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Setting The Stage

I don’t really know where to start. So much has happened in the last two years that I would be lying if I told you I have been following Eritrean politics the way I used to. Several friends have suggested different entry points including private disclosures. I do understand the pressures that my allegedly dubious and ghostly personality might have applied on my good friends in Awate – particularly on Brother SG. If that is Ok at least for now, I would request to skip on the personal stuff with an apology for the inconvenience. First: I am a private guy – I don’t really know so many people and I don’t care to know more – and that’s why I don’t feel compelled to share personal biographies with random readers. Second: In my opinion political debates are about issues – not persons – both of which constitute mutually exclusive actors in any political game. A specific rule of thumb for any engagement in Eritrean politics is to either hide the person and win on issues – or hide the issues and win on person. I chose the first. I am guessing some of “our usual suspects” might be thinking of the “hide the person” part too much and may be tempted to think that “disclosing the person” might equate to “losing on issues”. Not exactly! It is actually a one-way street: disclosure (paparazzi style) boosts the little guy on issues and destroys the big guy on both. Believe me it is true because it worked for me: out of nowhere, some people have already equated me to the great Saleh Gadi with decades of sophisticated intellectual and practical input in nearly all our debates.

But I think it is necessary to start with some kind of disclosure so that the readers, especially those that one tries to motivate into action, would at least have a clue as to what is it that any of us (writers) are trying to achieve and why we sometimes twist and turn stuff to fit what we think is good for the nation as a whole. To be honest with you – I have no idea. I would guess that in my case for instance I learned some of the techniques (old-fox tricks) including the disclosure one above from what I am sure many of you have read twice: “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky. I am mentioning this because partly, I would like to justify the subject of this article and my tendency to “Personalize” campaigns. Personalization, as you know, is a key rule proposed by Alinsky – so if you have any questions regarding any human being mentioned below, I will give you the publisher’s name in case you might have some recommendations for the next Alinsky to incorporate your reservations in the next publication which I promise to read and follow afterwards.

To get into the subject matter of this article with full transparency on the rules of the game: the intention is to set the stage where I think I have prepared myself to intervene. The target: the ENCDC. The purpose: to propose debate areas to liberate it from partisan bickering and get it going. The strategy: to negotiate or bulldoze obstacles out of its way. The tactic: whatever works to scare-off spoilers. The “method”: zoom-in on Dr. Yusuf Berhanu as the ultimate hope of leading this stage of the opposition by liberating him from himself and his former spoiler colleagues.

Well – you don’t think it will work? Who cares! We will just try another “method” or whatever works until it works. You only need to be clear on one thing. Do you want to prevent the re-emergence of the PFDJ ever again in any future Eritrea? Just focus on preventing the re-creation of the ELF (Jebha Abay) at the present. The PFDJ has already burned down all the boats of any possibilities of ever recreating itself again. It is Jebha Abay that you have to watch out for from reappearing again and recreating the whole cycle all over.

I tried to at least read something (and use the “invisible man” protocol – described below) before starting this blind game. First website-on: Farajat, my second favourite after Awate. Let us see what we have:

Brother Saleh Al-Haj Mohammed (Farajat, March 27, 2012) details some promising achievements in the areas of diplomatic relations between the Islamist organizations of Al-IslaH and Al-Khalas and similar organizations in Egypt and Algeria. He guesses that whoever had arranged the meetings must have been someone who has a sophisticated knowledge and connections to the Islamist establishment in the region and mentions Beshir IsHaq’s tour in Europe as part of the achievements. He raises the questions that every one of us should ask: where is all this leading to? Why are these guys running around each on their own like wild dogs when all of them had agreed to do things together only the last quarter of last year?

I wished he wouldn’t do this but you know how stubborn people can be – he insisted on dropping the Bingo question: where is Dr. Yusuf Berhanu in all these? He probably didn’t read Gedab News of February 23, 2012 because “last January, Dr. Yusuf Berhanu … met officials of the US government … [and] several other regional and Western officials in a bid to secure support”. Gedab did not say if those “US and Other” officials belonged to diplomatic, military or intelligence services.

You know when curiosity gets into your head and how it “killed the cat”? I woke up in the middle of the night and out of the blue decided to get to the bottom of it and find out what kind of “US and Other” officials might the good Doctor be hunting. Imagine such a crazy idea keeping your head busy for no good reason other than to justify wasting valuable time on beila-beilew. That’s me. I am a guessing machine and I always miss. You know what my favorite spare-time activity is: predicting lottery numbers. This time I applied some of my lotto techniques and my random number fell on an “Urgent Message from Executive Office of the Eritrean National Council for
Democratic Change (ENCDC)” posted on Jeberti.com on Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 08:09 pm (just after Meqreeeb). I found it very interesting that the whole message was essentially about “a donkey praying to leave behind a land growing no grass”. Don’t get me wrong but simple correlation would lead anyone to pick the department of veterinarian services as the identifier of any of the “US and Other officials” that ever met any of the ENCDC dignitaries.

I must be honest with you, I heard about Gemel, Gobye and Uukkot in the course of post independence Eritrea but definitely not Adgi. Adgi I think is the genius of the ENCDC and in particular the Executive Office. The strategies of this particular adgi (Kbret yihablna), according to the “urgent message” include: (1) Shaving-off Eritrea’s resources and channelling them through laundry stations in “Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda (Kampala [not Gulu]), Zambia and South Africa” – Here the appeal is for all Eritreans to report related information to “proper authorities anywhere in the world” [may be the Police Station or may be the mob of defeated fan in a Soccer Stadium and may be in Timbuktu or in the next Corner-Store] and to a Yahoo e-mail address of “Save Eritrea from Adgi [S.E.A.]”; (2) Shaving-off Eritrea’s human resources and channelling them through networks of human traffickers to the Sinai Desert for organ harvesting – Here the main concern is to remind you that it is a painful procedure because it is carried out “without anaesthetic administration, and proper surgical procedures”.

The same Gedab report opens with “Eritrean resistance leaders have been conducting a series of diplomatic shuttles that were not possible before the changes that happened as a result of the Arab Spring and the congress that was concluded in Hawassa, Ethiopia on December 2, 2011.” Excuse me but while I accept the first observation of diplomatic opportunities opening up as a result of the Arab Spring, I couldn’t see why innocent Hawassa had to be implicated for the achievements of a stillborn. If the implied “possibilities” were referring to the Islamists who rolled to power in Egypt – which chronologically practically preceded Hawassa – could the report be saying that Hawassa was a by-product of TaHreer Square? May be the link referred to “the other” meetings? But Dr. Yusuf Berhanu used to be the foreign relations guy of the Salvation Gang for a while and I am sure we did read about his meetings with “US and Other officials” for years (long – very long before the Arab Spring). Unless there is a new twist in the matter (for instance in the Adgi department of the ENCDC) and these particular “US and Other officials” had something to do with the beast, why were these particular meetings attributed to Hawassa?

Do you have more time to waste reading this stuff? OK – then let us go for another round of guesswork.

I must be clear that I am not blaming Gedab – it just reported what had happened. But read the same Gedab report again. Of course you have the impression that the whole set of diplomatic meetings and activities rest on the positive side of the ENCDC and its Executive Office (me too). Why not? 600 intelligent men and a few women just finished blessing the ultimate dream machine of working together (presumably towards the same direction) a few months ago. That’s why Hawassa is mentioned as the link among the activities in the report. Any sensible person would interpret any move by any of the Adgis (that helped shave the town out of Key-WeT and Gored-Gored for two whole weeks) must have something to do with their promise to shave Eritrea out of the PFDJ. I think I am a sensible person and I accept this to be true. However, just for argument’s sake let us ask ourselves, how do the following activities fit together as “one intention”? (a) The National Council (the machine of joint intention and then action) is composed of a rainbow of Eritrean opposition organizations including some Islamist organizations that I believe are still in US list of terrorist groups; (b) two of these Islamist organizations fly all the way to Egypt and Algeria to meet the wrong people (other colleagues in the same terrorist list); (c) Dr. Yousuf Berhanu wins the license to meet “US and Other officials” and according to the report secures promises of obviously “US and Other” support for “the resistance”.

