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How Eritrea Hopes To Get USA To Lift Sanctions

Eritrea sees a path to lifting sanctions and normalizing relationship with the United States by creating a wedge between the State Department and the White House, according to leaked memo from the Eritrean Chargé d’affaires to the United States.

Dated January 23rd of this year, the four-page memo was published by US-based Eritrean website,, this week.

In the memo addressed to Eritrea’s foreign ministry, Mr. Berhane Gebrehiwot summarizes his January 21 meeting with Ambassador Herman Cohen, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and now a lobbyist for Cohen and Woods International.

Ambassador Cohen reports of his meetings with Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs as well as Ms. Nancy Cohen, Acting Director for East African Affairs who see the importance of normalizing relationship with Eritrea but expect the latter to take gestures “similar to Cuba.”

The gestures include freeing two Eritrean employees of the US embassy, Mr. Ali Alamin and Mr. Kiflom Gebremichael, who were arrested in September 2001 and have never been charged or brought to court, and elevating diplomatic relations to the ambassadorship level.

The White House policy is driven by “Susan Rice and her followers”, reports Ambassador Herman Cohen.  Speaking of Ambassador Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor, Mr. Cohen says, “Although she considers herself an Africa expert, her approach is domination and suppression and her decision-making is based on whom she likes and hates.”

“Because she is driven by personal animus, she is not one that is fit for diplomacy.“

The strategy of emboldening those who support lifting sanctions and normalizing relations with Eritrea and pressuring those who are opposed includes, as Mr. Berhane Gebrehiwot reminded, for Ambassador Cohen to keep his promise to “write an article, to distribute it and, if he can, to gear up a campaign around the issue of lifting sanctions and normalizing relations between Eritrea and America, as this will help awaken consciousness.”

Part of “awakening the consciousness” of Americans, according to Mr. Berhane Gebrehiwot, is for Ambassador Cohen to “use his influence” to help organize a symposium where “various interested reporters, government officials, members of congress and research centers” would discuss Eritrea’s importance to the United States.

With respect to direct dialogue with Ethiopia, something proposed by Ambassador Cohen in his December 2013 article “Time to Bring Eritrea In From the Cold”, Mr. Cohen reports of his conversation with his contacts in Ethiopia and that although “there are EPRDF [Ethiopian governing coalition] members who want to bring it [demarcation] to a close… a few but influential officials create hurdles by saying that ‘the government of Eritrea is going to fall on its own and there is no reason for us to address issues of troop withdrawal and border demarcation.’ ”

Herman Cohen was President George Herbert Walker Bush’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in 1991 and he was part of the “London talks” where President Isaias Afwerki and the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi discussed post-Mengistu Hailemariam Ethiopia and Eritrea.

It is unclear from the memo whether Mr. Cohen is engaged as a paid lobbyist or volunteering his services as a “friend of Eritrea,” or how long he has been meeting with the Eritrean charge d’affairs.

The United States has explicit rules and timelines on having lobbyist registered when representing foreign governments.

Eritrea was sanctioned by the United Nations in 2009 (Resolution 1907) for undermining peace and security in Somalia; and its refusal to acknowledge and deal with its border conflict in Djibouti. The resolution received 13 votes in favor, 1 against (Libya) and 1 abstention (China.)

The sanctions were toughened in 2011 (Resolution 2023) due to Eritrea’s refusal to comply with the UN resolutions, and new terms were imposed: on soliciting the 2% tax from Diaspora Eritreans, and transparency in accounting for mining revenues.   The resolution received 13 votes and two abstentions (Russia and China.)  President Isaias Afwerki, who was supposed to address the UN either in person or via video link-up, refused to do so.

In November 2014, the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea (SEMG) reported that Eritrea has significantly reduced its role in Somalia and there is no evidence that it is supporting Al-Shabab.

The Government of Eritrea has been using the last SEMG report to argue that the primary cause for the sanctions—Eritrea’s alleged destructive role in Somalia—has been “disproven” and there is no longer a reason to maintain the sanctions.

Meanwhile, Qatar, which is “mediating” the Eritrea border conflict with Djibouti since June 2010—longer than the Eritrea-Ethiopia arbitration—has had nothing to show for its mediation.  Djibouti is still complaining that Eritrea will not disclose the whereabouts of its prisoners of war. While Eritrea denies there are Djibouti prisoners of war, the same body that exonerated Eritrea about Somalia, SEMG, interviewed Djibouti prisoners of war who escaped from Eritrea to Sudan.

The armed Ethiopian opposition groups remain in Eritrea, in violation of UN resolutions, and pro-government Eritrean websites often celebrate their alleged military victories.

Moreover, the SEMG report that is supposed to exonerate Eritrea concluded that Eritrea is importing weapons through East Sudan and is arming South Sudanese rebels and continues to be in violation of UN resolution 1907.

The Government of Eritrea also does not appear to recognize resolution 2023, as it is still debating the merits of resolution 1907.

Just two days ago, Djibouti and Somalia were co-sponsors of Human Right Council’s resolution L-23 extending and expanding the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry and the Special Rapporteur, and calling on Eritrea to implement their recommendations and to stop its “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations.”
inform. inspire. embolden. reconcile.

Related Reading

UN Security Council Resolution 1907 (2009)
UN Security Council Resolution 2023 (2011)
Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea Report (2014)
Report of the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea (A/HRC/29/41) and Report of Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea (A/HRC/29/42) (2015)
U S Department of State Country Report on Eritrea Year 2014 (released July 2015)


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  • Pass the salt

    I didn’t catch him. What is he saying? May be SGJ or SAAY can help.

    • saay7


      Its an Eritrean story. He is an Awatista, who used the penname TsaTse, familiar to old Awatistas like Nitricc and A.Osman. He is an Eritrean story: son of an EPLF veteran, his brother, born in Sahel, texted him to say I crossed the border, he is an advocate of justice. But justice completely separated from vengeance….and he, like many Eritreans, hears the call for one as the call for the other.

      It’s an Eritrean story. A Ghandi disciple, who rushed to enlist in the U.S. Army. His anger got in his way. His impatience got in his way. He is disappointed in Saay and SGJ. Why he is disappointed…we will have to wait and see part 2. That, too, our inability to tell stories succinctly, is an Eritrean story.


      • Pass the salt

        Thanks SSAY.
        He says ‘let me get to the point’ only to veer off time again.
        From your summary, he then seems a guy with a good cause. So how did you turn him off that he doesnt comment here anymore?

      • haileTG

        Hi saay,

        The “Eritrean Story” view point is great. In fact, I see such Eritrean Story in the current Eritrean Railway System. The rails were long laid out but it still lacks a proper train that runs on them. All the stories we hear are the rails in the analogy for the “Eritrean Story”, unfortunately we have no train that runs supported by the stories. Hence, it is left for local kid’s play ground 🙂 We need a speeding train that cuts through to our destination. Some of us hope such train has already departed Geneva:)

        • saay7

          Ah, Hailat:

          Maybe so. But then, the PFDJ can use that argument against us. It goes something like this: It took the Italians decades to get the Asmara-Massawa train to connect and they had big plans to have it connected all the way to Tesseney but then they were interrupted by wars they were provoked into making (hush!) and they never finished them and future generations had to pick up the task. Similarly….

          It took an occupying fascist country to force us to build all the winding roads between Asmara and Massawa; Asmara-Keren… to build all the art-deco buildings that are now architectural wonders…and future generations now take pride in them…

          It was not of our own choice that we developed an interest in cycling…it was Italian occupation…but now, we have a world-class champ crowned King of The Mountain in France: the first African.

          So, if you just let us do our thing with impunity, kill a few, arrest a few more, torture here and there, future generations will be grateful for what we have done.

          Something like that. So, give it to them now Hailat:) SGJ calls that the Pyramid and Great Wall of China argument.


          • Berhe Y

            Dear Saay,

            You said “It was not of our own choice that we developed an interest in cycling…it was Italian occupation…but now, we have a world-class champ crowned King of The Mountain in France: the first African.”.

            It’s the only thing the PFDJ left it alone (the cycling) and you can see it’s success. If they have left everything alone, I am sure we would have succeeded in all ventures that we put our minds to. when I say left it alone, they left alone for the cyclists to sign with foreign teams, they left them alone to leave the country and come back freely ( I am sure they are collecting hefty tax on their contract, which to some degree is ok, if reasonable like any other country) but over all, the likes of Jovani Massola are still running the cycling show.

            Berhe Y.

          • saay7

            Selamat Berhe:

            I was making the PFDJ argument to tee-up Haile TG to make the counter-argument and you are helping.

