Although our written policies advocate a market economy, the economic establishments of the PFDJ, which were originally established to protect the consumers from the greed of traders, have themselves turned into monopolies dominating vast areas of the economic life. These have dominated the imports of complimentary goods, the construction sector and the distribution of different drinks. Moreover, they are not dynamic as they are actually public sector establishments with no employee motivation systems. They, as any other public establishments, are vulnerable to all sorts of corruption, nepotism and blunder. It is therefore imperative to design an economic policy with the help of academicians and businessmen from inside and outside the country.
  • Establish a professional army which receives a significant portion of the national budget at least during the next 10-20 years and which is legally protected from politicization and whose main task is the protection of the country’s borders and sovereignty as well as its constitution and institutions.
  • Establish an efficient security and intelligence system which utilizes Eritrea’s wealth of the demographic inter-relationship with all its neighbors, namely Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan and the countries across the sea, in heralding national interests and warning against dangers in advance. To date the Eritrean intelligence service has not benefited from this natural geographic endowment just because its intelligence service is composed of only one ethnic group making it difficult the system to comprehend what goes on in the neighboring countries where the populations are not related to the Tigrigna ethnic group.


There is no doubt that most of our problems with the international community and with the neighboring countries as well as our internal problems stem on the fact that we are a new nation with less experience and material inputs. However, throwing all the blame upon others can only be an attempt to evade self-criticism, which definitely does not help in strengthening our misgivings and faults.

The up-coming stage is considered to be crucial in shaping a country of institutions whose population is able to enjoy democracy and social justice. This does request all the cadres and leadership of the organization to become farsighted, free from emotions and subjectivity, and to feel the historic responsibility assigned to them.

Evading our problems by concentrating of lofty speeches in the gatherings and probably congresses of the organization by throwing the blame upon others and pointing fingers of accusation into one another will only lead into a further suffering of the Eritrean people. The cadres and leadership of the organization need to face the truth in order to gain the respect of the people because our problems, as diagnoses by the Eritrean people, are related to a crisis of ruling and not to any international conspiracies.



About Awate Team

The Awate Team is a group of individuals who collaborate in preparing editorial contents that mainly appear under the PENCIL signature and other columns that carry the Awate Team signature. It represents the collective team's view.

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The following letter addressed to Ethiopian leaders is written by Abdulrahman Yousif, a Kuwaiti writer …

  • Nero

    As much as Awate.com wants to promote discussions on topics that are important to bringing meaningful change in Eritrean politics and connected issues in the region, the main objective it seems is to keep public opinion frozen as it was in 2001. This article although 14 years old is relevant today despite its glaring subjective analysis because elites such as those that comment in this website have chosen to brush away versions under the carpet than to face them.

    The author of this article that has gone to great length to show Ethiopia started the war against Eritrea, lets us in on a secret, as a bit of the truth slips out when he decries intelligence failures. To quote

    “The penetration of the Ethiopian army deep into Eritrean territory in light of the campaign not only directed to the Eritrean local consumption but also in the official circles that the Ethiopian army will disintegrate and flee if the war starts has made it clear that we depended on mere political assumption rather than on confident intelligence information…”

    I will cut him slack as this was 14 years ago, and we really don’t know who he is. However, how can we continue to reason away the fact that Eritrea made a grave calculation error when they launched a war of aggression against Ethiopia on May 6, 1998. If the EEBC and the EECC have made any contribution to regional politics, it is to show that PFDJ’s aggression.

    Yet, while claiming PFDJ is a totalitarian and that it is destroying the country, the same elites prop up PFDJ’s version of events because they think it is interest of the country. So they fuse PFDJ’s fate with that of Eritrea, and willingly chain themselves to its foreign policies because they are fearful to stray from the official line, lest Eritrea unravels or they lose political credit – I don’t know which it is.

    In the part of the world where we all come from, it is common for elites to put self before country, and to put their interest before that of the whole and to expect the young generation to serve their political aims. How sad!

    • saay7

      Selamat Nero:

      I think you are misreading our position. What Tesfai Sherif is saying is we Eritreans made lots of mistakes but the Ethiopian government was not an innocent party either. The message is we got played by both the Isaias-led PFDJ and the Meles-led TPLF. The “PFDJ version of events” does not cease being true because the PFDJ uttered it. It is just an incomplete version: one that exonerates Isaias Afwerki from every evidence of malfeasance and gross negligence that the author Tesfai Sherif goes to great extent to document and/or argue.

      What some of us have concluded is that the areas of overlap between TPLF and Isaias-led PFDJ is too huge for us to consider TPLF an ally—tactical or strategic. Since 2001 most Eritreans have had a great deal of review of EPLF/PFDJ and we are willing to list a litany of mistakes it has made. In contrast, the doctrinaires of TPLF will not even consider that their party has made a series of mistakes and continues to make them. The only one they admit to is that they were too nice to EPLF and their hardest core say that the problem is not just limited to EPLF but it’s educated class. That is a pathology.


  • Hope

    Mr or Ms. Citzen!
    ….coz he went off your way??
    Is there anybody else here other than the same SAAY,who pops up with new ideas and suggestions every AM?
    BTW, noayyer what though, isn’t he entitled to his opinion , be it a past ,present or future idea?
    Please,be so kind to give us your present constructive ideas!

    • Hope

      Pls read ” as no matter what though …

  • saay7

    Selam at Citizen:

    Awate Team will write about Bisha and the so called Ethiopian bombing of Bisha when we gather all the facts, no later than Wednesday.

    If you read my articles, I focus on the here-and-now. (Refer to my last 4 articles or pick any at random.). In the discussion pages, to the extent I am discussing history, it is mostly because people with perverted agendas are taking liberties with our history and I believe I am duty bound, as an Eritrean, to tell Eritrean history as I understand it.

    I have facts on my side; and my debaters, for the most part, have nothing but sentiments and fake moral outrage.


  • Tewedrose

    The writer was a million miles away from objective analysis of the facts on the
    ground when he alleged that Ethiopia was preparing for invasion. One should have logical approach if they are going to prove or disprove
    the allegation that Ethiopia was preparing for the war. How do countries
    prepare for invasion? By spending higher and higher percentage of their
    resources on military. Ethiopian military spend in the five years prior to 1997
    was actually dwindling year on year. If we look at Ethiopian military spend as
    percentage of GDP between 1992 and 1996 (when Ethiopia was alleged to be
    preparing for war by this document), the picture we see is a country spending
    less and less of its resource on “invasion” and more and more health
    and developments.

    Year ======== Military Exp as % of GDP

    1992 ======== 2.7 %

    1993 ======== 2.9 %

    1994 ======== 2.4 %

    1995 ======== 2.0 %

    1996 ======== 1.8 %

    Source: Budgeting for Military Sector in Africa – Oxford University Press 2006 page 54


    The military spend in 1990 (the last year of Durg) was 8.5%. We also have to
    bear in mind that during the above 5 years Ethiopia was involved in some
    military conflicts in Ogaden. However, we could see the military spend fell by
    33% between 1992 and 1996. Does this indicate Ethiopia was preparing for war?
    No. It shows a country moving away from militarism. Now, what was the picture
    on the other side of the border? Was Eritrean military spend dwindling year on
    year between 1992 and 1996?

    Another important fact is this. If Ethiopia was preparing for invasion, how
    come it only took one morning for Eritrea to dismantle Ethiopian military
    around Badimee and control the area? How come it took Ethiopia 2 years to
    launch an attack to retake Badimee? Wouldn’t a country that was preparing for
    invasion launch an attach and take back territories in the following weeks or
    months? But Ethiopia had to rebuild its military for two years to be in the
    same level as Eritrea.

    • abddela

      Tear Tewedrose

      The link for the book is not working.

      thank you

  • Yemane Johar

    Only a citizen who dearly love his county and people can spend so much precious time and energy to research,compose and come up with such valid and yet relevant information. There is a lot of love permeated in this piece unfortunately falling on deaf ear.

    • Saleh Johar

      Yemane, and if this will be your last comment, it will be disappointing. Please do come often, the forum needs you.

    • dawit

      “ Only a citizen who dearly love his county and people can spend so much
      precious time and energy to research, compose and come up with such valid and
      yet relevant information. There is a lot of love permeated in this piece
      unfortunately falling on deaf ear”.

      Yes Mr. Yemane I agree with your assessment it is truly the fruit of love for his country and people. He wrote a reference manual or the roadmap and he actually predicted the future of the country. I don’t agree with your last statement that it “falling on deaf ear”. Contrary to your
      conclusion his idea was picked by all concerned in Eritrea power struggle and implemented it to fit their desire for power.

      His objective to widely publish it was picked by Awate.com and it agreed to disseminate it over the internet. Awate.com fulfilled its objectives of “INFORM, INSPIRE and EMBOLDEN’ motto. As the internet an equal opportunity information resource, the idea was first picked by G15 and with motto of Awate to embolden Eritreans, G15 tried to apply the scenario no.1 to democratization of the government, and openly criticizing and blaming the President taking advantage of infant press freedom rules in the country. Some among them may have thought that would give anyone of them to power of the Presidency. Such open criticism was outside the culture of the organization that lead the nation to independence. The President also must have access to Awate.com publication and must have picked scenario no.3 that would guarantee his continuation for power. Obviously he could not opt for Scenario no.1, which could put him at risk of going to prison of mismanaging the border war with Ethiopia to prison like Ahmed Bembela of Algeria, following the Algerian/Moroccan border war when his trusted friend made the coup or worst PIA could think of the fate of Sheik Muja Abduarhuman of Bangladesh who was killed with his family. Therefore the race was set for power for Eritrean leadership, and plans were drawn for Scenario no.1 and 2. The President and his supporters surprised the G15 group, the junior officer joining the president because the arrest of the senior Minster would open vacancy to move up the ladder.

      The Author actually predicted the future of Eritrea accurately in scenario no.3 “It is likely
      that this is the alternative preferred by the leadership, especially the President, as well as those who feel that their being is dependant on his existence in power. The consequence will be a frustration among the membership of the organization with regard to establishing an institutional government meeting the aspirations of the Eritrean people.”

      • Hope

        Are you endorsing the entire Document?
        Some sarcasm added?
        Ted brought to my attention a serious paragraph where the Author almost categorically refuting the role of Conspiracy,which I categorically disagree with!
        He contradicted quite a bit and seemed to be biased some what!
        Consider the sudden retreat of the EDF from Zalembesa and the Burie Fronts including the alleged order by PIA to leave Aseb,but for the brave EDF only to hit back HARD while ” retreating”, which is very rare , to my best knowledge ,in the history of Conventional War -fare.
        Only The ERITREANS can do that and rest assured that they will do it again at the right time and the right situation!
        Please check the youtubec link Gheteb or Ted provided us with where The Legend Berekhet Menghisteab says it all!

