Ali Salim is not just a person – it’s a political pulse of a nervous, restless and concerned community – it is a voice of a community that’s worried about the uncertainty of its fair share in Eritrean politics – it is a fundamental question of what is there for me, worry – it is a symptom of confusion, fear, mistrust and skepticism – it is a desperate voice for change. It is also a political trend – Power Ambition of those who want to cash-in from Fear of the Other Faith.
The issues that Ali Salim is raising are real issues that need real solutions. You don’t need Ali Salim’s wisdom to see the pain and suffering of our people. I mean: the breaking of families, the land issue, rejection of the right to return, the practices of ethnic inequality and injustice, the exodus and suffering of the young, the fear and punishment of the believers, the absence of freedom of expression, the absence of political pluralism, the confrontational policy…..are all issues our people from all walks of life are grieving daily. When Ali Salim shows his anger and frustration at the current government, I perfectly understand and I wouldn’t have any problem standing by his side to express my anger and frustration. If Ali Salim belongs to any political organization that he feels comfortable with and if he is fighting along his organization to win and govern Eritrea one day, power to him and his organization, him and his organization has every right to lead our country like anybody else provided they have political platform that benefits Eritreans of all colors and stripes.
But there is something peculiar about Ali Salim that makes him unique among many. His anger is not directed at the regime like the rest of us. He is angry at the whole ethnic Tigrigna community. He is not keeping his faith to himself like the rest of us. He is obsessed with religion and ethnicity to the extreme. On his “God given entitlement of Muslim land” grievance, all Eritrean Muslims are welcomed anywhere in Eritrea to settle and till the land and make ends-meet except Tigrigna Christians. He is calling exclusively on Muslims, to rise-up, organize and fight the regime in Asmara. Why only Muslims you ask: I guess we all Tigrignas are guilty by association. But I know one thing for sure, out of all the opposition organizations there is only one organization that he is proud of: the Tadamun organization. Therefore, one can assume, he is a loyal cadre of Tadamun.
This brings us to a fundamental question: Why is Ali Salim the way he is? Where is the offensive odor of Ali Salim coming from? Is he the way he is because he is the way he is: a controversial blogger or he is the way he is because Tadamun is rotten from the head and he is just being a loyal foot solder? That is the million dollar question that will be unveiled with time.
Bumper Sticker #10: Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way
I’m not alien to the pain and suffering of my Muslim brothers. I understand the issues and concerns they are raising. I perfectly see the pain, the grief, the frustration, the anguish and alienation they are feeling. I’m as frustrated as any Muslim could be. I don’t know about you but I see the same thing on the other side of the isle as well. But listen: anger, rage, labeling, threatening, war mongering, counting mistakes and misdeeds… is not an alternative idea. It is not a vision. It doesn’t help solving our fundamental problems. Calling on Muslims and Lowlanders is not going to ease the pain and suffering of Muslims. It is not going to help our refugees to return home. It will only complicate things. If you want to make a positive difference in our people’s lives Muslims and Christians alike, if you want to separate yourself from the pack, you have to come-up with the best idea you’ve got and challenge us all. Tell us how the pie should be sliced. Show us the road to the promise land. Lead us through, all the twists and turns and we will be your loyal followers. If you don’t have what it takes to lead, then somebody is going to lead you, somebody is going to decide what is good for you. Then you don’t have a choice but to follow the leaders of change or to stand against the leaders of change. Take your pick.
In my humble opinion, you are not helping “your cause” or “your people”. You are complicating things by injecting fear and advocating isolation (calling to Muslims only). The issues that you’re grieving about are not Muslims and Lowlanders issues. They are Eritrean issues that need Eritrean solution. We are neighbors, friends, coworkers, in laws, lovers, employers and employees. You can’t call on people of certain religion or ethnic and leave others. Even if you believe these are problems that affect only Muslims, the solution must come by the goodwill and effort of all ethnics and faiths. When it comes to change that affect our lives in a big way, we all are stakeholders and we are not going to sit idle while the tide of change is thundering our way. There is only one way out, from this predicament: We have to blend ourselves into political parties and organizations that are colorblind to ethnics and faiths but also that will fight for our rights and interests. Engaging and power sharing is the name of the game. Anything else is a waste of time and energy.
