On October 29, 2009, Awate’s Gedab broke the news about a US-EU conference (organized by a European External Policy Advisory (EEPA), a Belgian NGO) on Eritrea to be attended by a number of honorable Eritrean (Tigrigna or Tigrigna-satellite) politicians and civil society activists with an esteemed spokesperson, Mr. Abdulrahman Alsaid. Mr. Spokesman in turn confirmed the news in his website (Arkokebay November 01, 2009) with an appeal for everybody to “stay tuned” for more. Our dear Selam Kidane did the same in a couple of articles on Awate without bothering to reveal anything of substance. Gebeel (the website of the Federalist Movement) quoted some Eritrean radio station expressing bewilderment at whether the news was true because according to Gebeel, the radio station (Adal) had contacted every Swedish official and parliamentarian who would be in a position to tell if the news were true: nobody seemed to have a clue. None of the now confirmed attendees listed on Gedab, including the honorable Professors and Woldesus Ammar of the EPP (who according to Fessaha Nair – Simple Truth, published on Gebeel and other websites – gave the speech of an eloquent delalay in Idaga Derhu), said anything to that effect: everybody was tight-lipped as if people were inquiring about the location of the Holy Grail. None of the websites of Tigrigna political orientations, including NHarnet that makes sure everybody is well aware whenever a single Eritrean makes it to Gahwet Dergi in Kassala (to buy a donut) and always makes sure to rewrite our articles into EPP jargon, dared to mention the conference even remotely or apply their quotation skills on Gedab’s investigation. On November 05, 2009 Mr. Tewolde Gebresellasie, Chairman of the EDA, pulled the plug and wrote the letter to the EU complaining about the same disruptionists and exclusionists that are now celebrities in the Hall of Shame in our Awate debates (and are resting peacefully in the dust bin).
Although there had been a clear tendency (on the part of those concerned) to cloud any tangible information on this specific incident. The exclusiveness of such events carries no surprise to anyone with a background on the customary posturing and arguments that both sides of the Tigrigna spectrum (PFDJ & EDP-EPP-EPM) and their satellite civic society organizations and politicians view as selling points for their “projects” in the post 911 environment. According to various reports, this particular conference in fact seemed to have nothing to do with the situation of human rights and political freedom in Eritrea. All those who might have delivered speeches in the conference probably did so in the context of giving the background knowledge to help the US-EU officials in the “mysterious advisory entity” understand the motivations for PFDJ’s adventures in Somalia. I do not intend to minimize the indirect payback for whoever might have participated in the conference as their speeches would definitely serve in two important fronts: (1) knowledge of what goes on inside Eritrea (from a Tigrigna perspective validating PFDJ’s propaganda) is a step towards soliciting sympathy (with “THE INFAMOUS PROJECT”) from those officials; (2) it is a market where the participating civic society organizations and money grabbers might sell their projects for whatever they might intend to do (God bless them). The truth, however, remains that any US and/or EU project that focuses on Somalia or views Eritrean politics from the point of view of its relationship to what goes on (these days) in Somalia necessarily falls within the context of the fight against Islamic Terrorism. It is indeed sound judgment on the part of lobbying groups such as the EEPA to lay their eyes on those “Uniting Organizations” who are pimping themselves and the cause as the most qualified volunteers in the “coalition of the willing” that also includes the PFDJ, in an attempt to find ways to work out something for the “higher purpose.”
One “NHarnet Articles” [i] quoting the Indian Ocean Newsletter (November 14, 2009, # 1274) Eritrea: European Union walks on tightrope,” wrote: “During a conference funded by EuropeAid held in Brussels this week by the Belgian NGO European External Policy Advisors (EEPA) … several officials considered that excessive diplomatic isolation of Eritrea would be counterproductive … international sanctions were unlikely to be effective against Eritrea’s human rights violations and infringements of the rule of law.” The piece closes by a sentence that makes no sense unless you are familiar with Idaga Derhu techniques of pumping air to fatten the chicken: “But a level of consensus came out of the meeting on the need to prepare for the future … political change by supporting the Eritrean opposition.” [Emphasis is mine]. Why the hell would an organization that aims to lobby the EU-US to engage all countries neighboring Somalia (PFDJ’s Eritrea included) in constructive dialogue “prepare for the future” by creating alternative opposition governments that might offend the very entities they are trying to engage? You will miss the point only if you are misled into taking the reference of “political change” to mean after the fall of the PFDJ, and you are right on the mark if you read between the lines and accept that “political change” refers to the anticipated “Armageddon caused by the expansion of Islamic fundamentalism” based on information supplied by the honorable delala listed on Gedab.
