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Breaking Through Our Dejavu of Disasters

You could spend a lifetime marveling at the criminality of the Eritrean government, if you were not so awestruck by its stupidity.  I am saying the Eritrean government because using its substitute—Isaias Afwerki, Isaias Afwerki regime, PFDJ—will get in the way of my argument here.   In any event, I will come to that near the end of the article. For brevity, I will just use the word Eritrea which is how the world treats acts committed by its self-appointed representatives, anyway. There is no clearer demonstration of how uniformly stupid Eritrea’s foreign policy (and, for that matter, its domestic policy) is than to refer to the background that led to Eritrea being placed under United Nations sanctions.   The 2009 sanctions on the Eritrean government did not descend from the sky; nor are they indications that the world is “not fair.” They are the consequences of Eritrea’s dealings with UN vis-à-vis Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti.

I. Ethiopia

Since 1999, the United Nations Security Council has been issuing resolutions on what it surreally calls the “situation between Eritrea and Ethiopia.”   By 2004, the “situation between Eritrea and Ethiopia” was such that the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) had rendered its verdict and said that the flashpoint of the Eritrea-Ethiopia border war, Badme, belongs to Eritrea. Ethiopia, which didn’t want to implement the ruling unconditionally was trapped: each UNSC resolution expressed “its concern about Ethiopia’s rejection of significant parts of the Boundary Commission’s decision, and its current lack of cooperation with the Boundary Commission.”

While trapped, Ethiopia also had a way out: the United Nations agreed with its definition that the United Nations, United States, Algeria, African Union and European Union are “witnesses” and not “guarantors”; and, thus, Eritrea and Ethiopia bear the “primary responsibility” for the implementation of the boundary commission. That is, the Witnesses would do what they can to facilitate, but they are not going to have legal obligation to enforce a decision.

By the time the UN heightened its language that it “demands that Ethiopia accept fully and without further delay the final and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission and take immediately concrete steps to enable, without preconditions”, Ethiopia had a game plan: it would, officially, drop its Five Point Plan and it would commit in writing to the UN that it accepts fully the ruling. It did; and this was “welcomed” by the UN.

Meanwhile, Eritrea had no game plan for how to deal with the UN’s characterization of Eritrea’s “Guarantors” as “Witnesses.” Since one of the “guarantors” that was calling itself a “witness” was the United Nations itself—the others being the United States of America, Algeria, the African Union, and the European Union—you would think that would clue in Eritrea that it is praying at Mount Deaf and should reverse course, but no, it kept praying (and still is) at the same mountain. It also had no game plan on what to do in the event that the party with whom it shared “primary responsibility” for demarcating the border, Ethiopia, refused to co-operate.   No game plan unless one considers a monomaniac insistence that the Witnesses are Guarantors and that they have an obligation to compel the party that is obstructing the process, Ethiopia, to abide by terms it had agreed to is considered a game plan.

Consider just two issues: the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) and Lloyd Axworthy.

As part of the Algiers Agreement, the UN had a to maintain a 25-km buffer zone in Eritrea to cool off the tension between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The mandate of UNMEE was until such time that the border between the two States is permanently demarcated. So, if Ethiopia drags out demarcation indefinitely, UNMEE will be in Eritrean territory indefinitely? That was Eritrea’s reasonable question.   But the way it managed the issue, to continuously humiliate UNMEE (fuel denial, travel restriction) was a gamble that it would pressure the UN to pressure Ethiopia—a terrible gamble that only managed to annoy the UNSC and all the countries that contributed soldiers to the peace-keeping mission.

In the same vein, when the UN Secretary General appointed a Special Envoy, Loyd Axworthy, Eritrea could have hosted him (it is our culture, after all, to host guests) and politely told him that while it welcomes his visit, it still sees the faithful implementation of the EEBC as the best path forward. But no, Eritrea flat-out refused to see him. This angered the UN even more because it goes to the very issue of legitimacy and respect for the institution. Eritrea’s reaction was so boorish that subsequent UN resolutions consistently expressed negative language—“regret” and “alarm” “deplore”—at the way Eritrea was handling the issue.

By the time the Somalia issue exploded into full-fledged civil war, Eritrea had squandered whatever sympathy and goodwill it had accumulated for having a neighbor who refuses to honor his contract.

II. Somalia

In 2008, a year before the imposition of sanctions on Eritrea, the United Nations Security Council had TEN (probably a record) resolutions about Somalia. The resolutions express, they urge, they call, they demand and finally they condemn “the significant increase in the flow of weapons and ammunition supplies to and through Somalia, which constitutes a violation of the arms embargo and a serious threat to the Somali peace process.”

There had been an arms embargo on Somalia since 1992 and a monitoring report on Somalia since 2002. By the time the sanctions were imposed on Eritrea, every monitoring group report on Somalia since 2002, (that is for 7 years, and sometimes there were two reports a year), mentioned Eritrea’s involvement in breaking the arms embargo on Somalia. In fact, said the Monitoring Group, Eritrea’s involvement goes back all the way to 1999 and its war-by-proxy with Ethiopia. War-by-proxy because there was no consistency to it: For example, Eritrea supporting warlord Aideed and then supporting his opponents, the Transitional National Government, when Aideed allied with Ethiopia. And vice-versa, of course.

Now, all this was par for the course: every country did it: Yemen did it, Ethiopia did it, rich Arab countries did it, the United States did it. Nobody got sanctioned; everybody got a slap on the wrist. But at some point, there was delineation: Africa (in the form of the African Union at Sirte) and the world (in the form of the United Nations) threw their hefty weight behind one side, and Eritrea threw its not-so-slender weight (when you consider that it was often a conduit for third parties) behind the other. And at every single turn since then, the Eritrean government picked the wrong side. If you look at the carcass of Somalia, you will see that Eritrea supported the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS) when the world was supporting the Transitional Federal Government. When the ARS split into a Djibouti-based and Asmara-based groups, the world supported the Djibouti-based group and Eritrea, obviously, supported the Asmara-based group: and lost. When the Djibouti Agreement became the foundation for future Somalia, the Eritrean government lost and was stuck with all the refuseniks: Aweys and Al-Shabab. When Africa and the United Nations invested in African Union Mission On Somalia (AMISOM), Eritrea was on the opposing side, particularly as the UN was “reiterating its demand that all Member States, in particular those in the region, comply fully with the requirements of these resolutions.”

