Inform, Inspire, Embolden. Reconcile!

The Engagement Party

In mid-December 2013, Hank Cohen argued that it was time for the US to rethink its policy towards Eritrea and there was over-reaction everywhere. Some in the opposition were alarmed by this, and some in the Isaiasist camp were thrilled:     The argument in itself is not surprising, particularly given the publication where Cohen’s article appeared—African Arguments.  In the same pages where one could read Cohen’s “Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold”, one could also read Rethinking Zimbabwe, a series of articles questioning and criticizing Britain’s policy towards Zimbabwe.  This is because African Arguments is a website which is part of the Royal African Society, a UK foreign policy franchise; and the World Peace Foundation (WPF), which is a franchise of Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; and Guardian Africa Network, a franchise of the Guardian media conglomerate.   It is where the engage-disengage parties have their debates with little or no input from the bride-to-be.   Sure, some bridesmaid may show up with a bouquet of flowers or Areqi to the gated community (“can I have my picture taken with you?”), but it is mostly an exclusive club of nerds and wonks who are as engaged with the daily lives of the parties involved as the players of the video game Call of Duty are with actual warfare.

There were two unrelated issues working in tandem to give this particular engagement party a bigger buzz than it deserved: (1) the (mostly undeserved) legend of the author, Herman Cohen; and (2) the vacancy within the Eritrean Spin Troika after Ali Abdu demobilized himself.  Let’s look at each.

Herman Cohen

Whenever we Africans complain of the inexperienced bureaucrats who shuffle in and out of the Africa Desk or are assigned to the Assistant Secretary Bureau of African Affairs post within the US State Department (quick, no googling: who occupies the post now? Exactly), we are comparing it with the “glorious” years of years gone by when senior people held the post for more than two years.   And since, for us Eritreans, our case was brought to the attention of the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we are talking about two “legendary” Assistant Secretaries of State: Crocker and Cohen.

C and C were appointed by and served Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, respectively, back in the days when there was a Cold War and Africa was relevant and it made sense for the US to appoint experienced diplomats to the post.

In the US, it is customary for government employees to seek greener pastures after they resign their posts: regulators join the lucrative world of the regulated; the aging seek job-security in academia, etc.   Within that context, what Herman Cohen has done since he left his post is entirely American: he, along with long-time colleague Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, Jim Woods, formed a lobbying firm (he is a registered agent) to represent the interests of African countries whose image needed a little polishing.

Part of what lobbyist-to-be do is what feeds into world cynicism about American foreign policy. Let’s consider Cohen’s contribution to world cynicism: Angola held elections in 1992 and the contestants were two liberation-era fronts: MPLA and UNITA.   The latter, headed by Savimbi, was a darling of the US in the Reagan era but, by the time the Bush administration was in charge, the nuttiness of Savimbi was clear to all and what was needed was an election where there would be one decisive winner.   The MPLA rigged the election on massive scale—disenfranchising UNITA, massacring opponents, the usual African horror show.   Every human rights group, including those who hated Savimbi, cried foul, nonetheless.  But Cohen, who was one of the “observers” of the engagement party, declared that the elections had been largely free and fair.

His lobbying firm, Cohen and Woods International, represents Zimbabwe—and, coincidentally, African Arguments has a page dedicated to “engaging” Zimbabwe. I need to emphasize here that in the norms and customs of American politics, there is nothing wrong with this: there is transparency: it is disclosed, and people can make their judgements.  Moreover, there is absolutely nothing wrong with African countries hiring lobbyists to influence opinion because, many times, very ill-informed US congressmen are writing legislation based on misinformation campaigns from the opponents of African governments.

So, coming back to Eritrea, where did this article come from?  Is this a case of the US foreign policy establishment using an old Africa hand to float a policy change?  Is this a case of the Eritrean regime hiring an experienced diplomat-lobbyist to polish its image? Is this a case of Herman Cohen taking an initiative to un-stick a stalled relationship and drum up some business for his lobbying firm?

I rule out the first possibility because of one thing: his article gets one huge fact wrong.  In the article, Cohen claims “In 2008, the George W. Bush Administration declared Eritrea to be a “state sponsor of terrorism”, thereby triggering US trade, investment, and travel sanctions against Eritrea and its leaders.”  No such thing happened.  Somebody ostensibly following the Eritrea-Ethiopia, and the Eritrea-US, relationship closely would not get that part wrong.  (What’s strange is that none of the other authors, all luminaries of the US-Africa policy wonk establishment, who responded to his article corrected his assertion.)

I don’t rule out the second possibility—that he may be consulting for the Eritrean regime—but, if he were, he would have disclosed it.  In any event, his lobbying firm is required to, by law, disclose it and we will know in time.  Despite his claims that he is squeamish about which dictators his firm chooses to represent, he did, at one point, represent Taylor, so methinks the lady doth protest too much.

The third possibility—that he is free-lancing—is the most likely one.  The Lobbying-for-Africa industry in Washington, DC is highly competitive and the ones who are sought out are those who have had very recent experience in US government, particularly the executive office.  It has been 22 years since Cohen served an administration and the article, in my opinion, is a way to stay relevant and drum up business for his lobbying firm (not that there is anything wrong with that.)  He may have calculated that Ethiopia has enough representatives and friends and Eritrea needs some help. The narrative of his article–its omissions, its de-emphasis of certain developments, particularly the hilarious downplaying of Isaias Afwerki’s support of Somalia’s Al-Shabab (“In view of the absence of any intelligence, real or fabricated, linking Eritrea with Shabaab for over four years”)—supports this possibility.

