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Archive: awate.com Interview: Meles Zenawi Sizes Up The Region

[This interview was published on April 26, 2011.] The following is a transcribed interview that awate.com conducted with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Wednesday, April 13, 2011, in his office in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. Saleh “Gadi” Johar, founder and publisher of awate.com, conducted the interview. For ease of reading, we have numbered the questions.

1. I didn’t see other parts of Ethiopia, but in Addis Ababa, there is a visibly frantic development activity going on. My question is: some countries went through such rapid real estate development that was followed by a catastrophic collapse of the real estate market and thus of the economy—do you think such a collapse would happen in Ethiopia?

No. Because it is not a significant part of the economy. The real estate sector is obviously growing and not just in Addis; it is growing across the country. But it is a small part of the economy, no more than 10 to 15% of the local loans given by the private banks. Public banks which provide more than 50-60% of the total loan do not provide any loan for real estate. So it will be on the range of 5-7% of the bank loans. Therefore, I do not see a real estate bubble appearing. But we are keenly following the issue. In spite of the big construction activities that are going on in Addis, there is a massive shortage of housing in this city.

2. Does the big number of new hotels on every corner of the city reflect a comparable increase in tourism? Then, I have an observation (you can consider it a personal complaint): why are Ethiopian hotels the only unfair establishments for tourists and visitors? I mean, when I buy gas, shop at a retail store, at restaurants and everything else, I am charged the same prices as an any Ethiopian for the same service or product that I get, but when I go to a hotel, they tell me: if you are an Ethiopian, you pay 200 Birr but if you carry a foreign passport, you pay $40 (which is 640 birr, more than 300%) for the same room and the same bed?

On the first question, hotels space…there is still an acute shortage of hotel space, still. It is mainly related to conference tourism. A lot of conferences are held here in Addis.  And when there are conferences we have problems accommodating customers to the extent that we sort of block certain hotels for official delegation and that creates havoc. So there is an acute shortage of hotel space here in town, particularly at the higher end. But there is significant investment in the hotel industry happening also in the higher end. 3 or 4 additional five-star hotels are coming in. And so that should reduce the pressure.

Now the hotel business…I am not going to justify this; I am going to try to explain it without justifying it. Whenever I go to foreign countries, including Rome, they tell me–for meetings, they tell me the rates during those meetings are much higher than the normal rates…they tell me, this is even true of New York. Because the occupancy rate becomes higher during meetings, they charge higher during meetings than is the case normally. So there is a distinction in every hotel. The rates vary from time to time. Now what these hotels in Ethiopia do is use the local customers as local fillers from whom they do not make much money and use foreigner, and the only way they distinguish foreigners is by passport. And if there is a consolation to your predicament, it is the fact that if you had been an American of Ethiopian origin, you would still have faced the foreign rate, it is just your passport that distinguishes you as a foreigner and nothing else. The justification behind it is that they make the real money not from Ethiopians that they use as a sort of gap fillers, but out of the foreign tourists. And the other justification is that on balance, the rates here are much higher than comparable cities. But I cannot justify it.

3. I have been visiting Addis Ababa frequently since 1991 (excluding the period between 1998 and 2008): there are still a considerable number of beggars and crippled persons, but I have noticed a drastic decrease. Why is that, did their economic situation improve? Or in the case of crippled persons, I think most are polio and such victims, has the healthcare situation improved in Ethiopia that much?

What is happening is that the people who used to come from every corner of the country without any specific job or opportunity of getting a job but to engage in begging on the streets in the hope and expectation that they would be able to survive on the alms given to them,  a good number of them are getting alternative sources of income. We have trained some them and engaged them in cobblestone working in the city; some of them have gone back to their village where the opportunities are significantly higher now. And over time, we are beginning to institutionalize support for those who do not have the means to survive on their own. We didn’t want to take a drastic step against it, because of the history—I don’t know if you know the history, of Addis- but what used to happen, when I was a student, when there was a meeting, this ugly face of Ethiopia will be cleaned off Addis streets for a few days and eventually they come back again. We felt that this would be insulting, to everybody, including the victims themselves. They are not begging because they love begging, but because they do not have other opportunities. So it took a lot of time because we wanted to do it in a sort of a natural way…and that is happening across the country. Step by step, those who are unemployed, but can work, are encouraged to be trained and given an opportunity to work. Those who can go back to their villages are also encouraged to go to their villages. And those that cannot fend for themselves in any way, then we encourage institutionalize support for them.

4.  A sustainable economy needs an efficient use of assets, why is the concept of maintenance so poor in Ethiopia? Don’t you think you are losing so much man hours and money to replace broken assets whose lifespan could have been elongated with proper maintenance—this goes to cars, lifts, street lamps, sewage, etc…

I wouldn’t be surprised if these assets happen to be government assets.

5.  Most probably yes.

I would be surprised if these assets are private ones. In terms of government assets, the culture is to build, use and dispose of. Maintenance has not been a major aspect of it. In recent years we have taken steps for maintenance work to maintain power installations, and telecommunications, infrastructure in general. We have specifically allocated funds for maintenance in these basic infrastructure projects. But housing is managed on the basis of its own income. The government has inherited a lot of houses, and we are not building new ones except low-cost housing and that is transferred to owners immediately so that they take care of it. But we still have government houses that are managed by the public enterprise, and because this institution has no future—it has a past but no future—sooner or later it will disappear because we don’t have plans to own government housing indefinitely. Over time, we will either bulldoze it of transfer it to the private sector. And there has not been a culture of maintaining these housing, so public assets are not properly cared for, especially real estate type of assets of the government. And some of it might come to the private sector; after all, those who run private housing might have been working in the public sector and sort of inherited the culture from where they were working initially.

6. Unemployment. How severe is it and what is being done to alleviate it?

In terms of unemployment, we have been perhaps lucky in the sense that rural-urban migration is extremely low, probably the lowest in Africa. This is partly a reflection of our focus on rural development and land ownership system in Ethiopia. So the influx from the rural areas that, traditionally, created portions of unemployment in the urban area, it is not happening anymore. The young people from the rural areas stay behind in the urban areas after they complete their education. Most of them don’t go back, to the rural areas, but they have some education. So unemployment in the urban areas is much lower than it was, let’s say, five years ago. The second reason why it is lower is because we have network programs here, small and micro-enterprise sector, we train young people, engage them in all sorts of public projects to give skills, employment opportunity and startup capital as a result of the work that they do. That has lessened the pressure but I can only say that the pressure has been reduced, it is not removed, it is never removed, and in countries such as Ethiopia, you don’t have unemployment insurance programs. So it remains to be a significant challenge but not as big as it used to be five or six years ago.

7.  Recently there is a shortage of cooking oil, sugar and other the price of other essential foodstuff is increasing…sometimes beyond the reach of the poor. How are you facing this difficulty?

Edible oil and sugar: We are at a tussle with the private sector who were distributing edible oil and sugar, because it had been monopolized by a small group of about five businessmen and they were charging exorbitant prices (what is called rent-seeking), and so we had to distribute it through cooperatives, and the traditional channels of distribution has interrupted sugar and edible oil. So we had a shortage in the recent weeks but it is an artificial shortage because we are not trying to restructure the distribution and retail sector– it used to be a forest where nobody knew who was who, whose income was what, and so on. So we are requiring everybody to have a tax identification number, like the social security number. And most of our businessmen don’t like it. So it is a difficult task.

Eritrea, Ethiopia & Egypt

8. Ethiopian Egyptian relationship has been deceiving on the surface because, deep inside, both countries were mutually suspicious of each other—two major issues have been the Eritrean revolution and, hydro politics: the Nile water. You have now embarked on an ambitious power generating (not irrigation) project and it is making the Egyptians uneasy. You said that the projects would protect both Egypt and Sudan (in fact you said they should partially fund the projects). If that is the case, how do you explain the Egyptian reaction? Or is it the Egyptian wish to keep the 1929 agreement intact? Why would they object to Ethiopia generating power from the Nile?

