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U-Turns Regression: Two Opposition, Two Eritreas

“In truth, there is no pain but comfort, no fear but courage, no chaos but order, no betrayal but trust and no dishonor but the highest of accolades.” (Haile-TG)

Prelude

Politics has never been a matter of principles. It was and will be a matter of interest. It is not unusual to see political U-turns in Eritrean politics, because politics in itself is the art of political U-turns to some extent. All political U-turns stem from the inherent contradictions of political positions, and most often is seen at the leadership levels and to a lesser degree at the lower level of a vacillating class of elites. Such kind of U-turns, often occur when nations face unprecedented crises of leaderships. U-turners always make a gradual disengagement from their former positions and turn their supporters into the staunchest enemies. Lost in a complex political dynamics, their new journey is always to find a new base in the opposite political camp, whatever that camp might be and stand on. In short, u-turners are bias-oscillators.

The echoes of political U-turns in our political debate came exactly when our nation’s economy is plummeting downhill, poverty is spiraling upward, and the oppression became menacingly rampant, and of course when the international and regional relationships have impacted our nation negatively in its domestic problems. Understandably, their u-turn political routes are within the three politico-dynamo or classifications in the Eritrean politics, namely the PFDJ politics, the opposition, and the silent majority; with their respectively distinguishing characteristics – the insatiable power-urge of the regime, the lack of leadership and statesmanship in the opposition camp, and the degree of political consciousness of our people at large.

What propelled me to write this piece is not only to explain the concept of political U-turns and how it happens, but also to respond to Younis Hossien (YH) and some others who made a political U-turns at this crucial time, when in fact, their own people need them more than anytime to fight for justice that they are denied. U-turners are calling upon us to renovate the political house PFDJ. [Indeed] the Idea to renovate the house built by crooks is futile, unsound, and futile and [needs] only demolition [1]. Fortunately enough, the U-turner’s argument drove us in to a self-awareness universe that stirs and invigorates the field of consciousness, to interpret the counter-intuitive empirical result of political u-turns.
Younis in his four consecutive articles made his argument and explained why he was making U-turns, albeit all on the basis of political demagoguery, by giving his own definitions to an already conventionally accepted terminologies and concepts. I will rebut some of his arguments as I continue my argument against his Political U-turns.

The Metallic Taste of Injustices

Generally speaking, a metallic taste is a form of Dysgeusia, an abnormality of the sense of taste. Few years ago the angry Younis Hossein (YH), also known as Ali Salim (AS) was the voice of justice. He felt the abnormality of justice or the metallic taste of injustice in our nation. He was angry and pessimist then, and we noticed that from his choice of words such as land grabbers and neo-Nazis. I challenged him to challenge the evil with optimism [2].

A genuine reader always looks at the core message of the writer than to every sentence and word used as a vehicle to the core messages. Because oftentimes messages are lost or absorbed in the way writers communicate to their readers. So I read him genuinely to his core message and his outrage on the regime’s policy of dispossessing the property of the landowners. His grievances were well taken, and of course by taking out all the unnecessary loose words that doesn’t warrant argument. Despite his well-founded grievances, he had no strategic vision on how to fight the metallic taste of injustice that he sensed with his fellow Eritreans. YH was clear and unambiguous on his grievances and his venting back then as opposed to his current U-turn spirit.

U-turn is not a vision and will never be. But as a political phenomenon, it did exhibit its existence in the Eritrean political landscape, not only in theory but it also came as a political exercise of flip flopping to undermine the struggle for justice. Interestingly enough, his U-turn spirit not only lacks a vision but also the elements of solutions to his well-founded grievances that he had eloquently argued for. While his social grievances were an expression of political principles, his U-turns became a reflection of political personal interest, a character of a vacillation often seen with the political behavior of most political elitists (sometimes termed as petty bourgeois).

There is so much noise than substance that attends to his demagoguery argument in his U-turn. Indeed there is more behind this phenomenon, and that is, anything and everything to eclipse the struggle of fundamental change, camouflaged behind the so-called patriotic zeal. Eritreans had never had shortage of patriotic zeal, but shortage of wisdom and strategic thinking.

Wild Ideas On The Old Mine Road

Younis didn’t make critically analyzed arguments based on evidence to describe his u-turn decision. He accused the opposition camps of not having a unifying strategy and right course of action in their struggle. This author will agree to his accusation on the opposition camp, but he shouldn’t make a U-turn from the principle that put him in the opposition camp in the first place.

One has to be in the opposition camp because he/she has something to oppose in the state affairs of our nation or something is utterly wrong within the nature of the government we have. With his wild ideas to renovate PFDJ, he wanted us to walk on the old mine road of their political infra-structures. There are clear distinction between the PFDJ-reformers and the opposition camp (however weak they are). The former are fighting for the custodian of PFDJ cultures and value system, and the later are the justice-seekers and the antidote of PFDJ value system – two opposition, two Eritrea’s. With these two forces of oppositions there are no compromising grounds in the way how Eritrea should be governed. The only scenario, I could think of, in order for both to co-exist, is, they have to create a contractual-constitutional-process, where the Eritrean people with their political organizations reconcile and come up with a document, which will finally be recognized as the binding supreme law of the land. Tactical change comes with change of circumstances. So it is always normal to make your political decision within the context of change in circumstances. But in no way, that change should alter your long term principles.

