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Eritrea, Africa: The Last Big Man Standing

[As I write this, I haven’t heard Isaias Afwerki’s speech. If history is a guide, he will blame his predecessor for the mess who, in turn, will blame his predecessor all the way back to whoever has been presiding over Eritrea since 1991. Oh, wait, he is his own predecessor.  Never mind: did you enjoy the show?]
It’s been 22 years since May 24, 1991. Gather around, Eritreans under 30, as Uncle Sal tells you why that date is a big deal because you were too young to remember what it replaced and what the big fuss is all about. You see, there were successive Ethiopian regimes who told us that we could never, ever, ever, ever think of separating from Ethiopia which had 3,000 years of uninterrupted independence—a country which foiled the repeated aggression of Egyptians and Italians and it certainly would beat back whatever ragtag army of petro-dollar financed and confused Ethiopians in its northern province could muster. Ethiopia, the anchor of the Horn of Africa, the hope and inspiration of all people of African ancestry anywhere in the world, will never allow this to happen—particularly when it had powerful friends who can subsidize every war toy it wanted. All May 24, 1991 did was overcome an Ethiopian mindset, shared by the entire world, that told us we were too weak, too few, too new, too fractured to be an independent state that would govern itself. It did this by, among other things, sharing a vision of what Ertra ny tSbaH would look like (explicitly written in the political programmes of the ELF and EPLF.) That is the Big Deal: it is the stuff of legends. And now?  Now we are haggling on the quality of the governance in much the same way every independent state in the world does.

We have problems. How severe and why? There are Eritreans whom, when we are in righteous fury, we call PFDJistas, Hgdefites, Isaiasists.   Their answer is: Eritrea is, given every challenge that was thrown at it, doing relatively well. Whatever deficiencies exist are due to (a) the war and the no-war-no-peace policy waged upon it by Ethiopia and tolerated/supported by the US and UN; (b) the fact that it is a new country; (c) human error. Every country in the world has its “national security” citizens who, particularly during and immediately following a war, are willing to give the government extended and indefinite powers to “secure the nation.” Our version—lets call them the “9/18 Movement”—are no different. They see the same horror we see, and their families are affected by the same horrors our families are, they just have a different interpretation as to what its cause is and how to stop it from happening.

Some things, kids, you only understand in hindsight. Our problem is a bit older than 1998 (the Eritrea-Ethiopia border war). Some would say it goes all the way back to 1961—and you have read their reasoning—but most of those wounds we inflicted on ourselves during Ghedli were not mortal. Our problem goes back to shortly after May 24, 1991; it was exacerbated in February 16, 1994; it went downhill in May 1995, it hit a rock on September 18, 2001, it hit a wall in May 2002 and it has fallen off the rails (hopefully not in irreversible path) on January 20, 2013.

In short, our problem has been caused by good old fashioned “the winner takes it all” mentality—one that tells the loser “nedeka my wredela.”  As much as we like to flatter ourselves, this is a common malady that affects most new nations–especially in Africa.   National politics is an ecosystem: each decision, each behavior has a domino effect.  But let’s not feel bad: dictators are professionals in power politics, we the people are amateurs.  We had a late start: but we have numbers on our side and it will continue to grow.

Eritrean Principles
Isaias Afwerki’s biggest failure is his unwillingness to manage Eritrea’s diversity. And please note that diversity doesn’t just refer to religion and region only; it also refers to tradition, culture, and political ideology. Back in the day, there was consensus view that Eritrea would be a secular, democratic country governed on the basis of power devolution to localities.   Secular, democratic, decentralization all had explicit meanings so all the mystification of “what do you mean by secular?” “what do you mean by democracy?” “what do you mean by decentralization?” had not been invented yet.

By secular, what was meant was that the country would not have an official religion and government and religious institutions would not interfere in the affairs of each other. By democratic what was really meant was the so-called Western democracy: one based on individual rights and civil liberties (freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship (except for Jehovah’s Witnesses, sadly, according to our Fronts.)  The much-maligned Ghedli insisted on putting this commitment on paper, in black and white.  And by “decentralization”, what was meant was the principle of “that which is close to the people is the institution which governs best.” Each region was supposed to be practically self-governing with the central government doing only the things that central governments should do (national defense, monetary/fiscal policy, foreign affairs.)

The leadership of Isaias Afwerki has completely bungled it all—deliberately. Let’s look at each one individually.

(a) Weeks After May 24, 1991
Shortly after Eritrea’s independence, the winner (EPLF) invited the losers (ELF-RC) to a meeting to negotiate the terms of their participation in the nation’s affairs. The ELF-RC, like any political organization looking for leverage, disclosed this fact to a reporter who published the news. An irate Isaias Afwerki cancelled the meeting (the invitees had to fly back) and instituted the policy of “you are free to enter as individuals but not as a party.” Just to underline the point, he said (on June 20, no less) that, henceforth, there would be no political party jockeying in Eritrea. (ny wdbat Hashewye…)

Now, let’s look at the domino effect. When the ELF was booted out of Eritrea in 1981, the cause of “national, secular, democratic, decentralized” (let’s call it NSDD for short) governance had a huge setback because at least half of NSDD governance advocates in Eritrea were members/sympathizers of the ELF. When the EPLF now denied political space in Eritrea to an ELF offshoot (ELF-RC), it was further setback to NSDD constituency. Put differently, it empowered those who were critics of NSDD. And there was no bigger critic of that than the Eritrean Islamic Jihad movement.

In the same manner that critics of Western Democracy criticize democracy, the Eritrean Islamists called “secularism” a Western construct. In fact, they said, secularism was something that came about in reaction to specific Church practices in Western Europe. Since that does not apply to Eritrea, they argued, and since secularism is something that slowly evolved in Western Europe, it is unreasonable to expect traditional and religious Eritreans to completely divorce their religion from how they want to be governed. The EIJM, and its various iterations, is, politically, much less significant than it was in the 1990s. But, the net effect of the ideology it represented is negative: it scared some Eritrean Christians into running to the bosom of Isaias Afwerki and the autocracy he represented; it alienated a significant number of Eritrean Muslims from Eritrea. There is fairly large Eritrean Muslim society in the Diaspora who are, by every strict definition, “selefists”—practicing Islam in a manner completely alien to Eritrea—and their withdrawal from Eritrea and embracing a culture that has nothing to do with Eritrea is at least indirectly attributable to Isaias Afwerki’s decision to humiliate the NSDD.  If you think this is an overstatement, consider what is the logic of Eritrea insisting that “all stakeholders” be involved in the decision-making process of Somalia?  Isn’t the argument that, if you don’t, you radicalize a segment of your population?  Same holds true anywhere–including Eritrea.

(b) February 16, 1994
In 1994, between February 10 and 16, the EPLF had a party congress in Nakfa where it emerged as PFDJ. Not only was that the last congress of the EPLF, it was also the first and last congress of the PFDJ. The sole purpose of that congress appears to have been (a) to demote Ramadan Mohammed Nur (wink wink, he resigned) and (b) to introduce the “National Charter.”

The 1994 charter essentially reversed the promises of EPLF’s 1987 congress (and that of the congresses of the ELF, who were no longer allowed to enter Eritrea—a land they spent half their lives bleeding for.) Whereas the 1987 congress was explicit in its vision of Eritrea’s individual rights, the National Charter made rights as a “Hafash” issue—that individual rights are subservient to “national” rights and duties. Those of you who read the Charter’s “Building a Democratic Political System” should not have been surprised when President Isaias Afwerki told Al Jazeera that political parties may not exist in Eritrea for three to four decades because the charter says: “Our understanding of democracy should emphasize its content rather than its external manifestations. In the context of our society, democracy is dependent not on the number of political parties and on regular elections, but on the actual participation of people in the decision-making process at community and national level…. equating of democracy to the number of political parties and…organized elections… is wrong and dangerous.” So, whatever the PFDJ is doing now, is EXACTLY what it said it would do in 1994 when we the people were in a slumber.

When a ruling party is telling you that you shouldn’t even consider organizing yourself and presenting an alternative view to the people—which is the essence of democracy—isn’t it chopping off yet another constituency of NSDD? And what alternative is there other than to be radicalized and practice exiled politics? This was yet another chipping away at the Eritrean constituency which supported a Nationalist Secular Democratic and Decentralized government.

(c) May 19, 1995
Power decentralization was seen within the context of Eritrea’s traditional provinces: Hamasien, Serraye, Sahel, Senhit, Semhar etc. The idea was that each of these provinces would be semi-autonomous: the central (Asmara) government would be limited to doing only those things that a central government can do: protecting the borders, and instituting fiscal and monetary policy. Everything else was supposed to be run by local government. The exact opposite happened. First, the provinces were re-drawn—under the guise of defeating “regionalism”, solving old disputes, and facilitating national macroeconomic policy. And, ironically, the two things that a central government should do—protecting national sovereignty and having a sane fiscal and monetary policy—were completely bungled. The mismanagement of these two central government responsibilities (commissions on introduction of Nakfa currency, commission on Eritrea-Ethiopia border) is what led to the Eritrea-Ethiopia border war. Second, the re-drawing of the maps was supplemented by two proclamations—land policy and macroeconomic policy—that essentially allowed the central government to expropriate any piece of land and to give it to whomever it wanted.  That’s how  you have a fine recipe for disaster.

The consequences? Well, for every person who admires this infrastructure and that microdam in Eritrea, there is at least one nursing a wound for losing land. And those who no longer want to depend on the kindness of future leaders to respect the principle of decentralization are now either calling for a federal system (not once entertained during the armed struggle) or calling for the right of “self-determination up to and including secession.” The emergence of political organizations (specifically advocates for Eritrean Kunama and Eritrean Afar) should be seen within this light.

(d) September 18, 2001
All the criticisms against the Eritrean government up until 2001 could be easily dismissed—and they were—as the grievances of people who have only vague knowledge of post-independent Eritrea because they had been exiled for too long. Then came September 18, 2001, the case of the “G-15.”  Here were government insiders—people who held senior posts of foreign minister, defense minister and veterans of the front—calling for reforming the ruling party. The whisper campaign against them was brutal: those from Akeleguzay were accused of being regionalist; the Muslims were accused of favoring Muslims and corruptions—and these was directed at veterans of the EPLF! When they were given the same “winner takes it all, loser gets nothing” treatment, when they were implausibly accused of being regionalist, then, that too chopped away at the NSDD constituency.