        • dawit

          Dear Hope,

          I am not endorsing the whole idea written in the article. I am 100% in agreement with you on the Conspiracy passage. In fact the border war itself was a Conspiracy to drug the two countries to war instead of focusing on cooperation and development and liberate the region from poverty. In my opinion Meles fell for the trap, perhaps fooled by temporary advantage he had to wage a war, the huge population and economic resources at his disposal from local and external sources. But he definitely betrayed the Eritrean and Ethiopian people. The article also seemed inclined to blame Isaias for the conduct of the war but I don’t see that. Mind you my dear Hope, this was written at the aftermath of the war. We know every one is capable of running a perfect game on Monday morning after the game is over MMQB (Monday Morning Quarterback). What I admired about the article is like what Yemane wrote, that it was written by someone who was close to the power circle and who took his time to write his independent personal observation and predictions, for Eritrea and its people aftermath the war.

          He clearly observed “The absence of institutionalized system of work” in dealing with the modern intelligence, foreign affairs, military etc in conducting conventional war. In Eritrea did not had the institution of a modern independent state, trying to cope with Ethiopia which had institution of more than a century beginning with King Thewodros, Yohannis, Menelik, Haile Selassie, Mengistu time. In my opinion the five years of independence was too short to place all the institutions. Eritrea was forced into the war with the institutions inherited from the liberation struggle.
          Here is a quote that I liked from the article.
          “why don’t we dare to look into our own face? Who are we and what situation do we live in? It is true that we are a sovereign state, but we are loaded with a
          revolutionary tradition, which has its impact on our behaviors and the actions
          of government sectors because it is built-in in our thinking and its influence
          is felt in all government operations and even in the whole life-style of our

          That was written in 2001, I wish the writer expand on it and write similar article is happening in 2015. I agree with AT this is a “Classic Eritrean article”, next to “Nihnan Elamanan” of 1970,s of EPLF. I wish Eritrean’s discuss those issues and more raised in the Article, rather than debating the strile argument Who started the war? A chicken or the egg argument which T.Kifle and Hayat want Eritreans to focus. As Ted said we have wasted 14 years since this Article was published in 2001.
          Thanks for mentioning Bereket Mengistab’s video. I have not seen the links, but I am familiar with his great songs, I have been following him since my childhood.

          • Hope

            Thanks Comrade Dawit for the crystal clear and honest explanation.
            The Reformers also are to be blamed equally for being silent for a long time and then for being hectic and quick to demand change overnight rather than taking some time so as to dig in further and prepare themselves in convincing the Eri Public and their Colleagues in a diplomatic way!
            I agree with U bro, as U eloquently said it , it was immediate post-devastating war when we did not even finish counting our dead comrades.
            U do not rush into quick judgements in such a complex scenario!
            In Medicine, after done with a Code Blue in a patient with a Cardio-Pulmonary arrest, U do not rush into blaming the Medical Students,the Medical Resident,the Attending Physician,the Nursing Staff or any body else,but U do a brief mini- conference to console each other and to de-brief all the involved!
            Later on,as needed,U do a Case or Peer Review in 3 months or so depending on the outcome and the complexity of the case itself!
            Finally U make constructive recommendations as a Learning Process!
            In the worst case scenario, if there was a serious malpractice due to negligence,the Risk Management gets involved and settles the case internally if proven to be a clear malpractice case due to Medical negligence!
            Or it goes to the Court like in the old days!
            I do not believe we followed the proper technical procedure in our case and the blame is /was exaggeratedly and unfairly pointed on the PRESIDENT alone!
            But we know that the blame is not to be pointed at the PIA only exclusively :!!
            Consider the following:
            -the Weyane Factor( step wise provocation and its hidden agenda)
            -the Western -Israeli Agency Factor,60 yes old Agenda
            -the Eri Public Factor-silence
            -The Cabinet and National Assembly Factor-for being dormant,passive and silent!
            -the EDF Factor
            The near -past Anseba Region Adm,Mr Ghirmay Gherghis,aka,Sheik Zaid challenged the belated “Challengers or Reformers” by telling them to slow down and take their time and challenge PIA on due time rather than taking hectic and childish measures!
            He allegedly survived a truck accident plotted by few puppets of PIA for saying what he said besides few words he threw away about the Leadeship,which led to his long-term Demotion!
            My point:
            The Author is/was partially biased and he could still be one of the under-cover Conspirators as he seems to be quite ” Benign” on the Weyanes,the Hayat, Amanuel and Kokhob style, in my opinion!
            Of course,like the majority of the Opposition Groups,Activists and opposition websites-as they have been labelled as “Ethiopian Friendly”;Pro-Ethiopia and funded by CIA” ,based on the same Western Intligence Reports!
            Meaning that ,the issue ic complex and the reasons are multi factorial and we all should be blamed and responsible and as such, the approach off a long lasting Solution should be multi factorial and comprehensive, in my humble opinion!

          • Semere Andom

            Hi Hope:

            Dawit is very clear from the beginning, no ambiguity and his clarity laser focus on saving his PFDJ’s skin by any means necessary, no matter what it takes and until the last person is left and the last person that must be left is IA. He is so adamant, sometimes stupidly, sometimes adamantly and willfully that Eritrea is its land, its stones, it trees, its animals and not its people. Dawit who publicly and shamelessly said that he is Ethiopian first and Eritrean second mean ill for Eritrea, so if you are talking about this clarity I agree

            Dawit is one of the people who will not change is mind regarding his love of PFDJ even if he knows well that the torture chamber of Ela-Ero that is hosting and claiming Eritrean lives

            But you are mixing your love of Eritrea with your love PFDJ and it is confusing. In this piece you criticized the reformers for peacefully wanting to fix things, they were accused of for asking IA to resign, how that is a crime. I am sure that if what agonizes you about the suffering of our people is genuine that PFDJ will disappoint you, only the heartless, mindless cannot be disappointed by the PFDJ.

            Since I have no creative ideas and I just repeat the talking point of the dedebits let me summarize this

            PFDJ was offered many opportunities to fix things, unlike TPLF PFDJ had almost 100% support of the people and they took that for granted and got used to it to the point that the unwavering support, deafening silence no matter how cruel they behaved and complete obedience were their entitlements

            Cousin, you cannot really keep believing that PFDJ is the savor and still tell us you heart bleeds by the pain that your people are enduring.

            The conspiracy of the West and Israel is just that conspiracy, there is no foreign ganging up against Eritrea, all the wounds are self-inflicted. If you are alluding tot the Federation, I believe it was good option because Eritreans were not sure, the could not make up their minds, so to tie it Federation was no bad if it was not cut short by HS. This conspiracy is just blame game for the failure of PFDJ and their enforces like you friend dawit.
            The national assembly, and cabinet of minster, what, do we have them, or are you taling about the old men and women who take notes dictated by IA, these people, they cannot even protect their children for who they have spent years struggling let alone to fight and protect on behalf of Eritreans, they are living by “eshi goytay” and they will die by “eshi goytay”

          • Hope

            My point is clear that we all , directly or indirectly, messed up, including adoring and letting the mad man to do what ever he wants to do.
            The external factors complemented our mess and weaknesses / mistakes!
            Case closed and no need of labeling us PFDJites or acting like more Catholic than the Pope!
            You messed up too by enjoying at Khartoum Univ and Canada .
            It is a complex issue with complex etiologies and it needs multi-faceted approach and remedies!
            Both external and internal etiologies should be tackled equally!
            One-sided Blame factor has never worked and will never work!
            Hope I am clear now!

  • T. Kifle

    Dear all,

    This “important document” has to say “When the relations between the two countries were excellent, it was observable that the Ethiopians were interested in building a strong military institution. The Woyane rejected the idea of demobilizing its army and the establishment of a national army composed of all the nationalities. This was the reason for their difference with the Oromo Liberation Front, which compelled the latter to go back to opposition. There were also a number of evidences which supported the assumption that the Woyane was preparing for war against Eritrea.” in its conclusion of Ethiopia’s assessment.

    First of all this is factually incorrect. Weyane indeed demobilized more than 30K combatants up until 1994, some of them agreed to settle in government initiated settlement site called Dansha but most of them absorbed in the society. The second point which partly seems to come either from ignorance on the transitional charter or may be because of an ill-conceived weird analysis of the political situation of the time, goes like “weyane’s refusal” of “establishing a national army composed of all nationalities.”. The transition charter prohibits all the parties that had armed combatants before the fall of Derg increase the number of their combatants. It was illegal to induct new conscripts. and there was no room for establishing a national army as that is beyond the mandate bestowed to government by the national charter.

    The other important point is this same transitional charter, which OLF itself agreed upon and duly signed had given the EPRDF army the role of protecting the nation until a constitutional gov. was established and decided upon the matter afterwards. So OLFs self-calculated withdrawal from the transitional Charter had many more plausible explanations than the banal and uninformed conclusion we read in the quote. Simply there was no legal provision to establish a national army in those 3 years of transition period and OLF upon its decision to fight the government from the bushes, it withdrew from the charter in April 1992 but a constitutional government was installed in August 1995. Here is the preamble of the Defence forces proclamation of 27/1996;

    ”WHEREAS, it is found necessary to organize, and to regulate the administration of the Defense Forces of the
    Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; which Defense Forces safeguard the country’s sovereignty; embody a fair
    representation of Nations,Nationalities and Peoples and carryout their functions in a manner free from, political loyalties;
    NOW, THEREFORE, in accordance with Article 55 (1) and (‘7) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic
    of Ethiopia,it is’hereby proclaimed as follows:…” OLF was too impatient and declared war before the transitional government celebrates its first birthday.

    But of all the inaccuracies, the gravest one is the claim on “weyane’s preparation for war against Eritrea”. I can only say those who peddle such unfounded messages are either liars or are ignorant of their Ethiopia inside out. Ethiopia had no an iota of war vocabulary at the time except the limited engagement with those international terrorists such as Al ithad Al Islamyia and its surrogate: the ONLF and mostly at their choices. In fact, if war was a must, Eritrea should have been the last country Weyane would like to engage in. This is utter lie to justify Eritrea’s choices.

    • Ted

      T.Kifle “In fact, if war was a must, Eritrea should have been the last country Weyane would like to engage in. This is utter lie to justify Eritrea’s wrong choices.”
      This was the thinking of Eritrean gov that weyane ruled Ethiopia will never attack Eritrea in a million years. Weyane outsmarted Eritreans in that respect to make Eritrean Gov comfortable regardless of the telltale signs we see now in retrospect.. The point of the matter is Weyane did what it had to do, although misguided but understandable move considering the self conflict they were in ruling Ethiopia at that time. For us the nagging question is what we had done differently handling the unavoidable war but “Who is at fault” ship has sailed long time ago except for a few “Weyane whisperers” here and Mekelle.