Surprisingly, when YH, the fiercest critic of PFDJ, made a U-turn, he stuck his shovel where it doesn’t belong. With his U-turn along with his political crass of interpretation and rendition, he launched an aggressive attack against the opposition camp to satisfy the conflicting political dipole in his mind. Unlike Semere Tesfay, Younis understands the nature of the regime we have. He will argue to reform PFDJ (as he has been within that political culture) until he makes another U-turn out of disappointment from the PFDJ lots. Keep in mind the current U-turns is simply from his disappointment on the opposition, when they can’t meet his expectations. Contrary to YH, Semere’s center of argument is the fear of losing the power of the Tigrigna speakers. The fear of shift of power and the unexpressed anger against the regime left him ambivalent. Watch these two perceptions “fear” and the “unexpressed anger” collides and at time interplay in his political argument, Very vividly. He wanted to see change in Eritrea, but as to why he wanted change, he couldn’t spell it out. In fact when asked to identify the ideology of the regime, he never provided an answer.

Searching A Rose in the Cornfield

YH and his allies are disappointed and frustrated by the opposition camp either in the competence of the opposition leaders or some opposition for residing in Ethiopia. In a nutshell their concerns are (a) Incompetent leadership (b) Residing in the enemy camp alluding to Ethiopia as an enemy. My argument will not dwell neither on the competence of their leaders nor on where the opposition camp should reside. Instead, my argument will be on why these U-turners couldn’t be an alternative to the weaknesses of the opposition than lodging wars against them, if they consider themselves in the opposition camp. First you can’t attack your colleagues in the opposition camp until you become an alternative to them. Second you don’t make U-turns to find a rose in the cornfield of the PFDJ system of governance or within the disgruntled PFDJites who still believe on the PFDJ’s value system. In fact if we make a glowing performance review on U-turners’ attempts, there is a clear indication in longing of something. That something will eventually be known as we go forward, in the race of struggle which is a lengthy and punishing by its nature, two opposition and two Eritrea.

On this occasion I will pass my gratitude to my friend Saleh Younis who gave us the insight, that the draft constitutional of 1997 was based on the value system of the PFDJ that was enshrined in tin its 1994 charter. A constitution cannot and should not reflect the political program of one party. The constitution should reflect to the value-system of the Eritrean people as whole, and settled as a “social contract,” agreed upon by the people and the political parties that exist and will exist on that specific time frame and space. The political program of a party is the platform or the declared principles it uses in a competitive pluralistic electoral system to win an election. So, we can’t find a rose in the cornfield of their document, as it only reflects the value system of one party: “the PFDJ party.” Usually conflicts occur due to inappropriate social institutions and norms. The human needs theory offers the necessary insight how to build peace and coexistence that are involved in ‘the reduction both direct and structural violence’ [3].

U-Turn: The Sclerotic Pathway

U-Turn is a pathway filled with abnormal ideas that clogged the process of fundamental change and resuscitate the abnormality of the system we have. Like the fibrous interstitial tissue that hardened a body part, the U-turners are trying to make every attempt of change to be difficult to happen.

For one who reads YH’s argument carefully it will not be difficult to notice, that there is a lacuna in his logical argument – a gap between his grievances and his model or approach to resolve it, which is a prototype made after that of the Arab uprising. The Arab uprising shattered the old order but yet failed to coalesce into a clear model for the future. YH can’t identify the possible forces which are favorable to listen to his grievances. His narrative should be placed within historic, political, and cultural context to re-frame the relationship between the forces of change. He must recognize their additional latent power against the sclerotic bureaucratic state monopoly. He shouldn’t allow himself to be shortchanged either by himself or by EPFDjites into accepting less — for the solution of his grievances.
Let us look at some of Younis’ arguments that he tried to convince us with:

Argument-1 – “Watch Eritrean Television and PFDJ media for a few days and you are on a U-Turn …….In fact, the PFDJ (and everything under its mandate inside and outside the country) is the only Eritrean entity that is actually directly involved in a struggle for change in Eritrea.” (The U-turn Spirit).

Younis who abandoned the regime in 2001 when he was sent to South Africa for further education, is now becoming the disciple of the PFDJ. He is grudgingly admiring and telling us with certainty that the only entity struggling for change in Eritrea is PFDJ. The questions for Younis are then: what made you abandon PFDJ while you were under the safe hand of the regime? If there were reasons to abandon them, are those reasons addressed by the regime now? Did you see any tangible development at this time compared to the time of your abandonment?

By all accounts, the Eritrea of today is deteriorating. In fact Eritrea is “A Penal state” as described by the ICG report. The economy has been in suspended animation for several years…..in effect the army is currently organized unofficially into economic and political fiefdoms under commanders who pursue their own interest while military capacity deteriorated rapidly [4]. Our society is under severe oppression and the economy of the country is under siege. Independent civil society doesn’t exist in any meaningful way…..the party dominate what passes for the non-governmental sector [5]. There is no free press and no political associations in our nation. Eritrea is regarded as one of the worst offenders in terms of press freedom [6].

Younis has resorted into Clintonian way of defense. Yes, we remember what Clinton had said during his sex scandal. His famous line in the highly politicized court drama was “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. Younis’s “U-turn spirit” argument of change is precisely that type of argument, especially when he took us on the road of “intentional” and “unintentional” psychological/legalistic approach rather than on the political and economical approach to evaluate PFDJ’s effort. This will remind us of the traditional adage: “ KitBel’O Zedeleka Abagum’Bah’s Zagra Tiblo.”

Let us see another argument where Younis tacitly defends DIA.

Argument-2“There are actually people who have tried very hard to prove the insanity and pure sadistic meanness on the very person they are suing for horrible crimes” (U-Turn spirit).

Younis is worried by the insanity argument against DIA. One who has basic politico-psychology knowledge can read many elements that could certainly infer the insanity behavior of the man. This isn’t even circumstantial evidence, there are hard facts on the way he speaks, the way he reacts, the language he uses, the way he liquidates his adversaries . I hope Younis will not come with the “unintentional argument” to the way he liquidate his adversaries. No self-respecting individual will tolerate and take his personal initiative to defend the coercion carried by this monster called DIA. Furthermore, he tells us about the “natural law” that governs human relationship and regulates interest driven interaction among men. The mere fact that we are calling DIA insane and sadistic is, because he doesn’t follow the natural law Younis is calling upon us. The well intentioned rational men will not dream of the objective of existence of a good society under the existing intolerant totalitarian regime. So his argument of “good society” in the circumstance where we are doesn’t hold water.

