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January 21: A Closer Look

It’s much bigger than we thought.

The events of January 21st, the takeover of Eritrea’s Ministry of Information by members of Eritrea’s military for twelve hours, cannot be understood properly unless one has been following Eritrea’s exiled opposition media for the preceding 3-4 months.  These include the Paltalk rooms in Europe that cater to Eritrean exiles; the France-based Radio Erena, the UK-based; the US-based, the Ethiopia-based Wegahta radio, the globally dispersed Eritrean social media (facebook, twitter, etc) and of course,  All of us have been saying that the Eritrean regime is giving signs that the beginning of its end is near.  Since’s server is down, we refer you to an October 12, 2012 Gedab News article, now housed at Indepth Africa, with the title “Is This The Beginning Of The End For The Eritrean Regime?” 

The Eritrean opposition media describe a nation which is emptying out its youth at the rate of 3,000 a month; a nation which either stands by quietly or benefits financially from the inhumane and savage treatment of its youth in Egypt’s Sinai as they are being raped, killed and their organs harvested; a nation where even senior officials and elite pilots and elite athletes no longer see any hope for reform and are leaving in droves; a nation facing dire economic challenges where basic necessities are available only via contraband; a nation whose infrastructure is crumbling apart; a nation which is the subject of sanction and global isolation; a pariah nation where power is getting even more increasingly centralized in the office of the increasingly paranoid president.

Seeing from this context, whether one calls the January 21 incident an act of frustration, a coup d’etat attempt, a mutiny is irrelevant.  What is more important is that some people finally said “Enough!” and laid bare the ugliness of the Isaias Afwerki regime for the whole world to see. It was specially sweet that the only media in the world–Eri-TV– that was trying to deny the truth was forced to tell the truth.   And given the global press coverage: mission accomplished.  Isaias Afwerki’s twenty one year campaign to show that he is beloved by his people, that whatever “opposition” (opposition always in scare quotes) he faces is external was demolished in 12 hours by brave Eritrean soldiers.

But the details are important because, if nothing else, truth is its own reward.  So, below, we will try to stitch together what we know while we realize there are still many important and unanswered questions.

January 21

On Monday, January 21, the employees of Eritrea’s Ministry of Information (MoI) at Forto (hill top in Asmara) were disturbed by an unusual commotion inside the building.  Our initial report was that there were nearly 100 soldiers in the building but subsequent reports indicate that, counting the soldiers surrounding the perimeter, the number was about 200.  There was no attempt made to limit the movement or activities of the employees inside: none of their properties were confiscated, no threats were made to them, nor where they asked to do (or refrain from doing) anything.  (Remember that when the regime accuses the young soldiers of “terrorism.”) They went about doing their job–and, incidentally, the source for our initial reports was precisely because they were not hindered from emailing, messaging or making/receiving phone calls.

Those who spoke to them described them as young soldiers who are frustrated with their quality of life and their bosses inability to bring about meaningful change and cause for hope in Eritrea.  Now, this is standard language made by almost every Eritrean and there is nothing unique about it.  In the course of their conversations–where are you from? Where are you based? Which division do you belong to?–the name of Colonel Saleh Osman was raised by different soldiers.

While complaining about life–and conscription without end–is not unusual, what happened next is unusual: the soldiers (or those in charge of the soldiers) ordered the director of Eritrean Television, Asmelash,to read out their demands.  Their demands are the same demands made by almost every Eritrean (including, reluctantly and meekly, by those who support the regime of Isaias Afwerki): end to the unannounced rule by martial law.  Free political prisoners, implement the constitution… before the newscaster could read the entire demand, the broadcast was interrupted and a “color bar” appeared.

How was the broadcast interrupted and why were the soldiers not even aware of it?  Eri-TV has a terrestrial broadcast (Channel 2, which can be seen via aerials/antennas) and two satellites (ArabSat.) Eri-TV begins normal broadcasting at 12:30 pm.   The controls for the satellite broadcasting are within (and only within) the Ministry of Information.  The controls for the terrestrial broadcast are at the MoI and the transmitter is at Biet Giorgis.  So, the switch was turned off either at the MoI or by an alert technician at Biet Giorgis.  The “rebels” may not have been aware of this since the broadcast would appear at the monitors of the studio, something that could have been easily rectified by placing contacts in the city who could have reported whether the broadcast is airing.

There have been tweets from Eritreans in Asmara saying “what coup? what disturbance?” Assuming that these are legitimate questions from ordinary Eritreans (and not Eritrean regime plants), it is entirely possible that many Eritreans were completely unaware of the demands that were aired, however briefly, by the Eritrean soldiers demanding change.  What is also true is that enough Eritreans were, particularly in the retail business community, who, anticipating trouble, closed their business and went home.

The 200 soldiers were well-armed and possessed artillery and, reportedly, tanks.  An informed source whom we asked to verify this information questioned the presence of tanks: “if you believe your own prior reports about the dire straits Eritrea is in, and you should, you will know that fuel is such a scarce commodity that no tank would be authorized to move, full stop.”  But enough eyewitnesses who went to the MoI when the broadcast was made and were waved off by the soldiers guarding the building say that they saw the presence of tanks and anti-aircraft artillery.

