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A Mafia Group Masquerading as Lawful Government

Twentieth-century world history has recorded the rise and fall of powers that waged devastating regional and global wars to conquer and dominate the world. Their ultimate goal was to affirm their self-proclaimed racial supremacy and/or to plunder the national wealth of other societies. The world had also witnessed political systems that set out to impose their bizarre notion of social order and cultural purity and exterminated millions of their citizens in the name of social transformation and cultural revolution. Further down the atrocity scale, the world continues to host fascist regimes who, corrupted by greed and intoxicated by power, torture and kill thousands of actual and imagined political opponents to achieve total subjugation of their peoples.

Superposed on this history of global tyranny was the emergence in the first half of the century of the criminal underworld, namely mafia organizations (and later drug cartels) that flourished over the years to become a worldwide phenomenon. Mafia enterprises are ruthless and use their power and fearsome reputation for violence to run lucrative operations that rely on such criminal acts as threats and intimidation, assassinations, bribery, tax evasion, money laundering, etc.

Mafia organizations often thrive where the state security system has been rendered ineffective by military/political crisis or been crippled by corruption. But they also operate in stable countries with robust legal and security structures and where law-and-order is firmly in place. Here, mafia enterprises function either at the fringes of the legal system or entirely external to it by setting up front companies to disguise their criminal activities. Even so, they still have to operate under the intrusive eyes of political establishments resolved to combat the threat that these criminal organizations pose to public safety and national interest.

Eritrea’s Double-faced ‘Ruling Entity’

It was against this backdrop of vagaries of history that Eritrea emerged as a nation and ushered in a socio-political phenomenon arguably unlike any other the world has ever witnessed. The PFDJ regime, in power since the nation’s independence in 1991, blended the twin social evils of state tyranny and mafia-style criminality to create a rare and perhaps uniquely brutal  ‘political system.’ A key feature of this system is its use of national sovereignty as facade to mask the criminal substructure of a government controlled by a handful of mafia-type power elites.

Structured with such a duality of lawful and criminal attributes, the PFDJ political system has long baffled the world with its belligerence, contempt for international law and propensity for deception. Less known to many, however, are extraterritorial activities that the government runs covertly and which bear all the hallmarks of classic mafia operations. But unlike traditional mafia organizations, the regime runs its criminal activities cloaked in its “sovereign government” status, facilitated by its diplomatic missions and covertly managed by high ranking government and party officials.

Eritrean opposition groups have documented multiple cases of exiled dissidents that were murdered by the party-state over the last quarter century. There were also events in 2016 that offered the world a glimpse into the system’s widespread criminal activities. Regime-sponsored threats, intimidation and extortion typical of its broader overseas operations were exposed in court proceedings in the Netherlands. These events prompted policy decisions and legal measures aimed at putting an end to such acts in the country. Citing the Dutch experience and noting similar cases in neighboring countries, the EU Parliament subsequently passed a resolution condemning the regime’s actions. It also urged member states to investigate the activities of Eritrean embassies and PFDJ affiliates in their jurisdictions. Few months thereafter, the UNHRC accused the regime of committing crimes against humanity on its own population.

A Clandestine ‘National’ Economy

More revealing of the mafia-like qualities of the PFDJ party-state, however, is the nature of the financial and economic systems that it has put in place at home and abroad. Much of the available information on the regime’s offshore economy was compiled by the Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG).[1] The SEMG is a UN panel mandated to monitor compliance with the provisions of Security Council resolutions that have imposed sanctions on both countries. In their annual reports,[2] the Group refer to the Eritrean government’s domestic and offshore economic structures as ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ economy, respectively. In reality, however, the two economies are intrinsically similar: Both are wholly or largely illicit, lack transparency and accountability and share a blurred distinction between state and party roles in their management.

  1. a) Formal Economy: Eritrea’s so-called formal economy is a controlled economy of the worst kind and one that is avowedly anti-private sector. Its structural and operational frameworks bear no resemblance to those of national economies anywhere in the world. Ascribing wicked intentions to the principle of international cooperation and waving a fake “self-reliance” banner, the regime fosters a hostile investment climate which has spurned foreign direct investment. (As noted below, the mining sector is a not-so-curious exception to this!) Domestic investment has likewise been squeezed out by gruesome and corrupt licensing process, overly restrictive import and money-transfer regulations and outright government interference in business operations.