Bumper Sticker #11: Calling On “ Muslims And Lowlanders”…Is Not A Winning Strategy
Your analysis that whatever combination of alliances of socio-political forces is picked, Muslims and Lowlanders are destined to lose and no matter how hard they might try by the barrel or by the ballot there is no way they can override Tigrigna Supremacy in Eritrea is the most brilliant and most candid conclusion that every intelligent Eritrean should take for granted. Ironically and as a matter of pure coincidence, it is the central argument that we have been trying to make to our fellow Muslims and Lowlanders (Thank you for helping). By Ali Salim – Dec 16, 2009
Please explain to me what “winning of Muslims and Lowlanders” means? When do Muslims and Lowlanders win and when do they lose? When do we consider Muslims as powerful? If Muslims and Lowlanders lose don’t we all lose? If Muslims and Lowlanders win don’t we all win? If every ethnic group gets its fair share isn’t that a win for all? In the Ali Salims opinion I think not. Let me be very clear to you, we don’t want Muslims to win, we don’t want Christians to win, we don’t want certain ethnic or ethnics to win. What we want is, Eritrean people to win represented by political parties and organizations that look like Eritrea. And the Islamists can’t deliver that. Blend and engage is the only venue to the promise land and the Islamists can’t blend themselves with other faiths and engage otherwise they won’t be Islamists, would they?
As far as “any combination of Muslim alliance forces” against Tigrigna Christians is concerned, I’m going to stick to my guns. I said it before and I’ll say it a million times again, no matter how hard you try, in the name of Islam, you can’t unite all eight ethnics to gang-up against Tigrigna ethnic group and govern. You just can’t do it. The main reasons again:
Reason #1 The Naras (baryas) and Kunamas don’t have a dog on this fight. They are not in the business of chasing power. They are busy trying to keep their head above water. They are desperately trying to survive. They are in the brink of extinction in front of our very eyes. Please don’t try to drag them in to this muddying.
Reason #2 The Afars are in their own world at the outermost shell of the orbit away from the center of gravity, they are not into the Western Lowlanders power play business.
Reason #3 The lives of the Jebertis and Sahos is intertwined and interwoven with the lives of ethnic Tigrigna so deep, it is not even worth a try to untangle the centuries old web.
Reason #4 Islam-Phobic Ethiopia, the Shemal government in Sudan and Western countries will never support Western Lowland Islamists to control the Red Sea. Expecting The Sudanese Government to support Western Lowland Islamists to come to power is tantamount to Turkish Government supporting Iraqi Kurdish to have independent Kurdistan. If the Sudanese government does support Eritrean Western Lowlanders to control power, they will destabilize their whole Eastern Region. Of course Ethiopia, Sudan and the West for that matter won’t mind to use you as leverage during bargaining with Eritrean government but that’s about it. And I can go on and on and on with all the odds against you but what is the point.
Listen now, I don’t want anybody to put words in my mouth or construed my argument the wrong way. I don’t have any problem if anyone of my Muslim brothers is leading our country. I want every smart Eritrean child who dreams to be future president of Eritrea to be able to become a president. We all ethnics and faiths must trust each other, blend and work as a team organized under a political party or organization. We have to be sensitive but colorblind to our ethnics and faiths. Trust me I can’t say it enough, engaging and power sharing is the only venue. We have to blend with each other, engage, agree on every ethnic’s fare share, create transparent democratic government, outline tangible benchmarks to measure our social, political and economic progress and move on with our lives.
If you believe in a democratic society like I do, people don’t win or lose in a ballot box, political parties and political organizations do. People don’t fight at random, people fight represented by political parties and organizations. Christians don’t govern, Muslims don’t govern, Hamassien don’t govern, Barka don’t govern, ethnics don’t govern, political parties and organizations do. If a political party or a political organization fails to win, it has no body to blame but itself. ELF went from a lone dominant organization to a weak and vulnerable organization which couldn’t defend itself and finally it got defeated. Who do you blame? Christians? EPLF? TPLF? Who? If PFDJ falls down tomorrow who do we blame? Muslims? African Union? Security Council? Ethiopia? Uganda? Who? I believe nobody but its leaders. External forces can only exploit internal weaknesses.
