WikiLeaks cables concerning Eritrea and its ruling clique, although amusing, has around it an air of fantasy as seen by an Eritrean eye; what is ‘ honey-glazed-Swa-fermented-grilled-goatmeat’ to Eritreans? To hungry Eritreans it may even sound as if it is a story jumping to his consciousness out of the leaflets of an Arabian Nights book. Some, like the American official who authored the cable, may have called to their minds the image of the emperor who was playing his fiddle while his city was burning, on fire. That story may fit very well to the description laid by the cables of WikiLeaks, but even then, it is a story too remote, too abstract, and too unreal! Hungry people have closer things and more immediate issues to attend to. Take, for instance, the story of the 300 Eritreans, forcefully incarcerated, abused and raped by Bedouin gangs in the Egyptian controlled Sinai Peninsula. Which one is more real? The stories disclosed by the cables or the heat you are feeling for being an Eritrean with a brother or a sister in the hands of Egyptian gangs? Which one is more real, the hunger an Eritrean feels, or the story about a hedonists’ party described to you in the WikiLeaks documents? Can the two, even, measure up to each other? Reality, too, it seems, come ranked in degrees; what you hear, though real, is, at the same time, less real in and more alien to you than what you immediately feel. And if you are the one who is feeling, the stories in the Wikileaks cables will seem so flimsy and extremely remote. The expanse between you and the story of ‘the honey-glazed-grilled-Swa-fermented-goatmeat’ described by the WikiLeaks cables, is the same as the expanse between you, hungry Eritrean, and a Roman Orgy of two thousand years ago.
The Egyptian connection
Who are these Bedouins who have the logistics that enable them to hunt heads not only in Egypt, but also in Libya and Sudan; some kidnappings took place inside Sudan and then the victims were transferred to camps in Sinai!. Who are these powerful people and how did they come to acquire this diabolic power which, effectively, resurrected slavery in the twenty-first century? Why are they beyond the reach of the mighty Egyptian omnipresent, omnipotent Security apparatus?
It is hard to believe that these smugglers work independently all by themselves. Calculation and analysis confirm otherwise. It is beyond reason to imagine the possibility of erecting a prisoners’ camp(s) in a well controlled, closely protected part of Egypt, out of sight of the Surveillance and Spy Aircrafts of the Egyptian army and security agencies! And they, the Bedouins, use satellite phones for coordination and control. Wow!
This camp(s) serve, no doubt, the interest of the Egyptian State, and, perfectly, feeds into its obsession of looking overly protective of the Israeli border, even more than the Israeli’s themselves, as have been demonstrated several times in cases involving Eritrean refugees caught on the barbed wire, struggling to cross to Israel. Such a camp, obviously, serve the purposes of the Egyptian state in more than a way:
It keeps few smugglers away from the border, which the Egyptians guard and secure, by making these Bedouins busy in a new lucrative business. The supposition that few Egyptian officers may well be in the loop, is unavoidable. The notoriety which these camps would excite, if the operations were ever discovered, is no doubt, assessed as minimal by an already desensitized state, after all Egypt have deservedly acquired the title of the torture-house of globalization, and hardly a new shame added on top of that can make an old dog learn new tricks. The perceived gains from such a condition far outweigh the notoriety and negative perception it raises. Unfavorable reaction can not outlast the gains, given the cheap price of Eritreans in their perception. Embedded here is the natural Egyptian contempt and insolence harbored for all black Africans including their own Kushites (Nubians). Their unabated, Racist attitude towards Eritreans is securing the dictator’s approbation and they are reaping his humiliating political idiocy at the cost of a flood of hypocritical pomp, certifying short-sightedness. Egypt is now taking advantage of the weird, but temporary, situation the Eritrean people finds itself in, and capitalizing in it. They assume, out of hubris, that the Eritrean people are too blind to see the facts and too stupid to understand their parasitic nature. Eritreans, the Egyptians must be assuming, are too dumb to see Egypt’s clumsy hand and notice its suffocating presence in their affairs.