This begs the question: is the Ministry of Information, ordinarily, guarded?  The answer appears to be that it used to be in the early 2000s but it no longer is.

The next question is: who are the soldiers and where did they come from?  When the name of Colonel Saleh Osman was floated, we (and others) implausibly mentioned Assab and quickly retracted it.  This is because Colonel Saleh Osman made his name defending Assab in Ethiopia’s offensive at the Burre front.  The legend was verified by Saleh Osman himself when Eritrean state media was briefly controlled by the now-disappeared Beraki Habteselasse (part of the G-15) that he and other officers (including Hadish Ephrem) took a stand to defend Assab despite orders from their superiors to withdraw.  When the Isaias Afwerki hardliners were accusing the G-15 of “panic and defeatism”, the G-15 replied that it was not them who gave the order to withdraw from Assab, a clear dig at Isaias Afwerki’s disastrous leadership of the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia.  In any event, subsequent reports said that Saleh Osman was actually stationed in Serejaka, then Kushet.  The confusion is understandable since Isaias Afwerki is constantly rotating military officers and ministers to ensure that they are not at one position long enough to establish a power base.

The latest word is that the soldiers came from the Tsorona front.  A further clarification:  the central command (CentCom) for the Southern Red Sea Zone (Assab) front is in Mai Edaga, near Dekemhare (in the South Zone.)  And so, the report that Saleh Osman was last seen in the Dekemhare/Adi Keyh (in the South Zone) area is plausible, particularly if he wants to take a “last stand.”

Meanwhile, at the President’s office, a meeting was held to discuss how to deal with the uprising.  The typical attendants of such a meeting are Abraha Kassa (“wedi Kassa”), Simon Gebredengel (the chief and deputy, respectively, of  national security) Tesfaldet, Halibay, and the two Yemanes (Yemane “Charlie” Gebremeskel and Yemene “monkey” Gebremariam)–all from the President’s Office.  The typical approach is ad hoc: there is never a contingency plan.  The typical solution is: do we destroy them now, or do we destroy them later? That is, should we take forceful action now, or should we take forceful action later.  The third option–should we listen to them? Should we bargain? Should we negotiate?–is never considered.   The decision arrived at was: let’s destroy them later.  For now, let’s send a mediator to buy time.  It is our understanding that the mediator was General Omar Teweel.  Presumably, this is because he is the military commander of the area that the rebels came from–South Zone (Zoba Debub.)

Negotiations went on for hours.  Meanwhile, the government took security measure to secure government buildings including banks and the foreign ministry office.  The negotiations didn’t amount to anything: how could they because General Omar Teweel is not in a position to meet the demands of the rebels.

At some point, as the large contingency of soldiers outside the Ministry of Information drew attention, some individuals and officers took the initiative just to go there.  Two of them (one is “Wedi Mokye”, the other is not named for now) drew weapons and there was a brief fire fight.  Both were wounded; Wedi Mokye survived, the other died from his injuries later.

Driving their Land Rover, the leaders of the uprising made an exit or were given safe passage.  It is not clear how they left, but it wouldn’t be hard given the location of the MoI.   The soldiers, who had been at the Ministry from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, now leaderless, were taken under the custody of government soldiers.  All Ministry of Information employees were released and sent home.

January 22 – January 23

The waves of arrest began.

On Tuesday morning,  the regime arrested Abdella Jaber and Amanuel “Hanjema” Haile. Abdella Jaber is the Director of Organizational Affairs for the ruling party, the PFDJ, and a member of its Executive Committee. (The party hasn’t had an organizational congress since 1994 and the youth franchise of the party, Y-PFDJ, actually reports not to him but to Yemane “monkey” Gebreab, who is the Director of Political Affairs of PFDJ and a “presidential advisor.”) Amanuel “Hanjema” Haile was the political commissar in Division 96 in the “Southern Red Sea” Front, when it was under the command of Samuel “China” Haile. He, too, had been “frozen” lately.

On Wednesday, at noon, dozens of soldiers and plainclothes security officers surrounded the residence of Mustafa Nurhussein, arrested him, and he was taken to an undisclosed position. Mustafa Nurhussein is the regional administrator (governor) of the South Zone. South Zone is sometimes known by the local word for South: Debub. (Historically, and until the redistricting and renaming of 1996 this area, was known by its two component parts: Akeleguzay and Seraye.) Mustafa Nurhussein is often seen hosting Isaias Afwerki when he is making “inspection tours” of the South Zone and was, until recently, reputed to have close friendship with the president. On January 18, Mustafa Nurhussein had attended a “regional administrators” meeting chaired by President Isaias Afwerki.

Also on Wednesday, Eritrea’s former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Osman Jem’ee Idris (as well other government representatives to other embassies–whose names may be disclosed in future publication) were taken to prison or placed under house arrest.