            I have actually said, semi-jokingly, that if you look at the two fields that Eritreans have excelled it DESPITE Isaiasism, they are both solitary pursuits: cycling and long-distance running. A few years ago, an Eritrean youth got some recognition for excellence in math. Another solitary pursuit. But on things that require team work–team sports, politics, military science–the results have been disastrous.


          • Bayan Nagash

            And kburat Sal & Berhe Y,

            Berhe Y., you’re right to point out if you leave humankind to his/her own device to thrive, the human spirit is such that they reach the sky. So, If you tell’em, just for comparison purposes only, of their counterpart, who, after all, started at the same starting point back in 1991 like they did, which goes something like the link below, what might their response be? Just wonderin’ out loud here…


          • saay7

            Hala Bayan:

            You can add this to the list: Rwanda. There is another country led by a control-freak authoritarian but:

            ” Rwanda’s Finance and Economic Planning Minister Claver Gatete, said the country applies a retrospective approach when tracking its economy. From 1995 up to the end of last year, the east African country grew at an average of 9.8 per cent and from 2000 to last year it rose by 8 per cent on average.”



          • haileTG

            Selamat saay,

            That has been over-milked cow of narrative for the PFDJ/regime. If the USA arrests some security risks without due process, then that justify for the regime to open over 400 prisons to arrest citizens of all walks without due process. If Italians built the country under dictator/fascist regime then that justify the dictator/fascist part and .. oh well, the building part can just wait. If early democracy experiments in Africa show a lot of mishaps, well that justify for them to dismiss anything remotely resembling democracy. The question is however, the fascist Italian regime was “building”, while the comparable PFDJ regime has always been and still is demolishing. When you chose a leader, the worst case is incompetent and energetic type. They do everything and badly. However, It is sometimes said that all political science are derivations of Plato’s Republic. Republic is an irreligious adaptation of theocracy. They want the same thing. A benign dictator. The problem is, the power of dictatorship is instilled in a single office. The energetic will bust their a#$%s to get that power, and history shows that the incompetent always end up in the chair, with invariably bad results.


      • Bayan Nagash

        kbur Haw Solomon Seyum,

        From the comments Awatayan have made, Sal Y. in particular, things are unfolding
        about your background that I didn’t know in that the birth of Eritrea is impossible
        to separate from the birthplace of thousands upon thousands of Eritreans who
        were born in the hinterland of Eritrea like yourself.

        Therefore, my brother, it is why I say do not sacrifice the foreground for the background. The latter, i.e., personal grudge, is so miniscule that it pales in comparison to the former. The opposition has hit the ground running, the momentum of this trajectory with the CoIE report is so damning that srAt PFDJ is clearly panicking to a point of having difficult time trying to figure out in how to contain this momentum. Containing it, it cannot – the demonstrations from DC to Geneva and from Tel Aviv to Addis are grassroots movements that nothing can stop.

        Along the lines of not sacrificing the foreground to the background, consider this: The atrocities that srAt PFDJ has been committing and continues to commit against innocent Eritreans is so overwhelming that to have any doubt of its veracity is to believe in the erroneous need to generalize based on exception. One does not make
        generalizations based on anomaly and aberration, as one mathematically and
        scientifically minded person that you are; you needn’t need me to lecture you on that. If you believe the majority of what’s in the UN’s CoIE report, then, the rest is just background noise that srAt PFDJ one would expect to try to make a point of, not someone like you Solomon Seyum, who, more than anyone else would be privy to the game being played by the enemy of Eritrean people.

        What srAt PFDJ squandered, you know this as well as anybody else, is, well, let me
        let the following video clips do that explaining in my behalf…All I can say is that equip yourself with plenty of napkins as I can never listen to the first song without my tears getting the better of me: The legendary Yemane’s moving song on Eritreans who sacrificed so much for so little in return:

        Ykka’alo kKob mdre-semai seyum abelkayom beAl dahlay mahlay

        The narrative of ghedli cannot be owned by PFDJ, they lost that chance when they decided to transgress the promises of those who paid the ultimate price to bring the nation called Eritrea. PFDJ has neither the moral imperative, the moral ground, nor the moral authority to speak of in this regard. The opposition has gained the moral
        high ground because truth is on its side. The ghedli narrative is your story, Solomon; You own the ghedli history. You’re the living, breathing ghedli byproduct. You cannot let srAt PFDJ hijack your personal story, and that’s precisely what they will try to do, because they have no narrative worth a squat that they can disseminate to the public based on the last twenty four years record, record full of wrath, abuse, torture, mayhem, bottomless pit of abyss, you name it, they’ve done it.

        • tes

          Dear Bayan,

          Here you put the truth that will shine from North to South and from East to West. Here it goes:

          “The opposition has hit the ground running, the momentum of this trajectory with the CoIE report is so damning that srAt PFDJ is clearly panicking to a point of having difficult time trying to figure out in how to contain this momentum. Containing it, it cannot – the demonstrations from DC to Geneva and from Tel Aviv to Addis are grassroots movements that nothing can stop.”

          Indeed, the grassroot movement is now becoming a strong chain. By now, Eritreans have learned again how to be themselves.

          Thank you


        • NoDrama

          Beyan, thank you for that Yemane song. I haven’t heard it in decades and can’t help asking myself how did we end up in this mess after all that we have gone through? I shade tears not for those BluTsat that Yemane aptly describes but for failing to fulfil their promises. At the opportunities lost, the meagre ressources, Human Ressources, squandered.

          • Bayan Nagash

            Selamat NoDrama,

            It baffles me to no end to see all that gallantry, all that sacrifice to turn to dust. But, I am hopeful that we are finally turning the corner and shaking that dust off to start anew, to start afresh…it is going to be an arduous task, and that it is going to ask for a great deal more of sacrifice… but that is nothing new for Eritreans, our “Human Resources” will be revitalized from the ashes and that srAt PFDJ had placed it in.

            As for the lae Yemane’s songs, his lyrics, mostly, have haunting qualities to them. This one, in particular, is one that never fails in its emotional impact in my person.

      • Berhe Y

        Hi SaaY,

        I had my old days a thing or two with him. Typical Prima Donna. You see what I mean a lost cause to rehabilitate these type of people (FeliTom Zideqesu)… I can play the krar and I know the songs of Fihira so I am entitled and I know what’s best for Eritrea. Everyone else is just weyane sell out…

        Listen to the letter Mahmud wrote to Wedi Gherahtu…

        So what his is the son of Tegadelti…what about some of us, where our parents were the insiders moving goods and information for the the front from the watchful eyes of the Derg, where some of them were caught and sentence to death while others spend years in jail being tortured…and NEVER provided information…

        Every Eritrean contributed in his / her own body can claim otherwise..

        Berhe Y.

        • Bayan Nagash

          selamat Berhe Y.,

          The whole point is for us not to miss the forest for the tree, if you will, kbur Haw Berhe. We cannot afford to lose a single Eritrean at this junction of the history of the opposition’s momentous moment. The whole point was meant to make Solomon, by extension all of us, to see that this is no time to wallow in self pity, no time to scratch our wounds, certainly this no time to recount naiAmetat zHalefo Qimtatat. This is the time to hanker down and collectively bring the dogged focus on the prize – that’s is where it’s at.

          Kbur Haw Berhe, Eritreans have lost a great deal. Each and every Eritrean has been impacted in some capacity by the struggle for independence, and Solomon and many like him have been placed in this uniquely Eritrean history of the struggle. The intent was not meant to undermine others’ contributions or sufferings, but that we all collectively have suffered and must come to grips with the reality as it stands now, with the victory that’s within our grasp, we cannot afford to squander it. We must put our opposition house in all its facets in order. I am writing an article in response to what you wrote few days ago that has had resonating power, Berhe, toward the end of which, in part, you said to me this: “I [you that is] would rather focus on a list of issue[s], which are prioritized list which have the maximum effect with leas[t] efforts first rather than focus on lowest priority which require the most efforts” to which I wholeheartedly subscribe.

          Mean while, watch the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Hearing on Africa’s Displaced People, which began in earnest today. What are we doing to supplement such efforts that the world is doing to help shape the conversation for our cause?