Here is another argument that lacks basic power of persuasion but gives fodder to.

Argument-3 – “This is to say that whatever we may imply in our writings (or the writings of any human being), is pure speculation – not reality – because reality is so complex that it can never be written, described, represented or even known by mortal humans, who are themselves part of the things they claim to know.” (U-turn)

The whole exercise of arguing on assumptions is pointless and cheating. Younis claims that talking about Eritrean politics is pure speculation, hence, everything written about Eritrean politics is also speculation. He in fact told us not to be restricted by academic interpretations on the definition of terminologies; because it doesn’t allow him to move freely to make multiple U-turns. What he is telling us is – just listen to me, don’t worry about others

With full certainty, I will argue that, there are many realities in our politics. For instance there is an authoritarian regime in Asmara. There is no constitutional governance in Eritrea. There is no free press in Eritrea. There is no rule of law in Eritrea. There is and indefinite national service in Eritrea (what Adhanom G/mariam calls “wefri Barnet”). There is no election in Eritren. All these facts are reality. They are not speculation and we are actually debating them. I will limit my argument on “political reality” without extending it to “physical matters” that occupies spaces.

Realities are some time a summation of sets of realities. You could integrate them to see it as a whole, or you could differentiate them to identify the parts from the whole. So realities can be read, written, described, and reshaped in the desire of human being. In short realism is – the view that the world described by science is the real world, as it is, independent of what we might take it to be.

Younis is prescribing a single party to rule Eritrea. Let us listen to what he has to say.

Argument-4“Here, I will try to promote the idea that there is no credible opposition (that you can trust) to the PFDJ regime (“regime” defined as system of rules that govern) and that whatever the opposition organizations as we have known them for years have been doing so far was “selling out” on Eritrea.” [U-turn]

Younis didn’t take time to strikeout all the opposition organizations in the opposition camp as sellout organizations by a stroke of a pen. That attitude in itself is the attitude of PFDJ, since Isaias’ infamous bluff of 1991: “nay wudubat Hashewiye Yelen”. Younis has reiterated the same things in his own words. Remember he told us that his argument is based on speculation and not on reality. So why would the public listen to his unrealistic argument. If the PFDJ cannot be judged by what consequential things it does that so far accounted to the public, what is the purpose of the third wave argument to resuscitate the PFDJ system of governance? I want to hear from Younis stating that all the current predicament of our nation under PFDJ is “unintended consequence” in a straight forward unambiguous way just for the record. We will be judged by our words and we will live by what we said.

No Breaking The EBB

No breaking the ebb and no breaking the resolve. We will still go the distance to end the tears and injustice. This is the life we have chosen and this is the struggle we are in. Soft resistance doesn’t do the work with the kind of regime we have. It will only elongate the years of sacrifice and the exodus of our youth, while Isaias and his PFDJ are determined to keep us down.

The scale of trauma and the damage incurred by the regime and the ruling party is indeed beyond description. Those who don’t have a clue about their loved ones are more traumatized than the rest of us. Two decades of oppression and mis-governance by the PFDJ has wrought havoc on our nation, and it is tattering on the edge of the cliff. The weakness of our social fabrics and the insecurity about the future is reflecting in our social behavior. The PFDJites are playing their games inside of us. In fact they are redefining the struggle for freedom in tandem by keeping the state machine in their hand. They are engaging in a classic strategy: if you can’t convince them confuse them.

If human aggression is the problem with the wide spread of interest-based systems, there will be no process of adjustment. Hence there are no appropriate legal and bargaining institutional processes. So according to Burton, the deep rooted social conflict springs from unsatisfied basic needs and that the task of conflict resolution is to develop a new method of understanding and satisfying them [7]. So let us be reminded constantly that we are engaging in struggle with one of the world’s most ruthless and anti-democratic PFDJ, which employs a violent and terrorizing tactics against our people, to suppress their psychological and material needs. ‘Needs, unlike interests, cannot be traded, suppressed or bargained for. Thus, the human needs approach makes a case for turning away from traditional negotiation models that do not take into account nonnegotiable issues’ [8]. Therefore, we have to identify the needs of the conflicting parties to come to plausible resolutions.

References:
[1] Aklilu Zere, “Eritreans picnic to death” April 15, 2011, Awate.com
[2] Amanuel Hidrat, “challenge the evil with optimism: A response to Ali Salim”, June 13, 2009, Awate.com
[3] Daniel Christie, ‘Reducing direct and structural violence: The human needs theory’, Peace and conflict: Journal of peace of Psychology 1997, vol. 3, No. 4, page 315-332.
[4] Eritrea: The Siege State [ICG].pdf, Crises group Africa Report, September 21, 2010.
[5] Gaim Kibreab, Eritrea: A Dream Deferred, chapter-3
[6] Reporters without border, “World Report: Eritrea”, April 2009 pp 56-58
[7] Burton, John “conflict resolution: Towards problem solving” Dec 1, 1997.
[8] Sandra Marker, ‘what human needs are: In beyond intractability’, August 2003.

Amanuel Hidrat
6/15/2014

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  • Tesfabirhan WR

    Dear Amanuel H.

    THe values that you broadly trying to elaborate is well appreciated. Here, I read on AlJazeera an article titled, ”

    What are Cameron’s ‘British values’?” Though of different perspective, it can help readers to see what values are.

    What are Cameron’s ‘British values’?

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/06/what-are-cameron-british-values-201461810827740835.html

    Hawka
    tes

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Dear Tes,

      First and foremost thank you for the link. It has a heck of relevance to our currunt discussion about our “common value system” not a party’s value system but “Eritrean value system.”