PFDJ has a near-monopoly on almost every sector of the economy. Its Economic Affairs Department owns and manages a slew of companies that operate with little or no regulatory oversight. Banking and currency exchange are the exclusive domain of the government and the party. Yet, the party runs black market, currency-trading and money-transfer businesses to generate hard currency for an economy starved of investment and reeling from a negative balance of trade. The construction and transport sectors too are the monopoly of party-owned companies which, though plagued by inefficiency and corruption, face little competition.

Import businesses are dominated by PFDJ corporations which engage in contraband trade and profit from an intricate web of fraudulent import-handling arrangements hardly concealed from regulatory agencies. These fixes enable them to avoid import duties (on goods for domestic market) and export duties (on “transit” commodities smuggled into the Sudan). Another cross-border operation of the mafia enterprise is run by senior military officers who routinely transport arms and refugees from Eritrea through the Sudan to destinations in Egypt and the Sinai via a smuggling-trafficking ring they have established in those countries. [3] The proceeds from this operation and laundered money from contraband trade are managed in much the same way as PFDJ’s much larger offshore financial assets (see below).

  1. b) Informal Economy: The Eritrean party-state also runs an informal economy which is sustained by an “extensive, offshore and largely illicit financial apparatus controlled and operated by intelligence, military and party officials many of them operating in an ‘unofficial’ capacity.”[5] This vast and complex economy “is managed almost entirely offshore through a labyrinthine multinational network of companies, individuals and bank accounts, many of which do not declare any affiliation to PFDJ or the Eritrean State, and routinely engage in ‘grey’ or illicit activities.”[6]

Ultimate authority over the informal economy, which involves a much higher proportion of hard currency transactions than the ‘formal’ one, rests with the Economic Affairs Department of the PFDJ. The department controls a number of foreign companies, overseas business partnerships, hard currency deposits, offshore bank accounts (directly). Also it manages importation of commodities, transfer of hard currency remittances, collection of diaspora taxes/contributions and revenues of PFDJ-controlled enterprises (through party agents and diplomatic missions).

Each year, hundreds of millions of dollars are generated globally from these sources and activities. Some of these revenues are moved through embassy-held accounts at banks in the U.S. and European countries; others are routed through various opaque money-transfer arrangements. All are eventually channelled to a consulate-controlled account with HSBC in Dubai, U.A.E. — a major hub for PFDJ offshore financial networks. It is known that PFDJ representatives at the consulate tap into some of these funds to pay for a wide range of imports and to finance the regime’s covert operations in the region.[7]

The Grim Realities of  PFDJ’s Eritrea

Any task of scrutinizing the essence of the PFDJ party-state or appraising its virtues need not venture beyond a quick glance at its governance record and its stature on the world stage. At home it has rejected constitutionalism, judicial independence and separation of powers; instead, it opted to rule by presidential decree. Internationally, it has earned itself the dubious distinction of being one of the most accused, condemned and sanctioned regimes in the world today – a testament to its tyrannical and belligerent qualities.

A few factual observations suffice to illustrate the brutality of PFDJ’s tyrannical rule: Hounded by a government bent on enforcing indefinite conscription and forced labor in the name of  ‘national service,’ 5,000 young people flee the country each month. The regime maintains more than 300 prisons around the country, and over 10,000 dissidents and prisoners of conscience remain locked up in its dungeons. These are confounding statistics for a nation with a population of just 4.5 million.

The regime has run the country’s private sector into the ground. Eritrean towns and cities have become symbols of stagnation and decay, and the once-thriving national economy has been ruined to the level of rural economy in a middle-income country. GDP shrunk at an average rate of -0.9% during the period 2000-2009.[8] The rate increased (at least on paper) to about 3-4% for the four years that followed the commissioning of the Bisha mine in early 2011.[9] That an annual mining revenue of a paltry $200 million could cause such a big jump in GDP is indicative of a lethargic economy. The increase itself is more apparent than real since mining revenues never reach the national treasury, but are diverted to offshore bank accounts of the mafia entity.

A Nation Held Captive by Mafiocracy

Eritrea’s experience of the last quarter century has made one thing abundantly clear: The PFDJ party-state is a mafiocracy whose raison d’être is amassing wealth and limitless power for the clique that controls it. Its design for the country is not one of fostering international cooperation, foreign investment and trade as a way to build a prosperous, stable nation at peace with itself and with its neighbors. Its leaders have no wish to uphold the rule of law and to respect the human/civil rights of “their own” people. Neither do they have the rectitude to let citizens contribute to their nation’s socioeconomic development and share in the returns therefrom.