There are rumors of other arrests–including that of a minister–but so far we have no confirmation.   One name we have heard of is Lemma Hailemariam.   He was once the deputy administrator of the Anseba Zone.  He has been “frozen” since 1998.

The Land Rover that the leaders of the uprising were driving was found abandoned in the “South Zone” (place unspecified) and the leaders are supposed to have continued their journey on foot from there.  They have not been heard of since.

January 21 Reconsidered

The arrest of Abdella Jaber and Mustafa Nurhussein may be completely unrelated to the January 21 incident.  While the arrest of Mustafa Nurhussein is surprising (given his reputedly close relationship with Isaias Afwerki), the arrest of Abdella Jaber is not: he had, of late, been complaining bitterly and publicly about the poor and unjust leadership of Isaias Afwerki.

As for the rest, there seems to be some common thread.  The names that have been mentioned so far–Amanuel “Hanjema” Haile, Saleh Osman, Hadish Ephrem all served in the Assab front during the Eritrea-Ethiopia border war and had (1) distinguished careers and (2) were serving in capacities far inferior to their capacities.  “Wedi Ali” and “Wedi Suleiman” (both division leaders), reportedly leading the January 21 occupation of MoI,  are linked to Saleh Osman.  Lemma Hailemariam–a famous name to ELF veterans because he represented the EPLF when the organization, accusing the ELF of obsessing over premature trivial border issues, signed over Badme to the TPLF in the 1980s–holds one of the longest records for being “frozen.”

It is inaccurate to refer to the January 21 incident as a “mutiny” because the soldiers were not demanding that there be a change in leadership.  It is also inaccurate to refer to it as coup because they were not asking for a change of government. You can’t do any of those things with 200 soldiers.  It appears that the goal of the soldiers who took over Forto was to initiate a popular uprising.  The goal was to publicize the grievances of the people  via the only sanctioned media–state media–and to embolden them to rise up against the system and to demand changes.  Given the utter frustration of the Eritrean people, it would have worked.  The people are ready–as is clear by the frequency and boldness of the people’s grievances.  However, their inability to have total control of the entire broadcasting system and to have representatives inside the city to monitor the broadcast and to encourage the uprising short cut the process.

The most convincing argument for this analysis is the reaction of the Eritrean government.  They have, in a panic, resorted to the only playbook they have whenever faced by a real threat–they used it against “Menkae”, “Yemeen”, “G-15” and every opposition to their rule: it is always a foreign agenda, an Islamist agenda, or a sub-national agenda.  The apologists of the regime have already begun the defamation process.  This shows that they have no interest in doing anything other than tightening things even further, which will only increase the pressure felt, and the reaction, by the Eritrean people.  This is why we said, and we continue to say, that January 21 is a prologue and not an epilogue.  And one simple evidence for this is the decision by liberty activists in the Eritrean Diaspora to show their solidarity with Forto 2013.  It will not stop.
inform. inspire. embolden. reconcile.




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  • abdu

    It is nice to see Eritreans all over the world discussing the event on the 21 of jan. In Asmara. However to me the ******* is still in Asmara and non of what you all losers say is relevant. Our people still suffering and will continue to suffer for as long as this ******* is in power.

  • yegermal

    That is exactly what I thought. It seems there is a cultural factor that drives the lowlanders to say “NO” to occupation or oppression during the entire post-WWII Eritrean history including the more recent post-independence period. Something to think about….

  • Eritrea First


    The 100-200 soldiers didn’t know the plan. The people who knew were their commanders. This tells that it was not a popular uprising but a conspiracy. If all the soldiers knew about plan and agreed to it,they could have fought or tried to run. Therefore, there is no need to exaggerate the event. If you are doing, it is simply a day dream based on your naive wishes.

  • !Hatati

    UpdateS, Updates People! Chop chop! you are lagging behind! Do I have to do your job for you?!

    Ethiopian opposition, the Tigrayan People’s Democratic Movement armed forces deployed in Asmara.

    That is a big one and you missed it! No! I didn’t mistake ‘demhit’ fighters for EDF members. I tell you this news is ‘werqi’! No free labor used to get it either!

  • eritrea first

    The 100-200 did know the plan. The people who knew the plan their commanders. This tells that it was not a popular uprising but a conspiracy. If all the soldiers knew about plan and agreed to it, it could have fought or tried to run. Therefore, there is no need to exaggerate the event. If you are doing, it simply a day dream based on your naive wishes.

  • Serray


    Like many of you I am happy about the MoI takeover but it bothers me that whenever shaebia take action, they always leave the dummy in charge. This is G-15 all over again. I heard the first reaction of the regime was to send tanks to protect isaias. Rendering that option useless should have been the aim of the people in charge of the MoI take over.

    As good as it is seen the pfdj goons panic for a couple of days, any action that depends on demanding something from the dictator is doomed to fail. Isaias has killed so many people, abused many others that asking him to implement a constitution or release prisoners is like asking him to sentence himself to death. With free society comes accountability. Notwithstanding the let us forgive the past and be bygones be bygones crowd, there are many people who want isaias’s head.