Any political party or organization that doesn’t look like Eritrea or doesn’t work for the interest of all Eritreans can’t win the hearts and minds of all Eritreans. If it can’t win the hearts and minds of all Eritreans, it can’t win or govern. If the Ali Salims choose to create an Islamic organization or an Islamic political party that reflects the image of Muslims only, that is their prerogative. And if there are Eritreans who want to invest with sweat, blood, soul, treasure and hope on the Ali Salims recycled old politics of “us Vs them”, “Muslims Vs Christians”, “Highlanders Vs Lowlanders” that’s fine, let them try, but it is not a winning strategy. Divisive politics, ballot box or not ballot box, it never worked before, it’s not working now and it will never work in the future. Why would anybody invest on a polarizing recycled old idea that is proven to be a failure?
As far as Tigrigna supremacy is concerned, we don’t want any ethnic supremacy, be Tigrigna or non-Tigrigna over any other ethnics or faiths. What we want is pluralistic democratic governance in which the rule of the majority is honored and the full right of minorities to be fairly represented and prosper is guaranteed under the law. Meaning everybody gets its faire share of the pie. If one ethnic group gets more than its fare share, there will be a grieving another ethnic group that has lost its faire share which makes Eritrea unstable. In peace time distribution of wealth, resources and services should reflect to the population of our regional and ethnic proportion. But it is not just the spoils of peace time the bigger ethnics and regions enjoy. Also in war time service to defend the country should reflect the same proportion. If Tigrigna Christians are 50% of the population, 50% of the fallen and maimed heroes should be Tigrigna Christians. And the rule of the majority is making the Ali Salims very uneasy. Let’s listen:
Semere Tesfai makes the following points:
In democracies, majorities should rule. In Eritrea the Tigrinya Christians are the majority. Too bad that this majority status was achieved by pursuing policies that emptied out Eritrea of it’s Moslem citizens during the liberation struggle and by the policies of I. Afeworq which banned the return of refugees to their land and by giving away their land, in their absence. Last edited by Vertical : 12-11-2009 at 05:01 PM.
If the problem is the rule of the majority in a democratic society you’ve every right to disagree. If you believe honoring the majority to govern is not good for Eritrea, present an alternative system of governance and challenge us all. But please explain to me, how on heaven and earth can you have a free, fair, transparent, democratic election in which every vote counts and still majority rule is not possible. Let’s face it the majority will have it their way. I can’t see any possible way in which the majority will vote against their interest unless of course the vote was rigged which is precursor for violence.
Mind you, I don’t want to send wrong signal here, when I say vote of the majority, I’m not talking about majority voting sponsored by coercive government in which one ethnic group is able legally to impose its will on other ethnic groups by using the available free vote. Competing political parties that look like Eritrea and tamed government that is accountable to the people is a necessary condition in order Eritreans to have confidence in the voting system of their government. To give you an example, in the city of St. Louis (where I live) there are about one hundred Eritrean families (or Eritrean origin) in which about 10% are Muslims. It would be absolutely unfair and grave mistake if the 90% Christians tried to impose their will on their 10% Muslim brothers by using solely the majority vote they have. If they do, it’s no brainer Muslims will desert the Community in no time. For the same reason, it will be a mistake if the 10% Muslims demand to dominate and run the community. In a democratic society, where the government is tamed and multi-party competition is in full swing, the political leaders spearheading their parties are more important to the political parties than they are to the people. But the Ali Salims are not buying it. Let’s listen:
Semere Teafai is telling the lowlanders and the Moslems that they can never be leaders because having minorities govern is a recipe for instability. His message is: whether you like it or not, Tigrinya Christians are destined to govern in Eritrea for now and ever. In 30 page of writing, he had made Ali Salim’s point, namely, that Eritrea after I. Afework will be no better than Eritrea during I. Afeworq. Ali Salim has been invited to respond. If I was Ali, I would just quote what Semere wrote and ask: why exactly should Moslems fight to replace I Afeworq if his replacement will pursue his policies of land plundering, Tigrinya as official language, and a permanent status as minorities who have to apologize for their religious beliefs? Last edited by Vertical : 12-11-2009 at 05:01 PM.