Eritrea could probably give a reasoned explanation of how it ended up allied with Shabab—that they were the armed wing of ARS before they split, etc, but it didn’t. And when every country got the message that there was only one “legal” side to take in Somalia or risk the wrath of the world, Eritrea (a superpower in its own mind) didn’t and now it is paying for it. Even worse, it was sending horrific letters to the United Nations lecturing them on why the Djibouti Agreement and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government were the wrong prescription for Somalia. And by horrific, I mean this:

The Security Council statement asserts that the “Transitional Federal Government is the legitimate, internationally recognized Government of Somalia”. As my Government has underlined on many occasions, the highly complex and grave conflict in Somalia will not be resolved by arbitrary and ill-advised formulas that have no basis in international law and that do not reflect the wishes and sovereign political choices of the Somali people. “Transitional Governments” that are periodically hatched in non-inclusive incubators outside Somalia have never survived the test of time in the past years in spite of the huge military and financial support extended to them by their external sponsors.

It may very well be that Eritrea is right and the whole world is wrong, but there is a price to pay for defying the world and it is the responsibility of Eritrea’s policymakers to take that consideration into their calculation and there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that they did so.

III. Djibouti

Meanwhile, a year before Eritrea was sanctioned, it got into a military clash with Djibouti.

Of the other factors—understanding the nature of the United Nations, the Algiers Agreement, Somalia—how Eritrea behaved on this issue is the most inexplicable. It really is a temper-tantrum masquerading as foreign policy.

So, in June 2008 (which is, if you are taking notes, almost exactly a decade after the Eritrea-Ethiopia clash), Eritrea clashed with Djibouti. We know this because a New York Times reporter, Jeffrey Gettleman, reported it (complete with pictures of the two armies in border control.)

Now, Djibouti is a member of the Arab League. And Djibouti is practically a French colony. And Djibouti is landlocked Ethiopia’s main port. And Djibouti is host of the Djibouti Agreement that was the path to Somalia’s reconciliation. So, to the surprise of nobody except Eritrea, the inevitable happened: ONLY two DAYS after the initiation of the conflict: a Statement by the President of the Security Council on June 12

“The Security Council condemns Eritrea’s military action against Djibouti in Ras Doumeira and Doumeira Island. The Security Council calls upon the parties to commit to a ceasefire and urges both parties, in particular Eritrea, to show maximum restraint and withdraw forces to the status quo ante. The Security Council urges both parties, in particular Eritrea, to cooperate and engage in diplomatic efforts to resolve the matter peacefully and in a manner consistent with international law.“

As a country which has had experience with the UN on how the institution deals with conflicts, as a country which had conflicts with a neighbor over islands (Hanish/Yemen), as a country which had experience with importance of timely communication with the UN on all military conflicts (Ethiopia), Eritrea should have known what was next: that the UN would demand a return to status-quo-ante, it would task a fact-finding mission to gather facts by traveling to Djibouti and Asmara.

“As a local proverb says, ‘a slingshot hits its target and emits a shrill cry first’.”  I heard the citation of this damn proverb throughout 1998-2000, but I never thought I would hear it followed by this statement: “Djibouti thus did not only launch an unprovoked attack, but leveled a trumped-up and well-orchestrated accusation against Eritrea.” We learned nothing from our Badme Debacle: this was from a statement Ambassador Araya Desta read to the United Nations on June 24, 2008!

This Dejavu of Disasters is what happens when you have no institutions and no learning organizations. What followed is even worse: a fact-finding mission was delegated by the UN to visit Eritrea, Djibouti and Ethiopia and, all together now:

“The mission was initially scheduled to visit Djibouti and Eritrea, as well as Ethiopia: Ethiopia shares a common border with both countries in the area of Mount Musa Ali and is also the current Chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). However, it was not possible for the fact-finding mission to visit Asmara or the Eritrean side of the border to ascertain the prevailing situation. In spite of several discussions and requests in New York and Asmara, the Eritrean authorities refused to issue visas to the mission.”

And therefore:

“The refusal of Eritrea to receive the United Nations fact-finding mission to ascertain the facts on the ground meant that only the Djibouti version and chronology of events was made available to the mission. During its visit to Djibouti, the mission was given the following chronology of events by the authorities of that country:”

And any Eritrean who has been reading massive exodus of Eritreans to anywhere, the following narration by Djibouti as to what could have contributed to the skirmish does NOT ring false:

(k) Mid-April to 10 June: while EDF and DAF are positioned at the border within a few meters of each other, over 50 Eritrean soldiers of various ranks (the exact number is yet to be established) desert their army and seek asylum on the Djibouti side. The deserters receive the protection of DAF, which refuses to heed appeals from EDF to return them. EDF issues several ultimatums and threatens reprisals if the deserters are not returned;
(l) 10 June, 1215 hours: another EDF officer deserts and crosses the border into Djibouti. DAF again offers protection, as had been the case with the previous deserters. Again, EDF commanders demand the return of the deserter, this time within an hour. DAF ignores the ultimatum;

(m) 10 June, 1840 hours: EDF opens fire at DAF while the majority of Djibouti soldiers are busy praying. The ensuing clashes last more than 24 hours. About 44 DAF soldiers are believed killed, 19 are missing in action. The number of casualties on the Eritrean side is unknown, but unconfirmed reports indicate that Eritrean losses are not considerable;
(n) After 10 to 12 June: following the growing expressions of international concern and the deliberations of the Security Council, which, inter alia, called for a pullback of the forces to their previous positions, DAF withdraws to about 4 or 5 kilometers from the Eritrean positions. The fact-finding mission was able to confirm the pullback on the ground. For its part, EDF ignores the calls for a withdrawal from its positions on the heights of Ras Doumeira, or at least the mission was not able to ascertain the reactions of EDF to the Security Council’s call for withdrawal from the newly occupied positions.