      • saay7

        Selamat Ted:

        If we want to understand the inner-thinking of the EPLF/PFDJ and the TPLF in the years preceding the war, I think the best we can do is to refer to scholars who had access to their beliefs and, consequently, shared their conclusions on the future relationship of the two governments.

        There are three journals/books that address this. One is by Roy Pateman and his book “Even The Stones Are Burning” which was published (2nd edition) in February 1998 (3 months before the breakout of the war.) The other is Alemseghed Abay’s “Identity Jilted or Re-imagining Identity which was published in March 1998 (2 months before the breakout of the war.) The third is John Young’s: “The Tigray and Eritrean People’s Liberation Fronts: A History of Tensions and Pragmatism” which was published in March 1996.

        Pateman’s sources were entirely Eritrean: he had been to Eritrea four or five times when he published the second edition and his interpretation of the Eritrea-Ethiopia relationship is so rosy that he forecasts a long, sustained honeymoon between EPLF and TPLF.

        Alemseghed’s sources were Eritrean and Ethiopian. He approaches the issue from an identity standpoint and who Tigrayans think are their allies and friends and who are their historical enemies. In his survey, Tigrayans consider their enemies Shoa Amhara; and Eritreans consider their enemies colonialism, dependence, poverty and underdevelopment.

        Young’s sources were entirely TPLF authorities. His piece was written to address Ethiopian critics of TPLF who were accusing it of being an EPLF lackey. He writes: “…the developing relationship between the TPLF and the EPLF during the course of their respective revolutionary struggles has been far more problematic and beset with tensions than critics are either aware of, or acknowledge, and that an understanding of their nature casts light on present AND POSSIBLE FUTURE DIFFERENCES (emphasis mine) between the respective regimes of Ethiopia and Eritrea.” He concludes with “…political differences between the TPLF and the EPLF during their years of struggle will be reflected in their present and future relations, and as a result they may be far more problematic than is generally imagined.”

        Of the three writers (with all due respect to Alemseghed and Pateman), it was Young who proved prescient. This may have something to do with the fact that Alemseghed and Pateman are professors/scholars and Young was a Sudan-based journalist.

        Now, there has been a lot of discussion recently on what led to the breakup between EPLF and TPLF in 1985. What hasn’t been discussed is how and why they reconciled in 1988. And was the strategy pursued by the TPLF to reconcile with EPLF in 1988 the same one used by TPLF to reconcile with its Ethiopian critics?

        What led to the breakup was the TPLF’s classification of the EPLF as a “tactical” ally. This was such a shock to the EPLF which had just partnered with TPLF to rid Eritrea of a vibrant liberation movement, ELF that its central committee did an extremely rare “we screwed up” (well, what goes for “we made a mistake” in the EPLF is “we were naive.”) If EPLF is not a strategic ally of the TPLF, who is? That’s when TPLF went shopping for an Eritrean organization to groom in its image: De.M.H.E. (Democraciawi mnqsqas Harnet Ertra and NO the naming of De.M.H.T to be the new PFDJ Tigrayan ally is NOT coincidental.) There were other issues of contention ranging from the sublime: should self-determination up to and including secession apply to all nationalities including those in Eritrea (sound familiar?); should we be guerrillas or conventional armies with a base? How do we deal with POWs? To the silly: is the Soviet Union an enemy that should be condemned?

        Now, the two “pragmatic” organizations reconciled in 1988 and came up with a joint agreement that essentially found creative ways to solve their differences. But what did the TPLF do to be taken seriously by the EPLF: that it is not some push-over, junior partner but an equal partner?

        Here’s Young:

        “But a rapprochement was actually achieved, according to Meles Zenawi, because of the string of TPLF military victories over the Derg in the towns of Tigray in early 1988. Indeed,
        although denied by the TPLF, it is believed that one of the reasons why these attacks were launched was to draw the EPLF’s attention to its power, and of the need to overcome their differences and form a military alliance that would move quickly to defeat the Derg.”


        Suppose you are TPLF and you want to be taken seriously by incessant Ethiopian critics that keep saying that you are just an EPLF lackey: what is the best, certain way to show them that you are not?

        War. Massive “break their back; teach them a lesson they will never forget” kind of war.


        • Hope

          Another Epic!
          Do it in article format,Hon Cousin!
          No bias here,Big Bro!
          Your pencil is way better than the PFDJ’s AK-47 and erratic diplomacy …. But,clapping with one hand will not do the job as it takes two to tango !
          In any case, keep pushing harder,Cousiney Natey!
          At last,Eritrea and ERITREANS will prevail… as Justice and Truth always PREVAIL,at the end of the day!

        • Ted

          Hi SAAY7, Young ,the journalist, had sensed the tension between TPLF and EPLF because he examined their stance from their political upbringing. He understood the TPLF’s image problem under the shadow of EPLF in going forward as the liberator of Ethiopia. Dergu’s reference and Ethiopians made to believe Weyane as” Ye shaebia Buchela”(lackey) with no political objective of its own had created a chip in their shoulder as they march to Minilik palace supported by EPLF tanks. And EPLF insistence in lecturing how things should be done to the junior TPLF didn’t sit well either. With all these powers at their disposal as rulers of Ethiopia, they figured, things has to change. How did TPLF get out of EPLF’ shell and painted itself GREEN, YELLOW and RED ? It cost us a lot.

          Pateman’s interpretation of the situation was also right except it only dealt with one side, Eritrean wishful intention. It takes two to Tango. For Eritreans, all the sin of Ethiopians were washed away by the outcome of the referendum, to surprise to many, It was more so from the Gov side than the people. The Gov were so eager to work together, I think, this high eagerness from the Eritrean Gov had blinded to see the pre-war aggression of TPLF just as to preserve the sentiment “we are good friends” . Why they didn’t broadcast the eviction of Eritreans from border area by TPLF, probably not to anger Eritreans. This too cost us a lot.

          Alemseghed’s analysis is also very true. The first Meles Zenawi’s job was demystify the history of Ethiopian kings in his own strange way. He belittled every Amhara emperors as backwards with no objective of ruling Ethiopia other than being regional warlords. He tried in many ways to tear apart the history of Amhara out of Ethiopia and their victory against colonialism. He touch a lot of nerves in a wrong ways. As he tries harder to place his TPLF at the helm( enquae kabatikum Teweledina), the deeper he sank. People resented him more,the “ye shaebia buchela” start to ring again among Ethiopians. There is only one way to get out of these mess. We paid for this too.

          Thank you for the reference,

          • Mizaan

            Ted, so whose fault is it that we were unprepared for TPLF’s sophisticated and evil plan, as you would call it?

          • Mizaan

            Ted, so whose fault is it that we were unprepared for TPLF’s sophisticated and evil plan, as you would call it?

          • Semere Andom

            Hi Mizaan:

            Do not hold your breath for an honest answer from Tewodros. Did you see what dawit said about the 37 people who declined the BBC’s interviews, prophet dawit dreamt that it was because Eritreans want to protect Eritrea, but if they wanted they could have answered his questions with answers that support PFDJ as PFDJ supporters have no shame.

            You know how we go out our way to list PFDJ crimes, but in normal society, PFDJ would be found guilty for their irresponsible management of the war, not only the last war, but the war of independence as well, it was with a penchant of irresponsibility and lack of foresight that they conduct (how about the Dejen thing: I believe that is the ABCs of military science). Although Eritrean fighters and many leaders showed almost in humane tenacity during the war in an environment where it is not for the faint of heart to even just live let alone with death, hunger and hardship, but a few killers who led gambled and made the people and fighters guinea pigs to perfect their military skills and that is why brutes were hailed as top military scientists that we had to worship: “eziOm eyom netsenat zegenatsefuna” said Zemede in Aug 1991 referring to the military commanders in Bolonga.
            I am giddy about the attack on the Bisha mines if it is true, it is not an attack on Eritrea, not an attack on Eritrea’s infrastructure or wealth, but an attack on the PFDJ economic aorta.

            Besides the moral outrage to steal from Sal, we also have to recognize the different threats to Eritrea

            1. PFDJ: existial threat. Every thing that is PFDJ must be destroyed, them,their alien culture, their speak, their version of history.

            2. The thinking that PFDJ have instilled: deception, arrogance, their propensity to

            3, TPLF: whatever threat the “Dedebit” poses: the easiest one to deal and solve. They have defeated PFDJ, humiliated them, rendered them incompetent. It is upto us to define our identity and keep it intact and the confusion whever TPLF attacks PFDJ some Eritreans fasculates confusing it with an attack on Eritreanism. Aboy Sebhat is getgtign senile and I have problem understanding, but I did not hear hims hay they care for Eriteran more than Eritreans, I hear they care more for Eritrean than PFDJ and I have no problem with it and it true, ask the Eritreans who are in their camps

          • Ted

            Semere, getting ” giddy” for what. IN short, you are all for misery of Eritrea and its people as long as they obey and live by PFDJ rules. Blaming the victim is not the right way to go. I wonder how your reasoning works.

          • Semere Andom

            Bisha has nothing to do with Eritreans, it is an investment venture of PFDJ and white man, collaborating and conspiring in the enslavement of the people, any sane/honest Eritrean would be giddy when the mine of enslavement and fraud is attack by man or by heavens.

          • Ted

            Semere, i rather go “machelot” as insane person than be happy on innocent people possibly got hurt.

          • dawit

            Yes BBC reported they tried 37 Eritreans to say some bad thing about their government and 37 refused. What was the purpose of BBC in Eritrea? They were invited to do one thing and that was to report on the Health Care system on Eritrea. BBC has no business to sniff in bars for some dirt on Eritrea. Eritreans know BBC has never reported any positive things about Eritrea except garbage. Eritrea has garbage collectors, it does not need BBC to do garbage collecting. The Eritrean government does not allowed any journalist looking for dirt and if BBC had contemplated to abuse their host’s goodwill to venture into unnecessary areas, the Eritrean people are smart to stop it. If BBC wanted to know what is going in Eritrea, the can follow ERiTV 24 hours in the language of choice including English. How is it going the “Bisha Bombing Celebration Party going? I am sorry it was short, try another Photoshop incidence. I am sure you can get some photos from your anarchist friends ISIS to go with Asmara, Massawa or Asab and write a big headline ” Ethiopian Air Aorce bombed Asmara!”, “Ethiopia took over Asab!. That kind of news can last you a week of Celebration!


            Here is a link real Bisha Party. Enjoy it!