  • Nitricc

    Hi people:
    I need some clarification from you out there. When the Ethio-Eritrea war ignited; I was under impression that TPLF bombed Asmara first and Eritrea retaliated the same day; the same day the school was hit. But reading this eye witness account; led me to complete confusion. I am very interested to know the truth. What is the truth? Who bombed first?
    Please read …

    “በዕለተ ዓርብ ግንቦት 27, 1990 (በኢትዮጵያ አቆጣጠር) ሜይ 5, 1998 በፈረንጆች የአስመራ አየር ኃይል ቤዝን ለማውደም
    የተጀመረውን የአየር ድብደባ ተከትሎ የኤርትራ አየር ኃይል 100% የውጊያ ዝግጁነት (100 % Readiness ) ታዟል:: ይህ የውጊያ
    ዝግጁነት እኛን ኢትዮጵያውያኖቹን የማይመለከተን ቢሆንም ከኰ/ል ታደሰ ሙሉነህ ጋር በነጋታው ጠዋት ወደ አስመራው የአየር ኃይል
    ግቢ አመራን ። (ኰ/ል ታደሰ ሙሉነህ ማለት ታዋቂ የአየር ኃይል ተዋጊ በራሪ የነበረና በኋላም የአርበኞች ግንባር መሪ ፣ በቅርቡ ደግሞ
    እዚያው ኤርትራ ውስጥ ለእስር ተጋልጧል የሚባለው) አስመራ አየር ኃይል ቤዝ እንደደረስን በሁለት የኢትዮጵያ ሚግ – 23 ተዋጊ
    አውሮፕላኖች የደረሰውን የአየር ድብደባና በአካባቢው ላይ ያደረሱትን ጉዳት እየተዟዟርን ተመለከትን”

    “በነጋታው እሁድ ዕለት ማልጄ በመነሳት ኰ/ል ታደሰ በያዛት መኪና አስመራ አየር ኃይል ቤዝ ቀደም ብለን ደረስን ። የዘመቻ ጊዚያዊ
    ፅ/ቤት ከምድር በታች የተሰራው ባንከር ውስጥ ስለነበር ወደዚያው አመራን ። ዙርያውን መሬት ላይ በተደረደረው ፍራሽና ምንጣፍ ላይ
    ቁጥሩ በዛ ያለ ሰው ተኝቷል ። አዛዡ ኰ/ር ሃ/ፅዮን ወደ አለበት ጠጋ ብለን ሰላምታ አቀረብንለት ። አስከትዬም ውስጤን እያስጨነቀኝ
    ያደረውን ጉዳይ ኰ/ል በዛብህን አግኝቶት እንደሆነ ዓይን ዓይኑን እያየሁ ጠየኩት ። ሃ/ፅዮንም ቁጭትና ንዴት በተቀላቀለበት አንደበት “
    አግኝቼዋለሁ …. የማይረባ ሰው ነው ” አለኝ ። የኰማንደሩን ንዴት እንዳልገባኝ አልፌ “ ግን ደህና ነው ? ምን አለህ ለመሆኑ ”?
    አልኩት። “ በጣም ነው የተሳሳትከው …. እንዴት ትንሽ እንኳ አታስብም …. እንዴትስ በወያኔ ተልከህ ይህንን ትሰራለህ ” እንዳለውና
    በዛብህም በበኩሉ “ አንተስ ብትሆን የሰራሀው ጥሩ ስራ ነው እንዴ ? አገር ጨርሰሃል እኰ ? ምን የተረፈህ ሰው አለ ? ብዙ ሰው
    ተጐድቷል ? አውሮፕላኖች ከጥቅም ውጪ ናቸው .. አንድም የተረፈ በራሪ የለም … ሁለታችን ብቻ ነን የተረፍነው”

    this is very funny lol
    “(የኰ/ል በዛብህ ዊንግ ማን የነበረ ወይንም ከኰ/ል በዛብህ ጋር
    አስመራን ለመደብደብ አብሮት የበረረ ወጣት በራሪ) ትናንት ኰ/ል በዛብህ ተመትቶ ሲወድቅ ብቻውን ወደ መቀሌ ቤዝ ሲመለስ
    ወያኔዎች የሻብያ ሚግ መስሏቸው በሚሳኤል መትተው ጣሉት …. በጃንጥላ ወደ ምድር ከወረደም በኋላ የሻብያ በራሪ ያዝን ብለው
    ተሰብስበው ቀጠቀጡት
    lol Dedebit is always dedebit
    here read the whole thing.

    • Casey Jon

      You no say?! Enkuwan dess yalesh qirari techi. How is your Air Force now ? 🙂 lol hasas Hamasen . You still talking about 1992. You probably still listen to Nadew yimeskir

      • Ted

        Hi, casey jon, Do you know the comeback for “hasas Hamasen”?. As we are told ,we were using it all wrong for centuries that “heart” is only the source of all good things. So you have it “those people with a twisted mind”. As for recent news from the south PM, we need to dust off our kirar all over again for ” Nadew Yimeskir” or “Bure Yimeskir” to make it relevant.

  • sabri

    Selam Pass the salt,

    For me the wilkileaks information published at Haddas Eritrea has two messages. Two important things are mentioned in the report 1. Abdella Jabir and Forto 2013 2. Reform asked by some people at higher position.

    As we know Abdella Jabir is arrested in connection with Forto 2013. The government painted the Forto movement as an islamic movement. The published document is meant to confirm that version. The report also painted those who wanted reform at higher level as islamic movement. In 2011 I was sitting in audience when Abdella Jabir was a main speaker in one meeting. His entire speech was about change and reform. After he thanked the people for their mekete he promised there will be a new beginning in Eritrea in lesson than two years period. According to him there were an going Gimegema at all levels. Infact he sad the meeting he was leading was part of the ongoing gimgema. Ususally the representative of the Eritrean government give identical speech to the public. But his was different. I was really amazed by his unusual speech and wondered what kind of reform is he talking about. Nikulu zegereme teriuu neyru. Exactly after two years, the time Abdella calculated the introduction of new reform in Eritrea, Forto 2013 appeared on the surface. He and other people are jailed. I immediately associated his imprisonment with what he was talking two years back in 2011.

    It seems there were people from inside who pushed for reform. When their attempt gave no result they probably attempted to remove the regime by force through Forto 2013. Now Haddas Eritrea with this new document wants to convince people the whole issue was about an islamic movement.


  • Mahmud Saleh

    Dear awatista,
    Just returning from a long, a very long drive. I see some comments in regard to Ato Abdalla Jaber. Was he a spy? Well, we don’t know. However, it doesn’t surprise me if he was a spy. Anybody could be embroiled in espionage. These guys (PFDJ leaders) have already betrayed the cause of their fallen comrades and the mission of our revolution. But the leaked cable in relation to Abdalla shows only a talk between Abdallah and the ambassador about something both governments presumably knew. He is not telling him any new information. They are discussing about a situation that both governments wanted kept secret, and particularly PFDJ, since Eritrea had been accused of supporting Alshabab. The Ambassador is not excited about it, he does not show any sign that he was surprised (please someone translate it with all the nuances that the Arabic version could make).
    If any, and if this is true, it only shows Abdalla is imploring the Saudi’s that those pilots knew the secrets supposedly both governments had known, and he is warning them to interrogate them extraordinarily. It could also be a PFDJ government’s plot designed to pressure the Saudi’s in handing the pilots back to Eritrea. If you read the Arabic version carefully, it appears Abdalla is speaking representing his government. But more tomorrow. I will read it again tomorrow and follow up.
    What SGJ said is very important. Although the man was one of those few who served and enabled the dictator, he still deserves justice. You can’t rationally jump into a conclusion from this conversation. And justice is not something reserved for the “good guys” only. Your adversary deserves justice too.

    • saay7

      Selamat Mahmuday, Sabri and Haile TG:

      Mahmuday, you make an excellent point that I hadn’t even considered: was Abdella Jaber communicating with the Saudi Embassy under the direction and knowledge of the PFDJ hierarchy? Are there language nuances in Arabic that were missed in the Tigrinya translation? I would ask awatistas who are equally proficient in Arabic and Tigrinya to help out here (SGJ, Mahmoud: back to you.) Moreover, to give an example of the Berhane-Herman Cohen report: would Cohen agree that the gist of his meeting was accurately captured by Behane? Were there things omitted, for example, did Cohen say, “your president is really stubborn and he is making a mistake” and Berhane, for fear of invoking the wrath of Isaias Afwerki, didn’t report it? Similarly, has the Saudi ambassador left out things that were important to Abdella Jaber but not important to him?

      Sabri, I agree with you that months before Forto 2013, there was a clear divide between calls for reform and calls for status quo. Forto 2013 was “the silent G-15” because they didn’t do an “Open Letter to the Eritrean People.” And just like the Isaiaists labeled the G-15 as regionalists (!), they labeled Forto 2013 movement as “Islamic.” How is it that people who have been part of the EPLF from the beginning develop regionalism and Islamism? Were they always so and kept it hidden? Did they just acquire it? It makes no sense, of course, but what is clear now is that the EPLF, which was a merger of PLF1(Ramadan group) and PLF 2 (Isaias group) has not called most of PLF2 as regionalists (Menkae, G-15) it has now called virtually all PLF1 “Islamists.”