(e) May 2002
Some people think that “secularism” simply means that religious institutions should not have supremacy over the state. That’s only half a definition: it also means that the government cannot impose religion on the people. But that’s exactly what the Eritrean government did in May 2002. It said that the only religions licensed to operate in Eritrea are Islam (Sunni Islam, no Shia allowed), the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church of Eritrea.

This means, in plain language, that the State has told Eritreans who do not worship at these mosques and churches that they either have to give up their religion, break the law and worship secretly, or leave the country.  More stakeholders alienated.

(f) January 20, 2013
We will come to learn that the “Forto incident,” dismissed by the PFDJ and some in the opposition, is a huge deal. The whisper campaigns have tagged it as a Muslim movement. And, indeed, some of the bigger names of those arrested or left the regime—Abdella Jaber, Ahmed Haj Ali, Mustapha Nurhussein, Ali Abdu are Muslims. All these individuals have friends within the party and, as happened with the G-15 movement of 2001, many more whose names we do not know have been arrested or have—or will soon—abandon the regime. Just like many of the individuals mentioned above were empowered when the G-15 were arrested, a new group—gathered from the large pool of the once-frozen and passed-on—will be thawed and promoted and they won’t ask the one question that all job-applicants are encouraged to ask: “what happened to my predecessor?”  But the party base continues to shrink.


May 24, 1991 is worth celebrating because it enabled Eritreans to have the political autonomy to decide our fate. However, like almost every African country which was once colonized and got its independence, we Eritreans have completely bungled our post-independence governance. Those we call Hgdefites will always be with us—even when we have a new government–because every nation has its “national security” lobby who are always reminding the citizens how “soft” they are and how the government is spoiling them with too many rights and not demanding enough duties from them.

Although very many awful things were done during the Armed Struggle—not the least of which was the civil war—almost all Eritreans were willing to deal with those issues in an Eritrea that delivered on the promises made during the Armed Struggle: a country that was governed on the basis of secular, democratic, decentralized system. The PFDJ took measures to mystify democracy (just as South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki mystified AIDS) and in the process Eritrea sustained a heavy loss and lost opportunities (just as Mbeki’s decision caused the premature death of 365,000 South Africans.)

The denial of political space to Eritrean parties radicalized them with some justifying armed struggle.  Others, they just dropped out. The government’s decision to nationalize land, to redraw borders, radicalized those who want the powers of the central government to be restricted. The continuous purging of its own members has given the party a continuously shrinking base, and a recycled (freeze, thaw, freeze again, thaw again) senior personnel who are anything but motivated.  Their only motivation is fear: fear of punishment.

Some of these decisions were made after “studies” and some even have the imprint of a national assembly (such as the re-drawing of the provinces.) Some have popular support—seriously, how many Eritreans are protesting for the rights of Jehovahs Witnesses? All these decisions are completely rational—if your objective is to empower one man, the head of state, and to reduce everybody else to a subject.  That is, they were done methodically and deliberately.   And, if we the subjects want to become citizens, our mission is clear: to call for, and work for, deliberately and methodically, the reversal of all these decisions. If we win, we will become citizens. If Isaias Afwerki wins, he will linger on, and his fate will be that of every African Big Man: clinging to power, relying on an ever-shrinking base, and making promises and prophesies that he can’t deliver on.

Happy Independence Day, Eritrea, and welcome to Africa.

About Salyounis

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

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  • haile

    ohh Serray, you pressed the wrong button! did I hear “Coward?” – hang on, but I am Eritrean. Asha ke’Eshweni si taff neqizu ybleni! You sir, is a coward, in deeds and words! Why are you in cyber tears with your daring psudo-self? and not being addressed in own name? What a joke you have the audacity to even use the word that define you first and foremost “coward”

    As for me, call me “sensible” for avoiding to be identified with you as “opposition” because you need to be isolated and face the music of “treason”

    You were doing ok, until you did the first silly mistake – don’t call people a name! you can wear it if you please though.

    • Serray

      Haile, you jumped the gun there; you missed the “I” . But you have to admit, there is something cowardly about people like us, though, compared to those who gave up the right to see their country and their relatives back home as long as the dictatorship is there.

      • haile

        Oooo Serray…you’re right!!! ab qereba endina zelena:) entay kngebr elkana! I thought it was directed to me, I now see what you meant..apology in order. I will say a thing or two about the issue of “cowardice” on the new post that appeared by Admas. Hold your breath…I promise you an explosive hagoxgox soon.

  • Serray

    Selamat Haile,

    I agree with your devil’s advocate points on citizenship.

    One of the things I hate about shaebia is (Sal also alludes to it when he criticizes isaias but all shaebia tegadelti use it when faced with their dismal performance post-1991) they claim they started from zero. Eritrea had many things intact in 1991 including an excited, happy and ready population before they sucked the life out it. The resources and the beauty you mentioned were there before ghedli; the point of ghedli was to insure the proper and fair use of the resources by eritreans for eritreans.

    The problem with life is it ends. The chances that we will enjoy eritrea in our lifetime is dwindling. The first half of our life was spent under a cloud of war and the second and final half, we are spending it in exile thanks to shaebia’s gift to recreate medda across the whole eritrea. I am not like you, I don’t think eritrea’s independence is a gift from ghedli; I think 99 percent of us paid huge price to make it happen. My beef with you guys is you discount the sacrifices of people on whose land this war was fought 100 percent of the times. Having a nation on the map is less important to me than having a nation whose people live in peace in it. The stupidest thing I read this year is isaias’s independence speech (to be honest, the stupidest thing I read every year is his speeches). Reading it, it is difficult to imagine this dumb is a ruler of an independent nation. By definition, a country that has this idiot as head of state is far from independent. Read it for yourself…

    In eritrea, a genocide has been going on for the last 20 years; a genocide as insidious and as deadly as that committed by the nazis. A genocide that targets people between a certain ages. A genocide perpetuated not by your favorite target, the opposition, but by the regime you seem ambivalent at times. You and I have real difference not just about the role of ghedli but about life itself. Those of you who minimize the role of the regime in igniting wars but insist that we celebrate a day that gave us a place on the map (and isaias’s regime) do so by discounting life. Right now, ghedli didn’t make it possible for us to enjoy the wealth and beauty of our land, it did the reverse. It ushered an era that made it impossible for many to enjoy the land handed to them by their ancestors. But you guys have a long view of life; three generations and counting is just about the right price to pay to have what we have. You want us to be grateful about it.

    The irony is, eritrea should have become a nation without firing a shot, but fate had it that we fight to death to have it. That worst part is, now we have a nation that feeds on its children; that makes it acceptable for its rulers to declare war with all its neighbors and destroy the nation in the process. Your ghedli worshipping and independence celebration sends a wrong message, that it is worth it to have nation that makes no distinction between life and death, between a slave and a freeman.

    Sal made a good point about Ghedli-dictatorship continuum, I agree with him that the skill sets needed for ghedli are not transferable to a transparent, accountable and democratic governance. If you look at the second, third or even forth generation of rebel/dictatorship, they share one thing in common; they glamorize what was paid/sacrificed without showing or bestowing any benefit of the curved out state. North korea is a good example of that. The regime gets high by brainwashing the hungry populace that they are happy to be citizens of the miserable half of the two koreas. Your refusal to hold ghedli responsible, your insistence that we strip those who refuse to celebrate independence when there isn’t even a trace of it has a danger of setting up the nation to a second, third, fourth generation of brutes.

    • Selam Serray,

      I salute you for your civility in the debate whether I agree or disagree in your political debate. The long debate between sal and you on the last thread of previous article is an exemplary by itself.In any case, the following line define the nation we have – a quote I surely will have it, and that is “a nation that makes no distinction between life and death and between slave and freeman.” That is the kind of nation Haile and his likes advocate for.


      The tyrant had said in his speech the following: “…..struggle for independence and sovereignty has not yet come to an end.” Do you agree with his words as quoted? Isn’t this a perpetual effort in holding our young in a modern slavery to quench the power of the man whom you don’t have a qualm in what he is doing to our young generation? Let me hear from you what your take is on the speech of the despot in May 24, 2013.

    • haile

      Selamat Serray,

      You are right in your characterization of PFDJ as brutal dictatorship. This is why Eritreans have every right and responsibility to raise up to improve their lot’s situation.

      To say Eritrea’s independence could have been attained without a single shooting is beyond a joke. I wish to learn how so? The main problem in your argument is that you over simplify the causes of Eritrea’s challenges. Many of our problems are deep seated and cut across all pervasive cross-section of our societal facets. You mis-diagnose the problem and reach for an over kill. Your approach can be likened to the suggestion that if we destroy Eritrea, the PFDJ would be destroyed too, because it is part of the whole? Logically correct but devoid of human intelligence really!

      You do have the duty of care to exercise responsible form of opposition that would challenge the PFDJ and reassures the populace that you are indeed patriotic. Cursing the nation itself, proposing ideas that would endanger its existence and blaming and justifying your actions on the maladministration of the regime has proven to ring hallow in connecting with the population.

      Your belief can only be implemented with massive external support, and I hope you see the conflict of interest that would tear such a partnership apart.

      In conclusion serray, you are right about the regime, yet failed to keep a sober and balanced mind in handling the challenges. Politics is value oriented exercise, your stands, your projections, your narrations are all cashed in the form of popular support. I have yet to meet an Eritrean who supports the violation of human rights in itself, yet the wy the opposition contextualized it has created a strange scenario on the ground.


      • Serray

        Selam Haile,

        When I said without firing a shot, I meant if the fate of our nation was decided the way somalia or libya’s fate was decided. But our fathers and HS conspired to turn our country into a field of death for thirty years and their children into a field of death and slavery the last 20 years.