Intent on controlling the population, the regime impoverished rural and urban communities alike, nurtured fear of external threats and cast a wide net of mass surveillance in the country. But these control measures alone could not satisfy its leaders who saw militarization of society as essential to ensuring total subjugation of the population. To this end, they put the country on an interminable war footing and obligated all able-bodied citizens to be under arms in the military, the ‘national service’ program or the people’s militia.

The suffering and indignity engendered by these cruel measures have stoked popular anger and resentment which continue to spur the youth to abandon the country in droves. Nevertheless, the PFDJ elite remain unfazed by the exodus: They are acutely aware that these aggravated young bloods are a ticking bomb and, should they stay in the country, would one day spark a mass uprising capable of sweeping away the tyrannical order. It is therefore no surprise that the mafia enterprise is a primary promoter of the exodus. Designated military commanders routinely facilitate the flight of young people from the country and their onward travel to far-off destinations for a fee of thousands of dollars per head.[10] On the other hand, those who cannot afford the social and financial cost of fleeing the country face no better fate than a brutal life of servitude.

To the PFDJ mafia group, Eritrea is not a people deserving of liberty, justice, dignity and decent living. It is simply a territory whose sovereignty affords a shield from criminal liability and a sort of “command-and-control-bunker” from which to run an international mafia enterprise. Condemned to a life of servitude and gripped by poverty, fear and uncertainty, the population sadly finds itself coerced into protecting the crime bosses, their hideouts and the nerve center of their international criminal operations – all under the guise of ‘defending the motherland!’


Any reasonable person would agree SEMG’s authentic account of Eritrea’s clandestine financial and economic systems does portray a stark picture of the disturbing realities in the country. Strange as it is, the “national wealth” or “national economy” that pundits ascribe to Eritrea does not belong to the crisis-ridden nation and its destitute population. The PFDJ mafia enterprise has designated itself the sole proprietor of that wealth! Eritrea’s ruling clique presides over the intricate, illicit offshore operations of the enterprise to create wealth for itself; and it has made sure that revenues so generated are stashed away in Swiss banks. The enterprise preys even on revenues from the country’s only export (of precious and base metals) which it channels into its hideaway bank accounts abroad. All the while, the PFDJ regime continues to erect endless political and socioeconomic impediments that have systematically decimated the ability of the country and its people to create wealth.

The absolute power the regime wields in the country is thus rooted in the system of clandestine economic structures that its mafia enterprise has instituted outside the country. It is financial resources from these external sources that sustain the regime’s socioeconomic agenda of limiting livelihoods to subsistence levels for the bulk of the population. The same resources support the state security apparatus that imposes ubiquitous surveillance on the population. In other words, the power that the regime uses to control and subjugate the Eritrean people through the instruments of fear and destitution is derived from outside the country. Therefore, opposition groups and the diaspora movement in general will do well to recognize this truth and reset their political strategy accordingly. The battle of undermining the regime’s external power base, hence loosening the stranglehold of its security police on the population must certainly be fought outside the country.


[1]-[2] https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/751/work-and-mandate/reports
[3]-[10] http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2011/433

About Yohannes Zerai

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  • Blue Asmara

    Salam Everyone. Please do not give up on diplomatic channels. The East African Community, with U.N. financial and administrative support, should be exceptionally tasked to mediate relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ex-Tanzanian President Jikaya Kikwete could be asked to take on the Lead Mediator Role. AU and IGAD could be asked to provide an auxiliary support. Arusha, Tanzania; would provide a much needed neutral venue. Currently, Ethiopia and Eritrea do not maintain diplomatic representation in Tanzania.

  • Blue Asmara

    Dear Moderator: is there a reason why some of my comments are being flagged as spam and delayed in their release?

  • Paulos


    Isaias says to the Ferenjis “come and see” and you tell us “come and claim it.” The difference between the two is not in the wording rather, when the former is charm-offensive the latter is a road to perdition.

