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Democratic Coup In Eritrea: Unrealistic Utopian Project

When you undertake a revolution, the difficulty is not to make it go; it is to hold it in check.

Comte de Mirabeau

Prelude

In October 5, 2008, I called on the Eritrean Defense Force (EDF) to avoid the war and defend the rights of our people. In that article, I clearly stated without any doubt, “I love my people more than my country”. And further I said, people who can’t defend themselves from their tormentor cannot defend their country [1]. That has always been my principle.

This brings me to the recent article written by Saleh Younis, the prolific Eritrean writer who called for a “democratic coup” in an article entitled, “Why Democratic Coup is the best option in Eritrea” [2]. I am sure when the word “democratic” is compounded with the word “coup,” many of his readers sensed it as a positive prescription to our current political malaise. In essence his call makes sense, but from practical point of view, it isn’t feasible in our reality. I will give my reasons based on the following reality, (a) the nature of the army we have, and, (b) the absence of other factors that should be conducive for democratic coup. I would also like to remind my readers that the concept of “democratic coup” is still controversial even within the highly scholastic institutions.

Before I make my argument as to why it is not feasible in Eritrea, I will give a background as to how the term “democratic coup” came into existence, when and who coined it, and how this new conceptual phenomenon is challenging the academic legal framing literature, which says all military coups are anti-democratic reaction by power-hungry military personnel. Besides, I will try to bring the argument from both sides of the scholastic minds to have a good understanding before we see its feasibility in the Eritrean reality. In doing that we will visit the work of the scholar who coined the concept “democratic coup” and how his peers in academia reacted, positively and negatively, about whether a coup could bring structural regime change.

What is A Democratic Coup?

Can a coup advance democracy? Ozan O. Varol, a professor at Lewis & Clark Law School argues yes it can. His 2012 essay for the Harvard International Law Journal, accentuated his argument against the conventional framework that considers all military coups anti-democratic, and came up with a unique approach to challenge the conventional argument. He argued that, while the vast majority of military coups are undemocratic in nature, and leads to less democratic political regimes, there are significant examples of democratic coup that promote democratic process [3]. To challenge the conventional intellectual framework and its underlying assumptions, professor Varol offered a unique proposal. He said, despite the fact that all coups have anti-democratic features some are distinctly more democracy-promoting than others, and itemized the characteristics that distinguish the democratic coups from the undemocratic ones. Therefore, in order for a military coup to be democratic, Varol laid down the following Pre-conditional requirements:

  • The military coup is staged against the authoritarian or totalitarian regime.
  • The military coup responds to popular opposition against the authoritarian or totalitarian regime.
  • The authoritarian or totalitarian leaders refuse to step down in response to the popular opposition.
  • The coup is staged by a military that is highly respected within the nation.
  • The military executes the coup to overthrow the authoritarian or totalitarian regime.
  • The coup facilitates fair and free election within short span of time.
  • The coup ends with the transfer of power to democratically elected leaders [4]. [Keep in mind we will check these requirements to our realities].

Furthermore, to validate his argument, Varol conducted a fieldwork in Egypt and Turkey in 2011 and made comparative studies (a) the 1960 military coup in Turkey (b) the 1974 military coup of Portugal (c) The 2011 military coup of Egypt [5]. Varol to his credit didn’t shy away from admitting and acknowledging that the “democratic coup is the exception not the norm”. But let us navigate through the history of the coups of the three exemplary countries Varol used as comparative studies for his intellectual and academic arguments. Here are three short historical references as a recap to understand the natures of the coups he used as cases of his studies. Those who are interested can visit his work in detail.

[A] The 1974 Military Coup of Portugal

The “Carnation Revolution” which is also referred as the military coup in Portugal of April 25, 1974, is the coup that overthrew the regime of Estado Novo. The revolution started as a military coup by Armed Forces Movement composed of military officers and supported by popular civil resistances that brought the fall of Esado Novo and the withdrawal of Portugal from its African colonies and Timor. The coup was incited when career army officers became alienated by a government measure in 1973 and by the publication of the book titled “Portugal and the future” in 1974. The coup brought the final dissolution of the Portuguese empire, a new constitution was drafted, censorship prohibited, free speech declared, and political prisoners released. The Portuguese military successfully entrenched itself in the constitution after overthrowing the dictatorship of President Marcello Caetano in 1974. It took them six years to create a clause that allows 2/3 majority of the parliament to dislodge the “military entrenchment”.

[B] The 1960 Military Coup of Turkey

On May 27, 1960 a group of military officers outside of the chain of command, led by Alparslan Turkes staged a coup against the democratically elected government of President Celal Bayer of the Democratic Party. The junta purged more than 500 judges and public prosecutors, 1400 University faculty members, and forced 235 Generals and 3000 commissioned officers to retirement (courtesy Wikipedia). Simultaneously they appointed General Cemal Gursel as provincial head of state, prime minister, and defense minister. They formed military tribunals and charged the politicians with high treason and executed the prime minister, the Foreign minister, and the finance minister. The coup leaders had entrenched in the government until the first free election held in 1965. Since 1960, Turkey had suffered from multiple coups, 1971, 1980, and 1997.

[C] The 2011 Military Coup of Egypt

The Egyptian Armed forces staged a coup in Feb. 11, 2011 in support of the mass resistance and protests against the authoritarian regime of President Hosni Mubarak. The protesters were from all facets and social strata of Egyptian society. The military seized power and assumed control of the government by force after Mubarak refused to step down in response to the popular opposition. In less than two years they facilitated a democratic election, a significant turning point in the history of Egyptian politics.

Morsi became the first democratically elected President on June 2012 presidential election. As a president, he assumed unlimited power for himself, the power to legislate without the judicial oversight. He issued an Islamist backed draft constitution and called for referendum, an act rejected by the opposition. As a result protests erupted across Egypt calling for the President’s resignation. On July 3, 2013 General Sisi staged a coup, suspended the constitution and formed an interim government composed of technocrats led by the chief of justice, Adly Mansour (President) and Hazim El-bablawi (prime minister). He banned Morsi’s party – the Muslim brothers before the formal election that brought him to the Presidency in May 2014. General Sisi ended the brief democratic experiment under the leadership of Morsi and caused the civil societies to be ruptured. No one knows for how long this military entrenchment will continue; at least for now it appears the continuation of the traditional Egyptian military rule, since Gemal Abdel Nasser.

Democratic Coup: Institutional Entrenchment

David Austin-Smith and Jeffery S. Banks argued that, even though democratic coup ends in free and fair elections, the military behaves as self-interested actor during the democratic transition process and ‘entrenches or attempts to entrenchments policy preferences’ in to the new constitution drafted during the transition process [5 ].

According Varol, constitutional entrenchments occur in three modes (a) Procedural mode (b) Substantive mode (c) Institutional mode. In the procedural mode, the military sets up the democratic transition process so that the process produces a substantive constitutional outcome favorable to the military. In the substantive mode, the military reserves substantive power for itself under the new constitution. In the institutional mode, the military establish counter majoritarian institutions [6]. Hence forth, the military coup will obviously entrench in the democratic constitutional process to seek a perpetual military voice in the nation’s political affairs beyond the end of the democratic transitional period as we have seen in the military coup of Turkey and Egypt.

In the three modes, we have seen the military enhance its entrenchment by making the constitution favorable to it, reserving substantive power to itself, and denying the establishment of majoritarian institutions. Therefore in my view a military democratic coup doesn’t look democratic in essence, and it appears to be contradictory to the conceptual name coined for it.

In light of this contradictory nature of Varol’s argument, Richard Albert rejected the notion of democratic coup. He said, by definition a coup cannot be democratic [7]. Albert frustrated by the procedural, amoral, and mechanical inquiry of revolutions, challenged the conventional theory of revolutions which states – a revolution is an episode that occur suddenly with violence on the strength of popular movement. He further argued Conventional revolutionary theory doesn’t invite judgments about the merits of Revolutions. As a result he made a scholastic move to repair the democratic foundation of a revolutionary theory and tried to bring structural principle to help and distinguish between virtuous and vicious revolutions (a subject for another time). In line with Albert, Andrew C. Jones also rejected the concept of democratic coup, and he defined Coup d’état as the reversal to the process of a revolution [8].

Basically, scholars still lack basic understanding of how coups might have a negative impact on constitutional process, democratic transitions, and democratic process. The primary purpose of a military is to protect the state from external threats [Peter Feaver, 1999] and should be neutral by avoiding interference in the political process. To date academicians has primarily centered on defining a coup in terms of its targets, perpetrators, tactics, and success or failure [9].

Military Leaders Are Self-interested Practitioners

All military coups are not staged to thwart suppression by authoritarian or totalitarian regimes. In fact they are staged on self-interest motives. Since all politicians are self-interested in nature, likewise military leaders are self-interested practitioners. We have seen it in the so called “democratic coup” of Turkey and Egypt, that the military have promoted economic and social privileges for themselves by constitutional entrenchment.

To elaborate the economic privileges of self-interested leaders, Robert Barro developed an economic model for officeholders. He did elaborate that the public officeholder’s actions is to advance their own interest not their constituents’. Likewise coup leaders can’t have motives other than advancing their own interests. In democratic politics there are mechanisms to mitigate self-interested behaviors. For instance, you could sanction politicians by voting them out in elections. Contrary to the democratic politics, in a military coup (a) there are no meaningful mechanisms to monitor the conduct of military coup leaders (b) There are no bargaining conditions between the people and the coup leaders (c) There are no decibel meters enable them to get feedback from the public about their bureaucratic performance in the so called transition (d) They always resort to force or threat of force to quite public voices or protesters’ grievances (e) they often seek re-election at the end of the transition as we saw with General Sisi of Egypt (f) Virtually it is impossible to impose sanctions to military coup leaders after they transitioned power to elected leaders, for any criminal act they have done during the transitions. In most cases they bargain for immunity before they transition the power.

Upon seizing power, the military ordinarily disbands the parliament, annuls the constitution, and suspend judicial reviews, providing itself a virtual monopoly on coercive power [10]. By virtually monopolizing power, the military maximizes its self-interest motives. The military can let a different branch of government protect its interests and avoid accountability [11].

So far, in a nutshell, we have seen how democratic coup is defined by the author of democratic coup, and the countries he used as exemplary to explain his theory. We also saw military coup leaders like regular politicians are self-interested actors, who do not take time to entrench in the constitutional process and the political democratic process, by exploiting the popular movements as we have seen in Turkey and Egypt – which was the sole bases of research of the author of the democratic coup.

Now let us assume the “democratic coup theory” (though unsettled within the constitutional academia) is applicable and acceptable as Varol intelligently presented it. The question will be then, what is the possibility in the Eritrea? Do we have the criteria that Varol had in mind, for democratic coups to emerge from the political reality of our nation?

Hence, to make a reality check, I will try to visit and explore the state of Eritrea, the government of Eritrea, and the nature of the Eritrean Defense force (EDF). Once we have a clear understanding of those institutional structures, we will check if there is any ground and possibility for a coup to happen. And if there are what kind of coup could that be? Will it be the “conventional coup” like all the African countries or a “democratic coup.”?

Eritrea: The State And The Government

In normal functioning states, there are three distinct virtual spheres that define collectively the structure of a state. They are (a) the government (b) the civic societies (c) the private sector. If a state doesn’t have these three elements of a state, it is not a normal state. The three spheres function as semi-autonomous, each of which check each other in the way they do their business and the business of the nation.

In the current state of Eritrea there are no civic societies and private sectors. There is only the government. The Government is the state. Both the state and the government are interchangeable as they stand for the purpose of self-serving for one thing – the ruling party (PFDJ). In other words, the party is the governing body and the image of the state – doing the work of the government and the business of the private sector, what we call state entrepreneur, by barring the existence of civic societies. The two sectors (civic society and private sectors) are the indicators of a healthy economy. While civic societies focus on social services and civic education, the private sectors focuses on free market to revolutionize the national entrepreneurship. The engagement of civic societies with the state can be viewed as part of a political pluralism; this implies tolerance and accommodation of diverse views, interests, and demands in the public sphere [12].

The state’s ideology and the party’s ideology is the same (like in all single party governing nations). The government’s institutions are built for to serve the party. In other words, the institutions work for the self-interested party members including the military institutions. In Eritrea there is a system with institutions run by the ruling PFDJ party. Those who deny the relationships of the party and its system, or its leaders with the party, and who argue otherwise, are dishonest and misleading. There is no separation between isaias the leader, the party (PFDJ), and the system it built to be entrenched. Isaias can’t stand without the party and the party can’t stand without the system it has built to secure its survival. The party and its leaders are institutionally entrenched in the system and are protected by the coercive military and security institutional apparatus.

In a people’s government the military is always neutral in the political process of a nation. Its duty is to defend and protect the nation and its people from external threat. In short, in Eritrea we have an “abnormal state” where the government institutions do everything for the interest of the party and not for the interest of the people. In such an abnormal state, there is no rule of law, no constitution, and no functioning parliament. The government runs the “virtual state” by the party laws and its guiding principles like that of North Korea or communist party of China.

The Red Army Vs Eritrean Defense Force (EDF)

The Red Army of China and The Korean people’s army (KPA), are both strictly the armies of their respective communist parties. The army personnel are enrolled in the rank and files of the parties (not all) to gain economic and political privileges of the parties and in running the state affairs of the nation.

Likewise the Eritrean Defense Forces, no matter how limited their enrollment might be, they are enrolled in the rank and file of the party (PFDJ). They are not an army of an “ideal state” (however non-existent) in the real sense as defined above. Therefore, the EDF and the security institutions are loyal to the party. Actually in his comment at Awate Forum, Mohmud Saleh, a veteran of the Eritrean liberation era, characterized the EDF as the “piggyback” of the PFDJ party (rightly so). Their cause and their interests are aligned with the interest of the party. The senior army officers are ripping benefit from the policies of the party including from the human trafficking of Eritrean youth as reported by the UN Eritrea and Somalia Monitoring group (SEMG).