      Hailat, we are syncing. The point I was trying to make is that those whom we occasionally call the “silent majority” or the “silenced corner”are people to be won over because the reasons for their silence is as varied as they are. When we elevate this discussion to a point where we are brutally frank, I will give my answer to the question frequently asked from Western Diaspora (US, Canada, Europe) justice advocates: “Where are the Eritrean Muslims?”


      • tes

        Dear saay7,

        You bissected the paradox of EPLF and now PFDJ political game.

        Menkae and G-15: as regionalists – and this labeling has deep root in today’s political movement.

        Then PLF2 – Nihnan Elamanan followers, those who originally labelled themselves clicks of Christian followers and highlanders(central highland) but fighting for the whole and putting their central enemy Moslems of ELF members – are those who are still in power. Terrorism and Jihad is their main political advocacy and Israel is their strategic ally and by extension USA.

        And PLF 1 – those patriotes who kept the momentum and tainted PLF 2 as nationalist movement – are finally labelled as “Islamists”.

        At this time, we have only one and that is PLF 2 – And advocator of Nihnan Elamanan. To tell you from experience, the political curriculum of PFDJ cadre school in Nakfa advocates Nihnan Elamanan. Two days full lecture, usually delivered by DIA is the closing course. Yemane Gebreab is now the main messenger of that manifesto. It is still alive. YPFDJ, if they have anything in their head, it is the manifesto of Nihnan Elamanan.


        + Nihnanan Elamanan = We and our struggle (for those who can’t understand the word)

        • NoDrama

          Saay, you asked: “How is it that people who have been part of the EPLF from the beginning develop regionalism and Islamism? Were they always so and kept it hidden? Did they just acquire it?”Pertinent question indeed. For the life of me, I can not understand why so many people, life-smart and educated alike, fall into the trap of taking at face value what the dictator and his errand boys say after all the lies that these people have told! I mean it’s a google or youtube search away to find materials that attest that DIA tells one thing and its contrary expecting that he is right each time. Just after the 1998-2000 war, a dear friend of mine recommend me to read a book/indictment written by Isseyas entitled ” AEnawi minKisKas SebAn Selesten”. As I went over the pages, I couldn’t believe my eyes so much the resemblance to the G-15 case that was unfolding then was sticking. Isseyas doesn’t even give himself the trouble to imagine new stratagems. He knows he can fool time and again countless Eritreans with the same BS.

          • saay7

            Selamat NoDrama:

            Sometimes people say in a few words what takes me pages to say. Like this tweet: “#PFDJ lacks common sense. A basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by all people, w/o any need for debate.”

            Right now the breaking news in pro-government media is that Abdella Jaber was a Saudi spy. Now, consider what they are saying: Abdella Jaber was the Director of Organizational Affairs for the PFDJ since 1994. A “director of organizational affairs” presumably is responsible for recruiting and retaining members to the organization, and providing membership services, generating dues, etc. If a “Saudi spy” was doing this for 20 years, the whole organization would be overfilled with spies or, and this is another possiblity, he wasn’t a director of organizational affairs, that was one of those “ethnic balancing” titles. Either possibility makes the PFDJ look bad, and one would be reluctant to advertise this about his/her org.

            But not at PFDJ. It is always “how do we survive today?” Yesterday Gerahtu said that Eritrea will have a new constitution in “3-4 years”, taking us to 2019 without a constitution. Since 1993. He also said our population is 4 million; meanwhile, in the statement the gov made to address HRC it said the Diaspora Eritrean population is almost a million. Meanwhile, UNDP (the one that gives Eritrea all the report cards on MDG which are based on population) says the population is 6.3 million and AfDB (the only bank lending Eritrea credit and giving us GDP per capita reports based on population) says the population is 6.3 million.

            I think Mahmouday can correct us but it is an extension of the culture of ኣንታ ድኾነ እንዶ በሎም ኣፎም ክሕዙ. Say whatever you have to say to get over the day and tomorrow will take care of itself. They make up stuff EVEN when they don’t have to.


          • Amanuel Hidrat


            Merhaba brother, and glad to hear you saying “………deception, disinformation was always part (of) the PFDJ culture.” The culture of the “organization” becomes the culture of the “party.” The culture of the “party” becomes the culture of the “system.” And the system that took decades in the making is now enforcing the alien culture by coercion in to the lives of our people. This is the truth that all of us have to deal with it, a struggle that demands a generational struggle for decades. The fight is against the system and its culture, and not against individuals.

            In politics if we make our fight against individuals instead against the “system and its ideological culture” we will continue to fail and remain to be prisoners of their political culture . We have to know the nature of our enemy in order to succeed against the existing brutal governmental system and its culture. Let us end (stop) fighting against individuals and redirect our effort against the system. Fighting against individuals doesn’t bring the fall of the system. But fighting the system brings the demise of the individuals who build the coercive system and the dismantlement of the infrastructure of their political cultures. By doing that (a) we will reverse the exodus of our young generation (b) it will clear a ground for reconciliation (c) It will allow us to talk about constitutionalism and rule of law (d) it will allow us to establish good neighborliness based on mutual respect with our neighbors (e) Most importantly, will allow us to address all social grievances that are created by the regime and its system. Therefore, atehahiza Qalisina Ke-NetsebeQ yedliyena-alo.

            Amanuel Hidrat

          • saay7

            Emma Arkey…

            …as u connect the dots you keep refusing to make the last connection: Isaias is PFDJ. He set its culture A to Z. Then PFDJ set the prevailing dominant culture in Eritrea. Refer to the question Haile TG asked Mahmuday: quoting a veteran, Haile asks “will Eritrea survive Isaias?” My answer to that is that Eritrea will survive Isaias but only if defeats resoundingly Isaiasism.

            I know it’s very hard for u to believe that one man can do so much damage. Let me ask u a question: do u believe in the power of one man to do extraordinarily good, almost saint like? Can u think of examples of 1 person who can change the world for the better? MLK? Gandhi? Jesus? Now flip that: is it possible for 1 person to do so much damage? Remember, ratio-wise, the biggest victims of Isaias Afwerki are EPLF and PFDJ. The fact that they, like an abused child who goes on to be an abusive parent is important…but the root cause, the alpha and omega of all that is vile in Eritrea is Isaias Afwerki. To quote someone: the State is the Man and the Man is the sum total of his mad contradictions.”


          • NoDrama

            Saay, you’re right, it’s a culture of total improvisation as past problems come along to haunt them. The problem is the capo pretends to be the visionary that he never was, at least have long lost. There’s a phrase from Béshir Ben Yahmed – founder of Jeune Afrique, a French language magazine on the continent- wrote regarding IA just after the latest war with Ethiopia that fits the latter very well: ” Ambition for which one has neither the capacity nor the vision is a suicide mission”. I think I have already mentioned this phrase here at Awate but every time that I think about DIA’s empty bravado, I can help but marvel at BBY fitting words regards our home grown tyrant.

      • sabri

        Selamt Saay,

        As I see it there is similarity and difference between G15 and Forto 2013. Both support reform but the later group are against G15 for the reason the manifestation of G15 came out at a wrong time. Forto 2013 declared similar reform 10 years after G15. Unfortunately both groups crushed totally. I wonder if that is the end story of reform inside Eritrea. Geneva 26 is another milestone. We will see where it will lead us.

  • Noah

    SANCTION will be lifted and ERITREA will emerge again

  • T..T.

    Hi Hayat, Semere, tes and all,

    Focus, focus, focus on issues related to Isayas’s next moves to outsmart the UN.

    Ahead of time the pro-people and the pro-democracy groups can assess the impacts of Resolution L23 on Isayas. Plans and alternative can be generated. In these regards, the awate discussions and comments can play roles in revealing those behind Isayas’s moves.

    According to an ELF ex-strategist, as usual, Isayas is expected to turn to pro-Israel, pro-Qatar, and pro-Saudi Arabia lobbyists to neutralize the US stand and weaken the effects of Resolution L23.

    Firstly, ever since Isayas took over Sabbe’s political infrastructure, he controls all the links with government officials in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. And, his links with Israel are in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

    Secondly, as they say, information is the lobbyists’ strongest means of influencing the governing people. We should know what information would strengthen his position.

    Therefore, efforts should be made to know all his links in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Isayas always depends on short term interests to play political miracles. Because he lacks foundational principles in continuing his relationship with other people, groups or governments, he is not for a long term change and a good relationship. The world, by now, knows that he is not honest. Once he snatches what he wants, he doesn’t reciprocate. That’s how he is trampling over golden opportunities every day. That is his weakness. And, since Resolution L23 demands continuity of change in him, for sure he is not a good fit. We can say, he is doomed to fail this time. What is needed from the pro-democracy and pro-people is to just stay focused on what is going on.

