It is not a coincidence to come across similarity of attitudes in all totalitarian regimes in the world. In their good days they assert that they are undivided part of their region rather part of the whole world. Though informally, many times they consider themselves as regional powers, and they tend to act accordingly. In their critical times, they insist that their country is unique and it will not get affected by any political change alarming the region or the world. When the heat of the change comes closer they seek to the politics of blaming others. On the other hand; and surprisingly, the actions of the people under such totalitarian regimes are alike; especially when they decide to revolt against their dictators. In the beginning they go to the streets to demonstrate peacefully, if the tyrant received them with bullets, they defend themselves and their revolution by all means. And at the end they win. This was exactly what has happened in Egypt and Tunisia and what is happening in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and will happen soon in Eritrea.
Repeating what its counterparts usually do; when they feel the heat of change, the autocratic regime in Eritrea has recently escalated its “accusations” to countries, regional and international organizations exercising the easy to use tool- “blame game”. If we only count the latest incidents; it has started with the UK, passed through the USA and reached to IGAD and more might be added to the list soon. The UK had been “accused” of “sending four Britons for a mission of spying, espionage, sabotage and terrorism” in Eritrea; and the American Administration for their “pressure applied to prohibit companies from leasing and selling aircrafts to Eritrea”. One more allegation to the USA was that it’s Ambassador to Eritrea “issued a classified report to his Foreign Ministry officials advising them to focus their campaign to recruit Eritrean Diaspora through NGOs and others means to destabilize the Eritrean government.” And IGAD’s “accusation” was for its call to the African Union (AU) to urge sanctions – on the economic and mining sectors of the Eritrea. “Wow! What a heart touching accusations!” I believe these allegations will have very little effect -not in terms of their truthfulness or otherwise, but in the context of realizing their causes, and the Eritrean people’s desire at the moment to focus on the root causes of problems rather than consequences if there are any- to those who still remember the similar charges leveled before- to the Sudan, G15, Djibouti, and Ethiopia (still on). Even the respected Eritrean Web sites like Awate, Assena and Asmarino were not spared from such charges (not directly but through its stooges). What is astonishing here is that the regime wants us to believe that the above “anti-Eritrea” campaigns were either spearheaded by Ethiopia or by others for the benefit of Ethiopia.
But the core question is: will the Eritrean people benefit from creating and escalating problems with countries, regional and international organizations, every now and then? The answer is NO. If one asks the same question by just replacing the phrase Eritrean People by Eritrean regime; the answer will be different, may be affirmative. It is still fresh in our memories the regime’s military adventures in Ethiopia, Yemen, Sudan and Djibouti. Nevertheless, for now let us only focus on its adventures with the big powers. Is it true that the regime is really at war with the US or the UK, hoping to defeat them in the actual battle field, in the propaganda/ physiological war or in the regional and international forums like AU, IGAD or UN etc? The answer is plain “NO”. Then, why the regime resorted to the above tactics? The ultimate goal was (and still is) to play the role of innocent victim pulled out by America and Ethiopia. Hoping naïve Eritreans will rally around it to add some oxygen to extend its embattling life.
The strategy of the “war”
The only tool at the government’s disposal at the moment is its media; especially ER TV. The strategy is to suffocate the Eritrean people with shallow propaganda by:-
- Portraying the USA as an Eritrean enemy.
- Emphasizing that the US Administration engineered the 2009 UN sanctions against Eritrea, and they are architecting more sanctions.
- Underlining that America is waging a psychological war on Eritrea.
- Airing a program in ER TV about psychological war (read American Psychological war), types and the tactics used to influence people -read Eritrean people. This had been done in the form of an interview with Mr. Ali Abdu, Minister of Information.
- Blaming Capitalism – read America for today’s world crises. A person with a title -Head of the Strategic Studies in the ER TV forecasted (cited some studies) that Capitalism will collapse within 20 years time.
- Belittling the revolutions in the Arab world. Mr. Isayas in his recent interview with the Sudanese TV channel boldly refused to call the Arab uprisings as “revolutions” but “explosions.”
The above well orchestrated campaigns of ER TV are not directed to the big powers as the government portrayed it, but to the naïve Eritreans. The aim is to push the following deceptive messages down to their throats as life saving pills for Eritrea and Eritreans.
- “Americans are not happy with our self dependence policy, and our strife for self sufficiency in food. The only problem here in Eritrea is America. They are at war with us. In other words– O Eritrean people! Please believe us and be ready to act when we ask you to do so in a way we wanted you to do.”
- “America is striving to reverse our hard won independence and trying its best to overthrow the PFDJ government for the sake of Ethiopia. In other words –O Eritrean people! Understand that the PFDJ, the Eritrean people and Eritrea are one and the same. No PFDJ, no Eritrea. So please don’t think to replace the regime. ”
- “Eritrea at the moment is free from all problems that prompted the Arab revolutions (“explosions” – just to borrow Mr. Esayas’ unwise terminology) to overthrow their governments. Therefore Eritrea is safe from the current heat of change. In other words– O Eritrean People! Please do not endeavor to do what the Arabs did.”