      Every country thrives to preserve their cultural/political values as their “collective values” that distinguish them from others. Though the Prime minister was somewhat eulogizing to their old political culture of colonialism, he was also reminding them their internal-democratic-culture or the democratic principles that are enshrined in the “magna Carta” the great Liberal charter of its time is the value system they should be proud of. The British have a collective-political-culture ” as value system” that every Brits is proud of. You see Tes, Cameron is talking about the “British value.” Not the conservative party value or the labor party value, or Liberal party value, but the “British value system.”

      Now watch to our reality, there is one party “PFDJ” enforcing its value system, it is not an “Eritrean value system” that all of us believe on it. Look the PFDJ-2 without shame they want to make their value system to be an Eritrean value system. As the good doctor has said when I asked him during the exclusive constitutional process, they have incorporated the PFDJ value system in to the so called constitutional document of 1997 (one of the two references they had used in drafting it). They believe Eritrean value can only be defined by PFDH value system.

      So dear Tes, the Eritrean people must talk about our value system which is not far than the political-culture we had during the federal arrangement – we had all the democratic elements and we were exercise them as an individual and collective values. What we have to do is to modernize them as to how the super-structure of the state and nature of the government that reflects the political and psychological needs of all social groups.

      Hawka,
      Amanuel Hidrat

      • Tesfabirhan WR

        Dear Big brother Amanuel H.,

        I have read the PFDJ-II very critically and I am still following them. They are all FEAR Phobias. They are afraid of FREEDOM. They want to enslave innocent and peace loving people. I have stopped buying the politics of these phobiastists. They do not want people to be lead by themselves. They want to dictate, they want to direct, they want to enslave. These is what PFDJ-II mindset is. It is just an extension of PFDJ in its worst case. At least PFDJ had a base though destroyed by its own strategy. But PFDJ are SLAVE lovers. Just the next shrines of DICTATORSHIP.

        In one of my contemplation about the word Dictators, I came to coin the word from one basic word. When you speak and tell to write what you say, it is called dictation. According to dictionary.reference.com, dictation is defined as;

        1. the act or manner of dictating for reproduction in writing.

        2. the act or manner of transcribing words uttered by another.

        3. words that are dictated or that are reproduced from dictation.

        4. the playing or singing of music to be notated by a listener, especially as a technique of training the ear.
        5. music notated from dictation.

        If we take them one by one then there is an actor who produces everything and the others are just reproducers. Hence, the word dictator is derived from the word dictate (verb) and the person who do the activity is what a Dictator is. This is relevant definition of PFDJ, in which PFDJ=DICTATORSHIP. Some innocent elites try to attach the word dictatorship to DIA, but DIA is within [D]PFDJ in which all members are having the prefix [D] meaning Dictators.

        Having this as a background, writers like Ali-S, Saay and likes are not well able to see beyond the one dictator, the DIA, in fact he is the masterpiece of all the dictators within his party. What I want to say from this is PFDJ value system is not Eritrean value System. It came from the PFDJ establishers. they have never incorporated the Eritrean value System. They were born with “Nihnan Elamanan” and now they have ended up with “Nihnan Elamanan.” Within the last 2 or 3 years all PFDJ meetings in the diaspora were conducted under this theme. And f we come to see that document, it is purely FEAR based manifesto.

        Same holds true to Ali-S. His fear is based on the disabilities of the opposition camps. He could not be able to put his energy to come-out of this energy. he lost the game. To say this his all writings were enough testimony and worse is his U-Turn.

        I wrote some months ago about such people, people who are conquered by FEAR and are trying to play FEAR based politics. I might not put Saay under this category for many reasons as his approach is quite different but worse in its own line. PFDJ-II{ites} are not within the Eritrean value. They do not know who Eritreans are. They didn’t refer the people’s history. What they have is EPLF/ELF and now worse PFDJ history and most probably Woyane’s history.

        Dear Amanuel H, your take is beyond their scope. You are pure justice seeker, the reconciler and the rebuter. They do not have the mind to come-out their FEAR. The only thing is to well come them for debate and tell them that they are losers of the debate. They are able to argue but to dictate because they are son of dictators and will be dictators themselves. In fact, they are already are.

        Eritrean value system is the only way to bring back our True Quest for Freedom.

        hawka
        tes

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Mahmud,

    I was to rebut your argument, but at the end I found it, it isn’t worth. Because, if some one can not quote you what you have said, but he has the audacity to put his own words in your mouth depending on his own perception, it just can’t be helpful whatsoever in our debate. So thank you for your comment. I am tired of being misquoted.

    Hawka,
    Amanuel Hidrat

    • Mahmud Saleh

      Ahlan Aman;
      If I misrepresented your ideas, it was unintentional. Sorry. I’m still not aware of it.

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Salam Amanuel Hidrat and Ali Salim;