First: I want to assure the Ali Salims all Christian Tigrignas don’t look, think, talk, walk, behave, act, believe….like Isayas Afewerki. As far as political leaders are concerned, choosing leaders is not the public’s business. In a democratic society leaders are selected, groomed, advertised and marketed by party bosses and party members. The political leaders who are competing for power are smart, charismatic and seasoned politicians who have great conviction to implement their party’s vision. Therefore one can argue political leaders are nothing but War Generals who are leading an army of political party loyalists that are fighting with everything they have to conquer the hearts and minds of their people. Trust me, to maximize their vote-count and to broaden their base, party bosses will work hard day and night in order their party to have all the colors and stripes they can think of. Smart voters don’t vote based on a political leader’s religion, ethnicity or region, they cast their vote based on issues and party’s platform.
Second: it is not just vote count only, the tool we will have in Eritrean democratic system of governance. We will have toolbox full of tools. On top of voting, we can design and custom build a government that fits exclusively to us Eritreans. It is called checks and balances or divided government. Out of a million ideas, let me throw you some ideas how divided government in Eritrea could look like: We can have two Houses one that looks like our ethnic make-up and one that looks like our regional population, president’s ministers that look like Eritrea which are confirmed by the two houses, Independent Courts that are approved by national and local branches of governments, veto power for Tigres, veto power for Tigrignas and veto power for the other seven ethnic caucuses. With a little icing of free media, public and private institutions, civic societies, trade unions and professional organizations……we can have a government we can live with. Divided government is messy and slow process known for its grid-lock but since every law has to pass all the scrutiny of divided government, most people will agree it’s better than the alternative.
As to how Tigrigna majority was achieved: if you are confident “Tigrigna majority was achieved by purging Muslims from their ancestral land”, instead of calling exclusively on to Muslims and Lowlanders, why don’t you make return of refugees your central demand? Of course Muslim majority is different than ethnic majority except in the eyes of the Islamists, but if you believe because of their religion, The Jebertis of Asmara, Mendefera and Adi-QuAla, The Sahos of SenAfe, Adi-Keih and Segeneiti, The Tigres of Mensura, Nakfa and Hirgigo, the Hidarebs of Hawashait, the Naras of Mogoraib and Mogolo, the Kunamas of Barentu and Binbina, the Afars of TiO, Marsa-Fatma and Beylul will vote the same way every time, power to them, let them have it their way. Nobody is afraid of Muslim majority provided everybody’s right is protected and the pie is sliced and distributed fairly. So, if we all Muslims and Christians can agree on 100% right to return of all our refugees, which will put us on equal-political playing-field or another words, if Muslim majority can be achieved peacefully, why are you calling only Muslims and Lowlanders to carry arms against the PFDJ regime? Wouldn’t it be easier and smarter if Muslims and Christians stood-up for the right of return and change in government? Something is fishy in the Ali Salims argument. But that is not the only argument that smells fish, let’s listen:
According to a certain Semere Tesfai…. power is the domain to which only the ethnic Tigrignas are entitled. According to him, the Tigrignas constitute 50% of the Eritrean population, therefore their inherent right to rule the country is fully justified. The other 50% of the population, the so-called minorities, should kill their ambitions for power, lest they want to drag the nation into yet more bloodshed. And by the way, no one dare ask how 50% could be a minority, or a majority for that matter – wela t’nfer tiel’ya (typical hgdef logic). Also, the so-called minorities are not allowed to form a block either, lest they create a grid-lock or an impasse in the parliament of a future Tigrigna-ruled “democratic” Ertra. By Mohammed Ahmed – Jan 02, 2010
So, tell me Mohammed, if the nation is dragged into bloodshed, do you blame the majority who are demanding their right to govern honored or the minority or minorities who are demanding to dominate and govern the nation? What were you implying when you said “the so-called minorities, should kill their ambitions for power, lest they want to drag the nation into yet more bloodshed”? Isn’t it the right thing to do if we distribute power, wealth and services equally to our ethnic and regional proportion? Well, in your opinion I guess not.