        My position on ghedli is not simply about pfdj, it is about the next government and the one after it using it to distort freedom, accountability and justice. I am as much terrified about the opposition using ghedli as I am about shaebia using it. If we don’t see ghedli as an aberration that it is, if we internalized the idea of struggle and sacrifice instead of freedom and democracy, we are doomed, not just under pfdj but under any government that follows. The world is changing fast, a value system that glorifies warrior mentality has no place in it.

        We eritreans have two temporal distinctions: smart, hardworking and industrious before ghedli and warriors and whatever isaias say we are after ghedli. All I am saying is, since we are a nation now, we can put to rest the warrior thingy and claim our rightful distinction as people who succeed in education and business even under colonialism. The last 22 years has showed us that they are mutually exclusive; if we worship struggle, it will always be at the expense of freedom and success.

        • haile

          Hello Serray

          A quick feedback here, if you only changed your phrase “…see ghedli as an aberration…” by by the phrase “…close the Ghedli chapter for whatever…” in the exact location of your text, I would 100% in agreement.


          • haile

            please correct verb agreements…in real hurry 🙂

          • Salyounis


            Ditto and amen to that.

            The lamentations that tragic Eritrea is the inevitable outcome of Ghedli are the mirror image of the Ghedli-era lamentations that Eritrea would never be a viable state. Both lamentations remind me of how scientists, for decades, tried to figure out why bees fly. They shouldn’t fly, but they do, they said. Not gracefully, but they fly:)



    • Ghezae Hagos

      Selam Serray,

      That was powerful message, very articulate and strong. We should see the absolute evilness of PFDJ and your entry was right on the mark. Thanks for sharing.

      Selam SAAY,

      You quoted Anna Karenina’s first sentence. That was how I started writing something of a critique to Anatomy of African Tragedy: Political, Economic and Foreign Policy crisis in Post-Independence Eritrea [Kidane Mengisteab, Okbazghi Yohannes.] Never gone anywhere, only languished with the title before I abandoned the idea.

      • Salyounis


        Yeah, my hats off to Serray, too: when he is in the zone, he is really in the zone (even when I only agree with half his conclusions. His response to Kaddis for example on the AU is spot on. Nothing more tragic than a dictatorship’s special club protecting its own…

        On the unfinished projects, I understand and sympathize. We should have where we just dump all our half-articles, titles-only articles, one-paragraph articles and the “Dear-God-what-was-I-thinking?” articles. Would love to read your review of the book…


        • Serray

          Selamat Sal, Amanuel and Gezae,

          There is something humbling about addressing you, not but your nicks, but by your real names. As a coward who still has his options to go and visit his family open, I always marvel at what you guys have to give up to do what you do.

          Back to ghedli, communists are fond of starting every other conversation with “the revolution”… dergi cadres were obsessed about their “abiyot”. The worst things got, the louder they kept shouting abiyotachin, abiyotachin. But there was always the west/east contrast stalking them. No matter how they paint it, the decay always showed. Then, finally, in 1984-85, famine came, hitting hard the northern provinces (eritrea, tigray and wello) but, unlike in the past, the fertile south as well. Dergi’s abiyot proved incompetent. The revolutionaries started to see aid as a business; they sat and negotiated hard with the donors about the price they are going to charge them to deliver and distribute the aid to their fellow countrymen. Like shaebia toady, they demanded cash. But what exposed dergi’s abiyote to the farmers was, just like in the past, rain and not the abiyot BS was the answer.

          Here is how isaias closed his independence speech this year,

          “Still, as the rainy season is on the onset, the nation needs to reinforce ventures in this connection, in addition to the ongoing community-based soil and water conservation, as well as other agricultural activities.”

          Like medieval rulers before him, he asked his subjects to pray for rain…in Orwellian speak, of course. Certain things can be reformed and applied, not communism. When you get rid of private property, individual freedom, business success and add fatalistic belief in self-reliance in the face nonexistent success, and hold warlike and the “world hate us” posture, failure is assured. Eritrea is failing by design.

          Sal, I think we agree more times than that. If you think about it, our disagreement revolves around the incubator of eritrea’s custom made failure. You point to its fluffy hair to make it look all success, I point to its many horns to show its dangerous nature.

          • Salyounis

            Selamat Serray:

            1. Use of real name vs pen name is a complex issue. The fact that even some who support the PFDJ use pen names tells me that the motivations for it are complex (not a simple issue of bravery and cowardice) and privacy is somewhere on top of the motivation list. In any event, there are some people like you (on the opposition side) and “Sam B”/”Warsay Eritrawi” (on the government side) whom I love to read and engage whether you are using your real names or assumed names. When the content is rich, the issue of authorship is secondary. Having said that, I have some sort of kinship with Eritreans who write using their real name–whether they are writing for the oppo or the government side. (We are all in the fenj-regach squad:)

            2. Yes, you are right, we agree on a lot more than 50%. But the two things we disagree on–the nature of the Armed Struggle and the relative significance of May 12, 1998–are so huge that they do, necessarily, consume most of our time.

            When America was going through one of its more irrational phases–the War on Drugs– somebody argued that since marijuana is the “gateway drug”, since almost everybody who ended up using cocaine, crack, Ecstasy, etc, started out by smoking marijuana, we should declare nuclear war on marijuana, and then all the other drug dependencies will recede. In response, somebody made the argument that if you take “the gateway drug” to its absurd extreme, why, then, you could say that milk is the original gateway drug because everybody who became a drug addict started out by drinking milk as an infant. His point was: as long as there are people who never get past smoking marijuana, all you have established is co-relation and not causality. I feel that our discussions about Ghedli and current Eritrea sometimes resemble that discussion.

            3. Max Boot has a book “Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present” that may put our Ghedli in the right context. I have read the abstract, not the book yet (I think it is 1,000 pages long:), but it answers questions like: what is the success rate of insurgencies? What is the impact of foreign help? What is the average length of guerrilla warfare? How modern/ancient are guerrilla wars? I think questions like that would put our Ghedli in the right context. This, by the way, is what our scholars/intellectuals are supposed to do…but they are mostly missing in action, leaving the digging to amateurs like us:)


          • Serray

            Selamat Sal,

            Using nick vs real name: The pfdjs use it to be as obnoxious as they want to be or because deep down they don’t really believe in what they are saying and they are protecting themselves not from the regime, but from a possible future without it in power. Ours is just fear and opportunism; like a negram sebeyi who back baits her neighbor the whole day but covers her face with her netsela when she passes her front door.

            About our independence, the first sign that it could go wrong was when we voted 99.8 percent for it. It gave isaias and shaebia the illusion that their hade libi hade hizbi crap is real. If we had voted 60:40, we would still have our independence but sheabia would have thought twice before implementing a master-slave system of government.

            There is something unhealthy about your demand that we all celebrate May 24 and that we all worship the same heroes…and ghedli. This is an opposition version of hade libi hade hizbi. Nothing will happen to eritrea if 10 percent think we are part of the arab world, 10 percent believe we are ethiopians and another 10 percent become hare krishna, nothing. Freedom is about choice, if you demand that everybody agree with you at what you chose to be the most important, then there is something wrong. It is not by accident that neo-andnet is becoming an exclusive property of higdef, it sync’s with their hade libi hade hizbi perfectly…while it does nothing but weaken the opposition.

            During HS and Dergi, the most enlightened ethiopians were those who believed eritreans should go their own way if they choose to. From EPRP, to OLF and TPLF, they supported our independence when their countrymen bought,by and large, that eritrea has returned to her motherland.

            An opposition is, or ought to be, an exact opposite of the a regime it is trying to replace. Truly free eritrea will face a lot of issues…the afar might ask to join their kins in ethiopia; some muslims might demand sharia in places were muslims are a majority; deki badme and its environs might ask to remain with ethiopia. If we think we can shut these people up by intimidation and name calling, we are dead wrong. The stubbornness that allows our brothers and sisters to defeat the dergi is in them, too.

            Remember, there is nothing organic about eritrea; it is just another creation of colonialism. What would make it successful is if we all make it worthwhile for those who call it home. So far Eritrea has been a nightmare to everyone except to those who came with guns. When someone in the opposition insists that we all celebrate the beginning of an era that so far has only ushered a nightmare, the symmetry with those who ruled us by force and ask us to worship the same things becomes painfully apparent. As eritreans, we have to internalize diversity. We are not one, we were never one, and we will never, ever, be one. If we are lucky, enough of us will believe in the dream our brothers and sisters died for to keep the nation going. If not, if we keep insisting that everybody sees our nation the way we do, we might lose it; if not physically then spiritually.

            I just saw your comment to Adams’s piece, neo-andnet will become obamacare very soon.

          • Salyounis

            Selamat Serray:

            On the referendum vote…I don’t think the 99.8 percent was an exception. South Sudan’s vote for independence was 99.8% too. That’s just a numeric expression for the intensity of how badly we wanted to separate.

            I didn’t demand that we celebrate May 24th (link?) I was reminding those who ask, “why celebrate” that if they are wondering why their countrymen are celebrating, here’s the reason why. I am not big on compulsory celebration: I learned that lesson at an early age when we were mandated to wave little Ethiopian flags and welcome Haile Selasse to Asmara.

            My last article (the one we are commenting on) is lamenting the erosion of the common denominators. The Ghedli had managed to define Eritrea’s political map and its inhabitants and our formula for co-existence (secular, democratic, decentralized): that was the common denominator, the irreducible minimum. Isaias Afwerki’s rejection of this (what the G-15 warned about as a dangerous path he was taking the country in if he rejects reform) essentially guaranteed the elimination of the irreducible minimums. Here’s the paradox, Serray: the authoritarian Ghedli delivered independence from Ethiopia; but it ill-prepared us to have a civilian government that respects political pluralism. In contrast, the existing struggle (neo-Ghedli) to bring change operates like an Italian parliament (lots of freedom, no discipline, no authority) and is incapable of bringing about change. One brought a knife to a fist fight; one brings a fist to a knife fight. A person I really admire asked me a question over the weekend: who is our ideologue in the opposition? I was stumped for an answer. The Ghedli, at least, had an ideology (borrowed from the communists, of course.)

