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Isaias Shrugged: And The Eritrean People Sighed

This is Al Nahda’s final installment on the various reactions to Isaias Afwerki shrugging.  The media in Eritrea, which is owned by the State (which is to say, Isaias) –nods its head in agreement to whatever sound passes his lips (And The State Media Nodded Its Head); the international community (let’s pretend there is one) just rolls its eyes the way we all do at the crazy uncle (And The World Rolled Its Eyes). This part will focus on the reaction of the Eritrean people. I was going to suggest Isaias Shrugged: And The Eritrean People Groaned but a troublemaker suggested “sighed” and I am making peace with her.  Besides, the Eritrean people are too exhausted to groan.

I am often struck by how dispassionate Isaias Afwerki is when talking about Eritreans.

He will sing hymns to the exceptionalism of Somalis (“Hayal hzbi iyu”);  his voice will crack in agony regarding the ethnic federation arrangement of  Mama Ethiopia (the way Gigi’s does over her Man’net Melekiya One Ethiopia ); he will shed tears for the fate of Native Americans (whom he cringingly calls Red Indians); and to all the marginalized and po’ folk who overcrowd the planet.  But he shows no admiration or respect for Eritreans.  Just pity.

In fact, in the entire 6-hour interview, you will never find these words escape his lips: “Eritrea”, “Eritreans,” “Eritrean people.”  It is always, “izi hager” (this country), “izi hzbi” (these people.) Go ahead, check it, if you got 6 hours to kill. And it is a habit with him:  when it comes to Eritrea, Isaias talks like a consultant, as this column observed years ago when Isaias expressed amazement about people who speak of the private sector.  abzi hager bHtawi kfal kblu ygermeni iyu (it is amazing to me when people talk about the private sector) and then mocked the meager capital of Eritrea’s capitalists.   So, like a traveling consultant who has an outsider-looking-in vocabulary (this company, these employees), Isaias has the same estrangement (this country, these people)….with the same hilarious “insight” that consultants have about the companies they visit   I am betting that his favorite software application is that old standby of every consultant: PowerPoint.

[Warning: all ye Obama fans may want to skip this paragraph.   See you a paragraph later.]

Isaias Afwerki has the same aloofness from his subjects that Obama has—the ordinariness of the circle of life is too tedious for them.  One is (or claims to be) post racial, post partisan and the other one is (or claims to be) post regional, post ideology.  Uh-huh.   Obama embraces hard-core leftist ideology but pretends he is post partisan; Isaias embraces a clearly definable Stalinist philosophy but then dismisses ideology as too rigid, too restrictive, the way a body rejects a foreign object. Obama thinks people stick to tradition and religion because they have been betrayed by their government (“people have been beaten down so long, they feel so betrayed by government, so its not surprising that they get bitter and cling to guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren’t like them”) and Isaias also feels that the reason there is religious revival is because people gave up on the secular world.

Oh, sure, Isaias Afwerki is a politician and he will flatter the subjects when necessary (see also: when he needs money.)  But for the most part, the subjects are, in his eyes, weaklings who have to be protected— protected from a dangerous world, from enemies outside and within who want to prey on them.  “ Izi hzbi”, he says in this interview, “nQdmit handef handef inabele zkeyd iyu.”   The closest translation I can find for “handef handef” is to ramble, to meander or to shuffle along. There is an absence of grace or purpose in “handef handef,” which is how one defines a movement of a people that are just stunned, in a shock, or grief, or naiveté.  Someone who has no self-awareness; somebody who is distracted by something else.   You know, a Derbush.

Isaias talking about Eritreans is a lot like Jim comforting the disappointed black sheriff in “Blazing Saddles” Jim doesn’t hate his people,  in fact, he risks his life for them, but it doesn’t change his view of them as common clay of the earth, whom he calls, “you know, morons.”

In this interview, a bored Isaias Afwerki puts on his consultant hat and assesses the country or, in the parlance of the PFDJ, gives the “objective situation in the homeland.” But, unlike the happy talk given by his emissaries in their various seminars,  its is all gloomy from the perspective of the Consultant-in-Chief.  Because, YOU DON’T HAVE THE POWER TO FIRE HIM:

  1. This is a war-torn country and the government will have a huge role in infrastructure building—clean water, electricity, transportation, social services.  According to Lenin, he says, only two parties can do this: the very rich, and the government.  (And we already know abzi hager…)
  2. He says that development in the West (Western Eritrea) is near zero.
  3. There will no be private sector in Eritrea until a huge middle class encompassing 85% to 90% of the population is created presumably with a government-managed economy.   He has a kind advice for you: if your idea of private sector is Samsonite briefcase-holding-tie-wearing individuals, well, “guguy, zinguE ateHasasba aleka”, bro.
  4. This government that is going to manage the economy must be “lean, clean and efficient.” Some countries with population of 5 million have 850,000 government employees, he says shaking his head.  [Unlike Eritrea which has 350,000 slave laborers and 100,000 minimum wage government officials.]  But, Mr. President, if you have slave laborers, they escape the country, and you have brain drain; and if you have woefully underpaid government employees,  they supplement their income with bribes, and there goes your “clean government” says the interviewer.  Nah, he didn’t say that because he, you know, wants to continue breathing.
  5. Should we provide more information about our national resources is something we debate internally, he says.  [But, usually, while we are debating, the foreign companies who have shareholders to whom they have to disclose information about how they hugely overestimated the reserves and their investment has to take a beating (see Nevsun stock) pretty much make our internal debates moot.]  The concern here is about managing expectations: once you tell people that their country is well-endowed, they started asking questions like: then why am I going hungry? And why can’t I afford a pair of shoes for my children.   Even “handef handef, dergef people” ask these questions.
  6. The 120 Megawatt power plant in Hirgigo is not adequate and we have to build more.  And diversify our energy sources (tseAt memenchewi).  [There was a mischievious Eritrean friend in Egypt whose idea of fun was to confuse Egyptians who live with the illusion that they are not Africans.  So, whenever he would get in a bus full of Egyptians, he would instruct all Eritreans in the bus to speak in an imaginary Eritrean language that was full of che tse che tse sound.   He would have loved  “tseAt memenchewi mnada ny tsaHai…ab nedadi tsegaEnet yeQl’leka” (energy sources, specially solar, minimize your dependence on fuel.)
  7. Housing.  There is a great demand for that.  But that requires developing a neighborhood, which has access to water.  And social services. And a cement factory.  And doors and windows manufacturing.  And power lines.  And capacity.  And laws.  And administration. And here it is from the Consultant: “in the last 20 years, we have done nothing.”  [So ye all suckers who were putting down payments, in hard currency, to build houses in your country, get acquainted to your new best friend: loss. Here’s the link to the H & C Bank of Eritrea which took your money:    Dead link? Oops.]
  8. Fisheries.  “How much do we export? Nothing.”  Why?  We haven’t built capacity.  We don’t have the capacity for industrial fishing.  This has potential, but has not been developed. [Meanwhile, the only time we will make news about fishing is when we arrest Yemeni fishermen.]
  9. Produce.  “Why is produce expensive?”  Answer: “because there is no competition.”  Also: it is the fault of the damn speculators.
  10. Education: There has been quantitative improvement but not qualitative, he says. Fundamentally, the problem is lack of teachers.   We don’t have enough—certainly not in the quality desired. They were not nurtured.  Inadequate curriculum, labs, computers. Particularly schools in remote areas: not exactly something to be appreciated.

And now for a reality check. The teachers were not nurtured. Now, let’s hop on our time machine and travel to South Africa where Isaias Afwerki is addressing Eritrean university students on July 8, 2002:

Student:  What measures will be taken to encourage the people here to participate in the Warsai Yeka’alo Initiative?  If it is, as it were, work for 150 Nakfa, isn’t it preferable to choose to stay here?

Isaias: I had anticipated this question. When I was leaving Asmara to come here, they told me, lest you vanish, to meet with you and advise you to come back home.  I told them, “let them try!” Globalization is Equalizer. If there is money, there is no problem. You can import people. In the past, we looked for and couldn’t find laborers and construction workers.  We imported them from Sri Lanka, the Philippines and India.  Yesterday, we were looking for five architects and we brought them from the Philippines. If we cannot find a professor, we go to India and import him.  So, if one says “I want to go to America,” let him try it.


Now, that doesn’t sound like a lot of nurturing of potential teachers does it? So, when Isaias Afwerki, now 9 years of wasted opportunities later, talks about how “teachers were not nurtured”, there is this huge, huge, huge urge to yell “ and whose fault was that?”

Now, having said that, I am going to give you whiplash because I am about to say something nice about Isaias Afwerki. Or at least ideas espoused by Isaias—his execution (or lack thereof) is a completely different thing.  Because it is something I know a little something about:

In 2009, in the United States, 41% of 18-24 year olds were attending college.  I don’t have comparable statistics for Europe and Canada but it is probably comparable or less.  Yet, the entire k-12 educational structure of the United States is built on a pleasant lie: it assumes that 100% of students will attend college.    The United States can afford this little fib because it has thousands of universities and colleges, 2 year, 4 year, graduate, post graduate, online, brick-and-mortar, religious, secular, private and public. But why do poor countries mimic this approach?   Why can’t they create different streams for different aptitudes? Why should there be any stigma attached to welding schools, plumbing schools, hairdresser schools, truck-driving schools?  What is so great about a whole bunch of 20 year olds graduating with degrees in “political science” and “international business”?

Isaias Afwerki appears to get this—but knowing him, he probably approaches it from a different perspective as in “how do I minimize the risk that comes from a whole bunch of overeducated and underemployed youth?” But in any event, the idea is right. The execution, of course, is typically top-to-bottom.  Moreover, Isaias doesn’t just have an understanding about the desired outcome (people with tangible skills who get there with as little fluff as possible) he also seems to have a fair critique of the stuffy pedagogy—the art and science of teaching–that schools insist on, long after Rosetta Stone and Khan Academy turned that system upside down.

For example:  I took 3 semesters of French and all I know to say in French now is the equivalent of  “my red pencil is in the house.”  If I were in Paris, I wouldn’t know how to say practical things such as: “where is the bathroom? Where is the bus station? Wow, that raspberry beret looks good on you.” This is because the teachers spent so much time conjugating and refining the fine points of grammar.

Isaias takes this critique to the way Arabic is taught in Eritrean schools.  He says forget conjugation and grammar and focus on teaching kids how to say “can I have a cup of water?”  Make the Arabic class the equivalent of credit-no-credit subject which will have no impact on the kids grade point average.

Of course, one can’t celebrate this when one considers that it took Isaias 20 years to realize this; that things change in Eritrea only when Isaias changes his mind.  The state is the man.

11.  Subsidies. This, says Isaias, is a transitional phase: no money to compensate workers adequately, so the only thing to do for now is to pay them low wages and to subsidize essential needs (food, shelter.)  All socialist governments love subsidies, and all governments are trending towards socialism, so I guess that is a lost war.

12.  Restructuring/Reorganization: I suspect this is the part that all the PFDJ and government officials were listening to attentively. The last time Isaias had an idea about restructuring (“bringing in new blood”) was in 1994 which resulted, among other things, in the “mass organizations” dissolving and of Ramadan Mohammed Nur being a man without portfolio, a happy rent-seeker in Massawa.   So, now, the groundwork for what’s to come and here’s where the Consultant-in-chief employs all the consultant language: organizations must be dynamic; re-organization of institutions is a necessity: the goal is economic development, the organizations (government, party, mass organizations) are just the means to get there. We have to look at all this with nekefetawi Ayni (critical eye), don’t you know. If a lean, clean, efficient organization is going to be created, then restructuring is a must: and it will be done by the end of the 1st quarter of 2012.  Of course, this nekefetawi ayni cannot be directed towards Isaias: neither the PFDJ (which never has congresses), nor the government (which never has legislative sessions) nor the mass organizations (which have zero independence) can say: with our chairman, all we have seen for the last 20 years is war, isolation, and exhaustion, and we should demote/fire him. To say that would be to plot the overthrow of a president, which is punishable by death.