    • tes

      Dear T.T,

      I agree with you. PFDJ’s only remaining tool is their Nihnan Elamanan manifesto targeting Moslem Eritreans and consider them as agents of terrorists. If you follow carefully how they play their political game is, “we fought terrorism from the very beginning approach” is in fact their core secret of targeting Moslem Eritreans since EPLF’s birth. People may say EPLF was diverse. it was diverse in its mass movement not in its political program.

      What makes me alerted always is also the youth are following the same principle. I have met some members of the current youth movements and all I found within their inner fear is the same.

      This game is played with Israel. You can follow how the PFDJ ambassader in Israel organizes PFDJ puppets. You can read PFDJ’s mission in USA and EU, their main diplomacy is “fighting against terrorism”. The truth is, “pfdj is a terrorist group by himself”. look how he is trying to destablize Ethiopia by arming thousands of active guarrila fighters.

      I wish more sanctions against PFDJ. It is a terrorist group that plays with terrorism politics. EU are naive to believe PFDJ government is an important ally. USA is alo naive though it is maily linked with Israel’s political interest. Therefore, what we should work hard is to discuss on the political game of PFDJ and the saga of Terrorism.

      This is my next campaign against PFDJ political approach towards sane Eritrean people. Since 1970, Eritreans are victims of terrorist Nihanan Elamanan followers inner circle. But take note here: I am not talking about our struggle. I am talking the inner political game of DIA and his puppets.

      @dear Ethiopians, you have to work hard so that to expose the damage caused to Ethiopia’s peace by PFDJ terrorist group. Ginbot-7 and all others residing in Eritrea are terrorist group allying with a terrorist PFDJ mafia. Work hard to expose them and to impose taugher sanction again PFDJ so that Ethiopia can prosper. Going into confrontatiion with PFDJ is meaningless. PFDJ is a rotten regime. Sanction is enough for him.


      • T..T.

        Thanks tes for sharing your plan,

        Let’s us exploit whatever weakness the Isayasists have. We should focus punching them on their weak spots. Like they say, a strong punch that lands at the enemy’s weak spot causes total emotional paralysis in the enemy’s ability to defend or retaliate.

        We should, indeed, believe that there is no any better opportunity than Resolution L23 to get Isayas, who made our people’s life miserable and hellish.

  • Blata Hadgu

    I always thought this Qeleta Kidane dude was “I am here I am here” kind of guy who writes to remain relevant or just writes for the heck of writing so that his Starbucks groupie will pat him on the back. But I must admit today he has written a historic letter addressed to El Padrino. The letter has a flair of an omen where the dictator is at the cross-roads to make critical choices. The conspiracy theorist in me however says that, the letter might as well have been prepared or to the very least suggested by high PFDJ operands inside Eritrea. You can find it on

  • Ali

    Isaias was a spy for the American CIA who helped his Sha3bia aka EPLF to counter and dismantle the revolutionary Eritrean Liberation Front especially America wanted to remove the ELF due to the fear that they may lose the Red Sea so they are using him to serve their interest, there is no secret of this so this is nothing new. Being sanctioned does not affect him anyway since he loves to see Eritreans suffer so there is no difference.

    • Tewolde

      Abdela Jaber wanted to weaken Eritrea for Islamist take over. He wanted sanctions to be tightened
      and Eritrea to be seen as a Friend of Israel In the Arab world. The is the most shocking
      thing that I have ever heard. But who recruited him? Is there a link with Tewokel,
      Ali Abdu and Awate,com in here? Very surprising!!!!!!! Now things are starting
      to make sense. If a guy who struggled all his life wanted to use religion to
      come to power, anything is possible in today’s Eritrea. For declaration
      purposes I do not like Isaias or higdef. But I even despise Abdella Jaber more
      of being a spy for SA.

      • Ali

        What does religion have to do with this? Nice way to twist my word.

        There is nothing wrong being an ally of SA, if you mean Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. A nation an hour away from us across the sea will bring Eritrea benefits economically etc and Eritrea being spoken Arabic by the majority.

        Much better being an ally with them than a fragmented Ethiopia which will be facing a disintegration like Yugoslavia (you know well why) so them benefit nothing to Eritrea beside “peace and no war”. There is no need to be jealous if we were to look up to other nations.

        Eritrea is for Eritrean business. What do you mean ally of Israel? Do you realize Isaias is an ally of them? Israel cured him when he was at a Tel Aviv hospital and has an Israeli military bases on Dahlak Islands so I don’t get your logic here. Anyway, this isn’t the issue here and we have bigger problems to deal with…Isaias destroying and emptying our country.

      • selam

        Dear tewelde
        I always questioned your intentions even though always give you a pass. I know you are not f8r unity and I know you are not for justice either. If I was the person who wrote what you wrote , I can definitely see some gad words or other thing.

  • Pass the salt

    Interesting read from Gezetta Hadas Ertra. Page 3.

    • Pass the salt

      Dear SAAY,
      Your view in this is much appreciated. Do you think the PFDJ is using this for psycological warfare – to send message to the public that even G15 are not jailed for no reason?

      • saay7

        Selamat Pass the salt:

        As SGJ says often, there are parallel media in Eritrea: Arabic and Tigrinya. And the #Saudileaks that Hadas Ertra translated had been published by Arabic-language Eritrean opposition websites. Speaking of #Saudileaks, there is another one that confirms that the Government of Isaias Afwerki (GoIA) wanted Arabic-language opposition websites blocked.

        Now, about the Hadas Ertra piece. There are 3 things to notice: (1) it is headlined “believe it or not!” (2) there is no byline; (3) it is standard operating procedure (SOP.) (4) There is no context.

        1. Why did they choose a “believe it or not!” approach? Because, according to Wikileaks, it is 500,000 documents and it has, so far, released less than 1/5 of that. This means that in subsequent Saudileaks, information that is very damaging to Isaias Afwerki will emerge. Remember, two Eritrean pilots absconded with their planes to Saudi Arabia in 2012. Or, as Armin Rosen of The Atlantic put it, “Saudi Arabia, of all places.” This means that it is likely that one of the future Saudileaks will talk of how they interviewed them and they confirmed that they were, indeed, transferring weapons and personnel to Somalia. So it is best to use the “believe it or not” approach, to condition people to believe only selectively. “Priming”, it is called.

        2. There is no byline to the story. There is nobody responsible: it just descended from somewhere mysterious and was published.

        3. Propaganda 101: Fear-mongering is one of the most effective tools in propaganda. One of the messages that GoIA wants to send not just to its constituency but to the West is that if the GoIA collapses, what is to come is far worse. “Worse” includes many elements but smack in the middle of it is a Muslim leader who will always have Dual Loyalty: one to his country, and another to Mecca. In this reasoning, a secular, nationalist Muslim doesn’t exist, every Muslim is either a Jihadist or a closet Jihadist.

        This sentiment is shared by many Eritreans, sadly, including within the Eritrean opposition. When I heard that some guys are trying to use the World Court not to go after Isaias Afwerki but Ali Abdu, I was shocked. Really? There aren’t people who have left the regime and whose hands were bloody and you are going to go after a guy because he was on TV and radio? What YG writes doesn’t shock me but his calling this website and the Awate Team jihadists actually did.

        In 2002, when the Isaiasits were trying to jump on the anti-terrorism bandwagon, they were accusing every Eritrean opposition as Jihadist (if Muslim) or Weyane (if Christian.) In one press release the Organization of Eritrean Americans released, it said words to the effect that “Although Eritrea is 50% Christian and 50% Muslim, the Eritrean opposition accuses the Government of Eritrea as being predominantly Christian.” Wink, wink, pass the drones.

        4. There is no context here. By that, I mean, because Abdella Jaber is being judged in the court of public opinion and not in a court of law, he is not allowed to tell his side of the story. He said, for example, Isaias Afwerki has enmity towards Muslims. Well, he has known the man for decades: can he give examples of that? He has said that Isaias Afwerki, loudmouth as he is, has never criticized Israel. Isn’t that true. He has said that he has chosen to speak to Saudis and not the West: why is that? Could it be that he knows of colleagues who spoke to Western governments and then found the West reporting them to their Man In Asmara, Isaias Afwerki? There is absolutely no context here, which is how Isaias Afwerki likes to operate.

        So, PTS, to me this is more of the same and what is sad that even some in the opposition will be used by Isaias Afwerki’s divide-and-conquer. But have heart: the Saudi leaks are 500,000 pages and there will be damning information that will emerge about Isaias Afwerki.


        • Ali

          Well Saleh is right on number 4.