Sifting through the meaningless halewlew and copy-paste material from previous conferences, the only thing that stands out as the greatest achievement of the conference was “the unconditional implementation of the final and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC)” as stated in the EEPA website. In other words, peel off the veil and you will arrive at the conclusion that the EEPA is in fact a PFDJ hired lobbying group working to loosen the diplomatic siege currently imposed on the Eritrean government by emphasizing common grounds with the EU-US policy establishments while making sure to include sympathetic Eritreans and to delude the rest to control potential spoiler roles from opposition entities. I have no doubt that the lobbyists and the some of the honorable guests who attended (and who had no idea what was going on) were impressed to see Eritrea’s uniqueness where even “opposition organizations” are responsible enough to beg the EU-US policy makers to have mercy on what they themselves describe as “the horrible dictatorial regime”. Who else would be more qualified to lead the “opposition of the opposition” other than the “Uniting Baboons” and their dignitaries!
Nearly all those who expressed their disapproval of the incident did foresee the negative consequences on the integrity of the EDA as an umbrella organization although only a few ventured into the very understandable rationale for the exclusion. One of the crippling factors that have undermined the EDA’s attempts to present itself as a viable alternative from the point of view of Western diplomacy lies in a clear divergence of organizational interests between two sets of its membership. Attempts to portray certain organizations as Eritrean chapters of Al Qaeda and efforts to cash in on the lucrative market of the “coalition of the willing” as we all know is nothing new to kilte libom politicians within and without the EDA. Most notorious among them have always been the EDP’s Illuminati who, starting with statements that selectively classify military operations against the PFDJ regime into Haram and Halal, have made it their primary preoccupation to tarnish the reputation and goodwill of the EDA to secure occasional meetings with some nobodies in the State Department or European Union. The “stay tuned” meetings that we are talking about and more of the same that might follow are nothing more than a bunch of short-sighted delala in action probably motivated by what Selam described as rumors of a “falling sky” and a short cut to Asmara or alarmed by the new trends within the Eritrea resistance. Those who are worried that the politics of exclusion (as in the case of this event) would negatively reflect on the EDA feeding on the growing mistrust among its members need to chill down and take it easy: the EDA itself is nothing but a market of delala where nobody trusts anybody anyway.
The only reason that those who matter most among the Islamic and Lowland organizations (some of them already in the US list of Terrorist Organizations) have accepted the status of obedient membership within the EDA was motivated by their desperate need for temporary cover from America’s ruthless diplomacy against those aiding and palling with “Terrorist Organizations”. Now that the vast majority of Lowlanders and Muslims have spoken and America has chosen a new path to fighting terrorism, the EDA cover is more of an obstacle than a miracle for anyone who does not wish to abide by restrictive conventional politics. None of these Islamic and Lowland organizations has any concerns as to whether the US or the EU or any Western establishment is pleased with what they are determined to accomplish by chasing out the Land Grabbers and Exclusionists; and none has ever attempted to appease Western politicians for favors. “They may kiss the bus” is what they are saying. You might have noticed that the bulk of those who heeded any importance to the said conference were in fact either Tigrignas, satellites or just concerned citizens, not the organizations that the delalas intended to exclude. In case they didn’t know, Islamic fundamentalist organizations draw respect among followers and glory within communities and thrive by appearing to stand up to and eventually antagonizing the US or whoever is believed to fall within the orbits of its politics. Eritrean “Islamic fundamentalist organizations” have (so far) successfully managed to walk the delicate balance between being careful enough not to antagonize US diplomacy to the extent that might reflect negatively on financial lifelines from the Arab World on the one hand, and making sure not to appear too soft on employing the basics of Jihadi rhetoric and techno-craft on the other hand.
Key to this success was their ability to consistently resist the pressure as well as the temptation to stay clean from any involvements that might have implicated them in regional or international terrorist acts. It is true that success in keeping aloof of whatever might qualify as regional or international terrorism is nothing unique to Eritrean fundamentalist organizations. Many of the notorious members of the US list of terrorist organizations had rarely or never been involved or implicated in any cross-border terrorist operations targeting Western interests (before they ended up in those lists) except where Western interests might intersect with local interests of the primary adversaries legitimately targeted by those organizations for reasons that have nothing to do with the West. The case of the attacks on Eritrea’s new gold mines in the Western Lowlands following an open call from the esteemed Woldesus Ammar, the EPP Chairman and one of the lecturers at the EEPA Conference, himself (and others) for all citizens to do whatever it might take to stop the mining operations by Canadian and other miners is a clear example of intersecting Western interests that would have qualified as acts of terrorism during George Bush’s administration. The only way, therefore, that Eritrean organizations might be branded as terrorist entities worthy of US-EU attention is through the active role of hired lobbyists representing the overlapping interests of the PFDJ regime and Diaspora satellites and it takes a lot more than Idaga Derhu politics to tell you the truth.