    • Abrehet Yosief

      Hi KBT,
      The COI report was written for outsiders. For those inside Eritrea, to paraphrase a beloved singer, each victim could write a 500 page report of what happened to him/her. I find the injection “even the United States rejected it.” quite interesting. When the US criticizes the regime, it should be rejected, but when, at least according to PFDJ, the US rejects the COI report, it is to be welcomed and mentioned at every opportunity. When you say come and claim it, you echo the Eritrean Ambassador to Israel in his appearance in front of the Knesset. A young exile confronted him and the ambassador retorted that the young man should pick a gun and fight him. It is this insistence on finding solution only by force that is sending Eritrea downhill. At least I commend your unintended honesty when you write “pfdj fought to get her” and not to liberate her.

      • KBT

        Selam abreham
        You twisting my world ,what BY US that the instigator of the COI and they rejected it because it full of lie
        I m not saying pfdj is a bed of rose it’s tough and rough
        And when it come to its sovereignty it changes animal no mercy and many of us love it, we need tough people not fighter on Internet and for the whole confront the embassador in israel, well he started insulting the embassador rather than talking what is going on, he was impolite in front of many political leaders of Isreal,
        By they let out of Isreal
        Hey disapear and good for him

        • Abrehet Yosief

          Selam KBT,
          I guess you mean when it comes to sovereignty it takes tough measures. You are once again confirming that PFDJs preferred response to any challenge is starting war. Did it protect its sovereignty? The war with Yemen ruled in favor of Yemen; the war with Ethiopia, failed to get back Badme; the war with Djibouti, now begging a third country to mediate and returning POW after long denying their existence. The war with Sudan, I don’t know what that was about, but for sure we lost a few dear ones there.
          You say it is tough and rough and that many of you love it. I agree, it is tough, rough and also criminal when dealing with its own people. You may love the no mercy attitude but many of us hate it and are willing to pay any price to escape it. I don’t believe picking up arms against ones fellow citizens brings a solution. I believe in discussing and exchange of ideas. If you don’t like “fighting on internet” no one is forcing you to do so.

          • KBT

            Selam abreham
            What I meant by it sovereignty anyone who put eritrea existence in danger from outside or inside it will take any measure,
            For the with those countries they have their own contest ,I know people like you malevolent like to use them for political purpose.
            For ethiopian war well read wikileaks how your instigate it,he said it’s not about badime is to punish issayas, the war was an open invasion and eritrea stood up to defend itself.
            And if we speak about crime there is no worst than the so called opposition and their followers who lobbied for the sanction, pression and isolation against eritrea so the can suffer and leave to drown into the sea, there is more monster than those people, they are shameful a disgrace for eritrea .

          • Blue Asmara

            Salam KBT and thanks for the comments. You are correct in that it is indeed incredible the way that the Eritrean ‘opposition’ has shamelessly not even questioned the validity of the grounds upon which U.N. sanctions which were unfairly levied on Eritrea. No wonder the border issue is not a popular subject for discussion here.

          • Abi

            Hi Blue
            Sometimes your comment is out of the Blue. The border issue has been debated and debated and debated and debated….. Let me say it in Amharic
            የድንበሩ ጉዳይ እንደ ማስቲካ ታኝኮ ታኝኮ ታኝኮ
            አገር አነታርኮ
            ጉንጭ አልፍቶ
            እንጎል እታክቶ
            ኡኡ እሰኝቶ….

          • Blue Asmara

            Salam Abi and thanks for your comment. What has not been discussed at length is the fact that because U.N. sanctions were not from the very beginning applied to Ethiopia for its refusal to abide by the EEBC border decision, this had the end effect of U.N. sanctions being unfairly slapped on Eritrea, who out of a miscalculated act of desperation, started host Somali opposition groups in Asmara. I fully understand why as an Ethiopian the border is not so important to you.

          • Abi

            Hi Blue
            What you are saying is Eritrea acted as a ባለጌ ልጅ.
            ያልተቀጣ ልጅ ሲቆጡት ያለቅሳል::
            The ” out of miscalculated act of desperation ” is just lame. It is too lame!
            You should have said out of ” stupidity and ብልግና” the Eritrean dictator hosted a wanted terrorist in his backyard. You are trying to sugurcoating it. This is also debated by the big guys at Awate. No need for me to chew it again and again and again. Shall I say it again in case you missed it?
            One thing I like to say again and again is take your Badime today and don’t talk to me again. You want me to say it again? Sure, take your Badime today.
            You see Blue Hawey, as an Ethiopian the border does not bother me at all. We have so much to worry about. Like fighting poverty, dabo lehulum, water lehulum, electricity lehulum, healthcare lehulum, education lehulum, housing lehulum… hulun lehulum.
            Badime? That should be your trophy for starting the stupid war. A trophy for stupidity. Take it back. It’s all yours.