It appears that Eritrea knew exactly what the facts were and did not want to confirm them. But if it had engaged the fact-finding mission (all of whom were UN staffers/technocrats) it could have driven this point home (which appeared in a report that it didn’t even contribute to) calmly:

(c) The mission has identified an interrelation between the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict and the Djibouti-Eritrea crisis. Even though this issue was never discussed extensively during the mission, it is almost certain that a breakthrough in the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process will go a long way towards securing the cooperation of Eritrea in efforts to demilitarize its border with Djibouti. Any progress in resolving the Ethiopia-Eritrea issue would also be likely to encourage Eritrea to accept an international arbitration process that would lead to a mutually accepted demarcation of the Djibouti-Eritrea border. One should not underrate the formidable impact of the protracted Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute on peace and stability in the entire Horn of Africa, given especially the frustration of Ethiopia and Eritrea at the lack of progress on this issue since the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission ruling in April 2002. The members of the fact-finding mission share the increasingly accepted view that much of the instability in that region is related to unfinished business and the unresolved Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute, particularly their efforts to counter each other’s (real or perceived) interests and actions in the region, be it in Djibouti or in Somalia;

But it appears that, once again, it was allowing its rage that the UN could not “compel” Ethiopia to withdraw from Eritrean territories to dictate its foreign policy. If the letter President Isaias Afwerki wrote the UN is anything to go by, the latter appears to be the case:

It is against this backdrop that the United States Administration has chosen a “propitious” time to contrive and orchestrate a seemingly new and diversionary scheme under the rubric of a “border conflict”. This was effected through the “submission” that the President of Djibouti was made to lodge anew with the Security Council yesterday. This appalling scheme has further been accompanied by outright intimidation and sabre-rattling against Eritrea. Eritrea’s position on the whole episode has been clarified repeatedly and does not merit repetition here.

In the letter, President Isaias Afwerki is accusing the United Nations of being a US lackey which probably explains why virtually no nation voted against the sanctions on Eritrea.

What Now?

Observing Eritrea 2014, one is often struck with what the motif would be if it were a story. Pride and downfall? Heroism and Honor? Power and Fortune? There is no danger of over-thinking this because you will be awakened by banality. Consider Eritrean Ambassador to the UN, Girma Asmerom’s, response to the recent Monitoring Group Report on Eritrea. First, there is the-UN-betrayed-Eritrea-in-the-1950s broken record, which is a lot like Ethiopia’s harangue to the UN during the 1998-2000 border war that the League-of-Nations-betrayed-Ethiopia-in-the-1930s: this doesn’t impress anybody at the UN who is younger than 100 years old.   Second, consider Ambassador Girma Asmerom’s recommendation: they (all the members of monitoring group) should all be fired! There is a pattern to this: the previous head of SEMG should be, yep, fired! What was party-cheerleader Writer Sophia Tesfmariam’s reaction to the UN’s Commission on Inquiry which has been authorized by UN to collect information on massive human rights violations in Eritrea? They (Sheila B. Keetharuth and her entire staff) should be fired! Everybody (except Isaias Afwerki) should be fired!

There is a huge disconnect between how the world communicates with Eritrea and how Eritrea communicates with the world and with itself.  Here’s one example: when long-time Africa expert Herman Cohen penned a sympathetic article suggesting “Time To Bring Eritrea In From The Cold”, Eri-TV interviewed Isaias Afwerki and he took the expression literally: “what cold? Since when?”

Another weird phenomena: the Eritrean government has taken the same position with the UN as it has with Eritrean opposition: they don’t exist! Well, they exist but somebody else is pulling the strings. The UN doesn’t exist; it is the US pulling the strings (which must be offensive to China and Russia who are not exercising their veto power); the Eritrean opposition doesn’t exist; it is just Ethiopia pulling their strings; whose strings are being pulled by the US (no wonder we are SO uncoordinated: that is a lot of strings.)

Of course, we, ok I say that there is no Eritrean government: it is just Isaias Afwerki pulling the strings. How is this possible? There are many ways to do this: writer Gore Vidal once wrote that “the whole point to a ruling class is they don’t conspire, the ruling; they all think alike.” So I begin with this premise: Nakfa (military hierarchy, communist orientation, Habesha culture) provided the environment for Isaias to emerge as a leader; the followers then begin to think like him and to mimic him down to his mannerism and vocabulary: not because there is anything inherently bad about Nakfa, but because that is what followers do, particularly when a leader is larger-than-life and charismatic. So, even if one makes the assumption that many of the followers have some autonomy, then it still follows that they have internalized how to communicate in a way that they always MUST assume Isaias Afwerki, as the Brother Leader, is the primary audience. Consider this: “In Cairo on 15 February 2014, the Monitoring Group raised the question of the source of the weapons used to arm TPDM [DemHT] with the Senior Political Adviser to the President of Eritrea, Mr. Gebreab. Mr. Gebreab told the Group that the Government of Eritrea does not support TPDM, which he said was interested in fighting the Government of Ethiopia.”

Then he excused himself to respond to a text he got from TPDM. No, but it is ridiculous to claim that in a country which doesn’t permit a congregation of Eritreans to move from Point A to Point B, a large group of Ethiopians are traveling all over the country—never mind the “unproven” military presence of DemHit; just focus on the much publicized (on their own website, available to the monitoring group) musical troupe, “TPDM Concerts In Eritrea”—even though the “Government of Eritrea does not support TPDM.” Look, Yemane, (and you know this, because you are smart): the Monitoring Group knows about what you are doing in Eritrea with TPDM the same way you knew what was happening in Ethiopia during the Eritrean Revolution: defectors.

So, our way out is quite simple, but not easy. (a) Remove the primary audience, Isaias Afwerki, and the ruling class, headless, will stop using its Isaias voice—as has happened to most exiled EPLF/PFDJ officials; (b) Create an alternative voice by being a good example of what a democratic organization looks like, as HASN’T happened in the exiled opposition. Yet.

Meanwhile, all evidence this week is that It appears that what everyone fears will happen. A spontaneous uprising, without a clear leader is clearing its throat to give its voice in Eritrea. In this regard, many of us who had downplayed the possibility of that happening in a police state have been humbled. Many of us have believed our own media releases and sources: Eritrea is full of youth who are enslaved and are agitating to leave the country. While this may be largely true, it is not all true. There appears to be another group: those who want to fight back but need assistance from the outside. Those who are tired of being taken for granted by the government, and pitied by those of us in exile. “What you forget,” I was told by one of them, “The mistake you guys make…Eritrea is an authoritarian state but it cannot be a totalitarian state because, after all, it is an African State. Even if it wants to be one, it can’t: it doesn’t have the resources.”

Finally, Ethiopia.  It is clear to me that they do not just want an Eritrea without Isaias Afwerki. They want an Eritrea without many Eritreans—those who have a mindset that Eritrea has the legal and moral authority to dictate its terms even if it means that it will have to reject the Ethiopian narrative of history. This is not an inconsequential belief: if they believe that elongating the rule of Isaias Afwerki enhances the likelihood of the Ethio-refusnik (those of us called advocates of “artificial identity”) voices dying out a merciful death, then they will do everything they can to elongate his rule.   Consider the utter panic that gripped Aigaforum when there were rumors that Isaias Afwerki had died a couple of years ago.  Just in: consider the article which appeared on Voice of America (Tigrinya) on how Aboy Sebhat (the godfather of TPLF) thinks that the long-standing policy of TPLF that the “Eritrean question is a colonial question” should be reconsidered.