You know the advantage of being in my position is you get to access information that is not necessarily publicly available. And the first thing that I learned that these Nile issues, the debate on the distribution of The Nile issue, was really a bogus issue. It was really a bogus issue because if you were to treat the Nile basin–and the most sensitive part of the Nile basin is the so-called eastern Nile, the Nile that goes from Ethiopia to Sudan and Egypt– because 85% of the water that goes to Aswan comes from Ethiopia. This part of the water, Nile, which is supposed to have a shortage of water, doesn’t have a shortage of water; it only has a shortage of money. Ethiopia is structured to be the power generating center of the Nile, geographically. Sudan is, geographically, created to be the main agricultural producer of this region. Only the delta part of Egypt is supposed to produce goods, agricultural goods. And so if you use the Nile water in a rational manner, there will not be any shortage of water. The fact is, for example, that if you built dams in Ethiopia and removed Jebel Awliya from Sudan, it is useless; it generates 17 megawatts of electricity but exposes Nile water to evaporation in unheard of proportion. So you don’t need the regulation of Jebel Awliaya because the water would have been regulated here. And reduce the operating level of Aswan Dam, you would have enough water to irrigate more than a million hectares in Ethiopia, and 4 to 5 billion cubic meters of additional water for Sudan, and Sudan can use the water better than anybody else. The Egyptians themselves have a water conservation project which will end in 2017. And their plan is to save 8 billion cubic meters of additional water. Now, unless they want to take this water and let it evaporate in the desert, they don’t have land that requires 8 billion cubic meters of water. So it is not really about water, it is about politics and power.

The problem, as I see it, is the politics of the Egyptian elite: there is a bit of racism behind it, and there is a bit of colonial inheritance behind it. Colonial clerks tend to be more colonially inclined in their attitudes than their masters and the Egyptians have been, to some extent, clerks of British colonialism in Sudan. And so they inherited this British theory of the Nile serving Liverpool via Egypt. Egypt growing cotton for Liverpool. And finally, the Nile has been this drug that has been used to hook the Egyptian people for external enemies and justify this gargantuan state, Egyptian state which is there to protect the Egyptians vis-a-vis the Abd from the South. So it has been a political instrument more than anything else. And the fact that the Egyptian edifice is beginning to crack now, is allowing alternative opinions amongst Egyptians to creep through the cracks… and these opinions are: why should we quarrel over some natural resource that belongs to us, let’s see if there is a rational win-win alternative…this is unheard of, but it is beginning to creep even into the Egyptian media, so I am very encouraged by it.

9.  Do you intend to develop irrigation projects using the Nile in the future? And how would you balance the natural rights of lower Nile countries and your country’s right to exploit the Nile water resources?

The fact is that the Egyptians could sustain this irrational policy for a number of reasons. First, the geopolitical position was such that they could prevent Ethiopia from accessing grants, loans, and credits for projects on the Nile. They have completely shut off our access to credit whether it is from the World Bank, or Brazil or China or Europe or the USA.  And so they were assured, given the poverty level in Ethiopia, that Ethiopia will not be investing anything on the Nile, of substance. That was the key instrument. The other instrument they had was that Ethiopia itself was unstable and was not going to focus on development and it was surrounded by a hostile government. That is why [Gemal Abdel] Nasser went out of his way to recruit non-Arabs into the Arab League simply because they were in close proximity to Ethiopia—Somalia is a case in point. Now we have reached a stage where some of these assumptions are no longer valid. We are now able to do something significant. We first started with minor projects on the Tekeze [River], Lake Tana. Now we are in a position to be able to finance, on our own, the biggest dam that can be built on the Nile, in Ethiopia. We believe that this is going to dismantle much illusion amongst the Egyptians. We believe that this is going to convince them that they cannot stop us. We believe that this is going to convince them that they do not need to stop us because we are doing their job. The dams we build, we are unable to use 100% of their service, because much of the service is downstream-inevitably, unavoidably. So we will show them in practice, that where we build dams, these are not intended against them. In fact, these are dams that they ought to finance, at least partly, because they will benefit from them. So once we break this taboo, I believe the path will be opened for a rational engagement between ourselves and the Egyptians. By the way, on balance, the Sudanese have taken a rational position on the Nile. On the surface they seem to be twins on their positions on the Nile; that is far from the truth.

10.  Eritrea is considered a Nile basin country, what is the strategic leverage that Eritrea has to influence Nile politics?

Eritrea is a marginal player on the Nile; it is part of the Nile riparian countries primarily because of the Tekeze River. As you know the Tekeze River or the Atbara River in Sudan carries about 9 million cubic meters of water. There are one or two minor rivers from Eritrea that flow to the Tekeze and maybe contribute about 0.1% or so of the Tekeze which is itself part of the Nile basin. Every stream counts. That is why, technically, Eritrea is a riparian country but it is not in the meetings of the ten riparian countries of the Nile. This is not by design but because your president is not infatuated with international organizations of any sort.

11.  Ok. Now, he has never been my president…sorry for the correction Mr. Prime Minister….The head of the Eritrean regime had close relations and coordination with Egypt on Somalis’ and Sudanese politics. He also had good relations with Kaddafi and benefited from him financially. Now, Mubarek is gone and Gaddafi is on the edge of the cliff. How do you think this would affect the Eritrean regime and how would that affect the stalemate between Eritrea and Ethiopia?

The thing is that Isaias needed the support from these parties, to do not just their bidding, but his own internal drive. So this was a marriage of convenience. This was not Egypt and Kaddafi hiring out Isaias. These [are] two groups coming together on the basis of a common agenda. Egypt providing some of the diplomatic clout, some of the training and assistance; Kaddafi providing the finance and Qatar also providing the finance. Now, what the current environment suggests is that this external support is no longer available. But that doesn’t mean Isaias is going to change his color; he will seek alternative sources of financing—and by the looks of it, he is likely to look at possible mining resources within Eritrea to fill in the gaps that will be left by the discontinuation of support from abroad.

12.  According to the Eritrean regime, your government is on the verge of collapse and they mention defections and military operations by your opponents in North Ethiopia. How true is this?

According to the Eritrean regime, we have been on the verge of collapse, for what…ten years now! And these ten years happen to be, in the eyes of a neutral observer, the golden years of Ethiopia. We have been growing at a double-digit rate for seven, eight years now. The country is stable from end to end. Obviously, we have our own challenges; we are still a very poor country. Seven years of growth does not mean much when you start from the bottom of the heap. But there is clearly light at the end of the tunnel and it is visible to every Ethiopian. And you don’t have to come to Addis to see it; you could see it in Washington. Ten years ago, none of the meetings that we would call for would be attended by any significant number of people. The other day, in spite of a massive campaign by the Diaspora opposition and the Eritrean regime, we had thousands upon thousands of Ethiopians attending our meeting and deciding to buy bonds for the construction of the dam on the Nile. So, it is a very stable government and that is what every major country that has interest in the region would tell you. I think this [claim of imminent demise] is how they keep the illusion of succeeding in their agenda of regime change in Ethiopia.

13.  After the last election and after forming a new government, observers believe that the old guards [of the Ethiopian ruling party] were unceremoniously distanced from the center and new blood occupied their positions. This is said to have caused a rift between you and some of your colleagues. How true is this?

It started out with my declaration that the last term would be my last term. In some ways, that was my public declaration of that intention and it was contradictory to normal party procedures. Because it has not been sanctioned by party debate; I didn’t do that by accident but it was, nevertheless, not within the rules of the party. So it pressed a debate on succession and carried out studies and we saw experiences of other countries and, in the end, leadership came to a conclusion that there should be an organized, gradual withdrawal of the leaders of the armed struggle. And the best way to withdraw is while the going is good, while that leadership is still alive and able to influence policies from behind. So, at that stage, this was the consensus position. Now, who goes first and who goes later—there was some debate but it was mostly focused on when I leave when I depart. And then it was agreed that I will depart at the end of this term. And that would be my departure and the team that departs with me would be the last one. That is why everybody has to depart between the beginning of this term and the end of this term. So it was a consensus position and there has not been any of those that have been retired. They are not unemployed—some of them are ambassadors, some of them are training our leadership, some of them are working in public enterprise and so on and so forth. So there are no complaints.

14.  Last year, you signed an agreement with the Ogaden groups and they even participated in the elections and are part of the local government.  Are they in the federal government? If you could describe for me where that agreement that reached… what was achieved and what was not, maybe sticking points if there are any?

Yes we signed agreements with two groups—one was an Islamist group, an offshoot of Al-Itihad Al-Islami group. Their agenda, their decision was to get out of politics and integrate into society, do business and so on and so forth. That has been completed. And then we had an agreement with one group, one faction of the ONLF, again the agreement was a process of integration domestically and for them to try to win over the rest of the ONLF particularly in the Diaspora. So I believe the program and the agreements are being implemented quite well.