            Your “remember, there is nothing organic about Eritrea…” para is all true. But the way it is written, it makes Eritrea sound like it is an exception: but that statement is true for virtually the entire sub-Saharan Africa. (Except for Ethiopia, which has been an independent Garden of Eden for 3,000 years. Happy, Eyob?)

            Obamacare, from an American constitutional standpoint (federal government with limited powers), is a legitimate nightmare. From a small businessperson standpoint, it is frightening. (I will write about that using a pen name because the Obama administration and its IRS are that scary to me:)


  • Kaddis

    Selam Sal, Serray, Haile included

    Since you mentioned Africa – I want your reflection on this. As you know Central African Republic, Madagascar … are currently suspended from the AU. Looking closer AU’s position is getting stronger and the International community is following suit. The reason for suspension is – change of government against the constitution. My question is – do you think the AU would protect the gov of Eritrea, if a coup or even invasion occur, since there is no working constitution.

    Haile hoy – don’t you think the independence you tried to enkulilich the Somali landers, Tamils, Ogdenis is at risk of no protection from the international community?

    BTW – in the AU there is a pool of flags standing together. I see a lot of South Sudanese trying to make sure their flag is there. I kind of understand their position. 22 years old Eritrea could have moved ahead and talk about more than just independence – my take

    • haile

      “22 years old Eritrea could have moved ahead and talk about more than just independence” exactly! YG needs to heed your advice befor going to his next print.

      Apart from that it is hard to agree about “protection” that could be afforded by AU or UN. Recognition does allow for many economic, social and political self-determination. Yet, is there protection or not, s another matter.

      I am not sure about it, but would like to know if there is a government in Africa tha has been re-instated because of “AU protection” In fairness however, I can understand that our world view is diametrically opposed, and I wouldn’t expect that you and me can have any common ground around this issue.

      What is funny is however, the fact that the AU chairman is someone that has come to power thanks to unconstitutional crackdown following election 2005? I am glad he has full protection but that is just Africa for you:)

      • Kim Hanna

        Mr. Haile,

        Please give it a rest. (The snide remark about AU chairman) Your problem is you are hard wired and marinated with hatred of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Therefore, you cannot think without self imposed bogeyman around the corner. That is why when your friends and people talk to you about real situations or problems you revert to that safe natural default mode.


    • Serray

      Selam Kaddis,

      AU shouldn’t suspend any nation if a coup replaced an unrepresentative, unelected and repressive dictatorship…it should encourage it. Invasion is another matter. If there is an AU force that rescues countries like ours from institutionalized slavery, well, that makes your question about suspension irrelevant.

      But, as the following article shows, Africa’s strongmen are a bundle of contradiction.

  • haile

    Selamat Serray

    Let me start with the fake hammer that Hayat is toying with. I would say (by no means an expert determination) that our main problem seems the inability to view things outside the narrative we wish to see them with. In my several trips to Eritrea over the last 12 or so years, I have never been asked to join the National Service. In fact, if you don’t know, you will not be asked to do that if you are a dual citizen and only stay there for 12 months or less at a time. More than 12 months stay would require you to get a special permit or possibly have to serve. But may be, just may be (I am not saying) there would be a reason to try and avoid encounter with law enforcement at a given time and under particular circumstances. One thing may lead to another and teftish my be conducted and a routine giffa may turn out to be entirely different story. Hope you get my drift. Otherwise, I have never had issue with being asked to serve in the NS, nor did I ever heard of any one like me in that situation (some people send their kid to sawa due to family problems here in the west – may be you don’t know).

    Now the issue of Independence.

    My ‘threat’ would fail for two reasons. Not the one’s you cited though. Firstly, everyone is presumed Eritrean (Nationality of birth place) unless they renounce it. Secondly, There are no provisions in the unimplemented constitution for the stripping off birth right. I threw in the point to serve as a devils advocate in challenging such people who reject Eritrean independence and Ghedli. Just to highlight the contradiction in terms inherent to their posturing.

    In many countries, naturalized citizens have to swear allegiance to obtain citizenship. If such a requirement be instituted in Eritrea, would you swear allegiance to the state of Eritrea? What terms would you prefer be included in such text of recital?

    A home may be troubled, or its resident family may fall into conflict. It would be unlikely that the members of this family would give up their title to the property of dwelling. Nor would question the way they were given the title was wrong, and their property is of no value because they are in conflict!

    Eritrea, a country clearly defined in the political map of the world, with a fertile agricultural regions, immense mineral resources, possible oil riches, huge marine resources, strategically commanding geo-political location, huge tourist attraction, busiest gateway of global shipping lines and pristine coastal areas and hundreds of virgin Islands owns benefits and privileges for you beyond your wildest dreams (seb sEna entay yigeber:)

    Granted it is that her population would be administered by certain types of governance in any given particular time. Some bad some good (one hopes for the latter. Regardless, however, yours and your descendant’s title to the Eritrea Estate is guaranteed. Ghedli has taken care of that.

    No one, except you, has the full legal title to this most blessed country of ours. Eshokh b Eshokh ywexE, awadya saEnKha gin aytekhfE! Many Eritreans have gone through heart wrenching and horrible ordeals and paid the ultimate price for you and me to be identified as the rightful owners of this great place called Eritrea. Try to see Eritrea, not your demons when you reflect on this, and you will see what I mean.

    Rwanda, Somalia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia have seen far too many tragedies and oppression in their history, but I have never seen them raise up against their sacred mother nation as you guys do.


    • haile

      ***Rmember some thing like undeclared currency, photographs or other documents my mean a length jail term in Eritrea!

    • Hayat Adem

      (seb sEna entay yigeber:) “እቲ ሰብ ሲኢና” ዝብል ዘሎ’ኽ ሰብ ዲዩ? ኣየ ሃይለ፤ እዚ ኹሉ ተፈጥራዊ ጸጋታት ኤርትራ ዘርዚርካ ሃንቀው ኣቢልካና ክተብቅዕሲ “ንፉዕ፣ ጻዕራም፣ ወረጃ ስልጡን ህዝቢ፣ ግን ዝሓርበቶ ህዝቢ፣ ኣብ ሽግር ተሸሚሙ ዘሎ ህዝቢ፣ ሃገሩ ገዲፉ ክሃድም ዝመርጽ ዘሎ ህዝቢ፣ ባህሉን ውርሽኡን እናረኣየ ዘጽንት ዘሎ ህዝቢ” ኢልካ’ኳ ቁርብ ሓረጋት ኣይትውስኸላን?! እዋይ ንስኻሲ፣ መሬት መሬት ኮይና መዝሙርካ! መዓስያ እታ ‘ህዝቢና’ኸ፣ ሰብና’ኸ’ እቲብል ምድንጋጽ እትጽገዐካ? መሬት ደኣ ዘይ ሰብ’ዩ ዘድሕና’ምበር በይና እንታይ ዋጋ ኣለዋ? ሕጅሲ ትሪእይንዶ የለኻን፣ ብሓልዮት ረቢን እዝግን’ምበር ሃገር መን ሓልዩዋ’ዩ?! እንዳ ህግደፍ ደኣ ዓቕሞም ተራእያንዶ! ኣብ ልዕሊ ህዝቦም’ምበር ዶብ ክሕልውሲ ደው ኢሎም ኣይራኣናዮምን። ንስኻ ከዓ ዘርከብካ፡ “እዚ ኣሎ፣ እዚ ኣሎ፤ መሬትኩም ኣፍቅሩ” ክትብል ኣደንቁይርካና። “ነጻነት ሃገር አብ ትሕቲ ጊላነት ንህግደፍ እንተዘይደጊፍኩም ዜግነት ክትምንጠሉ ኢኹም” ኢልካ ድማ ተፈራርሕ- ከምታ ህግደፍ ዝገብራ ዘሎ። ዜግነት ምስተመንጠልኩም ድማ ዘምልጠኩም ዘሎ ሲሳይ ንኽትፈልጥዎ ብዝብል ዘርዚርካልና። ግርም ምስሉይነት! ነታ ካብ ግፋ ዝሃደምካያ’ኳ ሓሲባካ ሓሲብካ ጽቡቕ ምኽንያት ረኺብካላ’ለኻ። እዚ ኹሉ ዘረባታት ክትዛረብ ምዩቕ ዘይበለትካ መመኽነይታ ካልእ ሃጠው ቀጠውካ ጺሕፍካ ምስዓጸኻ ብርህ በለተካ’ሞ ካልእ ሓዱሽ መስኮት ከፊትካ፡ “ወይለከይ፣ ዘይተመዝገበ ገንዘብ፤ ፎቶታት፣ ወይ ከዓ ሰነዳት ምሓዝ ኣብ ኤርትራ ነዊሕ ከምዘእስር’ባ ዘክሩ” ምስበልካ፤ እንታይ ኢለ ይመስለካ “ሃይለ እዚኣ ግርም ተዋስኦ!”

      • haile

        loi …hayat. zebehal tefiEuki mesleni? I wanted to clarify in case you suspect that I was in the illicit drug trade:) If you think the reason I gave was new, please refer to my reply to Aman many months back on the same topic.