The Spin Troika

The second reason that Cohen’s article received bigger buzz than it deserved is due to the changes that have occurred within Eritrea’s Spin Room ever since its Minister of Information, Ali Abdu (disclosure: he is my younger brother) left the regime.  For years, Eritrea’s Spin Masters have been three people: Ali Abdu, Yemane Gebreab and Yemane Gebremeskel.  Each had, in my view,  a relatively well-defined role: Ali Abdu focused on the populist constituency (mass media: particularly its over-sized Eri-TV); Yemane Gebreab and Yemane Gebremeskel focused on the opinion-shapers in the Diaspora (the professors of Dehai.org; the weapons of mass destruction like Sophia Tesfamariam; the cadres of YPFDJ and other assorted political moths. ) Isaias Afwerki was the Bull in the China Shop, the free-floating steroid undoing—or-reinforcing—the message of the day.  By the way, I haven’t watched his announced interview yet (scheduled for Sunday night) but I expect him to undo whatever little promises his regime made in its Universal Periodic Review report to the UN in weeks prior.

Within this dynamic, particularly after Ali Abdu left,  Yemane Gebremeskel (the Director of the President’s Office) and Yemane Gebreab (the Director of Political Affairs) have become the Dispensers of Good News and they have been working overtime to account for the vacancy in MoI.  Yemane Gebremeskel does this mostly through his twitter handle, where he drops “news flakes” about under-reported “good news” about Eritrea.  The two Yemanes were hyperactive in December hanging good news ornaments on the PFDJ Tree: Eritrea will have the world’s fastest-growing economy; the sanctions will be lifted; the “fabricated” human rights issue will be addressed; the MDG goals will be met, mining industry will explode, etc.

And where dehai.org (RIP) has gone dark, two pro-regime websites with relatively (by which I mean “they don’t make you cringe”) dynamic content have stepped in: tesfanews.com and raimoq.org.  These websites have now become the go-to sites to hear happy talk about Eritrea.  It is where the two Yemanes send their prophesies: of electricity restored (I particularly like the reference to a percentage met, as if the regime has any metrics at all), of explosive economic growth (never mind that the main source for that claim, The Economist, has got this wrong in the past; never mind also the Economist’s disclaimer: it says that it doesn’t expect this growth to translate to anything meaningful given the government’s record of mismanagement); of sanctions about to be lifted (never mind that the mandate goes all the way to December 2014); of MDG goals met (never  mind the fact that this is self-reporting from a country that has neither a budget, nor a census–critical to having a meaningful MDG); of human rights accusations addressed (by having human rights monitors meeting with Eritrea’s “civil society”, the PFDJ mass organizations, who are a conduit for the human rights violations)… And what the two Yemanes send are dutifully, and uncritically, jotted down by Tesfa News and Raimoq. Curiously, none of this happy talk makes it to Shabait, the official ministry of information website; nor to shaebia.org, the official website of the ruling party.

The Cohen article fit this spin perfectly.  What will come out of it?  Is there going to be an engagement party? And if so, how long before it’s broken off?

Two-Party and One-Party Engagement Parties

In two-party states like the United States, it is customary for one party to take the exact opposite position of the other—on every single issue.  I don’t know how much of this is policy and how much of it is politics but it’s eerie how the two parties, Democrats and Republicans, take diametrically opposed positions on everything.  Don’t get me wrong: they don’t exactly do the exact opposite things once they assume power; but they will take an opposing view to help them achieve power.  One of these issues is whether the US should engage with, or continue to disengage from, an “unfriendly” country.

The list of countries that the US has been advised to engage with include Cuba, Iran, North Korea—the entire “axis of evil.”  In the 1980s, there were those who were for confronting/containing the USSR, and those who were for engaging/cooperating with the USSR.  Now, since Americans (the people) are very disinterested about what happens in the world, this debate among Americans (the policy/politics community) has been at the margins.  When the country involved is considered of less strategic value, like Eritrea, the debate is even more marginal—it is conducted at the intersection of Nerdville and Wonkistan, which is unfortunate for those of us who consider Eritrea our home.  Particularly so since We the People are never consulted about policy issues. All we get are “seminars” about “the objective situation on the ground.”

That’s the prism that we should view the Engagement Party that was proposed by Herman Cohen.

The Cohens are not stakeholders: they do not have to answer details as to why we are where we are.  All they need to know, from their perspective, is that whatever the reason was, and whatever the US policy is now, it is not working.  The word they use in foreign policy circles is “reboot.”  I don’t know why my computer is acting up, I will just turn it off and on.  Reboot!   The implication is, well, maybe you are wrong, maybe we (the other party) is wrong: let’s have a fresh start.

One party-states, like the one in Eritrea, do not have a reboot or reset button.  That’s why there are no initiatives that come from Eritrea to resolve any conflict: everything must come from another party because to offer initiatives, changing initiatives, is to admit error and, as we all know, one party states are infallible.  This is why problems fester for years and sometimes over a decade.  Even our little dispute with Djibouti—now approaching its 6th year!–required a third party, Qatar, to mediate it.  At least on paper.

The only option available to one-party-states to present old initiatives as new is to change the face of the presenter.  That is, shuffling people.  However, Eritrea’s ruling party, cannot even do that since it has not successfully recruited “new blood” into its party.  Not only does it not have new blood, it regularly bleeds out old blood—particularly when they show any signs of deviating from orthodoxy.  That is: it is institutionally designed to serve the initiatives of one man—Isaias Afwerki—who hasn’t had a single, fresh idea since 1969.