Conventional coup Vs Democratic Coup

Needless to say, our nation has an institutionalized single party system – as I have stated earlier, where the army is part of the organizational and institutional structure of the party. In such a structuredregime, one can’t expect a democratic coup to happen. If there are some like my friend Salih Younis who advocate for democratic coup, it surely is an utopian dream. Not that I deny the possibility in the lowest mathematical fractions, waiting for infinite time, but if a coup is to happen in real time and real circumstance we are in, it will only be a house coup of the conventional type by those who believe in the system and the party itself as a result of power struggle. Such coup will not bring structural regime change by any account. And this in itself is doubtful. In short, if a coup is executed successfully, it will be of the unpredictable nature of conventional coups, where the coup leaders will entrench in the constitution that gives them the economic and political advantage like that of Egypt, which defies the argument of Saleh Younis and the theory of democratic coup of Varol.

Reality Check: Varol’s Assumption Vs Eritrean Defense Force

In order to substantiate my argument let us test varol’s assumptions of transitional process from a military coup to democratically elected leaders in our reality. Allow me to frame my approach by Q&A for the purpose of simplicity. I will do that on my side and I expect others to do the same to arrive at their own conclusions. Here are my questions based on Varol’s assumptions for a democratic coup:

  • Is there any popular uprising in Eritrea in order for the military to respond in favor of popular opposition against the authoritarian regime of Isaias? There aren’t signs and symptoms of that nature in Eritrea. None what so ever, because the young generation who should be the driving force for such popular uprising are bogged down in endless slave labor to do the business of the party. In short, the army doesn’t have this conditional requirement to respond to. Besides, even if there are popular uprising on the ground, the symbiotic structural relationship between the army and the party will make it difficult for the army to respond in favor of a popular movement.
  • Is the Military highly respected by the Eritrean people to stand and protect for any popular uprising? In fact the army is engaged in torturing, killing, imprisoning, and disappearing citizens, where for years their whereabouts are not known. The objective of the EDF is to protect the party’s political and economic interests.
  • Could the military institutions which are not neutral in the political process of the nation, become free of self-interest and allow a conventional coup to happen let alone stage a democratic coup? No. We have seen how the army acted during the courageous Wedi Ali led coup attempt. The senior and middle ranks of the EDF have a big stake in the party itself.
  • The rest of Varol’s criteria will follow only when the requirements (a, b, c) as stated above are conducive and applicable on the ground. Now Saleh Younis and others who wishes for a democratic coup have the burden to prove as to how Varol’s assumptions will have a favorable environment to bring a structural regime in our nation.

The current regime is not different than a conventional military regime. It is the continuation of the ghedli military culture in all its essences and forms. The Eritrean people couldn’t sanction the wrong doing of the regime, nor the senior and middle rank officers who are engaged in the dirty criminal activities against Eritreans including the common soldiers. If it stages any kind of coup, it will prohibit the imposition of criminal sanctions on the wrongdoings of the military. Furthermore, they will ask immunity for their wrongdoings. Remember this kind of talk is coming from the Medrekites and their supporters. Theyare invoking such ideas to exempt themselves and their comrades from accountability for their wrongdoings. They don’t care about the victims of the last five decades. If we don’t reconcile the violated rights of the victims of the past we will not defend the rights of the victims of the present or the future. Actually, behaviors considered harmful to the moral, political, economic, or social being of society are defined as criminal and thereby worthy of formal state sanction [walker 1980].

In conclusion, my argument is not whether there is a concept of democratic coup or not, which I will leave to the world of academia (unsettled constitutional dilemma) to sort out. My argument is, even if the concept of democratic coup is valid as defined by Varol with the characteristics and conditions he laid out to separate from the conventional coup, there is no objective reality to stage a democratic coup in Eritrea, for, (a) because of the lack of popular uprising inside Eritrea, (b) Because the military will be motivated by self-interest,(c) because the interest of the military is aligned with the interest of the ruling party. If Saleh Younis is arguing just for “a mere seizure of the state apparatus by the military without popular support,” to depose one man, then it can’t be democratic coup; but definitely a conventional military coup.

Sadly, when the moral of the Eritrean people goes down and left without alternatives; when the people lack vision and leadership that unites them, it is not unusual to seek a refugee in a military coup. Saleh Younis’ call can’t be different from that circumstantial call. But there is no objective reality for democratic coup in Eritrea. Saleh Younis will definitely ask me what my solution are? I will try to come with a short essay, though without foreign help, it looks extremely deem. And “Bisefrina” will bring a palace coup only, another hell possibly followed with a series of coups like of that Turkey. Calling for coup brings more coups.

References

[1] Amanuel Hidrat, “The clouds of war: A call for the defense Force of Eritrea”, October, 5, 2008.
[2] Saleh Younis, “why the Democratic coup is the best option for Eritrea”, August 30, 2014.
[3] Ozan O. Varol , “The Democratic Coup d’etat”, November 2, 2012.
[4] Ibid (Ozal varol, Nov. 2, 2012)
[5] David Austin-Smith & Jeffery S. Banks, “Positive political theory II: Strategy and Structure, pp 326, 2005.
[7] Richard Alert, “Democratic revolution” Denver University law review, vol 89 No-2, 2011.
[8] Andrew C. Jones “The seizure of power: The study of force and popular consent” Widrow Wilson sch. Of public & International affairs, Princeton university, 1964
[9] Powel and Thynes, “Coup d‘etat or D’Autocracy: How coups impact democratization, 2011.
[10] Mahmud Supra note 10, at 104, as quoted by Ozal Varol.
[11] Ginsberg & Posner, Supra note 125 at 1592 as quoted by Ozal varol.
[12] African Human security Review, “African commitments to civil society engagement: A review of eight NEPAD countries”, August 2004.

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  • Michael

    The whole writing boils down to nothing but it reminds the reader of mahber andnet’s endless nightmare or illusions for “a regime change in Eritrea” …the gallant EDF is protecting Eritrea from all her enemies -inside and outside and Eritreans are very proud of them… it is naïve to think writings such as this will ever confuse them for a second. It looks like a MLLT doctrine or manifesto…Some one must be totally clueless to use “UNSC articles” or documents” as facts>>
    Fake democracy will never be exported to Eritrea -it was rejected a long time ago and Eritrean style democracy is being developed inside Eritrea -just be patient..

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Hailat, Mahmuday & others,

    “It is the assessment of the Monitoring Group that senior Eritrean officials
    continue to collect millions of dollars per year through unofficial revenues by means
    of private business arrangements involving PFDJ-run companies domestically and
    abroad” [ Report submitted to the Security council by SEMG, 2014]. This will substantiate my argument that the EDF is clearly affiliated with PFDJ party and PFDJ Businesses. EDF is a self-interested institution of PFDJ party. The symbiotic relationship of EDF and PFDJ doesn’t look favorable for mass movement and any kind of coup for that matter. They have mutual benefit dependency to each other.

    regards,
    Amnauel Hidrat

  • aklilu zere

    From “psycho-spiritual malaise”, an article I wrote eons ago:

    “…These officers will shoulder the heaviest blame (crime) because they have the tools and means to stop tyranny, but instead they chose either to support it or to keep silent.

    Time and again they failed their revolutionary, military, security, national and citizenry duties and due diligence when:

    They stood silent when their own disabled war veterans were murdered by orders of their commander-in-chief. Everything else pales compared to this act of treason and negligence of due diligence.

    They stood silent when officers and rank and file, their comrades-in- arms were frozen, imprisoned, tortured or disappeared.

    They stood silent when young boys and girls were forcefully conscripted for endless military and serfdom services.

    They stood silent when civilians were constantly bullied, beaten, caught and incarcerated in prisons. And now…

    They are standing silent when young Eritreans are brutalized by recruited mercenaries.

    So, any person or organization that places its hope on these officers shall be considered a fool and an accomplice to negligence, and shall be held accountable.”

    N:B

    You shall be a fool to include my respected friend and comrade Sal Yonus in this catagory.

    Regards,
    Aklilu Zere

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Dear Aklilu,

      I will pass your word “fool” and self-wising-up at this moment for the sake of decency.

      Regards,

      • Kokhob Selam

        Dear Amanuel, keep teaching us. I know you are ready to say what you think is right openly since Gedli days (I know you) I know even you are the man who challenges even Amanel himself if he think he has done mistake or think he is in wrong side. you are what you are and this is the sign of originality. Keep it up

        • Hope

          My own and Dear Artist of the Artists,
          You have an obligation to constructively challenge the Teachings as well,Kokhobay.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear Aklilu Zere, I always vote up in all your comments. I fill I have done a mistake on this one. Sal Yonus has an idea on how to change PFDJ and Amuni has also his idea. we the people learn from you guys. we read and think better solution. But the first thing to accept today is we have all the same aim with different approaches and this should not make us enemies instead friends . what we love from you is your creative nature, your love on peace, unity. we expect you to come with your version of change the dictatorial regime as you use to do.

    • Hope

      Aklilu,
      Can you re-post that Article in its enitrety with some updates and modifications?
      I am sure the AT will allow you.
      If I may add, if you translate it into Tigrigna and even Arabic,it would help.
      Pls,put it in the “Republic” as well.
      My own dawit,can you challenge the above statements.?
      Those are some of the facts that made me to “make up” my mind,besides being a direct victim along with my own family,like most Eri Families.

  • haileTG

    Selamat tes,

    What you brought is a very important addition to the ongoing discussion on popular uprisings. You have now given first hand witness to the fact that the people do in fact riot and defy the regime. That is a direct contrast to the widely held belief (wrongly) that the regime had neutralized that type of risk to itself. Thanks for this tes.

    The next point I would now like to discuss is what exactly was missing in those uprisings, why did PFDJ managed to overcome them, and what comes first in the list of priority for a successful popular uprisings.

    There are two different types of uprisings: mob action and coordinated popular revolt. Smart uprisings are the latter (coordinated popular uprisings). Mob actions lack the command and control chain that drives the overall activity and could inadvertently serve the purpose of reinforcing the regime’s oppressive rule.

    Let’s look at this from signalling perspective. The regime would like to send the following signals:

    1 – If you dare to confront it, it will win

    2 – If you dare to oppose it, the people will take its side

    3 – If you dare to oppose it, it would inflict the worst possible acts on you with impunity

    4 – If you dare to confront it and it takes the worst possible action against you, no one would stand for you.

    Now look at each of the example you gave above. In fact, you can even look at every other big and small uprisings recorded in our short history. What was constant was that after the initial disturbance, the regime never confronts with show of force. Look at the example you gave where the security forces leaving the scene with their guns left behind. The next constant was that the regime comes back to go after individuals. And the last constant is that the regime makes good on its threat and ensures those individuals are made an example of. In effect, all the above four signals are communicated clearly. Remember during FORTO, IA told us that “we were waiting all day for them [the mutineers] to see where they will get to”. It never stormed the building. It arrested the culprits weeks later. All falls into the same pattern.

    Consider now that an opposition media covers the event. It would say that a mob action/ mutiny happened. Later on it ended and all those who participated have either been (weeks) later jailed, killed or escaped the country. Such report helps to reinforce the message that the regime wants to signal. The crisis ends in its terms and each crisis works to make the next crisis less likely to happen.

    Popular revolts or mass uprisings (smart uprisings) have an inner core. This inner core is not only tasked with the initial daring forays and pulling the regime into a show down but also is responsible for coordinating, planing and leading it to ensure:

    a) It doesn’t end before demands are fully met (no promises). For example if the demand is resignation of IA, he must leave or there will be no end to the mass action.

    b) Communication, supply and logistics

    c) identifying targets, securing gains, maintaining momentum and ensuring longevity of the action to the required time frame

    The key to smart uprisings with command and control inner core is that what appears random or chaotic street battles are actually well planned and sustained. The penny starts to drop after some time and following important milestones along the life of the uprising.

    The regime almost invariably would try its well established trick of trying to wait it out. Once the protesters start to take initiatives and it runs out of the waiting option (that would have allowed it to hand pick as usual), it would normally attempt to apply some force to disrupt its inner core and dissuade the rest. Such is the next milestone where the protesters need engage in determined clashes with its security organs and ensure their positions are commanding and well barricaded. The regime would have to incur loses before it backs down. Hence the second milestone has been passed. So, the first and second milestones have now emboldened the protesters and regime side would enter crisis mode. Many creative approaches need to be taken to ensure the protest passes these critical milestones because beyond these points the balance of power would tilt to their side.

    Once the regime had run out of the waiting and handpicking option and then loses the use of force option, it would normally call for curfews and possibly cut off power and communication sources, effectively closing off cities to intermediate the swelling masses (remember the cost of joining becomes cheaper and justified as the uprising maintains its balance). Now, the regime had already lost the first two options and and curfew and blockade is crisis mode and signs of desperation. By rejecting its call for curfew, it has entered a serious crisis levels and would briefly comeback with aggressive measures to quash the uprisings. This is when the uprising enters its bloodiest stage and its hardcore supporters would enter the scene and any form of attacks and tit for tat battles of attrition may ensue. The regime would try to use paramilitary or the sorts to get an edge but this would call outside attention as civilians would be facing an armed offensive by the regime. My suspicious would be IA would probably flee the country just before or about this stage of the showdown. In Eritrea’s case, it is unlikely that the regime would have many standing on its side and most of those to do so would be members of its security organs.