          • Ted

            Mizan, If it were not for the sixth senses of the Eritrean people, TPLF would had its ways with us.The leaders of the country are to blamed, they should had known better.

        • T. Kifle

          Dear SAAY,

          You are still at it. You know, your country started the war. You know Ethiopia was taken by surprise when it got attacked. But still you are singing the same song of “Escalation”. Ethiopia didn’t duck and it will never does in the future for anyone with a desire to have their ways at gun point. So you are trying to make sense out of nonsense. Earlier you repeatedly quoted Alemseged Abay and elevated my curiosity. Luckily, I managed to get the book and read it. I learned that you have no courage to quote the main theme of the book which outlined how the Eritrean identity couldn’t form in-line with the ghedli’s narratives observed from the gap existing between the old and new generation highlander Eritreans. According to the book the old generation Eritrean highlander believe that Qidus Yohans is their new year, Yohnanes IV their king, Alula their hero, are proud of their Abyssinian root and they see their brethren south of Mereb of their own. This is an anti-thesis to almost all the new generation Eritrean has stood for.

          Let me quote a quote from the book and the author’s own interpretation which i think is the central argument here.

          “” Eritrea! Eritrea is my Adi Abo. Two of my children fought and died for the sake of this Eritrea! I have no other country, no other Adi Abo but Eritrea!””

          Then followed the author’s interpretation

          “Nothing tells more than this response that the Eritrean national identity is recent which can hardly trace its existence into the remote past. The whole project of the elites to invent heroes and disfigure the past had no impact on remapping the civilian sense of identity. At most the Eritrean collective identity can go back to the armed struggle and the high price the people paid for it. For the man quoted above “fatherland” is not the land of his forefathers, He didn’t have to hark back into the “golden” past of milk and honey and the pristine past of “greatness”. Far from being the land of ancestors, “fatherland” is the land of the children, his two sons , who gave their lives for its sake. Thus, the mythical quality attached to the territory which is vital to a group sense of identity would, therefore, have to emanate not an Eritrea of the heroic forefathers but an Eritrea of heroic offsprings. And a pan-Eritrean distinct identity can only look towards the future, not the past” pp.170

          The reason why Eritrea outgrow itself and bit almost all of its neighbours in its short history of independent existence needs honest reflection.

          • saay7

            Selamat T.Kifle:

            The purpose of mentioning the three books was not to summarize their “main theme”; it was to see if, given that they were written shortly before the war, they had predictive qualities. If you wanted to get the “main theme” of Alemseghed’s book, it is right there staring at you in its name.

            From that regard, Alemseghed’s book validates the dilemma of the TPLF: it was governing a nation that it included a large population (not party, not politicians, but people) that it hated; and this same population hated it back.

            Since you are so enthralled with the book, let me quote something I had written about it in terms of how Tigrayans and TPLF leaders see the following:

            [BEGIN QUOTE]

            1. Historical Enemies/Nationalism

            Ethiopian myth continuously reminds us that fiercely proud Ethiopia has slain dragons from Turkey, Sudan, and fascist Italy. We are told that this proud history was achieved through the unity of its diverse people. So, if you ask Tigrayans who their “historical enemy” is, they would of course tell you fascist Italy and Mahdist Sudan…right? Wrong. Asked to name who they consider their “historical enemies”, 82% of his sample of Tigrayan citizens answered…. . Amhara (Shoa). (p. 154). Asked if they would trust an Amhara doctor, 64% of Tigrayans said they would not. (p. 155).

            When the TPLF leadership, the engineers of Ethiopia’s ethno-fundamentalist state, were asked the same question, they answered in a manner that betrays their Marxist core: the TPLF’s historical enemy was the “Amhara ruling class”, the “Tigrayan ruling class”, “feudalism”, etc. Would the TPLF trust an Amhara doctor? Half of the TPLF sample said that they would not trust an Amhara doctor. If you think that is bad enough, Alemseged believes the number is even higher: “However, their numbers must exceed 50% because as one said:”I say I have no fears of being seen by an Amhara doctor; but in actual fact we go to Military hospitals whose doctors are well screened. “” (p. 165)

            In case you are telling yourself, “what do you expect after all the Derg has done to the people of Tigray…” consider the following: the author asked the same question to a sample of Eritreans and EPLF members. All except two Eritreans expressed no fear in trusting an Amhara doctor. Asked to name their “historical enemy,” the EPLF sample talked in classic nationalistic answer: its enemy was all the colonialist powers beginning with the Turks and ending with the Derg.

            2. Patriotism/Loyalty

            What do you consider your “Adi abo”–your “fatherland”? This question was posed to Tigrayans and Eritreans. 64. 3% of the TPLF sample, which included Sebhat Negga (the arsonist of the current Eritrea-Ethiopia War) named Tigray (not Ethiopia) as their Fatherland. To 71. 4% of the EPLF sample, “Fatherland” meant Eritrea and those who did not mention Eritrea did NOT say Hamasien or Seraye, etc. To Eritreans, notes Alemseged, “fatherland” does not mean the land of the forefathers; it means the land that their children sacrificed their lives for: Eritrea.

            3. Intermarriage

            Sociologists tell us that the ultimate test of “acceptance” is intermarriage–marriage outside your own caste, ethnicity and/or religion. When the TPLF leaders were asked what is their preference, 46% said they would prefer “intermarriages with the Kebessa [highland Eritreans] to the Amhara, fellow Ethiopians, or the Kunama and Afar, fellow “Tigrayans”” (p. 161). Asked the same question, 64% of EPLF leaders “prefer all intermarriages to take place among Eritreans alone, regardless of ethnicity and religion. Intermarriages with Tigrayans became a distant second choice. ” (p. 162) This, no doubt, is presented as an exhibit in the “Eritreans Think They Are Better” book of ethno-stroking that the TPLF has been building.

            4. The Hypothetical Match up

            Suppose you are watching TV and you come across a boxing match. You don’t know any of the fighters but one is black and the other is white. Who do you root for? Unless you are one of the tiny fractions of people who have managed to totally subdue all their atavistic allegiances, it is natural for you to take sides with the one who most resembles you. Alemseged takes a variation of this by asking TPLF leaders of a hypothetical soccer match up between an “Eritrean” and a “Shoa” soccer team. “Almost all evaded the question”, writes Alemseged. Of those that responded, only 14. 3% would support a Shoan team. One of the few who answered the politically correct way was General Mohammed Yonus (“Samora”), who said, “…In the past, I used to support the Eritrean team. Now, I am changed. In the past, emotions dictated me; now I am led by reason. ”

            The most surreal question was saved for EPLF. EPLF leaders were asked who they would support in a hypothetical war between the TPLF and the “Amhara. ” Get this: 85. 7% said they would help the TPLF. One of the interviewees said, “We will go to Alewaha and defend the TPLF. Should there be any more wars, they would have to be fought beyond Alewaha.” (p. 167)

            [END QUOTE]

            This clearly gives you what the mindset of Eritreans and Tigrayans was in 1994 (at the time the surveys were done.) This mindset was picked up by Amara-Ethiopians (then collectively called “Neftegna” and “chauvinists” by the TPLF) and said that the TPLF is a pretender to the throne; they love Tigray but not Ethiopia. And this chipped away at the legitimacy of the TPLF.

            Meanwhile, as verified by the excellent writer John Young, the TPLF had “a history of tensions” with the EPLF and whereas the EPLF was in a state of delusion about how it would fight other Ethiopians to defend its darling TPLF “past Alewaha.”

            The rest of your stuff, about how everything that ever happened between May 13, 1998 to June 30, 2000 is justified by May 12, 1998 is, of course, bunk. Ethiopia could have been allowed to (and was allowed to) write its our peace terms and it would not have opted for peaceful resolution because by then, as the peace negotatiors described it, Ethiopia had its “war mask on.” It would have been accused of, once again, selling out Ethiopia to Eritrea by its loud critics and it was all set to win them over. Not by good governance, but by punishing Eritrea.


          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Saay,

            Can you share with us the statistical survey you are talking, of the 1994? How are those survey questions are framed? and how they are collected and converted in to the percentage you brought up? I would like to know the validity of the data and how they are still applicable to the current debate. More importantly, I am very eager to know why those statistical argument are hindering us from moving forward and focus to our people’s issue.

            Amanuel Hidrat

          • saay7

            Hi Emma:

            I referenced the findings as presented by the author of “Identity Jilted…”, Alemseghed Abbay. You will have to contact the author to find out what methodology he used (his sample size, whether it was representative sample, etc.)

            To me it rings true, at least what the EPLF believed at the time. Remember this is when the members of “Hafash wdbat” of EPLF were organizing fundraising for “LmAt Tigray” (Tigray Development.)

            To the extent those stats are hindering is is mainly because the people you agree with almost all the time in this forum keep drudging old issues to score cheap political points and to shame Eritreans.


          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Abu Saleh,

            There are no people whom I agree with “almost all time” either in this forum or in any political engagement in my life. I don’t believe anyone will have either. My agreement or disagreement is always issue by issues bases on Eritrean issues. I have never reserved myself from writing anything I disagree with, be it ideologically or conceptually or historically. Most of my writings often goes in responding for a political argument made by different writers. You name them. Fortunately, I don’t want to engage in a debate (though at time in conveniently pulled in to it) with Ethiopians about history at this time, which is neither productive nor contributive to the current struggle. So my quietness to argue on history in your book is a support to them. For God sake up until you started to advocate for PFDJ-2 for transitional government and the idea of “democratic coup” you surfaced to drive as an exit strategy to our crises, we hadn’t a major collision on our thoughts. So my friend, I am not even happy in the “inklil on past history” in our forum. We can do better than what we are doing by prioritizing issues based on a matter of urgency. I am afraid you have bad perception on me.