So, yes, some “engagement” from the US is likely—it is the essence of two-party states—and the biggest clue for that will be whether the US will invite Isaias Afwerki to the US-Africa Summit scheduled for August 5 and 6.   The invitations have been extended to 47 African leaders who are in “good standing with the United States or are not suspended from the African Union.”  There are 54 states, that leaves out 7 including (sadly for Herman Cohen) Zimbabwe. Who are the other 6?

Whether the engagement party is started or not, it will be met with the usual rigidity and inflexibility from the one-man state.  The engagement party will then change to a disengagement party.   And, a few years later, some other version of Cohen will emerge calling for a re-boot, as Eritrea will be crouching towards failed statehood.  Unless, of course, we in the opposition have our own engagement party and create that formidable force we have always wanted to have. Remember that?  Too hard, huh.  There is another option: a cabal of reformers from within the PFDJ have Forto 2.0 and then we in the broad-based opposition moderate them from their years of exclusionary conditioning just like we did with the EDP reformers.  Consider me intrigued.

Pinterest
  • saay7

    Hey Jo:

    I am missing the context; who was/am I disrespectful towards? Please elaborate.

    Paul Henze has passed on to meet his maker; we need not say more.

    LaSalle, huh? Isn’t that the school that people went to when Comboni’s admissions said “we are full”? I hope you don’t take that condescending; it is jousting in jest.

    saay

  • Horizon

    It is called state sponsored terrorism. Terrorism, wherever it might come from is deplorable and illegal. Nevertheless, nobody can cure terrorism with terrorism. It will only bring disaster. The science of homeopathy is not applicable in this situation.

    In a similar situation in 1996 an EAL flight was hijacked and crushed in the Comoros Islands killing about 120 innocent lives. Did it change the policies of the Ethiopian government? No, not in a bit. Did OLF, ONLF etc succeed anything with armed struggle? Again nothing. On the contrary, now they are negotiating with the incumbent government in Ethiopia for the right to struggle peacefully within Ethiopia.

    Do not misunderstand me, my friend. Whether I give my support or deny it to the EPRDF/TPLF government as an individual, depends on their merits and demerits. For example, i support them on their economic endeavors, but I criticize them for their poor democratic credentials. Even then, I cannot say that Ethiopians are behind an iron curtain.

  • Saba

    Can a journalist be an activist? It sounds that awate team&co is full of activists. IF activists can not be considered journalists then who is the real Eritrean journalist?

  • Dawit

    His motive was to seek political asylum. What caused him to take such action is that he was threatened at home.

    What remains is this: why did he go through all that difficulties while he could easily walk away and ask political asylum in Rome, the planned destination of the flight.

  • Horizon

    When you hear and see so many innocent people being killed by extremists in the Middle East, Nigeria and elsewhere, or by anybody else, is that politics? That is terrorism, creating chaos, fear mongering etc, but not politics. An innocent bystander is never part of any politics. In the present world, there is no place for a violent struggle; only for a peaceful one.
    Yes, there is no wide and open space in Ethiopia for that, nevertheless, one has to struggle for more rights in a peaceful way, especially when there is nascent democracy in the making.
    This co-pilot was not making politics. He was making a fool of himself. If he wanted to oppose the incumbent Ethiopian government, which is his right, he could have done it in many other ways, but not by putting in danger the lives of innocent people. Remember, as has already been said, he could have just walked away in Rome, after landing there. After that he was free to oppose the government as much as he liked.
    Politics or no politics, he made a big mistake.

  • Hayat Adem

    ethiopia,
    I’m having the impression that you have nothing to do with Ethiopia except in name.
    A legally opposition political party reacted in legitimizing or decriminalizing that act of hijack /also hostage crime taking/. The opposition leader speaks from Ethiopia not from Geneva or a cockpit. Look this report from AP: The leader of Ethiopia’s opposition Blue party, Yilikal Getnet, said he believed the hijacker was trying to make a statement about the political situation in Ethiopia, where the late strongman Meles Zenawi’s party has dominated politics since the 1990s. “I think he took the measure to convey a message that the … government is not in line with the public,” he said.
    You don’t need to be violent to do politics in Ethiopia because of the Blue party just quoted are doing it. Even this can be arguable. You don’t need to hijack airplane. Above all, you are trained pilot to fly it not to hijack it. If it was not very serious that involved lives, i would ridicule this act as an “own-goal” score.

  • Hayat Adem

    ethiopia,
    you seem to believe one is justified to make politics in Ethiopia in the way this co-pilot did. If I didn’t misunderstand your comment, explain to us what you mean by that?

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Sahel: The paradox of History

    Sahel will be remembered for two conflicting history. Sahel was the “degen” of our resistance to the cause of our independence. Sahel will also remember as the place for the birth of despotism (echoing the words of Aklilu Zere). Historians will eventually account this glaring historical paradox. For those who utters the positive of our history only (for instance Haw Dawit) must learn that Sahel was also the battle field between the despot and the genuine democrats.

    If history was kind enough and would have given us the chance for prime-time-choices among our best, Issayas would have been no where in the scene and frankly speaking no one will contemplate our country with all its human potential to be in the pit we are in. Sahel took the lives of our best not in the battle with the enemy but in the battle between despotism and the disciples of hope and justices. Who will forget them – Yohannes (the brain),Tareke, Dr.Eyob, Bisay Goitom, Afeworki Teclu…and the rest.

