At times one wonders if we should say shame on us or shame on HGDEF. As if it is not degrading enough to be spat on, we seem to lack the resolve – and a simple one at that by the way, to even be able to wipe the spit off our faces. How degrading could that be?
Many of us were utterly shocked, as we should be, by the tragedy which unfolded a couple of weeks ago just a stone throw away from the shores of Lampedusa. Over three hundred Eritreans, women and children not spared, perished in the most agonizing of ways, each with their own little story of horrors. Stories which could give any human being the shivers just listen to let alone to experience first hand.
But then again, so was and still is the fate of many of our folk back home and in the Diaspora – sheer horrors that never seem to end. So was and still is our story of the past twenty or so years – the story of enslavement, tortures, kidnappings, murders, rapes, organ trafficking and all kinds of macabre atrocities – the stuff that horror movies are made of. At times even too surreal to contemplate that such atrocities could ever be inflicted on humans in this day and age when even beasts let alone humans are accorded the rights which protect them against abuse and deprivation of the necessities of life.
This has been going on for far too long now – way too long and sadly enough without any respite, however short-lived that respite might have been. A day doesn’t pass by without us being inundated and overwhelmed with these horror stories.
But to our shame, yes our shame – we seem to have gotten used to abuse so much so that our tormentors are taking our inaction for granted now. They don’t even bother to test our resolve anymore; they don’t flinch or think twice in almost any atrocity they want to commit against us.
As the adage goes (though with a bit of a tweak here), “poke me once shame on you, poke me twice shame on me” we seem to have resigned to our fate as if we are under some kind of a spell. How else could we take all the abuse, the indignities and the utter disrespect hurled at us and all the horrific crimes committed against our people – how could we take it all and then expect for change to come?
How is it that we expect change to come anyways? Through getting bogged down in silly and endless abstract discourse? By chatting with delinquents?
Now this is not self-loathing by any stretch of the imagination; it is not defeatism, desperation or helplessness – not at all. It is rather a call, a candid call for action that it is indeed time for the end game. The battle lines were already drawn for quite sometime now – there are those of us who want change and then there are those who don’t. There is nothing else in between.
And the first prerequisite for the final showdown is that we can’t be bothered with those who don’t want change – those chauvinist bigots of the n’hna nsu crowd which HGDEF conveniently uses as buffers.
Like I said before, these people can only be contained by defeating and destroying the system they worship and idolize – the system they draw their strength and inspiration from. Take away HGDEF and they will turn full circle to play by the rules. Let’s not even bother putting them in the equation at this point in time. The World is replete with the examples and stories of such crowds and how they are allotted their spaces to practice their prejudice but obey the law of the land and work within its limits at the same time.
So if we want to effect change – immediate change which could bring an end to our collective misery, we need to concentrate on one thing and one thing only – destroying HGDEF. If this is adopted as a policy by the aggrieved and is given the urgency and the focus it deserves – there are many ways through which such a policy could be put to action. Here is a modest approach – one of many ways to skin the cat, so to speak:
Let’s start with one thing most of us seem to agree on, if we ever agree on things that is – which is how miniscule this HGDEF establishment is. They number a couple of hundred at the most, give or take a few of thugs. Just a couple of hundred for crying out loud, of marauding bandits running havoc in a nation of five to six million people. A nation that paid dearly and sacrificed so much not only to be independent but also to be free.
Think about it again for a minute, all the grief, the carnage and the agonizing torment inflicted on our people and which has been going on for over twenty years and counting, is the work of only a couple of hundred of blood-suckers in our midst that we don’t seem to be able to shake off our lives.
Well, something doesn’t jive here. Either the HGDEF establishment is indeed colossal and invincible as it claims to be, however laughable this may sound or we as its victims have miserably failed in recognizing its weakness. It can’t be both – it has to be either or.
And obviously it is the latter because HGDEF’s dubious façade and its myth of invincibility were long shattered to pieces, thanks to the stupid and devastating wars it had instigated by itself – wars it could never win. In fact, it is so weak that it can’t even stop its arch enemies from answering nature’s calls in its backyard right under its nose as we have seen it happen so often. There isn’t a damn thing it can do about it other than squawking about border demarcation ad nauseam.
HGDEF’s weaknesses are many but three in particular stand out as its most vulnerable soft spots:
(1) As indicated above and as argued for many times in this column, HGDEF doesn’t have the numbers. Planning to destroy a bunch of bandits and skunnis need not be like preparing for operation Barbarossa. In other words, given its numbers, HGDEF can be done with in a very short period of time. And there is no shortage of men or material to do this by the way – all it needs is focus and a little re-organization as shown further down in this article.
(2) HGDEF doesn’t have an army. If it did, it would have never stopped its stupid war campaigns even if done just to stay relevant. Its propensity for aggression would have never been tamed as it has been for years now. If HGDEF had an army that it could rely on, it would have never spent what little it has in resources on watching 24/7 through a labyrinth of spy-enforcer network with shoot-to-kill orders, the hundreds of thousands of conscripts from abandoning and fleeing their posts. In short, HGDEF can not wage a war – any war. It is that weak.