          What makes you think he’s wrong? Have you spoken to any Eritrean Muslims? They will give you the same answer like what Saleh said (if he really said it).

        • haileTG

          Hey saay,

          Considering the fact that the moslem/christian issue will be here with us for generations to come and it is unavoidably influenced by complex external factors, how do we neutralize (or at least mitigate) its negative role in the struggle for democratic change? The regime is too inadequate to even deal with an issue involving a small village as Badme, let alone to be counted on such major national issue. Eritrea can’t be so without its two major segments. Sadly, even the elites of our society are too terrified to openly and boldly discus the issue. Our context in Eritrea is very unique. We are not only divided along faith but such division is also entrenched by geographical and linguistic barriers. Both groups ought to get out of defensive posturing and acknowledge that each side is as indispensable as the other for making the nation. We need to be emboldened to openly air concerns and grievances within a context of making the nation equitable for all of us. The defensive posture is inadvertently lending support to narrow minded and manipulative sections to utilize it for their short term idiotic ambitions. Eritrean Muslims have their hand undermined by unfavorable external conditions, but the Christian half also needs to recognize that the whole concept of Eritrea is doomed to fail without succeeding to forge genuine trust and alliance with their Muslim compatriots. The opposition need to encourage emboldening frank debates and mutual acceptance of one another in a truthful and humbled environment. Let’s break the taboos and bring all the fears and hopes to the front.


          • Saleh Johar

            Selam HaileTG, Tewelde, Saay, Tes, and others

            I have been writing and encouraging people to debate the religious/cultural divide for years, but the result is not encouraging. We must recognize that we have extremists on both sides of the divide. The problem is that Muslim fundamentalism is exposed and digested enough; the Christian fundamentalism is having a swell time. In many Eritrean circles, the liberal credentials of a Christian individual are not questioned; if you are a Muslim, then you are first seen as a Muslim and then as an Eritrean. I have been on the receiving end of this for years and I know how it is done and how it feels. Chauvinists like those who dwell in meshrefet net consider all Eritrean Muslims Jihadists who should not be trusted at all. Worse, they think Eritrean Muslims have lower stake in Eritrea. Even Tewelde whom I thought was a good person could not resist the temptation. He asks: “Is there a link with Tewokel, Ali Abdu and Awate,com in here? ” He then answers his own questions, “Very surprising!!!!!!! Now things are starting to make sense.” Only he can explain what sense he made out of his own speculation and veiled accusations.

            Tewelde doesn’t want to remember that there is no one in the PFDJ regime who vilified as much as Abdella Jabir did. He is the one who promoted “ is Weyane” diligently. But that should not blind us from the fact that he has a right like anyone else to be tried in an open court. Then, why does Tewelde bring Tewekel? Okay, it’s because he happens to be a Muslim and he has to be vilified, regardless? For God’s sake, why is Tewelde implicating the Awate Team except for the same reason? He seems to tell himself, “they are all Muslims, accuse one Muslim, accuse them all!”

            It’s mind boggling how people talk about national unity, diversity, democracy and all the other good sounding terms, all the time, and a slight inciting and instigation brings what is beneath their skin.

            For your information, Tewelde, there is no love lost between Awate Team and Abdella Jabir. The only thing is he happens to be imprisoned without trial, just like the G15 and thousands of other citizens. And he deserves the same attention from the standpoint of justice. That is all. Please don’t lambaste every Muslim whenever you are tempted to vilify a section of your compatriots–unless you declare you are not for unity and justice. In that case, one would know how to deal with you.

            The Saudi Leaks have been circulating in the Internet, particularly facebook, for over a month. The PFDJ knows how to tickle raw nerves and Tewelde’s reaction is exactly what the Isais regime wanted as a result. This is also proof that we have two sections of Eritreans living in a parallel universe, something I tried to convince activists but unfortunately my attempts had very little impact.

            As an Eritrean, one can try to be informed, or choose to remain ignorant about the diverse cultures of his own country. The sooner we recognize that all of us are equal citizens, we will be in a batter shape to deal with mess that Isaias created.

          • tes

            Dear SGJ,

            If I happen to be happy in the current Eritrean politics, it is the rise of ELL to tell you frankly. Despite their narrow strategy, I believe that they will make a big change in changing the perception of Eritrean people in general and those Christian fundamentals in particular.

            In Geneva I was so happy to see those ignored by almost half of Eritreans for long time to be again on dispaly like any other victimized Eritreans. While I was so happy because someone is in the forefront to raise their case, I have learned that some of the attendants were not happy.

            Dear mahmuday, we have heard about Menkae victims even a book is written about them. Tesfay Temnewo is in the forefront to bring the hidden tragedy. Even for many, it was an inspirational history to stand against the PFDJ.

            When the Patriarich of Orthodox Church was arrested and kept under house arrest since 2006, he became the benchmark to fight against PFDJ. Moslem Eritreans stood for him and are demanding for his immediate release.

            Then, what is wrong if someone brought our moslem brothers case to the forefron?

            Someone whispered me during the Geneva demo by saying,

            “why those Moslems are here only with photos that represents from their side? I was shocked to hear such words in the center where we were demanding justice?

            I asked him, “why we are here?”

            he said, “to support the COI report”.

            then I asked him, “what is all the report about.”

            He replied, “about victimized Eritreans”

            then I asked, “aren’t those on photo also victims of PFDJ?”

            He couldn’t respond after but he tried to change the discussion.

            The truth is, I know who was holding those photos. Many of them are Christians and very close relatives of the victimized family members.

            I also have encountered such blind accusations from people who say, “we are fighting for democracy”. What they are forgetting is that, “democracy is also a right to be who you are”.

            Plus, I met Habtom Yohanness there. We had a short talk and we raised the point that we disagreed before. Finally we greeted each other and peace rained. Hope we will have more direct talks.

            I don’t know why, but Awate Forum should have conducted one Forumers meetings. Sure there could be an impact to the Eritrean political landscape.



          • haileTG

            Dear SGJ, Saay, Tes, PTS and others…

            Saay said something important in terms of what is sought in our collective approach: Responsibility. And SGJ has told it the way it should be told up front. It is indeed repulsive the way the owner of meskerem made a fool of himself and made it known that he considers all Eritrean Muslims to be Jihadists who should not be trusted at all and worse, [thinks] Eritrean Muslims have lower stake in Eritrea. In reality, such posturing is shallow and without merit. If we leave what transpired during the armed struggle period to one side, Eritrea saw two Muslim – Christian rioting in 1946 (following the Sudanese troops in British garrison massacring of Christians) and 1950 just before the arrival of The UN Commission To Eritrea. Post independence Eritrea missed all opportunities at nation building as a whole and its social component in particular (to stay in topic). The opposition movement is reflective of such a failed journey and missed opportunities. However, Muslim Eritreans are not less connected, resourced or on the know to not have gone the wrong and path that many chaotic countries are going through. That counts for something. doesn’t it?

            Islamophobia is a real condition that prevails in the non-Muslim Eritrea. Do we have the courage to acknowledge that? I can give many examples of first hand experience, tes did, so could many others. Islamophobia has far and wider presence throughout the world. For someone to think or appear to think that Muslim Eritreans have less stakes in Eritrea’s affairs betrays such a condition (Islamophobia) because the geographical, population and socio-economic and historical contexts of Eritrea doesn’t merit or warrant such conclusion.

            There is a need for new beginnings and creative approaches, with a view to long term solutions. Hence, let’s first have the courage to acknowledge that at the root of the failure to properly handle the issue is our less than sincere recognition that Islamophobia is the force binding most.

          • saay7

            Selamat Hailat:

            Insightful, as usual. One clarification though: when you say that “Islamophiba is the force binding most people in the silence corner” some may assume that the “silence corner” is made up of Christian Eritreans. But that corner has a lot of Muslim Eritreans too. So to complete the description, we would have to include Muslims who believe that their lot won’t change because after Isaias I what will come is Isaias II; it includes people who don’t see an inspiration from the opposition in its aggragate; it includes people who believe that the PFDJ is reformable; it includes people who are genuinely terrified of post Isaias Eritrea because everywhere they see things have gone from bad to worse. I think we all have an obligation to prove them wrong and we have to do it with enthusiasm and energy and without resenting the fact that we have to do the heavy lifting and others will be free-riders. In fact I dare say that that is where the wheels came off the PFDJ: the sense of entitlement they acquired from “we liberate it; we own it.” We have to do the exact opposite of what they did and embrace “servant leadership.”