15.  Are they in the federal government?

Yes

16.  Now you have South Sudan as an additional country that borders Ethiopia. As if how Sudan would have close relations with Ethiopia and Eritrea is not confusing enough, South Sudan has close relations with both Eritrea and Ethiopia. Can you tell me how that is possible when there are so many interconnected crises in the region?

The assumption is wrong. South Sudan is not in good terms with Eritrea. Before South Sudan is born, Eritrea is beginning to destabilize South Sudan. Those in the know in the region, they know among other things the Eritrean regime is beginning to arm a militia group led by a certain gentleman known as George Attol.  I am told by reliable sources that the Southern Sudanese went to Asmara to plead with the president not to destabilize southern Sudan, and I am told that the response they got is a surprised stare—which is typical of the Eritrean regime: they never admit what they are doing. So, the relationship between South Sudan and Eritrea is typical of Eritrea’s relations with everybody in the neighborhood.

17.  I heard from some sources that a leader of Southern Sudan is apprehensive that Ethiopia has relations with the Eritrean national opposition because he considers them Muslims and Arab influence. First, is this true? If yes, what was your response? Why would a new country adopt such a bigoted position?

The assumption is wrong again. Silva [kir, the leader of South Sudan] never, ever, asked me to, in any way, affect my policy on Eritrea. Not just with the opposition, but also with the regime. He never raised any of this issue, at all. Naturally, he didn’t, at all, raise the issue of who we are supporting or nor supporting section of the Eritrean opposition…I don’t think he draws all that conclusion of  Eritrea.

I have heard and seen articles in the Eritrean opposition website about what Eritrea could teach southern Sudan and that and the other. I think this is largely ill-informed. First of all, southern Sudan currently has no business with Eritrea, they have no borders, and they have no economic interaction. Ten years ago, they needed Eritrea because they needed arms; now, if they need arms, they buy them; they can’t get them from Eritrea. So the only interest for Isaias in southern Sudan is that there is a significant Eritrean Diaspora in southern Sudan and they are doing well, business wise. And the regime is trying to suck money out of them like it does everywhere else.

18.  You have Libyan investment in Ethiopia. One of them is Libyaoil: Is it true that Libyaoil is owned by one of Kadaddfi’s sons? If that is true, wouldn’t [it] be a gesture for Ethiopia to hand over the assets to the transitional Libyan administration? How about the Libyan embassy in Ethiopia—what is its position, still with Gaddafi? And how much of your oil comes from Libya and how has the supply been affected?

I understand the embassy, at least formally, is siding with Kaddafi. The Libyan government has bought off Shell Ethiopia and it is now OilLibya. That is the only investment I know of the Libyan government or Kaddafi—it is very difficult to distinguish between the Libyan government and Kaddafi. I don’t know where Gaddafi private starts or where the Libyan government property ends. Now, the way we operate here in Ethiopia is to follow first international law—Security Council has said this property is a sanction on Libya that applies to Ethiopia.  Secondly, there is AU—sometimes we agree within them sometimes we do not agree with them. But even when we do not agree with them, we do not believe in publicly second-guessing them. This, we think, is part of the due that we have to pay for the fact that we host the AU. So at this stage, we have not recognized the national council in Benghazi, we wait for the AU to do so. Even in the case of, for example, Somaliland where we engage with the authorities like a sovereign authority, in everything except name. We refrained from recognizing them, and we have told the Somaliland authorities, they have got to get the African Union supporting them before we can recognize them. Again, in the case of [Alassana] Ouattara, in Ivory Coast. He is the internationally recognized president and he wanted to change his embassy here and we recognize him like the AU he is the internationally recognized leader, but we asked the AU if they would give us clearance because he will also be the ambassador not only to Ethiopia but also to the AU. The AU told us to hold up for a moment, hopefully, now they will give us a clearance. The way we operate here is such that we don’t take initiatives in recognizing states, especially in Africa.

19.  Over the last few weeks, you made statements regarding Eritrea and there were also statements from the Ethiopian ministry of foreign affairs. Is anything extraordinary happening at the border area, troop movements, preparation for an attack…or anything of that nature?

It is not so much about a tense border situation; it is about the fact that we have reached a stage where our previous policy of passive defense does not work, it cannot work anymore. In the past, our policy was to try and follow the terrorists that Isaias was sending across the border and try neutralizing them rather than responding at the source. That was fine for two reasons: first, their target ground opposition and terrorism was government and government institutions, specifically, military and security establishment and other government entities.  These are what they call “hard targets”, you can harden them and protect them. You can never be 100% full proof. If some terrorist slips through a crack you can take it from there and move on because these are government targets. In recent months, the target has been shifted. The recent crop of terrorists that Isaias sent across the border were targeting things such as Fil-Waha [hot springs in Addis, which is a tourist destination], Mercato [shopping district], taxis, buses—these are what they call “soft targets”. The instructions that they were given when they were being trained around Asseb in Dankalia region, was to change Addis into Baghdad.  Now, when you have such a soft target, the only way you can protect the soft targets is at the source. So, we now have to tell the Eritrean regime, if you carry outrageous acts in Ethiopia, not only the terrorists that you send but you yourself, you are going to pay. And our response is going to be proportional. As I was saying in parliament the other day, if they shoot a bullet at us, we shoot a bullet back at them. If this forces them to stop the destabilization activity, all the better for everybody. If they maintain the current state of undeclared war and do not escalate it, we will maintain a response that is appropriate to it, we will not escalate it. If they escalate it to a war and a full-scale invasion of Ethiopia,  we will do what we always said we will do in the past because this will be a second certified invasion of Ethiopia where the proportionate response to it would be to make sure that there would not be a third one. So there is a shift in direction, it doesn’t automatically mean that there is going to be war –it all depends on how Isaias responds.  [If it is] by escalation and invasion of Ethiopia, then we will have war. If he responds by de-escalating, then there won’t be one.

Djibouti, Eritrea & Ethiopia

20.  Last week I was in Djibouti and I visited the port facilities, the container storage, car storage, oil tank farms and dry cargo facilities. I also visited Bilbela, a town that seems to thrive on business from the Ethiopian drivers and the general Ethiopia-Djibouti business and the transport trucks that pass through it. I also saw thousands of Ethiopian trucks in that area. My question is: how much business is Djibouti getting from Eritrea? And if what happened ten years ago didn’t happen, how much of that business do you estimate would have been the share of Eritrean ports? And, if the political situation in Eritrea changed and there was a liberal, business-friendly government there, how much of this do you think Eritrea would regain…I mean, including Massawa, which is more convenient to the northern part of Ethiopia.

Quite a lot. The current prospects in Ethiopia now are such that even if we had Eritrean ports as key ports, we will still be needing Djibouti. So, while we have not given up on the hope of normalization between these two countries, Eritrea and Ethiopia, nevertheless, we are convinced that even with normalization, Asseb and Massawa, and a few other ports like Tio, will just not be enough. So we are investing heavily in Djibouti. We are going to build a new railway from Addis to Djibouti. We are going to build a new railway system from the north to Tajura—a new port will be built in Tajura [old Djibouti port]. In the short run, all of that business, 80% of that business would have gone to Asseb and a small percentage would have gone to Massawa, but now it is completely diverted to Djibouti.

21.  Can you give me some figures, the value of this business?

I do not have exact figures at hand, but I will be surprised if the net income of Djibouti were to be less than half a billion dollar or so.

22.  Do you think that this business is lost forever by the Eritrean ports or Eritrea would be able to regain these lost opportunities under normal situation?

It is going to regain it precisely because the demand of the Ethiopian economy is going to go beyond the capacity of Tajura and Djibouti to take care of the requirements of Ethiopia. For example, we are beginning to develop the potassium resources in the Afar region of Ethiopia—that is millions of tons per year that need to be transported. Technically, the closest port to this is not even Asseb, it is Tio. You could develop it into a big port. So under normal situation, Eritrea could regain most of these businesses and develop new businesses as well.