13.  Return of the prodigal sons: There are a lot of Eritreans who are in the Diaspora.  Can they come back?  What assurances can you give them that they will be safe when they return? (Of course, the “Diaspora” never includes the hundreds of thousands of Eritrean refugees in Sudanese or Ethiopian refugee camps, as you can see from the answer which follows.)  They can come back, says Isaias, but it would be best if they return with a skill or with money.  If they can’t return now, just work hard, save all your money, that way you can return with 10, 20, 30,000.  (He doesn’t mean Nakfa by the way.)  Later on, he says the youth (who are surviving on minimum wage jobs if they are lucky) should save 10,000 to 15,000.  Per Year.  So, persists the interviewer (for a change): can the government issue a proclamation that no harm will come to them? Isaias suppresses a smile as in “do you really think a ‘proclamation’ is going to save their asses if I want them jailed?” but then he says, “nah, nah, we just don’t operate that way: ‘it is not in our culture.’”

13.  Handef Handef & Dignity: The interviewer closes the interview by quoting back words Isaias used in his speech on May 24, 2011 marking 20 years of Eritrean independence  (I don’t recall Isaias saying anything memorable, but maybe I wasn’t listening attentively or maybe, as I said in part 1 of this series, the safest interview for state-employed journalists is just to quote back words already used by the president) and Isaias is reflective. Like a man who looks back at the past 20 years and has reached one conclusion: I have been naieve, and the world is full of enemies bent on destroying us.   And because Eritreans “chinuk hzbi aykonen—tetegerihu nQdmit handef handef inabele zkeyd iyu” (a naïve and worry-free people shuffling forward), well, he has to do all the worrying for us.  The interviewer tells Isaias that “dignity” is a word he uses often and what does the word mean to him? The example Isaias uses to described a dignified people?  Somalians.  (kbretu zHlu hzbi iyu.) Unlike some Africans who have an inferiority complex, the Somalis are dignified. And, anticipating the criticism, he says, “Kbretn tEbitn nenbeynom”—there is a difference between dignity and superiority complex.

And so, Kbur hzbi Ertra, thus concludes Isaias’s marathon interview of New Year Day 2012. I hope you had a peek into Isaias Afwerki. A man who loves the word dignity so much, but doesn’t understand why we the people feel it is undignified to live in your own country without any rights. A man who has such low opinion of us—we are a nation of infants and traitors—that he can tell us that his government has failed at practically everything but we can’t do anything about it. A man who tells the youth who escaped his hell, with their parents paying the ransom money for their absence, that they can come back—no guarantees for their safety other than his word—but it would be awfully nice if they brought money.  A man who is draining the brain power of Eritrea but then says that the most precious resource is human resource.  A man who, by his own admission, says that there has been no development in Western Eritrea in the past 20 years. A man who says that the education system that his social engineers force-fed Eritreans—particularly Eritreans whose mother tongue is not Tigrigna—is mediocre. A man who tells his own “colleagues” that re-organization is coming and they, just like us, will just have to wait for what it is.

He says all this because he knows there is no effective opposition to him—not yet. In fact, he practically gives the opposition the manual on how to succeed. Not directly, of course. When he says that all the revolutions in North Africa are lacking a key ingredient—organization—when he says that he told the YPFDJ in Nakfa that his message is still nQah, tewedeb, Eteq: raise their awareness, organize, and be armed (not with weapons but, presumably, with knowledge), he is essentially telling the opposition: I really can’t take you seriously unless you organize. In fact, the whole reason I think the real opposition to me is the CIA and the State Department is because they are organized. When I think of “dignified people” I think of Somalis. “Dear God”, he says, “I have drawn you all the dots for you: can’t you at least connect them and make this a challenge? I am bored.”


About Salyounis

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

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  • Tadewos

    I always like reading your articles- regardless, Iagree or disagree. It is interesting. Keep it up!!
    Thank you, Tadewos

  • Thank you to all that encouraged me for my limited gift.We need to encourage eachother .Almost all my immediate family are abroad ,but, against my psychologist /shrinks advice, I am´posting anythging that can make people expand critical thinking .I have been commenting under the pen name HMAM LBI too .
    When I compose a comment I do it from my heart , and I want us to take responsibility ,for our past blind support of bandit organizations ,but think forward & repay our people the plight they are in, is partly of our ignorance .THANK GOD FOR AWATE & ASSENNA ,

    • Saleh AA Younis


      As far as I am concerned (actually, I know that my partner Saleh G. Johar shares this view too), you are in the elite club of Eritrea’s poets. The elite club includes: Yerhwo Amlak and Kiros Yohannes. You should change your pen name to Fewsi Hmam Lbi because you are that good. And you should retire Singapo-Erirean because Singapoor is the word that all the Eritrea haters (mostly, unfortunately, Ethiopians) use to make fun of our dream to become as rich as Singapore. Feel me?

      all the best,


    • haile


      There is a right thing at the right time and the right place, what is more exciting is that YOU are well inside it. Please remember that packaging does sell the product. You need to tailor your content so that it transmits positive message taken as a whole. The average person tends to run away from messages that are too contrived in negativity. I find your content lacking in that department that makes some one to stop and take a peek. You may defend your too excessively negative message as a reflection of things in Eritrea, yet you can highlight the negative with in a context of hope, happiness, love and freedom. If you dwell in the negative, people are naturally turned off. It is much easier to walk away from a negative than a positive experience. The rule of thumb for identifying positive traits of any thing is to conceptualize what would be beautiful in the same context. If you want to talk about the ugliness of war, talk about the serenity of peace and the values in defending it. You don’t need to go to the gruesome details of war, that would only turn off the average Joe who could do with less things to dampen his soul. This message also goes to others who think they are running out of the bleakest description and one is paying attention to them. Keep working and all my respect.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Fewsi Hmam Lbi,

      If they call you “Fewsi Hmam Lbi” I will call them “Hakaim Hmam Libi” to confirm and show you that this is the right name for you. What I notice and said to you earlier was correct. you still have more to writre and bring all to sruface from your mind.keep it up.

  • Sarcasm:

    I would prefer to call you a sniper, an entity who belongs to

    Under cover of darkness and shrouded in a “pen name” that exactly describes your true nature, you are enjoying in fulfilling what you learned from your handlers or from grudge that was deposited for a long time in the subterranean space of your brain. If not, then it could be a reflection of your own failed endeavors or unfulfilled dreams.

    For a normal human being, to accuse and frame a wonderful, gifted and extremely honest and upfront person is a shameful act. What you dug and enthusiastically posted is like what is said “everything that glitters is not gold”, is nothing but trash.

    Even for the sake of decorum, you did not say “thank you for posting my allegation”. But again does an arsonist say “thank you for providing me your house to burn”.

    I am not defending Sal. Sal does not need help. He is a self-sufficient man endowed with abundance of confidence, knowledge, intelligence, pure honesty, openness and grit. He is competent enough to defend himself. But what historical wrongs did he commit? Since when does expressing your views become a crime?

    I never met Sal in person but I am a living witness and to confess I read (devoured) everything he then wrote in real-time (I use to say what a courageous young chap) even though I had an absolute opposite view to that of Sal during the Badme horror and fiasco. But there was a difference: Sal was not afraid and was frustratingly honest and open and always used his real name to express himself and his views while I was using an alias to express myself and my views.

    In other words, Sal was and is a real human being!!!

    What I learnt (then & now) and admired was that Sal was/is courageous and unafraid of any consequence to what he expresses while I was an apparition truly afraid of the “legendary” long arm. And to be afraid of what you really believe does not free you up from being called coward.

    Hundred years from now, historians will describe Sal as a very committed, courageous, open and honest person. And me, as a person who eventually unwrapped himself and became a real human being and ironically due to Gadi, Sal and the Awate team!

    Thanks Sal. You saved one person thus you saved the world.

    At that time (the time referred by sarcasm) this was what I was surmising: Sal is a young romantic and chivalrous person who is smack-dab with his first real love. If you, the apparition, have flesh and soul, you will understand what it means to be gripped in love. His love was with the newly liberated dame called Eritrea and her family (the Eritrean people) who have paid dearly to make her free and liberated after a long and brutal war fighting with almost nothing but Hope and Faith. So Sal took the mantle to protect and shield her until she becomes mature to express herself!

    Is there anything wrong here? To cut it short: If I were Sal I would have done the same thing.

    By the way, even now, Sal did not change his core (hmeret in gedli parlance) and fundamental beliefs. But like every true and dynamic human being he has grown and is growing….growing….and growing….


  • Hameed

    Mr. Sarcasm is a develop version of the virus that inflicts Eritrea since a long time. This deadly virus of malaria acquired resistance from the traditional drugs. It always capsulizes itself inside the blood circular system of the human body when it feels the person is strong, but at the time the person becomes weak it gets out of its capsule and makes the person shiver with fever. Isaias capsulized himself inside the Eritrean revolution at the mountains of Sahil until the time he felt that he is strong and the people of Eritrea totally under his control. The same thing is happening now, today the viruses feel they are weak, thus they started to practice the same old habit of capsulizing until the host becomes weak.

    Mr. Sarcasm uses the same tactic, If he attacks Sal as a person from the supporters of the regime, he will be resisted easily and this will not have any harm to the writer or the opposition, therefore, he capsulized himself as an opposition to cause a maximum harm to the writer in particular and the opposition in general.

    A common enemy makes foes friends. Sarcasm is not against the dictator in Eritrea, but he is against those who boldly unveil the dictator. Mr. Sarcasm has forgotten the people of Eritrea have developed a natural immune system from the deadly virus of the lunatic.

  • haile


    anta sarcasm zelukha B’chira nebri yelbon waza k’bhal do ney semaeka! Anbessa aberabirca entay geberka, kan do yemhireley elka? Any way, saay has come out as honest, true to principle and faithful to the most important aspect of this whole affair – Eritrea and Eritreans. Do you have other links or that is about it? Thank you saay for rebuffing this goon in style. Top job ayana.

  • Sarcasm

    Saleh is now in full and ignominious retreat. Add that to a long list of things he’s learned from the beloved Dear Leader. As for your little swipe at Meles, it is common knowledge that mediocrity will always try to pull down greatness. The aggrieved Awate dons who denounced Meles prompt the thought that even if they stood, like circus acrobats, on one another’s shoulders, they would never be as significant a historical force as Meles Zenawi. Maybe that is driving their McCarthyite smears of ‘authoritarianism’, which even a man who’s not very fond of facts, should know are obviously misdirected.

    “Smacking” people like me you say? Sad to see a man’s ego exceed the little talent he has. Since you’ve decided that you won’t give a direct answer, I see no point in continuing this conversation. Until your next ramblings then.

    • Hameed

      Mr. Sarcasm,

      Now you have come to the right point, Mr. Sarcasm. In your previous comments you were very elusive and many were not sure whether you are an Eritrean or Ethiopian, but now you exposed your true identity. Your attempt to create antagonism between this opposition website and the Ethiopian government by feigning that you stood up by the side of Meles Zenawi. Your cunning is vivid by now.

      It is clear by now that Mr. Sarcasm is in ignominious retreat. Salih Younis is one of the opposition and the main opposition base is in Ethiopia, therefore, there is no radical difference between Sal and the government in Ethiopia. As our opposition didn’t reach perfection the same is true to Ethiopia, and criticizing some aspects is not a crime. Criticizing a friend intends for his betterment, so don’t bother yourself Mr. Sarcasm. I think, Mr.

      Awate dons are in circus acrobats to build a democratic nation that lives in harmony among her neighbors. Yes, we defend our people as individuals, groups, fluent writers, professional politicians, farmers, workers, youth, children, mothers, elites, old people, etc. yes, we stand with justice wherever it is required.

      The slogan of says: inform, inspire, embolden and reconcile. They are doing all these to defend the cause of our people as individuals, groups or a nation in unison. It is democratic and a civilized peoples culture to stand by the side of justice and defend it from abusers whether the victim is a fluent writer, a barrister or a normal laborer. Those who can’t defend individuals will not defend a nation.