    Now Dawit couldn’t find the nature of the struggle “the struggle within the struggle” in the history note of PFDJ. Whether he was part of that struggle siding of course with the despot (just listening from the words he pronounced) or not part of that unpredictable and uncontrollable battle of attrition, currently with what side he is, doesn’t need explanation. So dawit our struggle wasn’t only for “nationalism” but also for democracy and justice…..still in the same confrontation face to face “Justice vs despotism”., “Rule of law vs Rule of the forest” and Humanity Vs Barbarism.”

    If you could not see the dichotomy of the struggle, here are in white and black on the wall, to read them and act accordingly what your conscience dictates you. As history is always dynamic as with all fields of study, our current history is shaping to give a new direction and new hope to our people. And it matters whether.you are in the resistance of history or in the making history. The challenge is not easy but the dividend is high history to absolve you. The choices are yours.

    Amanuel Hidrat

  • Dawit

    In the long run, it is the Economy of Eritrea which will seriously be impacted more than any time in the Eritrean history. EPLF/ELF spent 30 plus years of war to end up producing ” about 130,000 Eritrean” refugees in Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and other countries just over the past ten years.

    In a very short period of time, Ethiopia has laid down a firm economic foundation that will help her achieve middle-income status. It has built many institutions of higher education, a key to develop a work force demanded not only by Ethiopian manufacturers but many international organizations. According to the World Bank Report, Ethiopia ” is poised to become a middle income country by 2025″, thanks to the high economic growth Ethiopia has registered over the past ten years. Eritrea, on the other hand, destroyed the only higher education it has had, and in its place built military institutions. Eritrea’s work force, in comparison, has continued to diminish due in large part to immigration.

    • dawit

      Well Eritreans fought for 30 years liberated their country. In the past ten years Eritreans disproved the ages old belief that Eritrean economy cannot stand on its feet even under extreme economic sanction imposed on it. With self reliance Eritrean economy is not only surviving but it is growing in all sectors. By 2025 Eritrea is not looking to be middle income but high income country in the region. It would have reached it by now if it was not for sabotage Ethiopia waged a fake border war. It was that ‘Singapore’ that pushe the the green-eye Woyans to bitrayed Eritrea.
      Now Ethiopian economy supported by billions of aid money, still holds its honorable place 2nd poorest country in the world. As to its economy it is a one man economy. Go and visit Ethiopia, you will discover every business is Alamudi. There are few new empty high rising buildings in Addis, surrounded by millions poor souls sleeping in the street and eating from the city’s garbage for their daily meal, the ‘gursha economy’. As to the number of refugees, Ethiopia exports more than any country in the world, visit any Arab country and airports in US the people pushing wheel chairs and ask them where they came from.
      Education in Eritrea has quadruple since independence, just the name ‘Asmara University’ a name given and babtized by colonial Ethiopia, not used one can’t claim that there is no university in Eritrea. There are several colleges, Agriculture, Marin Biology, Engineering, Social Sciences, Business, Medicine and score of technical schools.
      Ethiopia’s economy is one draught away from collapsing, as soon as we see the next drought cycle, we will see that walking skeleton children and mother in the TV screen, begging for food and medicine again.

      • Dawit

        Misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past is the hallmark of PFDJ and its minions.

  • Nitricc

    LA Times: Then you will allow, tolerate or encourage opposition political parties?

    “President Isaias: Why not? That’s the healthiest way of managing politics in any society. Even before the end of the Cold War, even before anyone thought this country could be liberated in 1991, the EPLF congress in 1987 clearly put in its program that political pluralism is necessary for stability and development of the continent.
    Once we have overcome the challenges of reconstructing the country and we’re affluent, we’ll have the luxury of being different on day-to-day issues. That will be the right time for political parties to emerge. I don’t mean political parties should be postponed, but my understanding of the process is that this history of a single sense of purpose will not stay forever.
    A new generation will not associate physically and psychologically with the current sense of history. It will live in a completely different environment. Then and only then will we come up with a serious political environment where a number of parties will participate.
    Already within the party there are a lot of ideas that have come and gone, and people have independent views. Ultimately people will say: Is our difference significant enough to develop into two or three different political organizations? Even now, I don’t expect my son or my family to see the reality of this country from my perspective. My position and theirs can be different”
    Translation for Hayat and Aman: bread before democracy; unity before opposition party.
    for the rest :What do you think PIA mean when he said ..
    “Even now, I don’t expect my son or my family to see the reality of this country from my perspective . My position and theirs can be different.”

  • Dawit

    More detail is coming out about the hijack. Here is a conversation between the co-pilot , while still airborne/ flying , and the tower.

    Co-pilot says : “… you have to give us lastly permission on board for asylum.”

    Comment: I wonder if there were/are more asylum seekers on board.

    Tower replies : “Sorry, but we are still waiting for the response. We are trying our best to get you the response, sir.”

    Comment: what would the Co-pilot do till he gets a response ? Burn fuel until he run out of it? What if the authority said that his asylum claim had been rejected. Would he fly to the nearby countries to claim asylum.

    The Co-pilot, nevertheless, finally landed and notified authorities that he would perform an unusual Rambo-act: exit through a window using a rope.