          • haileTG

            Merhaba saay,

            That is a very important clarification. In deed, I also completely agree on cases you described further. But let me give one more additional light to what I am thinking here. You are right that “Islamophobia” may be principally assumed to be with in the purview of non Muslims. However, if we also put the “provocation” and the “reaction” aspects of the impact of “Islamophobia”, it is surprising what we find. We need recognize that at this time the bulk of information that is sustaining and maintaining Islmophobia is sensationalized and internationalized. Eritrean Muslims and Christians are also reacting towards each other’s alliances with one another in a manner predetermined by the natural outcomes of Islamophobia. SGJ was right when he said a Muslim Eritrean is first considered Muslim and next Eritrean. Now, observe perspectives carefully here, how are self perceptions formed and reinforced? How are our mutual expectations and assumptions of each other formulated?

            What you clarified is very important saay, because it will lead us to the depth of the issue at hand. If the opposition or civil society activists were to re-work this whole issue, I really call on thorough understanding of “Islamophobia” before they start. Their programs need to be formulated to directly counter Islamophobic perception from “provocation” and “reaction” points of view. This needs however sincere admission to the fact that our perception of each other is tainted by unhealthy view points that are needlessly leading us into deeper hole. Servant leadership, as you said, is a key component because the main problem at hand is also a lot to do with misplaced sense of “entitlements”.


          • Ted

            Hi, hawna Saay,

            Busy days in the world,

            While attention is focused on Greece, China is having a serious market meltdown.

            Eritrean cyclists made history.

            Canada and USA celebrated their special day.

            Djibouti and Somalia sponsored UN resolution on Eritrea.

            Eritrean Gov portrayed Abdella Jabir as double agent.

            Eritrea Gov diplomatic maneuver leaked.

            In my neck of the woods, the vocal “justice seekers on steroids” are up roaring and thumping their chest after what happened in Geneva/UN resolution. From outside, it looks like the PFDJ is out of the country or packing to leave. All the sound argument/ debate how to build a better Eritrea seem gone out the window except to wait the next COI report endit IA to international court………..the end.

            After independence of Eritrea, i see myself as Eritrean with all its rocks, waters, bushes and the people. What people signed in to be Eritrean identity and cherish most is its people. For thinking Eritrean to identify him/her self as Eritrean and reject Muslims is unimaginable because it does not translate well with what we know to be Eritrea . I know some use this issue as political tool to inflame political and regional grievances but in truth, they are fighting people’s identity and they won’t succeed. As we fight Justice for all: For Christians, Muslims are their Eritrean Identity and For Muslims, Christians are their Eritrean Identity.

            “ I think this is something that requires face to face discussions in a civil environment by people of goodwill only.”

            That being said, I am all for discussing the religion and cultural issue of Eritrea but what i don’t subscribe is “faceless people” like me indulging in to the issue of “islamophobia” and whatnots in this forum.
            Dear SJ, the time has come to take a punch on the nose on the behalf of justice seekers once again. There is no one better than you who knows the opposition groups, so It is up on you to be aggressive and fearless, at least, to find those groups share the sentiment of the Geneva in to one club( we need leaders badly). I want to remind you that you better prepared for stronger punches , nose bleeding and KO and be assured, we are on your side of the ring to pick you up.

          • Saleh Johar


            Thank you for assuring me, but my nose is already flat on my nose. I am not sure how many like you will be on the side of the ring to pick me up. So far it has been limited to “tseba ste”, not much in practice. 🙂 but I do it because that is my only cause and will not stop. This crippling issue requires deeper commitment and understanding, it’s not for the faint hearted or the emotional, or for those aspiring to establish stricter hegemony. But we have started it and let us fry it here until it is ready for the wider public.

            Thank you again

        • Pass the salt

          Thanks SAAY. Also HaileTG.
          No, believe it or not, this is the first time I am seeing the newspaper publishing wikileaks docs. They certainly missed the one that talks about Isaias drinking habits.
          Disappearing people to where they can no longer defend themselves and then beating them up publicly is one of Isaias’s wicked behaviors. Journalists, MPs, military leaders, civil servants, religious groups, students, merchants,…every section of the society has gone through that. Nothing new there. You mentioned the leaks were reported on Arabic opposition media. Well then Isaias might have felt disadvantaged for the Arabic-speaking Eritreans to learn about it but not the Tigrigna-speaking. Just my stupid theory. The thing is though, the document also has materials that I would think are unflattering to the boss – the disclosure of the defection of pilots (yeah yeah we know that but does the people inside?), the disagreement of military officials over the boss’s decision to arm civilians, the involvement in Somalia, yemen, Israel. I assume the cost-benefit analysis was reviewed carefully.
          PS. One can never know, but I doubt the ’emen ayti’emen’ will be turned into episode. Small unwanted disclosures (per episode) can pile up into something while disclosures against the incarcerated won’t add much more harm because, well, they ARE incarcerated already:-)

          • saay7

            Selamat Hailat:

            I agree with your assessment on the trepediation of our intellectuals to tackle substantial issues. It appears that our only choices so far have been to ignore the subject and hope it goes away or to discuss it irresponsibly. And from those two choices, many of us have chosen silence, instead of discussing it responsibly. Even our own Emma who talks about it in coded words of “social groups” has not ventured further beyond identifying it as an important issue. But to his credit, he has consistently said that overcoming the mistrust among the social groups is Eritrea’s major challenge.

            PTS’s question remains: why was the #Saudileaks translated from Arabic to Tigrinya and published at the government’s official newspaper, Hadas Ertra? Let me add a few: Why was, parenthetically, wink, Osman Salehs secret trip to Israel translated and published? Why was American wikileaks, which “incriminated” some Eritreans, not translated from English to Tigrinya and published at the governments official media organ?

            The answer, to my mind, is very clear and consistent with the regime’s campaign to normalize relations with the United Stares; It is consistent with using Israel as a mediator to US. It is about consolidating the base.

            It is written in Tigrinya in Haddas Ertra for one simple reason: a follow-up to Forto 2013 when the mutineers were all described as Islamists (Abdella Jabber’s conversation with the Saudis happened just months before Forto) and the message is “I, Isaias Afwerki, am the thin blue line guarding you from the Muslim hordes that are knocking on your door and you cannot trust them, no matter how long they have been your comrades.”

            Ordinarily, this kind of message is transmitted via 03 but now, given the total collapse of any Eritrean Muslim support for the PFDJ, it was considered low risk/high reward to that. The long-standing trick of having actors wearing Eritrean lowland attires just got tiresome.

            So now, more than ever, we need the Eritrean opposition to re-create the Eritrean rainbow–one that truly reflects Eritrea’s diversity (Compare June 26 with June 21 Geneva) because, clearly, the Isaias Afwerki regime has given up on it.


          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Merhaba Saay, SGJ, Hailat

            Here is an intro to one of my articles titled ” The Predictable Pathway And Its Difficulties”.

            “As one who adores sciences more than anything, I never knew my life needs a new political uptake. But now I am getting one. It is a battle I chose to have and it is a storehouse for the ultimate safeguarding of the Eritrean diversities. May be it is an impulsive enthusiasm, but now it became a focal point in my struggle, rolling it out to all political spectrum. For longer than I care to remember, the following items have occupied the top spot in my political hub (a) unity (b) equitable justice. It is a noble mission and a hope for the future in a multi-cultural democratic context, and indeed the path of uncharted vast opportunities. I can almost guarantee these two items won’t be scratched off from the priority of my list nor do I flinch to advocate for them until we reach our destination to realize their permanence and percolate to various levels of our society. All other political items remain constant within the loop of these fundamental values.”

            I have written many articles about the “cultural divide” be it religious or ethnic (social groups). I have raised the issue of language which was and is an issue of concern to our Muslim brothers (remember my debate with Abraham MIT aka as Mogos on language issue). I don’t know how a single individual can do more than addressing them and taking clear position on those issues. I believe I did and will continue to press on those issues as you could read from the quoted intro of my article. I have received and continue receiving disparaging and derogatory words from my fellow Christians. I haven’t see even heeding the issue I have raised from my fellow Muslim brothers. The only one thing I resist is to frame our politics by religious divide. I believe if the grievances of our social groups (ethnics) are correctly and equitably addressed, the religious issue being as a cultural issue will be automatically resolved. When I raised the issue no one was interested to debate on them. Then out my frustration I wrote an article “Unity and Trust: The deferred Gratifications” to lament my disappointment on the Eritrean people in general and Awatistas in particular. As a solution to forge trust among our cultural divide, I wrote an article “The contours of change and the equilibrium of its parts”. Therefore brothers, no matter how often I raised it, I came into conclusion that the Eritrean people is not ready to address them. In fact there are times almost I bumped my head to the wall when I hear ” zibetshiwo Yebulomin” from some idiot individuals.