  • Saleh AA Younis

    Selamat all:

    I kinda feel guilty for participating in the thread-jacking here: we are not discussing the article but the author. But, until we provide a general-purpose catch-all forum, I think I would rather err on the side of thread-jacking that muzzling the voice of people. (Including Singapo-Eritrean, abu selah, whose posting, technically, has little to do with the thread here but, as a fan of languages and particularly Tigrigna poems, I am sure we should (and we have) make an exception here:-)

    Now, in no particular order:

    1. Sarcastic, I wish you lived up to your name because with sarcastic people, one person is the victim and the rest can enjoy guilty pleasure at the expense of the one person being targeted by the Sarcastic. But your proper nic is “Bitter”. You really jumped the shark when your entire case for me slowing down the democratization of Eritrea was your (false) claim that I opposed the sanctions. And henceforth you are in my ignore bucket, but I doubt I will be in yours because I plan to mention, as often as time allows, that Meles Zenawi is just another ordinary authoritarian African head of government. If that upsets you…well, Kerenites says “gobo lalmba gehatS” (take a bite of Mt. Lalmba). Ful Hajia morroro not included. So, all you good folks (Saleh, Ghezae, Serray, Haile, Ms Wkato, Hameed, Al Hageega) who came to my defense: your gallantry is appreciated but it is all good….the world has to have its bitter enders to keep on spinning and Sarcastic is one of those people who loves to hate and I will give him plenty of reasons to indulge his hobby:-) What I am saying is: don’t worry about protecting me: one of my guilty pleasures is smacking people like that…I did it for years and I am pretty good at it:-)

    2. Serray. You made two direct and excellent points about the ignition of the war and the US-Rwanda plan. (Those of you who get migraines when this topic is raised and the issue is re-litigated again, may want to skip this paragraph.) Regarding Isaias starting a “war”, I hope you don’t think this is splitting hairs but what Isaias started is a skirmish. Dozens of neighboring countries the world over have these sort of slowly spiraling skirmishes and they can either be escalated or tamped down. The government of Meles Zenawi chose to escalate it. Whether this is because Meles did it or his hard liners forced him into that position is an intra-Ethiopian-politics issue but the fact is he did. He had his parliament declare war complete with a militant by any means necessary language. Contrast that with how Yemen’s Ali Abdella Saleh dealt with his skirmish, or how Djibouti dealt with its skirmish. Meles did the same thing when he told his parliament that Somalia’s Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) had declared war on Ethiopia and Ethiopia was “ready for Islamist war” when a few loudmouths in the UIC said something that was less than prudent. You know the rest of the story: UIC was defeated, and it was supplanted by the horrific Al Shabab. My point is that Isaias was responsible for the skirmish, but Meles was responsible for the war. And if the difference between skirmish and war is too subtle for you, just remember it was Meles who deported tens of thousands of innocent Eritreans. Statistically, that means your and my VERY CLOSE relatives. So, you know this is not just propaganda war but real-life stuff. Yes, Isaias, later one, also deported and held in detention camps thousands of innocent Ethiopians and I fiercely opposed that (and expressed my opposition in a VOA interview, with my old buddy Elias Amare supporting the Isaias Afwerki administration.)

    Regarding the US-Rwanda agreement, it was a peace proposal.

    And like every peace proposal in the world, the feuding parties have every right (and responsibility) to attempt to modify the language, or seek clarification, to protect their interest. And, a workable peace proposal should not unduly pressure one party over the other. If a peace proposal takes forever to negotiate, you have an unworkable plan (see also: Oslo Accord); if it has a take-it-or-leave-it approach, you also have an unworkable plan (see also: US-Rwanda plan.) I don’t care if the leader was Isaias Afwerki, or Abdella Idrs (God rest his soul) or Herui T. Bairou, or Adhanom Gebremariam: I would have wanted them to ask the same questions Isaias Afwerki did: what do you mean by “previous Ethiopian administration”? What do you mean by “positions held before May 6…” Ethiopia quickly accepted the terms, Eritrea asked for clarifications, and Ethiopia accuse Eritrea or rejecting the plan and the war was escalated.

    The fact that, later on, we accepted terms much worse than the US Rwanda plan is a reflection of our military weakness something that doesn’t speak to how the US managed the US Rwanda Plan. And by US, please don’t underestimate that US interests were represented by the same couple of neophyte Susan Rice (I have met her: trust me she was then a lightweight) and hard-core TPLF groupie Gayle Smith.

    Ah, on The Man and the Front…. Let’s take the ANC. Serray, ANC were represented by Nelson Mandela (one of my heroes: an amazing man) and his wife Winnie Mandela (a dreadful human being.) Let’s remember than Winnie Mandela endorsed the very idea of Necklacing. Let’s have our friend Wikipedia describe what necklacing is: “Necklacing is the practice of summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tyre, filled with petrol, around a victim’s chest and arms, and setting it on fire. The victim may take up to 20 minutes to die, suffering severe burns in the process.” So, NO, Mandela doesn’t tell us much about ANC: Mandela ROSE OVER THE ANC. There was a 50-50 chance that ANC would have been represented by Winnie Mandela, not Nelson Mandela. Now imagine: Isaias (worse than the average EPLF fighter) died of malaria in 1987 and somehow Beraki Habteselasse (supremely better than the average EPLF fighter) became the Secretary General of the EPLF. Eritrea would be much much different and yg would not be trashing EPLF or explaining why Mama Ethiopia was so grand, or why the ELF were such horrific Islamists and Arabist because he would be too busy explaining: where the hell were you between 1961 and 1991. Serray: the biggest sin of yg is that he downplays atrocities like Ona and She’eb and he tries to exploit Eritrean youth’s disaffection with PFDJ into disaffection of the EPLF and Eritrea and, some of us won’t let him get away with that. Lest you think this is personal: I have met yg a few times, and he is, in person, a gentleman: he is just flat out wrong about the most important part of Eritrea’s history: it was fought for a just cause.

    3. Ghezae: My brother, you are off by a decade: The Who and The Clash are a 70s band, not an 80’s band:-) And: wedi Tikabo is supremely talented, and Korchach is excepitionally good and every time I listen to them I think of you: you are telling me to be guilty for enjoying them, and I just don’t feel guilty. Here’s what it is my brother: the ELF flat out knew that all the great Eritrean artists (Tsehaitu Beraki, Osman Abderehim, Yemane Barya, etc…)were just using it as transit to get to Sudan and it just “libi aEbiyom”. At some point all these guys who frustrate you now will become pro-liberty and you have to have an open mind, bro. Meanwhile, just appreciate their God-given talent…

    4. Wkato: I know you mean well…and I know “tzeryeley alekhi”..and I know you are waiting for that “OH MY GOD I WAS SO WRONG” moment from me….. God knows i make mistakes, often, everyday…. but my position about the Ethiopian government, my position about the Meles government..particularly of how it behaved in 98-00 is not one of them. If you think I drank the Isaias Kool Aid, i beg of you to read the reportage of the war correspondents (already told you that, in my opinion, they are the greatest authors) from that era: Michela Wrong (writing for the Financial Times), Jean Louis Peninou (writing for Le Monde),
    and Sam what’s his name…..

    All the best,


    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

      Sal dearest hawey,

      You sure are a super-star and we sure are treating you as such. Sometimes superstars get spit on, somebody would write a nasty blog about them or tabloids run juicy stories about them. But in the final analysis no malicious intentions or hard feelings. It is all good. Glad to see you digging your heels deep and firm whether we agree or not. That sure is a character. Please keep on writing about anything, everything, something or nothing. It would be unbearable and the cyber world would be cold and inhospitable if you quit on us. Looking with earnest to read your next article.


    • Serray

      Thanks Sal,

      I agree with you we are drifting, as we often do, from the subject. Back to the subject. I am sure ayn rand is rolling in her grave for equating altas, the capitalists who carry the world on their shoulders, to isais, who just spit on it. I am a bleeding heart liberal but i like the woman.

      Now back to the hijacked subject. I am at peace with every eritrean who supported the war. Even if the reasons were defective, the intentions were informed by 30 brutal years of struggle against the ethiopian rule.

      You touched a nerve when you made a distinction between starting a war and a skirmish. Let the Eritrean Ethiopian Claims Commission decision speak for itself and you be the judge…”The evidence showed that, at about 5:30 a.m. on May 12, 1998, Eritrean armed forces, comprised of at least two brigades of regular soldiers, supported by tanks and artillery, attacked the town of Badme and several other border areas in Ethiopia’s Tahtay Adiabo Wereda, as well as at least two places in its neighboring Laelay Adiabo Wereda. On that day and in the days immediately following, Eritrean armed forces then pushed across the flat Badme plain to higher ground in the east.”

      That is not a skirmish, that is WAR. Why bring it up? While it is understandable why Eritreans supported the war, we need to know why the dictator started the war, yes, the war. I truly believe our liberation depends on that. Remember, the war explains where we are more than anything else and if we try to blur its origins, we might never have the winning argument against the dictator and the “war for profit” regime he has put in place. Sal, the war killed the constitution, the free press and the hopes you had for eritrea, as those articles sarcasm dug show.

      One last thing on the subject, you did your part then but the war is not about the ethiopians anymore, it is about us. If you wake up one day with someone’s boot crashing your neck, don’t you want to know, really know, how you ended-up there? That is what happen to our people and the men with the boots are telling us it is for our own good and we can’t afford to sort of agree with how it all started.

      I still don’t agree with your characterization of yg, specially the part about ona and the youth. I will file this under the limits of a brain that works by connecting stuff. I like math. Shaebia = pfdj. My favorite Ayn Rand take is, if you end up with something you don’t like, check your premise. If ghedli is all good and just, how come we ended up with these rotten tomatoes? We are not generations removed from ghedli, those who fought for our freedom are still alive. If they are not enforcing the brutality, they are sitting with a deafening silence. Why? You seem to say they changed, yg is saying we need to check our premise, ghedli. I give that to yg.

      As always, with deep respect.

      • Dear Sal,

        With all due respect your characterization of the war is completely dishonest. Because one is brilliant and eloquent does not mean he/she is immune of misjudgment. Everyone of us had our days of doing wrong judgement. To err is human. Now I don’t believe it is worthwhile to debate on the differences of “skirmish” and “war”. It is just a waste of time. What I count on you is your courage and indefatigable spirit to fight for democracy and justice. I salute and respect for that. It is sad, the Coward and gutless Sarcasm pulled us to detour from our timely topic of our discussion.Dear Editors, please moderate the debate and stop any diversion from the topic.

      • Saleh AA Younis

        Selamat Serray:

        To me, this is THE definitive real time analysis of the Eritrea Ethiopia conflict as told by a first class reporter, Le Monde’s Jean Louis Peninou. I have a great deal of respect for this guy, and he had a great deal of influence on me, so if you haven’t read his masterpiece, please do:

        The Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) and the Eritrean Ethiopia Claims Commission (EECC) pretty much ignored all incidents prior to May 6, 1998 because our breathtakingly ignorant government did not file a contemporaneous case of all the terrible things that the Meles government (sorry Sarcasm) did in the months preceding the ignition of the war. Those of us who were sympathetic to (or members of ELF) knew for a fact that the disputed place was contentious (the ELF had, for years, warned the EPLF that it was giving up Eritrean lands to the TPLF who, at the time, were dismissing “border disputes” prior to Eritrean independence as luxury items: read also Meles Zenawi’s “Qalsi hzbi Ertra: kabey nabey”)

        I beg you to read yg’s De-romanticizing Ghedli (part 1 through part whatever) attentively. yg DOES argue that there was no reason for Eritreans to take up arms against Ethiopia; he does argue that the initiators of the ELF (who were secular university students in Egypt and Marxist members of the ELM- Mahber Showate) were Islamists and Arabists; he does argue that Ethiopia did nothing to Eritrea that was particularly worthy of raising arms (that’s why I argue he downplays SheEb and Ona); he does say that the combatants were almost all conscripted (thereby denigrating the role of the volunteers who gave up everything for their cause)…it goes on and on, and on like that and then, worst of all, he does a banker’s cost-benefit analysis as if the struggle was a transactional experience when it was a transformative experience. It is a horrific history revision that is dismissed off-hand by anybody who has first-hand or second-hand experience with Ghedli, but is embraced warmly by those who were 10 steps removed from it. I really am waiting for yg to come out of the closet and at long last just say what he truly believes: we are all ethiopians and the struggle for Eritrean independence was a big mistake. And I am pretty sure it will happen in my lifetime.