    Amanuel, because of personal duties and world cup, I did not return back on time as promised. I interrupted my previous reply abruptly after giving you my personal opinion about you, about the person “Amanuel Hidrat.” I also made it known I was not defending U-TURN (aka 3rd way); I forwarded my complaint to Usraz Ali, I expect him to further elaborate on its practicality. I understand his U-turn was not on the mission of fighting injustice, but on the mission’s tactic. The man was a member of the government and possibly a member of PFDJ, probably the most knowledgeable person regarding PFDJ, benefited from his association with it. Once abroad on scholarship, he thought he needed to sever his relationship with PFDJ and jumped on the opposition bandwagon, changing compartments within it…finally he tells us he was tired of their ineffective tactics and spent some years contemplating for the best way to ensuring the dawn of justice. He finally came up with this exotic idea of U-turn. “U-TURN”, of course, was not a smart choice of baptizing his position; U-turners are
    always scrutinized more than the hardliner dogmas. I still don’t get how this fancy idea could work in a society that has no political culture or in a PFDJ that does not tolerate the slightest criticism let alone organizing and opposing from within it, but I don’t condemn him as anti-justice. If I could, I would show him how this idea could not work, to some extent my criticism on his article was to this regard. In my book, you asked me if I have one, everyone who opposes the current regime, everyone that does anything that convinces its followers to stand up for their right, anyone who believes in the latent capabilities of Eritreans to sort out their problems, anyone who promote the idea that Eritrea’s problems could only be solved by its own people, anyone who believes in reconciliation, tolerance and accommodation, anyone who warns
    against disastrous strategies that could plunge us to the abyss of chaos and civil war, regardless of where that person stands on the opposition rainbow, is my fellow justice seeker. Ali theses could be wrong false, that his 3rd
    way proposal could simply be impractical, but that does not put him as having chosen to elongate the injustice; he is saying “This is the best way to shorten injustice,” not “This is the best way to elongate injustice.” I see it impractical and argue with him on that level, but cannot put him as the promoter of injustice. The question should be, “What is his intention?” and not
    whether he is coming with difficult to understand proposals. If it does not work, no one who wants change is going to take it. And you did a good work on taking him head on. Now, to illustrate that one may be with you as far as the
    end is concerned but may differ on how to reach that end, let me see where you both meet and where you diverge.

    – Both of you believe PFDJ is a disaster.

    – Both of you believe that PFDJ has to be faced, challenged…fought…etc

    – Both of you believe that a constitutional governance should replace the dictatorship of PFDJ.

    – Both of you believe that you and your proposals are not substitutes for the choices Eritrean people make on who to elect and what type and form of government they choose. You are just contributing to the realization of that possibility; after that, it’s up to the Eritrean people who to punish, who to banish, and with whom to make peace and/or war (as Eritreans
    you have the same rights that all other Eritreans will enjoy).

    ** You differ on how to deliver that reality. Your position has been a classic one, eradicate…demolish…radical
    change…You do not mind if foreign powers are involved to accomplishing that. This position has been on the table for years, it’s actually older than the state of Eritrea (Sagem qetsl, since 1981, it’s in Tigray; Islamic Jihad, openly
    since 1989, they are now part of the opposition in Ethiopia, most armed organizations, including the ethnic ones- splinters of ELF- run on this demolish… eradicate idea. Ali is arguing this line has not worked. He argues
    that the collateral damages it creates outweigh the benefits it delivers. You too don’t seem to object the idea that this strategy has not worked to materialize the downfall of PFDJ. You are challenging Ali to come up with alternative tools
    if he thinks the current opposition tools are not working instead of turning his back to the opposition. And I believe, he is saying my alternative tool is the “3rd way.” So, he is saying “It’s not been about making a U-turn
    from the struggle against injustice, but about making a U-turn from mundane and unworkable strategies.” I am with him in that, the current traditional oppositions have been a liability to the cause of justice; they have to be pushed, encouraged to reevaluate their strategies and tactics. They have to equally be scrutinized. Just singing songs opposing PFDJ is not going to give anyone an automatic moral high ground to assign people to boxes (pro-justice or anti-justice).
    If you tell me the current opposition practices are an example of what they can be in future Eritrea, governed by them, I am not going to cheat my conscience in believing you. That’s what our youth are saying. They are organizing themselves in completely new ways PFDJ and traditional oppositions are not familiar with, both camps failed to coax them and to control them. Cities are organizing themselves in a completely free ground, not controlled by both PFDJ and Ethio-based oppositions. Eritreans are saying enough of old politicking and challenging both PFDJ and the old opposition organizations. Remember, most of these young people are crossing the “land of oppositions” and heading to the West. Why? Should not one be able to question the vitality and validity of practices that have failed and propose whatever he/she thinks saves the country? If we believe the right is there, then let’s debate his idea and not his character. Let’s not define someone’s intentions however they fit our argument.
    On the principle visa vise interest: I don’t see for what interest Ali would make the “flip flopping.” We are not there yet.
    He is not in a position to run for office, he is not on a partisan politics; we’re not even in a stage where we can talk about personal or partisan political interest. I am not a member of any organized political organization; and I believe you
    are not. Your articles are full of wisdom and contain general urge to unite, fight for justice and for equitable distribution of resources. You advocate for social stability. So, they are generic and of national interest and not of partisan interest.

    Conclusion:
    Your article came in time and hope Ali will be serious enough to flash it out of nuisances, he needs to tell us how it
    could be practical to bring about the change we all want to see, if I am going to consider it; and also in a simple and straight forward, plain English, not turns. Amanuel, on your part, I hope to see you more refrained from assigning
    people to pro-justice or anti-justice; as long as someone is openly doing his/her part to the overall struggle the way he/she sees it right, I don’t think it’s economic to waste our energies on figuring out who is more pro-justice.
    Wa Shukran

  • ALI-S

    Selam Emma,




    First thank you for the very good article. I enjoyed and learned a lot by reading every sentence twice. I should therefore not say anything more than what you said. My guess is that you were watching soccer while writing the article and most probably you were supporting the losing team. Me too. I was watching US-Ghana and supporting the latter while reading and that added to the excitement as I jump from one issue to another as they played the passes.

    On a serious note, just for the sake of discussion the following points would probably help our discussion of the article. I will stay away from negativity and where some may have the impression that there was a bit of twisting the straw man to fit arguments or indications of superficial conception of what I wrote.

    First on the numbered “arguments”:

    Argument 1: ERI-TV can change your life because PFDJ changes. Here I would have expected you to refer me to any Eritrean entity other than the PFDJ that is changing anything (for the better or the worse) on the ground. If anything bad has happened to Eritrea it is because of the PFDJ and if anything good has happened to Eritrea it is because of the PFDJ. Where is the opposition?