    Whether we like it or not, eritrea’s freedom starts with isaias’s head. The first thing, the very first thing, that should happen to affect a change in eritrea is to get hold of isaias; then the revolution to change will begin in ernest. Eritrea has now a privileged class who will not give up perks willingly. With him out, the hope is they will panic and go after each other.

    This is a false start number two; let us hope the third time is a charm. Isaias and his goons are helping; they have closed all relief valves making an explosion inevitable. The goons in diaspora are funny; after chewing their nails for a couple of days, they are all over the place relieving themselves: admitting and denying the same incident happened.

  • ONE MORE THING abaout the report by AWATE at the MINISTRY INFORMATION IN FORTO AWATE report it as demand by the solders to brodcast the realise of prisnors but you dont need 200 hundred solders & tanks to go to FORTO to force THE MINSTRY INFORMATION to brod cast the news meybe 3 or 4 people with guns will do that

  • what iam trying to ask AWATE is how come BBC report it it even say that ISAIAS IS under arrest so whay is AWATE keep saying the solders
    where ther to force the MINISTRY INFORMATION to brodgast the realise of the prisnors if that so how come no one hear it to me AWATE was playing game if the sige works AWATE will say we know all abaout this but when it find out that thing didnot work out it report different that the ather websites like ASSENA & ASMARINO

  • Cacciatore

    I must say though, the way Awate initially reported the events of 21 January, it sounded like a mockumentary comedy film that Borat would star in. He leaves his barracks in Assab and takes some soldiers with him to deliver a letter to the Ministry of Information. At the Ministry of Information he meets some pretty TV women, hangs out with some interns, including the daughter of the President, gets their autograph, forgets why he came and goes back to his barracks.

    Borat: Cultural Learnings of Eri-TV For Make Benefit of Glorious Nation of Tigray.

    • !Hatati

      That is one Borat movie I would pay to see!….Hey Wait a minute! I am already watching the movie….it comes in episodes…….update 1, update 2, a closer look 1, a closer look 2 (may be), the mother of all updates and closer looks……….

  • !Hatati

    The truth of what has happened is a bitter pill to swallow for By now the Awate staff has by its own endeavors learned the truth but will not admit it. Contrary to its earlier reports this was not and uprising of the “deeply dissatisfied young soldiers” that they tried to make it out to be. In fact the young ‘warsay’ was not aware of any plans for anything let alone and uprising or a coup. If this were a case of “200” soldiers on a mission to make their grievances known or to effect a coup, one would think they would be mentally ready for some kind of confrontation. Again, by awate staff’s own accounts, there were shots fired but it was not a firefight involving the “200”. The two hundred (the actual number is probably a third of that) had taken themselves out of the equation once they realized what is going on.

    The only thing awate staff should do at this point is that prepare itself to apologize to its readers.

  • belay

    No matter what,give Gedeb News and Awate website their hard earned credit.I think they have the potential to challenge and scare Mr Isayas Afeworki.(Golden mouth of Eritrea)

  • AZ

    Guys! Specially those of you who live in diaspora, do you agree there is something wrong in Eritrea? If not why do not you comeback to Eritrea and live happily ever after! If yes please support the revolution in anyway you can.


    Hey Obama,
    I know both of us grew with a single mother .Well, you like the poor ,I detest them .Both of us lead gullible and emotional people.I am a dictator ,you are kind of.
    Well, let me get to my real message ,You know ,how the Islamists in Ethiopia ,Mali ,Nigeria & libya are expanding and you are giving attention to them. Well we had the same here.THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BEING ,I STAGED THE INCIDENT/TERRORIST AGENDA ..WELL, THAT SHOULD NOT MATTER ,IT IS KIND OF WMD & IRAK..wink,wink.SO WE REALLY ARE HAVING IMAGINARY TERRORISTS HERE IN, DO NOT PLAN TO OVERTHRIOW ME .IF NOT YOU HAVE HEARD THE NAMES OSMAN,ALI,JABER,MOHHAMAD…..ETC
    Could you please send me some food stamps for my soldiers….
    Your nothing,
    President for life
    Isaias Afewerki

  • Ben

    Dear Awate:
    Your analysis or reflection on your own emotionally driven report is not setting the record straight but back tracking on the information you deciminated deliberately to agrandazie the incident and profit from the gullabulity of western media who would scoppe information without laboring to confirm them. I have to give awate credit for its “creative” reportage and it also profited tremdnously from the spread of the news in cyper world. So the main dividend of the incident at FORTO was earned in western media and it also instiated the renewed need for change among Eritreans regardless tehir political stripes.But, AWATE is now back tracking on its misinformation capaign surrounding the incident in the ope that it wouldn’t loose its credibility. The damage control is a smart move but the damage is already done and hope awate learned its leasons. Awate attempted to portary the image that it has inisde information even it went further to leave the impression that it was part and parcel of the movement when it rushed to mention the leaders of the movement and so on….now awate exposing itself that it is as much in the dark as anyone else about events surrounding the incident!