        Yes, Eritrea has a bad administration at the moment, but the main problem that is holding people back is that you and those in your camp have come out to reject independence, side with Ethiopia and denounce Ghedli. That has costed the opposition everything. Give it up or stop being Eritrean 🙂

  • Hayat Adem

    i’m sorry but i’ve to revisit haile even at the risk of boring others. i think i’m knowing haile a bit. i think you are sympathetic to the status quo, sir. Look at this: “Look at you Hayat crying rivers because Eritrea made it to 22 in one piece. Well, eat your heart out my dear.” can anyone squeeze any sense out of this? 1991- we all said, justifiably, “yes, eritrea made it.” 1993, our enthusiasm was intact. 1994, few doubters were noticed. 1997/1998, doubters were growing in number and supporters of status quo were shrinking in exactly the same proportion. 2001 brought a sword-cut divide of tow sides. The years after showed us more of a continuous cross over from the status quo to the anti-status quo side, and from this side of mereb to the other side of mereb. may 24, 2013 is only the latest worst script we have seen and it is going to get worse before it gets better. what is haile seeing this year better than last year? well, may be it is because he thinks 22 is greater than 21. what is 22 for a country? even guys turning 22 don’t make fantasia of clock time as such. may be haile, deep down, feels the true fragility of our eritrea and he desperately thinks 22 is a big deal. i, too, think 22 is a big deal albeit for a different reason: because 22 years of lost opportunity is indeed a very bad start.
    but what did you say, haile? “Look at you Hayat crying rivers because Eritrea made it to 22 in one piece.” this reminds me of one true but funny story:
    a man made his mind to go to school at late age. he thought it was worth it even if it just meant becoming literate enough to read and write letters or sort. he started and kept going. he later became motivated to even learn further and conquer english. he continued and completed high school studies. he joined a local college, he won a scholarship in oversea university, studied his graduate degrees, went on his PhD studies and attacked all post-doctoral courses one after the other. after staying all those years away, he went back to his birth village to visit. Wandering around in his child-age village, he noticed kids gathered under a tree. up on getting closer, he saw a priest-like man with a long stick pointing to geez alphabets written on a hanging chart, and the collective voice of the kids saying after him: “ha,hu,hi…”. The educated man, remembering how much effort and time he had to invest exclaimed “geNa, geNa, geNa!”
    22 zereba terekhibus haile, deqye ‘tay me’Atu iyu!!!
    aye haile, what is this infatuation of yours on eritrea making it to 22? don’t you know probably more than 50% eritreans could be older than 22?

    • haile


      Let me reply to you, at the risk of over exciting others:) (or just for the heck of it)

      I hope you have heard of SID (Sudden Infant Death), the risk of one diminish as the infant passes the 6 month mark. If you stay put in a career for 10 years, you are more likely to choose to carry on till retirement than someone who has just been one month in the same position. The longer you remain in business the more likely your business will become established and continue for longer. You see, time is an essence. Thanks to 22 years, some Ethiopians are coming here to remind us that the new generation of Ethiopians have forgotten about us, huh…funny how that would have happened 🙂 The longer our independence persists, the more likely that its anti-theists would fall by the way side.

      Now back to your calendar analysis of 1991, 1993…2013. I really hope that your primary school teachers have drilled you with the importance of FAIRNESS. Let me put them to test here: Ones upon a time poor dispossessed and impoverished, yet determined tegadalay, paid heavy sacrifices and died to entrust you with independence for you and all generations of Eritrea from 1991 onwards. They did this by making you the title holder of The Eritrea Real Estate. They did their part, they paid the ultimate price. They will never be able to back out of their side of the deal. Not possible any way.

      You on the other hand decided to uphold the trust when it is nice and dandy for you, to scorn it and reject it, when the going is tough, to re-embrace it if things get better again. How selfish can you get! Eritrea’s current problems are your problems. Period. It is up to you to strive and work so that such solemnly entrusted duty to care and cherish for the political independence and territorial integrity of the subject of agreement, The Eritrea Real Estate.

      Is it FAIR that you call yourself Eritrea, effectively trying to eat your cake and have it at the same time? Let the hearts from beyond the unmarked graves of our martyrs be the judge of that.

  • haile


    I will expand on my thesis later, but let me give you the synopsis. Those refusing to honor Eritrean Independence should be stripped off the right to refer to themselves as Eritrean in any formal and legal capacity. They have the right to believe what they are in private, but the legally accepted identification as Eritrean is solely the right conferred by Ghedli and its victory in May 24, 1991.


    A side point about your point of ‘social engineering’ you needed to have opposed. Anta saay PFDJ doesn’t have the intellectual or practical capacity to carryout social engineering, just uncalled for intervention! eze’om eko estibaloni geyrom eyom adi zekawsuwa zelewu! Social Engineering requires many facets that they can only dream to have.


    • Tamrat Tamrat

      You are dummier (dumber) than Your president. At least he exploites those who changes their eritrean nationalities. Otherwise the number of eritreans who changes their nationality by their own will is increasing by alarming rate as the number of Your cellebration of ‘freedom’/’independency’ is growing.

      • haile


        …and how would to not celebrate “freedom” or “independence” help the situation? …dumb (IA), dumber(haile), dumbest (Tamrat – so dumb that he rights Tamrat twice:-) )

    • Hayat Adem

      oh..dangerous minds are not in short supply. look at this: “Those refusing to honor Eritrean Independence should be stripped off the right to refer to themselves as Eritrean in any formal and legal capacity”
      there were eritreans who voted against independence exercising their right. haile wants them to be stripped off. there are people who never was comfortable with the ghedli thing and its outcome, he wants to strip them off, too. he never suggested ( i am not saying he would have been right if you did) at any time, the pfdj top guns who are turning eritrea to a giant hell get stripped off their eritrean identity? i see him now clearer, i hear him loud. he is them.
      i wonder a guy like who had once ducked or dived into a stranger’s house to hide himself from conscription claims the moral ground of rationing citizenship (you ghedli lover, you deserve it, you ghedli hater, don’t; yours is not clear and i put you on a pending list etc:) Haile, you are carrying a scary monster in you. the reason we don’t mind about your existence is because you are not in power. or are you? we don’t know.
      nationality is regardless of loyal qualities. in most cases there are only three determinant factors that make you or don’t make you a nationality of country a or z: birth geography, blood geography and your willingness to be one. the last one overrules should there be any conflict. none of these three elements are up to any second person. even isias cannot be stripped off let alone YG, Serray or me…we should never have let the kiflu family be denied to bury their loss in his country. isias sees nothing wrong with stripping citizens off their nationality right as he sees it fit. what makes it dangerous is the fact that he is not alone. what is bad about political group think is convictions supersede reality.
      by the way it is not only the nation that is not at free will to deny nationality of birth or blood to her sons/daughters justifying it on quality. even citizens are not morally at free liberty to easily dismiss it just because they find that country unlivable. that is why they try hard to change it not shunt it. otherwise, why would anyone want to be a citizen of eritrea at this time the way things are?! if it was about choosing a restaurant and the first pick was not good enough for you, you go to nearest next other. there is no any attractive selling point of eritreaness to brag about as such at this time. but it is changeable. we can change and make it one.

      • haile

        “right to refer to themselves as Eritrean in any formal and legal capacity”


        You really love to turn and twist in futile attempt to defend your unscrupulous posturing!!

        Can some one, as we speak, be conferred the right to refer to themselves as Tamil in any formal and legal capacity”?

        Can some one, as we speak, be conferred the right to refer to themselves as Somaliland in any formal and legal capacity”?

        Can some one, as we speak, be conferred the right to refer to themselves as Ogadinian in any formal and legal capacity”?

        Can some one, as we speak, be conferred the right to refer to themselves as Oromo in any formal and legal capacity”?

        Nobody would deny their birth right, but it just ain’t recognized. On the other hand, you can call yourself ERITREAN on a legal and official capacity thanks to Ghedli and the dignity that it crowned you with.

        Get off your high horse, nobody is being fooled, who you trying to kid here?

        • Tamrat Tamrat

          Haile Haile, you forgott Afar!
          Your Brothers in blood woyanes are ready to give hands for Your unfinished but not forgotten ‘independent’ Afar. I hope you are equally excited for the Liberation of all Our ethnic Groups! Or shall we leave alone those who live in pardise Eritrea With king of kings of Liberation fronts. By the way almost all leaders were in addis except Yours. May be he is bussy With alshabab leaders.

    • Serray

      Selamat Haile,

      Two things wrong with your threat: you are not in a position to do it and you have nothing to withheld even if you are in a position to strip.

      It is like a runaway kid getting a call from his abusive parents that they are going to disown him. It is also comically tragic…the hiding thing Hayat is hammering you about is the other side of the equation. If you hide because you are afraid to fulfill what the regime thinks is your obligation, I think you “should be stripped off the right to refer to [yourself] as Eritrean in any formal and legal capacity”. I mean, dodging your obligation should carry a heavier burden than just refusing to celebrate one day a year. Don’t you think? You see how foolish I sound when I use your logic of bestowing and denying stuff I have zero power to do so.

      Finally, on the independence issue that I hope you are expanding on, try to factor in dignity, privilege and benefit; don’t just make it about cost, sacrifice and obligation.

  • Serray

    Selamat Sal,

    I think you left one crucial date, the day the regime ignited the war – May 12, 1998. None of the dates you listed explain the titanic shift in eritrea the way May 12, 1998 does. There is no basis for this war; nothing on the ground explains it; the ethiopians were caught totally off guard with only a handful of police and militias on the border according to EECC. Ignoring this date is tantamount to ignoring gravity for a physicist. But why did you? The same reason you ignore ghedli when you try explain the reality in eritrea as just another african state suffering under the misrule of a one big man..

    Eritrea is not just another failed african state; for that matter, there is no such a thing as a typical failed african state. Somalia is unique, Zimbabwe is unique, Ethiopia under dergi was unique, Rwanda and the genocide was unique…there is nothing in common about the breakdown in these countries. There is no such a thing as african that explains what happened in Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia under dergi or Zimbabwe under Mugabe. Each one has a unique experience that lead it to fail; ours is a unique form of failure and it has one source and it not us the people, the location of Eritrea or, the continent we belong to. No african nation enslaves its youth the way shaebia does; no african nation feels so entitled that it demands tax from its diaspora; no african regime is as incompetent and yet as self-righteously arrogant as shaebia. There is something very unique about the greed, corruption, inhumanity and organizational ability of shaebia that can only be captured by looking at where they from. If you write-off ghedli as a major explanation of what makes shaebia shaebia, Isaias isaias, then any connection you make to explain the conditions in eritrea lacks a true cause and effect.

    Don’t get me wrong, the dates you listed are important but they don’t come close to May 12, 1998 and ghedli in explaining the reality of present day eritrea.

    By the way, Haile is absolutely right about the preordained nature of the regime’s decision making process; please don’t blame yourself (or our people) for not doing enough to change the trajectory of our nation. There was nothing any of us could have done to change the minds of people who think they are god. Isaias and his crew were already formed and set long before they entered asmera. The fact that you refuse to connect ghedli to present day Eritrea is hindering you from asking the only question that matters…where did they learn to do that?