As to Muslims right to form a block, they can form a party, a block or an organization any time. They can unite all any time of the day. Who is stopping them? No body, yes no body. They are not united the way you (the Ali Salims) wanted them to because religion is not a uniting factor. Always, yes always people rally around their ethnic and regional interest not around their religious affiliation. Today, after three decades of opposition there are about half a dozen Muslim dominated organizations, probably each with its own flag. Who do you blame? PFDJ? Christians? Get real. Please Mohammed, don’t try to tell me Tigrigna Christians won’t allow Muslim ethnics to form their own block. Please stop bringing your “curtailing the freedom of association of all non-Tigrigna ethnic groups. (kei bel’Unas fah kiblu’lewom” lame excuse.
Bumper Sticker #12: Don’t Even Try To….. Re-invent the Wheel
To short-circuit Tigrigna majority-rule and obsessed with religion and ethnicity, Christian-phobic Ali Salim is trying to make us believe, we can shelf National Unity until we agree on anything and everything. And if we don’t, he says hell with Eritrea. He argues:
“Semere Tesfai’s formula tells us that we, Lowlanders and Muslims, should take National Unity as a sacred and non-negotiable constant and let everything else that matters be determined by the free interaction of politicians (primarily disguised ethnic politics dominated by absolute “Tigrigna majority”). By Ali Salim – Dec 16, 2009
According to Ali Salim the most important thing “is not national unity but the freedom of the people; and national unity is a negotiated result. The only aspect of our nationhood that may be determined through any form of negotiated political processes of “ethnic democrats” is our National Unity, not our right to own our ancestral land and not our right to practice personal hygiene in washrooms” By Ali Salim – Dec 16, 2009
Listen kiddo (NBE), don’t even try to re-invent the wheel. The wheel is fine. The wheel is the most ingenious human engineering ever. Does the wheel have operational flaws that need perfection? Absolutely, but not design problem. Even if you improve it, it will always be a wheel not a square, not a triangle, not ellipse just a wheel. National unity is no different. Does it have operational flaws that need perfection? Yes, always forever and ever but it doesn’t need re-invention.
Should we take national unity as a “sacred and non-negotiable principle”? Absolutely. Can it be misused and abused? I say yes every time. But still it is better than the alternative. You can present statistics of hundreds of thousands of automobile related deaths each year and argue automobile production and sale should be banned. You can present the immoral, unethical and obscene uses of modern TV that is decaying our moral values and argue the production and sale of TVs to be outlawed, but that is not going to happen. Why? Because the benefit outweighs the risk and National unity is no different. Even in the United States, a country that prides for liberty of its citizens, civil liberty organizations were crying foul after September 11. Did it change anything? None, nada, zilch, goose egg, fat O. Do you get it? Let me tell you some of the reasons why we defend National Unity above and beyond everything else:
Reason #1. National unity is the Alpha and Omega of our existence. It is the beginning and the ending of us. National Unity is the minimum threshold required for our existence as a nation and as a people. Eritrean nationality is the least common denominator we have as a people. Being an Eritrean is the lowest common bonding we have. If you remove Eritrea from the equation, we are nothing but perfect strangers. In the absence of Eritrea, we won’t have any common bonding that will keep us together – we won’t have anything in common to sit and talk, we won’t have common stake to glue us together. We all don’t share the same faith – we all don’t have the same culture – we all don’t share the same interest. How in the world are we going to communicate and reach consensus when we don’t even speak the same language and don’t agree to have common language? In some countries (like United States) citizens of a nation could even be different races (Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Orientals….). Absent of national unity we don’t know each other. We are just strangers.
Reason #2. Ali Salim argues national unity comes after we agree on “every conceivable Orwellian concern including land, settlements, refugees, language, and prayer times for Muslims and anything you might want to add.” By Ali Salim – Dec 16,
This is utterly nonsense. Even if we sit down to resolve our differences, there is no such thing as consensus of all ethnics and faiths. People don’t agree on everything. People will never have consensus in a million years. That is why we agree to disagree and move on. That’s way we advocate multi-party system. That’s why we vote and abide by the majority vote count. Listen: after thirty years of fighting against Ethiopian occupation, we succeeded in having a sovereign nation with its territorial integrity but after thirty years of opposition we are unable to unite the Islamists and Jihadists who are supposed to have the least political difference among them. Imagine if we had decided to resolve every Orwellian difference we had before we started our armed struggle where we would be today. Think about it.