The Asmera Eritrean Connection
The first touch of slavery starts in Asmera, Medhane kichner, a victim of the Egyptian shoot-to- kill policy of border guarding said this to citinews.net from his hospital bed in Al-Arish, Sinai:
“I got the telephone number of one of the smugglers and agreed with him. My trip which started from Asmera took us a month to reach Sudan. From there we entered the Egyptian territories through Halaib and Shelatin. There were about 50 other Eritreans in this journey between them women and children. “
You have to know that these points of Halaib and Shelatin are two places of easy access to the Rashaida, since these areas of South-East Egypt and North-East of Sudan are Sudanese occupied land, now controlled by the Egyptians restricting access and setting it of limits especially to Sudanese nationals. This difficult, and inhospitable habitats are usually frequented by nomads of different Rashaida clans and sub clans, blood-cousins of our own Rashaida. This may call for a little introduction of this human group, so called Eritrean, living amongst us unknown by the rest of the population until recently when its presence was noticed at the rise of the ELF and the great spike of refugee flow of escaping the war in Eritrea. The Rashaida took the chance putting their expertise in smuggling into a lucrative business of moving people across the border.
Who are these people? Where do they come from and when? Why is it that they look as if they are above the law in Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt and Libya? Yes, they are also in the Sudanese Libyan border, and there too, they are in charge of trafficking goods and people.
The Bedouin connection
But if you want to make a knot for a beginning of an explanation, then follow the story from one illuminating point: Just visit the News of the meeting held between officials of the ELF including Mr. Hussein Khalifa with tribal chiefs of the Rashaida last February in Sudan, in which the ELF complained and warned about the kidnappings, rapes, and incarcerations of young Eritrean men and women by Rashaida gangs that were taking place in Sudan. This meeting came in Feb. 2010, following a series of reports of such accidents by Omaal.org, an Eritrean opposition website.
Following the meeting, the Rashaida chief issued a statement in which he tried to dodge responsibility of these barbaric acts by passing the blame to uncontrolled rogue elements of his tribe. He promised to make an end of these practices, soon, once and for all.
Now, almost a year into his promise, Reshaida’s aggression and ferocity has grown and gone even wilder.
But who are the Rashaida?
Rashaida are taken to be one tribe by the average Eritrean, but these are three Arab tribes, all belonging to the supra tribe of Rashaida scattered in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Eritrea, Libya, South Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula. The three Rashaida tribes of Eritrea are: Al-Baratikh, Al-barai’ids and Al-Zilaimat.
Rashaida are late migrants to Eritrea. When they first entered Eritrea, they came as refugees fleeing the onslaught of the Mahdiah revolution around 1885. Many of them went back to Sudan after the fall of Mahdiah, but a good part of them remained in Eritrea until today. Originally they came to Sudan fleeing tribal wars and starvation in Arabia about 150 years ago.
In Eritrea, they lived secluded in the margins and away of population concentrations, working with their goats and in smuggling which they confuse it for trade.
They had no political ambition in the countries they settled in, except recently when they joined the “Beja Congress” to form the Eastern Front to fight the government in Khartoum. The Eastern front was initiated and formed under the supervision of the Eritrean regime for its purposes of having leverage in Sudan. The Saudi daily Ukaz claims that the Eastern Front provides the Eritrean regime with intelligence services in matters concerning the Eritrean Opposition organizations and its movements. This has great credibility if you know that Abdalla kina an important leadership figure of the Eastern Front of Sudan was an active member of the EPLF during the war for Eritrean independence. The same goes with Hassen Mohammed Osman Kentebai, another leadership figure of the Eastern front, from the Habab tribes, and Mabruk Salim chief of the “Free Lions” of the Rashaida.
The Rashaida is the only ethnic group in Eritrea which didn’t suffer harassment by the Eritrean regime, the reason being, most probably, the unholy marriage of Politics and Crime.
How do Rashaida see Eritreans?
In the website of the Bani-abs’ electronic forum there is a video clip with some Rashaida dancing on and there is a curious little title to the clip in Arabic, it reads:
“Notice with the Rashaida tribesmen their slaves and the Sudanese cameraman, the one wearing white sweater, and blue pants. “
This statement goes a long way to give you the kind of picture Wolf Blitzer says is worth a thousand words.
It remains that you should know that Bani-abs is the sister tribe of the Three Rashaida tribes of Eritrea, and in fact its name is bani-rashid-al-absia. It is a strong tribe in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, South Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and the Sinai Peninsula. The Rashaida in general were for as long as they have been in Eritrea secluded having no relation except perhaps with the Beja. They were smugglers and have nothing to do with politics and matters of governance. Their first such experience is their partnership in the EPLF and the PFDJ’s not so secret life of crime.
Although the Rashida’s contribution to the movement of Sudan’s Eastern Front was relatively small, they were, nonetheless, rewarded proportionally much greater than they deserve, this was, Beja and other Sudanese say, in recognition of the Eritrean dictator, the patron of the agreement between the Government of Sudan and the movement, of their indispensable past and future services for maintaining his life of Crime.