Can we have some disclosure here? Did those “US and Other officials” whose primary job in the region is to guard against the spread of Islamic extremism in the region [unless you have a different idea] at least have any reservations that the Eritrean Islamist movement is linking up and reaching out to redundant capacity from Algerian and Egyptian colleagues and Al-Shabab’s runaway phantoms? Brother Omer Jaber mentions a similar allegation made by the PFDJ in reference to “links to the Arab Spring” (Farajat, March 27, 2012). Did Dr. Yusuf Berhanu have any reservations or responses to the PFDJ allegations? Does he want to explain to us if what those Islamist organizations have been doing in Algeria and Egypt is actually part of the achievements of Hawassa or his job-description post-Hawassa?

Don’t get me wrong on positions. Don’t worry about the Islamists: if you really want to support them and see some results on the ground, then go against them. They die if nobody picks on them and tells them that they are just a bunch of bull-crap. They are born out of humiliation and react to nothing other than humiliation. They get lost and have no idea what to do, where everybody decides to support them and tell them how wonderful they are. It is like they live to prove a complex point to others rather than to disprove a simple point to themselves. You remember what happened when four of them came together to form the Tadamun group a couple of years ago. Do you remember how excited everyone was to push and motivate them to do something about the nightmare in Eritrea? What happened to the Tadamun? It turned out into a big lie and its leaders had no better idea than to hide their faces in Ethiopian Soup Kitchens. You would think they would at least have a drop of decency and feel ashamed for misleading people and come out to apologize to all of us that they had no idea they would ever be respected by any decent human being. But that is not our issue today. Let us go back to Dr. Berhanu’s gang.

The Eritrean National Salvation Front (ENSF) commonly known as DHnet (medHanitom tTfa’e) is a well-organized gang of seasoned mobsters that before being trusted to liberate a new Eritrea should respond to why they had failed to liberate the old Eritrea: that if it weren’t for some desperate action (guess by whom?) would still be a distant imagination. According to crow-eyed observers (Ayni QoqaH) who attended and followed up developments leading up to Hawassa, these bunch of Al Capones (meEgergerti) had zoomed-in on one and only one goal: to capitalize on the less-than-honorable departure of the EPDP from the Eritrean opposition camp. Their strategy: a nasty one! According to rumors, they have for a while been mobilizing an alliance of Akoleguzay activists to take over “the Gap” left by the untimely death of the EPDP. “The Gap”!? What “Gap”? “The gap” the EPDP itself had helped to cultivate in people’s minds: that in its absence the opposition would be taken over by a combination of “the wrong people”.

Don’t even think about relying on my swanky analysis, dubious sources and “manufactured” databases. Did you brush your teeth? Good enough! Don’t worry about clothes all you need is a pair of black socks, a newspaper with two tiny peeping holes and dark sunglasses. The “invisible man” did it and you can do it too. Stroll to the next Startbucks and pretend like you have no hidden-agendas. Sit within eavesdropping distance from a bunch of big-mouths who might have anything to tell about the proceedings in Hawassa. Aim your peeping holes and listen! You will be surprised – very surprised – that for the first time in our history “the right people” would be complaining about how, if it weren’t for DHnet’s genius, “the wrong people” would have shaved them off along with the Kitfo.

DHnet (a highly misplaced term) knew one basic fact: with the EPDP absent, they practically monopolize and puppet-run any EDA (ENCDC) related activity in the West. The only other EDA competition had to come from Brother Beshir IsHaq’s “Federalist Movement”, which (according to Bado Seleste) obviously had promised way more than it can deliver to the remaining bunch of Islamist groups and ethnic organizations. Better accept this to be true than imply any conspiracies by very good friends that I respect so much. The result as we all know was an effective disguised coup d’état in Hawassa where DHnet mobsters and sleeper-cells appeared everywhere in the categories of quota assignments. The guy (I think the name was Afwerki) who first introduced us to this idea was actually someone (that I must respect so much) who must have spent hours to publish “statistics” on Harnet (the EPDP’s website – I couldn’t locate the ref). My first reaction was of course – izom rgumat!?! Now that I go back and rewind the tape starting from the first ENCDC congress of 2010, I hate to say it, but it is exactly the EPDP’s prophecy that is unfolding. I think I should take this opportunity to apologize to the EPDP for anything wrong that I might have said about them (although I don’t remember any such negativities) and to appeal to them to get back into the game (with expert input in Skunis politics).

However, what the EPDP never managed to predict was that the DHnet Gang would one day turn around and conspire against the very people that had conspired to help them practically kick the EPDP out of the game: the EDA “leadership” (as if there is anything more to it than “leadership”). I am not trying to defend the EDA, that hasn’t realized yet that the feeling of being alive, bodiless and floating with no worries or responsibilities is actually that of the lucky residents of heaven. The EDA practically committed suicide on the day the ENCDC was born. People don’t even know what to make of the remains any more.  An opinion poll (in spite of its limitations) on Farajat (March 24, 2012) asks: Should the EDA [its remains] stay after achieving the National Council? The bar charts show that: 44% said it should be dissolved [cremated]; 24% said the Executive should stay and the legislative should freeze [mummified]; 22% said it should stay [in the spirit world].

I am not saying everything is doom and gloom though. I am not mentioning the positive stuff because I don’t think what those guys need is one more waTa-Areza. So let us also appreciate the kinds of problems they might be facing. The following are just examples:

Gedab News (February 4, 2012) reported that Dr. Yusuf Berhanu “has issued directives on how the local committees should be organized … [and that it has specified the following seven operational areas:] Australia, Ethiopia, Europe, Middle East, North America, Sudan, and South Africa.” The report adds that “the directive gives the responsibility of supervising the process of election and formation of the committee to seven designated members of the ENCDC who would relinquish their supervisory role immediately after the local committee is elected.” You have to appreciate this because, what if a “designated member” decides not to relinquish “his” (not “her”) supervisory role? Isn’t the whole problem because of a “designated member” placing the nation under a sleepless microscope? Some of you might wish that none of the ENCDC members would ever relinquish their supervisory roles. That’s exactly the case! But excuse my curiosity again: why would Dr. Berhanu of all people want them to relinquish their supervisory roles anyway?

I think we have the answer in the same report: “According to the directive, the chairman of the ENCDC (equivalent to “Speaker of the House”), his two deputies and two secretaries are not eligible to be members of the local committees [i.e. no supervisory roles for them].” I completely agree with this one in particular. First, can you imagine having two deputies and two secretaries following your every move from the washroom to the bedroom? What if these followers are designated “supervisory roles”? And what if they decide not to relinquish these powers? “1984”!?!

The report continues: “the other elected council members of the ENCDC can elect and be elected to any position in the local committees.” The seven “temporary supervisors” mentioned in the report I believe according to Click-Here are part of the “23-member Executive Committee”. How did whoever imagine and draft those directives get the slightest hint of the faintest probability that a “designated member” of the Executive at a national level (equivalent to a member in “the Cabinet of Ministers”) ever think of clinging to a “supervisory role” at a local committee (equivalent to a “Neighborhood Uqqub”). What is wrong with you guys – clinging to every straw of opportunity to supervise and run your fellow human beings? If such a probability does indeed exist (and the “directives” prove it does), could it be that some of the “23-member Executive Committee” have nothing better to do. If you have any information on an “Executive” that hasn’t shown creativity in finding out what is it that he is expected to “Execute”, please use the S.E.A Yahoo e-mail address mentioned above to report them to the Doc before heading to the Soccer Stadium.

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  • Serray

    Selamat,

    The best place to hide is in full view. It is possible that we all know Ali Salim.

    His latest piece begins by explaining how he was out of it for the last two years. But he actually wrote back-to-back articles in October and November. I like the October one: Liberating Civil Societies. It complements this one and, by far his best. The November piece was in response to Semere Tesfai.