          • Blue Asmara

            Hi Abi and thanks for the comment. Lame it might be but that is the way that I see it. By hosting Somalia opposition groups, PIA wanted to exert pressure on the U.S.A. (create security havoc on the Horn of African) to push Ethiopia to comply with the EEBC decision.

          • Abi

            Hi Blue
            “PIA wanted to exert pressure on the USA”. I’m laughing so hard I’m turning Blue.

          • Blue Asmara

            Salam Abi and glad that you are so easily amused. Maybe you can get a bowl of Jello and place it on a table under bright light and and stare at it intensely; I am sure you will find the humor.

          • Abi

            Hi Blue
            Sorry I can’t find the humor.

          • Abrehet Yosief

            Dear Blue Asmara,

            I think you are better than this. Since no child chooses to whom and under what circumstances to be born, it is wrong to say what you just said. Not that it should matter, but you need to remember there are many of those children who are Eritrean, serving in the National Service or as tegadelti and continue to serve. Please focus on the issues you want to bring forward without such offensive statement. As they say, ድሕሪ ስሕተት ምኽሪ ይርከብ፤ ድሕሪ ጥራጥ እግሪ ይእከብ. I urge you to take back what you said.

          • Blue Asmara

            Salam Abrehet Yosief and thanks for your comment. My intent when making the comment Derg babies was certainly not meant to alay blame on any child. It is simply a fact they while the Derg was in Eritrea, many children were born that were legitimate as well as illigitimate. One has to remember how truly ruthless the Derg while they were in Eritrea. I still have vivid memories from late 1985 while passing by the Red Sea Caravelle Restaurant and seeing the blood drenched body of a Derg soldier who had murdered his Eritrean girlfriend inside for refusing to marry him. After killing her and while walking out of the restaurant, he then took his own life. While it did rarely happen, it was in those days, a real shame for an Eritrean girl to be involved with a Dergue soldier. The Tigray, not unlike Eritreans, were common victims of the war during that period. Many Tigray were displaced from their original homelands and were extremely vulnerable when living in Eritrea during those days; especially females. Being a Derg baby certainly does not imply that a person is inately bad or evil. Given that said, I do believe that there are a number of Derg babies who are now adults, that tend to populate Eritrean opposition websites, as kind of a strange way to either eak out their identity or hold on to old dreams which can never be again.

          • KBT

            Selam Blue Asmara
            Abingdon is the son left of those who use to beat our fathers and mothers, rapes our sisters and kill our brothers and her have the audacity arguing with eritrean about their past and future, he is her to remind us our life was under their criminal rules

          • Blue Asmara

            Salam KBT. I sometimes think that there are a number of Derg babies and/or children spawned in pre-1991 Eritrea that are trolling Eritrean websites. They indeed appear to be confused birds of nature and try to flock together with no migratory pattern in sight.

          • Selam Blue Asmara,
            Do you think that those whom you call derg’s children and those so-called amiches are the people who are fanning the animosity between the two countries and are aggravating the situation more than other ethiopians and eritreans? I have read amiches call themselves eritrean ultra-nationalists. could it be the same with derg’s children born in eritrea from eritrean mothers? I think you are referring to these children, when you say derg’s children? Do you think that an ethnic purity identity card will serve eritrea’s interest in a multi-ethnic country? Just curious.

          • Blue Asmara

            Salam Horizon and thanks for your comments. I am not referring to Amiches. There were a number of unplanned Derg babies mainly from Tigray mothers who were living in Eritrea at the time.

          • Abi

            Hi Blue
            “…unplanned Derg babies mainly from Tigry mothers…”. Could you please explain a little further?

          • sara

            Dear blue
            Interesting, no wonder there are so many ehtiophilis flooding this and other sites with negative stories about Eritrea and eritreans.
            Thanks for the info

          • Berhe Y

            Dear sara,

            Please do not fall in the trap of BA and KBT are leading, I think you are a lot more than that. What ever it means “Derg Babies” or “Tigray Babies”, please look at it from the children point of view. None of this children chose to be born as such but by the actions of two adults who most likely fall in love. And none of these children are conceived and delivered any different than any other “legitimate way”.