    Co-pilot finally notifies the Tower: “I will be coming out via the window”

    ====END OF DRAMATIC SCENES====

  • Dawit

    Dear Guest,

    I posed the question because I thought it was important though the comment appears to be irrelevant and biting. Due to cultural and historical ties with Ethiopia, Ethiopia’s foreign policy, political structure and economy will continue to influence Eritrea in many ways. Ethiopian government rightly believes that China, unlike the United States, does not place conditions (human rights issues for example) to invest in Ethiopia. Consequently, Ethiopia has chosen China over the United States at its economic partner. Eritrea will likely do business with China for the same reason. Ethiopia’s constitution allows (may be in principle) nations and nationalities the freedom to choose to secede. Some Eritrean nationalities have followed suit and made secession as their right, for example DMLEK

  • Horizon

    SEBER ZENA,

    An
    Ethiopian co-pilot has hijacked his own airplane, and he is asking Swiss officials for asylum. WHAT A
    DUDE.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26222674

    • Eyob Medhane

      Here is what I didn’t get. If he wanted to go to Europe and stay there, couldn’t he wait, until he gets to Rome and just walk away? According to the BBC news “…passengers on the plane were unaware it had been hijacked…”..

      Indeed what a dude..

      • Dawit

        The co-pilot would not have been charged of hostage taking had he sought asylum in Rome. According to the Geneva prosecutor the co-pilot “could face up to 20 years of imprisonment “ for hostage taking. The prosecutor is suggesting that hijacking is okay only if does not involve hostage taking.

        • Ginbot 7

          TPLF
          He said he was threatened by tplf. Does it make sense? Not in the real world. Why would he get into the cockpit by a gov who threatened him? But tplf did it before. Recall captain Teshome Tenkolu, who surrendered his plane to eritrea? They, tplf, brutalized him then let him fly a fighter get. He said “they believe we are hodamoch”. Tha man who was sent to murder ginbot 7 leaders was in jail, kaliti, and then was trusted to risk his life for the highest prize. May be he betrayed tplf and got caught inthe final hour. Is tplf smart? Isaias said “tplf will continue to do stupid till she dies”. Like the derg.

      • Horizon

        Flying is one of the professions that fascinated and still fascinates almost everybody. Just imagine the co-pilot; one moment flying in the skies and (one might say) almost touching the clouds with his hands, and few hours later sitting in a prison cell, expecting 20 yrs behind bars. This dude will never see again the inside of a cockpit. He is finished professionally, because no company would trust him again with their aircrafts, even if he does not go to prison. What an ignominious exit for a pilot.
        Can he add value to his political or whatever aspirations. I doubt it. One thing is for sure. He has made many future EAL passengers more skeptical. Thanks God, it ended with all passengers and crew unharmed.

        • Hayat Adem

          a pilot hijacking his own plane just to apply for asylum? it doesn’t make sense at all. i don’t even think he can justify that personal persecution grounds. because he is a pilot and it shows authorities trust him on flying the aircraft safe with lives of 200+ lives. normally you want to think a co-pilot of this level can’t be that fool. i think he might have something more, like making a political statement by embarrassing the airline or the ethiopian government at the cost of his career and freedom. Or he might be very unstable and delusional altogether.

          • Horizon

            I think that the second is most probably true. He has put the life of 200+ people in danger, as you very well said. One cannot make politics by bringing the life of so many people in to such a precarious situation, unless he is unstable. Such actions can not be justified in any way, either for political or job-related reasons. Eyob was right when he said, simply he could have walk away in Rome.

  • Hayat Adem

    ethiopia,
    I don’t disagree with you on what you said up to the last line and half. Then you became vague when you said, “but advocating ” they have the power, they have the big gun let it be their way” kind of thing is not peace and cooperation. it is something else.”
    “They”- who is they?
    “their way”- whose way is their way?
    What “something else”?
    You can ignore my request if you do not want to pursue this discussion further but if you are, please clarify the above. Look, I’m not challenging you; I just didn’t get you.
    hayat

    • ethiopia

      for some reason sometimes i heard people say ” tplf/eprdf or ethiopian gov. have power advantage so let it be their way , we the ethio people or eritrea need to shut up” kind of argument . I NEVER HEARD U SAID THAT OF COURSE.

  • Saba

    Tihim tihim in some corners. Is the rebirth of Tigray-tigrigni possible? That would be the end of Eritrea as we know it.

  • Hayat Adem

    ethiopia (the man or woman with this nickname in the forum, not the country), follow me if you are engaging pro bono.
    You said “seriously, r u for tigrai-tigregn ? sometimes u sound like typical tplf cadre”. I’m glad you asked and will explain what I think as clear as possible.

    I’m not for Tigray Tigrigni in the sense and context you hinted. And it is my first time i heard tplf cadres support and promote that agenda.

    I’ll tell you what I’m for though. i’m for peace and cooperation simply because these are the two essential enabling fields where everything else, everything good can happen. If you are Eritrean and you want good things for your people, it will never happen outside securing peace and cooperation. It is basically the same for Ethiopians, too, although I would say they have slight advantages over us. i mostly focus in rediscovering peace and harmony between ethiopia and eritrea, but it is my wish to see integration of resources and economies in the greater region. That is because i truly believe that poverty and backwardness are the very real issues of our people. and in
    today’s competitive world the three decisive T-factors for development (trade,talent and technology) are mostly out of our region and societies. We’ve started yet but when we start, we’ll be starting from a disadvantaged point and even if we have natural resources, we’ll remain helpless onlookers unless we synchronize and synergize the meager Ts we have and mobilize them early, and keep on expanding them, there by maximizing our competitive edge incrementally. i feel peace is the first enabling environment for such to happen. then trust and confidence are the next enabling environment. Then cooperation follows. then we can move on to governance and preferable policies and so on. my comments are mainly geared towards that goal.