Conclusions:

The sanctions on Eritrea didn’t descend magically and they are, actually, entirely predictable, part of our deja vu of disasters, of anger masquerading as foreign policy. This is so given how the United Nations operates and how (a) the Eritrean government made a series of bad decisions as it relates to UN’s characterization of the “guarantors” as “witnesses”, and the actions it took to resolve the Eritrea-Ethiopia dispute; (b) the Eritrean government double-downed on its investment in Somalia when the whole world had taken sides and vested itself with the Djibouti Agreement; (c) the Eritrean government chose to dismiss a military clash with Djibouti that was the result of Eritrean soldiers defecting to Djibouti when Djibouti was screaming to the UN. Given the response Ambassador Girma Asmerom gave the United Nations (that the entire Monitoring Group should be fired) and given how the United Nations reacted (extending the sanctions and the monitoring group for another year by a vote of 13 yes and 2 abstentions—both abstentions having to do with treatment of Somali sales of charcoal and nothing to do with Eritrea), it is clear that Eritrea has not learned any lessons at all and the march of folly will continue.

Meanwhile, it appears that the long-suffering Eritreans are showing signs of rising up against the tyranny imposed on them and the government has brought in, for reinforcements, Eritrea-based Ethiopian opposition to restore order (same opposition that, we are told, gets no support from the Eritrean government.) If we fear descent into chaos, we need to find a way for the Eritrean Defense Forces to take over and we need to find a way to mainstream the EDF into finding a voice that is independent of Isaias Afwerki. This can only be done if those of us who are in the Diaspora set a good examples by creating democratic organizations that respect all the values we claim to cherish: equality, diversity, and justice.

About Salyounis

Saleh Younis (SAAY) has been writing about Eritrea since 1994 when he published "Eritrean Exponent", a quarterly print journal. His writing has been published in several media outlets including Dehai, Eritrean Studies Review, Visafric, Asmarino and, of course, Awate where his column has appeared since the launch of the website in 2000. Focusing on political, economic, educational policies, he approaches his writing from the perspective of the individual citizens' civil liberties and how collectivist governments and overbearing organizations trample all over it in pursuit of their interests. SAAY is the president and CEO of a college with a focus in sound arts and video games and his writing often veers to music critique. He has an MBA from Golden Gate University and a BA from St Mary's College.

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  • Kaddis

    Hey Mehari – Such grand and honest ideas is what your country needs.

  • Commando

    Dictator isayAss Afewerki killed lot of Educated Eritreans During the Struggle like Dr Medhanye etc so this Bloody Dictator must go and he must go Now so that the Eritrean ppl can get it’s Freedom and Democracy in it’s Country.
    Down with DIA and his Barking Dogs.

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Dear Nitrikay
    1. As a scientist, why would the coincidence of similar figures occurring on these casualties be a matter of a “gotcha” ecstasy? Let me ask you: What is the probability that their number could not have been true? I could have gone to tell you about factors that might contributed to the high casualty-number. But since I don’t want to continue this thread, suffice to tell you that I believe it. Any way it’s their affair, let their people ask them.
    2. If no one knows how many TPLF tegadelti died, how did you know that then? You get what I’m talking about? If you are certain they are wrong, that means you know the true number.
    3. If they keep copying everything Eritrean, then fine. That would make me happy, at least I would think I am contributing to humanity. We are copying everything the “white man” has invented, from pop cultures.. to materialism..to .technology..to .governance…to sciences…etc. That’s how humanity progress. That’s how technology transfer.
    4. Regarding martyrs graves: It was against all moral guidance and military honor. The late PMMZ apologized for it, and I accept it.
    5. Our relationship has been built on our desire to correct each other and learn from each other, therefore, I expect a positive take from you on these issues.
    Respectfully
    Mahmud.

    • Nitricc

      Mahmuday, seriously?

      okay. i will address it numirically.

      1) there is nothing to do with gotcha or ecstasy. i could care less but it is very phonny of TPLF’s character to all out deceptive, when the family of Tigryan martyrs asked about their loved once they were told “if your loved once did not come home that means they are dead” don’t take my word for this do your homework. then after 20 years, when they came up the same number as the Eritrean martyrs, what do you want me to think? my intention to bring this up is just to show how TPLF people are sick beyond redemption.

      and there is no secret how TPLF used its fighters. every battle they have waged, waged it with super human loss. if some had the sense to recored the loss of TPLF, there is no doubt, the numbers will be staggering. again remember they only fought 5% of what the entier Derg has in its forces. so, again self explanatory.

      2) if the knew the exact number then why say “if your loved once did not come home that means they are dead”

      again self explanotory. i don’t know i don’t want to know. all i am going is by what they say.

      3 ) they hate Eritrea and Eritreans then why copy everything Eritrean? I found out strange! that is all.

      4 ) PMMZ apologized for it, really? you accept it? huh, well I don’t!

      5) yes it is in a mutual and to learn from each other but it does not mean we have to agree in everything. we have divaerged on the dialog part and take this one to divaergeing point number two. there is nothing i said that offends any one. i am simply brought up what TPLF thug, Gebru said. i understand people are blowing this out of proportion just to claim higher moral ground but i have said nothing offending.
      anyway Mahmuday, if they dig up my martyrs and can act like nothing happen, rest assured i am fine just for questioning their dead fighters.
      I won’t be surprised if i hear TPLF fought for 30 years.
      🙂

  • Abraham Hanibal

    Mr. Gues;
    Russia is an independent country, and it has an independent line of diplomacy. This ceremony is part of its efforts to strengthen its ties with the outside world. The Pushkin medal can be awarded to any national, based on their contribution to Russian or international works of arts. This Ethiopian scholar is one of them, and we congratulate him on the award. I don’t understand why this should be a matter of concern for Nitrikay, except that it shows some Ethiopians like you, esp. Tigrians, are indeed suffering of inferiority complex.

  • Abraham Hanibal

    OMG, what a coincidence; even they couldn’t make the numbers a little bit different? By the way, did they tell the families who lost their loved ones both during the Dergue era and the latest war with Eritrea?
    Mr Semere Andom, Hayat Adem, etc, these are the people whom you are worshiping, mind you? Shame on you!