    The above process of well coordinated uprising with chains of command and control would, as you see, be unstoppable but from signalling point of view, it would be giving the exact opposite of what the regime would like to signal as stated above (albeit such signals are communicated as the uprising enters its different stages/milestones of its cycle):

    1 – It would say that the regime is not capable of asserting its will to make good on its threats

    2 – People are defying it and it is helpless and cornered

    3 – Speaking up comes at no cost

    This is why I think that the initial investment in triggering popular uprising is on priming and conditioning the inner core (few) of the uprising leaders. For them to clearly understand the challenges, risks and required roles in launching, guiding and successfully culminating regime change through mass uprisings. They need to understand the process and the various stages as they reach them. They need to have a sense of direction and recognize that when the regime, for example, declares curefew, it signals that they’ve done excellent job and reached a milestone. When the regime enters the second round of use of force, they need to know that it is nothing to worry about as the regime would be playing its last card. And be adept at strategics to control fast moving events and make quick decisions on the spot to maintain the longevity and eventual success of the overall uprising in the Great Eritrean Revolutio 🙂

    Regards

    • Tesfabirhan WR

      Haw Haile The Great,

      All you said is perfectly explained theoretically and hope it will be a guiding principle for the revolution to come in uprising the masses. One thing though, how to build the communication strategy?

      Uprisings are usually very sadden and they are easily squished if there is inner core is not strong enough to maintain the communication lines. The basic necessities that you mentioned (Communication, supply and logistics) are very crucial in enforcing the inner core.

      The question still revolving is, how to build them? Are we way capable in creating such strong networks to establish them? In civil uprising, accountability is the main issue. Accountability from the organizers so that the uprising may not go further beyond its intended objective and accountability of the force that is in target. Let’s have to Egyptian uprisal, all had accountability and there was a force who was acting as middlemen in settling the issue. In Eritrea, this is totally absent. There is no police force which is fully autonomous and that will be at least try to control the situation.

      Ok, Eritrean case is different and indeed it will not function without giving some innocent individuals. The question is, how to build these inner core forces? Do we have a guiding principle to build them, I mean, any kind of ideology or core values that can shape their mindset? Do we have the cadres for these uprise? May be not at this time of course but I am asking on how to frame such mindset? Do we have school of thought that can nurture such minds, considering all extremisms at hand. I hope regional or religious sentiments will not be as a guiding principle.

      Second and most is the communication networks and reliability. I am sometimes shocked when just political propaganda are aired having no traceable truth at all. Assenna.com for example did such trials before and listed some monetary figures with definite time schedule of the project. Such hollow propaganda are just losing credibility and if it has reached to the target audience without any tangible end result, then, it will take time again to build the confidence of the target group on similar projects even if they are reliable. I like Arbi harnet and radio Errena because of their very targetful and objective propaganda they broadcast based on the reliable informations. I remember while I was back home every office worker being shocked and discussing on the calls they received through robot calls. This is good!

      To conclude, let me ask you some thought questions.

      1. Do the opposition groups scored some degree of achievements in broadcasting news and propaganda deep inside the Eritrean population?

      2. How far those communication networks (opposition mass medias) are succeeding in getting reliable and on time information from inside Eritrea?

      3. How strong is the network that is growing between the cyber opposition mass medias in challenging every piece of information aired by PFDJites?

      4. Are the opposition diaspora based uprisings succeeding in organizing mass protests by mobilizing those who are already in the open air to oppose the totalitarian regime?

      5. Are the opposition groups are ready enough to represent their candidates in every possible uprise? Do they have cadres who are able to come in the for front and be the leaders of the intended uprise?

      Hawka
      tes

      • haileTG

        Dear tes,

        Let me start with the good news that there exist specific procedures and process to be followed to achieve such smart uprising (one that is guided and controlled inner core).

        Before we get to the specifics, let’s touch base about the core mission of the whole operation. The mission isn’t intended to open corridors of power to ambitious opposition or army class. The mission is to re-engage the citizens in the affairs of their country. It is help the people to regain their robbed confidence and put them back at the driving seat. The uprising would effect the overthrow of the regime and change the status que of the current affairs. There sure is going to be a transitional period after that, which will open the door for all Eritreans to participate in charting their future together. There fore the uprising would serve as a vehicle to that stage and would remain as vanguard of power to the people, i.e. once they do it, they will have set a new precedent that unaccountable leadership would meet the same fate for the future too.

        If you look at the middle east uprisings, the inner core were later identified to be individuals or a handful people at most. This operation needs skill and ability to be mustered than oppositions or think tanks having large conferences. This shows you the whole thing rests in the hands of few individuals to set it up and trigger. Even in a flip side of the situation, people say IA is the sole reason for the current mess. If such was to be taken as true, then it shows you the level of impact an individual can have to turn the course of history.

        Now let me get to specifics in organizing the inner core. The process involves: Selection/identification of uprising leaders in Eritrea, conditioning, priming, logistics and finally implementation and follow up.

        1 – Selection/ Identification: is crucial. There are issues of infiltration, sabotage, ineffectiveness, lack of skill. So, in selecting who is going to working inside, even visits might be needed or some other form of communication that would give a good idea as to who is selected. Durable lines of communication and and fair assessment of the background of the individual.

        2 – Conditioning is essentially touching base with these individuals about the reality of the country and its correct interpretation. If people can be confused here in the diaspora and speak against their interests (with all access to information) the situation can be harder to those inside. The leaders need to be absolutely clear that PFDJ alone is the source of their oppression, and its removal would remove the abject oppression they are facing. Not Ethiopia, not CIA and not USA. They need to be absolutely certain of that truth. No going in and out of haphazard arguments that supports the oppressor against self interest. Proper and solid mental conditioning. This would need effort, time and assessing that solid commitment has been attained.

        3 – Priming would then involve bringing the solution, i.e overthrowing PFDJ through concerted popular uprisings. At this stage every stage, goal, risk, role, requirement has to be discussed blow by blow. There need to be absolute crystallization of the whole process of the uprising in the mind of the leaders. Nothing should be left to assumptions or guesswork. Regime tactics need to be studied fully. Own tactics have to be worked out meticulously. It should be analyzed, tested and re-tested for viability. The leader needs to see it as clear as a straight line from A to B. At this stage the rallying call would be firmly decided on.

        4 – Logistics have key purposes. To reduce risk, to maintain momentum and mediate coordination. The resource, location, popularizing mediums (as loud speakers, pamphlets…), targets and defensive utilities need to be planned, arranged and provided for to the last dot as far as it can be imagined.

        5 – At the implementation level, ongoing meetings, chains of command, communication venues and the rest need to be rehearsed before the zero hour and launching the early moments of the uprisings.

        In all this, the opposition as a whole, Eritreans in the diaspora, opposition media, elders, communities churches and faith groups and other supporters of the Eritrean people can express solidarity, offer moral and material support and politicians can hammer their transitional arrangements. But it would all depend on the men and women in the streets to mount a successful undertaking that would bring the overthrow of the regime of IA. Therefore, it is prepare, prepare, prepare. Opening the whole operation of leading this to wider audience (as diaspora opposition groups and the rest…) would also run risking subversive counter actions and putting the leaders of the uprising at a disadvantage.

        I also have great regard for Arbi Harnet, but cold calls are really blind stabs and even raise the anxiety levels and further discourage emboldening the people. It amounts to random and unspecified call for generalized breakdown of law and order. It has to be done with hot calls, to specific individuals as per the list above. There is more literature on this that can be researched too.

        Regards

        • Tesfabirhan WR

          Dear Haile TG,

          While scanning as usual the Eritrean news websites, I found something new that caught my attention. The article was contributed by my friend and I am really feeling good for such a great move inside Eritrea.

          Here is a new news letter named under “Republic” coming from inside Eritrea. This is a a brave move and I felt that what we are discussing here actually very relevant to what is going on on the ground.

          http://ge.tt/5YKy1G12/v/0?c

          Have a look to this news letter and we can discuss on its contents.

          Hawka
          tes

          • haileTG

            ሰላማት ክቡር ሓው ተ/ብርሃን፡

            ብመጀመርያ ነዚ ዝሓበርካና ረዚን መልእኽቲ ዝሓዘለ ጽሑፍ፡ መቸም እንታይ ክንብል፡ ደሓን እቶ፡ ነመስግን ድማ።

            እቲ ኣቀራርባ፡ ምልኣት ሓሳብ፡ ከምኡ እውን ኣራቒቕካ ናይ ምትንታንን፡ ኣነጺርካ ምግላጽን ዓቕሚ ዳርጋ ሙሉእ ኣቓልቦ ነባቢ ብዝገዝእ ኣገባብ ዝጸፈፈ ጽሑፍ እዩ እንተበልኩ ቃል-ዓለም ኣይኮነን። ብሓቂ ውሑሉልን፡ ወረጃን ኣተእላልያ እምበሪ!

            ብዝኾነ፡ ሎሚ ስርዓት ህግደፍ፡ ነቲ ምዕቡልን፡ ወረጃን ህዝብና፡ ኣዋሪዱ፡ ኣደዳ ሕሰምን፡ መከራን ኣሳጢሑ ከይኣክል፡ ኣውዒሉ ብዘየሕድር ላግጽን ኣሽክዕላልን፡ አፈታተኖ ምህላዉ ንኹሉ በሪሁሉ እዩ። ህግደፍ ሎሚ ኪኖ ሸፈጥን፡ ጠበራን ስድሪ ዝስጉም፡ ቁም-ነገር ክወጾ ዘይሕሰብ እዩ። እቲ ሓርቢትዎን፡ ተጻጊሙ፡ ኣብ መንጎ ሞትኩን-ሰረርኩን፡ ተሸንኪሩ ዘሎ ህዝብና ድማ፡ ዕንደራ ህግደፍ መኸትምታ ክገብረሉ ይሸባሸብ ምህላዉ፡ ዓቢ ተስፋ ዘስንቕ እዩ።

            ኣብታ ቐንዲ ክርስዓ ዘይደሊ ሓሳብ ክምለስ ግን፡ እቲ ኣብ ደገ ዘሎ ህዝብና፡ ዋላ ዝድግፍ’ዶ፡ ዝቃወም ብዘየገድስ ኣብዚ ኣቲናዮ ዘሎና መድረኽ፡ ልቦና ከዕቢ ይግባእ። ልክዕ እዩ፡ ህግደፍ ብርፍራፍ ዝዓደጎም፡ ንኤርትራ ዘይፈልጡ፡ ኮራኩር ኣለውዎ፡ ግን ነዚኦም ቕንጣብ ዋጋ እውን ኣይግብኦምን። እቲ ቐንዲ መልእኽቲ ነቲ መዳሕንቱ ዝቐበረላ፡ ኣብ ደገ ዝነብር ወዲ ሃገር እዩ። ኣብ ኤርትራ ዘሎ ህዝብናን፡ ኣካልናን፡ ሽግሩ ክፈትሕ ምዃኑ፡ ክንዲ ኣድሪ ጥርጥር የልቦን። ስለዚ ጽባሕ ንግሆ፡ ምስ ህዝብናን፡ ኣሕዋትናን ኣብ ዝበኣሰ ቕርሕንትን፡ ምንቛትን ከይንኣቱ፡ ጽባሕ ከይንዋረድ፡ ልቢ ኣሕዋትና ከይቅየም፡ ንህዝብና ንሓሉ፡ ሞራል ንሃብ፡ ህግደፍ ኣብ ዘዋድዶ መኣዲ ጥፍኣት፡ ኢድና ኣይንምለስ። ኛይ ዝተቐየመ ሓውካ ልቢ ምምላስ ክንደይ ኣጸጋምን ኣሸጋርን እዩ። ህዝብና ይዕዘብ ኣሎ። ስለዚ ካብ ህግደፋዊ ናይ ኣጥፊእካ ምጥፋእ ዘርጊ፡ ክንርሕቕ፡ ነቲ ከቢድ ግፍዕን፡ ዓመጽን ዝጋራዕ ዘሎ ሓላል ህዝብና፡ ክንዝክርን፡ ነብሱ ንምድሓንን፡ ምክልኽላን ዝወስዶ ኩሉ ስጉምቲ/ታትን ድማ፡ ነቕ ዘይብል እምባ መጸግዒ ክንኮኖ፡ እዋኑ የዘኻክረና’ዩ ዘሎ። ከይንጋገ፡ ሓደራ።

            ሓውና ተ/ብርሃን ድማ የቐንየልና።

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Hailat & all the serious debaters,

      This document “Republic” is not from insider Eritrea. It is written from outside Eritrea as if is written from inside Eritrea for public consumptions. One who lived with the Eritrean politics can not miss the source of this document. Hint – it is from those who said money talks the rest you to discover it. One thing I want to offer my advice to the debaters, please let us avoid un verified documents to use for our argument. I am elated at this time that we have focused on solution oriented debate and I strongly plea to stay with it. I will not bring the source of the document for it divert our discourse.

      regards,
      Amanuel Hidrat (tebeges)

      • haileTG

        Hi Aman,

        You sure are right to be fatigued by false hopes, the same here. Given their detail on daily events, they sure sound from there or at least regular travelers there. But hey who isn’t into the hide and seek in the cyber politics. One point I wanted to highlight there is that the blame of external actors by PFDJ for our crisis should be undermined by all means possible and the Republic (source unknown) seem to have made the point rather well. Credibility?….hmmm I stopped asking for that when facts on the ground became self evident. But I give a lot of weight to your advice though.

        Regards

        • Hope

          Hailat.
          But the message is more important though?
          isn’t that why you are here for?

          • haileTG

            Hi Hope

            Isn’t that why I said “One point I wanted to highlight there is that the blame of external actors by PFDJ for our crisis should be undermined by all means possible and the Republic (source unknown) seem to have made the point rather well.”, hope?

          • Hope

            HTG,
            I got you but was responding indirectly to Aman.I am fully aware of your “diplomatic” gesture.