    So why does a guy who wrote more articles than most writers in the last few months think he was out of it for two years? Was he talking about his alter ego? The lowland good, highland bad, guy? SAAY considers him a provocateur (in a good way), so it is possible that Ali Salim, the freelancer, could be the alter ego of gentle and rational person we all know and love. There are two types of people I like to shoot: those who say he is Saleh Gadi and those who wear nihna nsu T-Shirts.

    Personally, his ideas captured my attention, not his person. In many ways he seemed a messenger, a fall guy. Semere Tesfai said that he is someone vying for influence in the Islamist parties that make up Tadamun. I doubt it, he was probably revealing to us a point of view that we had no way of knowing…..because we are dense and tigrigna ONLY speakers. By the time defining the regime become a central issue, we had two years to prepare for it thanks to him. Our shock and dismay gave way to a proper calibration of our response. Understanding someone’s perspective never hurts.

    But there were unintended consequences. Ali Salim also emboldened the “deki mahber andnet” eritreans, or what my friend calls the ethiopianists eritreans. You see some of them right here at awate. People who have no problem rejecting our muslim brothers arabic heritage while pushing our Abyssinian heritage.

    Well, Ali Salim, take a bow or remain hidden in full view.

    • Teweldeberhan Weldedawit

      Serray, You are on the spot. How is it that people dare say “Ali Salim is a provacatuer”(in a good way) but Semere Tesfai is racist, ethnicist, religious fanatic etc. How is it that a person like Ali Salim who advocates for the unity of Moslems and lowlanders against highlanders is good but the authors of Nhnan Elamanan who merely write of the suffering of Christians and highlanders under ELF leadership in the 60th are condemned for forty years as provcatuer (in a bad sense),divisive, sectarians,ethnicist, crusaders etc. How is it one can proudly talk of Islamic parties and Tadamun but if one talks even about secular parties he/she is immediatlly labelled as PFDJ remnants, a communist, religious fanatic or anti-Islam? I think those who support Ali Salim in any form( A person who openly writes that the highlanders are Neo Nazis, Zeree-Shefatu, land grabbers etc.) must themselves be Ali Salim deep in their hearts.

      • Saleh AA Younis

        Whoa, Teweldeberhan:

        1. From the way you have constructed your sentence, it might confuse people. I said “Ali Salim is a provocateur(in a good way)” but I didn’t say Semere Tesfai is “racist, ethnicist, religious fanatic, etc.”

        Each of the two writers provokes and gets “attaboy!” and “divisive!” from different quarters. They have different styles: Semere Tesfai never apologizes for anything he has ever written (he is always doubling down), whereas Ali Salim is often clarifying and apologizing. Even this “Neo Nazis, Zere Shefatu, Land grabbers” quote which is quoted by people who have never read anything he has written was clarified and apologized for 2-3 times. Here’s one clarification he provided following Ahmed Raji’s critique:

        http://awate.com/national-unity-requires-more-than-mouthing-slogans/

        awate.com doesn’t allow its authors to write hateful comments about a people for their ancestral, religious, ethnic, regional identity. We don’t even allow it in the comments section much less the front page. Since his paper trail is very long, you can easily disprove what I am saying here by providing a link. That should be easy. Assuming you want to argue facts. If, on the other hand, you claim to have superior powers which enable you to see what is “deep in their hearts”, well, there is really no rebuttal to that, so you win.

        2. We have said our piece about Nehnan Elamanan, no reason to be redundant. Again, ours is fact-based (direct quotes and translations from the manifesto itself; direct testimonies from an eye-witness); yours is a conclusion without a basis. Again, if you have the basis, present it. If not, just say I am venting.

        all the best,

        saay

        • Teweldeberhan Weldedawit

          Selam Saal,
          At the outset let me make it clear that most of the time I enjoy your articles and comments and I appreciate your gentle personality. Your articles are moderate and thought provoking. They are not like some of the skunis writings we read in Awate.com and Dehai.org. For that I have high respect for you. However your respond to my comment is very dissappointing because it is just swift generalisation based on false perception with no facts and logical support. I don’t expect that from you. But still that does not diminish my respect for you not even an iota. Now to my reply:
          1. You wrote of Ali Salim ” one of the best provacateurs( in its positive sense; you provoke people to think.)” There is nothing positive in labelling the whole ethnic group as Neo-Nazis, Zeree Shefatu, and land grabbers and calling both the highland and lowland Mosems to unite against them. If you think this is positive within the reality of present Eritrean politics then our perceptions of Ali Salim’s article and our political view of Eritrean politics after PFDJ must be different. So there is no point to discuss that. You go your own way and let the Eritrean people judge.

          2.You pointed out ” Awate.com does not allow its authors to write hatefull comments about a people for their ancestral, religious,ethnic, regional identity.We don’t even allow in its comments section much less in the first page” Now Sal tell me, if calling an ethnic group “Neo Nazis, Zeree Shefatu, and Land Grabbers” is not hatefull what is it then? I can assure you it is hatefull in any language except may be in Awate.com’s language. Again if you don’t accept that as hatefull well long live democracy. There is no need for dicussing it further because no one can be more deaf than the one who does not want to listen.

          3. Regarding Nhnan Elamanan you claimed your view is fact based mine is a conclusion without a base. Sal let me tell you NOTHING IS FURTHER THAN THE TRUTH. WHAT YOU SAID IS QUITE THE OPPOSITE.
          My evaluation and conclusion of Nhnan Elamanan is based on the following facts:
          a. I read it in both English and Tigrigna and discussed it with my friends many times may be for the last thirty years. I did not find a single sentence against Moslems and Lowlanders the way Ali Salim writes it against Christians and highlanders. It only condemns ELF leadership for using religion and ethnicity for their own personal interest and for persecuting Christians. Mind you Ra-estat Jebha and not the Moslem people or Lowlanders were condemned.

          b. I discussed the issue with senior cadres of ELF who told me frankly and admitted that there was persecution of Christians but did not believe that they should have been separated. They believe the solution was the Islah Movement not breaking away from ELF. In fact they told me the First ELF Congress passed a resolution to use military force against the break away Obel and Eritrea Peoples Forces but not against Selfi Natsenet. They accepted the then ELF leadership was reactionary, sectarian and opportunists. That is why they had the Reform Movement.

          c. I discussed the issue with some fighters of ELF who gave up their hands to Ethiopian regime because of the persecution but immediatelly went to fight when Selfi Natsenet was established. I can’t question the burning nationalism of these heroic fighters. It must be hard pill to swallow for these ardent nationalists to give their hands to Ethiopian Government. But true nationalists as they were, they went back to the field to continue their struggle when Selfi Naesenet was established. I know the details of the persecution from these heroes too. This is what I call fact based opinions.

          d. I read letters written by ELF fighters with more or less the same content and substance like Nhnan Elamanan, like Tecu Yidego’s letter.(Togoruba.Org., Ehrea.org.)

          4 I suggest that Awate.com put the whole manifesto in its website for all people to read it rather than make selected qoutations to justify its wrong perception of it.

          5. For the rest let me assure you that I am not religious person. I am an agnostic who does not believe in any religion. But like what the authors of Nhnan Elamanan said, if a Moslem is persecuted I will talk and write against it not because he/she is a Moslem but because he/she is Eritrean. And if a Christian is persecuted I will talk and write against it not because he/she is a Christian but because he/she is an Eritrean.

          6. My only concern is that I am against any body or organisation that uses religion, ethnicity and regionalism to divide the Eritrean people. This has been going on for decades. It is time to fight it back. That is why I can’t accept the fact that after 40 years, Awate .com still uses Nhnan Elamanan to divide the Eritrean people along religious lines by selected qoutes and misinformation while at the same time it accepts poisonous and sectarian articles like Ali Salim’s to divide the Eritrean people along religious lines

          All the best

          • Saleh AA Younis

            Ahlen Teweldeberhan:

            Thank you for your kind words.

            I enjoy debates–so long as the rules of debates are followed. At the minimum, in debates, the two sides must be ready to (a) cite sources and quotes; (b) agree with the obvious; (c) refrain from presenting opinions as facts; (d) concede MINOR points.