    ኣየ ኣያሹ ወያነ፥ ኣንታ ምቕዳሕ ዘይተረፎም’ሲ፥ ነቲ ቁጽሪ ስዉኣትን ስንኩላትን ቁሩብ እኳ ኣመሓይሽ ኣቢሎም ኣየቕርቡዎን፧ ኣንቱም ሰብ ከምዚኦም ዝ ኣመሰሉ ሊቃውንቲ ምቕዳሕ ኣብ ዓለም ይርከቡ ደኾን፧

    • Semere Andom

      You are really getting dawit’s bug. We did not study the TPLF martyrs file. If this is true, EPLF/PFDJ does not fair better about how they treated the families of martyrs. Using your logic of accusing me can I accuse you also by this comment you support PFDJ on how they treated our martyrs

      • Kokhob Selam

        I am sorry but I don’t blame EPLF and PFDJ for all this because I believe they don’t represent all. and now it is PFDJ even which is illegal. so if I say someone is illegal I think that covers everything. so why even expect something that was done to create legal government , democratic and prosperous nation ? PFDJ don’t represent people still alive, the nation that has flag because that don’t represent the souls paid to make that aim.

    • Hayat Adem

      Abraham and Nitricc,
      This is my Zth subject of interest at all. But since it is Sunday, and since you mentioned my name here and since I’m sometimes defeated by my own senseless temptation of getting lazy and crazy for the sake of it, here I’m commenting under this entry.
      I see both of you trying to make two different points here:
      1) TPLF sacrificed the same number of fighters in 17 years as EPLF did for 30 years. Conclusion: EPLF was way more competent and fatal than the TPLF.
      2) The TPLF reported this same number now what EPLF reported years back.
      Conclusion: TPLF has a long habit of copying things from EPLF.
      Now I’ve the best and the shortest response* to your assertions and assumptions, which I’ll put at the end as a footnote. Till you get there, let me walk you through some less important points (or feel free to ignore me and scroll down to that two-word response at the foot note)
      I’m sure your brains are good enough to process this: if each of you are one person, you can’t have both points of views as in the above (1&2). Both points can not be cohabiting one head unless you officially declare you are owned by contradictions. TPLF can only do one of the two, not two of them. So it is your pick, either claim 1 or 2.
      If you are accusing them of number 2, then they should also be good at copying EPLF’s fighting qualities and since they are qualified as good imitators, that means they are also able to pick all the good military tactics and strategies of the EPLF resulting in perfecting their habit of copying and that in the end making them as good as or at least as nearly good as EPLF. If that makes sense, unless there are other factors to be accounted, that would have been helping them lower their sacrifice to the same level as that of the EPLF, or a very close one, allowing a small margin of quality difference between the originator and the copier.
      What about this: “OMG, what a coincidence; even they couldn’t make the numbers a little bit different?” You said it. What is the problem, if lowering the number has an advantage, they would have sliced it. They could have bragged about causing a fundamental change with a smaller price. If there is any advantage to be attached with a bigger loss, they could have adjusted it up. Can you explain that for them of for yourself as to why they couldn’t pick a different number? If you can explain that without sounding foolish, I want to hear it. If you are unable, it is for a good reason and we know why.
      We are still on your number 2 assertion. Let’s say you are trying to save yourself by deciding to drop assertion 1, and you opt to go with number 2 for now. Emmmm! It is still a problem because the government systems in Ethiopia and Eritrea don’t look alike at all. Has TPLF copied federalism and pluralism from EPLF? Has TPLF copied National Service (Servitude) from PFDJ? Has TPLF copied its Constitution from PFDJ? Has TPLF copied the best practices on how to run a new nation into a sanctioned, isolated, pariah statehood? Problem, problem, problem. So much about 2.
      If you want to test your assertion 1, however, again you need to abandon your assertion 2 because one normal head shouldn’t accommodate both. Here, you may come out uninjured so long us you have armed yourself with some essential data. What I’m saying is you could be right EPLF might have been better in minimizing sacrifices during the war for liberation than TPLF in its struggle for power. Think of this: Do you beleive Dergue would fight harder to keep Eritrea or to defend its power and palace? Let’s leave this point as is for now and move on.
      But again you should be cautious because there a lot of factors to be taken into your account. For example, the EPLF’s martyrs book doesn’t include the sacrifice paid by ELF. So the operation time length difference between EPLF and TPLF are only 6 years (17 vs 23). And ask yourself: what was the sacrifice of EPLF in the first 6 years compared to the last 17 years of its armed struggle to liberate Eritrea? And if you add the thousands of TPLF fighters who died fighting from inside EPLF baracks, if you add to that the ELF martyrs, and if you compare the number of loss in EPLF and TPLF in the last 17 years of their fight, the loss statistical difference you are trying to flag up are really insignificant.
      But they are significant when seen only from one particular angle, i.e., look at and compare the fruits from the 65K loss of TPLF and the 65K loss of EPLF. you will agree with me every investment (sacrifice) has to be evaluated against its return (results). TPLFs 65k sacrifice yielded a better Ethiopia while I can’t say the same about our 65K Eritrean martyrs. If the outcomes don’t justify the sacrifice, it is pain and you can’t compare even a single tegadalay’s life lost for nothing with 65k tegadeltys lives sacrificed and honored with the results intended. That would remain a loss in vain unless you and I (we) try to do something to correct this terrible status.
      We can only contribute if we shake off this unfounded and false pride we are poisoned with by the PFDJ propaganda. Taking pride in history is good, so long as it is a true history. Bad history, too, can supply good lessons as well. False and nonsensical claims of history are very bad and self-paralyzing. We can be as good as we are fit for the future. The future is about complementary cooperation. Your capability of partnering in cooperation needs to be tested and perfected with what you do with your immediate neighbors so that you will also be excelling to extend it further and wider. An Eritrea which is not good to itself will never be good to anyone else. An Eritrea which is not good to Tigray will never be good to Ethiopia. An Eritrea which is not good to Ethiopia will never be good to other countries.
      Hayat
      —————
      * so what!

      • Rodab

        Morning Hayat,
        Good analytic approach.
        One little clarification I need is, the original number of martyrs that was announced was 50K. As more information gathered, it later upgraded to 65K. But my understanding is, this number includes both EPLF and ELF martyrs. MaHmuday or Hailat might help here.
        But you raised good points as usual.