      • Tesfabirhan WR

        Dear Aman,

        You are right that the source is not yet verifiable but it can be a pressure to PFDJ if it got a chance to be distributed inside Eritrea. At this time, we cannot totally trace on what is going on inside Eritrea. Let’s hope that it will penetrate the center of major cities. Money of course works in such under ground movements. but we can wait for the second edition and investigate further possible sources. Some facts exist within the news letter, for example, the case of 26th Round who are forced to live under trees in the remote valleys of Afabet (I assure you for this).

        Hawka
        tes

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Dear Tesfat,

          The writers of the document say they are from inside Eritrea. I am saying they are not. If the purpose was to infiltrate to inside from outside I don’t have a problem. But they are telling us they are from inside. To tell you frankly the owners of this journal have info from inside like you, who came lately from the country and wrote as a publications. There is nothing wrong with it, but I don’t like deceptions. I know the source of it and they want to continue the culture of ghedli’s secrecy. Very sad! very sad! after all the pains incurred from secrecy….they still will continue with that. Mercy to Eritrea and its people. If you don’t believe me history will teach to the rest of us.

          regards,
          Amanuel Hidrat (tebeges)

          • Tesfabirhan WR

            Dear Aman,

            I agree with you that deception should not be the means and for the secrecy, yes you are right. I am just wishing a reach to the people who are living into locked country. I am not that far for not believing you or not. I am just taking it as something good initiative no matter from where the source is. Targeting PFDJ on the news media is all what I consider as positive move.

            Hawka
            tes

          • Hope

            Tes and Aman,
            Another Metaphysical Analysis?For what ,and who cares?
            What matters is the MESSAGE and I think it is a great message and a great start asa reminder to the main target population.
            I wish it could be relayed through TV and Radio that can be accessed to the people at home.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Hope,

            Just for your information Metaphysics is = the branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value. Aren’t we debating on facts and values of ideas? I think you have a wrong intake and you didn’t follow the argument.

            regards,

          • Hope

            Selamat Mr Aman and Tes,
            I admire and pay respect to your ideas and I understand that flow of ideas is expected during debate.
            My concern is:
            We tend to “refute” new ideas,rather than positively challenging them and bringing up “better ideas”.And we egt confused since we get lost in the middle and lose hope about practical solutions.
            Aman,
            I was planning to meet you in your home town of NJ as I promised you but the schedule got messed up and I decided to hang around as I was allowed only 5 days off.
            Prof Tes,
            I am on Vacation for few days and that is why you see me stumbling non-stop here and there as I am seriously addicted to the forum,which I never expected–so funny!.
            It will take me time to debate and analyse things like you do.
            But I admire your drastic improvement on avoiding over-reactions and on your new style of debate.,
            I will do my best to do so.
            Be patient as I am learning.But give some space and try to respect other peoples’ opinions and ideas,styles,irrespective of their——.
            But your brotherly advice is well considered.BTW,I will be in Geneva,Zurich , Paris(2 nights) and leave from London —-Are you available for a Cup of Coffee or short dinner?
            Remember that, eventhough you grew up during the PFDJ era and lived it,do not forget that some of us might have lived the “Real Life” with the PFDJ.
            I would rather dare to say that you took advantage of the PFDJ–from academic point of view as you were selectively picked up with a “relative favoritism” besides your genetically and environmentally nurtured brilliance,to get the “BEST” of the PFDJ System.

          • Hope

            Aman,
            My concern is about the exaggerated rebuttal,challenging and refuting of new ideas–and Strategies….if I understood the debate right.
            Nothing is perfect and we have to put together those new ideas and come up with working Strategy and Action Plan…

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  • haileTG

    Selamat Awatista,

    The following incident is perhaps one of the rare incidents where Eritrean youth are seen engaging in street battles.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2716512/More-50-people-injured-clashes-Calais-rival-African-migrants-fight-food-distribution-centre.html#v-3714391155001

    Some of the questions that come to mind is:

    – What lead them to take such an action? Is it increased desperation? Would they have taken such action at a previous destination in their journey?

    – How was it organized? How long did it take to organize it? what were the goals? What risks were they prepared to take? What was success criteria?

    – Can we conclude that given more desperate situation, the youth are as likely to act by taking initiatives?

    – What would it take to re-create this inside Eritrea proper?

    Regards

    • Saleh Johar
      • haileTG

        Sal
        Did I miss something (may be the language) but this one seemed they were fighting each other??? The above taken on the Caliase border was organized fight (although to be regretted and sorry event – I am looking at the riot mechanics side of things). Group dynamics was visible, not sure if it had prior planning and coordination. So, does this represent organized street battle of one side fighting a well defined another side?

        • Tesfabirhan WR

          Dear Haile TG,

          Organized group-uprising in Eritrea is present. The only blocking opportunity to come into air is absence of mass media. When I was in Eritrea a number of events happened between youths and the defense force members, in Hagaz, Elabered, Halibmentel, Mendefera and soon. I remember such uprisings to be silenced by mass arrest and hand-picking of individuals.

          In Hagaz, people gathered and burned the PFDJ flag and after this was reported, the inhabitants of Hagaz saw crimes being committed in front of their doors and many became victims of sudden round-up and detention.

          In Halibmentel, on a wedding occasion, fighting broke-up between the villagers and soldiers who came there fully armed. The incident became so hot volatile that the soldiers escaped leaving their guns behind. The next day, you can easily guess what it followed. In Elabered, youth and soldiers confrontation was so common and almost the small city reached up to a state where the youths are out of control and left it wild till all of them left to Israel. I can bring you a number of youth uprisings but you ma be asking why we are not that much aware about them.

          Then what? You see Haile, news media play great role in adding fuel to every ignition. In Tunisia for example, it was only because a single person’s tragedy that it became a wide spread public uprisal and this is because of mass media. PFDJ news media is engineered in such away that everything is dumped deep into the undergrounds. Even sometimes, they let some local uprisings to be forgotten for sometime and people consider it as a normal group fighting and no more political. And after 2 weeks or one month, the security guards hand-pick individuals and are taken to the land of hidden lifes, tihti midri. Parallel to this, there is a news spread to make a cover-up, like religious gathering, tsegibom (becoming organized criminals) like that.

          In Keren, in late 2012, very strong youth organized fighting was so common. The reason for this uprising was because of the demolishing of houses by the city administrator. Those youths were between 14-17 years old and almost became a threat to everyone. What happened finally was that they started to fight on day hours and became under the target of security forces and hand-picked one by one and severely beaten for several days in the police station.

          To conclude then, absence of mass media is what it is playing great role for PFDJ agenda to keep hidden and unheard every thing coming from Eritrea. thanks to Arbi-harinet, Errena, and others who are now changing the condition. Programs like Arbi Harnet are really great and need to be expanded so that the network they have can report on time without no delay. if those news media succeed to manage in getting on-time information and able to locate exactly where the incident is happening, I am quite sure that public uprising will be achievable.

          Eritrean behviour is very dynamic and needs on time fearless information to make it tuned, just like that of Lampedusa tragedy.

          hawka
          tes

          • haileTG

            Selamat tes,

            What you brought is a very important addition to the ongoing discussion on popular uprisings. You have now given first hand witness to the fact that the people do in fact riot and defy the regime. That is a direct contrast to the widely held belief (wrongly) that the regime had neutralized that type of risk to itself. Thanks for this tes.

            The next point I would now like to discuss is what exactly was missing in those uprisings, why did PFDJ managed to overcome them, and what comes first in the list of priority for a successful popular uprisings.

            There are two different types of uprisings: mob action and coordinated popular revolt. Smart uprisings are the latter (coordinated popular uprisings). Mob actions lack the command and control chain that drives the overall activity and could inadvertently serve the purpose of reinforcing the regime’s oppressive rule.

            Let’s look at this from signalling perspective. The regime would like to send the following signals:

            1 – If you dare to confront it, it will win

            2 – If you dare to oppose it, the people will take its side

            3 – If you dare to oppose it, it would inflict the worst possible acts on you with impunity

            4 – If you dare to confront it and it takes the worst possible action against you, no one would stand for you.

            Now look at each of the example you gave above. In fact, you can even look at every other big and small uprisings recorded in our short history. What was constant was that after the initial disturbance, the regime never confronts with show of force. Look at the example you gave where the security forces leaving the scene with their guns left behind. The next constant was that the regime comes back to go after individuals. And the last constant is that the regime makes good on its threat and ensures those individuals are made an example of. In effect, all the above four signals are communicated clearly. Remember during FORTO, IA told us that “we were waiting all day for them [the mutineers] to see where they will get to”. It never stormed the building. It arrested the culprits weeks later. All falls into the same pattern.

            Consider now that an opposition media covers the event. It would say that a mob action/ mutiny happened. Later on it ended and all those who participated have either been (weeks) later jailed, killed or escaped the country. Such report helps to reinforce the message that the regime wants to signal. The crisis ends in its terms and each crisis works to make the next crisis less likely to happen.

            Popular revolts or mass uprisings (smart uprisings) have an inner core. This inner core is not only tasked with the initial daring forays and pulling the regime into a show down but also is responsible for coordinating, planing and leading it to ensure:

            a) It doesn’t end before demands are fully met (no promises). For example if the demand is resignation of IA, he must leave or there will be no end to the mass action.

            b) Communication, supply and logistics

            c) identifying targets, securing gains, maintaining momentum and ensuring longevity of the action to the required time frame

            The key to smart uprisings with command and control inner core is that what appears random or chaotic street battles are actually well planned and sustained. The penny starts to drop after some time and following important milestones along the life of the uprising.

            The regime almost invariably would try its well established trick of trying to wait it out. Once the protesters start to take initiatives and it runs out of the waiting option (that would have allowed it to hand pick as usual), it would normally attempt to apply some force to disrupt its inner core and dissuade the rest. Such is the next milestone where the protesters need engage in determined clashes with its security organs and ensure their positions are commanding and well barricaded. The regime would have to incur loses before it backs down. Hence the second milestone has been passed. So, the first and second milestones have now emboldened the protesters and regime side would enter crisis mode. Many creative approaches need to be taken to ensure the protest passes these critical milestones because beyond these points the balance of power would tilt to their side.

            Once the regime had run out of the waiting and handpicking option and then loses the use of force option, it would normally call for curfews and possibly cut off power and communication sources, effectively closing off cities to intermediate the swelling masses (remember the cost of joining becomes cheaper and justified as the uprising maintains its balance). Now, the regime had already lost the first two options and and curfew and blockade is crisis mode and signs of desperation. By rejecting its call for curfew, it has entered a serious crisis levels and would briefly comeback with aggressive measures to quash the uprisings. This is when the uprising enters its bloodiest stage and its hardcore supporters would enter the scene and any form of attacks and tit for tat battles of attrition may ensue. The regime would try to use paramilitary or the sorts to get an edge but this would call outside attention as civilians would be facing an armed offensive by the regime. My suspicious would be IA would probably flee the country just before or about this stage of the showdown. In Eritrea’s case, it is unlikely that the regime would have many standing on its side and most of those to do so would be members of its security organs.

            The above process of well coordinated uprising with chains of command and control would, as you see, be unstoppable but from signalling point of view, it would be giving the exact opposite of what the regime would like to signal as stated above (albeit such signals are communicated as the uprising enters its different stages/milestones of its cycle):

            1 – It would say that the regime is not capable of asserting its will to make good on its threats

            2 – People are defying it and it is helpless and cornered

            3 – Speaking up comes at no cost

            This is why I think that the initial investment in triggering popular uprising is on priming and conditioning the inner core (few) of the uprising leaders. For them to clearly understand the challenges, risks and required roles in launching, guiding and successfully culminating regime change through mass uprisings. They need to understand the process and the various stages as they reach them. They need to have a sense of direction and recognize that when the regime, for example, declares curefew, it signals that they’ve done excellent job and reached a milestone. When the regime enters the second round of use of force, they need to know that it is nothing to worry about as the regime would be playing its last card. And be adept at strategics to control fast moving events and make quick decisions on the spot to maintain the longevity and eventual success of the overall uprising in the Great Eritrean Revolutio 🙂

            Regards

        • Saleh Johar

          No HaileTG, you didn’t miss anything, I just thought it is related. But I hear that this has been going on rampantly in Israel. And it is not helping their situation or the image of Eritreans. I wish such “courage and bravery” was practiced against the tormentor at home.

  • haileTG

    Selamat Aman and Mahmuday,

    When I say EDF take over it is not the same as palace coup. If a group of armed officers raise up of their own accord then the chances is that the people wouldn’t join and given their reason for doing so and the force they bring to play, it could even cascade into civil war. Again, the outcome may or may not reflect the interests of the country and people. Forto was one example of that and many other protests that happened also share similar patterns of not being people centered.

    If you look at G-15, disabled tegadelti protest, Forto, UoA protest, the early tegadelti demo and others that quietly disappeared, none of them coordinated with the people, they were sudden, they surrendered early by taking dreadful risk of trusting the regime, they were not set up to confront and underestimated the regime’s brutality.

    When diaspora opposition make cold calls to Eritrea as “Robocalls”, “distributing currency notes with calls for uprising”, “distributing underground newspapers”… they amount low key attempts. The people already anxious of the situation, targeted daily with regime propaganda intended to make them feel that everyone supports the regime and if they raise up they would be alone and what have you, wouldn’t positively respond. In fact, it would heighten their anxiety and drive them to seek exit as quickly as they can.

    My above premise is to highlight that the work of triggering uprisings were never done properly and only attempted or called for haphazardly. For example when you see the streets of the main cities deserted during round ups, it tell you that the populace is opposing the act of the regime, when large numbers of NS are joining the exodus of refugees, it tells you the regime actions are opposed by the population, when the regime diaspora activities are shunned by many and the young, it shows you the regime actions are being opposed by the population. This signal is not however enough to assure that if one starts to publicly confront the regime through popular uprisings, many would join. Because the regime is also working hard with summer long festivals and monthly mekhete meetings and so forth to signal the opposite. The disappearance, jailing and killings are also designed to strengthen its signal and weaken the opposite. When Bishops in Eritrea gave their voice to signal the pent up frustration, the regime responded by increasing its signal that falsify the true desire of the people for change.