    as you might be aware, there are a lot of distractions, disinformation, confusions and delusions. Folks producing these negative and destructive comments may not able to appreciate how bad they are acting against their own interest. it might be easy to show this fact but really difficult to make see it for what it is. If you insult or ridicule people, what is that you are thinking of achieving? We can demystify that: at best it is nothing, at worst it is negative. If you are a healthy person, why would you do things that result in negative or zero. Annoyance has never helped achieve anything other than, may be drawing some satisfaction from thinking that you hurt the feeling of the other person whom you think are not in good terms currently. you don’t kill a camel to cure a goat. emotions are what are clouding these folks from seeing the bigger reality and the positive way.
    Do i still sound tplf to you? if your answer is yes, i should know these people better and closer.
    hayat

    • Dawit

      I have a question for you.

      As many of us know, one of the fundamental rights enshrined in Ethiopian constitutions is the right “to self determination up to secession”. Nation, nationality, and people have unrestricted right to choose to secede. Should Tigray wants to secede and join Eritrea, what would you say to Tegaru politicians?

      I would say, Eritrean constitution should have a mechanism whereby break-away states from Ethiopia are formally accepted into Eritrea. Who knows , Gondar or Tigray , unable to survive as independent nations, might one day break away from Ethiopia and ask Eritrea to take them in.

      • Hayat Adem

        Dear Dawit,
        Your underlying assumptions are 1) there would be falling out regional states from Ethiopia because the country looks unstable and constitutional provision of the country allows separation, 2) Eritrea continues intact because it is solid and has no such a a constitution that manages separation.

        -Is Ethiopia more unstable than Eritrea at this time? NO unless you mean geologically. Facts don’t show shat. And the fact that they host 4 big camps of Eritrean refugees might be a good example to show that.

        - Does Ethiopia’s constitution encourage separation than unity? This has been debatable. If you ask the people who support the constitution, they will tell you about its unifying role. People on the other side of the debate do have concern that it might encourage ethnic divisions and separation. Both are strong arguments. the constitution has been on work for almost 2 decades now, it seems it is holding well so far.

        -Eritrea has been without a constitution and under one-party (some us believe under one man) tight control for all its life span as a nation. My take is clear: if something is not done in time, we’ll have another failed country in the Horn before we know it. And that scares me a lot.

    • Zegeremo

      Divorce from YG? your tone is veering that now you sound a rookie diplomat. Few months ago you were busy defending a radical guy who calls Hamid Idris Awate a maniac, has no regard for non habesha Eritreans, and has offended awate team. hypocrite backstabber!!

  • Henok7

    Hi Awate, as i couldn’t log with my name Henok7, i had to drop my observations/comment as a guest. Thus i am re posting it by my name for the record as follows

    I have been following the awate disqus forum and its contributors for some time now though i never commented before. Here is my observations so far with out calling or mentioning names.

    I saw some balanced and reasonable ones and i saw also though who pretend to be in the opposition but defend the PFDJ to the extreme , the ones who are pretending to advocate for tolerance but jump on insulting and defaming when they feel their pride is hurt and worst those who camouflage under Eritrean identity but exposed to their true color whenever someone mentions Ethiopia (especially Tigrayans) in a any way they perceive to be negative..

    I also some times observed that the moderator tolerates when one bashes an entire nation or ethnics either of Eritrea or Ethiopia

    These are just my opinion and may try contribute in future based on the awate disqus guidlines

  • saay7

    Selamat Emma:

    We are (to use a Shakespearean phrase) in the “winter of discontent” and we are seeking for “glorious summer by this son of York.” So who is this son of York?

    Let us consider our options.

    (1) Our Mad King has told diplomats (refer to wikileaks) that he intends to live for 40 more years. He has told Al Jazeera there will be no political pluralism for as many as 40 years. So he intends to be President for Life and he expects to have a long life.
    (2) The Isaiasists, particularly the True Believers who think God Himself sent Isaias to rule us (our new Seyoume Ezgiabher, and that includes the mythical “adetat” (by which I mean extremely low political conscious class) actually believe this. Those who equate Isaias with Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew want to believe this and hope it will happen.
    (3) The odds of overthrowing a government via a long drawn-out revolution are miniscule. (At some point in the future, when our egos diminish, we will admit that Eritrea’s revolution of prevailing against Derg was due to a combination of a number of never-to-be repeated factors: the collapse of the Soviet Union, the imbecility of Mengistu Haile Mariam and his tendency to kill his best generals, etc.)
    (4) The established Eritrean opposition organizations (particularly those with an armed wing) have absolutely no strategy to WIN. Their goal is to stay in the game. I was talking to a brilliant Eritrean (who doesn’t even know he is brilliant) and he equated them with compulsive gamblers. The compulsive gambler is not motivated by winning; his motivation is STAYING IN THE GAME. His motivation is playing. Our established opposition just want to stay in the game until something, somebody brings about change so that when it happens, they can stay in the game by flashing their political programs, organizational skills.
    (5) In Eritrea now, those in the regime (exluding the Isaiaists) are a dissatisfied lot. They hate the regime. But they don’t even have the freedom to say, “I quit!” They have no retirement plans, no job security, nothing. Decades of serving the country, our country, sacrificing everything, and they have nothing.
    (6) The most practical way of getting relief, change is to overthrow Isaias Afwerki. Those who overthrow him may be colonels, or generals. And once they overthrow him, yes, we are dealing with people with an EPLF mentality talking about “zedmeyuna weyane” and “Amma Haradit” and the rest. But, we can educate them. We can train them. Consider the first statement the EDP and Mesfin Hagos was saying in his public speeches (Demehae, sedege, demegna xelaentna, blah blah blah) and what they are saying now. It is a slow, methodical education of those who really don’t know any better.
    (7) I don’t know anybody who is a “proud member of PFDJ.” Well, except for the YPFDJ kids, but come on Emma, I consider those as having the political consciousness of a turtle. Again, it is education. And, in time, PFDJ will be synonymous with Germany’s Nazi Party and the people will call for banning it. Why? Because EVERY Eritrean has a family member who was tortured, killed, disappeared by that monstrosity.
    (8) However, meanwhile, the best people to engineer the extinction of the PFDJ are those who are in the PFDJ now. We need to give them assurances that we have no quarrel with them (the same way that you in the ELF told the Commandis that you have no quarrel with them because they are merely tools.)
    (9) In short, the quickest, least painful way to bring about change is to overthrow Isaias Afwerki and the ones who can do that are those closest to him and most dissatisfied with him.
    (10) When you are itemizing the likelihood of a democratic coup succeeding, please take the extra step and itemize the likelihood of a “revolution” or “armed struggle” succeeding. Remember, the reason the G-15 got as much mileage as they did is by talking about how Isaias was endangering Eritrea’s security and stablity. The democratic coup leaders need that, and for them to do that, they need the rhetoric of the compulsive gamblers in the established opposition. It is a symbiotic relationship.