        I don’t know how old you are Serray, but consider this: there were Eritreans living in the US, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Soviet Union, who had pretty comfortable lives (I will be presumptious and say the kind of life you are living) and they gave it all up to move to the Eritrean field and fight and risk everything. Why was that? Because Isaias Afwerki put the vodoo on them? Because he was that charming? Its because they believed in a cause. There were Eritreans, 6 or 7 from one family who volunteered (not conscripted) to fight. Is that because they were terrible people with aspirations to dominate? Or is it because they believed in a cause. I am as old as kilte Hirqam now: and I have met captains of industries, millionaires, inventors, creative people, and can tell you that the most amazing people I ever met are Eritreans whom I met 30+ years ago in the Eritrean field. And I refuse to believe yg’s cartoonish version of them.

        All the best,


        • Serray

          Selam Sal,

          I read the piece by Peninou and it vaguely put the cause on the map by tigrian admin or the Bada incident. Even if I add the killing of the officers nobody knows, I still don’t understand why YOU still think the ethiopians started the war. Rule of law, my friend. You can’t accept the word of one person over a decision of an international court where both sides had a chance to present their case over 3 years,? A decision the dictator has no qualms accepting?

          On yg, I just read “He and His Objective” on the front page. It basically says that shaebia was created by an ethnic and a religious zealot. I think that piece is a better thread to continue this discussion.

          • Saleh AA Younis

            Selamat Serray:

            I have a feeling I am going to try the patience of our readers (specially those who get a headache when we start talking about 1998-2000) but the issue you raise is important and those who are not interested can always skip it.

            Sometimes, there is a difference between rule of law (what we know to be the final authority that we all have to obey if we are going to avoid chaos) and the truth (which we have to hold on to to avoid living a lie.)

            Let me give you one example from the Ethiopian side so you don’t think I am just a biased and stubborn guy. Do Fort Cordona and Tserona belong to Eritrea or Ethiopia? Let’s see what the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission says:

            “In its Reply, Ethiopia stated that a number of specific places mentioned by Eritrea as the location of incidents on which Eritrea was relying were irrelevant, since they were in any event mostly in Eritrea. The words used by Ethiopia were that “Fort Cadorna, Monoxeito, Guna Guna and Tserona” were “mostly . . . undisputed Eritrean places.” While Monoxeito and Guna Guna are on the Eritrean side of the Treaty line as determined by the Commission, the Commission finds that, on the basis of the evidence before it, Tserona and Fort Cadorna are not. As to Tserona, the Commission cannot fail to give effect to Ethiopia’s statement made formally in a written pleading submitted to the Commission. It is an admission of which the Commission must take full account. It is necessary, therefore, to adjust the Treaty line so as to ensure that it is placed in Eritrean territory.”

            Now, if I am an Ethiopian who wants to abide by “rule of law, my friend”, specially if I am an Ethiopian from Tserona and Ft Cardona, I have to suck it up and say, “yes, they belong to Eritrea” but that should not stop me from cursing my government for mishandling the case. And that will never stop me from believing the truth as I know it: they are Ethiopian. But, in the interest of the rule of law, to quote Lebowski, “the dude abides.”

            The corollary to that is that for sure I will accept (per rule of law) the argument that some Eritrean land that was awarded to Ethiopia is Ethiopian. But when I consider that the basis for a lot of that decision was evidence presented by Ethiopia for “administering” the areas, uninterrupted, since the 1980s,(when Isais was bragging about how “kinew dob ena nHaseb zelena”) that won’t stop me from believing they are Eritrean and cursing my government that its failure to administer the land is what resulted in its loss. If there is a way to align the rule of law with the truth (dialog), I am all for it, btw, provided it is two equal partners in a dialogue, as opposed to one side dictating “dialog” over the other.

            You know that with wars, it is the party that complains the first which is given the benefit of being a victim and I will curse the government for doing nothing while Eritreans were complaining prior to 1998. Heads of states, even dictators should have “no qualms” accepting a decision, specially if they agreed in advance that they will accept the decision, whatever it is. (all the more so when they are trying to hide their deficiencies.) But in a free republic, citizens should have the right to question the decision, to question the wisdom of their leaders, and if we are empowered, to hold them accountable for it. This is why, whenever there is a change in government, the new government must commit that it will honor all past treaties for the sake of peace. (The Egyptians had to assure Israel that they will abide by the Camp David agreement even if it was negotiated by an authoritarian who did not have the consent of the governed and the Camp David Agreement, which got Sadat secular sainthood in the West, is very unpopular in Egypt.)

            On de-romanticizing ghedli, see you on the other thread, time permitting.

            all the best,


  • taye

    Dear Saleh,

    It is absoluty true that Meles shares that feature with Issayas- He sounds like an external consultant or a temporarily hired manager where he talks about his country. “Echi Hager”, “YihE Hizb”…

    But i have to admit that he has made some efforts on that lately, we have seen him taking some of the formulas suggested by his staff and his speech on the announcement of the great dam projet suggests some people around him are pushing him to take a more patriotic attitude.

  • Sarcasm

    TO THE EDITOR: Please post this on the front. I want it to appear prominent.

    I’ve actually read the entire sordid list in the Dehai archive. The views expressed by Saleh back then-The downward spiral from the cocky diatribe in 1998, when Eritrea captured Badme, right down to the less than enthusiastic babble in 2000, when half of Eritrea was captured. Highly entertaining. Throughout his melodramatic writing though, there was a discernible pattern. A loathing of Ethiopia so deep and a superiority complex so profound that you cannot dismiss it as a desperate man’s attempt at defending his soon to be overrun country. In fact, you might be excused if you believed that the Italians left Eritrea the previous day. The same colonial clerk mentality, that he now pretends to condemn in his identical, albeit less subtle,twin in Asmara is still clearly identifiable.

    And here he is now, masquerading as a voice of enlightened and dispassionate reason. I am just outing this fraud.

    Like his twin in Asmara (or massawa?) he will no doubt try to dodge my allegations with the same idiotic cry of “Show me the evidences!”, so I’ve posted the link to whole series of articles he wrote below. Knock yourselves out.

    • Sarcasm,

      If that is your stand what you are doing, we would like you to come forward with your real name, so he and us will have the same judgement on you as to what your stand was during that time… specifically your view regarding the border war. Otherwise sitting behind the curtain in a disguised world of “pen name”, will no one let you to be a judge. Remember, We will not take you a serious man or woman, but one who stand to black mail for a writer who is dedicated to do something to his people. One who judge must know that he/she will be judged.

    • Alhagiga

      Dear Sarcasm

      Hindsight is a great thing, you can sit down doing nothing and you have the opportunity to say I told you so, I would like to read an article written by you that time advocating the contrary, don’t you know through history human being tend to unite against enemy not in support of the regime, but for the young men /women in trenches so that their moral is not down, after the war ends there is plenty of time to ask questions and that is what happened in Eritrea, G15, defection of senior diplomats, military officers, and senior political cadres, it is simply unfair and unrealistic to jump in every one that had different opinions and views a decade ago, there are thousands of Eritreans who contributed towards the war effort in many different ways, today they oppose the regime, should we condemn them all, it would have been wise to stop the war before it happened, however we all know Eritrea does not have Constitution which limits the power of the President. I believe my dear Sarcasm there are more important issues to discuss than Saleh YOUNIS. Saleh is an individual who cares about his country, he does his best, we should appreciate his effort and those who contribute at awate, if they are wrong we criticize them constructively, but we should stop digging dirt, and as they say, if you keep throwing shit on the wall, same will stick, is this what you are trying to do unsuccessfully .

  • Saleh Gadi

    You all saw the cheap shot from this guy who tried to discredit Saleh Younis. He is obviously mad because SAAY exposed the brain-damaged dictator one more time, just like he has been doing all along. The “Nhna Nsu” lot have no credible argument, their reaction like any other cult members is to resort to cheap attacks and blackmailing. But SAAY wouldn’t be around this long, hitting them hard where it pains, if he was a person who would be swayed from fighting tyranny because of such cheap shots. Falsification is their tactic, but deep inside they know Younis has been fighting tyranny long before the Internet became popular—The Exponent, a magazine that promoted democracy and criticized bad governance long before today’s “Nhna Nsu” lot recognized their Eritreanness, long before the bug of the dictator’s cult stung them, long before they carried the virus that makes one a coward and a liar.

    At the height of the Badme craze, Younis stood up to protect his country Eritrea, not the corrupt PFDJ. Anything he wrote during that period was clearly motivated by the need to contribute to the defense of Eritrea on the media war. A few months into the crisis, It was clear that the PFDJ was not only lousy in diplomatic and military affairs, it was embarrassingly stupid on the media front. If not for people like Younis, we would have been shamed even more than we are today. And this is coming from me who held a totally different position than his regarding the war. However, I never stopped admiring his tenacity, his intelligence and dedication. But the PFDJ and its sniffers would not recognize anything in an Eritrea short of bowing down to their demigod. That is the wish that would never be realized. Soon, the few lost souls who still mourn Janhoi will be joined by the “Nhna Nsu” weaklings. They better prepare their mourning attires from now.

    • Serray

      Selam Gadi,

      Sarcasm is an Ethiopian – please correct me if I am wrong, sarcasm. He is mad at saay for the way he wrote about ethiopia during the war. Nothing more. The sanction stuff is for our consumption.

      • Saleh Gadi

        Thank you Serray. You are right, there a few who still worship Haile Sellasie specially some who discovered their Eritrean iedntity after the Badme debacle now trying confuse us. Indeed the sanctions stuff is supposed to be a red meat for us. But it doesn’t add up even using basic arithmetic. Some thieves dig graves in search of the golden teeth of the dead, and most of the time they are disappointed.

      • Hameed

        Sarcasm doesn’t support the government of Ethiopia, because Sal today is not against Ethiopia. Sarcasm is one of the extremists in Eritrea most probably who supports the regime.

  • Hameed

    Sarcasm and Haile,

    Today Sal is advocating for the rights of his people; I think this is enough to praise him for. He is not stagnant mind set that doesn’t interact with changes on the ground. In the nineties the despotism of Isaias was not clear to many Eritreans, even to those who are now at Era-Ero and many who are now on the side of the opposition. It is not bad to move from the wrong camp to the right one.

    I wonder why Sarcasm and Haile searched for the past writings of Sal and made a link for it? Of course, there is a reason behind this. Do they mean why Sal has written about Isaias? I don’t think so, because they seem to be that they oppose Isaias. Are they against the comparison Sal has made between Meles and Isaias? I don’t think so, because their ton seems to be an Eritrean tone that undergo the misery and pain of unsuccessful project. They are against Sal for being a catalyst to the failure of the project, and they are against Isaias for guiding them to failure.

    It has taken more than two decades Isaias and his cronies to climb their Mount Everest peak, and Sal is one of the writers who knowingly or unknowingly pushed the tyrant to roll down the cliff with his entire project. Thanks brother Sal for being part of that great fall.

    • haile

      Brother Humeed

      I think you are mixing me up with sarcasm. If any use, I didn’t provide a link on saay’s previous articles, nor do I support the action. If anything, I am against sarcasm for stooping that low to attack the one and true saay.

      • Serray

        I was wondering about that. Hameed another blind swing – you got to read this stuff carefully. Haile is expressing ideas opposite to sarcasm.

      • Hameed

        Sorry Mr. Haile for including your name with that of Mr. Sarcasm.

  • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


    If there is such a thing called SAAY-ian school of thought, I subscribed to it till the end of the Badme war. Starting from my undergrad years all the way to graduate studies, I pretty much read all his articles where there was a sense of fascination and admiration in the rest of us by his incredible proficiency of the language and his ability in debunking otherwise complex concepts as well.

    I sure don’t have to provide you with his past articles where his faulty lines are glaringly depicted in supporting Isaias’ modus operandi as the latter presented to the world a psychology of a bigger country is invading a neophyte and small country where Isaias played it brilliantly till the entire who-is-who erudite class was in a frenzy of vilifying and disparaging the Weyanes for their “conniving desire to take Eritrea back.”

    One sure enough doesn’t have to look far but see at the contents and intentions of the link presented by Sarcasm. The url-link moreover takes one into the zeitgeist of the day where the entire Eritrean educated class viewed the dynamics between Isaias’ Eritrea and Meles’ Ethiopia as well.