            For example, if I understand correctly that you reside in Sudan. If there is a Sudanse and Eritreans happen to produce a child, and any Sudanese say “Eritrean babies” use as derogatory terms..is it ok?

            Having said that, what ever this means it doesn’t affect me personally and it should never affect anyone either.


          • sara

            Dear Berhe
            thanks for the advice, but let us be honest …you and all of the forumers know that derogatory like words are against the forums rule, but not many do observe the rules. i do not accept derogatory words or insults to people or even individuals in this forum but still this are daily occurrence. if you were here on the last days of 2016 i even made a new year(2017) wish that there must be some kind of immunity to those who are here openly (not nick names) contributing specially those who are our elders. believe me it pains me when i read insults thrown against some seniors by some one in my age category. of-course you may ask how do you know who is who, well i may be not totally right but i know most of the seniors from their write ups and the rest of-course it is obvious .

          • Nitricc

            Hey Sara; Blue is telling the truth. look how Hayat and her likes Berhe are reacting. Tell it as is, Blue!

          • Hayat Adem

            You are showing your true colors. This is the worst comment I’ve read from you. The struggle and pain of pretending is effectively over.
            “Derg babies”
            “Unplanned babies”
            “Babies of Tigray mothers”
            How low?!

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Blue,

            I think this has been debated a lot here awate. Let me ask you, have you had a change to listen Haile DurE interview and if you haven’t can you please listen. Sometimes, it’s just the personality and the tactful diplomat that make things happen. And Eritrea had no better diplomat and tough negotiator as Haile DurE. He knew exactly what will happen and he was well prepared for. I personally do NOT believe if it wasn’t for him, the UN would have involved in the first place. Ethiopian parliament had openly declared WAR against Eritrea and informed the UNSC and the world…and they gave ultimatum for the Eritrean government to get out. The UN not in so many words but accepted their declaration of WAR and asked Eritrea to comply. Eritrea refused so sooner or later it will come down how far and how long Ethiopia was willing to go.

            Ethiopia could have refused to sign the agreement, go to any court all together. It could have said, Eritrea current government has invaded us and we will not negotiate peace with this government or the president and we will have to wait until such time where Eritrean people have a legitimate government.

            I suspect Melles agreed to quick end of the war and sign the deal because he was under pressure but the hardliners to continue the war beyond Badime. If he had continued the war as the hard liners wanted it, then Ethiopia would have faced the wrath of the International community / UNSC and the consequence that followed, but more importantly, it would have become a WAR of survival for the Eritrean people and no body can predict what that would mean.

            Thanks to Melles, Isayas lives another day…you see how happy he was when he sign the deal…..But he is scorpion, it’s his character and when the Badime verdict come, he wanted to appear to be the winner..now that he has jailed all those who did the right thing to avoid the danger Isayas has put the country in, and he wanted to prove and his sin erased.

            Dear Blue,

            What’s this whole boarder demarcation anyway… Who actually benefited the most. Ethiopia. Here is how…Please find the boarder ruling…Please print what Eritrea claimed. Please also print what Ethiopia claimed. Please also find the final ruling map…Please trace the lines and cut them exactly…Please transpose the Eritrea claim against the ruling and trace the lines that do not match…You will see how much Eritrea claimed and how much it got…in other words what it LOST and do the same thing on the Ethiopian side and you will…

            I can say, Ethiopia got over 90% of the claims it made…and Eritrea got about 10%…that’s all.

            I do NOT sympathize with the Ethiopian government or their position but I am writing this because what’s real in the ground. And no body will do anything about it, unless…

            1) A full scale WAR was initiated by Eritrea and take over Badime. And the consequence that may follow.

            2) There is a change in government in both sides ( I thought after the death of PMMZ, may be things would have changed) but that chance also seem to have disappeared.

            Other than that, no body from the international community would not make it a priority to “sanction Ethiopia”.

            It’s not a priority and urgent…the world and SC has a lot of other urgent matters to focus on right now, Syria, ISIS, Israel / Palestine, N. Korea, Russia/ US, etc..

            If you are really concerned about the Eritrean people, you would show some efforts to lobby the Eritrean government to change things around for the Eritrean people so they can move on with their lives.


          • Semere Tesfai

            Selam Berhe Y

            1. – “I suspect Melles agreed to quick end of the war and sign the deal because he was under pressure by the hardliners to continue the war beyond Badime. If he had continued the war as the hard liners wanted, then Ethiopia would have faced the wrath of the International community…

            “Thanks to Melles, Isayas lives another day…you see how happy he was when he sign the deal.”