        • Hayat Adem

          Hey Rodab,
          Thanks a lot for checking in and pointing out that. I’m totally unaware if the book added the ELFites at later time. I am also unaware the original number was reported as 50k first. So those two people you mentioned can spray light on the issue. if what you hinted is true and confirmed by the two veterans (or other informed people, I also sure SJG and the penner of this article would also know the matter), I will register one wise move of the PFDJ in my book after a long, long time.
          Hayat

          • haileTG

            Dear Hayat,

            I will have to pass the invitation because the invocation of martyred Ethiopians or Eritreans for cheap political scores is the highest form of disrespect and desecration of the cause they laid down their lives for. May they rest in peace and God protect their families and survivors they left behind.

            With Respect

          • Hayat Adem

            I completely understand and I wish I had done the same.
            Hayat

          • Shum

            HaileTG,

            Thank you for that. I hope this thread started by Nitricc and gleefully attended by Hayat dies a quick death. We’ve got some serious issues when people use the dead as chess pieces.

          • Hayat Adem

            Now. don’t be unfair.

          • Mahmud Saleh

            Dear Haylat and Hayat
            HTG: Thank you very much and I think folks need to be sensitive to the families if not to the fallen people on both sides. Since Hayat corrected herself, I will help her here. For the record, I was not in or near the tabulating office, so what I say here is from my experience (since we were requesting and helping families on known martyred individuals who were missing from the initial report).
            – Rodab is correct the initial report was rounded to 50K.
            -It included all known martyrs, regardless of their organization (EPLF, ELF, PLF). ELF and its components’ report was mainly prepared from documents that Sagem had brought to EPLF and by the cooperation between EPLF and offices of willing ELF splinter groups in the Sudan as well as individuals coming to the office.
            – In the EPLF section, the report was very stringent and we were frustrated. They would ask you that you swear you buried the individual you report or observed his/her burial. You were asked his/her full name Adi, date of death location and if possible circumstances surrounding the death of the person you report.
            – Another hurdle was the fact that many tegadelti were known by their nickname, and since inquiring about one’s village, awraja, religion and ethnicity was not in the culture of Mieda, people were having hard time going from one unit to another inquiring for full name….by the time Eritrea was liberated a single tegadalay might have changed so many units, in some cases, staying in a particular unit just for weeks.
            – As could be guessed, the initial years of ghedli were so mobile that commissars were carrying documents of their combatants in backbacks, they did not have well organized offices and personnel. You could lose documents in the heat of battles and through the work of natural elements (rain, floods, termites…)
            – After the retreat EPLF started taking shape of government with departments, and with growing bureaucracy, yet I doubt if it had skilled personnel on human resource management which could have sealed every hole. However, those who worked in that department (some of whom are my friends) tell me people like Abdalla Dawd who was later found dead in Asmara, had done a marvelous job in archiving and cataloging martyrs.
            – Since 1980’s the war kept becoming so intense resulting in mass casualties. In any given battle territories would change hands, What you reported as dead could have been wounded and captured.
            ** In 1990, in a place full of caves and boulders, just west of Decamere, a good friend of mine was reported killed. He was seen falling but Ethiopian’s 18gna brigade had just arrived and pushed us back in a swift action. After some atrocious engagements a distinct defense line was formed, in some area 50 mts apart, Berhane ( the fallen friend) laid between both defense lines. We tried to locate him by inserting groups of 2 or 3 tegadelti in the “no-man’s” land under the cover of darkness, but we could not. So, it was reported that his body could not be recovered, thus, his status remained in limbo. to report him as martyred, we had to recover his dead body. If not, the rationale is, he could be captured wounded. There were many who were thought to be captured but in reality they were living abroad. Anyway, one night, while our Handessa (land mines unit) unit was doing its surveying of mines they had planted, they found Berhane among Ethiopian corpses. They knew of his story and were looking for him every time they would enter the territory. He would have been identified by his clothing and tegadalay artifacts, otherwise, the once well built and towering Berhane was reduced to a pouch of detached bones. They collected all his remains in his jacket, his munition belt and his note book were there. He had many poems, and were still intact. Later on, one artist of the division made some of his poems into songs.
            -Think about critically wounded folks who die on their way before admitted to hospital. Sometimes you don’t know who you are transporting. And burial on the spot was the culture of that time. Your status would be as good as the diligence of the person in charge of you. There are death that occur while people leave their home, but don’t get in to the system…etc.
            – Therefore, it won’t surprise me if the report gets revised and improved.
            – To all: Please refrain from politicizing it, I won’t certainly applaud Nitrikay’s take. That should be recognized as one of his lowest points. How TPLFs report their casualties should be their own business.
            wo deHankum.

          • Hayat Adem

            Thanks a lot.

          • Dis Donc

            Wish you wouldn’t write in-depth as it brings many fresh wounds. Saying this; shouldn’t you first ask permision before you write what happened with wudub?

          • Mahmud Saleh

            Dear Disc Don
            Let me just assure you I have not gone to details as families and their comrades are still alive and still remember them. I brought general observations which could ave affected the trickling of the figures. I’m not sure what you mean by “asking permission.” But it’s enough to say that all fallen combatants (Ethiopians and Eritreans) were humans in the first place. And we need to take it that way. As far as martyrs are concerned, each people have their own martyrs, and how they handle them should be their affairs. Just for clarification.
            Thanks.

          • Tzigereda

            Selam Hayat,
            Why dont you name the ” penner” of this article? Is that out of respect for…?

          • Hayat Adem

            By that I meant Sal. I respect him and that is not to be questioned at all. I’m doing that because he started addressing me in the 3rd person and then he escalated that in not addressing me at all and I thought he has called for a distance.
            Hayat

        • Nitricc

          “Good analytic approach”

          Rodab, what exactly did you read that made you to comment “Good analytic approach”

          i mean, i am scraching my head and trying to see what made to make that remark. the inquiry is simple.
          the Eritreans declared there were 65K dead over 30 years war for independence. on the same token, TPLF told for every one that if ” if your loved once did not make it home, that means they are dead”
          now after tewnty something years, the same TPLF is telling us that they lost 65K and we are asking where do they get the numbers?
          this question is simple and straight forward but i have no idea why you are making more that what it is. even Haile, thinks it cheap, no,what is cheap and cheapest is to copy some-once martyrs while you have no clue about your own martyrs, that is shame and out right low down dirty.
          my point is the qeustion was simple and the Dedebit grad, Hayat has to right three pages of nothing and you, rodab have to come out and tell her, how good she was. no, ask her where the 65K dead Tigryans came from.
          this woman is unreal, i wonder how much the TPLF is paying her. although if to the toothless so called Eritrean opposition can be paid millions by TPLF, i have an idea what the TPLF could pay like Hayat, dedebit grad.
          now, some one ask where the 65K dead Tigryns came from?
          haile, that funny you think it is cheap, what is cheap to dig up dead fighters from their resting place. just you know.