    Of course, as much as hindsight is twenty/twenty, one could still see the flawed assessment of events as one looks back how much the Eritrean intelligentsia community had been a victim of its preconceived judgment about the people down south. And Isaias is still capitalizing on that where the people down south are still taken for people who are “restless about taking Eritrea back either by declaring an out war or by in-planting a puppet government” where the recent development in Hawassa comes to mind. The genius of Isaias among other things is beating his enemies in his own game.

    P.S. Dear Editors,
    I am just curious, why does moderating comments take such a long time? Sometimes it is painfully long. I just wanted to bring it to your attention.

    • haile

      @b’Alti W’qatto Arwe

      As to subscribing to saay’s school of thought, I guess that makes us school time buddies since I went to the same school too. I would rather heed Amauel’s cautioning remark earlier in that let history take care of it. As far as politics goes, it comes in spectrum. Even the Eritrean opposition camp is not spared from that reality. There are those who are moderating forces and those extreme forces. It is natural to be tempted to the ‘didn’t I told you so’ syndrome every time events take a turn for better or worse. With in that spectrum, I see saay as centrist with the widest appeal to the Eritrean populace and Ghezae Hagos (sorry to use his stand as an example) on the far extreme side with the least appeal. If He thinks saay would crawl back to his turf under veiled black mail, he sure has underestimated saay. And if he thinks would be abandoned for ‘more influential forums and medias’ he sure hasn’t understood the message of Gadi on the other post. As we still haven’t smarted out of the war situation, it is purely speculative to write the conclusive detail about it. You sure can cite some aspects of published reports to base your views, and others can cite other aspects of the same citation to base their’s. However, that would not be enough to conclude saay was wrong here or there. I still do not see a shift in saay’s views or convictions for democratic reform in Eritrea. Hence my earlier comment to sarcasm that it was a poorly conceived intention at discrediting. I am not sure if Eritrean intelligentsia harbor such sentiments towards Ethiopians as you put it, but then again let’s base our assertions on facts. I noted in a previous article that Ghezae Hagos had presented a link about his and other’s work on the Canadian Immigration rule vis a vis terrorism and armed back ground in admissibility. However, in direct contrast he also uses that ‘fear factor’ to meet his objections of getting PFDJ cultural troupe from coming to Canada. Not that I have a problem, but this is just to indicate that saay is from the older class of people with truth, integrity and principle but his accusers and judges are not.

      • Ghezae Hagos


        Your continuous attacks to paint me in the worst light possible says more about your character than mine. I could see you are leaving no stones unturned to locate perceived weak side on my stands, not in a honorable intention to convince me but to convict me.

        Bringing me in a topic totally unrelated and trying to put me in Sarcasm’s camp (deliberately after even reading my defence of Sal) is another example of the unbridled animosity you harbour against me. So for the last time, please desist.

        I would like to add for your benefit that I have longstanding friendship with Awate Team. I have read them (both Sal and Gadi) and their editorials. Learned from them; chose to post my articles there and start a columun too. We had debates about many issues ranging from politics to literature etc. Our latest on sanctions, especially on SSOT, Canada’s inadmissibilty law etc is not new for us actually, perhaps the only difference is it was done in public forum. Point: don’t you @Haile try to create a wedge that is not necessary among compatriots.

        If you feel like you want to discuss more about sanctions and other issues, you can reach me at: Otherwise to parphrase Dostoyevsky’s Prince Myshkin “Pass me by; forget my…!”

    • Twice Victims

      After the slaughter, persecution and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Eritreans in 60th and 70th ,If when you visit Sudan . i do not expect you visit a refugee camp , a settlement of Eritrean refugees who lacked shelter, basic amenities health care and live inhumane conditions. The merciless president Without shame or guilt and when you talk your words are hollow, you spread false rumours, your eyes are murderous, you have a large ego. “A criminal with an ego without limits who permanently thinks you are better than anyone else, only through you will problems be resolved. those who are not with me are against me , You never done one thing correctly. you have never put your feet at refugee camp, You could not let them come back to thier father land to your created counterfeit state ,you made them double victims. It is much Worst than the first crime of fleeing thier home land not to come back You ignored thier desperate plea to return to thier home land. You are a disgraceful and your poisonous hatred with no principles and morale is clear to them ,Thier Patience exhausted.

      They know of your views an ideology hate-infested worldview. and prejudices. The refugee they know of your intolerance, chauvinists, racism and hatred, you are truly reactionary and bigotry, you propagate and infect the mainstream thought with hate-mongers. You survive in climate of political hatred and divide . you devote your life to spewing hatred, Your regime kills in the name of that hatred, you promote evil.You think of that what differentiates “us” from “them “your idea of identification with your own group, as opposed to the other group, with the idea that your group is under threat, and the enemy is this other group, you come to believe it. You are set specific of ideas us versus them and Mentality because you want to whip up the fear of the other. you believe “survival of the fittest, “just like animal is deeply ingrained in your fibres with a delusional view.. You do not know that “We are the same “You no respect for traditional values and faith. You’ve had our privacy violated and tuned into a nightmare.

      You fabricated social constructs of ethnicity and religion to define our morals. you do not know ideals of inclusiveness and an open, democratic, tolerant society,They know catastrophic effects them of your policy of No return to home.they have been warned. They you have considerable resources for repression, You created and constructed inside Eritrea a concentration camps and closed borders. You never give a grant relief to the innocent prisoners. Even they ask forgiveness, They have not been tried and convicted in your kangaroo state court. You had not shown any empathy for your victims. It’s a your way to punish and create fear and intimidation . Many simply “disappeared”, You treat people as objects?

      The difference is a source of insecurity fro you. Your values are militarism, conformism, chauvinism and jingoism. Worst of all you seek to pressure our people into god less compliance while you work frantically to destroy nation – and the rest of us with you. you’re ability to slaughter civilians in cold blood is well known to the refugees , No they do not forget your brutality, you are but a Muslim hater as singular not plural. You are particular lunatic evil individual rather than an undefined group which is easily generalized to include same of your sympathizers and anyone else you fancy. You partake in war before war will reaches you in your door. You massacre your own people, You do not understand the suffering and the agony of the people that is to say , ( my beloved family ,my father, my son, my mother, my wife ,my daughters, my village, my town, my city, my community ,my tribe, my people, my country ) It is difficult to remain unemotional at the vast and detailed catalogue of your crimes. Thousands dragged to a hole in the ground – all the while screaming, Saying”I’m not going – don’t kill me” many shoot and axed to death. many are men and women who have been slaughtered, that the story of each one might turn horror into banality. Relatives of those who are killed or tortured in custody have no opportunity to seek justice through the courts. Long time ago you “stripped and up dictated yourself of all legitimacy”. I Wondered Eritrean are so forgiven, they let you role fro very long time or some of us we have being very naive? What a catastrophic proportions of our family member of Eritrean killed and assassinated by your filthy regime and regime informers , you slaughter our people like animals to be sacrificed fro your sake, You never stoped killing and destroying most promising future generation our sons and children, You took innocent life. Thousands had “disappeared”, the number still counting. If only they gravies could only talk of your crime of unspeakable? if only God will allow them to voice thier grief ? Yes, You twisted the Christian tradition in directions most Eritrean Christians would not countenance. Your hate and thought is of the medieval Crusades against Muslims, So Christians and Muslim have a responsibility to speak out forcefully against you and your regime .

      You shown no mercy to the weakest part of our society. to our veteran, to the sick to the handicaps, to the orphan, to the widow, to our very poor. To all those hungry and deprived, what a criminal you are totally deprived of your humanity. You even do not know. you wanted them to despair and resign from thier share of the blessings of our country. .And to Those whose lives are continuous fasting, and can’t sleep due to hunger’s pain, You fostered So much division, schism, Jealousy, greed ,hate and arrogance ,the current conditions of the country. The few remaining Professional, lawyers, journalists, academics, doctors –ect-ect- have been co-opted and corrupted . they learned to shut up, obey, and collaborate with your regime, the irony they are not rewarded at least financially speaking . I hate to say you belong, you do not fit our Eritrean traditional profile. You do not belong to us .You no longer belonged to ower people, You had come to detest them with a virulence , They experienced prejudice, injustice, and real difficulties in life. Your ideology Dark Ages of Killing innocents to promote an idea is madness ,of your self-proclaimed propagandist, You become a self-fulfilling prophecy of violence. It’s well past time to start confronting this false narrative. You are a threat to our diverse cherished tradition. You pacified, ossified and dehumanized Eritrean men and women. Religion is violently repressed. You are the source of all horror in Eritrea? You have perpetrated unfathomable terror on generations of Eritrean children and their parents Whose side are you really on?

      Cruel Isaias

      You are pathetic; a nothing, Your name deserves to be forgotten in dark history you are qualified described and you embody all worst human characteristic. ,you are known as . Assassin , Arrogant , Accuser ,Arrester, Alarmist. Aggressive . Anarchist, Bloody, Bandit,, Besieger, Brut, bombastic ,cruel, confronter, controller, conflicted, Confused. Condemned ,cruel, , Cracker , corrupt, combative. Dictator, Discarded. Deleted. Disapproved ,Deviant,Dominator, Demon, Demonic, Devil, Destroyer, Devastator, Defeated, Doomed, Denouncer , Detainer, Dangerous, Delusional, Demagogues, Fanatic, Freak, foolish, Gangster, Gunner, greedy , Extremist, Eliminator, Eradicator , Ethicist ,Exploiters , hypocrite ,Hater , harsh, Harasser, Hallow, Imposer ,Imposter, Ignorant, Irrelevant , Idiotic , Inciter, Insulter, Interrogator. Infiltrator, Irrational, incoherent , killer, kidnapper, Liquidator, loser, Lethal .Plotter, Paranoid ,predator, Prosecutor, Preposterous, kidnapper ,”Madman”, “Monster”, Mafia, Mediocre, Maniac, Misguided, Messianic, Medieval, Misogynist , Mugger, narcissist, oppressor ,opposing , Opportunist , psychotic, Racist, Regionalist ,rude, revenger, Terrorist, Thief, Triumphal, Torturer. Trickier, Twisted, Transgressor , Satan, sadist, Sacker, Snatcher, mugger. narcissist selfish , Spy, Sweeper , Wicked, vicious,Zealot.You represents violence and power hunger , sickness and hate. You can not redeemed your soul. , Eritreans are numbed. The enormity of the tragedy. All the families across Eritrea are grieving of the loss of thier sons and daughters. you enough blood on your hands. You are overtly advocating violence. “there is proof of mass killing of civilians’ in particular crimes against humanity of murder; imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty; enforced disappearance, persecution and torture and try those who bear the responsibility of these crimes., its cruel human rights violations.

      • haile

        Forum Editor has notified commentators to stay on topic and reply to the article at hand. It is rude for you to violate the host’s request and go bizarre with it. Spare innocent readers your nightmarish hateftef.

        • Haile

          We all need self-discipline, self-control, self-training, self-education, self-Restraint , self-evaluation and I agree with you to stay within the Topic.I will Endeavours to learn how to see from other’s lenses when it comes to judging as a referee. The opposite is also true. Nations have not ceased to record the biographies of their great personalities, with every pride; so that
          those who come after them may follow their example. Therefore it is incumbent upon Saleh that he record the history of the President and his performance in the interview and his personalities of false distinction.

          Major danger faced by Eritrea s everywhere is the danger of irrelevance. Calling for a paradigm shift by Saleh have called on the Eritrean by leading the way in the meeting this challenge. that it is required to meet the challenges of a changing world. The real world takes no account of the glories of reencounter bygone ages, rulings of historic times, outmoded thought and ideas. Its message is simple: adapt or perish.
          A universalist world-view, by its very nature, must be dynamic and constantly absorbing change. The real world is changing rapidly.The real world demands a totally new kind of thinker.

          In a given period of history, a civilization is judged by its dominant thought, by the prevalent trends in its cultural life as expressed in politics and morality, science and technology, economics and business, arts and crafts. Intellectuals and Journalist are the voice of this thought and the pulse of the prevalent trends; they are also their instigators, their critics and their bodyguards. A civilization, a country, a community, cannot exist without intellectuals and Journalist are constant stream of new ideas. They cannot exist without constant criticism and self-criticism, without those who formulate it and express it. They cannot exist without a body of devoted people whose sole concern in life is ideas and their significance. Indeed, a society without intellectuals and Journalist is like a body without a head.