Thank you.

articles at awate.com

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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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  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Awatistas,

    Part of the port deal between Eritrea and Ethiopia, is explained in the link below how they are going to manage it. It is a kind of tool kit they are looking for. Have a say on it

    https://ppiaf.org/sites/ppiaf.org/files/documents/toolkits/Portoolkit/Toolkit/module3/index.html

  • Berhe Y

    Hi George,

    In your past exchange with me, you always told me “I do not know anything”, now I am starting to wonder if you know anything, anything at all. I am starting to wonder, if you are even old enough to remember the 1998-2000 war and it’s aftermath. May be you Arron’s if those yPFDJ who came of age and introduced to Eritrea political atmosphere in those brain washing conferences, “Everyone is against Eritrea”.

    I don’t know where to start and I don’t know where to finish. So the best I thought is to search some article and share with you so you can do sone reading.

    Just to make one point though “The president is not equal to Eritrea the country and the Eritrean people”. All my criticism to towards the president and his PFDJ and NEVER to the Eritrean people, not even the Eritrean defence forces who despite a failed leader have done a miracle to defend the country.

    I direct you to read the G13 letter where a group of ERITREAN intellectuals wrote a private letter to the president in 2000.

    Here is some contents of the letter which appeared on awate by Dr. Mohammed Kheir titled “The G13 ’Berlin Manifesto’: 10 years after” who was one of the participants of the meeting.

    “Now was the time to speak and further silence could endanger the interest of the country and compromise their historic responsibility; expressed unreserved support for the GOE in its defense of the country; admired the Eritrean Defense Forces and the people for foiling the Ethiopian aggression; expressed concern for the tragic conditions of the victims of war; indicated that Eritrea’s image has hit rock bottom; recognized notable achievements but indicated GOE lagged behind in the development of democratic institutions; called for reconciliation and national unity; emphasized the importance of collective leadership; indicated there was a rift in the leadership that needed to be carefully handled; requested the immediate implementation of the constitution; requested that the special courts be abolished; appealed that people languishing in prisons for years without trial be released or be brought to a court of law; and criticized the dominant role of the PFDJ in the economy. In brief they said loudly and clearly NO to one-man rule. They also criticized the other members of the PFDJ leadership for being silent and for allowing such a rule to flourish. A criticism that the G15 seemed to had taken seriously. They had also broken the repressive culture of the PFDJ, something the President was scared of.”

    You can read the whole article

    http://awate.com/the-g13-’berlin-manifesto’-10-years-after-part-i/

    Berhe

  • Nitricc

    Hi Geroge; I don’t think you are analyzing the situation at hand. For years PIA said the morning Ethiopian troops leave Eritrean land, the same afternoon we can talk to normalize. Now, Ethiopian government came calling to implement as is. The right thing to do for the government of Eritrea was to take that offer and make the Ethiopian troops leave and start demarcation. Instead, PIA goes over cliffs and starting to act as he is the prime minster of Ethiopia and forgot all Eritrean interest, the interest paid dearly for. The sad thing is, what ever PIA is talking about could have done side by side with expelling the Ethiopian army and demarcation. I understand PIA is counting on PMAA and PMAA is getting weaker and weaker everyday and PIA is worried. so there is a good chance PMAA could lose his power. The country is in very shaky ground. If PMAA is defeated and out of power then what does it mean for Eritrea? Eritrean and the Eritrean people once again screwed. Let the Ethiopian troops leave Eritrean land and let the border be demarcated NOW!

  • Berhe Y

    Hi George,

    We will be going on circular arguments and counter arguments. However mine s based on facts, yours based (what ever it’s is).

    Tigray, TPLF can dream anything they wish. They can write any manifesto they wanted about Abay Tigray or what ever they wanted. In order to achieve as long as they do not use force then, it’s free world. But it’s not a reason to go to war.

    To get back to the topic, the first peace proposal (US/Rwanda ) was for Eritrea to withdraw from Badime and go to the positions before May 6, 1998.

    Melles accepted and Isayas refused. There is a letter send to IA from then minister / ambassador Berki, urging him to accept and Isayas replied “I don’t know exactly in English but in Tigrinya, ZefriHen / ZerEdin yebnan”. He even said, even if the sun doesn’t rise or something.

    The same deal he refused to accept, when they took Badime by force, he called emergency weekend meeting to the UN/ SC (the same organization that you belittle as antiEritrea) and begged them to ask Ethiopia for ceacefire. WurdeteNa.

    May be TPLF had a plan, may be the wanted the war escalated, but IA gave them the excuse they needed, even this is a stretch.

    I say this a stretch because Ethiopia had accepted the peace deal and go to courts, and they never made a claim of Eritrea’s ports.

    If the intention was abay Tigray with Assab, then what happened when they have the upper hand and IA, ordered the evacuation of Assab?

    Look George, you can’t convience me in a million years that IA is after ERITREAN people and country interests. All his life he was anti ERITREAN and he was tagging along during the ride, making sure greater Ethiopia future is secured.

    Berhe

  • Berhe Y

    Hi George,

    Blaming the UN or anyone else for the failure of the president is not being responsible.

    Can you please share what legal means Eritrea took to sleet the UN, before it took the law in its own hands and invade Badine.

    You know every country has the right to defend its sovereignty but before it responds, it needs to declare WAR and inform the SC to do so.

    This would have prevented the WAR who knows and Eritrea would have been justified to do so.

    You declare a war not to make a war but to avoid war.

    In all instances, Eritrea took the force without declaring a war how ever justified its reasons are (Yemen, Ethiopia, Djibouti).

    It’s not strictly technical but it’s legal.

    If Eritrea does not believe the legitimacy of the UN it has no business to be its member.
    Your blaming the UN arguments is for illetrare koboro junkie PFDJ worshippers, Alem AnSarna Eya.

    Berhe

  • FishMilk

    Hi All. A convoluted Peace Deal which lacked transparency has left a major caveat ‘implied peace agreement implementation’. Look carefully at the extremely reserved words and phrases that PIA is using. The TPLF has a high chance of being used as a scapegoat (rightly or wrongly) for PIA to assert that much still needs to be accomplished in order to for sustainable peace to be realized. There is a reason why Eritrean military officers have been given orders to actively search for defectors.

    • Nitricc

      Hi FM; something is up though. PMAA answering questions freely but when he was asked about the deal with Eritrea, he won’t answer it. He asked about the deal with Arab imarets and he answered it, he was asked about SA, he answered it when it comes to the deal with Eritrea, he omitted it all entirely. I don’t if they strategy is to keep TPLF in darks or there is something hiding. PIA screamed border for 16 years and yesterday PIA didn’t even mention the border. One thing is sure PIA can fool anyone anymore. This bull is not going to work. he is a war leader and he has done that but now time to Exitttttttttttt

      • Lamek

        ንትርኽ፡ Finally, you grew some balls and became a man. That was too many years of adolecsence. Have one beer on me tonight. Cherrs!

        • Nitricc

          Hi Binyam, Ermias, Alem, Mereb, Lamaek, A-hole, dushbag, take a pick. What your dropout mind won’t understand is there is a difference between supporting the government and supporting a nation. I do know that you are weak and stupid but once the country is out danger of your Agazi-bulshit and your wayane thugs. Now, the leader of the war has served his time and accomplished the mission i.e. he has to make a way to the leaders of peace time. how hard is to understand this, I bet you your daughter understand this than you in life time. what a dush!

          • Lamek

            Hello Moderator, is this kind of language from ንትርኽ tolerated? Why? ንትርኽ you need to control your temper and stop calling me names. Aren’t you supposed to be in your English remedial class right now any way? You skipped again? You will never graduate and get your GED. You may as well just quit and become a body guard for Lindsey Graham or some sissy guy like that.

          • Blink

            Dear Lamek
            On behalf of General Nitricc the great , I would like to apologize specifically to your teachers for not recognizing your problem earlier than you thought.

            Eritrea stands to see the sanction removed while weyane leadership get packed to Mekele , the one thing I don’t think you see it coming is all weyane leadership have bad teeth , why is that , there is no a single weyane leadership member with good teeth . Damn why don’t they see their teeth on the mirror and compare it with other normal people.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam FishMilk,

      As you have aptly characterized it, it is a convoluted agreement. No matter what his conspiracy might be, the people of Tigray are united more than ever with their organization to defend their interest.

      • FishMilk

        Hi Amanuel Hidrat. When did you become the spokesperson for the Tigray people and the TPLF? I am clearly,opposed to the PIA/PFDJ regime. However, I will not sell my soul to the devil. Shame on you dude!