            Here’s me obeying the rules of debate and conceding a point: I am not good at chasing ghosts. If you want to argue that (1) Ali Salim is bigoted and (2) awate.com shares his bigotry, the absolute minimum requirement you have is not just to quote your favorite three phrases but to provide a longer passage (context), and a link to his article(s). I can sympathize with, but I cannot debate, your hurt feelings.

            Similarly, if you want to argue whether Nehnan Elamanan was a cynical political ploy of an ambitious 25-year old politician trying to create an organization by raiding the human resources of an existing organization; or whether it was a righteous and revolutionary document attempting to correct a wrong, then, we have to start debating the original document (the Tigrinya edition, by the way) using direct quotes from it, and referencing it with the biography of Isaias Afwerki (context) and what was actually going on in the Eritrean field at the time (context.) If you are ready to do that, I will engage. If you are not, and again, you just want to tell anecdotes, I will pass.

            all the best,

            saay

          • Teweldeberhan Weldedawit

            Selam Saay. I thought I made it very clear in Nos. 1&2 of my last comment that we cannot continue debating on the issues of Ali Salim and Nhnan Elamanan. For a genuine debating the first thing people should have is a common understanding of the meaning of the words they use and accepting the obvious. We don’t have that. For me calling the whole ethnic group “Neo nazis or zeree shefatu” is obviously divisive and negative. For you it is positive. That means either we have different understanding of the meaning of words we use or you don’t want to accept the OBVIOUS. Therfore there is no point in debating the issue anymore.
            Wish you all the best.l

          • Ribda575

            Teweldebrhan: I say amen to that. If Ali S words were not hateful words…then we have to redefine what hateful language is. I can’t believe some are welcoming Ali salim with open arms. May be they Need to go back and read what he wrote first ….
            But I say …
            Let the apologists apologize for him. Let them say he was simply being provocative. It will not change the meaning of his hateful diatribe.

          • Saleh AA Younis

            Selamat Ribda575:

            It has been a long time; your absence was felt. And, yeah, welcome back to you too.

            The issue that concerns me here is the reputation of awate.com and not that of Ali Salim who is quite content with the role he has assigned himself as the permanent hide-and-seek artist.

            My perception is that to my (and your) generation, there were norms in political analysis that we were taught by the Marxist school of thought. Marxism analyzes the entire history of the world on the basis of economic relationships. The bad guys were those with means (capitalists, feudal lords, religious elite) and the good guys were everybody else. These viewpoints were held on to in our revolution despite the fact that we had hardly any capitalists, feudal lords or religious elite. Fast forward to post-independence and the re-definition of the bad guys vs good guys analysis (who is friend and who is foe) continues unabated. The objective, I think, is not just the removal of the PFDJ but the diminishing of the likelihood of PFDJ-2 emerging again. All manners of political sophistication and sophistry were floated and they continue to be while our revolution is hooked to the diagnostics machine. And the Alennas, Pilots, Ali Salims, and Yoseif Ghebrehiwots (and his disciples) are the ones who tell us: actually, you are sicker than you thought! Things were/are even worse that you think. The enemy is in you and it has deeper and more pervasive roots than you thought. And throughout, there have always been concerns that if Eritrea is a patient in the hospital bed, the “cure” must not be so potent that it kills the patient; i.e., who is monitoring the doctors, specially now when everybody can give himself or herself a doctor’s certificate?

            Most of the critics of Ali Salim (and awate.com for its role in publishing Ali Salim) are the products of the Vanguard Fronts. They believe that information is so dangerous that it must be handled very delicately, and preferably by cadres who have been oriented on how to disseminate information in manageable bites. At the right time, the right place, by the right person. For example: meskerem.net is a product of that vanguard era. Every time a tiny bit of irreverent, “un-managed” information comes out, it screams in bold red and white or purple letters: “Radio Rwanda”!! Now, Radio Rwanda was a Hutu radio station telling the Hutu to kill the Tutsi. One tribe against another tribe. meskerem.net said the claims made by Pilot at PalTalk were a preview of Radio Rwanda. The writings of Ali Salim are Radio Rwanda. The writings of Alenna were Radio Rwanda. There are no quotes, no references, no excerpt, just a warning. If you ask meskerem.net “give me the quote”, it will be unable to. If I am cynical, I would say that meskerem.net is betting that nobody heard Pilot’s interview, nobody will; nobody read Ali Salim, nobody will: that its sensational “headline” will define Pilot and Ali Salim before they are defined by what they say. And, most likely, its cynical calculation will prevail.

            Similarly, when you, and Teweldeberhan, just mention Ali Salim and say “neo Nazi”, “land grabber”, etc, you are just like the boy who cried wolf. You are trying to define Ali Salim (which I don’t give a hoot about) and awate.com (which I care a lot about) by betting that nobody has read the entirety of the Ali Salim series. Tewldeberhan has been challenged (and he is being challenged now for the 3rd time) to quote a passage from Ali Salim’s articles with the PROPER CONTEXT. He has not. He will not. This is because he can’t, simple as that. The Vanguard Front news managers (meskerem.net, Harnet.org) basically played you, I am sorry to say. You’ve been hoodwinked. Because I keep challenging Teweldeberhan to provide the quote, the text, and he continues to dodge, and weave, and tell me how hurt he is.

            So, my old friend Ribda575, it is PUoSU time.

            All the best,

            saay

    • Saleh & Serray

      One who read this article and his previous article, can pose and say wait minute, is this the Ali Salim we knew him for over two years? Was he really “divisive” in a bad way, to create polarization, or was he “provocateur” in a good way, to push the envelope, and bring the subliminal feeling to the surface? Frankly, it makes us to think twice and reconsider whatever perception we had on him so far. If he is the former, it might be a concluded perception. But if he is the later, I will applaud him, for shaking us to see the light and persuade us to debate on many issues that were considered as taboo in Eritrean politics. We shall see how Ali Salim will continue.

      • Selam :- Brother Amanuel Hidrat, the truth is that brother Ali Salim proved how a human can brake the taboo. In my point of view, what he wrote before wasn’t made to divide the people but it was made to convince us that if the highlanders and lowlanders aren’t united and only think about their ego, then there won’t be peace. A dictator is a dictator, one should not support a dictator because he speaks Tigrigna or Arabic but one should think about the collective responsibility and not about the selective issue. Our lowlanders have always the right to say that the PFDJ and the dictator are getting support from our Tigrigna speakers of our highland and this is really true. So, he made it clear from the beginning. One should only stay fair and accept it. I am fair. Aren’t you? By the way, to the ones who say that Ali Salim is Brother Saleh Gadi, I have to say that I am sorry for them. I always say: Blind is not the one who can not see but blind is the one who is not willing to see.

        Peace.

        • Kokhob Selam

          Brother Exciter, that is what I think. from that great mind we learn to much. People like Ali some time are important to confront backwardness by the same nature of Extremism. some of our brothers have started to think that controlling and dictating others by force is impossible. from my experience some people don’t return the respect you pay them. the more you respect the more kneel you down. it is better to face them and show them that what they are doing is easy and can be done by any other , if they don’t understand the god way use the devil way. but this should be done only to teach them and let them come down. we high landers have equal historical mistakes (if not more) and that we should accept.

          May be Ali Salm is showing his true nature now as the other side is down already and people are going for real unity.

          • Selam :- Brother Kokhob selam, I can remember of the controversial article of brother Ali Salim. To be honest, in that time, my answer was that Ali Salim and Semere Tesfai should divide religion from politics. Brother Ali Salim’s aim was clear to me, it was only a message to arouse us. Just a brutal request for unity even though he was too critical to our highlanders. This is why I was calm. Now everyone is asking him to tell his real name. I say that as long as his peaceful opinion can help us, he is welcome as Ali Salim but he has an unpaid invoice with big brother Saleh Gadi because there were many people who were telling that Ali Salim is Saleh Gadi. So he should tell him his identity privately.

            Peace.

          • Saleh Gadi

            Dear Exciter, awate.com’s posting guidlines states that the Awate Team should know the identity of all writers. We know Ali Salim and his identity will remain private and confidential. Over the years we have kept the identity of so many writers confidential until they decided to introduce themselves to the public. Neither me nor my colleagues will ever betray the confidence of awate.com writers.