          Some of our People tend to believe everything that is reported to them without scrutiny or facts. And it is a common experience for Eritrean writers and reporters always to report things selectively or in a partial manner. It is selective reporting or partial reporting that creates problems. Sometimes people fall into grave misunderstanding and the result is disastrous and continue to be so today more than ever .

      • sara

        ”ya Si” said ,tell your twin Ali salim that he was missed in this forum and you were able to fill the void, while he is holidaying .

        • Sara
          I am no Twin to no one. you may not resonate with victim. I was addressing fro those who suffered. In summary my written was about the importance of speaking out against injustice.
          Atrocities are being committed, and we must categorically denounce them and those who carry them out. On such acts, covering whoever carries them out, irrespective of the target.

          These are important questions, especially for Eritrean because setting the record straight about the past is the first step to building the future.
          If still refuse to accept responsibility for his crime, you even have the gall to lecture me and blame Eritrean for their condition.

          So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity.

          Let us All pray to God to lead us further on the path of righteousness. Let us bring love, compassion and peace to each other and in our beloved country, not hostility, blood and tears. After all, it was a matter of love of our country; and love is composed of many things; of our desires and our loneliness, of our high aims and our shortcomings, of our strength and our weakness. So it was in all the cases. Eritrea came over us like a robber who enters a house by night; but, unlike a robber, it entered to remain for good.
          When people choose to live free, Fate will follow and gives in. The dark nights will end, And all shackles are undone.

          I may have being just being extremely stoned and realizing that everything is connected to everything else. All of it with terrible “repercussions for society”. But this dizziness is not unfamiliar to me. Or you. For as each day brings forth more information about illegality and possible convictions and the intertwining of those in control, it is apparent we are being spun round. And around.
          Spin is what got us into this fine mess. the glossy product of our culture, ” This need to manage perception – not simply to manage policy as if we are all rather idiotic five-year-olds. To end a culture of spin you have to know where it began. Image-making isn’t new. Be informed

  • Sarcasm

    Saleh, Saleh, my slippery friend…Meles and Isaias? You are not really good at analogies are you? You compare a logical man’s injection of much needed cool-headedness into Ethiopian politics to a narcissistic egomaniac’s arrogance. I think even you know how idiotic your comparison is, but alas honesty has never been your strongest suit.

    You have derailed your peoples democratic path by opposing the sanctions. You seem a tad too happy to gloss over that issue.

    Oh and one last thing, please do yourself a favour and don’t raise the issue of Ethiopia as if you care about the people there. As I recall, I read an impassioned piece back in 2000 decrying the “Abyssinian empire” and Ethiopia’s “fake 3000 years old history”. You were even compassionate enough to include the plight of oromos- hinting of course, that Ethiopia’s disintegration might be a solution to your countries ill fated war of aggression. I’ll give you the link so that you’re complicated relationship with the truth won’t cause you to ignore that too.

    As for the issue of Assab, don’t kid yourself chum-we both know if Meles is gone, the next government won’t be as lenient on that issue. So its a lose-lose situation from your point of view. Just clarifying.


    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


      My understanding is, Sal didn’t know any better back then when the entire erudite-cum-later were in a full swing in support of Isaias when the latter duped all of us into believing that Eritrea was a victim of aggression when he was in fact the main culprit of the war which was callously dubbed a senseless war after circa twenty thousand Eritrean souls perished into the thin air.

      If the article you just pulled out of a dust-filled binder was to come out today as a fresh baked article out of the oven, it would have looked like as if it was penned by the high priest in the Dehai-land Ghidewon Abbay Asmerom.

      It is prudent to keep in mind a very critical aspect of the entire Ethiopia-will-fall-apart-for-the-minority-regime-in-Ethiopia-is-teetering-on-a-thin-ice-based-on-Balkan-style-federation mind set where the Eritrean educated class loved to whistle a soft melody as they looked down on the “uncivilized, backward and inferiority-complex inflicted people” south of Eritrea.

      That is, we internalized Fanon’s fury aspect of Colonialism (Italian Colonial experience) into a pride to live with and used it as an index to measure modernity as we compared ourselves with the poverty-stricken and down-troden people down south.

      And of course, when the Badme war broke out, our educated class saw everything with in that aberrant mind set where the fate of Ethiopia was foretold–a nation falling apart and her people flocking in search of a refugee to Isaias’ Eritrea where the latter presides not only over Eritrea but over Ethiopia as well. If there is a sense of humour in the irony of history, we Eritreans are heading to Ethiopia to find a warm adobe as we flee the wrath of a tyrant who is still restive to drag us onto a mayhem until the last soul is standing in Eritrea.

    • Serray

      Sarcasm, meles is lenient on the Aseb issue, really? We have to leave that question in a time capsule to be answered by our great-great-great-great-gradchildren.


      Out of idle curiosity I followed the link and I have to say this guy has dug up some seriously incriminating piece from your past. Almost everything you wrote about eritrea was wrong, even then. What posses you to do that awful comparison?

      Not so much about woyanes’ ethiopia,though, some of it was prophetic…the 2005 election comes to mind.

      • Saleh AA Younis

        Selamat Serray (and Haile and Sarcasm):

        When I asked Sarcasm how I have derailed the democratic path in Eritrea, he responded “You have derailed your peoples democratic path by opposing the sanctions.” Since the rest of his, um, argument was about me, I have to assume that the “you” and “you have derailed” is NOT the plural you, but the singular you. As in Me. So, according to sarcasm, I have derailed my people’s democratic path by opposing the sanctions. Either I am more powerful than I thought or the sanction-imposers are weaker than I thought, or Sarcasm is just being hyperbolic. I think I will take door number 3.

        Serray, so I don’t go in a wild goose chase, can you tell me the “seriously incriminating” piece that has been dug up about my past. By the past, I specifically mean the time when the article referenced by Sarcasm was written on August 27, 1999. Haile (who is fast challenging b’Alti wqato in the rising star chart) has taken all my answers. But if he hasn’t, I really like to deal with specific citations. Then I can engage.

        As for your question regarding the debate yg and I were having regarding ghedli in general and the nature of Isaias Afwerki in particular: I am not a subscriber of the “it takes a village to raise a child” school of thought. For that reason, I don’t believe Isaias is a product of the Eritrean society, or a product of the Eritrean Ghedli argument (which people like yg then quickly use to engage in their favorite hobby of badmouthing the ghedli and the Eritrean people at large). He–like Pol Pot, and Mandela, and Gandhi and Hitler–is his own self. I maintain that Pol Pot tells us nothing about the character of Cambodia anymore than Mandela tells us anything about South Africans in general. I had an Indian friend who used to say, “one of the biggest cons we Indians pulled on the world is that we are peaceful people, but we are a violent people, and Mahatma was an exception.” I realize this–the nurture vs nature argument–is unresolved and I don’t expect that yg and I will come to a resolution either. I am not big fan of the nurture argument: some of my favorite stories are the “twins separated at birth, reunited years later, have had strikingly similar lives” kind:

        So, my short version of the answer: Isaias, a man whose character is not “proto-typically” Eritrea, or a “product of Ghedli” has all the right ingredients–the right time, the right place, the right look, the right personality–to dominate, overtake the field, and shape it in his image. Our own Aklilu Zere has a theory as to when and where that happened: you can read his “The Birth of Despotism” for that.

        all the best,


        • Serray

          Thanks Saleh,

          Let me first say I made my peace with you when you did the twgahimo series at asmarino. We all share on the blame. Some for saying and us for not saying enough when we saw all too clearly where were heading. Now to the incriminating piece.

          There were two known facts when you wrote that article. One, the world has already made us aware that isais started the war….even then. Almost every article about the war mentioned that the dictator ignited the war. You gave that honor to the woyanes, not because you were presented with any other compelling fact, but because it simply didn’t fit your narrative then. Second, and for me the most serious, we all knew that isais refused to accept the US-Rwanda peace deal, a deal that would have saved us all the bloodshed. You never wrote an article begging the dictate to reevaluate….but look at you going after the woyanes for refusing to accept a deal after they tasted blood.

          On the other issue dealing with isais and ghedli, your analogy is slightly off. No, Mandela and Pol Pot don’t tell us much about S. Africa, or Cambodia. But they tell us a lot about ANC and the Khmer rouge.

          I am confuses about your last paragraph. Are you saying that isais made the ghedli culture what it is? If yes, you are in complete agreement with YG.

        • Sarcasm

          I’ve actually read the entire sordid list in the Dehai archive. The views expressed by Saleh back then-The downward spiral from the cocky diatribe in 1998, when Eritrea captured Badme, right down to the less than enthusiastic babble in 2000, when half of Eritrea was captured. Highly entertaining. Throughout his melodramatic writing though, there was a discernible pattern. A loathing of Ethiopia so deep and a superiority complex so profound that you cannot dismiss it as a desperate man’s attempt at defending his soon to be overrun country. In fact, you might be excused if you believed that the Italians left Eritrea the previous day. The same colonial clerk mentality, that he now pretends to condemn in his identical, albeit less subtle,twin in Asmara is still clearly identifiable.

          And here he is now, masquerading as a voice of enlightened and dispassionate reason. I am just outing this fraud.

          Like his twin in Asmara (or massawa?) he will no doubt try to dodge my allegations with the same idiotic cry of “Show me the evidences!”, so I’ve posted the link to whole series of articles he wrote below. Knock yourselves out.

    • haile


      I think yours is a cheap shot aimed at poorly conceived intention to discredit. Firstly, SAAY was writing at a time his nation (rulers of the day) promised all the right things. And his conclusion about Ethiopia, then, is still as valid as ever, unless one has a duty to perform to please others. Ethiopia has a dubious provision in its constitution, Article 39, that simply doesn’t apply to any ethnic group as it is intended (one wonders why have it then???) It doesn’t have freedom of expression or multiparty elections (unless you are looking for a trouble). And, only recently its government has charged HRW and CPJ as paid agents working to destabilize Ethiopia, at the behest of western powers! So, I haven’t read SAAY pursuing Ethiopian issues, hence case closed – nothing to incriminate him there. As, to Eritrea, he would only be more credible out of it. This is because he had come to his country’s aid when needed. What happened after that isn’t his choice but fate. Tackle him today, on issues he stands for today. Everything else is poor taste and would incriminate you than it does him.

      • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


        As they say, one can only bury the past by unearthing it. I am not sure what Sarcasm’s intentions are but there is nothing wrong with tracing the past as we try to be truthful to the future. Sal may have made a bad call or an error of judgment on his part but as much as it is human to err and it is equally his prerogative to pass it in a complete silence than excavating the faulty lines in his past articles.

        • Hi ALL,

          I will implore to you to stay with the current struggle. History will take care of the past action in due time. I am absolutely sure that every one of us had a bad call or faulty judgement at one point of our history. We are not here on scoring point. We are debating on how to disentangle our people from the grip of the despot. lol.

        • haile

          @b’Alti W’qatto Arwe

          Absolutely! (as far as the learning from the past part goes); but one of our greatest barriers in communication (as in Eritreans and Ethiopians alike) is that of a phenomenon known as ‘assumed understanding’. We assume to understand others without due verification, and we assume to have been understood by others without due clarification. The tragedy of such malformed communication is manifest on the way opinion is taken to mean fact and vice versa. Short of his coming out to here to declare his ‘bad call or an error of judgment on his part’ , would you be kind enough (with due respect) to outline those issues in your view constitute a ‘ bad call or an error of judgment on his part’ To my mind, SaaY has spoken for constitutional rule and democratic governance in the ‘past’ and he is doing the same ‘now’ Is that not consistency? In politics, one has permanent interest not permanent friends! (and sadly it isn’t entirely one’s choice or making). Was SaaY use to oppose democratic reform and is now supporting it? or was he supporting that idea in the past and now decommissioned it? I see no substance, but a high school level debate strategy to undermine your opponent employing cheap ‘discrediting’ tactics. Please inform us otherwise.

          • haile

            @b’Alti W’qatto Arwe
            the last comment about high school stuff is meant to refer to the original comment by Sarcasm.

        • Kokhob Selam

          The past? I prefer not to see back. that should be only a lesson. what some one should ask is what is the benefit to talk about the people stand in the past? after all truth has it’s own power and force and nature has already let us pay for all our wrong stands and actions.Today is important to ask what do we learn and what should be our stand.

          one pain full truth is that nothing was given to people who don’t deserve it. if you desrve peace you will get it becouse god is reach and he will naver lose anything but if you don’t desrve it no one will force him to give you peace. shall we get peace and democracy, we should stand for truth.