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Sealm FishMilk,

          I didn’t sell my soul to anybody or to any organization for that matter. You don’t know me. I don’t defend TPLF. I told you the news from what I read/heard in the mass madia (u-tube). I am sure you heard it before me, as I am only casual visitor to social media. But, but, one who hasn’t shame to ride wayane to hunt and kill his brothers and sisters, can not tell me who is the enemy and the friend of my people. Just remember your siblings, you killed them side by side with wayane, not only to push out ELFites form Eritrea, but also to reward badme for wayane since 1981 to administer it. In the political culture you grew up, the concept of “enemy and friend is determined always by your demigod, swinging like a pendulum with him from time to time between the amhara and tigrains.

  • Berhe Y

    Dear George,

    Sorry in the delay responding to you, I didn’t see your reply.

    I really don’t think it’s worth the efforts to argue with you. You are saying “Ethiopia started tre war”, I don’t know what to say. I would rather believe what the UN investigated and what Eritrean government accepted in who started the war.

    As to the rest please read the great saay article at Eritreadigest dot come latest article, he ahead all the evidence you need.

    BTW, I was referring to a period since Eritrea become independent country and IA assumed official head of state.

    No need to go far bzenem eni eni Hmbasha kelo emni.

    Berhe

  • Selam

    Selamat all Eritreans and friends of Eritrea on this discussion,

    I start to read comments on this website recently. When I read the comments I can’t explain the feeling I have inside. I do not mean I am burning with emotional nationalistic feeling. I mean the way the ideas ordered, selection of words with some Tigrinya words sprawls for the test (like carefully sprawled spices on the food for the test of the food) and of course the idea in general. Mostly discussion or debates about a country political system going on with full emotion and anger (especially within Eritreans) but here; the comment tells that they are written with conscious and clear mind based on fact and opinion. I am proud to have Eritrean friends, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers that they can put their Idea in way it flows in you like get glucose infusion in your blood. I do not mean it is always the same, there are some days gone to emotion and it is human to have emotion sometimes. The good thing when the moderator rise the finger, the one who crosses the line, looks line back where it is and adjust herself/himself to the line.
    I know nobody personally here except Gezaie Hagos. I studied with his brother Simon Hagos if he is the same person. I like the decent and mature comments and lecture in all subjects.
    There are a lot of bright ideas about political reforms, processes and political struggle in this comment blog. My question is how can we make it short. As we all know it took 20 year since a major shift made by many Eritreans loyal to DIA against him (let alone the struggle before that) but DIA and his remnant loyalist still run the country to worst.
    What about hiring sniper. As Saay said now we are 350 million population and he (DIA) feels that an important and responsible person for the peace and stability of Horn Africa. To do this new assignment he will travel more to those countries and we have an open border with our neighbors. This will be a good opportunity for us to remove him with sniper. it is my opinion to use hired sniper to remove the nucleus of the power of PFDJ. It is an effective and short way of removing the tyranny of Eritrea.
    Would you please add your valuable comment about the consequence and how it is possible.
    አምሓሩ ሳይደፈርስ አይጠራም ይብሉ

    have a nice day to all of you.

    • sara

      hello selam,
      i applaud your appreciation of awate forum, but at the end you wrote something which contradicts your name ( assuming real “SELAM”) and the rule of the forum.
      instigating violence in social media could take you to a place similar to the one you run away to avoid .
      careful..

      • Berhe Y

        Dear sara,

        Which part of Selam post is instigating violence?

        Selam, welcome home. This is the future ERITREAN parliament is going to look like.

        Berhe

        • Mez

          Dear Berhe Y,

          The phrase “…about hiring sniper..” is againest law and order. As Sara indicated, this could be illegal–with all due respect.

          Thanks

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Mez,

            Our struggle were using “sniper killing” in our cities, for those who were propagating against our cause and to those who were hostile against those who were collaborating with us. No difference at all if an angry Eritrean took the life of the despot. When we initiate an armed struggle, there wasn’t any legality with it. Equally, you don’t need legality to remove a criminal dictator for God sake. What is wrong with you brother, the lives taken by the despot is not enough, to take the life of the despot. አበይሞ ሓሞት እንድያ ተሳኢና:: I am still puzzling how our courage is lost when it comes to this evil man and his enablers.

          • Mez

            Dear Amanuel H,
            You raised a mind piercing question; on this specific question honesty is what matters most.
            1) Let me try: The “voelkerrecht” concept was the one invoked while fighting for Eritrean independence from Italian colonizers, British occupiers, and Ethiopian invaders.
            2) Even if you are fighting an openly known alien enemy army, there are always certain rules and procedures what to do, and what not. correct me if I am mistaken.
            3) I can not imagine me (or a guy from across the street of my neighborhood) being the judge, the police, and the plaintiff at the same time. With all likelihoods, that is not going to bring the intended result or expected effect for the nation.
            4) The question of bullet or no bullet is the dilemma one gets while trying to transition from “rule of gun to rule of law” within a nation.
            i highly value your integrity, and openness. Concluding my thinking, I postulate: non-judiciary violence against any politician, including PIA, is “at the end of the day” very costly for the nation, and shall be REJECTED IN ALL ITS FORMS.

            thanks,

          • Selam

            Selamat Mez

            Korrigiere mich falls ich falsch bin. Ich glaube Völkerrecht verbietet Angriffskrieg nicht Selbstverteidigung. In my opinion; any Eritrean shoots at DIA is a self-defense not an attack. You are right: non –judiciary violence against any politician is very costly for the nation and it is against justice and human right. What I am not agreeing with you is you include DIA as a politician. He is the one uses non-judiciary violence against any politician and as a result our nation suffers a lot. Do not confuse DIA case with phobia or hate. Real persons are dyeing and suffering because of him. The question is how do we stop it?
            Let me formulate the case in this form. If a person with a weapon attacking a crowd from one position, (like we see in America) what would the police do? Immediately they start to shot to the location where he is to give cover up and evacuate the people from the danger zone. If he is still alive they try to catch him to get information and he has right to defend himself in the country justice system, but if he is alive and still dangerous to catch him they will shoot at him to kill or injure him. It is self-defense. Killing a people is enough evidence to shoot at him. Whatever reaction they do; consider as a self-defense. May be if they start shooting in a person just because he has a weapon, could be seen as a violation of justice and it should be decided by court.
            What do you think; do the police do the right thing to protect the people or not? If yes: see the below case. If no: why?
            Eritreans case also the same. DIA sets on the top of the building and shoots at the people with hands of others. Eritrean politician (consider them as police) asked him to surrender his weapon and himself. He shoots at them and at the same time continuing shooting at the people. Some concerned individual and organized Eritrean (another police group) asked him again to surrender his weapon and himself. He refused their request and shoots at them. He still continues shooting at any one in Eritrea. DIA is a lucky murderer or criminal, because he is asked to surrender himself to many times. All request of surrendering himself is with amnesty to be free not to bring him to justice. He refused and ignored all requests. Now the Police (Eritrean People) do not need to ask him to surrender himself. They should start to shoot at him to protect the people otherwise he will kill more and more people.
            What do you think? Should we wait just by asking the same question until the problem solved by mercy of GOD or do you have any other better idea? The most dangerous will be if we are waiting until he transfers his power to his son.

            Have a good day.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Mez,

            Forgive me, You sound as if you are telling us that we should show humanity to a “serial killer”. Am l correct Mez? The regime is a violent force by its nature and is “committed” to kill and intimidate our people. A violent force like PFDJ can only be deterred by force either from inside or outside however it works. Talking Otherwise, is simply to leave the regime unabated to continue its agenda of killing and imprisoning our people.

            Second what are the “rules and procedures” you are talking, for a serial killers in country where there isn’t rule of law? Are we talking on the same realities about the people inscribed in the land called Eritrea? Are we having different sensory nerves to feel the excruciating pain of our people? Or are we having sensory processing disorder? I am totally lost to understand the comprehension of our compatriots visa-vis the evil regime. How many is too many for his ritual slaughter of our citizens by the evil man, so as to to say enough is enough?

            Third, there is no “transition talks” as such, when the regime is still in place and continued to do for what it is known for – either to kill or disperse our population.

        • Selam

          Selamat Berhe,

          Thank you for your warm welcome. I will try to exercise my parliament right.