  • Cacciatore

    For what it’s worth, Awate is being cited by the international media as a news source on Eritrea. For your sake and Eritrea’s sake, please do it right and do due diligence when reporting something.

    As for the events that happened on 21 January, Dan Connell and his cohorts admit in the video below that they “over-interpreted” what had happened. In other words, they were talking out of their “where the sun don’t shine” as usual.

    No one ever made the demand that the Lion of Nakfa step down.

    Below is the link for the video.

  • ihave to tell somthing interesting AWATE is keep reapiting that what happen in the MINISTRY INFORMATION IN FOROT ASMRA is not acoup but some oppositon members where dancing because by BBC & CNN it reported as acoup but when they find out things geting bad & their wish did not come true they rush to tell ALJEZZIRA to reoport that the atemt was the solders to force ASMELASH to brodcast the realse of prisinors so what iam try to ask AWATE ASSENA ASMARINO whay did BBC & CNN report acoup so it is what happen the opposition was promising to their supportes that evry thing is ok they promise to give them ISAIAS AFWERKIS head & they get the green light FROM THEIR SUPPORTERS what is more funny is some of those opposition members olredy buy tickets to go to eritrea iwas driving by thir room who make ammeting it was dansing & joying for only 15 minitus

  • PEOPLE are asking whay is the solders didnot know what is going on well the only one who know was the one who get s hoot in his ass or leg the reason didnot work is the opposition get presure by their supporters telling them they cannot wait long so they give then an option ether try a COUP or yoy are not geting your HANDOUT SO the oppsition dont have achoise they have to rush wit out aplan because the opposition are giving their supporters apropoganda telling them EVRY YUNG BOYS & GIRLS are living the caountry so the military dont have someny to fight the only left is old people women & children if the frist bullet is fired nobady is diffending ISAIAS so the people like MR MARTIN PLAUT & DANCONEL think ok well if you gays start ACOUP evry one is going to difeided the people will demonstrate in the street so we can get easy acses so this was in plan for almost 3 or 4 years find some sellout in side the millitary you promise them good live IN UK OR USA what thos jornalist like MR MARTIN PLAUT who never put his foot in ERITREA are bying this let me give you the people who are giving them this propoganda 1 AMANUELE EYASU 2 SALEM KIDANE 3 ELSA SHIRUM this are the people who have contact with MR MARTIN & DANCONEL

    • Gedab News


      “Setting foot in Eritrea” is not as good a criteria as “being committed to telling the truth.” If proximity (being in Eritrea) was the most important qualifier, then Thomas Mountain would be the most reliable source of information for Eritrea. Dan Connell, Martin Plaut are people with credibility because they have earned it over years/decades of reporting on Eritrea and, more importantly, they have connections in Eritrea–not the least of which being the diplomatic mission in Asmara.


      • Cacciatore

        Dan Connell talks about how he was talking out of his “where the sun don’t shine” in this video on Huff Post. Here is the link.

      • well MR MARTIN get his information from some sellout eritreans you say THOMAS MAOUNTAIN you are right he is in eritrea he sees evry thing so there is adiffence for MR DANCONEL yes he was in gedli as jornalist but he dont see what happen after the 1991 EXEPT TRAVLING TO SHIMELBA meet the refiuges in there so those people get their information from some anti gov people whay dont they travel to ERITREA like those ather jornalist FROM THE SWIDSH JORNALIST who interviw ISAIAS BUT YOU have to know somthing MR MARTING WORKS FOR BBC so the only report he report is lie & propoganda

    • MEHRETU HABTE aka Yugoslavo Eritrean

      I QUOTE TESFALDET………” think ok well if you “gays” start ACOUP evry one is going to difeided the people will demonstrate in the street so …..etc” End Of Quote…

      Brother Tesfaldet ,
      This is not a “gay” or straight issue, the only political gays are the ones following our president.- While I admire you in a gross way ,trying to introduce the same sex issue ,I do not think we are there ,yet.It is just a friendly advice…so that you do not misunderstand the issue at hand.

      • yegermal

        that was hilarious!

  • nobody knows the power of SHABIA this garbege OPPOSITION where dancing when they hear the news & their SUPPORTERS UK & USA report it is a coup BBC even say ISAIAS is under arrest but what those idiots didnot know is in ERITREA the gov & the people are one HADE HIZBI HADE LIBI so if MR MARTIN PLAUT & DANCONEL are thinking to see like LIBYA EGYPT SRIYA they are deariming LONG LIVE WEDI AFOM AWET NIHAFASH

  • belay

    The rule in politics is Trust no body.

  • !Hatati

    The alleged involvement of a certain Salih Osman is nothing but another extrapolation that has been stretched to its limits. The only evidence that has been provided to prove his involvement is that the “soldiers in their chats with the emplyees of MOI referred to the units they came from as those commanded by Salih Osman”. This doesn’t prove he was involved. In fact, for all we know he might even have been the target of their “grievances against their corrupt superiors” that has been referred in some of your reports.

  • Abdu

    In my opinion i wouldn’t say this was a coup attempt or mutiny, I can say it is a continuation of the poplar uprising against dictators and I am sure this will close the dark chapter of Eritrea that lasted over 2 decades!!