    Therefore, an earnest work to trigger an uprising has to be properly set up. The diaspora communication needs to be “hot calls” rather than cold calls in their interaction with the home front. This means practically coordinating with select few who would start the uprising. Identifying a rallying call such as Constitutional government, end to indefinite national service, release of prisoners and even the immediate resignation of IA. Rallying calls delineate the lines for the battle. Beyond that it needs to be coordinated to last longer (perhaps weeks or months), several centers of no go areas and transport corridors between them identified, since the early one’s would likely have to physically confront the security organs, they need protest gears that would deter the security forces, work as barricade and assist in taking initiatives such as occupying government buildings or signalling what is going on to the rest of the world. They would need logistics as loud speakers, pamphlets, supply routes communication devices and the rest.

    The early move by the security organs is to take action. By launching simultaneous uprisings in different quarters of the city/cities and coordinating between them and facing off the security organs and barricading themselves, they would send the signal that it wouldn’t quell that easily. If they get past that point, it constitutes a milestone. The next move from the regime would be curfew. Now this would be a risky move for the regime. By violating its call for curfew, the protesters would signal upper hand in having it on their terms and the regime losing face and early signs of losing control. Coordinated uprisings in the diaspora in support and international calls from the UN, AU, EU and others for the regime to respect the rights of the protesters and other pressures would quickly cascade in the regime desperately cornered and the uprisings swelling in mass of people…down down dictator would reverberate right from all corners of Eritrea.

    The trick is to come for a sustained show down, well planned, well resourced, well coordinated confrontation. Never to allow any of the security organs get close without serious street battles and normally they turn into a sitting duck and only surround the protesters and just watch developments. The beat of the regime would be you wouldn’t last and the protesters bet would be it would never regain control without submitting to the rallying call. The infrastructure of money transfer and cell phones are already available. The regime might try to close off the country but embassies and foreign missions are already there and with thousands and thousands of youth descending to the streets, the EDF would have to take a neutral position, not willingly but I doubt is it would start in earnest utilizing tanks and starting to pile bodies of civilian protesters in the streets. They would never contemplate that because they are part of the population. The elite guards might attempt to that but that is when the bulk of the EDF would move in to protect the civilian protesters.

    The process would cost some lives, damaged properties and futile attempts by IA to induce the people to go home and promise its usual candy that the government would arrest all the ministers and carry out investigation to get to the bottom of it. But the disastrous move in the past was believing such nonsense foolishly.

    So, this comes down to carefully organizing underground cells for such uprisings and go to the street when numbers reach sufficient levels to trigger it. It would involve a lot of conditioning and emboldening and reducing risks for the early group. Because they would pay the most of the price. Once loud speakers start to clearly be held calling for rallying points as “No More Agelglot”… and more people start to join the cost would significantly lower. So, the triggering work is one that needs huge levels of meticulous planning and accurate analysis.

    Beyond that, Eritrea would enter a new era of transitional administration (in Eritrea’s case I don’t see it taking more than three weeks max with well primed protesters). The important fact is that when Eritreans fought ghedli, many of the elites had an elaborate plans, alternatives, proposals….but the vehicle was the actual tegadalay who crossed the valley and terrains to defeat the occupation force on the ground. Likewise, we can set up elaborate plans on paper but either a clean “palace coup” or a willing regime or popular uprisings would be the vehicle to deliver it on the ground. Armed struggle is long, complicated, expensive, and unwinnable. Palace coup would be on the regime’s terms because it is an inside job. The regime wouldn’t and can’t change. So, how do you see carrying the final plan into practice?

    Regards

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Dear Hailat,

      I wish the strategy you laid down have feasibility in the Eritrean reality. Actually your idea and Ismail Omer’s ideas are like bolts and nuts for a structural regime change. I support it. The problem is how to make it realistic. My reading of Eritrean reality as we stand right now is the same answer I gave to haw Mahmud. My question to you is if we don’t have the youth in the cities and towns who are the prime movers of demonstrations, and if the moral of our youth and commitment to the kind of strategy you are looking are not there on the ground, how could we implement the strategy your are looking? In the real world the “desire and the expectation” do not match with the reality on the ground. Before we expect something we have to change the reality on the ground.

      Second I think we have a different view as to the relationship of the party and the EDF. The deciding and potent force of EDF is part of the ruling party (the senior and middle rank officers). I believe they have enough stack with the party. The institution serves them well. And if there are disgruntled individuals from them, they could only make a palace coup a strategy of my friend Saay (the theory of one man problem not the institutions).

      Third, if you call for a military coup, the military will admire it and will take when they deem necessary. The message we are sending in fact is nothing can be change without you. You are the only driving force for change. Believe me that message will resonate with them and whatever we install a government can change it whenever they feel to change it. It isn’t good precedence to invoke a coup to lead us for a change. Count my words calling for a coup brings many coups.

      Amanuel Hidrat

      • haileTG

        Dear Aman,

        Thanks, this is turning to fruitful debate indeed. You say that :

        My question to you is if we don’t have the youth in the cities and towns who are the prime movers of demonstrations, and if the moral of our youth and commitment to the kind of strategy you are looking are not there on the ground, how could we implement the strategy your are looking?

        Very good and central question indeed! You also pointed to the general direction of where the answer should be, when you said:

        In the real world the “desire and the expectation” do not match with the reality on the ground. Before we expect something we have to change the reality on the ground.

        Logically speaking, if the fertile ground existed for it to take place, i.e moral, ready to go youth and determination, then obviously it would have happened by now. The reason we seek to formulate ways for it to be triggered is because the current situation is not set up in that manner. In effect, the job of the opposition would be to change the status quo, i.e to create the moral, to create the organization, to create ground for it to take place. In other words to make desires and expectations to match with the realty on the ground.

        In this year alone, tens of thousands youth left the country and hundreds and scores more also lost their lives in the process. This proves to you that the rejection of the regime is there, the need to change conditions is there, the need to take risks to do so are there too. What is not there is leadership, coordination and organization to redirect the direction of forces to the right course. People are still opposing (by abandoning the country), people are still taking risks (by risking death to do so) and diaspora is still intent in seeing the back of the regime. It is just the right investment is squandered on wrong ventures (and quite costly too).

        There opposition groups that say they have contact inside, most active among them being Arbi Harnet (still others like EPDP and Medrek and some other armed groups and media as Asenna also claim to have such). Now, are these groups utilizing their contact to generate news items or properly organize small working cells. Are the cells being trained, primed and conditioned to understand the purpose, the risk, the ultimate goal and their individual roles in bringing change and starting popular uprisings? Are they identifying the key bottlenecks in signalling and coordination and attempting to neutralize them or simply counting how many people are leaving, how much suffering is endured, how brutal the regime is and squeezing juicy gossips about the daily routine of the regime?

        If one doesn’t work for a goal, the chances that the goal being met on its own accord is remote. And if it does, it is unlikely that one would own it because it has its own owners. The reason the diaspora opposition needs to lead such organization of underground cells, finance them, train them through appropriate literature, making undercover visits to the country and meeting those cells on the ground, taking information, processing it time, resource and strategy-wise and problem solving and overcoming difficulties and presenting creative solutions are all part of the necessity of creating a group of youth with “moral” and commitment” to this strategy. If we discount the people, if we discount the EDF and if we discount th ineffective diaspora opposition, then what is the value of even thinking of any strategy? It would come down to fleshing out a clean change agenda and collecting signatures and submitting it to PFDJ for review:-)

        So, my strategy, acknowledges your assessment of current situation, believes in the existence of a situation that the Eritrean people wish to change and argues the corner that popular uprising has never been attempted in a proper way so far. At breaking point, the people would raise and the same sort of thing would happen. But when it does, the change seekers abroad would have little or no part to influence it unless they take charge and leadership now.

        Regards

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Dear Hailat,

          My eyes stuck for sometimes to this question of yours. Surely it will compliment to the questions I asked you.

          “Are the cells being trained, primed and conditioned to understand the purpose, the risk, the ultimate goal and their individual roles in bringing change and starting popular uprisings?”

          You see Hailat, my gut tells me that those organizations you mentioned above, which they claim they have a connection with the army inside, is all for public political consumption. We have heard such claim since the formation of EDP the organization formed by Musfun Hagos and his colleagues in early 2000. The same again his organization and the new sprouted underground cells medrekites in the diaspora are telling us the same story. Just don’t accuse to the military they will help us to remove the despot, is the normal circulating rumors. Marketing through their disguised cells. We shall see any way. So to answer your question. They don’t have those structured relationship to train, to condition, and to understand the purpose, to finally bring the change we all desire. That is so far my take and we shall see as we go forward.

          Amanuel Hidrat

    • Tesfabirhan WR

      Dear Haile TG,

      Just friendly advice.

      Let’s imagine that the world is full of just opinion givers, commentators and guest speakers.

      Let’s imagine that ideas are just dispersed here and there

      Let’s imagine that one follows just the flow instead of framing the flow

      Let’s imagine that you have thousands of audiences and giving them an opinion on already called meetings and you let the audience impressed by your speech but never had any reference material left out

      Just imagine!

      Dear Haile TG, your ideas could be of golden lines had you framed them in article form. Ok, I agree with almost all points you put (I cab say 100%) but it makes me questioning is, why he can’t put his ideas at the forefront?

      Dear AT, I thank you for calling Haile TG to frame his comments in article form, but he couldn’t for reason that is only known to him. But, I may put what is coming to me. Just like the columns, a new column can be created especially for Haile and put his ideas separately so that we can benefit a lot. if we read his comments just under this topic, they are worth of 2 or 3 articles. I can imagine that compiling ideas is not easy but if possible it will be worth to have it as a topic.

      The same also for Mahmuday

      hawkann hawkumn
      tes

      • Mahmud Saleh

        Dear tes;
        First we miss your frequent presence, I know it’s time related. Second, I second you on Hailat, I guess we said it so many times. As far as Mahmuday is concerned, enas meskin ana; I will tell you what I told Gadi, ” I like writing, but I self-critique so much that when I compare my ready pieces with those of , you know who I am talking about, I “shred them to pieces”, well, I just save them and move on. I know they won’t see the light of the day. But I thank you. HTG, of course, deserves to join the league. I really encourage him.

        • Tesfabirhan WR

          Dear Mahmuday,

          I miss you too for exchanging ideas as I wish but as you said it correctly it is time issue. Second, I am studying my courses in French and considering my elementary level of french language skills and attending lectures on tertiary language makes it hard to cope with. Within this, I want to improve my French language so that in the nearby time also we can debate and write using French (thinking of SGJ). Though I am saying this I cannot say that I am missing Awate Forum, I am following every line placed and I try to put it as separate comment in order to make sure that my opinions on the subject matter will be aired.

          Dear Mahmuday, if you are saying that you are incomparable to others, then I can say safely that this self-deception. You are at the forefront and a formidable tegadalay. Let”s have a look on Saay and Amanuel H. They have framed their ideas in article form. The topics are generated from debates here and became very rich after being framed in article form.

          I remember debating with Saay and SGJ on FB Hanti Alem page that the word democratic coup came between lines. And after almost a year and half, here we have very rich article in relation to Eritrean matters and at the same time is adding value to knowledge of world literature. Debating if followed by digested articles will be a torch to the world view.

          Dear Mahmuday, write please and add something to the world literature in which we as citizens can be proud of as having such resourceful materials as a contribution to human being as well as framing ideas so that they can become much more strong.

          I know that writing is not an easy task as compared to giving opinions but if we can work on it, it is just as simple as it is. I know you have dozens of written articles but I al just saying this because I didn’t read your article since we are together here at awate room. Sorry if I am messing up things.

          huka
          tes

          • Mahmud Saleh

            Dear tes;
            Very humbling, thank you and God bless you. I will try to overcome my hesitancy.

      • haileTG

        Selamat tes,

        Thank you bro and indeed, trust me, I am headed that way. I know formal writing for main articles might be essential at times, especially for ideas that are important and can benefit from presentation to wider readers by placing them as main articles. I am getting there, it will come…thanks for the kind remarks though.