        • sara

          Ato Berhe- selam.
          i think leeche ab toronto teffea meslenee… ok.. ms mexet anbebwo
          haftna selam zxehafeto…
          haftkha kab kessela

      • Selam

        Selamat Sara,

        Thanks for your comment. You are right, it looks like hiring sniper contradict to my name. What about military struggle? Is that will be illegal or instigating violence? I can say; we should start military struggle to remove PFDJ and bring peace and stability to Eritrea, but I know a lot of peaceful Eritrean national service woman and man and member of military struggling fighter will be killed util we get DIA and freed Eritrea from PDFJ. This could be a legitimate struggle for freedom and justice like our independence struggle. The only difference will be hiring sniper has less human cost during elimination process of the power center but will have unknown consequence, in the contrary the military struggle will have more human and time cost to remove the power center but less unknown consequences. Which one to choose is up to Eritrean people.
        Sara I am not instigating violence against peaceful person or organization that has implemented his idea or opinion peacefully. What I am doing is defending myself against an organization who implementing his idea by killing, jailing, torturing and etc.
        Sara if I make a mistake again please correct me. Berhe said this is a future Eritrean parliament, so you have a chance to convince me :).
        Have a good day.

        • sara

          haftey selam..
          in Awate land we go to mountains Adal or Sahel if we are infuriated with who ever we don’t like, not the way you or many others might
          think is right. suffice to say we do have so much experience that we do not need to go into the unknowns, if you know what i mean.
          good day to you too.

          • Blink

            Dear Sara
            I think if selam can be sure about the after sniper time that she will have a better 2nd generation PFDJ then removing Issias will not be a big problem but what selam forgot is there will not be people like gezae hagos leading Eritrea as these people will never ever have the chance to cross the colossal force PFDJ second generation nationalists , most of the young PFDJ are confused at this time and what selam has to do is also convince the military unit of PFDJ in the EDF . The military after Issias is not at one man’s hand she need to convince many generals and colonels to her side .

          • Selam

            Selamat Blink,

            You rise a good point, that is what I want to be discussed here and other platforms. In my opinion the number of PFDJ active member in EDF and Eritrean society are very less compare to all Eritrean people that are against them. The problem is; they are very laud scare other Eritreans to say against them openly. It is difficult to know the opinion of Eritreans living in Eritrea especially member of EDF, because they are fearing for their life.
            The crucial point will be we need some group from EDF and police to keep order and stability immediately when DIA removed by sniper.
            The problem will be nobody trust you because some previous attempt are failed. For sure they want that DIA removed from the position because most of them are the primary victims.

            Have a good day

    • ghezaehagos

      Merhaba Selam,

      Welcome to Awate family.

      Simon Hagos is my brother, from Edagahamus. if you study at Asmara University, there could be few others in in this forum too.

      Thanks,
      Ghezae Hagos

      • Selam

        Selamat Ghezae

        So I am right, I studied with Simon

        Have a nice day Ghezae.

  • haileTG

    Selamat awatista,

    Out of obligation to due deligence, I listned to the IA interview. There was no expectations whatsoever of him having anything useful to say. Now upon réfection, it appears that there may not even be a second part. The key message was that the talk of demarcation was creating confusion among his supporters. Hence he came to put a rest to that. Without mentioning the border directly, he equated those who were concerned by it as: wannabes, sellouts, poison, old enemies, parasites, insubordinates, good for nothing, obstacle, bitter, vindictive, weak, horrible type of people. Now the lines are clearly drawn. He means it and just watch his die hardies slightly rolling on their side like a snake to adjust to his whims.

    • Paulos

      Selam HaileTG,

      As if he has any better ideas, he belittled and vilified think tanks [I am sure he had Sal in mind when he shot down Eritrean literati.] You are right there may not be a fellow up interview for it will be long forgotten before we know it. He set the stage to disparage and ostracize anybody who asks about the political prisoners or any kind of political reform including about demarcation and it will be seen if for instance Dr. Berhe’s lukewarm stand will weather the campaign.

      • haileTG

        Hey Paulos,
        I know what you mean but even more than that he had a bigger fish to fry. He supporters are very confused about the border. He doesn’t give much thought about other matters as he knows they are easy on everything else. Some see the border from deep sentimental level and it has been creating a rift among them. IA decided to take the brute way instead of talking them out of it with usual candy bars that worked well in the past. Now he is equating the very concern about demarcation with an attempt to poison the nation, he is in effect made up in his mind to let them go. He needs new pro Ethio-Eritrea synergy supporters. This was very much to his rank and file supporters than anyone in the opposition. For us it is a case of abey aloka zeybelwo abzi aloku bele:)

        • Paulos

          Selam HaileTG,

          That is a good point. I agree. It was intended to quell and mitigate the nervousness with in his core base for they don’t have any amo left on how to handle the lack of talk about demarcation and reciprocity to the political reform going on in Ethiopia.

          I would like to know your take on how does he intend to move forward if there is no any kind of reform on sight? Say, if there is no threat or a semblance of threat to the nation where it has always been the cardinal excuse not to make reforms as it was the case during the last decade and half.

          • haileTG

            Hey Paulos,

            That is interesting consideration. If we start with the basic reality as it appears at this time, IA will face opposition for sure. The nature and form this opposition takes would of course be in response to the unfolding realities. For example, IA can no longer call upon state of no war no peace, nor can he call upon sanctions soon. The objective realities that give rise and gave rise to opposition are however in place. If you take a closer look, his diplomacy is bankrupt. It appears that he is making breakthroughs here and there, yet upon closer examination, these are concessions made for him through external agencies for external interests. The opposition will struggle to find its footing for a short while but will soon take solid form. This is again predicated on the fact that the reasons for opposing are still unchanged, only the environment did. Adaptations is the natural consequence of a change in the environment.

            Take for example how the US was hesitant to agree to the lifting of sanctions only few weeks ago on grounds of HR issues. However, through no movement of the IA regime, it changed its stance. This clearly shows that there exists another third party who made the counter concession to the US. Because the US would have only changed its stance in exchange to something else. All these leaves IA’s Eritrea the client state that is tendered and bartered for outside interest. IA has no leverage to represent the country’s interest and hold on to his domestic brute status simultaneously. This is a recipe for very unpredictable and chaotic situation for the next months or year or two. Isolated and dependent on outside forces on one hand and paranoid and repressive inside on the other hand will lead to a situation that he will have to merry two opposing realities as he go forward.

            The outcome is both obvious and scary because the political opposition hasn’t yet morphed into semblance of a shadow government. Far from it actually. The main worry here is that the country would simply devolve into deepening rifts and divisions. Give way to civil war and disaster.

          • Paulos

            Selam HaileTG,

            I suspect Isaias reluctantly agreed for an interview after an intense supplication from his inner circle to ease the nervousness of his base. Certainly, there was nothing to munch on much less for one to be satisfied for the interview was laced with contempt including for his base.

            With in the run-away blabber, he said something that caught my attention. He spoke of the collective potential of 350 million people in the entire region neighbouring Eritrea. In fact, one has to read it as 106 million people Eritrea and Ethiopia combined where he is laying out the new discourse of confederation as he refused not only to talk about the border but bullying anyone who speaks of it.

            Can mainland China and Hong Kong have synergy where the former is a one party system and the latter anchored on liberal democracy? The way around it was to float Hong Kong on a sound economic standing so that the issue of politics gets relegated into the backburner. Isaias probably have a similar line of thinking in mind where Ethiopia’s economic development is translated into Eritrea so that Eritreans will have scant reason to focus on politics. The question is, can he deliver given his erratic behaviour and recalcitrant mood? The Opposition ought to have a new start and vision for the future is not any different than the past so long as Isaias is at the helm.

          • Haile S.

            Selam Paul & MoKsi
            Sorry for jumping into your pool! What I gathered from IA’s blabber is: Welcome to HoALF! Horn of Africa Liberation Front. A luta continua! ገድሊ ይቕጽል።
            ገድለ ኣቡነ ገብረመንፈስቅዱስ ምስ ኣናብስቲ፡ ኣብ በረኻ
            ገድለ ኣቡነ ኢሳያስ፡ ሽጥ ባዶ መዓንጣኻ፡ ተመሓላልፎ ንደቂ ደቅኻ

          • Paulos

            ሰላም ሃይላት,

            ናብ pool ምንጣር’ሲ ዳሓን ኔሩ ምስ ነጠርካ ማይ ዝገጸብካና ገደደ፣ ኣነ’ዳኣ ኣብ ቃሓውታ ኣብ ማይ ላጌቶ ምሕምባስ ዝኻኣልካ እንድዩ ዝመስለኒ ኔሩ😂፣

            That is actually a plausible scenario but given he is now under the mercy of foreign nations, they will keep him on leash to behave.