  • Abdu

    Good job Awate, any way, as you mentioned this is the beginning of the end, and we should have participation!!

  • Kibrenegest

    At this time when the world is convinced to believe that this is the beginning of the end of the Asmara regime, it is frightening to see that, the would be successors, the Awates and likes, are still using the ‘toxic lie’ that has been used by DIA for the last two decades to hold the country and its people in siege . I can’t understand why the Awate people still lie about the Ethiopian forces wanting to control Assab, but failing because of the heroic action of a colonel?, unless to try to make a hero out of an ordinary officer for the sake of grooming the next leader of the Armed forces. Can’t you people understand that it is not in the policy of the Ethiopian government to capture Assab, by force? Looking the role played by Awate in this time of ‘second revolution’, it is safe to assume that the Awates will be important political actors in the post Isayas Eritrea, if not the Information ministers inheriting a family ‘bussines’. But how can they be different in their treatment of the Eritrean people, given their deep rooted hatred to a neighboring country Ethiopia, and their unblushing dare to lie about every thing to make Ethiopia look bad to Eritreans. I personally feel the days of DIA are numbered, but all that will follow is DIA 2, but an Islamic version. I also think that Awate is contributing towards the labeling of January 21 incident as an ‘islamic terrorism’ by bringing list of Islam individuals who Awate wants us to believe that they have been directly or indirectly related to the incident.

    • Bini

      Kibrnegest, either you are stupid or moron! Ethiopia will look bad to Eritrea as long as you and your cousins wont stop looking to Asab! Your name says everything- dreaming of ” mereta enji hizba ayasfeligenm”. If you are trying to light a seed of hatred between Cristians and moslims of Eritrea, you failed. Because when it comes to a foreign invation we stick together and die together for our country Eritrea. It is now a fashion if a moslim is a challenge to the truth, he/she is a terrorist.

  • rastaman

    Long live!

    If the incident was staged by DIA, the reason could be to abort a potential cue d’eta, which DIA might have suspected because of his paranoia, or had gotten a real information of a real one. The incident could have been ‘created’ as a spoiler. He has so many reasons for him to suspect. All the reports he has been getting had not been rosy. Unfortunately for DIA , the incident shall ignite any potential or new uprising to uproot his regime.

    • rastaman

      If there is any risk of any religious extremism in Eritrea, it would be as a result of DIA’s legacy. He is the one that single-handedly, make deals with Iran and Israel and support Al-Shebab. They sure are not the ‘Oppositions’ that are a threat. Most oppositions try to get their help from Ethiopia who would have no interest in expanding any kind of extremism.

  • Gentlemen,

    Close, but no cigar. Of course, no one can claim to know everything that transpired during those faithful days last week. Most of the stories we hear are multi-sourced. Even Gedab News was compelled to admit that parts of earlier reports could not be corroborated and had to retract them.

    Now, here is what I know. The soldiers where duped and taken in by their leaders. They had no prior knowledge of an assignment or mission, let alone of a takeover of the MoI. The soldiers were told to get ready and as soldiers who follow orders, they did. When they got to FORTO, they were given orders to camp on the grounds of the MoI while their leaders went inside. No orders whatsoever were given to secure the place, cordon off the premises or confiscate cell phones. They were roaming around and freely conversing and having tea with whoever was in their vicinity until they heard gun shots. Why embark on such a mission without the requisite legwork to understand how the TV station works and who does what in the facility, you might ask. The only plausible explanation…………stupidity and recklessness. What will future would-be “initiators of popular uprising” learn from this fiasco? Will they learn a lesson or two from the failed attempt itself or from the way the regime responded to the incident? We have yet to discuss the issue of “coordination” or lack thereof and the extent of PIA’s grip on power. .

    One other important and pleasing tidbit…………..”Hangema” was never arrested!!!

    • Gedab News

      Amare T:

      You are the third person who has questioned our report that Hanjema is arrested. We are re-interviewing our sources and if our information is incorrect, we will correct it and apologize to our readers. (Part of the confusion is that there are so many people with similar names, nicknames, etc. For example, there are at least three “wedi mokye”…)

      We are not too far apart on the role of the 200 soldiers. You call it they were “duped and taken in” and we would say they were ordered, which is what a soldier does. In much the same way that soldiers serving the Isaias regime are “duped and taken in” to round up, arrest, imprison their own brothers and sisters but, interestingly, the “duped and taken in” is reserved only for those who resist the Isaias regime and not those following his orders. In a country full to the rim with spies, the engineers of the uprising would have been crazy to consult with 200 soldiers what exactly they are doing and why they are doing it in advance, don’t you think so Amare?