    • Salyounis

      Selamat Serray and Haile:

      “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” said Tolstoy, via Anna Karenina. I think we can adopt that to countries: all African countries are a mess in their own peculiar ways. Again, this is not to minimize the dire straits Eritrea finds itself in– I just believe that solutions to problems are best found if we isolate causes and effect.

      May 12: You and I have debated the significance of May 12, and we will just be repeating ourselves. Let’s save that for another debate.

      The Ghedli-dictatorship continuum: The Ghedli had a warrior ethos, unfit for civilian ethos. There aren’t that many precedents for warriors engaged in liberation war (guerrilla warfare) transitioning to becoming democratic leaders: Algerians did not, Vietnamese did not, and the South Sudanese have not and, most likely, will not. This does not mean that the Algerian or South Sudanese struggle for independence is wrong or waged the wrong way, it just means the skill-set required and developed when waging guerrilla warfare (the warrior ethos of secrecy, hierarchical structure, disciplined soldiers who are good at obeying orders, etc) is not transferable to governing a democratic country which demands transparency, inverts the power structure, and the citizen gives the orders, etc.) This is why I proposed “ShaEbia ktHaqiq alewa” in 2000.


      Clarification. I was not privy to any inside information, and I did not attend a single meeting* when the issue or reorganizing and renaming the provinces was raised. But I had access to a university website which published most of the proclamations. Now, as you know, something can be wrong in two ways: a rational error, or a moral wrong. I am not saying it was morally wrong to support that decision of the government (people of good will can arrive at different conclusions on the merits of the issue); I am saying it was an eroneous decision from the standpoint of the balance of power: it shifted it towards the government. Within the government itself, there were similar games being played that were shifting the balance of power from the rest of the government to Isaias Afwerki. I did not have the foresight to see that. Remember, this was not just a critique of me but of everybody else who was in a position to say/do something. The “what good would it have done?” plays right into the hand of dictators. Dictators get their power by convincing the people they are powerless.

      Social engineers? You underestimate the brain trust of the EPLF/PFDJ at its zenith. To put it to the test, just put the PFDJ’s “National Charter” next to the political programme of others…


      * not big on meetings: It is my way of protesting the mandatory “Zekre sema’atat” and “Awet nHafash.” They have become tools of compulsion.

    • Semere Tesfai


      “I think you (SAAY) left one crucial date, the day the regime ignited the war – May 12, 1998. Ignoring this date is tantamount to ignoring gravity for a physicist.”

      Serray, I’m not in the PFDJ club; so you know. But in defense of the truth, I can say with confidence, you’re dead wrong. Either you’re too young to know or you were too far away from the theater. You don’t have any proof for your claim; and you know it.

      It might take me a while but I’m going to write the genesis of the 1998 Ethio-Eritrean war in the front page. And you are invited to challenge.

  • Tamrat Tamrat

    Hi all yonng and old People who are misled by eplf, elf and tplf. Though these Three organization had to do a lot to what we are experiencing now, what they tell us about the past was not always true.

    For example we used to have a king called Haile Silassie who freed both ethiopia nad Eritrea from colonialist by his great political and leadership quality. Mind you the time and the situation he was in. In his time the colonialists were all over africa. This king he was in exile the way we do now. The biggest difference between him and us he was too intelgent and determind. A black man in exile working his way upto the Speech podium in the League of nations and hold by surprise all the great nations. He did not stop at that. He got help With right allies and made free both ethiopia and Eritrea. And again With his skilles he reunited these two nations seperated by colonialism. What this King did was the right ting to unite the two lands concidering the last 40 years war and killings still did not kill Our peculiar relation.

    The king had his own weakness. But compared to what Eritrea has now and the time taken into concideration the king you had lost is much much good person for you than the wone who is leading Eritrea now.

    My advice to you is that there are People who worried that any eritreans makes Association With anohter ethiopian is wors than what Eritrea experiencing now. This we have to fight. There are Things we can do With out blood sheding. Like taking care of ethiopian in eritea and we do also taking eritreans in ethiopia. Discourage any ethiopians or eeritreans from supporting war or dictators.

  • Saleh Gadi

    Tena Yesttlign Lj Eyob,

    In fact uncle Sal should have told the kids that we (present day Eritreans) are the cradle of the Axumite civilization. Later on some tribes spiced it up, made a myth out of it, and extended it 3000 years— and created a bridge (like the one they sell in New York) that extended to the nineteenth century.

    When the Italians occupied modern Eritrea, our brethren to the South did nothing but started dealing and wheeling with them–some petty-king wanted their help against another petty-king. The colonizing sellout king wanted his share as the colonizers were scrambling for Mama Africa (that is the senior mama).

    The Italians wanted a name for their new colony. They exclaimed: what the heck, if a petty king can adopt a new name for his patched-up empire; we can also adopt a name for our colony. They didn’t have to look for too long, the Greeks called our Red Sea, Erythra, which is simply a corruption of the noun Eritrea, like Amarigna speakers corrupt the deep Ha, in DekemHare for example, nothing more. By the way, can you spell Hagos without mutilating it:-)
    My main points:

    1. Don’t underestimate the Greeks, Adam and Eve were Greek.

    2. The Red Sea is actually not red, we just call it red to appease some people who like that color, even in Tre Sga.

    3. Eritrea is a noun, but it is more of a verb. You can also make it an adverb: he waited Eritreanly … meaning, He waited patiently. Someone told me Eritrea can also be a pronoun. Eritrea is IT.

    1. A myth lent your country a name so dear to you; another myth lent mine a name so dear to me.

    2. Pasta is food, just like Tre Sga…not exactly, one causes diarrhea, but let’s say they are both food..

    On to you my dear….

    • Eyob Medhane

      Gash Saleh (How ‘d you like your new prefix? 🙂

      First of all, Sal was stomping all over me the other day, because I always call you ‘Abu Saleh’. He was merciless. We gotta do something about that dude. 🙂 But he also told me that you were too polite to correct me, so I said “..Wow that Gash Saleh, how nice how polite, how HABESHA he is..”

      Now to the point.

      Ethiopians never deny that Eritreans are part of the Axumite civilization, which happened give and take three thousand years ago. It is them, who wanted to walk away from it, instead of embracing it. So I don’t get where the stretched ‘myth’ is.

      A man (A king) you maligned as a ‘sell out’ is a man, who managed to defeat a European colonizer in a battle field, which at the time was UNTHINKABLE. He never scrambled Africa with anyone, and you have NO historical fact to prove that to me. He never had a single representative at any meetings with any European power at any time, when they plotted to scramble Africa. Give me one name of Emperor Menilik’s representative at the meeting, when the Europeans were partitioned Africa…

      The Italians gave you guys that name, because they knew, you’d never resist them seriously. Unlike your southern neighbors, who fought like hell in Adowa to make sure not a single ‘soldato’ sets a foot in their land…. 🙂

      Your turn, Gash Saleh…

      • Saleh Gadi

        Lj Eyob,
        Sure thing. Just some time pressure with a few things I am doing. We will scramble the first African scrambler (just like those who collaborated with the the slave traders), I have to go to my boxes to get you exact quotes…patience.//Saleh

        • Salyounis


          Abu Selah, before you go digging in your library with your highlighter, you should know that Guad Eyob does not accept the authority of history books unless they are written by Erhiopians who agree with his interpretation of reality. Otherwise, Tikur Sew’s role in the scramble for Africa is not remotely controversial: who were the Italians and the Brits entering into treaties with when the Ethiopia-Eritrea, the Ethiopia-Somalia, the Ethiopia-Sudan and the Ethiopia-Kenya borders were being negotiated and the political map of modern day Ethiopia were fixed?


  • Eyob Medhane

    Uncle Sal,

    Why don’t you tell the kids the whole truth?

    Well kids, what uncle Sal didn’t tell you was that 3000 thousand years of history, belongs also to a very significant number of Eritreans. Unfortunately, they later on decided to shake it out of them and chose to swap Injera for pasta, ‘Geez’ calendar for Gregorian one and ‘Tsibuq’ for ‘Bella’… 🙂 In order to explore some new identity their search took them from across Red Sea Gulf States to Southern Europe…

    Uncle Sal,
    Please, don’t forget to tell this part of the story.

    Happy Independence day…

  • haile

    Hi saay

    Did you say “Maybe it would not have amounted to much but it would have been, in hindsight, the right thing to do.”? …. hiray entehishuka’si…m’Sehankaya dma gdi! 🙂

    I respect your experience with workings of the then post-EPLF govt. What I ended up learning overtime was that they usually bring you issues for discussion, where they had actually decided what to do about it. My suspicion is that you didn’t realize at the time meetings were conducted to legitimize matters that have been already decided upon by the higher ups.

    I still meet people who tell me that they attended such and such meeting and expressed such and such views…huh I just get that sinking feeling, and riesey ynqnq!!

    Our assertions as to the facts that we never had a democratic post-independence experience, precludes the possibility of such meetings to have been had on any issue whatsoever. Constitution? I heard some people with unconventional wisdom on that too…:-)


  • Dear Sal:

    As always and as expected, you presented a mature, inteligent, sober, accurate and timely analysis.

    Your friend & admirer
    Aklilu Zere

    • Salyounis

      Selamat Aklilu:

      Welcome back and thanks. What I think articles like this, which try to list the milestones/turning points of Eritrea since 1991, need is even deeper drilling down by asking “why?” And that’s where people like you, who have a deeper understanding of Eritreas culture, can help us connect the dots.

      Here is a simple example. Here in the US, I still marvel at how much time and energy people devote to talking about food. When I was a kid, we were told “barya Try iyu bkhebdu z’zareb.” And there are, in the Eritrean highlands at least, about a dozen days (not counting Xom ArbaA,) when people are fasting. So, could people’s unwillingness to rise up in protest (the way they do in Sudan, in Egypt) when food prices rise to unbearable levels be related to our culture of stoicism?

      Just a thought.


  • haile


    It goes without saying that your analysis, choice of tone and content is superb and I take back my allegations of sewa binge.