        Respectfully

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Ustaz Aman Hidrat
    Thank you for this well researched and educational article. I have to really thank you for the time and energy you spend to make your articles as educational as possible. All I can say at this stage is the fact that you have expanded the subject matter.It’s going to be helpful in understanding articles and arguments which revolve around it in the future. As I have come to understand it, there is no such thing called democratic coup so far; a coup staged merely in the interest of the people. I have not read the entirety of Ozan Varol paper which served as a working paper for both Saleh and you. I read its abstract only. However, even as Saleh introduced that concept I had some reservations which I posted then with regard to the fact that we don’t have a professional institutionalized military, and an educated class of officers who separate matters of state and the ruling entity. We both seem to agree at this level, hence the question will be about possibility. You say, if there will be any type of coup it will be similar to any other coups; there is no such democratic coup; and you actually, go beyond its possibility occurring in Eritrea and sort of seem to refute (and you are) Varols own concept. The three countries military institutions Varol cite as his basis of his paper were known to have been institutionalized in their countries politics and their interests were impeded in the countries constitutions and were represented in their law-making bodies; essentially, they had been recognized forces in the politics of their countries, their interests were delineated by law; they acted only when their interests were at risk, not from their good will to install a democratic government. Turk military has been a visible feature, as a state guarantor since the foundation of modern Turkey by Ataturk. Egyptian military since Gamal Abdulnasser, it runs a vast econoic activities in the country and has had a weighty say in the politics of the country, Portugal’s military also had had similar roles, conducting coups when it did not look its interests would be guaranteed, and finally after its humiliating defeats in Africa (Guinea Bissau, Mozambiq and Angola) staged that coup because of militarism its interests were at risk and had to lead the inevitable transfer of power. So, I agree with you that so far we havenot seen an example in which a military has initiated an act of coup that is intended for the sole interest of the people and the nation. I also agree on the historical record of coup leaders regarding their inherent tendency in drawing the transition process longer than needed or creating diversionary conflicts (another Badme?) in order to ensure their retaining the power.
    I differ with you on your “reality check”
    1. As to whether we could see a popular uprising, HTG presented it in many of his comments rather well, and I would err on the side of its possibility. Look Aman, what we see at this stage is a society being squeezed, we don’t know what its triggering episode will be; it’s getting pressured, and for a pressured substance or society, all it takes is one additional force that breaks its tensile force. Eritrean experience in falling together and in sharing the sacrifices together has been the gluing force which has been resisting our people’s innate and rightful resistance to counteract the pressure exacted to them by PFDG. A tangential incident could act as the triggering factor, such as, say, a melee in one part of Asmara on defending their boys, or the lack of some services (water..bread…hospital..), as HTG excellently explained it, the risk one incurs reduces significantly as the flood of onlookers and participants grows (deqi Asmara are well known by their quick group-forming behaviors when an incident happens), of course your argument will be, “hey, we are not talking about Tunisia, this is HGDF country, and they will mow them all down.” That is quite possible. It’s also possible that a courageous colonel enters between security forces and his people and that creates a cascading effect. That brings us to Ustaz Saleh Younis take.
    2. Whether the army is liked by the people. In Eritrea as far as I know, the army represents the oppressed people. It represents almost every family, it’s underpaid and abused, therefore, there is no credible evidence that Eritreans hate the army as a social class or as an entity. Eritreans have been abused by policies formulated by PFDJ and enacted by a top-down hierarchy of the military, as you said, the military is part and parcel of the ruling group. I agree Eritreans hate the policies, but there is no evidence that they could not unite on common purpose, even though it appears remote.
    3. No 3 is the most compelling argument against possible coup, let alone a “democratic” one. If leave the possibility, however remote it is, I guess we can talk about some type of coup. Will expand it, I am leaving.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Merhaba Ustaz Mahmud,

      Five short notes to make clear my stand to my readers:

      First I don’t support any kind of coup because (a) a coup doesn’t bring structural regime change (b) Coup always entrench in the institutions of the state (c) Calling for a coup is not a strategy, it is a call out hopelessness (d) It is hard to revolt against wrong doing of military leaders and that is why the party is entrenched in the military and security institutions akin to the North Korean and Chinese institutional structure.

      second, If you want to have the military a “weighty say in the politics of our country” as it is in Egypt and Turkey we have it already, as it is right now the instrument of the party and have a big interest in the economic sector of the country through the institutions of the party. I think we have a diverged views on the role of the military in a nation. I believe the military should be neutral in the political process of a nation.

      Third, A military which runs a vast economic activities, will only tells you how the military is entrenched in all the institutions of the country. Such type of politicized military will not be conducive to democratic change and you can’t dislodge it from its entrenchment. If you see the Military structure of Turkey, even if they try to put a civilian leader, they can remove at their whim to any democratic elected without bloodshed b/c they embedded in all the institutions. That is why Turkey is suffered by series of coups and will continue to see it even in the future. The government is decided by the army not by the people.

      Fourth, In the Eritrean scenario, it won’t be like that of Egypt and Turkey, it will continue like that of Korea and China b/c the military is structured within the party (PFDJ). Look how many Generals and Colonels are within the military institutions (please Saay and SGJ help me to link Ahmed Raji’s report) to protect the party and party leaders. Those Generals and Colonels have a big stake in the party similar to that of Korean and Chinese parties.

      Fifith, if we want a structural regime change, it is only by people’s revolution or mass movement. The choice is up to the Eritrean people, and that is either to continue with a single party/military rule or civilian government. The routes for each can’t be clear enough as I have stated above.

      Regards,
      Amanuel Hidrat

      • saay7

        Selamat Emma:

        1. This is probably not the right thread for it but a correction: there are actually two papers on “democratic coup” it is just they are authored by people with names that sound vaguely East European and we are mistaking them:

        a. The Democratic Coup d’Etat, by Ozan O. Varol.
        b. Coups and Democracy by Nikolay Marinov and Hein Goemans

        Both can be google-searched and they are free copies. Once again, in the phrase “democratic coup”, the “democratic” is the objective and not the manner the coup is conducted.

        2. A “coup d’état” is, as you know, simply French for “blow of State”: sudden seizure of power from government. There are two additional words often used to describe a coup d’etat: that it is “illegal” and “violent.” So when you say you are against coup, are you saying you are against violent change? If so, isn’t your alternative likely to be more violent? Are you saying you are against “sudden seizure”? Of course, you are not saying it is illegal to take power from an illegal government. Are you saying that the Eritrean military, as an institution, is not trustworthy enough to be trusted with a process whose outcome is democracy? I guess I should just wait for your proposal.

        3. There IS going to be popular uprising. When the Isaias regime destroyed the University of Asmara, all it managed to do is disperse the university students to colleges, not eliminate the college student’s traditional role of being a trigger for change. But this popular uprising HAS to believe that when the State (Isaias regime) comes with its deadly weapons, there will be SOME elements within the EDF that will stand with the people. Those of you who have studied group dynamics know that there is always a leader and the rest follow (this is true whether it is a demonstration or looting (as happened in Asmara during a brief window between the collapse of Derg and EPLF’s assertion of power.) In other words, to empower the people, we must empower the EDF. It is difficult to do that when talker after talker on Paltalk, assenna, WegaHta thinks we are running a confessional booth. It is difficult when my friend Sem A calls the leadership of the EDF an “alliance of killers.” Bad, bad, bad, Semere. We are still looking for Sem A’s anti-dote to his trip to Italy. Sem: AyHasheken kab Sh’U: I am not sure why but my Harfaf gmt (rough estimate) is that he had some life-changing experience there.

        saay

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Abu Salah (Saay),

          I have come across it “Coups and democracy by Nikolay and Hein Goemans”. The only reason I chose varol’s argument is (a) he defined what democratic coup is (b) In order one to be democratic coup he laid down some criteria (c) he also warned us a military coup could make institutional or constitutional entrenchment. Whether it is applicable to us or not another thing, but Varol clearly framed the nature of democratic coup. In my view Nikolay and Hein Goeman’s argument is not well structured argument as that of Varol.

          Second in my view varol make it clear “the the manner and objectives of the democratic coup” despite it is still controversial in the world of constitutional academia. Varol’s argument is unique and well structured presentation. He explained the objective of the coup leaders (someone who are ready to transition to democratically elected leaders). Therefore the objective is to install democratic government. Their manners are also explained, like politicians they are self-interested.They “desire to preserve and promote its privilege status in the society.” So varol has a big credit b/c he explained their manners and objectives however contradictory goals the military may have.

          Third, my argument was it is a bad precedence “to call a coup” as prime force for change. I would like Military to be neutral in the political process of a nation. I am against any sudden seizure of power by a military.

          Fourth, since a coup is unpredictable, our job should be, if it happened, however undesired it will, We should talk and be ready how to channel to the needed change, influence for change, and can stop the military from entrenchment in the institutions of the state. There is no way to stop a coup, if it will happen.

          fifth, in our reality I don’t separate the interest of the party and the interest of EDF (senior and middle rank officers). Please help me to make my argument by linking Ahmed Raji statestics on the military officer in his his article ” The Rainbow”. I couldn’t pull it.

          Can a military stage a coup in North Korea and China? Though I don’t rule out the remotest possibility, the probability is almost none. Because the military are part and parcel of the existing party. I don’t think our reality is different from those. PFDJ and EDF are structured the same way. I will let time to disprove me.

          regards,
          Amanuel Hidrat

        • Semere Andom

          Ahlen Sal:
          A lot of people are hankering on this “alliance of killers” including “btel halal”, so you are well represented 🙂
          In a couple of comments I made clear where and to who this applies. I believe that no change/democratic coup will come from the top echelons of EDF leadership and this expression applies to them. When commenting on your 7 points summary I said that even if the Wedi-Ali type make it the Forto gain it is less likely that the EDF will coalesce around them as they do not have the name, the respect that your summary stipulates. I “demarcate” when talking about this and I also do the same when de-romanticize . I think our difference is in our believe that EPLF and PFDJ are same, me, they are different, you. But I do not blame you because unlike you my writing is hodge-podge comments and not framed and articulated in an article.
          But I support the democratic coup, I believe it is very unlikely and if by miracle it happens it will have no longevity, the work before the actual “d-coup” is crucial to avoid blood shed and ensure longevity while we do the repair.

        • Hope

          Cousin Salih,
          Someone here said that,no matter what,some-how,you will rather convince people,even if you might not be “Perfectly Correct”.
          Positive Attitude and Optimism will never fail–you.

      • Mahmud Saleh

        Ahlan AmanH
        I understand and agree with you on the nature of changes brought by the military. I also mentioned the weighty presence of the militaries I mentioned to show that they acted when they felt the forthcoming change might go against their entrenched interests. I brought it to support your idea that even in those exampled used by the original author of the concept, the militaries did not act from their desire to see a democratic government installed but from their desire that the inevitable change should be controlled in a way that ensured the continuity of their embeded interests in the systems. I also would like to see the military out of politics, but of course, it’s desperation, it emanates from the fear that what a protracted popular revolt could cause could be more damaging and its results may not even be foreseeable. That’s why I believe Saleh said it might be “the best option.” He is not ruling out that there exist other options but in his best judgement, he believes it could be the best out of many scenarios. I would like you to comment on how the military in Eritrea, as an institution is benefiting from its implanted existence with the party (PFDJ); my reading tells me that every activity is controlled by the economic arm of PFDJ, and at the end every little decision is done in the presidential palace, every little penny earned goes to Kisha’s account. It’s true there are top commanders who have been rumored to have benefited by running their mini economic projects.but can we say the military as an institution benefited? If not can’t we expect some latent grudges and sentiments which could mature to an exploding event when the right time arrives (popular unrest)? Do we have the type of independence Egyptian military enjoys in terms of running their economic resources? For instance, do we know how Harat company is managed? do all its generated profits go to the military? Do we have the type of modern militaries with its semi independent installations and institutions and free-of-security clubs, academies….where officers could freely exchange experiences and talk freely about what’s going on in their country? I’m told even the procurement of weapons was done by non-experienced non-military personnel and had impacted the war. After all do we have an army that operates within a certain laid out constitutional parameters? I think Eritrea is an example of every exception that there is to the rule. Therefore, we should not rule out the occurrence of even remotely considered scenarios. The opposition is at disadvantage when it comes to the advent of change. Despite its long years of fighting for it, it has yet to gather enough popular guarantee that things would be lead towards its anticipated goals of dismantling PFDJ. On the contrary PFDJ still has multiple options.
        It can with a stroke of a pen release prisoners, let free press according to the laws of the past experiment…form a committee to draft a constitution (it’s has already said that); mend its relations with the west; come clean on Somalia, solve Eri-Djibouti problems (which is doable); it could even call for opposition to come to Eritrea (well, we know what that will entail: those who “collaborated with our enemies”..). I know it seems naive, but it could happen.
        What’s needed, in my opinion, is the beginning of a process. We can’t anticipate a fully functional democracy from the get-go, but if there is a process with guarantees built in it that eventually will lead to progressive improvement, I think it will get acceptance from many quarters of our people. Let me just say it, genuine reformation is less costly and more controlled than a drastic revolution. There is no signs that our people is ready for a drastic change, what we need is correcting what has gone wrong in 1988-99 (refusal of the implementation of the constitution. When I say genuine reformation:
        – it’s mainly driven by the demand of the people, and happens only when;
        -PFDJ is cornered by popular pressure
        -a new transitional government (care taker is installed, which is representative enough)
        – a constitutional overhaul is done
        – national reconciliation process takes place (believe me, without a genuine reconciliation experience, there won’t be a lasting peace.
        – What if you give a pardon to all crimes if that ensures a safe transition -I know it sounds odd. I am ready to take hits on this.
        the rest will follow, we have discussed it as to what type of government, militar/politics…
        This is just to say, that there are multiple directions things could go. I am sorry I am veering from your format; take it as a comment.

  • Tesfabirhan WR

    Dear Amanuel Hidrat,

    What I feel most exited is that when ideas are flowing, the mind stays tuned. This is what exactly is happening to me when ever I read such noble articles written to express what one has within him and able to say express with such a clarity. What you did here again is very enlightening and a democratic coup to ideas that are generated from fear.

    Saay’s ideas could have been much appreciated had they follow line of purity. Considering EDF as a separate force and able to function as means to a grand mission is almost impractical. As your (Amanuel H.) article clearly put it, EDF has being diluted because of the ill-intentioned militarization of the whole Eritrean society. And at these days, the line that distinguishes between defense force and civil society status is absent and this reality makes Saay’s proposal a virtual professional thinking, as you put it, “Utopian.”

    I accept the notion of democratic coup in order to avoid bloody war/civil and from turning the country into chaos. But the means to do this should not be exploitative (saay’s line of thinking) rather a technocratic force organized in a more professional way and guided by rule of law is the possible means to make democratic coup reliable. Building an organized technocratic force might be hard to achieve but if we able open to educated Eritreans (inside and outside) it is not that much hard.

    Hence, working on calling a technocratic task force should be an indisputable endeavor.

    Thank you again for your enlightening article.

    Hawka
    tes

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Dear Tesfabirhan,

      Thank you for your complimentary. As I have already stated in my debate with Saay, if you remember when he asked me to give him point by point steps (1,2,3, etc) one of my points was, the transitional leadership should be formed from “independent technocrat” who haven’t any affiliation with any of the organized parties or political organizations. So in my coming article, I will try to elaborate the need of that, and why do we need that structure of transitional process. Again thank you.