          • Haile S.

            Pauk,
            You are so funny. You made me laugh while eating. I almost died from “fausse deglutition” (self explanatory) 🙂 🙂 . I never tried to swim in those places. ማይ ምስሃረመ ስረይ፡ ሓፍ ኣቢለ፡ ፊንታ-ምሕንባስ፡ ፈቐዶ ውሕጅ ክስዕ ሓራዲቶ ትሕዘኒ እከይድ ነይረ።

          • Paulos

            ሃይላት,

            ሓወይ ሓወይ ጸላኢኻ ይታሓነቕ!

            Glad you found it funny. Probably it was built after you left Asmara, there was one popular swimming pool near Total right across Cinema Roma and that is where most of us learned how to swim. As it happened and reflective of the zeitgheist, it was popularly known as “መዋኛ”

          • Haile S.

            ጳውሎስ፡
            በል ሰሚዒናልካ። ሕጂስ prehistoric ክትገብረኒ ቁሩብ ተሪፉካ! ኣነ ካይተወለድኩ ዝተሰርሐ እዩ ዝመስል። መዋኛ ዝብል ስም እቶም ወጣት ዘማችን፡ ካድረታትን፡ ናይ ህዝባዊ ጊዜያዊ ጽሕፈት ቤት ናይ ኢማሌድህ ኣስመራ ምስ ተቛጻጸርዋ፣ ድሓር ክ’ኣ ኣብታ ጥቃኣ ዘላ ፓላሶ፡ ብዙሓት ኣየር-ሃይል ይነብሩ ስለዝነበሩ፣ ንሳቶም ዘውጽኡላ ሽም ይመስለኒ።

          • Berhe Y

            አንታ ጳውሎ፡ ሲነማ ኩርቾ ሮሳ፡ ሓማሴን፡ ዳንተ አዘኪርካና፡ ፊኖ ወዲ አስመራ እንተበልናስ፡ መዋኛ ብድሕሪ ሃይለ ዝተሰርሔ መሲሉካ፡፡ አጸቢቄ ዝፈልጦ እኮ የብለይን፡ ብግመት እየ ዝኸይድ ዘለኹ፡፡ ከም ዝመስለኒ ቀደምሲ ፒቺና እዩ መስለኒ ነሩ፡፡

            አውደአመት አውደአመት ሓሊፍና ሓሊፍና ንኸይድ ነርና፡ ግን ናይ ደቂ አስመራስ ምሕንባስ ኢሊካ አይቁጸርን እዩ፡፡ ኩላ እደ እግሪ የብላን፡ ካብይ ጀሚርካ፡፡

            እዞም ህግ እኮ፡ ናይ ብሓቂ እዩ ቂም ዘለዎም ምስዞም ደቂ ኣስመራ፡፡ አነ ካብ ዝገርመኒ፡ ብዘይካ ሓደ ወዲ ክላስና (አብ 80ታት) ንህግ ዝከደ ዋላ ሓደ ሰብ የለን፡፡ ኩላትና፡ ዎንጫ ዓለምዶ፡ ሲነማ ናይ ህንዲ፡ አብ ኦድዮን፡ ከምኡውን ሲነማ ኢምፐሮ፡ ካብኡ ሓሊፉ ድማ፡ ቺቸሮ፡ ኤልፓን ቺፖሊኒን፡ ኮርሶ ድማ፡ ወዲ ጊሎም፡ የማነ ተኸስተ፡ ዝጎየና የለ፡ ዝገፈና የላ፡ ጆንትራ ዶ፡ ራምቦ ክንብል ፡ ብዕጥይጥይ ኢና አሐሊፍዮ፡፡

            Berhe

          • David Samson

            Selam Berhe, Paul, and Haile,

            One of the perks of being born and growing up around Ketagna 7-9 was that we had free-swimming pools. Alongside MayAnebesa—the biggest open pool— we had many adjacent small ponds. Ponds required though extra skills beside flashing. Do you know the majority of Ethiopians who died when the Ethio Airlines had crashed in the Comoros Islands were due to lack of swimming?

          • Berhe Y

            Dear David,

            I never tried MayAnbesa the whole idea terrified me with some of the horror story we hear (although it may not be unrealistic).

            But generally speaking, I think most habesha people are terrified by water and we don’t seem to feel at ease. Even most of us have lots of opportunity in the west to learn to swim, but hardly does anyone practice or try.

            Berhe

          • David Samson

            Selam Berhe,

            I was drowned twice of which one was so serious that I was fortunately to be rescued by a good swimmer. I do not think it is Habesha only; it is very uncommon among Afro-Caribbean communities as well. Africa have produced some memorable personalities during the Olympics. Who has forgotten Eric? He became an instant celebrity though it took him as twice as the elites. Then, we had Robel, the Ethiopian Dolphin.

          • Haile S.

            Selam David,
            I finaly sent my comments on our last week’s discussion. It is on hold on by disqus for now. Just letting you know.

          • Paulos

            ሃይላት,

            Aha! That makes sense. ንሕና ርኢኻ ሃይላት እልፊ ገሪባን ፋራታትን ኢና ኔርና ኣበይ ተረኽበት መሐምበሲት ኢልና ኢና ንኸይድ ኔርና’ምበር መን ሰሪሕዋን መን ዋናኣን ኣበይ ፈሊጥናዮ ኢልካና ኢኻ፣

            I honestly thought you left Asmara ኣብ ግዜ ዕግርግር፣ my apologies if you thought I said you left ብግዜ እኒ እኒ ሕምባሻ’ኸሎ እምኒ።

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Paulo and HTG,

            Hong Kong and China are not similar comparison between Eritrea and Ethiopia. In China there is the Chinese communist party has laws and it’s accountable to some body. In Eritrea, there is none, everyone is accountable to IA and he is not accountable to no body.

            Ethiopia democracy is a long way to resemble that of Hong Kong but they are in the right path.

            I am confident that PMAA has raised the issue of human rights and including those detained. The kind of person he seems to be, he would not ignore it as if nothing is happening. He knows it too well the misery the Eritreans are going through, even if Ethiopia interests are his primary responsibilities.

            But he is not naive to push too much too soon….but certainly that’s what is going to happen. Look how he made him irrelevant in the tension he wanted to have with TPLF and with his game over provocation in the middle of peace atmosphere.

            I don’t think he cares anything about anyone body and including his base. They are just disposable as long as it serves him.

            Berhe

          • Paulos

            Selam Berhe,

            Fair point. I agree. The comparison I was trying to draw as you have aptly pointed it out has limitation but of course my intention was to elevate the debate into something remotely similar.

            It would be naive not to assume that Abiy murmurs to himself or to his confidants about the abject cruelty of Isaias but hard to tell if he actually addresses the dire Issues with Isaias for it will be rubbing Isaias on the wrong side but to win him, Abiy opted rightly so to pump up Isaias’ otherwise twenty year old deflated and damaged ego.

            The question is, how long is Abiy going to exude a pretentious face as if nothing bad is going on in Eritrea? For all moral imperatives, he will have to acknowledge the existence of the pink Elephant in the living room for he can contain Isaias only for so long. Something has to give at some point and it will be seen if Isaias will put Abiy in the rows of Bashir, Meles and Gulle among others or if he is going to listen to him.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Paulo,

            I agree I understand what you mean.

            My guess is PMAA will put up with Isayas at least until 2020. Even then, from Ethiopia point of view, he really does not have urgency to do much.

            Direct interference will be a mistake and it will be costly for Ethiopia and he will not risk everything for nothing in return.

            The urgency is for the Eritreans side who oppose the PFDJ regime and it will be up to us to frame the outcome.