(3) Notwithstanding the aforementioned, if there is one thing which could be cited as HGDEF’s weakest point – its Achilles Heels if you will, then it is this. HGDEF doesn’t have a power succession process in place. There is no hierarchy of power to speak of. It doesn’t have any state or public institutions which can function independently and without the daily stream of directives and decrees coming from the bloody dictator himself.
Do away with the dictator and the whole thing would come down crushing like a house of cards in no time. This is what a former U.S ambassador to Eritrea was referring to when he described the PFDJ regime as “only a bullet away from crumbling”.
The whole HGDEF phenomenon, however bloody it turns out to be, is a one time pet project of a sick and a disturbed thug who thinks he could shape a people’s destiny to his sick and bigoted whims. There is no continuity to it – it is more of a single-use disposable tool. The dictator himself confirmed this when said that he couldn’t imagine an Eritrea beyond his rule or something to that effect.
With a target so self-defined for god’s sake, how could anybody lose focus? Why would anybody keep shooting in the dark?
What more could one ask for in an enemy that is barely alive – an enemy that neither has the threat of size nor the support and allegiance of the rank and file – an enemy which by its own admission has no survival plan – any plan that will help it survive a direct blow – What more could one ask for in an enemy? Saying not much is even an understatement. Identifying your enemy’s weaknesses helps you narrow down your target. With your target set, you just aim and destroy your enemy – period.
But the question still remains – Who will be in a better position to destroy HGDEF? Who will bell (preferably strangle) the proverbial cat, so to speak?
Three scenarios come to mind – there could be more. (1) A rebellion by the conscript army (2) Intervention by foreign forces and (3) An attack by the armed opposition groups. Let’s just briefly review the pros and cons of each scenario.
(1) An armed rebellion by the conscript army could destroy HGDEF in a flicker. By sheer numbers alone, the conscripts could overwhelm HGDEF thugs in no time. Not only that, but as they hail from every corner of the country, the conscripts could also serve as a strong stabilizing factor in the immediate aftermath of HGDEF’s destruction.
This however didn’t escape HGDEF – not for a second. That is why it has invested heavily and uses whatever meagre resources it has left on a spy-and-enforcer network and a corrupt officer corps led by bloody warlords to keep close tabs on the conscript army.
For any armed rebellion to be successful planning is crucial and likewise, for any planning to be conducted, the flow of information is critical. How HGDEF embeds its informers within the ranks of the conscript army with the sole purpose of sniffing out any semblance of dissent makes it difficult if not impossible for any information to permeate without being detected.
That’s why with the exception of FORTO-2013 and the armed uprising in Eastern Akele Guzai which preceded it, we don’t see that many attempts by the conscript army to carry out full scale armed rebellions against the HGDEF establishment.
Except for a few flare-ups here and there where the conscripts mow down some corrupt officers in utter desperation and then sadly take their own lives, the only other recourse available for them is to flee their posts at extreme perils to their lives. This is all about the dissent they can show at this point unless of course they get hold of a SPARK – a spark which could set the motion in place to help them connect with each other to destroy HGDEF. Until that happens though, this scenario will just be a pending approach.
(2) There are some among us who believe that a foreign armed intervention, say by Ethiopia or the West even if by proxy would destroy HGDEF and thus solve most if not all of our problems. This assertion is flawed on two grounds. First and foremost, it is a non-starter – because neither the Ethiopians nor the West would be willing to be drawn into an internal conflict of another country that doesn’t pose an immediate threat to them. They will be content with the lessons they taught HGDEF so far.
This is particularly more so for the Ethiopians who have the PFDJ dictator cornered for the last 15 years in the exact same spot they wanted him – yes for 15 long years and the freak couldn’t even move an inch in their direction. They will ignore him as long as he behaves and as long as he dutifully observes the humiliating surrender terms they set for him the last time he tried his luck.
Secondly, even if a foreign armed intervention takes place by some fluke – the end result may not always be in congruence with the ultimate wishes of the Eritrean people. There is always a price tag attached to such interventions, nothing comes for free. And if history has ever taught us a thing or two over the decades past – then it is the heavy price we paid for what was ours in the first place due to foreign interventions which collectively conspired against us.
So in short, this scenario is a non-starter – sort of a pie-in-the sky dreamer. It is a dead approach.
(3) That leaves us with only one scenario – that of the armed opposition groups.
But these ones in turn come with their own set of problems. The most misunderstood groups in the entire Eritrean political arena – these armed opposition groups have been hacking it for as long as HGDEF was on the scene.
If an attacking army’s success rate is measured by how much ground it takes back from its enemy, then these armed opposition groups could be discounted as complete failures. But if the success rate is measured by how each group sticks to its war strategy – then even a lay person could notice that it is exactly what they are doing – sticking to their war strategy.