    • zegeremo

      Dear Serray,

      How do you spell an inflated ego, w/no shame?

    • Serray

      Thanks SAAY, I was wondering how to handle it.

      Teweldemedhin,

      this is in one problem whose the solution is not its opposite. There are no religious or regional parties by the highlanders, it will be premature to accuse anyone of opposing parties that do not exist yet. And I hope we never have them. I hate Ethiopian style politics, history is a witness to what happens when we try to imitate them.

      Ammanuel,

      Whether he is the former or latter, don’t forget that when you guys met in September, the issue he brought (minus the name calling) was what you discussed for days. That is why I said he gave the highlander two years to think about it. Imagine if it was the first time you heard about it was in the meeting. Ali did not creat the religious and ethnic parties, he just made their minutes public a couple of year before it became official subject for discussion. How they sold it to the ethiopians is still a misery….Semere Tesfai need to consult with his feelers in AA and update us.

      Lets hope the next government bears no resemblance to either shaebia and jebha. Ali is right, the likelihood of a pfdj 2 is unlikely but we need to watch out for jebha reincarnated. Soon we will have a nation with a majority born after 1991. I don’t think a government designed for armed struggle will serve the country well.

      Selam

      • Serray,

        Yes indeed, I don’t want to see another Jebha or Shaebia for that matter. These organizations are sealed and relegated into the archive of history. I am sure we still need to fight against the nostalgia of some, to these organizations. To be exact, EDA is an archaic and a residual of that mentality. Unless these organizations are completely transformed to ENCDC political structure of legislative and executive body, it will be accurate to define the upcoming struggle, as an uphill battle for lofty ideas in a harsh reality.

        Regarding Ali salim: though his grievances was factual, that should be addressed and brought upfront for a debate, I was not comfortable in his approach. I wasn’t denying his argument as a matter of fact, but I was challenging him to frame the issue, so that the public at large will learn and join us in searching solutions. Rest assure that I was familiar about all the grievances, way before he brought them up for public awareness.

        One thing for sure though, myself and many skeptics are curious why Ali salim chose crude politics back then and now become soft, rational, and solution oriented politician. At this juncture, I believe he set the stage to be conducive for framing our issues. I want to see further how he wanted us to approach the injustice within the overall frame work of our struggle.

  • Ali Salim helps us see our face in the mirror , some of us do not like what we see in the mirror…we blame the mirror holder ie. Ali Salim.

  • These prominent leaders, despite it is not their baptized names, they were officially known pen names, from the revolutionary struggle or when running their respective governments. They were not using for hiding from the public as the Eritreans love to do. Example, “Che Guevara; Ho Chi Minh; Joseph Stalin; Joseph Tito; Tariq Aziz; Vladimir Lenin; X and Willy Brandt.” Just to mention some more Ethiopian prominent leaders and to add to the list: Prime minister Meles zenawi and former foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin. Their first name is not their baptized name. It was and is, an official name in the army struggle as well as in running the current government of Ethiopia. The same goes with the listed authors. They are known officially with their pen names.

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

      Dear Amanuel,

      Sure enough, the said prominent historical figures assumed Nom de Guerre as opposed to Nom de Plume if you will where the issue under discussion is limited to the latter. Ali Salim is hiding under a “veil” for a reason that is only apparent to him or her (Ali Salim could as well be a woman) where the rest of us are left to speculate at best.

      But what makes his or her rather ghostly presence with in the Eritrean cyber world curious is, his or her articles are at times abrasive, daring and often times insensitive as well. As such, people would be more drawn to speculate about his or her identity. But again the curious question still remains, if he or she is bold enough to step on the uncharted waters (his or her brazen effort to accuse the highlanders of incursion inter alia), why is he or she less gutsy to reveal himself or herself to the rest of us? Again, she or he is the sole owner to the curious question at hand.

      • Sis Arwe,

        Yes, I absolutely agree. For good or bad, the writing be must attached with the real person. Otherwise there is no responsibilities with what we are doing.

  • Ribda575

    Teweleberhan:
    You are absolutely correct. You make a lot of sense. Ali salim and his cohorts are hypocrites. But they know exactly what they are doing. They accuse the people of Eritrea, Christian highlanders (CHL) in particular, when they know too well that the poor CHLs have no more control of their country than the lowlanders do. They are divisive, but educated fools too in that they imagine political power and yet continue alienating half of the population.

    • Teweldeberhan Weldedawit

      Thank You very much Ribda 575. I think every body knows them now. It is a question of time before they become completely naked in front of our people.

  • zegeremo

    Welcome back!!!….”The seat-belt sign is on”

  • MIKIELLE

    Ali Salim it is not possible to have discussions on the politics of Hawassa Gubaee without confronting the overarching issue of eritrean nationalism. Our nationhood began with the advent of Italian Colonialism. The standard colonial experience include, land dispossession, with the dispossessed become laborers, introduction of cash as a medium of exchange, urbanization with essential future of creating a home for the settlers and quarters for the indigene laborers, infrastructure for the colonial economy with the primary objective to facilitate the transfer of surplus to the metropolis and finally the creation of a colonial army in the case of Eritera to fight the Italian wars in Lybia, Ethiopia and Somalia recruited primarily from the kebesa region.

    All these factors are not designed in a way that impact all regions equally. The location of Asmara and the preponderance of towns and cities and paved roads in Kebessa Eritrea permanently creates a region that is relatively well endowed. Why talk about staff that happened decades ago? The chain of events that happened since then have had the cumulative effect of unequal development with in Eritrea. The chain events are a) the formation of trades union and an intelligentsia principally from the Christian speaking kebesa people, b) the departure of Italian colonialism, and subsequent British colonialism, short lived federation help cement nationalism. Ethiopian colonialism was designed to erase Eritrean nationalism but actually helped to strengthen it when Eritreans eventually revolted to remove it. The political struggles since the fall of Italian Colonialism have had some impact towards cementing Eritrean nationalism, but non like ghedli. The 30 year war of liberation has brought Eritreans ever closer. Even HGDEF’s destructive presence in Eritrea, while shredding the social fabric and causing massive exodus of Eritreans, the common oppression by HGDEF, the whole experience of SAWA are silver lining for a homogeneous Eritrea. Despite this experience, we are still a third world country with much more allegiance to the closest groups to us such as ethnic or religious. The strive towards a nationalist parities such as EPDP are commendable. It is too early to become an effective weapon to unify us to fight save Eritrea which is tethering in the brink of disaster. The widest cleavage roughly fall along the kebessa/lowland, jebha/eplf/, aslam/kstan line. It is the most salient feature and hard to erase. In the language of the old underdevelopment theories, the kebesa with Akeleguzai, Hamassien and Seraye in the middle is called the center with the rest being the periphery. The center although in landmass is a small percent of that of Eritrea as a whole, it is relatively dense, roughly inhabited by Christians, with the same culture and tradition and dominates Eritrean Society. The periphery which is less impacted by colonialism is low density, largely Moslem and more diverse in ethnic make up and less united. The colonial geographic impact in creating the cleavage is further exasperated by a difficult to eradicate economic, cultural, political relationship between the two regions once molded and planted by colonialism. The dominance of Christian kebesa well documented by AWATE writer and none to refute while stating the obvious, is similar to the dominance of Kenyan Nationalism by the Kikuyus.

    When looked at from this prism, the creation of an umbrella of most Eritrean political, ethnic and religious groups, particularly if by members of the peripheral ethnic and religious groups is a welcome unprecedented experience in our history. The call of these groups, seems to be what is in it for me once HGDEF is removed. For kebesa people, all you have to do is read the charters of EPDP. It does not address the center to periphery relationships. It has all the high sounding language that any nationalist political party all over the world have and the record is not that good in addressing the regional problems.
    Ali Salim, you seem to have an insider picture of the problems of EDA/ENDC. While you have every right to look at aspects that concern you in our nation building, it is important that what you stood for early on have more relevance to the problems of our country on a macro level. The unwarranted criticism leveled at your articles, reflected the entrenched and intransigence of the dominant group.