        AWATE STAFF;
        I highly respect that you are extremely careful not to compromise the integrity of the website, and what you did here is present the news as it was presented to you & you said you have no way of confirming. i deduced my bipolaric analysis because you present it without spinning the news.Thank you. That is why i had to use my Short wave 2 channel to sophisticoanalyze it .
        1) The 200 or so soldiers did not ask for Isaias´ s resignation, that they know people had no love for .I do not believe they asked for anything.
        2) A seasoned war hero Col: Osman Saleh decided to send 200 soldiers ,basically to visit Enda Zena..I FIND THIS AN INSULT TO COL. OSMAN
        3) It is a calculated game to throw attention at the Americans ,not little farts ,us the people. PFDJ / ISAIAS knows that nobody believes Eritrean moslems want this “Islamic State crap”.
        If the message was really intended to the people,the message would have been..”MenkaEE..meanning Akele Guzai were behind this, not that they would do it ,but ,it would have some element of truth for the people to be dupped by such dirty regionalist game.
        That is my take on the issue ,and I am unannimous on it !!!!

      • yohannes

        HIWUK ZIBYI(hyena) KERNI YNEKIS ,you guys if you have been waited a little bit ,before you report it was better, now the way we are getting the report almost every thing is in contrary,now you are going on defence for what you reported,i hope you learned from this shamefull untrue report…

        • Bini

          “Shameful untrue report”? John wake up you are dreaming,

      • You are absolutely right. To “consult” with 200, or however many the soldiers were, is not only impractical but also exposes the mission to incalculable security landmines before it gets off the ground. As is the case in most coup attempts (we have yet to agree on a term to describe the incident at Forto), soldiers follow their superiors orders. Initially, keeping the soldiers in the dark as to the nature of the mission is paramount. I was trying to show the distinction between soldiers who are “in the know” and those “oblivious” of what was in store for them. My other point was to debunk the contention that on January 21st. the “brave Eritrean soldiers” played the role of “internal opposition.” Far from it. I would think the soldiers, considering their shared frustration with the general public, would be elated to have a role in an operation against the government. But the reality on the ground was different.

        Speaking of coordination, had the operation been one thoroughly thought out, with other like minded mid-level officers in other branches of the army and in different corners of the country been part of the movement, the outcome would have been different. An operation of this magnitude and significance with only a few circles of leaders coordinating it is easier to keep under wraps.

  • Senai

    If DIA and his monkey are saying that the January 21 incident is an islamic terrorist incident, then this is Nehnan Elamanan version 2.0

    This is an act to attract the christian people to his side as he did in the 1970’s, we will see how the Christians react to it

    • Bini

      Yes,that is what I suspected. The low landers have suffered during the Ethiopian occupation and still suffering now. they have been named “5y mesrie” and some of them were disappeared in the hands of “enda tsetita” or exiled. It is a pity that most christians, including me, believed issayas when he was rndomly arresting seb aKria. This is the right time highlanders and lowlanders to stick together. Forto 2013 mentioned so many moslim names and it will embolden fanatic christians in the army and among the people. As a result, even if it happens again the people of asmara will never raise against issayas because their first question woukd be ” who is leading the coup? Christian or lowlander?” This makes me sick! Ayte issayas is using the same book to kneel down eritreans once again.
      Ps. There was a tweet from saying if was playing religious manuever mentioning Salih Osman as a hero.

  • Sam

    What happened to u….thought PDFJ took out ur webiste somehow.


    PFDJ is using this to attract America ,………as Some Ethiopian Wahhabbi followers were creating “terrorist” havoc in ethiopia ,well the problem is regional ,ladies & gentlemen……so CIA should not plan Isaias’s overthrow …because what replaces him would likely be Moslem Terrorists, it was not aimed at us, little people ,we are a swmall fart…Isaias’s short wave may use Tembien Channel ..mine through my grandmother have SW2 Adwa & some tembien. He can only fool “pure Eritreans” ,not me.


    In my bipolaric analysis ,this has the appearance of set up ,I am having hard time believing it, not Awate.coms ,no i believe awate’s reporting. the soldiers go to enda zena ,they say they are “Osman Saleh’s ” then ,they do not know ,what is happenning, they do not use Elsa Isaias Afewerki as a bargainning chip.And then they are surrounded captured.Yes, that is what indeed happened.even the “revolutionary”soldiers did not know what was happenning ,that is why they were casually speaking to enda zena staff.
    I do not think even Col. Osman Saleh ,a experienced colonel knew what was happenning.Because, nobody planned the Coup/semi coup/revolution…..i think Wedi mokke was shot by design.
    this does not pass the Bipolaric smell test !!!
    I know ,I am only wiser & more brilliant than almost all of us &I am the only the Meles/Clibnton of eritrea.
    I do not believe this staged coup.

  • rodab

    The January 21 incident brought some unexpected developments. I have had many oberservations but some of them are these:

    1 – information came out within short period of time. This is the clearest indication that , thanks to technology, no one can prevent info leaks to the outside world in these times of facebook and twitter. Not anymore. Technology is truely anti-opressors. The degree to which the international press covered the movement was also encouraging.

    2 – the issue of political prisoners and the constitution is on the spotlight like never before. PIA and his associates may be able to apprehend the involved. But that is the easy part. Then comes the real task: answering the questions raised – because right now, unlike anytime before, the world and more importantly Eritreans inside and outside are staring at PIA’s every move.