          • Hayat Adem

            Dear T. Kifle,
            There is someone who advances a wrong idea because he doesn’t know any better. There is someone who advances a wrong idea because he thinks he’s capable of selling it. I wouldn’t mind to sit over a coffee with the former. The latter is totally intolerable in terms of behavior. I sometimes feel that way about Saay. He advances a well packaged wrong ideas and they almost look like consumable from a surface. What is bad is he knows what exactly he is saying but he is and he will be saying them any way. His focus is not on how right he is arguing but on how well he is arguing.
            According to him, Ethiopia is justified up to 1999 Summer because of Eritrea’s action of May 12, 1998. Well, he didn’t say that exactly, but he implied it by opposing only the extended interpretation of May 12 beyond July 1999. Then after, he says, Eritrea responded positively to peace proposals, even to those he thought were written by Ethiopia. Late acceptances don’t always do the magic of aborting impregnated wars but it is not event that. it is not true t all. And worse is Saay knows it s not true at all. After Eritrean army was removed from Badime by force, it declared it accepted the proposal it rejected earlier. Not one time, but repeatedly. IA rejected it when US and Rwanda proposed it, when the five African Ambassadors assigned by Salem proposed it, when Hussien Gulled proposed it, when OAU proposed it, when Minister Barakhi proposed it,…
            What was you advice to PIA then about the peace proposal, Saay? The main OAU proposal was worded in a way that it reflected the first events, meaning about the military developments that took in Badime area in early May. The catch phrase was “Badime and its environs”. But the confrontation later escalated and Eritrean army pushed on other fronts and included many new areas in Center and East. Then, the Ethiopians wanted to interpret “Badime and its environs” as referring to all areas Eritrea took over ON & AFTER May 12, 1998. Eritrea wanted to interpret it as only Badime and the nearby, the areas it already lost in the war. The mediators had to go back to the past meeting minutes and they found one registered opinion of interpretation from MZ in which he expressed his understanding of “Badime and its environs” as to mean all Ethiopian territories taken on and after May 12. Eritrea insisted on the literal geography and didn’t want to pull back from places like Zalanbessa and Alitena as part of the peace deal. For the mediators, it was like the Irish question- Once the mediators thought they arrived at a solution, the problems changes its face.
            Saay knows all these events and the details that surrounded them probably more than any of us here. I’ve no idea why but he repeatedly says here if Weyane had any reason to go to war against Eritrea between May 12, 1998 to July 1999, it never had any afterwards, except its desire to prove that it was not selling Ethiopia to Eritrea to its loud critics “and it was all set to win them over. Not by good governance, but by punishing Eritrea”. All reactive wars would always include a punishing component if they can. In fact the ones that included that component seemed to have sustained it well than the ones that ended in stalemate. Look at Japan and Germany after WWII. If Eritrea was hoping that it can always start the war at will and stop it by responding to minimum demands at any point of time, that must be the naivest thought I ever have heard.
            There is this thing called “policy inertia”. Policies, especially those of foreign, (especially those involving guns) behave differently from Wall Street. They don’t operate by the bell. They have a gestation period, evolvement time and phasing out scales. That is why most of us don’t believe May 12, 1998 suddenly popped up. It was planned, processed and executed in a timeline that might stretch back months or may be years. No, stopping wars is not as easy as stopping them my dear.


          • T. Kifle

            Dear Hayat,

            Who would capture the gist of the political upheavals of the time better than you?That’s why SAAY opted for avoiding you when the going gets tough.

          • T. Kifle

            Dear Hayat,

            Who would capture the gist of the political upheavals of the time better than you do?That’s why SAAY opted for avoiding you when the going gets tough.

        • ‘Gheteb

          Hello Cuz Saleh,

          As I have stated many time, I am among those who don’t believe even for a split second that the TPLF stand in Eritrea’s independece was based on a principled conviction. Here what one needs to understand is the TPLF’s public stances regarding Eritrea’s independence was not exactly what we Eritreans were aspiring to achieve. In short, what the TPLF meant when they claimed they supported Eritrea’s independence did not exactly jive or comport with what the Eritreans meant by Eritrea’s independence. That is where, I think, the crux of this issue lies.

          You have mentioned three different authors or scholars in your effort to gauge the TPLF’s thinking preceding the 1998-2000 Ethio-Eritrean war. I think there is one more individual, a keen watcher of Africa, the British Human Rights Activist, Alex De Waal, who in 1992, actually prognosticated about the possible eruption of hostility between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Alex De Waal pinpointedly ascribed the reason for the loomimg conflict to “Abessinian Fundamentalsim”. Mind you, this was in 1992.

          Anyone, even with the minutest amount of grey matter between his/her ears knows that Badme was a sheer pretext used by the Weyanes to declare war on Eritrea. Of course, if one hails from “TPLF Central”, contrary to incontrovertible facts, s/he may believe otherwise. Also, another aspect of ‘Applied Abessinian Fundamentalism’, is the only thing that matters to the progenies of this belief system is to spout their belief in issues, even if those belief are unsupported by facts. Well, I guess, one of the ‘advantages’ of subscribing to Abessinian fundamentalism is you can simply shrug off facts and be able to say all ‘facts be damned’ for my ‘Kibra Negest’ based political outlook will supply me with my ‘own facts’.

        • Haile Zeru

          Hi SAAY,

          You said:
          “What led to the breakup was the TPLF’s classification of the EPLF as a “tactical” ally. This was such a shock to the EPLF which had just partnered with TPLF to rid Eritrea of a vibrant liberation movement, ELF, that its central committee did an extremely rare “we screwed up” (well, what goes for “we made a mistake” in the EPLF is “we were naive.”) If EPLF is not a strategic ally of the TPLF, who is? ”

          Where did you see/hear the EPLF CC saying we screwed up on this matter? Can you elaborate on the above paragraph? The EPLF CC said we were naive because they got rid of ELF or because TPLF does not consider them a strategic ally? I would be interested to know if there is anything of that sort.


          • saay7

            Selamat Haile Zeru:

            The EPLF-CC admitted it was “naive” after it learned that the TPLF considered it a tactical and not strategic ally. This was published in Adulis at the time. I will update this post with Adulis issue, date etc later on. If I forget please remind me.

            The ELF reference was my own editorial: if you ally with a foreign force to liquidate your own countrymen (as EPLF did in its partnership with TPLF to eliminate ELF) and then later on realize that your foreign partner thinks of you only as “tactical ally” and as a result of the massive shortage of 10s of thousands of voluntary, nationalists you just created you are reduced to conscripting people…wouldn’t that factor in your consideration of your naïveté?


          • Haile Zeru

            Hi SAAY,

            “wouldn’t that factor in your consideration of your naïveté?”

            In my consideration that is shear stupidity. I think in your consideration is naivete. But I do not think, they think like I do. They were celebrating the demise of ELF, and the withdrawal to refugee camps and the rest of the world of the Eritrean combatants that survived the war.

            I am still curious to see anything that amounts to what you are saying from EPLF CC writing. I hope you will not forget to post it. It does not matter one way or the other now. It is that I never heard of any thing that sounds regret from EPLF leaders on the matter. In private or in public.

          • Semere Andom

            Hi HZ:
            you are kidding? For EPLF it was right and is still right to have eliminated the freedom fighters, their soliloquy was because they were taken for a ride by TPLF. But all of them at least until 1990 they were saying it was the right thing to do and if the going was tough and Ethiopia offered something they would have taken it, other wise why would you endanger the bigger cause by eliminating close to 100k fighters and then borrow 5k from TPLF foil the six offensive
            So forget the regret, their regret is only for being called tactic alliance instead of strategic one. IA and his close knit alliance of betrayal had different agenda

          • Haile Zeru

            Hi Semere Andom,

            I agree with you. What is sad many of the same people who were celebrating the demise of ELF and the scatter around the world of the eritrean combatants are today silent at the exodus of the young eritreans around the world. It is bad that it happened the first time, it is even worse that it is happening again.

            SAAY is a good person and he is speaking his wish rather than the reality then and the reality now.
            If they had any rekindled hart then what made their hart as hard as stone now?

            I remember in 1983 in Milan a meeting was called because Issays came I do not know to do what.
            He mentioned how they dispatched Jebha out of the field and in the same line of disourse that they composed mahber bdho(I am not sure if that is the term he used) to force each village to enroll in the armed struggle men that were fit to fight. But actually everybody knew they were practicing giffa as never have been seen before.
            A friend of mine stood up and told Issayas and his barking dogs that what they were saying was wrong and it is not to the benefit of Erotrean people. Issayas became so mad. he became very agitated and the multitude of people some clapping some shouting insults. It was unbelievable. It is unlikely to hear a regret from that kind of mob and their leader.

          • Kokhob Selam

            Thank you Haile Zeru you touch my heart,

            ኣቤት እወ !! ነቲ ብዓል ልቦናን መስተብሃልን ሲ ሓያል ናይ ቃንዛ ዓመታት እዩ ሓሊፉ:: ሃገራዊ ናጽነት ንሓፋሽ ህዝቡ ኣረኪቡ ክሓልፍ ኩሉ ውልቃዊ ጥቅምታቱ ያዕ ኢሉ ብጀግንነት ዝዓጠቐ መንእሰይ ብበዓል ኤስያስን ጭፍራታቱን ተቀቢሩ ክተርፍ ምርኣይን ከቢድ እዩ :: ኣብ ልዕሊ መቃብሩ ናይ ይርሓሰና ጓይላን ፈንጠዝያን ማስጣ ግን እንሆ ተተሓሒዝካ ዋይ ዋይ እዩ ፈጢሩ ;: እንቲ ምንታይሲ ሓቂ ሰራዊት ኣይድልያን እዩ – ንሓሶት ብሓሶት ከተባልዕ ባህርያዊ ትዕድልቲ ኣለዎ – ወይልኡ ሰብ ክብረቱ ዘይሓለወ እምበር ::

            ኩሉ ናይ ግዜ ሕቶ እዩ : የግዳስ “ካባኻ ዘይሓልፍ ጋሽ ኣጥቢቅካ ስዓሞ ” እዩ ታሪኽ መምህር እዩ እሞ መጥሓን ተሰኪምና ይቅረ እንሓቶ ስውእን ውጉእን ለውህ ወዲ ሃገር ኣይክጭክንን እዩ እሞ ደጊሙ ደጋጊሙ ክስወኣልና ድልው እዩ ::

          • Hayat Adem

            Dear Haile Z,
            There is nothing you would see as a choice of either or matter here. EPLF’s love-hate choice to like TPLF and kill ELF has nothing to do with committing an error in picking a friend and everything with the processor of EPLF that is all about only “I, ME and MYSELF” politics. There was nothing about zero-sum-gaming matrix between TPLF and ELF. This is the usual attempt of trivializing an inherent political illness to make it look like a desk event, an error of calculation. EPLF’s well known motto was “The Eritrean field can not carry more than one Front”. There was nothing about disliking ELF because of its policies or incompatibility of policies. Its very existence and presence was a problem that needed to be solved. How? Those are technicalities where TPLF comes into the picture. Well, TPLF had its own reasons and you have heard them from people like T. Kifle. There is nothing you would think of mutual exclusiveness of policy preference between TPLF and ELF as far as EPLF is concerned. But EPLF’s naivete of choosing TPLF over ELF? This is a high aim. low point argument.