          • Rodab

            Hey Nitricc. I thought we were friends:-)
            Anyway, I think you should ease-up a little on Hayat. It helps to see her comments as that of yours and mine and anyone else’s, and not as a lawmaker’s. Besides, In my book, anyone who has been a reliable Awatista for years has earned the respect. And Hayat is one of the very few females to do that.That’s why I like even those I sometimes disagree with, like my friend Abinet. I commend them for sticking around for years, and I hope they continue to do so. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be enjoying a ghost town, would I?

            Coming back to your question, for me any comment that encompasses reasoning and data/numbers is a good approach. By that, it is not necessary to be accurate, it just means is it is giving me tools to consider or look up. I do find your comments to do that too, jut not always:-)
            Good Sunday!

          • Nitricc

            Rodab, we are friends. but i consider you the voice of reason and i am not going to let you go south. for that reason, any time i sense you are “conforming” then you will hear from me. : – )
            just like today, there is no any analytical to what the dedebit grad have to say. the question is simple: where is the 65K came from?
            other than that we are cool.

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Selam Rodab,Hayat, Mahmud,

          I would like to correct about the martyrs of ELF fighters vis-a-vis their inclusion in the official national archive of martyrs. The archive of ELF martyrs was and is always kept under the custody of the military office – namely in the office of military chief of staffs. The document was intact with them until up to Korokon/Sudan. Haw Mahmud, let me correct you that Sagem has nothing to do with it, and none of them was working with military chief of staffs.

          What the provisional government of EPLF has done in early 90s was: He allowed families of ELF martyrs to come with witnesses that confirm the sacrifice of their family members. My relatives have have done that.The question now is how many families have done that? Very insignificant. So the assumption of 15,000 martyrs of ELF fighters included in to the national archive of martyrs is not factual and is far from truth. This will be addressed at one point of our political discourse in the future..

          Amanuel Hidrat

          • Semere Andom

            Thanks Emma:
            what EPLF reported cannot be accurate even if they tried to be inclusive for many reasons;
            We had different functions fighting the Ethiopian occupation, ELF, the group under the leadership of Sabbe, the organization under the leadership of Jelani and son on. They all had fallen heroes fighting the occupations. So the idea that the 65,000 by EPLF is reflective a pure lie. When Eritreans were killing each other in Kassal the Sudanese had enough and they spontaneously demonstrated burning and destroying the office of the organizations. My friends and I while playing soccer found papers floating around the ELF-RC office during aftermath of the demonstrations with names of Eritrean martyrs
            How about those Eritreans who were killed by the organization for different reasons, the EPLF did not have the guts to tell their loved ones of their fate and they are not mere handful, they can increase the reported number significantly.
            How about those who were buried under the sea by the orders of IA, this is according to Yemane T interview by Assenna, such incidents were not isolated and it can have trickling effect on the laughable number reported by EPLF
            The EPLF meticoulsly kept record of the dead , but it is war and they can be afforded slack if the number deviated from the true number.Tthe record keeping was in so far it shined them in a good light and the Eritrean who were killed, disappeared at the hands of EPLF are many, it does not surprise me that if the initial 50,000 they reported was those who were either executed or died in prison in the mountain of Saleh. Our independence that has become the voyeurism channel for PFDJ has claimed more than the number that PFDJ has reported
            Now about the lie that TPLF never kept record of their dead. I heard the line the EPLF carried about its dead more than TPLF and the later told its population if anyone did not returned consider him/martyred long time ago from PFDJ supporters. I did not read the book yet, but it is hard to believe that the organization deliberately avoided keeping records of it war dead, if they did a lousy job in record keeping, it is a different matter. TK can shed light on this. But it is not our business and I wish the loved ones to receive closure
            EPLF kept the names of the martyrs secret, while ELF, it is my understanding that they told the parents/loved ones whenever they could. For the people who willing sent off their kids to fight announcing the news of martyrdom was no brainer and it provided the much needed closure allowing the loved ones to move on. It is mind boggling whey EPLF kept this a state secret except to use it as an other creative means of torturing Eritreans

          • Mahmud Saleh

            Haw AmanH
            I didn’t say they got the document in its totality. They used three sources:
            A. Documents that Sagem helped prepare
            B. Wiling ELF splinter group (for instance, ELF-RC, and offices of ELF-PF..
            C. individuals and families
            ***I remember Totil and Zemhret were active answering individual inquiries and giving witnesses for families. I was not in that office but I remember the process. The main point is: that number includes martyrs OF Eritrea, regardless of their organizational affiliation.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Dear Mahmud,

            Let me say it again: Sagem hasn’t had a document in its custody. The Segam members might give names they knew like my relatives have done. But document, absolutely not. It is also true with the individuals from the other splinters of ELF who joined EPLF after independence. Yes Martyrs of Eritrea are from all organizations, but yet the “national archive of martyrs” is not comprehensive to include all our martyrs.

            Regards,

          • Semere Andom

            Hi Emma:
            “Yes Martyrs of Eritrea are from all organizations, but yet the “national archive of martyrs” is not comprehensive to include all our martyrs.”
            This is true on all areas of current Eritrea. Even national archive of Eritrea has not been created, the national heroism only depicts that of EPLF, the founding fathers/mothers of Eritrea are only those of EPLF, everything is that of EPLF, it does not depict the true history of the armed struggle let alone the entire history our people. Mahmuday cannot tell us the martyrs document is inclusive and reflects across the entire armed struggle for both reason of practicality ad the nature of EPLF to blacken others and shine theirs. Now to be fair in the column of “meswaeti waga harnet” they briefly profile Welde Dawit and Seyoum in passing as one of the founders of the student movement. Also to give credit to Alemseged Tesfay he did try, but not any more, stifled by PFDJ I guess.
            In good faith EPLF could have created the coalition of all Eritrean function, but instead what did they do in the first speech of its secretary IA in Asmara, they banned it such unifying coalition that would have solved 90% of our troubles. Nothing about PFDJ/EPLF is was ever inclusive. Nothing. They did not even inclusively liberate Eritrean territory, they did it at their whim, although they had the muscle and the upper hand to claim Badme then. I know I repeat this things, but what do your do when it does not burn in the mind of the supporters of PFDJ (Mahmuday is not supporter of PFDJ, I do not count him as one)

      • Abraham Hanibal

        Hayat Adem;

        All nonsense, the TPLF never kept records of those who lost their lives during their struggle against the Dergue. But the EPLF did. That is why the TPLF told families in the nineties, “if any of your loved ones didn’t make it to town, then consider them as dead”. The fact that they are now giving these “magical” numbers is just a fabrication, and their foolish belief that if we make the numbers similar to the ones given by the EPLF, then they may look like true.