    3 – has gotten, deservedly so, recognition amongst the international media. It has been dubbed “the authoritative”..Congrats! Your hard work has paid off. Unfortunately that recognition comes with hefty responsibility and you ought to pay attention to accuracy, not that you haven’t been doing that, when reporting news because now you know you will be frequently visited and quoted by major media outlets- allies of the voiceless.

    4 – add January 21st to the already crowded Eritrea’s dates of history. I believe Dimtsi hafash was established on January 1st. So now January is adding another historic day to its Eri_calendar.

    5 – lastly, something fascinating came to my mind. If or when (pick one) we have a change of leadership, would pro-government websites remain pro-government and oppostion websites opposition? The safe bet probably is status quo would continue – the way Ethio websites didn’t change after the death of Meles.

  • Teame

    “It is inaccurate to refer to the January 21 incident as a “mutiny” because the soldiers were not demanding that there be a change in leadership. It is also inaccurate to refer to it as coup because they were not asking for a change of government. You can’t do any of those things with 200 soldiers. It appears that the goal of the soldiers who took over Forto was to initiate a popular uprising. The goal was to publicize the grievances of the people via the only sanctioned media–state media–and to embolden them to rise up against the system and to demand changes. Given the utter frustration of the Eritrean people, it would have worked. The people are ready–as is clear by the frequency and boldness of the people’s grievances. However, their inability to have total control of the entire broadcasting system and to have representatives inside the city to monitor the broadcast and to encourage the uprising short cut the process.”
    Really? Are you insane. Were the soldiers and their leaders in the MOI building for prayers. Do you think it is a church or a mosque. Let’s use common sense guys.

  • !Hatati

    “At some point, as the large contingency of soldiers outside the Ministry of Information drew attention, some individuals and officers took the initiative just to go there. Two of them (one is “Wedi Mokye”, the other is not named for now) drew weapons and there was a brief fire fight. Both were wounded; Wedi Mokye survived, the other died from his injuries later.”

    Again this is the only part of your repetitive report that contains a sliver of new information and comes close to showing how the incident ended. The officers who took the initiative to confront the intruders had convinced most of those unwitting participants to come out but the “leaders” understandably refused, one killing himself, and the other captured after sustaining gunshot wounds. None of the “leaders” left in any kind of vehicle or otherwise. If you are talking about others that were not at the site, that is another matter. The other thing is neither Wedi Moke or any another officer sustained wounds or was killed. The rest just went back to where they came from because they were not in on the plan. This was not a “retreat to Serejeka” as one twitter claimed. They were taken back to their places of station.

    • Fevenn

      I can assure you Colonel Wedi Moke has sustained a heavy gunshot wound and is being treated at Orotta Hospital’s ICU.

  • tsorona

    My comment should have read 21st century and not the dark ages.

  • tsorona

    Awate team as usual superb analysis thumbs up to all please continue to educate the public. This is one of our darkest chapter in eritrean history, hopefully people will realize that this is the 21st and the dark ages, we all need to rise up above bigotry, prejudice, and tribalism if we’re to build a free and fair homeland.

    • Bini

      Amen Tserona arkey ember himak nifas ente nefisa ab Adinas himak eya kitwelid. Kabhji hasibnalu kintsenih alena. Lets define our differences and find a solution before ayte issayas meQBuru zifiHir!

  • Tesfa

    good summary
    The struggle goes on

  • yohannes

    the glorious revolution was torched by awate from lowlander,but now you guys, you are going to torch revolution from california, that is loughable,who is going to do the job, who is going to die ?you guys i dont think, you dont have guts even to put your feet in sudan, if you really care for eritrean people please go to FORTO your selves

    • Fana

      Yohannes, you will be disappeared together with Issais very soon

      • Manjus

        Are you threatening a fellow Eritrean? How low have we become as a people?

      • yohannes

        only on your dreams please go to forto if you have guts,ANCHWA AIMER, to make disappeaer some body you need guts,i feel sorry for some eritrean consider like you and your leaders like awate .com opposition groups,ABSEMAI ZELO DEMENA,just dream & pray some thing bad to happen in eritrea

        • Translate


          “…DEMENA”? From south of Mereb sounding like caring for Eritrea! The trajedy of Eritrea is never ending.

  • Papillon

    Dear Gedab News,

    It is great to ‘see’ you back. I always thought it would be “Joshua’s effect on the Sun” should Awate ceases even for few days and I felt some sort of emptiness to that effect for the last few days. Sure enough, what has happened is a watershed and a harbinger to an actual change where the “Era of Isaias” will be a time span that is going to be narrated as the darkest years the young nation had gone through where the end seemingly refused to come to a close. But at a peril of injecting a “regional” or “religious” streak to the conversation, I say, if the glorious revolution was torched by Awate from the lowlands, it sure takes another fearless lowlander to bring about the second revolution to dismantle the otherwise “formidable” Isaias’ regime. Forto 2013 is a must win.


    • yegermal

      I agree with your comment although I am not at liberty to add my own comments….so it appears.