    • Ghezae Hagos

      Hi Sarcasm,

      Fair is fair and for the record, Sal did not oppose the sanctions. There is no question he supports it. Last November when the EYSC and Hidmona Human Rights Group of Canada prepared the petition drive to support the sanctions, he was more than willing to cooperate. had helped gather infrmation to UN Monitoring Group; gave us the summary of the report on it. Sal was one of the few to take it upto himself to spoon feed us, the lazy readers the salient features of the 400 pages report.

      Again, some of us, like me, would have preferred a more aggressive Sal in the sanctions front, especially, in the case of SSOT (State Sponsor of Terrorism.) That is all. In ‘the democratic path’ though, the guy is one of our premier pioneers.

  • Serray

    Selam Saleh,

    It is not just that you write well but your writing gets better every time. I left eritrea before it became shaebia incorporated. “Shaebia speak” was spoken only in medda then. I thought this weird language will die after 1991 – since it was created to accommodate literal translation of Marxism. Now it serves a slightly different purpose – literal translation of English words. What’s common when used in medda or asmera is “shaebia speak” is about words not ideas; that is why it remains alien to us, even those of us tigrigna speakers.

    I have a friend who mastered it. Sometimes we play word games and I tell you this alien language can be hilarious. Make sure you wash yourself after listening to (and writing about) isais speeches….no human can listen to the devil for six hours and come out clean. Remember what Kafka said about looking the devil in the eyes.

    Back to your piece. Going back to your one-on-one with YG on Ghedli, I find your analysis incomplete, not wrong, just incomplete. You don’t answer one vital question, is isais a front or a force behind a defective system. The ENCDC seem to believe the former, you tend to believe that he is leading the system astray. In the Ghedli series, you assign no fault to the culture of sacrifice of medda and put all blame on isais. Following your logic, armed struggle is a waste of time and blood. I was hoping this time you’re going to come out say it. Are we the victims of a system that can’t exist without its pound of flesh or are we the victims of a one man’s insatiable appetite for power?

    I know it has become unEritrean to speak the truth; after all, we are the only people on earth who ignite a war and lose it completely and yet believe we are victims of war who stood against aggression and won. Except the truth in this case matters….do we need to get rid of one guy and his inner circle or strap for a long struggle to change an entrenched system? Or am I putting too much words in your mouth?

  • Ghezae Hagos

    Hi All,

    Unless Sarcasm fully lived upto his nic, I hope he didn’t really mean what he wrote about Saleh AA Younis. Not that Sal needs any defence, but it is worth adding that he deserves our appreciation and thank you. In assessing a person’s worth of works, one should strive to get the general contribution, the legacy; the OEUVRE, nothwithsanding some disagreements in some areas.
    Few writers of the internet Eritrea have written for such a long period of time and without a break (key’selkeyom) about Eritrea and Eritreans than Sal. He is a household name. He is always a humanist; even to the point of giving the devil its due. He consciously strive to be objective, so unEritrean trait (I guess his inherited ‘American’-genes trample his Eritrean ones:); He, more than anybody I know understands and even loves politics, which most Eriteans, though banked everything we had on it, know it little to bebuffled by it frequently. May be that is why he still kept his sanity; his keyboard. When some of us snap and break; vowed never to return to internet struggle; wanted more, much more; he was always there saying ‘hi buddy, welcome back’. His dispassionate aloofness is maddening, even exasperating. I boldly assert Sal’s Tumgaho articles to this Issayas Shrugged ones are not much of a difference, in terms of urgency and tone.

    It takes a trait of some kind to listen to Issayas interview, and to write about it is another. I suspect after the 6 hour third-degree, he sneaked to his garage on false pretence, took out one of his guitars, put some of his 80s rock songs and played for hours. It just that I don’t know which one he played most..the Sex Pistols or the Who?

    How does one stay grounded and sane in such hellish life of an Eritrean? No it is a question for each and for none. Sometimes, you know what I want to do. I want to go up on a mountain somewhere in Eritrea, stay so close to a cliff, and then just WAIL. Wail to the gods; a pure, unadulterated, uncomromised, pristine, immacolate, primal wail of an animal or human. I wish I could do that.

    Back to Sal and the Issayas 6 hour interview. One could only listen with one ear plugged, the other half-plugged as in Eritrean mothers, covering their eyes, peeking through the fingers, watching a first base making out in ‘North and South mini serious’…’Zom x’yuQat xeAdu!’ (R.I.P. Patrick Swayze, Hankish!)

    I think Sal would be the least to be shocked by any turn of events in Eritrea and Eritreans, though again Issayas would even shock the Almighty. Sal has done his due. It just that for me, my impatience emanates from the fact that a lot of the ground activism that we see sprouting would benefit from his endorsments and his hands-on engagement. Even his ‘arch-enemies’ from the dehai graduates (his quotes); as Gedeown Abay and Sophia-Lady McBeth are touring the globe to rebuff Histroy, to keep us where we are, in bondage.

    One looks at at a great talent in Sal’s writing; thus our eagerness to see him ‘represent us!’ in more influential medias and forums; rubbing shoulders with, ok Kafka is dead; so are old Russians; so is David Foster Wallace; so is Hitchens…with Bret Easton Ellis, Ann Rices; Freidmans, Bob Woodards etc..

    All the best,

    (Did I also mention he is good at predicting? In 2004 US elections, we had a bet on Bush and Kerry. He exactly said Bush was going to be re-elected ( I guess he meant elected) by 51%. I will buy him the dinner…in Asmara. I guess after my trip back from Gobo-Teqera.

  • Saleh AA Younis

    Kbur anbabi awate:-)

    A consolidated message, if you don’t mind. Thanks to all of you who are far too generous: my neck is now complaining that, due to the swollen head, it is suffering from the strain:-) Sara and b’Alti W’qato arwe (sorry, you have to flip arwe w’qato to w’qato arwe), Voltaire and Victor Hugo are flattering but I tend to admire the Russians and the war correspondence essayists. My favorite quote of all time is Franz Kafka’s “you are free, and that’s why you are lost”, because it explains, among other things, why the PFDJ loyalists remain loyalists (“you are a slave, and that’s why your entire life is pre-planned”)

    In any event, bAlti w’qato, let me join the long list of your fans here: I think the Eritrean cyberspace suffers from a dearth of women voices (if you exclude the women who have the aggression of the men writers) and that’s why we are all clamoring for you. You better not pull “The Crying Game” on us:-)

    Amanuel, whatever you do, do not tell my family about my “photographic memory”– they won’t stop laughing for days. The “secret ingredient”, Aklilu? My own assessment is that I have whatever ailment that comedian Dennis Miller suffers from–odd firing of synapses connecting random quotations, song lyrics, movie lines and book titles–which I can’t help. (Refer to “The Crying Game” in the paragraph above.) It is hit and miss: sometimes it makes sense, and sometimes it doesn’t and the important thing is that when you miss you have to surround yourself with people who say, “what the hell was that”? I have a very polite friend who says, “izi’a aytere’detnan” when he wants to say, “well, that made no sense at all”:-) Whatever my strengths, Aklilu, I have yet to write the Definitive Document like you did with “The Birth of Despotism.”

    All the best,


    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


      Should I call it “Pimp my pen-name” as in the TV show “Pimp my ride” where a run down car is face-lifted. This is the third time my pen name is re-fixed because of plastic surgery gone wrong. On a serious note though, you sure deserve the accolade. Let me inject more fluid into your already hydrocephalic head, the number of google entries for people to know about Keren would have been astounding if one was to award you Pulitzer Prize. No doubt.

    • Sal,

      If that is the case, let them laugh, and the news is already up there. But sometimes for sure, for some of us, who are not into “movies and songs” stuff Tishi’Wedena E’ka. But if those are the vehicles that carries your messages let it be.

      • Kokhob Selam

        “Kbur anbebti awate:-)”
        zkhebrkum ato Saleh:-), what if I say everything is energy and you are energetic and you know how to utilize it. you are free to reject but that is what I see. Here I don’t know why we are witnessing such great men in Awate more than other sites, but I feel this will not help much if not expanded to reach our People. The question in my mind is how many of our people are reading those wonderful articles, and what can be done to make it wider to let it open more to our people.
        To make my idea more clear, (allow me to be small scientist for today) the knowledge that guides social development is contained in society’s accumulated store information, skills, attitudes, opinions, beliefs and values. Since individuals and groups are part of the society, the development of each individual or group influences the society. But unlike other type of developments for example human development in biology (that is a program in DNA that changes and creates without control of mind) social development can be programmed the way we want it. We are experiencing two type of sites in our political Arena, first one, corrupted who uses all the energy he own against social development and 2nd who uses all the energy he own for peace, democracy and future better nation and people. The former was stronger but eventually the peace lovers group is heading faster. Yet, I don’t believe this is enough and I think much can be done. For example Awate can reach the people and spread those wonderful Ideas to our mass. This in itself changes the speed and performance to be higher as the contribution will be more in quantity and even quality.
        I better not go further not to confuse my readers but what I want to say is :-let’s find a way to let our people get Awate writers articles to coup the developments. The downfall of PFDJ seems faster than the prepared mass in Eritrea and keeping the balance is important.
        They said you are what you eat and I think your mind is what you eat and what you experience and read.
        Thank you for reading,

  • Sarcasm

    It is always with a mixture of amusement and pity that I read this charlatan’s mologue. He was opposing the sanctions when they were about to be passed, and now sees fit to advise the opposition on ‘organization’. Not content with damaging his own people’s democratic path, he now has taken his earlier hobby of provoking neighbors- he couldn’t but resist taking a jab at Ethiopia, which he disdainfully refers to as “mama Ethiopia.” I am sure Eritreans are saying-“With friends like you, who needs enemies?” Get a job Saleh and move on with your life, because the way things are going, the imbecile in Asmara will likely stay in power for the next few decades.

    • Saleh AA Younis


      But I DO have a job, but thanks for the suggestion:-)

      Btw, since you mentioned Ethiopia and since some awate readers objected to me comparing Meles to Isaias, one of the things the two have in common is that they talk about their countries as if they are just countries they have been assigned to to manage. I have listened to a lot of Meles interviews, as well, and he is as dispassionate, as un-emotional when talking about Ethiopia as Isaias is when talking about Eritrea. When Ethiopians complain that Meles is not an Ethiopian patriot, I don’t think they are just talking about loss of Eritrea, Assab, etc. He just doesn’t exude that “Mama Ethiopia” visceral connection.

      I will let your characterization on my position on the sanctions stand (because we have beat that horse to death) but I would love to hear how I damaged my “people’s democratic path.” I am sure that is a long and winding road, but I will follow.

      all the best,


      • T. Kifle

        Dear Saleh AA Younis

        I am an Ethiopian and regular visitor of It has been a joy to read the articles of almost all the writers and a great deal of learning. I am also am one who used to watch whatever PIA had to say in his new years’ series of lectures. These series of articles of yours were amazing and would like to express my appreciation your mastery both in the Tigrigna and English languages.

        I have a comment on the characterization of PM Meles in your reply to Sarcasm. I hope you were not series when you say “… Meles is as dispassionate as…. about Ethiopia….”. It is beyond any doubt that Meles is at least as passionate as those who claim to be “patriots” and “vanguard’ of the country. The difference is he has defined his version of “Ethiopia” not by succumbing to the mantra of “Emama Ethiopia” but walking his walk including on the measures he has taken on Eritrea.

        once again thank you

    • Hameed

      Dear Sarcasm,

      After few decades we will welcome you in the diaspora with open mind and a heart full of forgiveness. Never mind Mr. Sarcasm, go on continue until the ax falls upon your head. Many were extremists like you, but fled their beloved homeland; you know why? Don’t bother, you will answer the question after few decades.


  • Simply suberp work.
    The amazing patience of the writer to attentively listen to and follow what Isayas had to say for long hours is to be envied. Mr. Younis’ good job served well those of us who have less patience but are also interested to know what the dictator had to say. Thanks Saleh.

