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Archives: What Would Isaias Do? Peaceful Or Violent Struggle?

The following was published in June 14, 2007 under the title “What Would Isaias Do?” Since then, the issues that kept the Eritrean opposition busy has remained the: the same debates on topics that prevents Eritreans from focusing on the real task of removing the tyranny ruling Eritrea. Unfortunately, the “new opposition” that was supposed to inject fresh blood into the “old opposition,” and adopt critical thinking, finds itself bogged down in the same old trivial debates. Worse, it refuses to learn from the past. (April 8, 2015)


Isaias Afwerki gave a 145-minute long interview to the government media that he controls—an interview which barely mentioned the country he presides over. After listening to the interview which dealt entirely with Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia, a wit commented: “Haile Menqorios should be generous and offer Isaias his UN job, because Isaias is obsessed with regional politics, Menqerios’ job, and not Eritrean realities.” From his 2 ½ hour rambling, we found the last five-minutes of the interview very significant and we have translated it, verbatim, for the benefit of our readers.

Here’s why we found it significant. The Eritrean opposition has torn itself apart over many things, one of them being the issue of the mode of struggle it should wage to resist the Isaias regime’s oppression. What should oppressed people do? Some toy with the idea of dialoging with the regime to achieve a peaceful transition. Still some entertain the idea that the regime can be reformed. Others call for using all means necessary. The question is this: what would Isaias do if he found himself out of power and if he felt that the government in power was oppressing his people? Here’s his charter for opposition. He said it in response to the reporter’s invitation to offer concluding remarks and a message to the people of Ethiopia. But it gives you a glimpse into his thinking (June 14, 2007):

I have said it repeatedly, but for the sake of clarification, I … if there is anything that we feel proud of in our political life, [it is the fact that the idea] for the Ethiopians people to be divided, for the Ethiopian people to be dispersed, for the Ethiopian people to be impoverished and for the Ethiopian people to live in bad [conditions], under any circumstances, has never crossed our mind.

It is true we fought the Haile Sellasie system… it is not even the Haile Sellasie regime – we fought those who brought about the Haile Sellasie regime. Mengistu came, and we fought those who brought about Mengistu. We didn’t fight against the Amhara; we didn’t fight against the Oromo; we didn’t fight against the Somalis; we didn’t fight against the Tigrai; we didn’t fight against the Afar; and, we didn’t fight against any nations. [But] we did fight against regimes.

Our stand with the Ethiopian people (as I mentioned earlier) Ethiopia, be it big, whether its population is 200 million, or 20 million, we are not concerned. There is nothing like that – we are [living] in the 21 st century. In order to live in peace, we, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, the Sudan – what is the reason Ethiopia cannot live in peace? But there should be a way that leads to that [and Ethiopia is not following it].

What we have seen over the last 16 years is surprising. We have seen many things that were not in our minds, that we didn’t anticipate.   And we learned a lot. But as usual, the relations, that exist between us and the Ethiopian peoples – or the relations that should be there – there cannot be there a power that can hinder that, and make us live on a continuous chaos and continuous anxiety.

Weyane, as you mentioned earlier– the struggle that is being waged by the Ethiopian nations has reached its highest stages. And people, like…. cannot start to struggle without a reason. But if there is a power or a government that oppresses, suppresses it and excludes it, struggle is inevitable- since they do not have another choice. In order to improve the livelihood [of the people], and to live in stability and peace, it will be a must to remove the power that is hindering its peace and prosperity. Therefore, because of minor incidents, there appeared a hindrance, [someone] was crushed, or someone was hit in the head or a leader was jailed… and such and such happened to them… Our organizing [capability] is not satisfactory, we didn’t use time properly — many evaluations can be carried out. But the fiery feeling of the people stays in its place. The need for a people to seek its freedom and liberation is in its place. I, on [this] occasion, I want to convey— what does Eritrea want in your [Ethiopian]  regard, Eritrea wants this in your regard— even the Ethiopians will not listen to such speech. But the Ethiopian people can demand their own rights, that of its nations or nationalities. But at the end, the Ethiopian people should be able to create a situation where they can live [united] as one people, all the people, without distinction, without exclusion.