        The position of some TPLF leaders regarding the sanctity of lives of Ethiopians is horrifying ( remember I’m not comparing them to the current PFDJ dictatorship as it is may be even worse than them). The way they led the war with Eritrea in the style of WW1 style human waves, decimating thuasands of lives in the process is your witness. Refer to Aboy Sebhat’s recent interview regarding the position of Gebrru Asrat on the lives and economy of Ethiopa He has spoken of the mindless war-mongering group in the TPLF who would not spare any life or anything to achieve their fatal dream of controlling Eritrea. Regarding the Ethiopian eonomy,for example, Gebru Asrat was quoted by Sebhat as saying in Tigr. “ዋላ ሓተቕጠቕ ይበል”, Fanny h?
        The conclusion is, if the TPLF never kept a record of its dead, then it is not of any significance with whatsoever number it comes. But according to them, why not use that copying habit, by the way there is a number that doesn’t originate from the blue sky!
        Having said this, I know that we’ve a huge and uphill task of removing tyranny and securing the promises of our martyrs.

    • Abinet

      After the historic independence
      — how many are in jail?
      — how many are under the Mediterranean sea?
      —- died in the deserts?
      —– how many lost their hope?
      —–how many are in refuge camps?
      By the time you add all you get over 6,000,000 independent Eritreans . Now you can say OMG!!!!
      For the TPLF, for each one of them who died, there is one in college.
      BesmeAb!

      • Abraham Hanibal

        I’ve never denied that we’ve a mess at and tragedy home due to the Isayas dictatorship. And I’m one of the millions of Eritreans who would like this regime gone never to come back. But I think your comment, here is a deflection of the subjectmatter we are discussing in this thread.Remember also that there are many Ethiopians dying on thier quest for a better life.

      • dawit

        Actually a fraction of Ethiopians who perished in Bademe war and much less than the Ethiopians under the Guelph of Aden even less the Oromo and Ogaden nationalists languishing in Ethiopian jails and others in jails from Kenya to South Africa jails!

  • G. Gebru

    Dear Aman,
    Ethiopians unlike Eritreans whose culture and tradition was diluted by colonial influence are stanch believers and admirers of their fathers and for fathers heroism who passed away defending their country from time in memorial. In Eritrea nobody sings or praises Ibrahim Sultan, Woldeab Woldemariam, Idris Awate and the many people whose name is mentioned here and there as the fathers of modern day Eritrea let alone to sing about Zerai Deress, Dejach Bahta, Moges Asgedom and others who have a vivid history in fighting colonizers.
    Secondly, the failure of the coup by Mengistu Neway failed because it came at un appropriate time based only on the strength of Imperial Guard he was commanding by ignoring the larger part of the Ethiopian army that included the Military, Air force and even the Police force. So, it simply failed because it lacked good organization. Plus they did not took the popularity of the King, they had a part in building into consideration.
    The Derg came at a time when the Student body influenced by Marxist Socialist ideals was fighting against the King for such changes such as Land reform etc. So, the military as an organized entity took this opportunity and steal it from the popular apprising to declare a Military government and happened what happened after that.
    Third, EPRDF took power from the Derg under the full control of TPLF and the patronage of EPLF. I can dare say here the TPLF dominated government choose Ethnic Federalism for a country that in its long history filled with dramatic events under the different Rases who were fighting among them selves for domination but always stood for one country under one Flag and one Name. Ethnic federation as if it is a magic that can keep the country together because every ethnic group will have two flags one that it considers its own and the other one that can have at will I say this because the opportunity for cessation is there,
    Fourth, ethnic federalism was a means for the unconfident, unlike today, TPLF of that time to catch the stick in the middle to maneuver the way they think will be to their sole advantage. If it works well and good if not we have our Tigray. Plus, it helped them to bring to their side the other ethnic groups that considered themselves as minorities and thought that at any time can be swallowed by bigger once such as the Oromos and Amharas . And here let me add to you also up to this time many people especial Eritreans never understand the Amhara wisdom and gallantry.
    Thanks,
    G.Gebru

    • Nero

      @G.Gebru As an Ethiopian, I agree with you on how Eritreans – at least most Eritreans I come across do not understand the Amhara and how they are dealing with current realities in Ethiopia. They also underestimate the Oromo. In fact their view is reminiscent of the Shewa amhara’s of my grandmother’s generations.

      It really surprises me how some Eritreans that follow Ethiopian politics but do so with heavily tinted glasses. These two people are the two main stems that make up the nation, and a failure to grasp these two groups definitely skews your understanding of Ethiopian politics. It is true Ethiopians have their differences, and there is a conflict of national identity going forward that is still playing itself out. But this is a dynamic process and it will evolve so long as the right ground is set for it – and through the correct policies that could be achieved. I would not bet my money on the two people falling out – though it has happened before among the Shewa Amhara and Oromos – the Gonderine and Yeju Oromo’s did not.

      I really think those Eritreans that are keen to know about Ethiopia and the direct/indirect implicaitons it has on Eritrea, should know more about Ethiopia’s past history – as objectively as possible. Rest assured that Eritrean identity would not be challenged by a resurgent Ethiopian nationalism – as far as I know most Ethiopians don’t bother about Eritrea at all – especially the young. That brand of nationalism is fast getting outdated.

      It is also important to stop the fixation that future Eritrean economy can be hugely subsidised with port services to Ethiopia. The market of port services is an option but it is crowded and the share of the pie will be much smaller – at least in relative terms, with too many outlets like Doraleh and Tadjourah (Djibouti), Berbera, Port Sudan and Lamu. All these ports are much accessible to Ethiopia’s export flow especially the ones that are closer to the centre infrastructure stems that head out to Djibouti. Assab will be just one among these four and ceterus paribus it iwll probably be able to capture 25% max of the trade and that is generous.

      I don’t think there will be an easy economic cooperation or common market policy as well. Ethiopia with its huge market will hold the trump on any regional trade deal in the Horn and it shares borders with most of the countries and as such – is the natural deal maker. The economic growth of the the 1990s might not return readily even if the political reality changes in Eritrea. So someone needs to think this through.