          • saay7

            Selamat Haile:

            Don’t worry; I will post it: I am always able to back up whatever I say “weyl’om” our Google Eritrea friends:)

            The EPLF has never admitted it has ever made a mistake. It has admitted that it was naive twice: one was after it learned that the TPLF doesn’t think of as a strategic ally but a tactical ally; the other was after it learned that the 1998 war had nothing to do with Badme and everything to do with TPLF bleeding Eritrea to prove its Ethiopian bonafides to its Ethiopian critics. I don’t know if u attended meetings that were given by EPLF officials in 1998-2000 but “we were naive” was an expression articulated often.


          • saay7

            Selamat Haile Z:

            Begin Quote:

            “However, according to the EPLF, the immediate cause of its decision to end ties with the TPLF in June I985 was the BELATED (emphasis mine) discovery that it was being denigrated:
            the TPLF had concluded that the EPLF was not a democratic organisation
            and that its relationship with the EPLF was ‘tactical’.

            “The EPLF had thought that its cooperation with the TPLF was genuine and not based on temporary tactical considerations. And so, when the TPLF’s SECRET (Emphasis mine) stand became public the EPLF realised its NAIVETÉ (Emphasis mine) and although it did not regret its past actions, decided to break its relationship with TPLF and not enter into polemics with

            END QUOTE

            The source for this is John Young and his paper, already referenced by me, The Tigray and Eritrean Peoples Liberation Fronts: A History of Tensions and Pragmatism.

            Where did John Young get this? From ‘EPLF Political Report and NDP’, March i987, pp. I48-9.

            Earlier, I had referred that his source was Adulis magazine. That was in reference to another dispute which they eventually compromised on: who is entitled to self-determination? Any nationality? Or a nationality that had previously been independent and is economically viable? The source for that is Adulis, May I985, p. 5.


          • Semere Andom

            Hi cousin Sal: please forward this to Nitriccay 🙂
            zanta kkoneka warsay Ere, Qata ayetseriyun ksab shirre
            Haqi kdegemelka wullad Sawa
            temeharo eyom nerom ksab shiwa

          • Mizaan

            Sem, you forgot a very important line:

            “Warsay ezom sebat menyom menyom?”

            Hateta Asmelash:

            In the future, it will read:

            Semere Andom menyu? Nitricc kemzibelena, n canada bzey higawi mengedi atyu edu zihabe kedae etrawi eyu.

          • Semere Andom

            Hi Mizaan:
            haha: I would say it this way:-)
            Semere Andom menyu, menyu menyuye!
            Nitricc kemzibelena, n canada zseleme
            lemmano Canada zequamette
            btkabo Canada zshadenne
            Mahmuday, “I am telling you man” ane efelto nwedi andomay
            wedi dedebit eyu enti chewettay

          • Haile WM

            Actually there was a jock about the line in asmara that goes like this:

            the tv was saying “Warsay ezom sebat menyom menyom menye?”

            and an occasional bar dweller saying “teHazazilom metsiom’si neana yihatuna men iyom ?”

          • Haile Zeru


            On your statement (1) above you agree with me. EPLF leaders never regretted and never admitted to have made a mistake in disbanding 10’s of thousand of combatants and turning into giffa inside the country. This issue was/is colossal for the Eritrean people. One cannot brush it off as naivete.

            1) “The EPLF has never admitted it has ever made a mistake. It has admitted that it was naive twice: ”

            Statement number (2) below a quote from John Young’s book speaks about naivete in relation to TPLF. and here you have what he says on the same line.

            “and although it did not regret its past actions,..”

            2) “The EPLF had thought that its cooperation with the TPLF was genuine and not based on temporary tactical considerations. And so, when the TPLF’s SECRET (Emphasis mine) stand became public the EPLF realised its NAIVETÉ (Emphasis mine) and although it did not regret its past actions, decided to break its relationship with TPLF and not enter into polemics with

            I do not think there is much to make out of this statements.

          • saay7

            Selamat HZ:

            1. This is what I wrote at the beginning of this thread “What led to the breakup was the TPLF’s classification of the EPLF as a ‘tactical’ally. This was such a shock to the EPLF which had just partnered with TPLF to rid Eritrea of a vibrant liberation movement, ELF, that its central committee did an extremely rare we screwed up’ (well, what goes for ‘we made a mistake’ in the EPLF is ‘we were naive.’)

            So I guess I was already in agreement with you and you made me work hard to show u I was already in agreement with you. In fact, I often note that Isaias Afwerki is oftrn on record congratulating himself “we never made a mistake.”

            2. Young asked Meles Zenawi what was the primary reason for TPLFs breakup with EPLF and he said it was EPLFs stand on the Soviet Union.* Then Young got the EPLF side for its breakup with TPLF: it was that the TPLF considered it a tacticall ally. From the two explanations if you, in retrospect, consider which one is more nonsensical now, you would have to say it was the TPLFs explanation.

            * same source I have cited twice now.

          • Semere Andom

            Hi Sal:
            For sure, the nonsensical is obvious. But EPLF always gave the same nonsensical answer through its cadres, “nsoviet Hibret gessgasit aykonnetin bellu elomna”
            And to the point where EPLF admission naivete, that is right too because it one of their favorite line, “tegerihnna” when trivializing heavy national issues. I am not contradicting you here, but many people get shocked about when you tell them that ridding one liberation movement was celebrated by EPLF and PFDJ to this day, “bselam nqaless alenna” was one of the famous lines EPLF used when you your young mind cano handle why they were killing each there and you asked them that question. And also they still maintain that “neserawit harnet kessibenayo”
            gambling with ghedli before and gambling with the nation now, as you once said, same, same, but different 🙂

          • saay7

            Cousin iSem:

            Watch the weather channel…something is going to happen again:

            In Qalsi hzbi ertra kabey nabey, the TPLF (Meles?) argued that exiling ELF to Sudan was not sufficient cause for its disintegration; it was its “internal contradictions” that was a bigger factor. Agree completely.

            Was ELF more democratic than the EPLF? Absolutely. What it didn’t have was… Watch a video of ELF 3rd Congress 1989 (available on YouTube: thanks Aida Kidane!) and you tell me what’s missing…


          • Fnote Selam

            Semere and Saay,

            I have shared this article before in this forum mainly because I was looking of some opinions. But I think it might be useful in the ongoing discussion about ELF (in particular), but also EPLF. Here is the link,


            It is by Prof Mike Woldemariam. Saay, you are on twitter, you can follow him, in my opinion he is must follow Eritrean on twitter (@mikewoldemariam).

            Let me know what you think.


          • saay7

            Thanks FS:

            I already follow him on twitter. He is not a screeching dude, very sober 🙂 His thesis was on fragmentation of rebel groups in Africa? I have never read it and PS I hate thesis papers:) what can u tell us about his paper?


          • Fnote Selam


            I live on campus and use campus network, I didn’t realize the article is not free. I think the main point of the article is that in addition to the generally accepted theory (that rebel groups tend to fragment after battle ground loss), victories in battle ground could also lead to fragmentation. He uses the case of ELF to illustrate that. The reason I though it would be useful in this conversation was that, the article includes a well researched timeline of events (characterization of events) of in the early times of ELF till its fragmentation.

            I will check if I can share snippets of it here….

            Sorry for the not-free-content sharing…..



          • saay7

            Selamat FS:

            It’s all good; no harm, no foul

            Reading the Bisha bombing story I was think of your frequent reminders of Cheney–>New York Times–>>Cheney closed loop 🙂

            Would love to see your summary of snippets on the ELF disintegration timeline.


          • Semere Andom

            Hi HZ:
            EPLF was duped and that is why I maintain EPLF’s greediness to control the field alone put the Eritrean armed struggle in danger after what some say about 100k fighters were scattered into Sudan EPLF conscripted heavily, “ayni ybelin sni bley” without care of long term strategy of the family, TPLF was also in danger of been sequised both from from outside and inside but faired better eventually and it was not just luck
            TPLF got security and other help from EPLF after independence and they had to put up with EPLF’s bullying and hard currency black market until they were ready and again PFDJ was duped when it hunted Eritreans and hugged TPLF. TPLF may think of EPLF and Eriterans as tactical allies but they think strategically. In Sudan I have watched videos when TPLF leaders debated so much about issues, but I have to yet see EPLF leaders doing some thing close to that.
            Please do not call me TPLF romantic;-)

    • Hope

      T kifle,
      How do you rule out 100% the contribution of the Billionaire Shiek?
      What is the big deal if he finances it fully,for GOOD?
      He has now more than $13 billions and his status is ugraded by Forbes…Financing the $ 5 Billion Dam for good is nothing but the best gesture and action!
      he is fianancing/investing more than $3 billion in Ethiopia(# 1 Investor in Ethiopia)…So ,what is the fuss about the Sheik financing the Dam?
      no need of rejecting or politicizing it.
      I am a recent an eye witness account of what this noble man has done for Ethiopia;and no matter what and irrespective of his motivation,as he turned Ethiopia into a Giant Economy!
      kudos to him!I am envious.I wish the PFDJ allowed him to take over Eritean economy as he requested or started it in 1990s(early 90s).
      I am developing a mini-documentary of my visit to Ethiopia and will share it with you provided you do not tell Rahwa et al about it!.
      Despite the hiccups and corruption-(expected every where);and despite the TPLF’s evil intentions and acts against Eritrea’s development(may be for their best interest as Amanuel Hidrat alluded it for us),Ethiopia’s economy and infra-structure is booiming beyond—–our imagination!
      Kudos to them and wish them but the BEST!

      • Hope

        Correction: This reply was meant for the latest thread about Sheik Alamoudi’s positive role in Ethiopia’s Economy.
        My apology

  • Ted

    Well written by some one high in the power who witnessed Eritrean political landscape from above. At the end it comes out with “we against them” accusatory tone. The authors sentiments resembles Haile’ Deru’s speech some where in You tube after Ethiopia-Eritrea war. if they were not jailed too early(G15), we would had heard more of this kind (mostly the incompetence of the government handling TPLF’s aggression). I disagree with the author the part that , with out the propaganda machine of IA and his cronies, the international conspiracy is not a boogeyman Eritreans told to fear but it is alive and kicking wrapped around our neck for everyone to see.

    • Hope

      I thought the Author mentions the role of Conspiracy even though not in detail.
      No sane person can deny the Deadly Conspiracy,which has become an open secret based on what the Juniror US Diplomats messed up openly and recklessly,not to mention the wiki leaks documents!
      My understanding of the Article is that,while admiting the serious role of Conspiracy, we, as ERITREANS and the GoE Leadership and its cronies could have done better in averting the war by minimizing the miscalculations and by taking preemptive Diplomatic Actions besides involving the National Assembly and the Cabinet in particular and the Eri Public in general!
      Vet Mahmoud Saleh briefly but clearly stated the dangerous and sloppy technical and procedural mistakes that the Leadership made, in fact, has made ,thus far.
      My point:
      There should not be any ambiguity about, not only just the destructive Conspiracy but also the direct involvement of the Conspirators in messing up the situation, for that matter , to this date!
      If the Author and others deny this fact,they are naive albeit deliberately!
      But still we have failed to do our own home work, to say the least, in my opinion,as an enemy is always an enemy!
      The worst case scenario, we are still 14 yrs behind,as we have done nothing to take a positive action despite the ample facts that we have had at hand to do so!
      The worst is that within the last 14 yrs, things have gotten worse in all aspects,and yet, we have done nothing!