            Amanuel Hidrat

          • saay7

            Selamat Emma:

            Your efforts are appreciated and your record is clear. Speaking for myself, the most important thing is discussing the issue responsibly. I will go beyond your proposal and argue, since we are talking about identity, for some Eritreans their religious identity is far more important than their ethnic or geographic identity and it, and their fears, hopes, grievances should be discussed. But I would rather not discuss it that discuss it irresponsibly. And as much as I love Awate and the forum, we would have to triple our moderators and be on red alert to monitor the deterioration of the subject into the irresponsible zone and right now we are not equipped for it. I think this is something that requires face to face discussions in a civil environment by people of goodwill only.


          • haileTG

            hey saay,

            Let’s take this a little further. Should talks and discussions be the first order of things or standards, programs and initiatives? Given that we are where we are and should take that as our starting position, what if inclusion and equitable access be developed as a general standard for working guidelines of all opposition movement initiatives and programs? For example, the concept of multiculturalism and equal opportunities in general are regulated here in the west through an add-on standard prerequisite in all spheres of public and private sectors. Government departments and public as well as private companies are expected to adhere to such standards. The purpose of such standards are to serve the grand vision of the respective societies in the area of building a just, tolerant and equitable social order. Eritrea’s unique case of multi polar society and the necessity of of such harmony to make it work also requires such culture of self imposed standards that may not be easy to regulate and develop through discussions alone. If you remember the controversy raised during ENFD initiatives and other similar cases, was it structural deficiency or disparity in shared vision? What can each organization in the opposition and civil society be expected to adhere to in terms of standards? I see structural weakness as a main road block and feel that it can be worked inside to outside, by starting each association/organization taking self assessment.


          • saay7

            Selamat Haile TG:

            I think willingness to talk about everything with good intentions is the prerequisite. But u underestimate the chogri in my danga: I am not a sophisticated politician who comes in with a three tier proposal of maximalism, realism and minimalism. This is why I have such little patience for “self autonomy up to and including secession” whereas seasoned folk tell me it’s a maximalist approach and I just call it negotiation without goodwill.

            What I like to see is people coming to say “no matter what happens, we will remain one country so let’s make the best of it.” When they don’t do that, I figure they are maximalists going for leverage games (as if we have the luxury of time) and it’s an immediate turn off. This and ONLY this was my problem with ELL, DMLEK, RSADO. One can propose something as outlandish as Islamism in Eritrea, and I will consider that something to sit and define its parameters. But that “self autonomy up to and including session” is a non-starter for me because the person espousing it is not approaching our issue with good intentions.

            Not sure I answered your question but there is my position 🙂


          • haileTG

            መርሓባ ሳልሕ፡

            መቸም ናይ ጨጓር-ዳንጋ ካብ ኣልዓልካ፡ ብሱሩ ጨጓር-ዳንጋ ክበሃል ኣብ ሕልሚ ጫጪሑ፡ ኣብ ሕልሚ ዕድሚኡ ዘብለየ ክፋል ሕ/ሰብና ስለ ዝኾነ፡ ገለ ኣብ ሕልሙ ዝጎኖፎ መስሓቕ ተረኽቦ ወስ ክብለካ። እኖሆልካ በል፡ ወያ ነጻነት ኣምጺኡ ደልሃመት ዝተኸለ ጨጓር-ዳንጋ፡ ኣየልምዕ ኣየዕቁር ከንቱ ዲጋ ክፍሕር፡ ነዛ ኩላ መንእሰይ ወለዶ ፋሕ-ፋሕ ምሰእተወላ፡ እተን ትካላት ናይ ውዱብ’ውን ካብ ስራሕ፡ ናብ ቀንፈዘው ኣትየን ከም ሰይቲ ሎጥ ዓንዲ-ጨው ምስተቐየራ፡ ጨጓር-ዳንጋ ድማ ኣሜሪካ ዘስገደዶ እገዳ ዘፍ ክሳብ ዝብለሉ፡ ካብ ሚእቲ ልቕብቃብ ዓለባ ዝተደረዔት ኮበርታ ተኸዲኑ፡ ኣብዛ ማአከል ጎደና ሓርነት ዘላ ኣንጎሎ ሒዙ ስለ እግዝነት ማርያም ክብል ይውዕለልካ። መቸስ መብራህቲ ምስተቆርጸ፡ ድቃስ ስሕብ ስለ ዘብሎ፡ ጨጓር-ዳንጋ በዓል ሓቦ፡ ቁሩብ ቀም ከብል፡ ተጎልቢቡ ይግንቦ። ወያ ተካል ሕልሙ ድማ ደበኽ። ኣብታ ሕልሙ፡ ሓደ ጆንትራ መጺኡ፡ ንወያ ልቕብቃብ ኮበርትኡ፡ $200 ክገዝኣ ይብሎ። ጨጓር-ዳንጋ ኣውሪዱ ኣደይቡ፡ ኣይከውንን’ዩ። $300 ሃባ ይብሎ። እዋእ፡ ጆንትራ ድማ ኣይትኻርጀንን’ያ ኢሉ ይኸይድ። ጨጓር-ዳንጋ ሰንቢዱ ብር ኢሉ ይነቅሕ ካብ ድቃሱ’ሞ፡ ነታ ብጅግጃግ ኮበርታ ርእዩ፡ “ዋይ! ነዚኣ ደኣ መን $5 ክህበኒ፡ ግደፍ’ዶ $200! ዋይ ክሳራ” ኢሉ፡ ናብዛ ኮበርታ ጥቕልል ኢሉ ይኣቱ’ሞ፡ የማንይቲ ኢዱ ጥራይ ዊጥ ኣቢሉ ካብታ ኮበርታ ኣውጺኡ “ንዓ በል ኣታ መኒኻ፡ ሃባ እቲ $200” ክብል ሕልሚ ካብ ኢዱ ሞሊቓቶ ይብሉኻ 🙂

            When the inevitable big bang happens in Eritrea (any time soon), the key change drivers will be multifaceted and out of control by then. Political bankruptcy, Economic bankruptcy, Social bankruptcy will all come down cascading simultaneously. I wonder what we can afford to refuse or accept then as opposed to now (no doubt I would go with your choice would that be a possibility at all). Again, I wonder if we’d be in a stronger position to negotiate common ground then than now (considering that the basic reality 101 in Eritrea is the premise that Today is Better than Tomorrow:).

            Let’s the force be with us all:)

          • saay7

            Wow Hailat:

            You are a double threat: a great narrator in Tigrinya and English. Actually that story made me sad… this story, along the same themes is much funnier: chopped it just for you.


            I got your message: deal with what you have because what is to come is worse. I don’t disagree with that; I think I was confessing my limitations. Now having said that, I think rather than introducing a serious subject–Eritrean diversity and the fears/hopes of Eritrea’s social groups and creating a formula for harmonious co-existence– in a forum that is just not qualifed for it (one where there is a lot of anonymity and one without civility/responsibility enforcers), I think this forum can best be used by identifying the qualities needed in leaders that can do this and then short-listing the people we think should lead this effort. They have to be good listeners, good communicators, people of good will, people who can liaison with all who can advocate our cause (ሰብ ውፍራ who are adept at ገበላ, and excellent and capable of leveraging those who are already መማለድቲ 🙂 and completely open about speaking to any opposition groups and capable of consolidating them into 2-3 dynamic orgs…

            Or have I become like the guy in the video and am daydreaming?


  • T..T.

    Hi all,

    It has always been Isayas’s self-indulging arrogance and unreasonable pride that got him into more trouble with the whole world. Time and again the world told him that arrogance has limit. What the UN is just warning Isayas of is that if he did not become sensible and stop arrogance and intimidation, turning a blind eye would be difficult for the UN any more because the whole world is watching. So, Isayas’s failure to comply would constitute his choice, yes his choice, to be found guilty of all pending crimes including crimes against humanity.

    But unlike the UN, the Eritreans are saying Isayas’s culture of bad arrogance is just a reflection of his deep-seated enmity against the whole Eritrean people. That is why, he Must GO!

    To be fair, even if justice is on his side, Isayas shouldn’t continue what he is doing to the State of Djibouti. Indeed, it is time for Isayas to apologize to all neighboring countries including Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia and South Sudan for the tremendous amount of arrogance accompanied by destabilization of each. That would save him begging and paying lobbyists to turn a government against itself.

  • tes

    Dear AT,

    Here you have news that will weed PFDJ straight. Waw!

    And thank you @hayatadem:disqus for your cross examination. What DIA responded during his 2014 interview is trying to sugarcoat his foreign anti-institutional system agenda.

    Berhane Ghebrehiwet and likes are wicked diplomats of modern days.

    Thank you


  • no joke

    Isaias’ mustache is trimmed in the shape of Eritrea. This is not a joke.