    Argument 2: Denying that PIA is loco. Why if PIA is not loco and he is not following the natural law? Taken out of context as what I said was we as opposition should confirm his sanity even if his supporters say he is nuts because it is his sanity that give the arguments against him strength not his insanity. Capito?

    Argument 3: Is Amanuel Hidrat “speculation” or real? I don’t know. But I know whatever I think of him and write about him is speculation and that is why he tends to object to those who make any statement about him or about what he writes. Are your arguments reality or speculation? If they are reality, how come we have different opinions on them? Is Isaias the Head of the PFDJ? Yes that is reality. How do I know? I have never seen evidence to the contrary.

    The point here and in my argument is that we (humans) cannot claim to own the truth. Everything that we say everyone may challenge and he/she would have equal claim to the relative truth. What is true to me is what I think is true and same right for all. Emma, if any of us would does in fact claim to own the truth then we would have to return to Hailat the great for his references on delusion. I do say whatever I say with full confidence but I have never ever believed that those arguing against might be wrong. In my opinion, it is only because they see it from a different angle.

    Any advise from all? When I plan the sequence of my articles: After every article, I try my best to see how readers (here in the forum or friends from real life) are arguing for the contrary. I argue as strongly as possible and try to guess the angle from which they were viewing the previous article. In the next one I try to draw their attention to the parts that I guessed were not visible to them from their angle (point of view). That doesn’t always work and I sometimes revert to the 1st and 2nd way of bombarding people with more of the same. The way I see it, you do not win debates when people end up adopting your arguments as they are, because then they would be presenting the same arguments from a different angle and you are screwed up. You win when you inspire people to view the same issue from a different angle and make their own arguments even if those arguments displace your original arguments because they are better.

    Argument 4: No opposition but sell-outs. How do I know? That is how it looks from this angle. One condition for the U-Turn (in the first article was): if we take ethnic, awraja and religious dimensions from politics, we are nothing but PFDJ (go back read it). Hence under this condition all existing organized opposition groups judged from what they actually say and do (functionally) are sell-outs or in Hailat’s words delusional. This is for the record. I never said the opposition cannot change or a different version may not emerge but when that does happen we will judge it again.

    I know I should not say this (at this stage) but for the sake of transparency: the real argument hidden in that condition is that the core cause of any real and legitimate opposition to the regime boils down to ethnic, awraja and religious grievances. In a way it is the “land-grabber” argument rephrased. Hence what we may consider as having real differences that the PFDJ has no way but negotiate are those grievances. On all other issues and grievances there is no Eritrea including the PFDJ who would not want to solve them. Our only differences are in the way we see and assess these prescriptions are better than those not in our intentions to see a better Eritrea. The ones that we “the nationalists” should not even think of evading are those real subnational grievances because the PFDJ have messed up this part of our identity very bad.

    I am glad you added that with what you also wanted me to state for the record i.e. that I say: “all the current predicament of our nation under PFDJ is “unintended consequence””. So here I state it as my opinion for record. I say this because I have the impression that Emma’s grasp of the concept of “unintended consequences” needs some reinforcing.

    The market is the “unintended consequence” of the actions of million of producers, buyers, sellers and delala. Society is the “unintended consequence” of the interaction of millions of socialized individuals in groups in other groups and so on to the whole. Eritrea under the PFDJ is the unintended consequence of all our actions both competitive and collaborative. This argument does not in anyway deny the existence of individual nutcases and outliers but their impact on our conception of the whole is moderated simply by the law of averages. As we increase the scope of our subject of analysis, we should logically speak about the collective i.e. unintended consequences of interaction among all actors within the scope.

    This may look like crazy talk but in my opinion it is critical to our debates in analyzing the situation and developing alternatives. I am sure there is something similar in the Bible but in the Quran (2:44) an Aya says: “Do you order righteousness of the people and forget yourselves while you recite the Scripture? Then will you not reason?” This might be saying whether such an act of ordering of other what you do not commit to will get you to hell. In politics I think it can be interpreted or adopted to mean that unless you also include your own action as part of defining the truth about something, you should be taken as dishonest or delusional because your assessment is based on a partial and biased picture.

    In our case we have accepted that the scope of Eritrean politics includes two broad categories (the PFDJ and opposition). We have also determined that one side, the PFDJ, is responsible for all the evils. But that is just assessment and assessment is about yesterday. But when it comes to “ordering righteousness of
    the people” because that is about tomorrow, we need to apply the same principles to all actors.

    Otherwise we will al go to hell except of course the genuine Third Wayers who have applied unto themselves what they have ordered of others. So please jump in – seats are limited.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Ustaz Younis,

      Let us see the following quotation: “If anything bad has happened to Eritrea it is because of the PFDJ and if anything good has happened to Eritrea it is because of the PFDJ. Where is the opposition?” If the opposition are banded from Eritrea (live their reason), how do expect something change pertinent to our to the demand of the people if their are on the on the Eritrean field with the people inside?You are not measuring their activity in the same ground? the answer to where are the opposition is, they are outside of the victim Eritreans. The only they can do is to be their voice to the voiceless Eritrean inside. No matter how disorganize they are at least they are voicing..

      But you also expected to us as ” to refer [you} to any Eritrean entity other than the PFDJ that is changing anything (for the better or the worse)on the ground” (in your comment above), but also check it with this contradictory remark in your article, and that is:”Watch Eritrean Television and PFDJ media for a few days and you are on a U-Turn …….In fact, the PFDJ (and everything under its mandate inside and outside the country) is the only Eritrean entity that is actually directly involved in a struggle for change in Eritrea” – which indicate those activities you saw in the television media made to make your u-turn. In my book this logic implies that you are making u-turn form being in the opposition and took ride with the change you saw of the PFDJ in the Television media. So I don’t know if you have face of Younis…..and if it is very hard which Younis we could debate. Your old position was clear unambiguous talking about the aggrieved social groups.