      Amanuel Hidrat

      • Tesfabirhan WR

        Dear Amanuel H.,

        I thank you too. Go on and lets frame our ideas. The more we focus on solution based debate, the more we will converge. I am following Haile TG, Mahmuday, Saay, Amanuel Hanibal and likes on this subject matter and is really very fruitful. Concentrating on specific dimension is worth to follow.

        hawka
        tes

    • Hope

      Prof tes,
      Welcome back Hayis we faris wed farsotat,!
      Your statement saying:”. But the means to do this should not be exploitative (saay’s line of thinking) rather a technocratic force organized in a more professional way and guided by rule of law is the possible means to make democratic coup reliable. Building an organized technocratic force might be hard to achieve but if we able open to educated Eritreans (inside and outside) it is not that much hard.”:
      Is or seems too idealistic,even way worse than that of SAAY,which to me is more “realistic and practical” for practicalpurposes.
      Are you talking about post PFDJ Era?” –organized,professional,guided by the “Rule of Law…”.We are talking about now on an Emergecny basis—-
      What we need is a practical approach,NOT textbooks or Metaphysicis.
      Refuting this and that and “challenging this and that,and what NOT—is NOT what we need.

      • Tesfabirhan WR

        Dear yidan Hope,

        I just felt as if I am preached by some religious follower on the coming of the “End of the World” and in fact I remember that experience of 2000. You are rushing from one comment to another and from one opinion to another. I can’t imagine how your psycho is spinning but I would kindly ask you to stay calm and meditate.

        My idea is not idealistic but realistic and is a going process among the diaspora concerned Eritreans. If we read properly on the status of youth opposition groups and the way they are coming to air their concern, it is not such much vague to figure the dynamics of technocrats. I have a strong belief that such society is building its muscle to combat PFDJ networks and engulf individuals for common purpose.

        Just watch the dynamics and be the witness. What you are trying to do is not that much sound to a man who meditates on each lines of ideas put forth.

        Kudan
        tes

        • Hope

          Tes,
          It sounds like that I misunderstood you then.
          I take it back with apology.
          As I advised U before,Ku hadarsi mikhirig.
          Make sure you invite me for your Ph.D Graduation Ceremony.

  • Kaddis

    Daniel,
    Ok, those countries which progressed were/ are not a democracy – but at the same time they are not as ruthless, as abnormal dictatorial governments like Mengistu and Shabia . You can never progress with such an extreme oppression. Not an inch. The Asians have some sort of political and economic policy they have followed and even developing countries can make some reference. Dergue and shabia were/are not a normal ‘oppressive and dictatorial governing systems’ – so don’t treat them as one.

  • haileTG

    Selamat Awatista,

    The prospect of civil uprisings in Eritrea seems to have been prematurely dismissed without giving due attention to the subject matter itself. Civil uprisings can be triggered in Eritrea, the chances of it reaching tipping point is better than in many other places and it is realistically doable undertaking.

    In as far as civil uprisings are concerned:

    The Goal is to effect regime change through mass disobedience

    Repressive regimes are more adept at preventing protests. But once protests take place, the action has high signalling value as regards the public sentiments against the regime. Hence, protests in repressive systems have much higher chances of building beyond the tipping point to cascade into regime change by bringing down the government. In other words, in less repressive systems where protests are tolerated, their chances of reaching the maximum tipping point lower. In the case of highly repressive systems, protesting comes at a cost of jailing, killing or injury… hence the cost of protest gets significantly lower once few make a stand. For example, the cost of protesting would be higher for those who join early on than those who would join when large masses of protesters have already formed. The cost of joining a protest of 15000 people is much lower than the cost of joining a protest with the first daring 100 people. Such tendency reveals not only the capacity of repressive systems to discourage protests but their vulnerability once the few extremist protesters make a determined stand and their ranks start to swell by scores of moderates who normally join later on. A sustained week long confrontation against the regime in Eritrea, therefore would trigger a swelling mass of participation that would cascade to bringing down the regime.

    The tactic is overcome “preference falsification”

    Preference falsification is biggest weapon of repressive systems to keep the tap on protests. This means that the repressive systems normally go to extraordinary length to disrupt the public’s ability to get an idea of the magnitude of sentiment against it. Meetings, festivals, commemoration of events and what have you are carefully orchestrated and take place in regular intervals to amplify this sense of lack of awareness as to how many people would really oppose and join protests had an action been taken. The preference of the public for change is falsified by incessant propaganda to the opposite. This is perhaps why when small group protest, it sends the signal that counteracts the preference falsification efforts of a repressive regime and emboldens those with similar sentiments against the regime to join the protests. The bigger the protesting mass gets, the lower the cost of the protest and the nearer the tipping point becomes. When Eritreans say that they can’t risk protesting because the regime has too many spy networks, it really is the result of of their inability to assess how many people feel the way they do against the system. And hence, the preference falsification by the regime is working well. All the diaspora meetings, fund raising, festival after festival inside Eritrea is a high dose of preference falsification and those who design ways to trigger mass uprisings need to have an effective approach in overcoming that. Essentially, the problem of mass uprisings is then reduced to a problem of coordination to maintain the momentum going until tippin point is reached.

    The process involves small determined [extremist] individuals put up resistance and the moderate mass joins later.

    This has already been touched above. In order to mount a civil revolution, citizens must be able to learn each others’ true anti-regime sentiments and whether the potential opposition is big enough to topple the regime. This is crucial because each individual citizen will be better off passively acquiescing, or even behaving as if he were a true believer, if thinks that only a few of his fellow citizens oppose the regime and are willing to take to the streets.

    Conclusion:

    Information between justice seekers in Eritrea and outside of Eritrea is already being exchanged. The question is whether such information is of a value to triggering civil uprisings in Eritrea. In order to gather the forces of civil uprisings, one needs to follow the basic principles and methodologies from current knowledge. The Eritrean regime is highly vulnerable, fertile ground exists internally and externally and moral, political and psychological drivers are on the people’s side to effect a much needed change in Eritrea. Hence, before we discount the possibility of triggering mass uprisings throughout Eritrea, we need to assess if we have equipped ourselves with the necessary knowledge and skill for doing it in the first place. The regime expends an extraordinary level of effort on preference falsification, as described above, and it is obvious that such is working incredibly well when you see the young, the future and security of the nation are needlessly killing themselves instead of coordinating to bring down the regime of IA.

    Regards

  • Abraham Hanibal

    Gedli is history. Why should we focus on something that started half a century ago and ended two decades ago? Now it is time for us to discuss how we can contribute to overcome our predicament under the PFDJ, and what kind of role we could play in the democratic transition of Eritrea after the fall of the PFDJ.

  • Abraham Hanibal

    Any change in Eritrea can only come from within the country, unless otherwise there would be some serious military confrontation with Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian army overthrows the PFDJ leadership. I list below the conditions that may lead to some sort of change:

    1-Dictator Isayas dies or is incapacitated by whatever reason:
    This leads to a situation where the command line within the PFDJ and the government is broken. The absence of any second-in-command in the PFDJ and government leads to power struggle and disobediences among the leading entities. The military may try to take a leading role in this situation, but it would be difficult to find someone in the military to whom the top commanders can show allegiance because they don’t trust each other. This may lead the top PFDJ political leaders to try and find a figure arround whom they can unite. But this option is even more difficult, because in addition to absence of trust, the one that may be chosen should have the blessing of the top millitary commanders. In practice, this means a deadlocked situation. This situation may lead to calls to convene a conference of the PFDJ to find a successor which would be a positive development. Because whenever people convene together there would be an exchange of ideas, including the evaluation of past mistakes. Considering the fact that people in the PFDJ-system haven’t had the chance to express their views and beliefs in the last two decades without fear of persecution, this situation may lead to positive outcome in the politics of Eritrea.

    2-The president falls out of favor of the top military leaders; and the commanders overcome the mistrust among each other and unite to remove the president by force. This is basically a military coup. The prospects of this alternative are bleak, because of the involvement of the military in the political system. The chance that this may lead to a democratic rule is remote.

    3-Total economic failure renders the government incapable of governing, leading to social unrest and possible calls of the removal of the leadership from the members of the PFDJ and the general public. This situation may lead to political events that I’ve mentioned in nr.1. But the prospects of this alternative to lead to a democratic rule is higher, because of the emboldenment of the people. After all those decades without having a say in their country’s affairs, the people could now feel it is their chance to influence the politics of their country.

    In all these three scenarios the role of the opposition is limited or non-existent. This is because the events are happening inside Eritrea, and the opposition is disorganised, lacking competent leadership and clear programs regarding the political future of Eritrea, leading to lack of popular support. However, the opposition may have a role to play if the change is enforced by outside forces, for example, if the Ethiopian army removes the PFDJ leadership. In this situation, the Ethiopian government may try to install a puppet-government in Eritrea through some elements in the opposition. But the prospects of this government succeeding is very liittle, considering the lack of popular support to the opposition and the long standing mistruust of the Eritrean people with the Ethiopian government.

  • Semere Andom

    Dear Emma:
    ” I love my people more than my country” and those who cannot defend themselves from their tormentors cannot defend their country”
    These two quotes are the anti-thesis of PFDJ supporters and those who are dazzled by the love of the rocks, soil and plants of the land, while they hate the master of all these, the Eritrean people.
    Well articulated piece.
    There are shades of democratic coup that and it only works in democratic countries. It always happens: the prime minister is performing so bad, his party without any convention pressure him to resign, after many pushback he relents and in his speech he cites personal, family or time for new blood, he hugs those very people who tightened the noose for him to resign, he even says nice words about his successor and appeals to all to support him. This is a coup, albeit democratic one, and no drop of blood, even no nose bleeds. we are in the stone age to do that with PFDJ. But the 1985 Sudanese coup is a good example, no drop of blood and the Al-Dahab surrendered power within a year, but it did not last, even if by miracle this happens in Eritrea, you can bet that it will not last, the quick sand of vicious cycle of coups will bury the nations

    • Hope

      —–so do NOTHING beyond Cyber Rhetoric?

      • Semere Andom

        Hi cousin hope, before cousin Sal tells you please do not yell at me:-)
        First address me as “hayis’ Sem;-)
        If your read my comment to Sal when he summarized the 7 point where this democratic coup would work, I believe that we are looking for a change that will live a day to see refining it to the ultimate goal of stable democracy and with no drop of blood, if not with the least blood of shed. So my conjecture is Democratic coup is an oxymoron, not only because it may not usher to democracy, but also it may not be durable and because in our case it may not last due to the reasons I mentioned. For it to have a good shot for us, we need to focus on the process, closing the cleavage that the PFDJ created among us, the disharmony, the suspicious among each other, not only for the coup but for the ultimate change that will come soon whether by internal explosion or DIA dies or if a “black swan” If the Forto incident has succeeded, there would have been blood shed because no one has power except DIA, that is why no coup was attempted in Eritrea, no general or military man has power to boot, he is a paper pusher, and lower ranking military people like Wedi Ali do not have the wide spread popularity and clout for the men of guns to coalesce around them, avoiding the blood she that we you and I abhor and that the hardcore PFDJites love

        • Hope

          My apology,hayis we faris Sem..

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Merhaba Sem,

      I don’t want to argue whether there is such “democratic coup” or not. No one came with clear definition as to what democratic coup is and the criteria required for it, other than Varol. So basically my argument is based on the distinguished scholar “varol.” He is the one who coined the concept with clear definition. There is no other definition before and now in the world of academia. Varol found only three examples according his definition, though except Portugal the two examples are failed by letting the military-entrenchment to continue. Even on that, I am not trying to disprove him (which I let it for the constitutional academia), What my argument was even if his theory is right, there is no objective reality for the democratic coup in Eritrea on the basis he laid down the criteria. We can’t have our own definition at this time unless we want to make scholastic study.

      regards,

  • AMEN

    There is no hiding like being both or saying armed or peacefull struggle.
    Unless those who say violent are forced to make their stands clear and
    are separated from the struggle ; those who said non-violent/peacefull
    struggle should not be forced to make their stand public by taking away
    their rights inorder to categorize and isolate them by rivals or opponenets.
    And the EDA should make it clear that it protects anyone’s opinion in the
    struggle. Otherwise one group to have two alteranative and choices and the
    other to be forced to one opinion and cornered is UNJUST in a struggle and
    never guarantes and leads to a SUCCESS but to demise and capitulation.
    So I see that those who voiced their opinion of non-violent method and then
    ostrazed and isolated have unjustly being stripped of their democratic and
    inalienable rights by some factions who want to score cheap political points
    at the expence of peoples struggle and rights. And it sure is a sign of dictatorial
    dreams.
    So EDA should also force those who chose armed or violent ways to make their
    statements public than allow them to hide with guillible and self serving opportunism
    two choices while forcing and cornering others.
    EDA should publicly take the responsibility and apologize for this particulary and other
    failures in leadership in general that lead the struggle into crises.

  • haileTG

    Selamat Aman,

    Well argued and well presented piece, thank you and I think the high standard discourse you bring is always impessive.

    Now to few observations and reservations that would need your considered opinion. Let’s look at two conceptual models that can distinguished our approach to change:

    The outside to inside conceptual model

    Change being the product being marketed and we being the purveyors of this product and the Eritrean people being the customer; in this conceptual model (outside to inside) we work to identify what they need and tailor the product (change) according to that need of the customer.

    The inside to outside conceptual model

    Everything in the above being the same, we design the product before hand and work to convince the customer (people) that the specific product we have is what they should buy into.