    If the call is dominated by x jebha fighters, and despite their murky history dubious role, they have the moral high ground when seen from this angle – objectively they are stating the sentiment of our lowland ethnic and religious groups.

    Depending on how you look at it, a more ominous sign and a challenge to the unity of Eritera is that this call is accompanied by armed resistance. Another factor is Ethiopia with 80 million people to our south sharing 1000 kms of boarder not only preaches ethnic empowerment but practices it. The impact on our peripheral communities is enormous and will remain so for as long as EPRDF stays and cements its power.

    At the end of the day if the sanctity of Eritean sovereignty is maintained, constitution, flag and form of government should be all open for negotiation within the body politic of Eritera. Kidan/ENDC, weak and prone to division as it may be, is a new experiment and a timely one at that, is a fresh start at building democracy in Eritrea. I congratulate AWATE.com for contributing to the healthy growth ENCDC.

  • Ali Salim,

    Welcome back, as many of your readers were asking your where about. I like the tone and the intention of this essay, which by the way surprises many of your readers. I am sure, this will give a good precedence for staging to a more positive engagement. This is a new beginning, and I look forward more of this kind.

    But for a genuine engagement, could you please consider Saleh Younis’s two questions to come to the open with your incessant analysis pertinent to our political dilemma? By doing that you will remove the ill willing against Saleh Gadi by some speculators. I hope you read Aklilu’s article how he come to the open from the pen-name world. What you need is all the courage you have shown in your writing.

    • Saleh Gadi

      Aman Arkey, will that mean if he refuses to come out, the mischivious “ill willing” created by you know who and carried forward by you know who is cast on iron and will not be removed from the restless minds of speculators?

      • Dear Saleh,

        I haven’t any kind of speculation that Ali Salim was/is Saleh Gadi by the way. In fact, I have been defending you anytime when the issue of equating Ali salim with Saleh Gadi, raised in the public square,where I live. My speculation was regarding your argument you stood for, as an eye witness to the event of 1977. Period.

        My friend Saleh, I have read your writing for more than 10 years, I know your style of writing, its simplicity peppered with traditional adage, at times with sarcastic humor. I can’t miss Saleh’s writing. Rest assure Saleh is not Ali Salim from my point of view and has never been. Slowly you will learn about it.

  • Saleh AA Younis

    Ahlen Ali:

    Well, I followed your advice and dusted off (if digital things can be dusted off) my copy of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” which, incidentally, I got only because every American right winger told me in 2008 that that is what Obama’s ideology is based on.

    Now before I go to the relevant part, here’s what I want to focus you back on. The last time we read Ali Salim, he was telling us the EPDP are terrible, the Tadamun (ELF, Federalists, Islamists) are awesome and everybody else is Qmema Qmem. After a two-year hiatus, Ali Salim came back to tell us the EPDP were right about everything, the Tadamun sold us out, and one of the Qmema Qmem, Salvation, are the new bad guys.

    Ok.

    Now, I want to take you back to Alinsky, at least the parts (Communication and Tactics) that I want you to consider for your next article. In his “Rules for Radicals” (whose full title, incidentally, is “A Pragmatic Primer For Realistic Radicals”), in the Communications chapter, he says this:

    “One can lack any of the qualities of an organizer—with one exception—and still be effective and successful. That exception is the art of communication. It does not matter what you know about anything if you cannot communicate to your people. In that event you are not even a failure. You’re just not there.”

    Alinsky gives the example of airline pilots who announce what the average passenger would consider useless things about the plane, (how many tons it weighs and what kinda engine it has) and then says that the passengers perk up only when the pilot announces something of interest to them–like the Grand Canyon is over there (I am paraphrasing.)

    Then, on tactics, Alinsky explains the First Rule of Power Politics: “power is not only what you have, but what your enemy thinks you have.”

    Now abu Ulwa.

    1. Given the importance of communication, does it help our cause to have individuals who wish to remain anonymous? How do you hope to influence, inspire, embolden people if people do not know who you are?

    2. If the objective is to remove the PFDJ, doesn’t your search-and-destroy mission violate the First Rule of Power Politics?

    Now, I hope I am not chasing you off for another long sabbatical. I consider you one of our best provocateurs (in its positive sense: you provoke people to think.) And you do this very casually every time you write. Like in this piece you have two classics, one which is counter-intuitive dealing with how the Islamists in Eritrea rise and fall; and another on what our objective should be: to avoid the creation of Jebha Abbay (with all “its internal contradictions”, as the Marxists termed it.)

    Welcome back.

    saay

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

      Dear Sal,

      I absolutely agree with you. Anonymity renders a superb article or articles lose their luster as the audience would be drawn to speculate on the identity of the author as opposed to focusing on the substance of the article(s). As prolific and daring that he is, people would tend to take him for an apparition if not for just a character on the screen at best.

      • rodab

        Do you realize you are anonymous yourself?

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

          Rodab,

          I realize that but I don’t “publish” articles though. I just throw comments here and there in the public forum. Sure enough, if I was to write articles to be published on the column, I would sure use my given name and last name.

          • xxret

            Why some people not happy with ali salim remaining anonymous is a total nonsense. As far as the reader is concerned the only issue should be the issue he raised as a subject matter for discussion.

            Some of you here are asking ali salim to come out with a real name becuse it casued so much problems for Awate and SG. i have followed awate and its editors for so long i can say for sure those who try to discourage them from thier struggle would do anything to stop them if it was not ali salim they will find another excuse to attack awate and SG and for this reason that i belive coming out the closet is not going to solve any problem caused.

    • Famous Pennames

      What do these famous names and authors of the famous books listed below have in common?

      Mark Twain; Lewis Carroll; Dr. Seuss; O. Henry; George Orwell; Saki; Joseph Conrad; George Elliot; Stendhal; Frank O’Connor; Boz; Anthony Burgess; Isak Dinesen; C. S. Forester; Anatole France; Yukio Mishima; Moliere; Pablo Neruda; George Sand; Voltaire; An Rand; Daniel Defoe.

      Che Guevara; Ho Chi Minh; Joseph Stalin; Joseph Tito; Tariq Aziz; Vladimir Lenin; X and Willy Brandt.

      Authors of: (1) Common Sense; (2) The Federalist Papers; (3) Two Treatise of Government etc. and etc.

      If it is good for the world why is it bad for Eritrea? Please grow up, enough of ignorant bashing of pen-names.

      • Saleh AA Younis

        Selamat Famous:

        If we can focus this discussion better and talk about the publishing world only, because why Stalin, or Pol Pot, or Meles, or Che changed their name is a mixed bag, awate.com defended–and still defends, and will continue to defend–the principle of publishing under a pen name, so long as we, the publishers, know the real identity of the person who chooses to write with a pen name–as was the case with the publishers of Mark Twain, O. Henry, etc.

        The point, at least for me, was a discussion of the eternal question of “do the ends justify the means?” (or, to quote Ali Salim’s latest point of reference, Alinsky, who thought that question was irrelevant: do these means justify these particular ends?) If Ali Salim’s purpose for writing–communication–is to influence people, does his writing anonymously influence people? He claims that writing anonymously focuses people more on the writing instead of the author, but in his case, there is whole cottage industry less focused on what he is writing and more on who his real identity is.

        If you remember the Plame Affair, there was so much speculation on who leaked what to journalist Robert Novak the identity of the CIA agent Plame that, at one point, Robert Novak [a 40 year veteran journalist] said: “…I do not identify my sources on any subject if they’re on a confidential basis until they identify themselves… I’m going to say one thing, though, I haven’t said before. And that is that I believe that the time has way passed for my source to identify himself.” On a personal basis, I am in a unique position of knowing the identity of Ali Salim and I am suggesting to him that he identify himself because he has done much damage to the reputation of my friend Saleh Gadi Johar. It is the honorable thing to do. But it still remains a request, and if he choose to remain anonymous eternally–while he destroys bridges everywhere without assuming any responsibility for it–I suppose he can.