I admit there is one exception to the rule. Someone wise might ask what if you don’t have any allegiance to the nation: to Eritrea in this case? We did it before. We said to Ethiopia we don’t give a damn about your Ethiopian unity. If the Ali Salims don’t have any allegiance to the unity of Eritrea, don’t they have a point? No they don’t. They are not going nowhere, they are here to stay. I heard Ali Salim saying it many times in the past. He has said time and again Eritrean unity is not his main concern. But don’t believe him, that’s just hot air, that’s his usual empty rhetoric. Also you can read in some Opposition Organization websites, phrases like Regional Autonomy and Self Determination up to Secession. That is also a bluff.
It is not my business to comment on Ethiopian politics but I think our leaders in the opposition are impressed by the snake-charmers of Ethiopia. And they are taking it very seriously: ethnic politics that is. A snake-charmer can sit on the ground relaxed with his two legs crossed – the daredevil snake charmer can play his pipe while the snake is between his legs half foot away from his you know what – the snake-charmer can dazzle the eyes and baffle the brains of his audience. But make no mistake, the snake is not tamed, the snake will always be a deadly snake and the danger will always be there, it is just a matter of time before the snake strikes. Ethiopian ethnic politics is no different, but at least when the Ethiopian snake-charmers introduced their ethnic based regional autonomy, they have regional ethnic majority to prove it. Each and every one of their regions has 90% or better ethnic purity.
Now tell me: in our Eritrean politics, I understand when everybody is fighting for his/her ethnic rights but how could you fight for Regional Autonomy when you don’t even have ethnic majority in the region that you are trying to raise your flag? How could you demand self-determination up to secession when you can’t even draw your territory? When we said we don’t give a damn about your national unity to Ethiopia, we knew exactly what we were talking about. We had our map and ethnic majority to prove it. Like it or not, we Eritreans are melted together on this pot for good. We better get along and resolve our differences in a civilized way, unless of course the Ali Salims are going to shock us with map of their prospective nation soon to be a sovereign UN member.
Bumper Sticker # 13: We Don’t Need Any “Change”…..What We Need Is ‘Change That Makes Us All Winners’
Now fasten your seat belt. Trust me you will need it. Do you really want change, if you do what kind? Do you want to reform the current government or you want to kill the flesh, blood, soul and life-support of the current government? To cut to the chase, the Ali Salims are not interested to reform the current government or constitution. They are not opposition parties or opposition organizations. They are not fighting for equal rights. They are fighting to dominate and govern. They are against Tigrigna majority in Eritrean government. Government with Tigrigna majority is not acceptable to them. Unless ethnic Tigrigna accepts defeat and live dominated as minority in the government, they are hell-bent to fight and defeat ethnic Tigrigna as a whole: militarily that is. Got it? Let me tell you why:
If PFDJ regime is “Tigrigna supremacists” regime that has to be defeated militarily and if all the “Tigrigna Opposition Organizations” and the Tigrigna elites are “Tigrigna supremacists who differ with the PFDJ only on issues of efficiency, political expediency and regional (awrajawi) competition in administering the Project of Land Grabbers and Exclusionists” Then, “The Tigrigna organizations”, “The Tigrigna elite” and “The Tigrigna regime” are all one and the same “Tigrigna supremacists and Bigots” that have to be defeated militarily. And it makes sense why the Ali Salims call them the “PFDJ Franchises” and it makes sense why they are calling only on Muslims to rise-up, organize, arm and defeat the current “Tigrigna supremacists” regime. So, you don’t need a crystal ball to see the fate of the “Tigrigna opposition organizations”, “the Tigrigna elite” and their “sympathizers” after the PFDJ regime is defeated militarily. If they have it their way, the Ali Salims game plan is to defeat them all, just one at a time. Listen to Ali Salem:
ADP EPP and EPM. This grouping consists of predominantly “Tigrigna membership and their non-Tigrigna allies” to borrow a modified terminology of Sheikh Hamid Turki, concerned with issues that are an exclusive priority only to the Tigrigna elite most of whom see nothing wrong in the regime other than “the one single man at the top”. The….. Tigrigna supremacists who differ with the PFDJ only on issues of efficiency, political expediency and regional (awrajawi) competition in administering the Project of Land Grabbers and Exclusionists; By Ali Salim – Nov 27, 2009
In the eyes of the Ali Salims, all of the “Opposition Franchises” are one and the same as the Parent Company: PFDJ that is. In their opinion, for a gazelle at the Serengeti Plain who is running for her life, when a predator is within five feet off her tail charging and closing in, it wouldn’t matter an iota whether the predator is a lion, a hyena, a leopard, a cheetah or godzilla. The end result is the same. And to the Tigrigna-Phobic Ali Salims who see every Tigrigna as a predator, the only difference between Isayas Afewerki and any Tigrigna leader in the opposition or outside the opposition is just the mustache.