      Amanuel Hedrat

  • Papillon

    As Gibran Khalil would have it, they are the children of life and life will take care of them. ኤርትራ ሃገረይ ደቅኺ ኣናድይይ ከም ደቂ ዛግራ ኾይኖም ስኢኖም ጉዋሳይይ!!!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/15/world/europe/palace-of-squatters-is-a-symbol-of-refugee-crisis.html?_r=0

  • Yodita

    Kbur HawAmanuel Hidrat,

    I wish your impeccable and most readable article on the U-Turn of Ali S. was on a subject matter that could stimulate debate our differences helping us create more cohesion. I say so because of two reasons: (1) As you yourself told Ali S. in one of your posts, it is very difficult to fathom how a person could make the sudden type of U-Turn he is making considering PFDJ has worsened in its governance by the day since the time he was antagonistic to it. As you reiterate, he also does not
    give any plausible reason why he has a change of mind except that the opposition had failed. He himself having been in the opposition, the failure is also his because he stopped on the criticism level and did not offer any creative idea or vision to help harness or coagulate the opposing forces. The sudden turn is therefore suspect! (2) In his call for a U-Turn, Ali S. found no followers as far as I can assess. Most inputs were critical of his position. If he was hoping to sway minds, he failed big time. Your article now is so potent his U-Turn adventure may be buried for good. As a matter of fact, the number of comments
    the subject is attracting does no commensurate with the potency and clarity of the article simply because (in my opinion) this U-Turn business is astounding, to say the least.

  • haileTG

    Hello Aman,

    Very well argued, coherently presented and deeply analyzed piece. Well done. I will wait until Ali-S presents his defense and then add my take too. But, for now, I enjoyed reading this well presented material and thank you for that.

    Regards

  • Semere Andom

    Selamat Emma:
    Excellent rebut. But my eyes zeroed on the following.

    1. “He is grudgingly admiring and telling us with certainty that the only entity struggling for change in Eritrea is PFDJ”
    I wish Ali-S has said that, those words would have made him the seeker of truth, after he searched truth in the land that God has given to his ancestors and that PFDJ confiscated and gave it to the so called Kebessa. The words quoted here are true as PFDJ is the only entity that is changing the fabric of Eritrea and after they are done with it we will not recognize it, we will not recognize the culture, we will not recognize the maps, we will not recognize the different ethnic groups, we will not recognize the language and even we will not even recognize the names.
    Habibna Younis Housein, yes Ali-S was supported by Semere TH with whom I share many things (in terms our exposure to the low lands at an early teens, we both are fans of the Quran and we both endeavor to educate ourselves the language of our brothers) had officially written an article supporting Ali-S, which inspired the latter to thank him in an article and actually he was so moved that he counted how many words Semere TH expended to write that article has made a U-turn and said this: “PFDJ is the only entity that is working for the betterment of the lives of the Eritrean people.” He made a CONSENSUAL U-Turn not a forced one as the word grudgingly may imply. From his bio he was grown up man and he cannot claim statutory “U-turn” when the challenge faces him after he completes this U-turn:-)

    2.”Politics has never been about principle…”
    Well, the problem here maybe the semantics of the word “principle, politics and interest” like the “system and non-system” debate we had before, but I believe that politics can be principle based. What interest did Lincoln had when he was bothered by slavery and worked to abolish it? What interest did Oscar Schinderle had when he took it upon himself to save hundreds of Jews?
    Sem

    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear Semere, do you agree with me?

      01. there will never be any justification to make U-turn and join the killer “HADIMNA KEYBLUS ANSAHIBNA YEBLU” is the saying

      02. I totally agree that it is about interest. if someone try to tell us it is about principle, the difference will be only one goes for his interest keeping in to consideration others interest while one goes only for his interest ignoring others. no one in this world will work against his interest unless he is not aware of what he is doing. even if a hero pays his life it is his interest to leave the world respected giving peace to others. the “Me” is always there except the “me” that follows the golden rule and the one who doesn’t.

      03. I don’t blame opposition and don’t go against them unless I have better way of opposing. otherwise I will continue making U-turns from PFDJ to opposition and the other way round and at some point of the journey history will crush me. “ferah aymote jegna aymote langalanga mote” is the saying. the hero on his stand remains alive even after his death.

      what makes me wonder is, some are making continuous U-turns while we have heroes who didn’t change their way. just one way, free and democratic Eritrea.

      • Semere Andom

        Hi KS:
        01. I agree.
        02.I was trying to make the point that politics can be about principle too as much as it is about self interest and we count the satisfaction that Oscar Schindller and Ab Lincoln got as “interest”
        03: The Eeitrea opposition is not created equal, some are self interested centered some are principle based. Even when ware was raging in Eritrea in the tail end of the eighties some joined for their own interest and benefited from the suffering as one of them fold me, “netsanetay abzi eya’

  • Tesfabirhan WR

    Dear Amanuel H.

    Well said and I am proud of your well articulated No to U-Turners. We will see what Ali-S will make an argument now.

  • Amanuel

    Hi Amanuel H
    Well articulate arguments backed by facts and evidence. Yes, PFDJ culture and value system must be defeated, until then no side ways NO U-TURN.