And their strategy calls for a protracted war of attrition, chipping on HGDEF bit by bit. This suggests two things: (1) that they are in for the long haul, and (2) they intend to be there when HGDEF finally succumbs to its wounds.
Unfortunately, the biggest flaw in this approach is that it does not take into account the urgency that is needed to mitigate the horrific daily carnage which the Eritrean people are being subjected to. At the going rate of savagery inflicted on the people and by the time HGDEF succumbs to such a strategy, there may not be a nation to be had.
So if HGDEF is to be destroyed – and destroyed immediately that is, there is this loop that needs to be closed. It starts with the armed opposition groups. As we are all aware, these groups have often been ridiculed and scoffed as too weak and too few to be taken seriously.
But if one watches closely that doesn’t seem to bother them at all – because they know all too well that their ranks will inevitably swell to the brim when (and if) the conscript army breaks up. The idea being hanging on tight to their banners for now would guarantee their presence in any future dialogue in which ALL Eritreans sit down to agree on a new national covenant.
If I may digress a bit here, little did HGDEF know that when it emptied all the towns and villages of the country through its forced conscription policy that it was actually creating a double-edged sword which would cut short its despicable chauvinist agenda – but that is a subject for another day.
So attempting to bring the armed opposition groups together at this point in time to form a unified military force by having them abandon their raison d’être is definitely doomed to fail as it did over the years past. They may work together, co-operate or conduct joint operations – but abandon their banners, they will not. According to them, the nation’s wounds are just too deep to be dressed up at this point. They figure, trust is not something that can be preached, decreed or legislated. It emanates from and is reciprocated through deeds – honest deeds.
The only ray of hope here is that, despite their divergent views and outlooks, all these armed opposition groups converge on one core issue; they all want HGDEF destroyed immediately. This may sound like a catch-22 quagmire for some but in actuality it could be a good starting point in destroying HGDEF.
What these armed opposition groups could do is contribute some of their best fighters and intelligence personnel to help create an elite national task force unit (remember 1 single unit – not another organization) which would be mandated with the execution of one single task within a specified timeline. The unit’s task would be the immediate destruction of HGDEF in a top-down operation by bringing to justice or bringing justice to (all the same) the few than two hundred bandits who are responsible for the horrific misery which the Eritrean people have been subjected to over the past twenty or so years.
Such a task force unit would not be bogged down in unnecessary combats and firefights with the conscript army but rather would rely on stealth, speed and intelligence (readily available) to conduct its operations with deadly precision.
Many others like exiled ex-conscripts, veteran fighters, all other political and public organizations and the public in general could contribute with a wealth of information, intelligence, financial and moral support and even active participation if need, be to help with the immediate creation of such a national task force unit.
As argued for many times before in this column – HGDEF’s destruction works best in a top-down operation. With clear-cut and well defined targets, the unit’s mission couldn’t be made easier. Also its dependence on logistics would be minimal as it would not be necessary for it to engage in full scale combats. Another plus, the ever controversial outside sources of financing would not be required in this case because for such a limited operation – Eritreans themselves could afford to foot the bill.
With the creation of the national task force unit, the armed opposition groups would be able to keep their banners until such time there is a true national dialogue between all the stake-holders of the nation to enter into a new and equitable national covenant. That was their snail-pace strategy all along anyways, but this time around they wouldn’t need to fake it anymore. They wouldn’t also come under pressure from members of the public to have them enter into forced marriages that don’t always last.
As for the conscript army inside the country, the national task force unit would be a godsend as it would provide the SPARK that was missing all along. With enough HGDEF thugs decommissioned and their spy and enforcer network in tatters – the conscript army could break free from HGDEF’s grip and make its final move to finish the job. Not only that but it will also play a crucial role in stabilizing the country as stated before.
So without any further ado, let’s all take this as a call to contribute our level best in whatever way it is that we feel comfortable and able to make this initiative a reality. We can only work with what we have – and truth be told, we have enough men and material to effect immediate change. Not only that, but we also have the legal and moral high ground for this initiative. It falls within our inherent right to self-defence.
The outpouring of grief and rage at the calamities facing our people as was evident over the last couple of weeks and as we have seen it happen many times over the years are only natural reactions because after all we are only humans.
That said though, running high on emotions alone won’t do the job of emancipating our people from this horrifying bondage they find themselves in. It is time to take action.
HGDEF’s Layered Buffers
The suck and blow crowd – those who want change tailored to their musings.
The fear-mongering crowd – those who preach that change will only lead to chaos and blood shed
The cult freaks – Those who say that there is no alternative (for the dictator) to be had.
A simple observation: You can talk to these crowds until you turn blue, you can never win them over. Alternatively, you can destroy HGDEF and you will see that they will be the first ones to sing Kumbaya.
Belated Eid Mubarak to you all. Kul’Am Wa-antum B’kheir.