- “Capitalism is the main problem of today’s world, and it will soon collapse. In other words– O Eritrean people! Please trust us when we tell that our system is the best system in the world; sooner or later the world will follow PFDJ’s suits. So do not think of changing the regime’s system”
In short, one does not require extra intelligence to understand the veiled summary of the messages i.e. “Whether you like it or not, we want to rule you forever.”
The Real War
Eritrea is not at war with anybody but with the PFDJ regime. The current propaganda (war with America) is as good as sleeping pills prescribed to the people intended to cause a deep sleep; so that they won’t rise up against the government. But I doubt it will work this time. The people’s sympathy towards the regime had been eroded by its miss-management of the nation. People are escalating their opposition /resistance by all means. Now they are in the process of transforming their opposition in to a revolution to re-liberate Eritrea.
Time has proved that blaming others for one’s failure is an outdated tactic. I usually fail to understand why the regime expects people to be fooled multiple times. The Eritrean people now realized that the 2009 UN sanctions was the regime’s self inflicted penalty. It was recommended by IGAD and African Union (in response to the regimes irresponsible policy in Africa) and imposed by the United Nations Security Council; not by America. And, the people are fed up to hear the regime’s fake arguments that the American Administration is doing its best to destabilize Eritrea for Ethiopia’s interest. I am not here to defend the American or Ethiopian policy in the horn of Africa. I did not also forget that the USA or other countries have interest in this part of the world. But just to apply the principle of doing first things first; the top priority of the Eritrean people today is to fight the real enemy i.e. the PFDJ. By the way, it is not fresh news to learn that the Eritrean regime engaged in blame game, to cover its failure to rule the country up to its people’s expectations. It is a common tool applied by all tyrannical regimes during bad weather. We heard similar murmurs from the recently toppled Arab Governments (Egypt and Tunisia). It is not also a secret to learn that dictators, in their final days, indulge in to insults and threats. Sometimes they come up with silly definitions and terminologies. For instance Mr. Esayas of Eritrea baptized the recent Arab “Revolutions” an “explosions.” Such a behavior is the result of the distorted self images of irresponsible leaders.
The “[bleep] Agarfa”
Let me come back to the title “[bleep] Agarfa”. It was in 1986 when the American warplanes bombarded Colonel Moamar Ghadafi’s residence. Afraid he might be the next target; the Ethiopian dictator, Colonel Mengistu heavily criticized the American action. He mobilized the Ethiopian public, unions and associations to raise their voice against the American deed. At that moment the Ethiopian TV announced that the Agarfa Farmers Association Chairman denounced the American act. It was this announcement that prompted the “shit Agarfa” joke to pop up in Addis Ababa. The joke went like this- “The American Ambassador in Ethiopia was following the situation closely. When he heard that the Agarfa Farmers Association chairman denounced the attack; the Ambassador got excited and asked his assistants to provide him with detailed information about Agarfa believing that the chairman was a big and influential political figure in Ethiopia. In the mean time the Ambassador requested an Atlas to locate Agarfa in the map. When he found out; contrary to his expectation, that Agarfa was a tiny district in Ethiopia; he got nervous; unable to hide embarrassment, shouted in a loud voice “[bleep] Agarfa”. Nonetheless, Agarfa is an important district/Wereda in tourism. It is also a home of sacred places like the Sheik Ali Mountains which are considered religious sanctuaries by residents of that Wereda. In the same way whenever the American authorities will be informed about Eritrean TV propaganda against their administration, this will trigger them to voice “[bleep] ER TV”. I think the Eritrean media is too small to cause fluctuations in the heart beat of the American Administration; as the ER TV wanted us to believe. However I do acknowledge nations’ rights; irrespective of their size, they are big enough to ask non intervention in their internal affairs. Once again whenever the Egypt’s and Tunisia’s revolution leaders would be informed about Mr. Isaias’ refusal to recognize their uprising as a “revolution”; they, like the American Ambassador in the joke, will ask for information about Eritrea and its leader. When they discover that Eritreans are proud, peace loving ,hardworking people , people who have librated their country on their own after 30 years of struggle, people who are ready to defend their country at any cost ( provided the threat is genuine); they will definitely raise a “thumps up” for the Eritrean people. Conversely when they realize that Mr. Isaias’ political size in terms of influence in the international politics, they will loudly say “[bleep] Isaias!”
The way out
Enough is enough. Stop exploiting the peoples’ patriotism. Now almost all Eritreans have realized that their lone problem at the moment is the dictatorial rule in Asmara. It is the problem of endless National Service, the problem of 20 years dictatorship, the problem of unfair distribution of the country’s wealth, the problem of old and new refugees; in short, it is the problem of the kidnapped 30 years independence struggle of the people. And the solution is – passing on the power peacefully to its original owners i.e. the Eritrean People. Otherwise the people will be left with no option but to resort to the Libyan way to facilitate Mr. Esayas’ membership in the Mr. Mubarak’s and Mr. Bin Ali’s club. Nothing is permanent in politics.