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Salam Amanuel;
    Well written and strong argument, let see how Ali rebuts it. As you may be aware I have had problems with Ali’s approach particularly since there is no space for public discussions to even speak up let alone demand change in order to effect change from within the system. He has yet to address how that could take place. Similarly, I am afraid you are sidelining the practicality of the too often tried and failed rhetorics. Given the state of the organized opposition we are at, could you tell us how you go from here all the way to Asmara, without resorting to outside intervention and /or calling for violence (aka civil war)? I just want to make sure your position on that: are you calling for the weeding out of PFDJ by any means including armed confrontation?
    On your conclusion, you left us with “

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam Ustaz Mahmud,

      I am sorry you put all your questions in one basket. so I found them to be difficulty even to sort them and arrange their priorities in themselves. Though most of your questions are answered at different occasions in my debate with Saay, I will give you a general glimpse of my political view and my positions throughout my political career, to the man you understood him “sidelining the too often tried and failed rhetorics.” First I don’t even understand what are the “tried and failed rhetoric” in your political book if you have any. I won’t to know them before I react positively or negatively and whether the imply to me or not.

      Since I joined the Eritrean revolution at the end of 1974, my “primary struggle or cause” was “to stop civil wars and promote unity to the cause of our struggle”. At that time the cause of our struggle was secondary to me. Hence forth, the reason why I joined ELF while I was a member of the ELF-PF (hizbawi-Hailetat) of urban activist in the early 70s, was for just to work to my primary struggle I mentioned above. So the wrong policy of ELF that says “the Eritrean revolution can not bear more than one organization” and which calls the elimination of ELF-PF by violent war made me to join the ELF to stop the fratricidal civil war. Actually what I found lately after few years, was that joining ELF was a blessing in disguise. I could talk, I could write, I could argue with the leaders and rank and files which I couldn’t get in ELF-PF and later EPLF-political culture.

      Even after I left the field with the push out of ELF organization, my goal and my mission is the same only re-framed to reflect the current political reality and changed to the “struggle for justice”. I believe justice will only come with “equitable political and economic sharing”. I will keep this mission until I breath the last breath. if this makes me sidelining with old rhetorics , according your reading, let it be. Eritrea will not be at peace with the current system of PFDJ however you try to reform it.

      Ustaz, one who calls for equitable sharing can not be one who deny the rights of PFDJ, if they want to hold their organization in a democratic Eritrea. Don’t push wisdom aside, as wisdom is always expressed by adjudicating justice. Giving free ride to PFDJ isn’t a wisdom by all account. I am observing you riding the “the horse of Saay PFDJ-2.” Eritrea has to start from leveling the plain field otherwise it is all same old political culture rotating around the same focal point and circular journey of PFDJItes.

      Whether it is acceptable or not, I have shared my solution to our problem with my fellow Eritreans. You could visit the archives of “tebeges” in awate.com. To your surprise those who oppose my proposal couldn’t come with alternatives, except they say “let us start with the 1997 constitutional document and the value system of PFDJ.” That is not an alternative solution but a continuation of the current states que. The idea Issayas is the only problem in Eritrea is dishonest and misleading. And those who have this argument are those who grew up with the PFDJ political culture of exclusions. PFDJ can’t be inclusive by its nature. The only harness to them is to make a contractual-constitutional-document that could be acceptable by the Eritrean people and their political organizations – a new culture of inclusion, respect the existence and need of others, and justice for all from the same level field. In here “needs” is not limited to “material needs” but also “political and psychological needs”.

      As to whether we could do it by ourselves or with the help of regional and international actors we can argue still on it depending on the severity of the oppression, and the evacuation of our youth from the nation we gave everything to it. On the intervention, I saw the necessity of IGAD and international community. Refer to my articles “Leadership and the geopolitics of the horn” part-I and Part-II. Remember the contribution of TPLF (now EPRDF) to the fall of Derg. The strategy of “united front” against one enemy does worked brilliantly.

      regards,
      Amanuel Hidrat

      • Mahmud Saleh

        Salam Amanuel;
        1. I need to mention it again: You are among the most articulated writers of our time; your deep penetrating analysis of thorny issues, your love of our beloved country and and the urge you show to see it out of its misery is well noted and appreciated by me. I have followed you for long time. So, there is no question, you have my respect. Your knowledge of the intricate social relations of our society and the solution you propose will undoubtedly be among the references for democratic Eritrea.
        2. Whenever I pose questions to you, Ali, and the rest big guys of this site, I need you to understand that I am looking for the safest and shortest and yet feasible solution; I am here to challenge my understandings or perceptions about the reality unfolding in front of us, and not for an intellectual rebut or challenge. I have no intellectual tools to stand in your face.
        3. On the ” tried and failed rhetoric” I did not particularly have you in my mind; I was referring to the traditional opposition. The result you know it; some of them are older than the state of Eritrea, Eritrean politics has always presented itself with opposing views, more markedly since the seventies of the last century expressed by the two major camps. If you accuse any one who joined the EPLF as as having more affinity towards PFDJ and its values, then it should be expected that the other side will describe you as siding with the opposition simply because of your liberation struggle experience, by virtue of you joining the ELF, since most of the old opposition organizations including all ethnic ones are splinters of ELF; that’s not good. I would expect you to judge me by what I say and not by what you think I should say. I am not against you rebutting Ali’s U-turn; I have difficult with it too, and have been hammering him. That’s fine and in fact it gives us (the readers) more possibilities to clear things. You are forcing him to get out of his intellectual fantasy and make his point. You deserve credit. ( I will have to edit and continue it, will be back)

  • Hayat Adem

    Good Emma! Fair enough, I would say.
    Ali-S is trying to argue it both ways, like the old time sophists. The weirdest part of his arguments come down to these two: 1) since the Angle we wanted to defeat the Devil is not strong enough for that goal, let’s switch our loyalty and support the devil; or/and 2) the devil we thought about is not that bad after all and it can get better if we start supporting it instead of opposing, we should try the strategy of supporting since everything else is not a better alternative.
    Well, both counts are nonsensical, of course, and more so when you relate them to the fierce urgency of the demand to save Eritrea and its people. There is something that Don’t sink in well about Ali-S. It is not about what he writes pertaining the content but the way he writes, the timing of his writing in perspective of what he used to say. Emma’s points are all about that.
    Hayat