    Saying that however, I wonder weather the issue of decentralization should be something that may not need committed stand at this time. My reasoning is that many pertinent factors that need to be considered in that regard haven’t happened yet.

    To those picking a bone with this article; what on earth could be wrong with a proud Eritrean affirming his loyalty to the nation and opposing the injustice and calling for democratic change? Those people are only exposing their true nature as regards their ill intentions. They are simply irritated with saay’s tone of confidence and straight thinking through the problems as an Eritrean. Like it or not, PFDJ is denounced and Eritrea is affirmed here. and you are showing us your true colors (albeit some of us have long seen through you).

    Thanks saay for a fair and balanced input.

    • Hayat Adem

      You are not on the same ride with Sal, You never were, never will be. We have always taken Sal for serious analytical reflections. As to you, in the few times you were not hypocritical about yourself and Eritrean politics, you told us how you ducked in to a strange house in Asmara when you faced the real chance and moment of defending the ‘independence’. You even told us how you were ready to flash out your western passport should the push comes to shove and the conscription followed you up to the house you involuntarily took a shelter. You seemed to have forgotten that even flashing a western passport would never spare in such situations. That is how you love and ready to defend this independence. I’m done with you.

      Back to Sal, there are no natural phases as such where country Z has to go through the same “a must-go illnesses” country A had gone just because both countries happened to seek independence from colonizers. Geography matters. Time matters. This is an era where and when citizens are no more mere subjects to their rulers. We are in a time where/when citizens anywhere on the most are entitled to exercise voicing, voting, boycotting or booting. This is no more 1950s. It bothers us when a smart thinker like Sal tries to comfort us saying that nothing is new and that it happened somewhere else, too. And it puzzles me even more when Sal doesn’t seem to sense the real risk of Eritrean history becoming short lived if Eritrean affairs continue heading they way they are now.

      • haile

        Hayat Hayat,

        What a mess you find yourself in!!

        I have had many terrible experiences with PFDJ. Including arrest and other attacks. I have gone through such things, and I have seen others who went through worse. If it wasn’t for your bungling up the opposition by selling out to woyane, those G-15 and others would have long been in freedom too. But I don’t think you miss the fact that the whole of Eritrea is under PFDJ. And ducking and hiding is far to relaxing compared to being jailed and made to ‘face the wall’ (you wouldn’t know, would you).

        This is exactly why I support the democratization of the system and respect for basic human rights. You couldn’t care less. You are just left high and dry, attempting to sell out in the dark. Look at you now, Eritreans are seeing the distinction between PFDJ that has nothing to do with them and Eritrea that is rightfully theirs. I am sure you never thought this day would come. You probably thought that woyane would have enthroned you in Asmara long before that! Well, you are busted now! The people have awakened.

        Defending Eritrea is not carried out by the barrel of the gun only. Who would have made sure that you be left high and dry like this, when you were bartering our nationhood for peanuts. There are many ways to defend Eritrea and no way out of your cage for you.

        We have disagreed in many practical areas with saay, but it has been more than a decade (yes more than ten years) reading his articles. In my opinion he is one of the few that one would be hard pressed to find inconsistency. I checked and re-checked his writings, I am satisfied that he is firmly Eritrean and steadfast in his character. Times have been tough and he came out in defense of the nascent opposition movements, rightly so in most cases, but to generous at times to my liking. Look at you Hayat crying rivers because Eritrea made it to 22 in one piece. Well, eat your heart out my dear.


        I will post my views vis-a-vis independence soon, and we’ll take it from there.

      • Salyounis

        Selamat Hayat & Haile:

        Hayat, by nature, I tend to be suspicious of any ideology or proposal that claims to present a “unified theory” that explains it all. I prefer comparative analysis. If my attempt to place Eritrea’s existing problems within the context of Africa comes across as uncaring or, a justification/rationalization for it, that is not my intent.

        Ironically, those who support the government, and those whom we have settled on calling Ghedli-defamars, share a “unique” view of Eritrea: the government supporters say it is “uniquely” good and credit Shaebia’s culture; the Ghedli-defamers say it is “uniquely bad” and blame Shaebia’s culture for that. What I am saying is that Eritrea is just another African country with just another African country (governance) problems which are a direct consequence of bad governance. I am saying that Isaias Afwerki is just another African dictator and this is specially tragic because, unlike previous generation of African dictators, he had, as a latecomer, the opportunity to learn from their failures.

        My reading of the EPLF/PFDJ tells me that it seems to have been heavily influenced by Frantz Fanon’s criticism of neo-colonialism and it has opted for an isolationist policy. This, combined with a guerrilla mindset which sees every wind as a potential storm, a population that has had no experience with democracy, and a neighborhood that, even by African standards, is a mess have conspired to create a police state in Eritrea.

        My view is that Eritrea’s situation is bad enough without us having to resort to the Chicken Little “Sky Is Falling”, “Eritrea will be a failed state” dire prediction which comes with a built-in expiration date (a panic attack that gripped even the International Crisis Group, an institution that was supposed to be sober-minded, a couple of years ago.) Yes, Eritrea is in danger of being a failed state. But, so is virtually every African state. (Refer to the Failed State Index.) Saying this doesn’t diminish the danger Eritrea faces; it just puts it in context and helps us say “no” to people who recommend desperate solutions from snake oil salesmen and advocates of Hail Mary passes.

        (sorry, not only did I use an American football analogy, I also mixed my metaphors. But, hell, I am feeling pretty independent today:)


        I was one of the people who welcomed the re-organization of the traditional provinces because I was persuaded by the need to do that based on the macro-economic policy needs and other very persuasive arguments which were made then. What I am telling you (actually, the under 30 Eritreans who are wondering what went wrong) is, as humbly as I can, that I was flat-out wrong. I live in a country (US) where almost half the population resent the ever-expanding role of the Federal government at the expense of the state government; the state government at the expense of the county government, etc, and I did not think that the PFDJ would emasculate the region to the extent it had. I was wrong.


        • haile


          ewayyy…entay zbeluwo tekal meAlti D’Aa ashateka…kan zoba n zoba geyrkaya adi!! (Just kidding:)Seriously, how can I blame you when what you were given was “the need to do that based on the macro-economic policy needs and other very persuasive arguments”

          In ideal case scenario, needs assessment, follow on study, consultations, negotiations, proposals, policy formulation, ratification and implementation processes of due diligence would work through a spectrum of relevant actors for years. And decisions would then be taken.

          If you had been made party to such thorough treatment and weighed all relevant factors and double and triple checked by other actors, I would then like to know what your role was and accept gracefully your humble apology. Short of that it is pointless to blame anybody except abajigo, because in my books Nfas zemtsEo, Nfas ywesdo:)

          Such feeble systems can only set up temporary structures in makeshift and it wont last the life span of the system itself, if at all.

          So it wasn’t you that was wrong, it is just the driver was some crazy old nutter:-)


          • Salyounis

            Selamat Hailat:

            If you have been following my debate with Serray, and others who share the view that “everything wrong with Eritrea can be traced to Ghedli”, my position is “weridwo Ghedli: it’s somebody else’s fault.” In this particular case, I am saying that the “segment of Eritrea I belonged to”in 1995 (those with some postsecondary education, those who had the luxury of being able to do research, those with access to a printing press) share the blame with those who had moral authority (traditional leaders) to voice their opposition to the social engineering.

            It may not have amounted to much (he who has the guns makes the laws in Africa) but it would have, maybe, given the government pause before its next social engineering. Maybe it would not have amounted to much but it would have been, in hindsight, the right thing to do.


  • haile


    22 years into independent existence, it is refreshing to note that myths are busted and lairs are left holding empty bags. Here are some of the myths:

    -Eritrea = PFDJ and its term life ,,,, busted
    -It was a mistake we fought for independence,,,, busted
    -Ghedli didn’t have popular support,,,,busted
    -Eritrea can’t make it on her own,,,,busted
    -Our current problems are the end of the world, abandon your Eritreaness,,,busted
    -Eritrea is more of habesha, and better of with Ethiopia,,,busted
    -Eritreans must curse Eritrea at every turn and twist of challenge,,,,busted
    -Our glorious day of national independence is a day of mourning,,,,busted
    -I can run with my tails between my hind, patriotic Eritreans can’t catch me,,,busted

    It is a new dawn, a new era, a new mode of struggle!!
    We are proud of our Eritrea, sad that justice and democracy hasn’t been established yet. But we know that we have more than we need to make that happen. And it will happen!!!

  • Alem Mebrahtu

    I have had a high regard to Salyounis,alas his analysis is deteriorating from time to time.How can one compare a brutal dictator (isayas Afewerki )with the respected former president of South Africa, who is still bussy and fruitfully contributing to bring peace in many parts of Africa.It is also a pity to accept the suffering of the eritrean people for so long as a normal situation which occurred in other african countries after their independence.Anyway ,Salyounis is a human being like all of us and has to say something for the sake of saying something.

    • Alem, understand the context first before you jump into conclusion. Saleh is comparing the mindset of two different leaders who lived in denial for two tangible realities.

  • Dibe Kulu

    Sal is an able analyst and a fierce nationalist. He is not an opposition figure just for the sake of being in the opposing side! He was one of the few true sons of Eritrea who, during the Eritrea-Ethiopia war, used his sharp pen to defend his young country’s interests while at the same time, waging an equally determined fight for democracy, transparency and good governance to prevail in Eritrea. There are things that are common to ALL Eritreans no matter where they fall in the divide of the political line. This DAY is one of them. Happy independence day Eritrea!

    • yegermal

      Interestingly, most “sharp pens” of that era (Sal, Sophie Tesfamariam, etc.) were newcomers to the Eritrean nationalism and though they were old enough to go to meda, they elected to stay put in the comforts of their homes. These are the worst type of nationalists any nation needs. They are enamored with the idea of nationhood but are never ready to pay the price to bring about its realization. They participate in the “sharp pen context” out of guilt, but do not possess the innate passion required to bring about the change they so much write of talk about. Please don’t even got there ( to the time the “sharp pens” went wild propagating DIA’s blunder that cost 20,000 innocent Eritreans).