Therefore one can say with absolute certainty, the Ali Salims plan is not to defeat the PFDJ regime but to defeat ethnic Tigrigna as a whole. Eritrea could have a chain of government changes after the PFDJ government and still the Ali Salims will never stop fighting if Tigrigna are the majority in the government. Yes you heard me right. They are not after this regime per se. They are after irreversible power and control of Muslims in Eritrean politics. Listen to Ali Salim for yourself:
A decisive step taken by the new trends of the Resistance (Islamist organizations) towards this end has been the dropping of the traditional naïve target of the “downfall of the dictatorial regime” as the destination target. Ali Salim, Sep. 19, 2009
To the Ali Salims their success is achieved only after:
#1. Eritrean Muslims are empowered by defeating militarily the EPFDJ regime, its Tigrigna opposition franchises, Tigrigna elite and their grassroots.
#2. Boxing of all Christian Tigrignas in the three regions of Kebesa is complete or as Ali Salim put it ”when every Land Grabber and Exclusionist (Tigrigna Christian) is chased out of the proximity of God given Muslim land”. Salim – Jan 22, 2010
#3. When the whole infrastructure and networks of PFDJ its Tigrigna Franchises and their Tigrigna elites are purged out of existence or simply when the De-Tigrignanization project is completed successfully. Let’s listen to Ali Salim:
Failure to recognize the fact that the PFDJ is a real entity with blood, flesh…… in the Eritrean political arena and that the twenty years in power did produce a whole set of institutionalized interest groups, power centers and believers in its philosophy and methodology towards the Eritrean political discourse. One reality that we shall never evade is that, unless regime change comes through an Iraqi style invasion by a superpower (radical change) that has the capacity to implement effective “de-Ba’athification” (de-Tigrignanization) and to purge (chased out) the “Fedayeen Saddam” (Isayas or Tigrigna infrastructure) out of existence, the well entrenched remnants of the PFDJ will continue to be the most important actors in Eritrean politics for a long time to come. By Ali Salim – Nov 27, 2009
#4. Arabic as a national language will be icing on the cake. They will love to have it but I don’t think they will sweat for it. As Ali Salim put it:
Other than the need to create an impenetrable defensive barrier (against Land Grabbers), an absolute political necessity, Eritrean Lowlanders (and Muslims) have no other credible motivation to resist Tigrigna, the de facto language of the marketplace, from serving as the natural medium of communication for the nation (Eritrea). By Ali Salim – Sep 20, 2009
When you are determined to defeat your enemy through armed violence, there are some ground works you need to do. You’ve to vilify and demonize your enemy to a point where there is no sympathy left for him. Remember words and phrases like The Nazis, Amharai, Alqaida, Taliban, Yehud (Jew), Dergi, yes those kinds of negative connotations are essential for success and the Ali Salims are doing just that as their daily ritual. Listen to this: ethnic Tigrigna Supremacists, ethnic Tigrigna domination, sneaking Tigrigna thieves, ethnic Tigrigna Bigots, Tigrignanization project of Eritrea, PFDJ fascist, Tigrignas ethnic hegemony, Tigrigna thugs and thieves, PFDJ franchises, Tigrigna thieves and exclusionists, Tigrigna Land Grabbers, Tigrigna ethnic agenda, occupied territories, Muslims of Gaza Strip and West Bank, ZerE Shefatu, Tigrignas Israel style Land Grabbing, Tigrigna Settlers….. Why all this labeling and demonizing of ethnic Tigrignas? Well, in order to fight, kill, defeat and evict Tigrigna Christians the Ali Salims have to implant in every Muslim mind hate and fear of Tigrigna Christians. They are trying to convince Eritrean Muslims, fighting Tigrigna Christians is absolute necessity for survival.