The opportunities aborted by the Weyane, since under any circumstance will not stay forever, all the Ethiopian people, be they Amhara, Oromo, Tigrai, Somali, Afar, and other different,  so-called ethnic groups, be it small or big, [due to] the consciousness it has reached now, it is not unclear to me that it is planning to put an end to it. Or [to find] a way to bring its own prosperity and stability. But I would like to confirm [here] that the Eritrean people and the Eritrean government are  by the side of the Ethiopian people. But what is spread, claims that: Eritreans, the government, or  its political forces said this or that… I … no one would be confused by that.  Maybe, [questions like] is the messages reaching all places or not? and, in reality, is there reach to our explanations? I , as I follow it with my capacity, [I can say] it has reached its highest stage. True, what has been undertaken during the last two years, incomparable, fascistic hold, it has created many delays and many hindrances…. But the people of Ethiopia, the path that they are following, which is not of their choice but is [one] imposed on them, I will like to affirm that the Eritrean people and the Eritrean government are on their side.

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  • Nitricc

    Hi All! is there a difference between persistence and dictatorship? my point is; you can not be a dictator with out persistence and at the same time can you be persistence with out dictating? If you do, is a difference?

    –“Eritrea is not for sell”
    PIA

    –“At the Eritrean Government’s request, the United States no longer provides bilateral assistance to Eritrea. The United States has no military-to-military cooperation with Eritrea”
    US department of state

    -“The Eritrean people have learnt to do their own things in their own ways unlike most countries who despite having such unique features, they would prefer to adopt the West’s way of doing things which has ended up being a disaster.”
    Kenayan Parliamentarian, Francis Atwoli, MBS, Chairman of the Trade Union Federation of Eastern Africa,

    —“Keeping with its self-relaince policy, the government of Eritrea stopped requesting any financial assistance from the United StatesUnited States since 2005, and fully cut-off all third party NGOs that were financially sponsored by the United States after 2006. The Eritrean government believes that foreign assistance breeds a culture of dependency that shackles African countries into a cycle of poverty”.

    –“Self-reliance could cost Eritrea dear“.
    Ed Harris warned

    “A myth of self-reliance: Eritrea’s people pay the price for their government’s pride”
    The Economist ridiculing Eritrea

    “700 million in Swiss bank”
    AND

    Almost 70 years old man eating dust ……

    http://www.tesfanews.net/wp-content/themes/gazette/thumb.php?src=http://www.tesfanews.net/wp-content/woo_custom/1861-pia-dam-const.jpg&h=270&w=595&zc=1&q=90

    • Nitricc

      “If you have to lie, cheat, steal, obstruct and bully to get your point across, it must not be a point capable of surviving on its own merits”
      S. Weber

      http://peterthomas.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/data-to-wisdom1.jpg

    • saay7

      Hey Nitricc:

      And here’s Isaias Afwerki in his own words:

      “I share the strategic view of the Americans in the region. French forces in Djibouti have been a stabilizing factor, and U.S. troops will add to that. You need outside powers to keep order here. It sounds colonialist, but I am only being realistic.”

      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/04/a-tale-of-two-colonies/302704/?single_page=true

      saay

      • Nitricc

        Hay SAAY; I really don’t know where to put him any more. One thing is very clear for me. He is determined to the END to implement his vision for the country. People at his age are retired and in a nursing homes. You would think he enjoys life what ever is left of it especially when you have “700 million in the bank” – 😉 but no, he is at it. I think PIA is going to pull it off. He will set the country up to the right direction with incredible infrastructure intact. The more there are unrest on that region; the less the foreign powers to challenge and come after him.

        • saay7

          Hi Nitricc:

          Here’s one more quote to help you where to put him:

          “Israel needs a government, we must respect this. The Palestinians also need to have a dignified life, but it can not be the West Bank or Gaza. A two-state solution will not work. It’s just to fool people. Israelis and Palestinians living in the same nation will never happen for many reasons. One option that may work is a Trans-Jordan. Israel may be left in peace and the Palestinian and Jordanian peoples are brought together and can create their own nation.”

          This is an Asmarino.com edit of google translation of interview by Swedish media “aftonbladet” Now don’t go railing against asmarino; you can try your own google translation of the source:

          http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/dawitisaak/article12571758.ab

          The point is he is a “contrarian” and he says crazy/controversial things to get attention and instead of being seen as a visionary statesman, most of the rest of the world sees him as, um, a bit off.

          saay

          • Ted

            SAAY, in some ways i agree with Nitricc that the world don’t want rock another boat in the region. Looking at Yemen now, it is more convincing he has no out side treat and add friends of Eritrea like Semere and Co as opposition he is laughing. He has understood that people think of him “a bit off” i don’t know if a bit offs can learn but he is now moved 100% about Ethiopia and Eritrea relation and of course killing TPLF. and if Ethiopian oppositions happen to scored a major milittary victory, i bet you that all the credit will go to him, that got to scare you.