      • haile



      • “sharp pen” can not heal sharp pain nor can it shorten the slow death it propagates for the people of Eritrea…There has never been as hypocritical nationalism as Eritrean nationalism in human is often the case that those who propagate extreme nationalism are those who pay the least price…Eritrean nationalism has yet to bare any fruit for it’s citizens while it has enriched those with “sharp pen” with a lot to brag about.

      • Dibekulu

        You missed the point big time! Not everyone is supposed to be doing the same job at the same place when it comes to defending a nation’s interests. There are those who fight with a sword and those with a pen. Both are equally important in the war fronts they are stationed at! You probably don’t like the shrpness of the pen of those you are trying to denegrade simply because of being afraid of its might! May there be many Eritrean sons and daughters of sharpened pens!

  • Hayat Adem

    Sal: I sensed unfair excuses subtly and seemingly innocently implied in your analysis. I have not seen a small country such as ours that had to outlive so much suffering and fleeing of its citizen for 22 years and counting. I don’t think it is logical to try to liken it to others’ experiences. By implying that repressive systems have a historical trend and precedence and newly born countries such as Eritrea have to suffer and fail during an immediate post independence it has happened in all liberated nations, don’t you think you are supplying a lame excuse to all pfdjites and and their apologists? I want to emphasize the fact that the intensity of suffering Eritreans are going through is so unparalleled in recent history and so catastrophic that we are now in the business of justifying the very recipe for undoing the nationhood achieved with so much sacrifice and about which we were so intoxicated in 1991 and up to 1993, and then up to 1998, and then up to 2001 in a dwindling scale.
    To become independent in the 1950s and on the eve of the 21st century are different. There are countries that part of the Soviet and became independent post USSR. They did not have to pass through such crisis Eritrea is in now. There are countries like Kosovo, even South Sudan that became independent after Eritrea did, nothing of that sort happened to them. Namibia was a country which became independent in the 1980s, nothing close to our suffering was witnessed there either. Why are you saying, kibur HaW Sal, If Eritrea finds itself where it is now, it is just the post independence syndrome thing, a normal path? And what surprised me more was your mention of Embeki as a comrade-in-mystification of Isias. Embekhi might have been mistaken on one thread of health policy. How can one compare a giant intellectual and sophisticated leader in the statue of Embeki who replaced none other than the towering figure in the person of Mandela, with a petty dictator and giant constrictor in his right mind?

    • yegermal

      Thumbs up!

  • Tamrat Tamrat

    Hi Sal!

    People like Olane are witness for the grusome of eplf’s deed. I disagree With you only on one thing. Eplf has not turned out a dictator overnight or by one man isayas. But i agree With you why all ethiopians/eritreans fought the derg regime considering the so called amhara regime is replaced by the great 1974 revolution and short lived by the military derg junta. (the difference between derg and eplf is that tplf has had organized itself in long period).

    Anyways you forgott the following events of eplf:
    1) eplf was militarily present till 1994 (it can be longer, but i refer to what i witnessed) in Ethiiopia. It helped the tigray-tigrnya Power transition from derg. It helped militarily in dissarming organized (like olf) and individuals. Here was the greatest confusion was done. accoriding to eplf and tplf we were supposed to have many New nationns (i am aginst it, i am for the unity of Ethiopia) but soon eplf and tplf had a New policy. Keep Ethiopia United in a way of advancing the tigray-tigrinya economy and military supermacy on the rest of Ethiopia. (for many eritreans who live abroad or little Connection With Ethioipa this fact is New). But that what happened and proved for the wrong reason that the interwoven relation of ethio-eritrea is proved once agin even in that decicive period. According you ethiopia was occupied/colonized by Eritrea, lol.

    2) Eplf members and supporters were participating in all tplf decision in Ethiopia regadless the non-tigrian opposed it. At this period the oromos who wanted secessesion and the unioinists were targeted, killed, thrown to jail, etc.

    3) When tplf and eplf took Power in Ethiopia, there were many anti tplf demonstraitons. From all demonstratinons those who mentioned the illigality of the secession of Eritrea were followed many killings. (the hot haded eplf soldiers and the boiled unionist With out guns, what can one expect. buttros buttros gali of Egypt the un secritary was a witness to his pleasure).

    4) Instead of isolating Eritrea from Ethiopia eplf confirmed again the historical bonding between the two People in its wierd way. Soon eplf members and supporters joined the first local election to secure key positions for eplf and tplf. (at least in Ethiopipa there was no difference between the two.)

    5) The first strike of the national bank of Ethiopia paralized by firing the strikers and replacing them With tigr-tigrnya People from differnt governmental and private Offices.

    6) Eplf just like tplf had a great roll in controlling the ethiopians key economical activities. Sal, you nailed it good when you say eplf was not working in securing the border. The border wae forgotten untill 1996-8)

    In short tigrnya People both in Asmara, Assab, and all in Ethiopia were more Ethiopians than the rest of the ethnic Groups. I was in addis in 2011, still tigrinya People feel more Ethiopian than many ethnic Groups.

    One more peculiar thing. In 1995 eritrean mines authority demanded all the geological work of Eritrea and afar. The vice minister (from somali kilil) refused but the eplf and tplf cadress used their Power and succeeded to take all the datas. In 1996-1998 the consquence sent many departments leaders out of work. The reason gave was they were redendance or old People.

    But why did eplf has had such possiblity or desire in doing so?
    Did what eplf do in Ethiopia till 1998 was supported by the majority of eritreans?
    Do we ignore the alliance of eplf and tplf played for what ever is happning to all of us and especially for the non-gigre-tigrnya People.

  • Zaul

    “A viable political alternative must have not only a compelling programme on minority
    rights but also a track record of respecting them in its own operations and structures. The
    rise of small, armed ethnic parties – whether or not encouraged by Ethiopia – is a response
    to the lived experience of domination, from personal insult and cultural chauvinism to discrimination and systematic exploitation and exclusion in the economy and politics. Inevitably, demagogues and external forces will exploit such popular dissatisfaction. But those
    who would counter them must come up with programmes that undercut their appeal so they
    can be isolated and marginalised. Only a demonstration of both sincerity and effectiveness
    will accomplish this, as Eritrean politics are replete with examples of soaring rhetoric and
    unfulfilled promises.
    These and other questions do not need to be settled, but options need to be put out to
    stimulate public discussion and to demonstrate that those who propose to rule a postIsaias Eritrea have the imagination and the sensitivity to do so in a manner that speaks to
    the deepest-held needs of the Eritrean people. Nothing would be more constructive than
    a vigorous public debate on these issues among leading opposition figures – one that
    not only showcased the positions of those involved but that demonstrated their capacity
    to carry out a debate without resorting to violence or coercion to determine the outcome.
    The people need hard evidence that those who propose to lead will be different from
    those they have today, not only in what they say but in what they do and how they do it.
    Eritrea has a long way to go to achieve political stability and the democratic institutions
    to sustain it, as well as the political culture to nurture it over the long term.
    Widening thecircle of those discussing this – and making it far more transparent – is the most urgentlyneeded step today. New leadership is just as important in this process as new ideas.”
    Dan Connell, From resistance to governance:
    Eritrea’s trouble with transition

  • You would never have made it to Asmara without the help of the weyane Tigray who saved and speeded up the struggle for the sake of Ethiopia. Your war was not with Ethiopians rather with forced solders lead by dictator leaders. Refresh you memory of the Bademe war when you face the Ethiopians who feel betrayed by the Eritreans. So please do not create history, face the bare facts.

    • L.T

      It said by one dud Tigrian Asgde G.Silasie in his garabage book”Gahdi”I laugh soft when I start to read that book a well year ago.
      We helped you to started your”Teneakna”struggle”in 1974 by Graet Jebha and again by Shabia the great front in 1975 and ask to Mahri Tekle and Yemane kidane on that.The late maj Genral Romadan Awlaliya and his team saved your cheap death in Shire Enda salasie 1988 and Ask to Col Men gustu hailemariam.Mokonon Tekle a.k.a Gubtan with specail force helped in the side west front of Ethiopia Asosos in 1990 and ask your Gen Samoura Yenus.How helped you to inter Addis Abeba?Col Wedi Andenkiel and ask your boos Sibhat Nega.
      The nationalist Ethiopia Col Mengustu said “We don’t know even the their name weyane until the war in Debre Marikos area”This is true.Sheabi bear and lead you to power in Addis abeba it was wrong but we have no altenative than that”Isaias said.

    • Dibe Kulu

      The Eritrean struggle started long before that of Tigrai’s. By the time TLF and TPLF started their struggle, Eritrean nationalists had already gained acceptance in the wider Middle East and beyond. Without the help and prior establishment of the Eritrean liberation fronts the Tigrean struggle would have failed like that of the 1st Woyane uprising.

      This does not however, mean that EPLF & TPLF fighters didn’t support each other in fighting the forces of the brute Derg and to defeat their competitors.History will tell who carried the heavier burden of paying more for that collaboration. As long as an accrimonious situation persists on both sides of the Mereb though, no one will sleep peacefully. So let us not fool ourselves with empty bravados! We both need each other!

  • abe

    That was as usual a superb analysis, we are all to be blamed for giving this provisional government of Eritrea a blank check, at the begining of independence we were completely blinded to see a free country and never watched out closely where they were taking us. The young generation is pretty determined to get rid Isaias and the system he created, let us all support them as much as we support gedli in the old days.

    Happy Independence day to all.

  • L.T

    They only I see a posetive thing here is that he said “Happy Independnce Day”.Yes Happy Independnce day Eritea and I will dance in Stockholm on saturday night with all Eritreans there than the rest on this article are like always”Isaias Afewrqi,Jehova,Demo,Hegedefty,Forti XeXerat,Muslim,Nakfa……Komeatat”
    Have Ethioipia the 3000 yrs history Independnce day ?who are suffared by many invadres fm outsiders like Yodith Godit,The hero muslim Imama fm east,Captain Niper who killed Kassa Hailu in Mekdela,Durbush Mahdawiayn,Graziani?
    I love my Eritrea!!