    saay

    • Saba

      Wow, it would be interesting if you add this into the last paragraph of this article. The “established” Eritrean opposition organizations have absolutely no strategy to WIN because they are in Second Life(Their avatar is still there:) ).

  • Amanuel9

    SMicheal,
    With all due respect, where did I cross the line? Awate Moderator, like Rodab this disqus thing is making us crazy. we don’t know what are the crataria of recognition. The system has really a problem. I am having to go in from home. But I am fine from work.
    Amanuel Hidrat

    • Saba

      The criteria for recognition is to post some hilarious tsiwtsiway to disqus:) Same problem here but ti is a third party so Awate moderators have no role here, i guess.

  • Rodab

    Disqus is driving me crazy :-)

  • Guest

    I have been following the awate disqus forum and its contributors for some time now though i never commented before. Here is my observations so far with out calling or mentioning names.

    I saw some balanced and reasonable ones and i saw also though who pretend to be in the opposition but defend the PFDJ to the extreme , the ones who are pretending to advocate for tolerance but jump on insulting and defaming when they feel their pride is hurt and worst those who camouflage under Eritrean identity but exposed to their true color whenever someone mentions Ethiopia (especially Tigrayans) in a any way they perceive to be negative..

    I also some times observed that the moderator tolerates when one bashes an entire nation or ethnics either of Eritrea or Ethiopia

    These are just my opinion and may try contribute in future base on the awate disqus guidlines

    • Asmerom

      Its so hard to post not being recognized

  • haile

    ሓዳሽ ፊልም ብደልየቲ ፍትሒ

    ብ ምትሕብባር ዓርቢ ሓርንትን ኣብ ስደት ኣብ ኢትዮጵያ ዝርከቡ ኤርትራውያን ስነተባበኛታትን ዝተዳለወት “ስዉእ ተዛሪቡ” ዘርእስታ ፊልም ኣብ ቀረባ እዋን ናብ ተዓዘብቲ ክትቀርብ’ያ። እዛ ብዉሩይ ኤርትራዊ ስነጥበበኛ ፉኣድ ኣልኣሚን ዝተኣልየትን ዝተደርሰትን ሓዳስ ናይ ትግርኛ ፊልም ንኣብ ሃገርና ወሪዱ ዘሎ በደልን መከራን ብዓይኒ እቶም ምእንቲ ራህዋ ህዝቢ ኢሎም ሂወቶም ዝከፈሉ ስዉኣት እትመዝን ንህሉው ኩነታት እተንጸባርቅ እዋናዊት ፊልምያ።

    እዛ ኣብ ስደት ዝርከቡ ከብ ብዓል ሳምሶም ተወልደብርሓን፣ ሓምዛ ዓብደልቃድር፣ ሰምሃር ግርማይ፣ ሚኪኤል እምባየ፣ ፉኣድ ኣላሚን፣ ሶሎሞን ፍቃዱ፣ ሚኪኤል ምሕረተኣብን ካልኦት ፍሉጣት ኤርትራውያን ስነጥበበኛታት ዝተሳተፍዋ ፊልም “ስውእ ተዛሪቡ” ዝመጽእ ሰሙን ኣብ ኣዲስ ኣበባ ብወግዒ ክትምረቅ’ያ። ብድሕሪ እዚ ብመልክዕ ዲቪዲ ናብ ኩሉ ኩርንዓት ዓለም ዝርከቡ ኤርትራውያን ደልይቲ ፍትሒ ክትዝርጋሕ ‘ያ። ስለዚ ኩሉኩም ደለይቲ ፍትሒ ነዞም ኣብ ስደት ኮይኖም ከይተሓለሉ ብሞዮኦም ንፍትሒ ዝቃለሱ ዘለዉ ስነጥበበኛታት ንምትብባዕ ኣብ ምግዛእን ምዝርጋሕን እዛ ፊልም ክሳተፍ ብኣኽብሮት ንጽውዕ።