            The great brains of Awate (Saay and HaileTG) have pearly

          • Teodros Alem

            Selam berhe
            U r right what u said about the comparison of hong kong and china with that of ethiopia and eritrea, but the main differences r hong kong is an autonomous territory of china but eritrea and ethiopia is two different independent countries.
            I mean if u listen to the recent interview of ethiopia trade minister, u will know there will not be china- hong kong kind of relationship between eri-ethio atleast for the time being. she said the trade between ethiopia and eritrea will be like the trade between our neighbors.

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Selam Dr. Paulos & Hailat,

        Our despot is not even smart to defend his interest. he couldn’t even want to address the concern of his bases the “single issue base” the border issue. But, there is always but. Therefore as far as he has a considerable elites who are bought to his ideas, and as far as the despot is considered a man who defend the fears of the elites of certain section of our society, Issayas will remain in the driving wheels of the state machine. Surely, there isn’t any kind of force to deter him to take us anywhere. The despot has paralyzed the elites of the highland christians by the fears of the unknown in their mind . These islamophobic elites section of our society will remain with him whether the border is demarcated or not, or whether we keep holding the intact of our sovereignty or deteriorating to a slow path of annexation. This is the painful truth of the Eritrean realities as of now. Shying away from speaking the truth of the matter is shying away from saving our nation we hold dear.

        • said

          Selam AH,

          This is well known NUS self-identification ideology and the need to identify with an exclusive highlander club, a primitive tribalism was meant to divide and rule and prolong his rule, Nus idea that promotes sectarian as a Social Darwinian imperative and confuses the good heart of our human civilization with barbarism, its proponents fail to see that it is an indictment on a greater religious adherent conflict with our neighbours that being Nus goal to start with , IA have succeeded to some degree by riding the backs of others — it not a source of pride for all of us . the way forward ,a noble idea propose of another burden that is far more human and noble: the burden of justice. Blind follower of IA cohort and sellout elite mostly men have an opportunity to finally break their own chains of oppressor status in an increasingly interdependent world and Human accomplishments and failures do not belong to humanity . it’s the concept of interdependence that Nus follower totally fail to grasp, in todays world ,They have access to the new age information that can uplift them out of drake age ignorance and toward a new enlightenment that goes beyond reformation within Eritrean societies and emphasizes how the privileged this mall group they are, they can relate more peacefully and justly to those on their brother who are on the rope and margins. justice must be done for the benefit of our people regard less their background. It is the lack of justice and equity that includes everyone while respecting differences and that not only stokes the rage at the bottom of our people who are the vast majority , but also in due time will buttresses the fear at the top of the cohort of the regime.

        • Paulos

          Selam Professor A. Hidrat,

          I couldn’t agree more. If you haven’t already, I suggest you read Sal’s knock out blog that has left Isaias naked about the run-away ሃለውለው n’ ዓጀዉጀው of his recent interview. Sal, if you’re reading this, man, you rock!

          • saay7

            Hey Paulos and all:

            I am here reading you all. Those of you who were here around the time of awate 1.0 remember the time the moderators were silent observers. I am thinking that was a good strategy to enable freer flow of info among awatistas.

            On the Isaias interview, there were many awatistas who told those who were reserving their opposition that once Ethiopia accepts EEBC unconditionally Isaias will use some new rationale to continue running the police state. New shiny toy. And there is. And that’s my blog is about. Excerpt:

            Effective immediately (hear ye, hear ye) to talk about Badme, territorial integrity, sovereignty, doesn’t make you a patriotic citizen but a traitor. At least a suspect. You are not ለባም or ፈላጥ:: Neither wise nor knowledgeable. And don’t go around telling people we can’t be naieve we have to learn from our past mistakes. If you do, you are, and our historian is good at coining demeaning insults, a ፈሊጥ. A fraud, a wanna-be.

            Why? The most important thing in this new era (4th era or 3rd: he is not sure because he is making it up as he goes) is that there should be nothing, NOTHING at all, that introduces doubt or skepticism about the Eritrea-Ethiopia rapproachment. Arguing about Badme, lines, fences, does that. We are trying to build confidence between the two parties here: so take your little worries about little dusty Badme somewhere else.

            As for his new shiny toy: the United States of Nile Basin, HOA, Red Sea & Gulf, my take is:

            Well, I don’t want to get in the way of this United States of Nile Basin, Red Sea, HoA & Gulf but of course it’s all going to collapse. Because it has no shared values; it is mostly presided over by people who are not elected by the people and, excepting for Ethiopia and Somalia, none of the other “leaders” of the countries in this 350 million block collection of misfits, treat their citizens with respect and dignity. It’s a coalition of bone-saw using hackers (Salman) people accused of crimes against humanity (Albeshir, Isaias, Salva Kiir) and police state runners (Sisi.)

            You can read the rest here.

            http://www.eritreadigest.com/isaias-afewerki-self-interview-what-badme/

            saay

          • Paulos

            Selam Sal,

            If the old song goes ተ’ላ ባይሩ ናዓባ ተላይ….I say, ሳልሕ ዮኑስ ናዓባ ተላይ…We miss you. Really. I think every Eritrean should read your recent blog. It is so powerful so much so that it dismantles the entire PFDJ ideological edifice. No hyperbole. Again, hats off ma bro!

          • Lamek

            Dear Paulos, how is every Eritrean expected to read such convoluted satirical writing? I can probably safely say that the average Eritrean reads at the level of grade 5 or so. The average American reads at a 7th grade level. What Mr. Saay writes is graduate level literature. Maybe you can simplify it for most of us. I have to admit I didn’t listen to the entire interview so maybe it would have helped to understand Mr. Saay’s blog.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Dr Paulos,

            I read Saay’s Piece “Issayas’s self-interview” in his blog Eritreadigest. He mocked him in every move he made in the last 28 years of his presidency, from Eritro-Yemeni war to the Ethio-Eritrean war, from the Eritro-Djiboutian war to arming the Somalian alshebab, from interfering in the civil war of South Sudan to the civil war of Congo, and many more. Actually, his piece could be considered for screen drama in future Eritrea.

  • said

    Greeting with Music by Mokoomba https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHLxtppcrR0

    Masangango Mokoomba singer from Zimbabwe,. Their music is an electrifying mix of Afro-fusion energy and traditional Tonga beats. That fuses traditional Tonga music with both soca music’s Carribean rhythms and the Congolese genre soukous as reported Mokoomba’s music speaks directly to the band’s connection to African life, performing songs about love, illness, everyday Zimbabwean goings on and the band’s long journey to popular success. They have performed all over Europe, North America and Africa, including live on the BBC’s “Later with Jools Holland” show. Their rich harmonious sound speaks of their ingenuity in combining their talents but also of their perseverance.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear Brother said..

      This music is very interesting..I wish you attach it in our Jebena page..Next time please really,,,,

      KS,,

  • Paulos

    Selam Ayneta,

    Ma bad. You’re right, It was Croce Rosa 75 cents. Thanks for the correction.

  • Blink

    Dear George
    From berhe’s points of view everything that hurts Eritrea is a welcome news as far as it happens under PFDJ . For berhe any news that is acted up on Eritrea and Eritreans under PFDJ is a blessing to him because without that bad news and acts he can’t really bring a meaningful opposition to the policy of PFDJ . If you check these sanction advocating people they all are hungry of bad news . Let’s see what they did with Eritreans death in the sea .

  • Blink

    Dear Tekle
    The man is sick ,it’s not that difficult to notice his state of mind . I just can’t believe he couldn’t notice that he was saying only one word for one hour . May be the disease of forgetting is in full force. He acts as the leader of the globe way way outside our solar system while he is a chair man of a little branch office of staples. Staples branch officials wouldn’t hire him to be a gatekeeper. What king of sickness I still wonder . I think mugabe is still better than him at his 100 years age mugabe can Clarify things far better except that falling .

  • Mitiku Melesse

    Hei Gebremedin
    The moral of the joke was that for Ethiopians to criticize their leaders they must continue their struggle against the barbaric racist corrupt murderer tplf regime. And you know very well how the Ethiopians specially at home and with the help of their brothers and sisters abroad paid the necessary SACRIFICE to stop a horrible regime helped by USA and many western countries.

    So read what Ethiopians have done in the last 27 years and you understand how you repeat the world known joke in practice. Since the democracy in Ethiopia better you choose to protest against Ethiopian PM.

    So instead of wasting your time in protesting a ”naive PM” and make yourself the joke of the century at least start the work in Eritrea that people can criticize their own leaders without your spreading terror to the whole world that your leader is a super human being.