        On a side note, as a long time participant in the Internet squabbles, I can tell you that it is only people with pen names who say things “please grow up” and I doubt, for example, you would use that tone if you were using your real name. Or whatever passes for your real name, because, in some cases, some pen name users have a pen name to their pen name. Surreal.

        All the best,

        saay

        • Tazabi from London

          Dear Saleh,

          I have great admiration for your many years’ of sterling work; however, I disagree with yours points in this entry.

          It seems to me that those making a connection between Ali Salim and Saleh Gadi Johar are not really interested in the actual relationship between the two. Their basic charge appears to be that Saleh Gadi Johar espouses the kind of views expressed in Ali Saleh’s articles. So, for those people discovering the actual identity of Ali Salem is not going to make much difference. After all, the fact that Saleh Gadi Johar has been expressing his views and exposing what he sees as unacceptable in a measured but forceful way for years has not stopped them from making their accusations. I have not followed the controversy closely but if Ali Salem’s role in this is only remaining anonymous then I don’t think it is appropriate to hold him responsible for any reputational damage Saleh Gadi Johar might have suffered. To the extent that there was any damage, it was done by the people who chose to make the accusations and not by Ali Salim, so the statement ” [Ali Salim] has done much damage to the reputation of my friend Saleh Gadi Johar” is ill-judged.

          You indicate that the contention that writing anonymously facilitates focus on the issues rather than the writer is undermined in Ali Salim’s case by the large number of people more interested in his identity. Ali Salim’s identity is not really the issue for many of these individuals. It is likely that these individuals would not stop being ‘interested in his identity’ even if he revealed his true identity. Let me suggest one way the issue may metamorphose: many of these same individuals will start making allegations against Ali Salim the individual (now that they know who he/she is) and attributing motives related to who he is for his writings. So there is no evidence that Ali Salim’s unveiling will result in increased focus on the issues he may raise in the future.

          On a more general note, I think your editorial policy may need to be reviewed to sufficiently take into account the unique nature of the internet. You say you “defend–the principle of publishing under a pen name, so long as we, the publishers, know the real identity of the person who chooses to write with a pen name”. But why do you insist on the publishers knowing the identity of article contributors? You have recently added a facility for adding comments (a laudable step), which has resulted in the proliferation of interesting comments and commentators. These commentators, however, are not required to identify themselves to you although some of the comments are as, if not more, substantial and interesting as the articles the comments are based on. What is the normative reason for discriminating between an article contributor and a commentator? I think the insistence that the publishers know the identity of article contributors is unwise – it puts the writer’s anonymity at the mercy of the editors and imposes unnecessary burden on them (of course, I am happy to reconsider my view on being presented with a justification).

          As to your statement that “it is only people with pen names who say things [like] “please grow up”” I think you only need to think of the language used by some of our famous writers to realise that using a real name is no cure for intemperate language.

          Kind regards,
          Tazabi from London

          • Saleh AA Younis

            Tazabi from London:

            I largely agree with your first two paragraphs. I was attempting to engage Ali Salim based on what he referenced–Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, the manual for activists. As I said that manual’s sub-title is A Pragmatic Primer For Realistic Radicals (notice the emphasis on pragmatism.) If he is to take Alinsky’s advice on Personalization (“Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It”–which, come to think of it, is the PFDJ method of dealing with threatening individuals they can’t arrest), shouldn’t he also abide by Alinsky’s advice on Communication?

            But Ali Salim would probably say, as he said in this piece, “To be honest with you – I have no idea.” Or, again as he said, “Well – you don’t think it will work? Who cares! We will just try another “method” or whatever works until it works.” But this is not a lab and in our paranoid opposition politics, there is a price to be paid for experimenting and there was one opposition group who spent more time discussing Ali Salim, who he is, what he said, why he said it, when he said it, how he said it, than anything having to do with its mission statement. My guess is that they are having a meeting and speculating now as to why I am calling for Ali Salim to reveal himself. In any event, my response was partly as a way to direct his future articles, and probably also written more in frustration of a friend who feels helpless, and I take your correction to heart.

            Regarding our editorial policy, the reason we insist on knowing who we are publishing is because a lot of what appears in Eritrean websites is personalized and fake articles and we think it is important that people assume responsibility for what they write. There are people with multiple pen names, there are Christians pretending to be Muslims, Muslims pretending to be Christians, highlanders pretending to be lowlanders, Tigrinya-speakers pretending to be Afar-speakers, males pretending to be female, etc that we reject regularly. Why? Because if one of our goals is to “inform”, doesn’t that really end up confusing people when we give a platform to people whose entire basis for writing is not to maintain their privacy but to confuse their readers for the sake of advancing an argument?

            On those instances when we allow pen names, we insist that people pick one that is not confusing and is as close as possible to their real identity. In that case, why even allow use of pen names? Because there are instances where it will truly be impactful on the lives of the writers–either based on where they live, or based on where they work, etc. As for the comments section, the reason we didn’t open it up for a long time is that we wanted to ensure we had the resources to moderate every submission–publish, edit, or reject. Which is what we do now. As for people with multiple pen names debating themselves, well, one of the few joys of running a website is enjoying oddities like that:-)

            All the best,

            saay

  • Mogos Tekeste

    Selam Ali Salim, well come back. I am glad to read your excellent article.

    I give you a lot of credit for highlighting the misguided land ownership policy in Eritrea. Still, I have yet to see a well researched paper by Eritreans on how to tackle the land ownership in Eritrea that endows the Eritrean people with liberty and prosperity, which takes into account that private land ownership is one of the foundations of liberty. The state no matter how liberal and democratic it is should never be allowed to monopolize land ownership. This is a big topic for another day.

    Your assessment on the ENCDC is on the mark. It appears to me that in a very circuitous way you have arrived at the same conclusion that I have arrived some time ago. The opposition that is domiciled in Addis Ababa is fighting a lost cause. (By the way there is nothing wrong to be domiciled in Ethiopia, this issue has more to say about what kind of a dictatorial regime we have in Eritrea, a state that does not allow a loyal opposition within the nation.) The ENCDC is trying to resuscitate a dead ELF with all its past ideologies that are not in tune with the present globalized world. In short, it wants a tribal state in Eritrea aka: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan etc. (Iraq and Afghanistan with all the help of the USA could not overcome the tendency of the Iraqis and Afghans to fall back to their tribal society that is detrimental to the unity of their nations as a whole.)

    The ENCDC has legitimized a tribal society in Eritrea by accepting organizations that cater to that backward stage of development as its founding members. This is not a liberal democratic state that is based on individual civil liberties, but a state that allocates its power among partners that are based on religion, region, and ethnicity. This is recipe for disaster and disunity in Eritrea. (For more insights on this please see: (1) Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson; and (2) The Origins of Political Order, by Francis Fukuyama.

    The ENCDC is no where to be seen on the denial of the birthright of Eritreans by the PFDJ regime as it came out in the open for all, even the diehard supporters of the regime, to see in the denial of the burial of the corpse of the late Naizghi Kiflu on its ancestral home village in Eritrea. (This has nothing to do who Naizghi was. It is a violation of the rule of law.) Again the ENCDC was no where to be seen on the military incursions by Ethiopia into Eritrea. Nothing was written one way or another. An Eritrean organization cannot match what Italy, the EU and the USA at least stated on paper. This is a shame.

    Well, from this one is forced to conclude the ENCDC is after power. And you, Ali, encapsulated the nature of the ENCDC in the following words: “Do you want to prevent the re-emergence of the PFDJ ever again in any future Eritrea? Just focus on preventing the re-creation of the ELF (Jebha Abay) at the present. The PFDJ has already burned down all the boats of any possibilities of ever recreating itself again. It is Jebha Abay that you have to watch out for from reappearing again and recreating the whole cycle all over.” This is a gem. You nailed the issue on its head. Thanks.