    እዛ ፊልም ድሕሪ ህልቂት ላምፓዱሳ ኣብ ስደት ኣብ ኢትዮጵያ ብዝርከቡ ስነጥበበኛታት ዝተበገሰት ኮይና ብምትሕብባር ዓርቢ ሓርነት ኣብ ሓጺር ጊዜ ንፍርያት ዝበቅዔት ናይ ሓባር ፕሮጀክ’ያ። በዚ ኣጋጣሚ ድማ ዓርቢ ሓርነት ንኩሎም ናብራ ስደት ከይበደሆም ስነጥበባዊ ክእለቶም ተጠቂሞም ውልቀ-ምልኪ ኣብ ኤርትራ ንኸብቕዕ ዝሰርሑ ዘለዎ ትጉሃት ስነ-ጥበባውያን ካብ ልቢ ተመስግን። ከምኡ እውን ንኩልም ንምስራሕ እዛ ፊልም ገንዘባውን ሞራላውን ሓገዝ ዝለገሱልና ኩላቶም ግዱሳት ከየመስገናዮም ክንሓልፍ ኣይንደልን።

    ፕሮጀክት ዓርቢ ሓርነት
    15 ለካቲት 2014

    • Rodab

      ሕጂ ግርም!

      • saay7

        Indeed Rodab. Haile The Great is on a roll, as usual. Love, love, love Fihira’s voice.
        http://youtu.be/mnypt5vDRRA

        • Rodab

          Sal, yeah FiHira is one of the best Ghedli-produced artists. Senayt alem, Selemawit & Romay are few of the many songs of his I love. Who would you say is America’s equivalent of FiHira?

          • saay7

            Hey Rodab:

            America’s equivalent of Fihira…hmm…tough question. It would have to be somebody whose voice doesn’t require enhancement and he can do an a capella (no instruments.)

            Instruments actually ruin Fihira’s voice. Here’s his classic (warning: strong Ghedli romanticism) which was ruined by instruments: This is his classic “METKEL!”

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wFmDPscsw8

            saay

    • Saba

      Very good title. During the referendum time, I remember a poster showing siwuat watching when casting the vote, asking if you would vote for “yes”. Now they are watching us when even we can not cast the vote. I hope the puppets in the DIA&opposition camps will learn from it.

    • Dawit

      Haile,

      You sound wiser and eloquent when you write in Tigrina as saay7 sounds shrewd and crafty when he communicates in English :-)

  • Papillonn

    What is cyber opposition?

    • Hayat Adem

      same question.

    • Saba

      They are political parties in which, like in the Second Life, they have no positive off-line effect. They are detrimental to our quest for democracy.

      • Dawit

        Are you a cyber warrior or an opposition figure?

        “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. ” Mr. Mathew

  • AOsman

    Those who are having trouble to login, have you attempted direct login to disqus.com, as you will be able to open awate.com and be recognized.

  • Horizon

    Dear SMichael,

    The holy land of Habeshas, blessed by both major religions, was holy until it was desecrated first by foreigners, and latter by the children of the great people who lived in the region over millennia. If you think that your history is different from the history of other Habeshas, whether they live in Ethiopia or
    Eritrea, that is where you have made the big mistake. Non-Habesha Ethiopians and Eritreans are also equal and blessed children of these holy lands.

    No war ever existed between the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea. It was a war cooked and served to both people by the elites, and of course, it was the ordinary people who paid the price. Eritrean and Ethiopian families living side by side, drinking their coffee in each other’s houses or inviting each other during holidays, before the elites spoiled for them had no problem at all. Do you know what some people say? My “good neighbor” is my best friend, even compared with
    my relatives that are living far away, because when I have a problem, he/she is the first to knock at my door and extend a helping hand. Ethiopians and Eritreans were good neighbors, until the elites poisoned their brain. Be sure, they will be good friends again. It is a matter of time.

    My friend, are you suggesting that you would be happy to see a broad regional religious Armageddon? Have you thought of the fate of the Eritrean people in the great fire that is going to burn the region? How can you say that it will be only Ethiopia against all the Muslim countries you have mentioned? Be serious, if you think that you would be sitting and watching Ethiopia burn to ashes from a secure Eritrea, you must be out of your mind. Do not wish such a thing even for someone whom you call an enemy, because the blazing fire has no boundaries, and it will burn everything and everybody on the way. It is a pity that you have aligned Eritrea with the wrong people. Why do you have the obsession to be at the wrong place, with the wrong people and at the wrong time? I am hoping that you said what you said only out of anger and frustration, and not because you really believe in it. Remember, you are not my enemy; you can never be my enemy,
    unless of course, you set my house on fire with the odd friends you have chosen. This generation will pass, and Ethiopians and Eritreans will live together in peace.

    Finally, you should know that there is only one God, a good God, a loving God that is never vengeful, as we humans are. It is a sin to use him as our long arm for
    our sinister aims. Leave God alone.

    Have a good day, a restful night, whatever.

  • Saba

    @Amanuel Hidrat, I see you to criticize the DIA and PFGJ but you give a blind eye to the “cyber” opposition. Can you show applying the same criteria to the failed “cyber” opposition?

    • AOsman

      Saba,
      Nitricc will boycott your quizz, you missed G. Let him take his course (natural death)…the probability is as good if not better than others.

      • Saba

        Very good and objective observation. Since i want to practice democracy i will add that choice:)

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