    Now what is the need of the Eritrean people, if we wished to implement the first conceptual model? Needless to mention, it is a need to stop the immediate crisis, the need to stop the outpouring of refugees, the need to stop the Eritrean tragic refugee crisis, the impossible living conditions where 1kg meat sells over half of monthly salary, the dire security risk of arming civilians and involving external armed groups, the deep polarization of the population and mistrust of one another, the total international isolation that would result in confounding the existing problems….

    Based on the above realities and the need it generates therefore, the change (product) you would need to have certain attributes as: quick, organized, safe, readily available, least costly and a way that can lead to progressively widening scope in allowing platform to all other alternative products to be marketed.

    The conditions that would lead for popular uprisings are in place, the fact that uprisings are sudden and instant, doesn’t lead to conclude that because they didn’t happen thus far, they are unlikely to happen for the foreseeable future. The conditions of 2012, 2013 and 2014 are different. I.e high profile defections, Forto incident and mass refugee tragedies respectively. The conditions from here on won’t remain constant either. We will have new reality unfolding as we go forward. So, what would be the wisdom of pre-judging before hand. Trends are there and they point to things coming to a head sooner than later.

    If we wish to go with the second conceptual model however, i.e inside to outside, we need to all agree on view points, undergo many conferences, try to win public opinion, overcome adverse solicitation by the regime and what have you. In reality, there are many change products on the table – each of the dozen or so opposition organization have one. Such is a grassroots politics that needs to win ground before charging ahead for the home run with it. One possibility is also that the process can be interrupted by unexpected eventualities in the current fluid situation.

    Additional notes:

    In your Varol criteria:

    a) The regime’s support base is Ghedli popularity. Without such, there is nothing what so ever that the PFDJ can independently show to justify its existence. It has always been a moronic and dreadful entity and turned Eritrea and its people’s dreams to a dreadful nightmare. It is the people’s connection and pride in Ghedli that is justifying its sorry existance. Does this have any baring on the “military respected by the people?” criteria?

    b) You described the populations abject situation and uprisings not happening yet as a bases to rule it out for the future. Correct me if I misunderstood, but wouldn’t that be the right ingredient for sudden eruption instead?

    Here is a revolution happening in just few minutes (within a space of 2 minutes), it would surprise you how things could move with a blink of an eye 🙂

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcRWiz1PhKU

    Regards

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Hailat,

      I like always your way of framing ideas from the ideas out there. Beside your debating skills and framing ideas, I also see the characteristic and quality of chairmanship in you. Because you pull the ideas of debaters and summarize it and re-frame it again in order the debate to progress. Unfortunately awatistas couldn’t follow it, for different reasons I don’t want to say it here.

      In any case I will come to comment to your comment later in the evening. Sometimes it is not easy to address your points of concern in between work. I surely love your comment always, and thank you for your compliment.

      regards,

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Dear Haile-TG (Hailat),

      First I believe both models the “inside to outside” and “the outside to inside” as you frame it, could work as far as our people could understand the need of each other to redeem our people from the evil party that put them in the current predicament. Second we absolutely understand the need of our people as you have stated in your comment. The problem so far as I understood is, that our people do not believe on collective work. They believe on “group interest” and hence their multiple organizations. They have never made “collective work and people’s interest” at the center of their struggle starting from the armed struggle by the way. The existing political organizations and civic organizations are the expression of their character and the way they behave in their political practice. We are in a deep group interest political factions. That is why every good meaning meetings and conferences attempted by so meaningful individuals effort could not give fruits and hopes to our people. Until we change our political behavior what ever model we try to advance, it won’t get traction. But the educations and the debate should continue no matter how long it takes and minimal its influence it might make, it is one of the format that contribute in the change of our political behavior.

      Second, your point regarding the “product” and the “market-place” I have the following view: A producer can’t be a promoter at the same time that is why we need a collective work to sell the product – a division of work each according his expertise. Therefore all the attributes you mentioned can not be found in one person. Some bring structured ideas how we exit from the current problem, some promote the ideas, some strategize where and how we penetrate to the market place and so forth. I take myself as opinion maker no matter how weak it might be compared to the opinions out there. You have the ability to synthesize the opinions out in the market of ideas. You and others like you could pull us together to bring us into a table to finalize the product that could be sold to our people.

      Third, Organization is the key for everything. Unless the justice seekers (political or apolitical of nature) united in one vision and one strategy, whatever product we have, however realistic, pragmatic as well as programmatic it might be, we can’t advance the change needed to our nation.

      Fourth, Every meaningful progress comes from round table by all stakeholders, sitting there, bringing your product (idea), sharing each other, understanding each ideas that comes on the table, and ready to make compromise.

      Fifth, The need of independent interlocutors (in my view you are a good candidate for that). These group will find where the ideas relate to each other to find a common ground; Identify the primary and secondary issues, set the goals based on the primary issues that serve us for this stage of struggle. Such process will satisfy every stakeholder b/c every group will feel as part of the process and the ideas that will come out of it will be the product of all from the give and take on the table of compromise. A spontaneous movement can not take us anywhere. But a structured and organized movement does. No one know the fate of disorganized society.

      Last by not least, I think the Romanian and Eritrean reality is different. Both countries have their own specificity. Romania hasn’t faced with its youth leaving in droves like ours. Mass demonstration in Eritrea is impossible as the driving force for demonstration are the youth. Hailat if you are waiting for surprise, it could only be a palace coup. God forbid to be less bloody. If it isn’t palace coup, it will be natural death of the despot. If is the later it is everyone’s prediction, no one will know what rout that crises will take us.

      regards,
      Amanuel Hidrat

  • Peace!

    Hi Emma,

    Good one, thank you. I think the best and the easiest way to disprove a plan as unrealistic is by providing a realistic one. In otherwords the essay is about you vs Saleh’s plan, not your plan Vs his plan, or here is why my plan is more realistic than yours.

    Regards

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Merhaba Peace,

      To tell you frankly anyone who is frustrated by the Eritrean politics can call a coup. A coup is always unpredictable who and when will be taken. You don’t declare for a coup. Because a coup is subversive by nature. So you can’t say here is the plan of the coup and let us implement it. Look peace, after all Saay is calling Varol’s theory to heed and implement in the Eritrean reality. Varol’s requirement for democratic coup aren’t there to begin with. Therefore you can’t tell public ” a coup will be a public plan.” If you read my conclusion, any call for a coup is out of frustration, and not from a planned revolutionary strategy. Second, if one can’t bring alternative, doesn’t me the other who bring unrealistic one hat to taken in to effect. The only thing at this time I am happy is, we are focusing on solutions and hopefully many will join and come with alternatives. If we can’t bring alternatives then we have a big problem.

    • Hope

      Peace,
      It is a great reading and analysis.He taught me lots of lessons.Let us be patient and wait until his next follow up article comes up.No need of premature conclusions and judgements.
      -But if I might add though, while I admire Aman’s great and “academia-like” analysis and arguement,Aman Vs SAAY arguement has been here to see.
      In my opinion,and with all due respect to Aman,this is NOT new to Aman based on my observation here…Check this from,as recent as Ismail’s article and on Sem T H’s commentary on Dr Ande’s Book..He tends to “refute”,or tends to challenge things right a way–based on my understanding of his responses.
      He should have modified his Title as it sounds like a “personal take”.
      While I admire and appreciate Mr Amanuel Hidrat for his undisputable contribution for Erittrea as an ELF Vet and his on-going peaceful struggle and in this Forum,his debate and counter-arguement ;and over-reaction and the exchange of few words with the EPDP people—are few of my observations…besides his comments here in this Forum.
      But let us wait as Aman promised us that he will give us a follow up piece about his “Realistic Plans”.
      The issue of external interference–Ethiopia included most likely, bothered me,which seems to be his long standing position about Ethiopia’ inteference..
      To me ,it looks that Aman is putting the Cart before the Horse and is recommending an “early Abortion” of suggestions,recommendations,idea…..
      My only reservation about SAAY’s Tiltle is prob he should NOT have said as ” the Only Option” or may be he said or should have said ” one of the BEST or Few options”…
      I am not a fan of “Falacious Logic” or Pessimism,btw, as he is telling us that since it did not happen here and there,it cannot happen in Eritrea.
      Since the EDF and Eri people are this and that;and since the situation in Eritrea is that and this—there will be NO hope or success—the good thing is as Haile said it,things might be running fast and the only thingis that we have to be prepared for any eventuality–so as to avoid or minimize the unexpected and unpleasant consequences,but the sooner the better….

  • Hayat Adem

    Selam daniel,
    Is democracy born or made? Of course, it is the latter, and I’m sure you will agree with me. But are the people who have the capacity to make democracy born or made? You seem to suggest the former and I beg to differ on that. Given the right environment and the right information, people can decide to do the right thing. Now, a coup will never be enough to bring the right environment with all the needed information available.
    And, please, daniel, why would you think we are supposed to respect and seriously consider Murray? I would never beleive there is predetermined group difference in the DNAs of humanities as such.
    Hayat

    • Daniel

      On your first question we find no difference of opinion between us. The second point however is more complicated in my view. The capacity to make democracy is not what my argument was about, but the capacity to make a successful and developed society. While to some these may seem synonymous, in my eyes they are not. It is precisely for that reason I chose to give the examples mentioned before (democratic Kenya in comparison with authoritarian Southeast Asian countries). Whether a coup will lead to a more democratic Eritrea, Egypt or any other country is not the question in my view. The question is whether these societies will be able to substantially improve the lives of their citizens in the area of human and economic development. I am of the opinion that the makeup of their societies and the capabilities of their people is what is the biggest hindrance to their development. Far more than a authoritarian leadership, or an extreme interpretation of a religion. These may exacerbate the misery that the people have to endure, but are not it’s main cause.

      On a final note, I would like to say that you are free to not respect the work of Charles Murray, Richard Herrnstein, James Watson, J Philippe Rushton, William Shockley or many other brilliant minds. This however is not relevant, as you should know that the mapping of all genes of the human genome was completed more than a decade ago and the developments in the fields of cognitive science, biomedical science, genetic research, psychometrics, molecular science etc. are moving rapidly ever since. Group differences are real and are a main factor in explaining the different outcomes of societies and even continents. Your denial of that fact will not change anything. As science advances, it will become more and more challenging for people with views similar to yours to deny the undeniable. A third world people can simply not create a first world society.
      This however does not mean that the situation in countries like Eritrea can not improve when changing their political system. It just means that the fact that no African country (and with the exception of Egypt no Arab country) has ever won a Nobel prize in Physics, Chemistry, or Medicine will likely not change in the foreseeable future.

      • haileTG

        Selamat daniel,

        Your theory carries truth in its own right but is not applicable to the Eritrean situation. Before addressing specifically why I think so to be the case, let me make a point that would help to frame what I am talking about within its theoretical context. Paulo Freire, an influential writer in the pedagogy of the oppressed, and those who complemented his theories argue that the key to social transformation is preceded by adequate self awareness of the oppressed about their situation. I gather from your argument above a critical disconnect with the situation of the oppressed people in Eritrea. If, for example, the situation of the oppressed people of Eritrea was similar to normal form of such problems where the oppressed masses are dissatisfied with the accomplishment of their regime (due to bad policy or corruption), despite the latter’s effort of sorts, then your assessment would have made a good deal of sense and your theories applicable.

        The Eritrean society, and hence oppressed masses, are comprised of besieged population and blockaded country. An Eritrean doctor is not permitted to operate private clinic to expand its reach and income, an Eritrean youth is not permitted to work freely, an Eritrean farmer is not permitted sell his harvest, an Eritrean business entrepreneur is not permitted to invest and compete, an Eritrean diaspora is not permitted to freely invest in small holding trade or money transfer, an Eritrean trader is not permitted to import/export freely, and Eritrean fisherman is not permitted to catch for sale(beyond certain amount only enough to repay loan advanced to his have fishing boat, the rest has to be sold to ERI-Fish) and an Eritrean traveler under 50 isn’t permitted (in general, save individual cases) to leave the country legally.

        The above is unnatural state of affairs and to top that up the regime’s refusal to have a constitutional government, its security complexities and active engagement in acts of destabilization, black market and other smuggling operations in goods, persons, weapons and money, create a far sinister condition in store that the regime is setting up the people for .

        Such a state of affairs isn’t normal by any stretch of imagination. Only an avowed enemy would besiege a population and place them on a sure track to demise. What we need is counter insurgency theories to disrupt the regime and attack it. The mass flight of the population, the substantial levels of horrific tragedies and the sure sign of a civil war isn’t causing the regime to make even the slightest of policy change. What that means is that you theories would apply for a set up after the fall of the current regime and not with it in the picture. The Eritrean regime is a clear and present danger to the life and future of the Eritrean people and it must be fought back with all means necessary. We can’t equate it to any dictator who lacked skill or means, this is a well coordinated policy bringing down the people to naughts. In other words, it is a war that must be fought one way or another. And what is suggested in these discussions is how to bring that about quickly and less costly.

        Regards

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam daniel,

    While I agree on the general premise of your argument, which says “people are that make a society”, don’t you think that the conscious people that make society also develop a good governance the governs them.? The people that form a society are the people that create a government that governs them. So my argument was the people that form Eritrean society are failed to form a government they own it. A government that administer their differences and make them live in peace.

    regards,
    Amanuel Hidrat (tebeges)

    • Daniel

      please see my reaction to Hayat above.
      Regards

  • Hayat Adem

    Dear Emma,
    This is a very sensible argument countering the democratic coup cappers. Your argument makes a lot sense to me in that 1) a coup is less likely to happen, 2) if it does happen, it is more likely than not to be different from the kind of coup we all used to know. I agree. But here is more: “Democratic Coup” is made of two components of which one is a process (democratic) and the other is a product (coup). A process can be controlled and regulated to bring a desired product, not the other way round.
    Hayat

  • Amanuel

    Dear Amanuel H
    Thank you, what an educational and enlightening article.

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