          • Nitricc

            HI SAAY and Ted.
            The problem with PIA is many but the major one the way I see it is; PIA wants to be one of the major player in the region. Nothing is wrong with wanting to be a major player but PIA doesn’t want to pay the Entrance fee. You got to pay to be accepted by the US and the rest of the western world; you have to bend first. Even after they accept you; you are only good to do what ever you are told; they just want to use you in protecting their interest in the region.
            PIA is not wrong with what he is trying to do and be; but unfortunately he is an African nation leader. On the eyes of the west; African leaders are best slaves and they should be servants not partner. So, you are right when he says things; he says it for attention. At one point I thought PIA was the leader of Somalia. All he talked was about Somalia. I just wish he just shut it and do his things. You don’t ignite a war you have no chance wining.

  • Kokhob Selam

    ጉድ በሉ : ምሕደራ ህግደፍ ሲ እምበኣር ኢትዮጵያ ትኹን ኤርትራ ብሰላም ክነብራ ይደሊ እዩ ? ህግደፍ ብዘይ ሁከት ክነብር ዝተፈጥረ ስርዓት እዩ ካብ ምባል ዓሳ ብዘይማይ ክነብር ይኽእል እዩ ምባል ይቀልል::

    እንተ ኣቀላልሳ ተቃወምቲ ግን ናብ ሓደን ሓደን መገዲ እዩ ዝመርሕ ፡ ሓደ ኣዝዩ ብስለት ዘለዎ- ተግባራዊ ወሳንን ቆራጽን – ኣብ በለካ ለኸዓካ ግዜ ዘየጥፍእ – ብዝተጸንዐን ብዋህዮታት ህግደፍ ዘይግራህን – ኩሉ ዓቅምታቱን ኣድላይ እንተኾይኑ ‘ውን ኣብ ዕጥቅን ስንቅን ወላ ‘ውን ካብ ጂኒ ዕፍሪት ብዘይ ዝኾነ ልዕላዊ ኽሳራ ዝጥቀምን – ነዛ ጭፍራ ለያቡ ዝድምስስ ውድብ ምምስራት ወይ ውን ነቲ ድሮ ኣብ ሜዳ ዘሎ ምምዕባል :: እንተ ‘ቲ ኻልእ ኣብ መሰጋገሪ መንግስቲ ንዘራረበሉ::

  • T..T.

    Hi all,

    In assessing Isayas, should one take into consideration his leadership from 1993 or 2001, i.e. ever since he declared himself as a “leader for life” without constitution or unconstitutionally. Anyway, as a dictator, the course of his leadership ever since he has taken over, the people are worse clothed, fed and housed even than the Derg’s siege days of cities and townships. Unlike the Sudanese who took their protest to streets against the government’s decision to increase the price of a bread, the Eritrean didn’t get moved by lose of everything. The usual question goes to them: Better live one day as lion to end the misery once for all or live samo samo or worse forever???????? Does pro-Mogogism holding them back?

    Based on observational follow ups of what the Awate.com discussants say about Isayas, one cannot define him nor know where he best fits in the cabinet as a minister let alone as a president. Regarding the urgency of the following in Eritrea: housing – food, water, education and healthcare service – most of the Eritrean people including the two groups, the pro-Isayas and pro-Mogogo alliance as well as the pro-people and pro-constitution alliance, would link the stated problems to Isayas’s policies.

    The U.N. would have considered his non-compliance with its embargo terms as “positive violations” should his violations were in care of the people (food and medication). The world and the UN have come to know him as a person who would be tempted not only with money but with “Money without accountability” to improve his leadership mood towards his own people – the latest EU gift money is an example.

    • selam

      Deat. T. T
      300 million euro plus a billin dollar of the mining plus almost a 1 billion mobey sent by eritreans abroad is quite a lot of money to increase his power and silence any obe around. I guess the opposition should know that the EU does not care about what this mad man does to his people , what they care is if he is able to stop the migrants from flowing to EU. Can any one in his right mind think , articles or petitions against their need is to stop this 300 million euro. Wise up and plesde talk to the eritreand people instead of ethiopians .