  • Mahmoud Nour

    As usual Sal is always to the point and has been explaining to us the short falls of the mad man/ Isaias.
    I believe we know enough about this lunatic president. What we need to figure is how to unite, organize for armed struggle. That is the only language Isias understands and he cares less for dies or lives

  • A Iyasu

    Whenever I listen to President Isaias’s interviews, at one level, I get inspired. I feel like screaming to say…all these Eritreans who are being ladled as ‘traitors’, ‘weyanes’, ‘opposition’, …you name it, have they said anything different? Is he the only one allowed to criticise his own policies? Though belatedly. I have noticed that he has the habit of sending his officials forward singing his praises, only to undermine them on the next page. In the process he wants to create a wow factor amongst his unsuspecting audience. It is however, so good to see Mr Yonus et al. chronicling all these events and showing Mr President his unsuspecting audience is in the minority, thanks to his insatiable desire to show his rrogance.

  • haile

    Great article (or series of articles), I commend you for your patience to have gone through all that 6hr long trash talk (a.k.a interview!). The assertions made in your last paragraph may be becoming obsolete as we speak. overall, the clarity and readability is in keeping with what we have come to expect of a great talent such as yourself.

  • Point well taken , but I read it after I posted the next one. thank you for accomodating me . I will follow the rules , I promise,

    • Yemane Johar

      Singapo, you got the talent! please come and join us at alewuna alewuna ( where artist like you post their work) on face book or you can post it on your wall that way you can tag all your friends on face book. Once you post your poem, it is easy for other people (who enjoy reading poetry)to access and enjoying it. Keep it up brother!

      • Mr. Yemane Johar,
        Thank you for noting,about the limited talent I have .And although I am not computer savvy ,I would be honored tio join,and as sometimes I go far in my outrage due to what is happenning to the people I truly love, I could aquire artistic guidence/advice.

        Thank you ,I will arrange it before the weekend.
        Thanks again.

        • Yemane Johar

          Singapo, thank you for considering it! Your poem about your cat and the dogs is hilarious and yet vividly depicts the reality on the ground. I liked it so much that i copied and pasted (Sorry with out your permission) it on EYSC’s face book page and over 20 people liked it! and the over 14 comments are also equally encouraging. Please add me as a friend on face book. we need sharp shooters like you brother. keep in touch Thank you!

          • Yemane Johar
            I am old school ,not facebook generation ,I have sent /solicited your friendship .the name on the facebook is hmam—-,I will send you few satires .

            Thank you for your encouragement.

  • Forum editor’s note: thank you for taking note, as a courtesy, we will let this one go.

    “ዕሸላዊን ዘሕንኽን ናይ ቆለውዕ ዓጀውጀው ዝበዝሖ ግጥሚ”

    ትማል ደዊለ ንገጅረት ገዛውትና
    ቴሌፎን ኣልዒላቶ ሮዚና ድሙና
    ዘረባ ከይጀመረት ብኽያት ብብኽያት ኮይና
    እንታይ´ዩ ጸገምኪ ከመይ ኣሎ ከልብና ፧
    ኢለ እንተሓተትክዋ፣ መመሊሳ ቆዚማ !!!!
    ንቦቢ ከልብና፣ ካብ ኣሜሪካ ዝመጸት ኣንስተይቲ ከልቢ
    CALIFORNIA ክትወስዶ ዝመጽእ ዘሎ ዓርቢ
    ጉዳይ ኣሳሊጣትሉ፣ ጉቦ እናሃበት ንንእሽቶይ ንዓቢ
    መንእሰይ ኮብሊሉ ስለ ዝራሕርሖ ዕርዲ
    ህግደፍ ጀሚሩ ደማሙ ከናዲ
    ተራ በጺሕዋ ከተገልግል ብግዲ
    ሳዋ ክትከይድ ወዲኣ መገዲ
    እዚ እዩ ዘብከያ ተገላቢጦሽ ፍርዲ
    ድሙን፣ …ድሙ – ድሙን መሊኦማ ዓዲ
    እዋኑ ናይ ኣኽላባትዩ ,ሮዚና ከም ሰብኪ ስገዲ !!!!!
    Why am I multi-talented ? Intelligence brings headache ,Ignorance is a bliss !!!

  • Forum editor’s note: please don’t put comments unrelated to the article or to comments on it.
    “ሃገር ድዩ CASINO ?”
    በዚ ኮነ በቲ ኣጕህይዋ ንእኖ !!!
    ንብዓትኪ ኣይትሓብሲ፣ ማህጸንኪ ዝወለደ
    ኩነታት ኣይቅየርን´ዩ እንተዘይገደደ
    ኣይትጽልእኒ ስለ ዝደጓርኩሕልኪ ኣግሂደ
    ተጸቢኺ ፣ ብተቓወምቲ ሕኔኺ ክፍደ
    ማይ ኣይትሕቆኒ ፣ ብእኒ ጨበል ዕደ
    ንተ.ሓ.ኤ ዘይጠቐሙ ውድቦም ስድር ዘይከደ
    ክትዖም ዘይውዳእ ዘየሕብር ብሓደ
    ዋላ ህግደፍ ፈራሪሱ ንቃጣር እንተኸደ
    ስልጣኑ ዝዓጅቦ ካብ መልኦ ዲያስፖራ ደገ
    መከራኺ ዘይርኣዮ፣ ፈታው-ነብሱ ጁባ ዘራጎደ
    ሕንፍሽፍሽ ክፍጠር ይኽእልዩ ልቢ ስለ ዘይተዋሃሃደ
    ገበን ክበዝሕዩ፣ ስርዓት ጠፊኡ ምስ ተኻሓሓደ
    ቀለብ ኣልቦ,ገንዘብ ኤርትራ ንባንክ ቻይና ስለ ዝተሰደ
    ሓቀኛ ሃገራዊ ዕርቂ፣እንተዘይተጌሩ ጊዜ ከይወሰደ
    ትምኒተይ ኣይኮነን ግን ኣሎ ብዙሕ ዝተኣጕደ
    ሓይጣትኪ ዝብኢ ኣይበልዖን ኤርትራዊት ኣደ !!!!!
    እህህ ክትብሊ ሓምሳ ዓመት ክኾኖ
    ናይ ሸፋቱ ውድብ፣ ንወድኺ ንሞት ዝኾኖኖ
    እቲ ንእሽተይ ወጻኢ ከይዱ ከይሰደልኪ ዘጠራቐሞ
    ኣብ ድፋዕ ከም ጊላ እናሸቀሉ ኣእሪጎሞ
    እታ ሓንቲ ጓልኪ ኮሮኔላት ድንግልንኣ ብሓይሊ ኣፍሪሶሞ
    ብደም ፍረታት-ከርስኺ ህግደፍ ክጥዕሞ
    ንሶም ዝረብሑሉ፣ መብዛሕትኡ ሳንቲም ዝሓረሞ
    ሃገር ኢሎም መስሪቶም ዓቢ መጣልዒ CASINO !!!!

    • rastaman

      SINGAPO-ERITREAN, What a title, what a poem! sad but true. SAL, YOU ARE GIFTED AND A GIFT TO YOUR READERS.

    • Kokhob Selam

      As I have said earlier you are gifted and please think of even presenting a book.

  • Kibrom T.

    Mr. Younis,

    You were right about the warning and I should haved heeded. Even to mention Isaias and the President of the United States President Obama in the same sentence is nothing short of an abomination. You are a much better person than that Mr. Younis! I am an Eritrean American.

  • Dear reader:

    If you have to read this article, please do not read it on the screen. Instead print it with your favorite font ,sit and then read it. I don’t have to tell you but you will re-read it too. I was almost tempted to say devour in the place of read, because that was what I did. What a splendid job!

    Dear Sal:
    What is the “secret” ingredients you possess that makes everything you write glow and shine? Did I also forgot to say magnetic?


    • b’Alti Arwe W’qatto (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


      Back in my college years, a good friend of mine used to refer Sal as Honore de Balzac of Eritrea and I still call him Eritrean version Voltaire. One can’t help but wonder if English was his first language. He sure is one of a kind.

      • kaddis

        Dear writer –
        What I appreciate about most Ertirean writers is your article’s relevance to your people and country while you live abroad. I learn about Eritrea, and much of Ethiopia, from you; while Ethiopian writers abroad are wasting our time with illusions. However we have few young ones writing in-country – my favourite – the writer of a book called Piassa ( sold 9 editions & going strong). Those who reads Amharic – try it. I just wanted to give back something: while reading your great articles for free –)))

        • b’Alti Arwe W’qatto (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


          As much as Amharic is an incredibly beautiful language, I really suck at it. But of course, will check the book out next time I go to Addis. Or will have to look for it in DC (18th Street).

          I would say, Eritrean literature was arrested for about twenty years when Dergue was in power where one finds hardly a book or two reflective of the Eritrean political agony either in a novel form or a historical novel. Our reflection was confined to an inward reaction where it imploded in the mountains and terrains of Sahil.

          In the mean time however, Amharic flourished with in that frame of time in literature, drama and music as well. If I could throw a literary jargon, it is called Neo-Realism where a huge collection of literary work reflects on a certain era where the general theme either in cinema or literature is based on a protracted war like experience or political upheaval and turmoil.

          And as one could imagine, twenty years after independence, we are still wrestling to come to terms with our past and apprehensive about our future as we gush out our torment either in a blogosphere or in a sprouting dissenting books where historical novels by Saleh Johar, Dr. Berekhet Habtesellasie and Semere Hebtemariam come to mind.

      • sara

        sister w’qatto,
        nice of you to grace Mr salih with your “one of a kind” stuff, indeed he is, his writing knack but what brought Voltaire here, and as an Eritrean version…
        i never thought a cinema critic… or food critic even politico pundit or critic will some how be considered “Voltaire” may be a V.HUGO.

        • b’Alti Arwe W’qatto (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

          Halewlew aytbeli.

          • sara

            sister w’qatto,
            halewlew aynebel would be more understandable, it is mutual
            otherwise you could say what you want hiding with/by your w’qatto. … …. Voltaire?

      • Dear sister:

        As much as I adore Balzac (I read “The old Goriot” twice and my favorite bistro is called Balzac Cafe), I think Sal is a bundle. As the saying goes “Good things come in three” :


        1. Sal is our “Gogol” ( who would not enjoy “The dead souls” even though my favorite is “The diary of a mad man”)

        2. Sal is our Leo Tolstoy ( Is ” Ana Karenina” an art work or a novel. Even the caustic Dostoyevski called it the work of art)

        3. Sal is our Dostoyevsky- the lover of human soul (The brothers Karamasov my ultimate favorite book)

        If not the three, then he is our Franz Kafka!!

        • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

          Aklilu hawey,

          I couldn’t agree more. Well put.

        • sara

          ato aklilu, i am wondering if you will agree with most Eritreans who see ”KUBUR PRESIDENT afewerki ” as Mr Washington is to the Americans.

          • Dear Sara Habtey:

            First I apologize for the delay to answer your question.

            The only similarity between George Washington and Nsu is they both “owned/own” slaves. I do not have to elaborate this fact and I hope you know what I mean. Otherwise, George Washington was not a dictator while Nsu is.

            The other fact is, Nsu is not an ordinary (run-of-the-mill) dictator. He is a unique dictator.

            Every “unique” dictator is remembered in his own unique nature, even though their similarity out number their differences. They are similar in their brutality and disdain towards humanity etc…

            In the case of Nsu, I believe he will be remembered by his abhorence to education and hatred towards educated people.


    • Kokhob Selam

      I think his stand for truth is making him more bright. and comes the knowlege including the style of presenting the article. we the ordinary ones are learning a lot from you in Awate. I wish every Eritrean read those articles.

    • Aklilu,

      Sal seem to have a photographic memory. Sal defies what psychologists use to tell us, and that is ” maturity and memory goes inversely proportional to each other with age.” What by that mean is, with the incremental of age maturity increase and memory decrease….as we go older our memory goes down hill. So what I believe the “secret ingredient” is his short and long memory is intact and goes proportionally with his maturity as oppose to the general rule of science. It is amazing gift. But to his readers, let me also give you another secret, if you find difficult to follow, the last two paragraphs are the best take home message. It always hold the truth if you check it. Sal Thank you. This has the best message to those who are in the opposition camp.

      • You said it right Brother Amanuel. You are also a magnificient thinker and writer. I admire you a lot.