      • Ted

        “The cadres and leadership of the organization need to face the truth in order to gain the respect of the people because our problems, as diagnoses by the Eritrean people, are related to a crisis of ruling and not to any international conspiracies.” the last paragraph of the article.

        We failed to analyse what life ought to be for Eritreans beyond the independence of the country. We assumed people who gave their life for our dream would do us wrong. We gave our money and soul with out a demand to be ruled as they wish. We were wrong. As the same time make no mistake, some out side forces (TPLF and its handles) want us fail as a nation.

        I agree “the Conspirators in messing up the situation, for that matter , to this date!If the Author and others deny this fact,they are naive albeit deliberately!

        • Hope

          Thanks Ted for the catch!
          I missed it!

    • dawit

      International conspiracy against Eritrean people goes long before Isaias was born, right after WWII. It was the international body that trapped us for half a century of struggle.

  • guest

    Thank you awate team for the reminder you just issued to how we should address each other. I wish you give us a list of phrases that accepted/ not accepted as example of these rules, like : would cling ” wedi berad” be bigoted abd insult. Or calling him ” amba gennen?” How about the common word ” woyane” which, by Allah, i dont have any clue to what exactly it means other than been used for tegarru tegadelti. How about using terms like selfie natznet, sha3biyyah, EPLF and HIGDEF interchangeably?
    —— Back to the long article of brother Tesfai Sherrif.. I can understand it is written with reforming current sha3biyya regime in mind, and with very good approach of balancing the unbalanced way of governance that esayas and his cronies have been leading our country since they
    came from the field, and give the document,
    with that internal correction in mind as a
    good strat, with the hope of implementing
    ALL the recommendations will lead to more
    empowerment of the people. As a supporter
    of changing HIGDEF rather than reforming it
    , this document falls short in defining or
    explaining what the change will look like.
    Just bunch of loaded words and phrases.let
    me take only one example. The plan of re-
    patriating Eritreans from sudan. ( by the
    writers admission, there are over a million
    languishing in sudan’s refugee camps and
    different cities/ towns. And the first plan of repatriating 163 thousands was underway but halt because of the Badime war. Such statement would need a cpncrete support. If each family consist of father, mother, 2-3 children, that means at least 40,000 housing units( even if they only consist of brimo secondo camera) mini apartments. Where did thry build those 40 thousand units to be a receiving accomodation? For howlong they will stay in those receiving stage units till the people are moved to another permanent houses so they can bring another bunch of refugees. How about schools for thechildren? Hospitals and clinics? Drinking water facilities? Where waere all these facilities constructed beside the head of the writer of the article or the sha3biyyah never end void promises.
    Again, as a supporter of real change- not just reforming the inefficiet sha3biyas governance, this article, unless i skipped it, which hardly i do, doesnt address the subject of REGIONAL or PROVONCIAL governments in which each province can have its own local government run by IT’S OWN ELECTED officials. That way we can have more responsible system of governance when it comes to each province, and less power is given to the central government in Asmara or Debarwa ( if we choose to move the offices of the federal government from Asmara ).
    There are other points of the article need be addressed anf scrutinized.. For now, i stop here.

    • saay7

      Wo guest!

      Ok come on man sign up on disqus pick a name so we don’t keep calling u “guest”.

      What does weyane mean? What does Weyanai mean? What does Weyenti mean? Come on make an effort: try to learn about the second most important movement of the 20th century in Africa! Go to YouTube and watch all the videos of the 40th anniversary of Harbeyna weyanai. It means rebel. It means uprising. Weyenti weyanai when u are done watching all the videos, which are essentially about an epic revolution in the country next door, then watch a video by Wedi tkul paying homage to the “ab Dedebit teweleEt shimA” and how the “weyanai” abiluwom “Wai wai”.

      It’s a great pan African story. Inspired of course by the great Eritrran story.


      PS: then watch a video of Aboy Sebhat tell all who care that he is Eritrran. Hahahaha

      • guest

        Thanks saay7.as i said earlier, i didnt know the exact meaning except been used with tegarru tegadelti..so asuming itis a tigrinia word for ” rebel”, does it mean we can apply the word to: nai somalia weyyenti? Kurdawyan weyenti..etc?

        • guest

          Would ” guestallah” sound a good nick?

      • ‘Gheteb

        Hello Cousin Sal,
        I have a question and I hope you guys don’t take it the wrong way. Say, if Ayte Sebhat Nega were ( note I am using were to indicate that this a hypothetical situation) to join the Awate Forum (assuming that he hasn’t done so already), if I, ‘Gheteb , was to address him as a Tigrayan instead of what he declared, per the video link you have provided, as being an Eritrean, would I be in violation of the new rules (Rule #2) that the Awate Moderator(s) has or have promulgated today?

        • saay7

          Selamat Gheteb:

          First of all, the position of “bad cousin” is already filled by Cousin Sem, so u have to be the good cousin:)

          Second, Aboy Sebhat didn’t say he was Eritrean; that was me having with one Ethiopian who wishes Aboy Sebhat would shut up until after the May elections. Aboy Sebhat, the most interesting man in Ethiopia, was asking a question very directly: yes I too have some Eritrean in me.

          Third the addressing one another…well, u know, at one point u called everyone “bitsay” remember: to signify camaraderie. Here we are saying address everyone by their given name to signify goodwill. If that is impossible to do for u, then don’t address the person, period. Just remember that later on u might want the person to unblock a passageway so think long term:)


      • Aron

        Hi dear Saay,
        I do not know what is so funny about aboy Sibhat being Half Eritrean. He was born from Fitwarari Nega from Adwa and Embeyte Mulu from Seraye namely Adiquala. I believe Eritrea benefited from his unchanging and unwavering stand on the Eritrean issue. I do not know if the half cast Eritreans in the Ethiopian hierarchy leadership had ulterior motive to help Eritrea secede as some say or they truly believed in Eritrean independence. I am sure you know more about all the intricate Eritrea Ethiopia issues and politics than I do since you are more read,versed and well rounded person. One thing I know for sure, regardless his motive, he was always there for Eritrea at the cost of his reputation and that of his fatherland Tigray.

        • saay7

          Selamat Aaron:

          Please refer to my reply to Gheteb. What’s funny to me is not his heritage (as I have said often, gene-counting politics bores me.) it’s that the TPLF want him to shut up and he, excercising his right to be an 80 plus year old man, says whatever he pleases whenever he pleases.


  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Dear Awatistas,

    I haven’t read a broad analysis presented like this one, by the gentleman, in all it’s parts and parcels of the war effort and its mismanagement about the Ethio-Eritrean border war in the last 17 years from the get go. The document is of high value for Eritrean intellectuals and academicians (especially historians) as a basis for the study to the cause and consequences of the war, whether it was justifiable or not, and the repurcation of the war to the lives of the Eritrean people.

    While the whole essay is so important to read and understand for purposes of basic education, I jotted and quoted few points that goes in to the heart of my advocacy, which I have debated on them in some shape or form in this forum. And I am sure Saay will remember it vividly what I am talking, b/c I have debated most of them with him. These four points are so important to understand them and adjudicate them in future Eritrea

    1 – Regarding the constitution: “………. although some of its provisions, namely those concerning language and civil law, which are crucial matters in a pluralistic society, do not express the aspirations of a wide sector of our people.”

    2- Regarding the Parliament: “There is also a parliament where half of the members are the members of the Central Committee of the organization who were elected in accordance with the organizational traditions in which candidates were predetermined in lists prepared by the organizational leadership, and specifically by the Chairman of the organization……….. the most fabricated parliament in the world functions a thousand times better than this parliament………The National Assembly does not even have an office and does not hold regular sessions. It is presided by the President of the state who calls for sessions to convene whenever he wishes to do so.”

    3- Regarding Negotiation: “Negotiation covers a range of purposes both with the aim of straightening the problems of the past and paving the way for future relations. It also serves as a preliminary task for the signing of agreements and conventions which are the grounds by which the relations are formalized and strengthened. If these are the main building stones of diplomacy, how are things processed in Eritrea?…….With respect to the foreign policy issue, the general perception has been that we do not have a clear strategy to deal with states in accordance to their political, geographic and economic importance.”

    4- Regarding Military Interference: “With regard to our regional relations, the most stupid move we made was our interference in the affairs of the Great Lakes region. I don’t know what was actually meant by that. We sent our army to a region which may be called the Balkans of Africa in addition to its being a region of conflict of interests between the companies of two of the major powers of the world, the USA and France ………Our President…, spoke to the leaders of the countries of the Great Lakes region as if they were students expected to learn from his experience and expertise. Because of this ignorant perception and because of our adventurous and childish policies, we were subjected to the contempt of others who considered us to be ignorant of the basics of diplomatic relations.”

    • Nitricc

      Aman does it mean you belive that Eritrea did not started the war?
      Please answer it stright up?

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        “believing” and “understanding based on the facts” are two different thing. I could believe something which could be wrong or right. So what could my belief contribute to the solution? What is important to me is, what I can contribute to the solution to the cause of the war as this juncture. So my answer is simple: if I accept the verdict by EEBC that Badme belong to Eritrea, then I will accept what EEBC had said who started the war. Now figure out my answer.

      • operationmi15

        My operation brother nitric your
        ወዲ ድፋዕ ኹኣታይ ohh
        sorry Wedi afom ብዓል ደሓን ጽፍዒቱ ቆርጢሙ ውርደቱ ምሕባእ ከምዝመረጸ ናይ ቀረባ ተዘክሮ እዩ. 1998 Eritrea, Isayas interview on war P 2: https://youtu.be/ccUGCmu39FA

  • Mizaan

    Dear all, please respect the plea of the website administrators. I would suspect that we are all adults here. Particularly as Eritreans, we do not have institutions (please read the current article from 2001) where we voice our opinions, ideas, suggestions, recommendations to anyone. Let’s make sure this website stays one outlet for us to express our need and demand for change in our country. Just because we visit the website doesn’t mean we are clients that need to be treated like babies. How many of us contribute financially to the website? The ads you see on the website, how many of the do you click on and buy something? That is how I presume the website receives any outside funds. So our presence here adds nothing but we can ensure that it does and the only way it does is by the quality and content of our writings. Nothing else matters. We don’t know each other personally. Yesterday, I was counting some insult and harsh words thrown by three people (I will refrain from naming names) and I out of merely three comments, I counted more than a dozen. Mind you these are personal insults. Please be mindful that this website is likely visited by many dignitaries and let’s not send a bad signal to onlookers.