To accomplish their objective, the Ali Salims has to polarize Eritrean people by labeling PFDJ mistakes as whole ethnic Tigrigna Christians conspired crime, defeat the PFDJ regime and its “Tigrigna franchises” Empower Eritrean Muslims and show Tigrigna Christians how it feels to be on the receiving end of the stick. Just listen for yourself:
Tigrigna supremacists have tried the stick on us for the last twenty years and we tried the carrot on them for the last fifty years. Neither of them has worked mainly for our reluctance to entertain the possibility that it might all depend on the cultural context within which the transaction takes place. Now tell me, does it hurt to exchange the tools and try them for a couple of years and see if they work this time? By Ali Salim – Dec 16, 2009
Ali, let me make few comments on your short phrase:
#1. You don’t have to think hard for the obvious. After thirty bloody years of war, without a doubt every sane Eritrean knows how it feels to be on the receiving end of the stick. And we have deep scars to prove it. Up to a million refugees, probably over hundred thousand fallen heroes, tens of thousands handicapped veterans that will be a challenge for Eritrea for the next half century, tens of thousands orphans and widows that are scared for life and much, much, much more. Please don’t waste your time pondering if Tigrigna Christians would ever understand the pain of the stick.
#2. Rest assured I don’t have any problem if Eritrea is led by a Muslim or Muslims (not Islamic fundamentalists and Jihadists). They deserve to lead their country and their people like anybody else. I had Muslim leaders and superiors that I had and still have great respect and admiration for their leadership, honesty and integrity. I don’t know if it surprises you but I’ve close contact with some of my former Muslim superiors to this day. So please don’t assume Christians won’t accept their Muslim brothers as their leaders.
#3. If the stick of Muslims and Lowlanders to their Tigrigna brothers, for couple of years was the fundamental solution, I would have said yes every time. And I would have been extremely happy to be on the receiving end of it. But it is not. It will only make us winners and losers. It will only polarize the two faiths. It will only make today’s sore losers to be tomorrow’s angry opposition warriors. Sooner or later, they will get the stick back and before we know it, we will be back at square one again. In case you don’t know, EPFDJ’s single biggest mistake was and still is their failure to engage. They divided Eritrea into winners and losers and look what happened. That’s way I don’t want to play your game: the game of religion and stick, the game of winners and losers, the game of purging people who disagree with you.
Finally: don’t get me wrong, we all need change, change is long overdue. We Eritreans are so desperate for change I’ve seen some of my Eritreans applauding the UN for slapping sanction on our Eritrea. We are so desperate for change I’ve seen some of my Eritreans applauding Eritrean on Eritrean killing as a positive progress: 2010 New Year’s skirmish that is. There is no dispute about the need for change, but we have difference of opinion on the method and end-result of the change that we’re craving for. The Ali Salims have declared a war of zero sum game: every Tigrignas gain as Muslims loss and every Tigrignas loss as Muslims gain that is. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I beg to differ. We all can be winners. War of zero sum game doesn’t work for Eritrea or anybody for that matter. If you are demanding change of direction like I do, I truly believe there is only one way to do it right. And I believe this is the only way:
If we are going to have a change that we are proud of, if we are going to have a change that makes us all winners, if we are going to have a change that invites everyone of our citizens to come home: yes everyone, the dead from the grave, the frail, the middle aged, the children and the young warriors, I truly believe there is one and only one venue to pursue. We’ve to believe and live by the principle of absolute immunity for all. Yes, immunity that protects all leaders, rank and file and grassroots of all political denominations, yes including Isayas Afewerki and the PFDJ. You don’t believe on the principle of immunity for deserving reasons, you believe in it to cut your losses and move on. And there is no better time than this time.
If the South Africans can reconcile and prosper together after generations of apartheid, if the Hutus and Tutsis can reconcile and choose to live blended side by side, if the Chileans can reconcile and move on after General Augusto Pinochet rule of terror, there is no reason why we couldn’t do it. Ours is piece of cake. Anything short of full immunity will make us winners and losers which is precursor for a cycle of violence. The only change Eritrea needs is a change that makes everybody a winner and anything less would be unacceptable. I challenge each and every political organization to put its signature publicly for or against absolute political immunity for all. I don’t know about you but I don’t care who said what, I’m not going to take no for an answer.