    • wed garza

      To invest in fears like the Asmara regime uses, and the fear you depicted of Jebha abbay and ENCDC will definitely be finalized as the Isayas regime’s fate.
      However, I kindly advice you and your likes to accept the fundamental bricks of the Eritrean society. Being the tribes, ethnics and regions purfumed with religion is our corner stones. Learn them as in sociology, and anthropolgy and certainly you will be wiser by the day. It is a knowlege by which you could build a stable nation given you use them with justice and respect. And never pretend exploiting them negatively to suit the ego’s aim.
      You will never teach true Eritrean history by ignoring ELF’s history or distorting it like the EPLF did or the recent higdef is doing. This is lack of respect and destroyed the base of trust. Because you will never jump to the end without starting.

  • Amin

    Here we go, Ali Salim is back out of the blue with his constructive criticism, I wish if the opposition finds this as a correcting piece and act accordingly ASAP. The Lost compass has now being easy to find and to operate.

    Thank you Ali Salem, I enjoyed your article after a long time of your absence… please keep it going..?

  • Gobian Garibaldi

    There is nothing worth than doing nothing in the face of national dilema. However, political actors of many stripes must understand that their brand of political stripe is just theirs. Pesonalities and events that make the talk of the day, week, month, year, decate, and whatever else, are just tools to deal with collective national issues if that is the mission they profess to have.

    Eritrean history is recent and fresh. First the Turks, the Egyptians, and the Ethiopians toyed around the Eritrea that was soon created by the Italians as their colony and Ethiopia accepted it in the 1890s. Around 40 years later, Italy invaded Ethiopia and sent Janhoi the terrible to exhile. The Italians combined Tigray and Eritrea into one unite within their then larger colony of Eritrea and Ethiopin. Italy colonized Eritreans and Ethiopians for around half a decate when it was finally defeated by the Brits in 1941 who then governed Eritrean for one decade till it was federated with Ethiopia by American, British, and Ethiopian conspiracy. Then Janhoi the terrible, the little last king of Ethiopia, annexed Eritrea to Ethiopia. A year earlier, in 1961, Awate and his army had already started resisting Janhoi’s Ethiopian Army militarily in the Eritrean field for full Eritrean independence which was realized 30 years later in 1991.

    Now, Eritrea is a defacto and a de jure state and any sort of backsliding form the aforementioned historical facts of the formation of Eritrea and attepts at revisionism from any quarter will not do. Eritreans achieved their first goal, an indpendent state. Now, Eritreans are struggling for the realization of a civic nation and the emergence of the Eritrean civic citizen. What Eritreans are now tryin to achieve is and for which they claim to struggle is the realization of a constitutional Eritrea where all intituions of state will by governed by the rule of law for the unity in diversity and equality of all its peoples.

    Eritrea and Ethiopia the lands are whoms to those they call them whom and each people should mind their own national affairs without interfering in the house of others. Intra-and-enter-state problems should be resolved legally and amicably instead of shedding the blood of innocent Eritreans and Ethiopians in wars run by their leadership. The leaders of these two countries have run out of their revolutionary fuel of lies and murder. People don’t want to go to war and die for the lies created by their leaders and the leaders have either to give the people what they want or will be history sooner or later by a divine and or human sword. The people have managed to murder the lies that have been set by their murderous leaders. Now, they need to water the truth that should sprout from the burial grounds of murderers and liars that arrested the evolution of Eritrea’s organic societies into their modern form.

    Peace!

    • kaddis

      Gobian – you sound familiar – may be with different pen name – but the same attitude.

      You are hesitant to call Shabia for what it is – so you prefer to treat them equal with the woyanes. That way you can give shabia a ‘common’ dictator’s face. You don’t mind how many young Ertreans perish as long as Shabia is equaly blamed with Woyane. Can you analyse the same violent behaviours of Shabia with that of Yemen, Sudan, and Djibouti ….Why only compare with Ethiopians?

  • Gudam

    The so called opposition groups never ceases to amaze me. What is “Akeleguzai activist”? Wey Ali Salim.

  • Teweldeberhan Weldedawit

    Selam Ali, I don’t know why different Eritrean parties running to their mates in the Middle East surprise you. That is the whole history of Eritrean Struggle for Independence. During the struggle for indipendence different factions within ELF such as the pro-Iraq Baath party and pro-Syria Bath party, were running to their mentors in Baghdad and Damascus respectively. The moslem Brotherhood were running to their mentors in Sudan and Egypt and the “labour party” were running to their mates anywhere in the world etc.etc. That is why Jebha Abai was completely decimated because of its internal contradictions. The EPLF and TPLF attack on ELF was just a midwife. Now history is repeating itself and if this continues the fate of ENCDC cannot be different from ELF’s. I do understand that there is no mechanical change in human beings. You cannot abdicate your D’hnet ideology and values or your Moslem Brotherhood ideology and values simply because of Hawassa’s ENCDC, but their role should be defined and limited as not to contradict with the values and strategies of ENCDC and the other half of Eritrean people. I know that leopard cannot change his spots but circumstances will force them. In politics we act within the context of the present situation and current political environment and soon they will learn their limitations or they will be dumped to the garbage bin of Eritrean political history by their own people. In Eritrea where the the Christian and Moslem population is half and half the only solution is a united secular government even if the “genius” and “great nationalist ” Ali Salim claims the other half is “Neo Nazis”, “Land Grabbers”, and Zeree-Shefatu”.

    • Sele Haqi

      Ali Salim is right when he accuses SOME ENTITIES within the highlanders are land grabbers,neo nazi and zero shefatu.This a fact we are witnessing right now.It is not history.It is happening right now in broad day light.Instead of sensentionalizing the matter and use it for divisive goals.Be man and challenge his ideas rather than him.I don’t need Alim Salim or any other body to tell me that the gov’t in Eritrea is a chauvinistic Tigrinia government.That is fact.But that does not mean the the Tigrina population at large are chauvinist.They are not.Yet a chauvinist hard core that came from the same womb are inflicting unimaginable double opporession to all ethnic groups in Eritrea and in the process did the same for their own ethinic group.That is what Ali Salim tried to highlight and engage you all for debate.

      • Teweldeberhan Weldedawit

        Selam Sele Haqi,
        1. I do accept a lot of what you said but that is not what Ali Salim said. If you are not apologist and you are real Sele Haqi be a man and admit that Ali Salim never said “Some Entities”. He simply said that the Tigrigna people are “Neo Nazis”, “Zeree Shefatu”, and “land grabbers” and asked the unity of the lowlanders and moslems against the Christian highlanders. THIS IS WHAT IS CALLED DIVISIVE.

        2. Words are Thoughts. They express what we think and what we feel. Ali’s usage of words show his thoughts and feelings. He has the right to think and feel that way but I have the right to differ too. That will not make me divisive.

        3. You said I am sensationalising and use it for divisive goals. This is a perverted logic. How is it possible that I will be divisive for qouting while the person who actually said it is absolved from being divisive. Can you see the contradiction here.

        4. Be honest and be a man and accept the day light fact that PFDJ is a clique which usurped the politcal and economic power and in the process causing the immense suffering of our people . They are not mandated by the Tigrigna people. On the other hand be a man and accept the fact that the the majority of the Tigrigna people are against the dictatorial regime and are suffering to the same extent of the ethnic groups.

        Thank You

  • Abraham

    swue’, abraham tekle have the answer for eritrea s current proplem

  • Tesfai

    Sealm Ali Salem,
    Where have you been, man? Did Semere Tesfai send you into a 2 year hibernation?— just kidding:-)
    He’s laying low these days, I expect him to pop up soon to say ‘I told you so’ about Ethiopian aggression.

    Welcome back.

  • Kokhob Selam

    I wish you describe your title “setting my stand” b/c I am feeling you are in doubt of your earlier stand. This is Eritrea, Eritrea that is collecting all in one common ground and planing for peaceful prosperous future. The extremists has tried it and they can try more if they want and they will only come down.
    “mantile zelila zelila nab mereta”

    Dr. Yesuf, so far has shown his maturity in leading those you mention in your article and ENCDC will play it right. they can go to Algeria, Egypt, even if there is another party to visit in Mars. we are in very advanced era to play politics in right direction as we Eritrean people has long long very long experience.

  • John

    I enjoy your articles, though I do not agree on some issues. Great work!