    Let me ask you all one question:

    How many of you speak or write to anyone outside this website in the manner that you do here? Do we do it at work, at home, elsewhere?

    We all need to grow up and enough babysitting already!

  • New rules
    The task of moderation is becoming beyond our capacity. We still hope that members of the Awate Forum control themselves whenever they feel the urge to be rude. We have started to delete message that aggravate others for no reason. Unfortunately, we will not explain common sense anymore. Please note the following rules:

    1. Comment addressing members with names other than their declared name/nick will be deleted.
    2. Comment, defining the nationality of another member, that member himself/herself has not disclosed, will be deleted.
    3. Comment that contain insults or derogatory terms, will be deleted.
    4. Comment that the moderator considers abrasive and bigoted, will be deleted.
    5. Repeat offenders will be banned without warning.

    Violators are kindly asked to change their engagement manners. We hope they will cooperate in maintaining the quality of debate that we all aspire for. If some do not want to change they attitudes, we would like to inform them that we will not allow lowering the quality bar that we want to maintain.

    Thank you for your cooperation

  • Mizaan

    AT, apologies if it appeared that I was not using proper etiquette of writing. I used (or I thought I did as I always do in all my writings here or elsewhere) quotation marks to imply that I was quoting from the article. Thank you for the addition: START QUOTE, End Quote.

  • Mizaan

    I find these statements below very prophetic:

    IV.C. Scenario No. 3

    There might be a continuation of the silence concerning internal situations by concentrating on public campaigns revolving around anticipated Woyane military offensives as well as the challenges of economic rehabilitation with the aim of absorbing the public trends for change so that the government and organization may conduct a quite evaluation of their performance. Such an alternative will widen the gap among the cadres of the organization and may become an opportunity for groupings. It may consequently lead into absolute dictatorship either through the establishment of a semi-military regime or through the expulsion of those dissatisfied with the existing situation of rule.

    It is likely that this is the alternative preferred by the leadership, especially the President, as well as those who feel that their being is dependant on his existence in power. The consequence will be a frustration among the membership of the organization with regard to establishing an institutional government meeting the aspirations of the Eritrean people. It can safely be claimed that the cycle of political and social instability, typical of African countries, will start from here. Democratization and institutionalization will be subject to the whims of a single individual holding the stick over whoever raises his voice. The security system will be more selective and more sectarian and tribal. Self-protection will dominate over the protection of the nation under the pretexts of nationalistic slogans. Eritrea will be isolated from the international community as the Americans will maintain the same position as far as the Eritrean government continues to treat the Eritrean people as a baby that is too young for democracy and has to wait for the beautiful morning when its government will one day declare freedom.

  • Ayneta

    Interesting article. However, the effort to put the blame regarding the Ethio-Eritrean war squarely on the Ethiopian regime and paint the Eritrean government as the ‘victim’ is erroneous and truly outdated. The Eritrean government has always been the mischievous one as evidenced by the conflicts it waged against every neighboring countries in the region, and now when it has no country to fight against, it is fighting its own people. It is far outdated for everyone to unequivocally blame the Ethiopian government for the war after having learned the very nature of the Ethiopian regime. This regime can and will do everything to stay in power to the extent of espying the entire nation either by waging wars against neighbors or systematically pushing everyone out to the border.

    • Hope

      Please review what SAAY said about the chronology of the events,which is consistent with the above almost accurate and comprehensive analysis of the events in a brutally honest manner!
      Read this:
      When the EDF was 10km inside Tigray(confirmed to me by my own uncle at that time,who was injured at Adi Menekhoseito,the OAU and the CIA came up with a new ceasefire plan’
      What about agreeing for a ceasefire but without signing for a ceasefire and retreating to Aseb leaving the heavy trenches of Burrie and Bafa area for the freely marching Ethiopians; and worst ordering the EDF to leave Aseb?And yet hitting hard and winning while retreating!
      Only and OMLY ERITREANS can do it as Gen Sibhat Effrem said it eloquently!
      You got it!
      You see and prove here the real bravery of Eritreans and Eritreaniam at its best irrespective of the Comspiracy and mismanagemt of Eritrean Affairs’
      Kudos to you The EDF!

  • Nitricc

    Now it makes sense what PIA did. He had two choices: one, face all the questions and the misdeeds during the war and be responsible and two; eliminate every one who can raise those questions and who can challenge him. So, he did what he has to do and eliminating every possible challenger who might ask those questions. The saddest event is even Dejen was assumed as a challenger and he had to be silenced. His crime, Dejen told the president that the Eritrean Air force was being trained by unqualified people and they were not getting the proper trained. Then, here it comes the two mig-29 who downed at the same area in the same day; Unheard of; and some one has to answer and pay for that; Dejen did.

    • Hope

      Great and more than a timely Article even after 10 yes!
      Is this SAAY or Ali Abu or Haile Drue’ or even one of the Yemanes!
      It covered all of our issues,dilemmas and hard core questions!
      Let us seriously debate on the m in an Eritrean way!

      • saay7

        Selam at Cousin Hope:

        You are showing bias: whenever u read something u like, don’t assume it’s one of your cousins:)

        We never disclose who shares articles with us if we promised we would protect their privacy. Who do we think we are: the American embassy in Eritrea? Zing!

        But I agree with you: it was a great piece then and it’s a great piece now.


        • Semere Andom

          Sal. cousin hope wants to put people in trouble, he accused me of attending university of Khartoum;-)

          • saay7

            Bad iSem:

            Cousin Hope is complimenting you. At one point University of Khartoum was of such a high repute its accreditation was acceptable at all first-class UK universities. But then came Numeiri, who gave birth to Turabi, who gave birth to Omar Al Bashir and now it’s credentials are as useless as UoA. So you should than my cousin.

            And about ur Qmema qmem… There is so much of it in ur postings I feel I sm in Medeber 🙂


          • Hope

            I did not accuse you for that but for not using such a brilliant brain for better other than satirs and for unhealthy expression of EPLF hatred!
            You could do a better job,Bro!

          • Semere Andom

            satire I quit because for one there is new satirist in town by the name teweldino so I will stop while I am good and second cousin Sal complained that after I came from Rome I satirized everyone, this seemingly innocent “everyone” made me quit cus I read Sal enough, I talked to him enough to know when he stressed that “everyone” that he is not happy and I do not want to upset him 🙂

          • saay7

            Ah, Cousin iSemere:

            Meda Awate can handle two satirist. By all means please satirize away.

            Nobody will get offended because we are ALL cousins. First or second, and I emphasize ALL.


          • Semere Andom

            Hi Sal
            If I can coax one more , seliseyti, kind of a sequel of the reporting from Asmara, I can quit and do something meaningful;-)
            But I admit one satire a quarter it will keep Mahmuday away 🙂

        • Hope

          Thanks Cousin for the feedback!
          No bias Cousin!I even included the Yemanes,people I do not like at all!
          But there is a reason why I mentioned you and your brother!
          You are intelligent by nature but use or apply it/express it fully and in the best way possible!
          I am naive,emotional and ” dramatic ” by nature ,something I inherited from my great Mom.
          No need to be too much humble in this world .
          Admit and accept that you are a JEWEL and Eritrea has missed you ,your likes and your genius brother,Ali Abdu, irrespective of his weaknesses as a Human Being and the gossip we heard about him!
          I am not the only one hat wished Ali Abdu to be the best President of Eritrea!
          As to the Article, the only thing Tesfai Sherif should do is:
          A follow up addendum to cover the last 10-14 yrs of the Eritrean saga and drama and come up with better and serious Recommendations and plan of Action’

          • saay7

            Ok cousin:

            We will tell him. Are u listening Tesfai sherif? You know, clearly, with that name, he is from keren TsaEda. Hush! Don’t tell anyone:)


          • Mizaan

            Dear Mr. Hope,

            Maybe Sherif is, God forbid, one of the victims of IA because so many have perished since 2001. But then his identity would have been disclosed because what would IA do with a dead man. Hard to say. I hate to speculate but Ali Abdu is a good candidate but then one would ask, knowing what he (Tesfai Sherif) knew then and how he felt very concerned, why would he stay as the right hand man to IA for so long after that. The Yemane’s you can cross out right away. Impossible for any of those two to have that much human decency to realize what is coming. Remember, the G-15 were arrested on September 18, 2001. So a pretty good guess would be one of them. If I would’ve bet Germano Nati but he is likely martyred in the prison cell of PFDF too. Needless to say, it is really hard to see any EPLF cadre writing so brilliantly even though I don’t agree with everything in the article.

          • AOsman


            Originally published in April 19, 2001, the document has achieved a classic status and the identity of “Tesfai Sherif” a subject of much speculation with many of our readers who are often asking us for a copy. Recently, we learned that the archived copy is missing and we are re-publishing it, after placing sub-headings for ease of reading.

            The timing coincides with the open letter by the G15, which means it can be any of them ….and unlikely to be SAAY or Ali Abdu based on the information provided.

            In May 2001 the group issued an open letter raising criticism against Isayas Afeworki’s actions calling them “illegal and unconstitutional


            If you have the urge to know, start an elimination process by considering the original being written in Tigrigna, if he is in exile the ID would have been known (no need to hide), the topic and views he covered also give a clue. Take your pick from below list and give us a shorter list. 🙂

            1. Petros Solomon
            2. Mahmoud Ahmed Sherifo
            3. Haile Woldense
            4. Mesfin Hagos
            5. Ogbe Abraha
            6. Hamid Himid
            7. Saleh Idris Kekya
            8. Estifanos Seyoum
            9. Berhane Ghebrezgabiher
            10. Astier Fesehazion
            11. Mohammed Berhan Blata
            12. Germano Nati
            13. Beraki Gebreselassie
            14. Adhanom Ghebremariam
            15. Mahamoud Ahmed



  • Nitricc

    Now it makes sense what PIA did. He had two choices: one, face all the questions and the misdeeds during the war and be responsible and two; eliminate every one who can raise those questions and who can challenge him. So, he did what he has to do and eliminating every possible challenger who might ask those questions. The saddest event is even Dejen was assumed as a challenger and he had to be silenced. His crime, Dejen told the president that the Eritrean Air force was being trained by unqualified people and they were not getting the proper trained. Then, here it comes the two mig-29 who downed at the same area in the same day; Unheard of; and some one has to answer and pay for that; Dejen did.