The Jerusalem Eritrean connection
In January of this year (2010), Haartez, a major Israeli news paper and information media reported this:
“Egyptian gangs detained African refugees who tried to cross the Sinai border into Israel and reportedly tortured their hostages and held them in poor physical conditions. The gangs forced the hostages to contact their family members in Israel in order to get ransom money for the Africans’ release and transfer into Israel……….The police investigation found that the man who is supposed to receive the ransom money in Israel was reportedly an Eritrean citizen named Nagasi Habati. Police also uncovered that the money transfer is set to be conducted through an Ethiopian man residing in Israel named Fatawi Mahari…………Police received a similar complaint in September, where an Ethiopian claimed his cousin was being held hostage in Egypt and Mahari was again the contact for transferring the money to the abductors in Sinai. A man named Mohammad Ibrahim was also named a collaborator, and when police arrested him they found $50,000 in his home. Police later arrested Mahari and Nagasi in a Jerusalem apartment and found a sum of $100,000 in their possession.”
So, it is then a confederation of Crime starting in Eritrea taken over by the Rashaida in the Eritrean-Sudanese border and extending to the end at in the hands of Eritreans (again) in Jerusalem.
You can’t escape this conclusion seeing Eritrean smuggling agents, PFDJ apparatchiks, in Asmara, arranging for the haul; then in the middle of the string at the borders are the Rashaida extending to Egypt and up the Israeli border, then at the end of the string inside Israel, is the PFDJ agents collecting the money. similar stories repeat themselves in the Sudan-Libya border, where Rashaida smugglers work there, also, unabated and with impunity.
Slave-girls for Sale
But these reports have another close relative in spite of its very low tone at the time. In June of this year (2010), Hail.net a Saudi electronic Media reported that it has now become a common knowledge between the citizens of Hail (A town in the north east of Saudi Arabia) the sale (sell like in slavery) of Abyssinian girls for serving in the houses at a price of Seven thousand SR (US $2000).
The word Abyssinian is something of a code-word for Eritreans (most of the time), though it could also mean Ethiopians.
Hail, by the way, is the home of part of the Rashaida of Saudi Arabia.
Denials from the master torturer
This Saturday, 11th of Dec. the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abu’lghait said that his government has no information concerning Eritrean migrants abducted by traffickers in the Sinai Peninsula. He added that the ministry of interior which maintains continuous contact with the foreign office has no information of Eritreans incarcerated in Sinai for ransom. He went on saying that if there is any one with accurate information he has to prove it and show the places.
In short, Mr. Abu’lghait is belying such reports as by Human rights watch who wrote this:
in late November and early December 2010, traffickers shot or beat to death six Eritrean nationals who were among hundreds of asylum seekers and migrants held at one location near the Israeli border since late October. Two migrants held by traffickers confirmed to Human Rights Watch that traffickers are holding 105 Eritreans, including nine women, for ransom in about 10 underground rooms.
Egyptian authorities frequently say they are cracking down on organized crime in the Sinai,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “But the government is slow to react when human traffickers are holding hundreds of migrants for ransom
This is too bad; the foreign minister of the mighty state of Egypt is lying, since the news a few days before his comment were:
Responding to media reports, on December 8 Egyptian security officials told the Egyptian daily Al-Shurouq that police were interrogating individuals connected to smugglers or traffickers in Sinai who may be detaining up to 300 Eritreans.
It is also reported that:
Throughout 2010, Human Rights Watch has obtained numerous credible reports – including detailed statements by Eritreans apprehended by Israel near Egypt’s Sinai border – of a well-established trafficking network. Traffickers regularly hold hostage hundreds of mostly Eritrean and other sub-Saharan asylum seekers and migrants, including children, in various locations for weeks or months until their relatives abroad pay thousands of dollars to secure their release.
One is lost at the minister’s request for proof and his need for being led by the hand in his own country, yet the proof is just under his nose. Does he think that the world will believe that the Egyptian State is as innocent, weak and hopeless as he is trying to depict, or is it that he and his government are in cahoots with the contrabandists? Seeing Egypt’s electoral grand fraud, branded as worst and more dangerous than Haiti, recently, one is inclined to believe the latter: The Egyptian State is somehow in partnership with the traffickers. This can not be a far fetched speculation, after all Egypt is the only country in the world that shoots un-armed refugees to kill them as Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, observed.