            “I do NOT sympathize with the Ethiopian government or their position”

            Are you trying to tell us the war didn’t go beyond Badme? And you’re thanking Meles for that – right? And you want the Eritrean people to believe this?

            With this kind of mindset, if the Eritrean opposition are hoping to get to the helm, and if they are hopping to be greeted with flowers in Asmara, they are smoking/chewing some good stuff.

            Semere Tesfai

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Semere T.

            Instead of focusing on the gaul neger, as you always do, why don’t you tell us how to get back Badime and force Ethiopia to demarcate or the UNSC to sanction.

            It’s not important what I think about weyane, it’s what’s on the ground. Mycomment with weyane is to show and give context to how the demarcation / border ruling come to play.

            Like I said, no body would have forced Ethiopia to agree to demarcation..yes the tried to capture Assab and they were returned…but can you garantee that they wouldn’t have been able to do so again, if they kept on trying..

            Let me tell you a story, a true story…when I went to visit Eritrea, I met with my friend from high school. He was on that war and on the Asab front.

            Isayas gave the order to evacuate from Asab. All the administration, they didn’t even bother to collect their documents and left the city and they abandoned it.

            It was general Totil who told his army, Weyane have to spill our blood and run us over before we abandon Aseb and evacuated…and continue to defend. Also please note very carefully, Gadafi has helped with his planes, transportation of goods, food and army to reinforce once the Ethiopian attempt was repelled.

            Isayas was a seating duck waiting for Ethiopia to attack and he has no plan B.

            He actually was ready to run to Sahel mountains..that’s way he kept on evacuating from all contested area within 24 hours…

            That’s why Haile DurE said…” ወያነ አጠላቂዮሙና ነሮም፡ ንኢሰያስ አብ ሱርኡ አሺኖሞ ነሮም”. You can agree or disgree on the comments or on the timing…but that’s the reality…Isayas was caught peeing in his pants…

            You in your comfort seat can brag all day and all night, but the reality on the ground is different.

            As to what the Eritrean people will do, I can guarantee you 100% they will be dancing with flowers..as soon as Isayas is removed.


          • iSem

            Hi BY:
            Minor correction: Totil was not a general he was I think the Admin of that area then, the guy who refused to withdraw under IA direction was Osman Saleh, he was one of the Foroto incident planners, he was humiliated, now no one knows what happened to him after they made him apologize. IA gave him a Mercedes as a prize after the Assaba incident.
            After the Forto incident, a young journalist I know was covering the anniversary of the Nadew Ezzi operation of 1988 and she found a picture of one of the commanders in the archives and she featured it in the documentary, but during editing, her boss Paoulos Netabai called her and asked: “do you know who this guy in the picture is ?
            a tegadalai who was leading in 1988 and made the victory happen, she replied with confidence Paulos shot back: look closely, he is Osman Saleh, who came here in Jan 21, 2012 and wanted to change the government, remove it now, you guys have no idea”
            “How am supposed to know atht his was Osman, but I will remove it”, she replied.
            The irony is Paulos Netabai joined EPLF in 1988 after the Nadew Ezzi was destroyed and hundreds of young students were inspired and campaigned and forced him to join them instead of bumming after 2 years earlier he as finished his high school

          • Berhe Y

            Hi iSem,

            Thanks for the correction.

            I have also heard they have edited/removed Haile DurE dancing i after Eritrean’s referendum celebrations.


          • iSem

            Hi BY:
            Not only do they erase humans form the surface of the country but also theyw ant to erase their indelible history
            I asked the journalist about the dancing and she laughed and said people know about it as it was a famous clip where Haile and IA danced (teteqebabilom) and the boys at the ministry of info erased it,
            I am sure some far sighed person is keeping record like some one did with Bitweded’s speech.
            You see that is the difference betweend Dedebitans and Naqfawayan, the first do not erase your hisotry, they credit you in their anniversary if you were one of the founders, like they did for Teg. Ghidey, for Aregawi Berhe, Siye— all people who have severed their association with them and that is what Semre Tesfay and the rest of the gang do not get or get but enjoy the erasing of history along with its makers

          • Semere Tesfai

            Selam Berhe Y

            1. – “Isayas gave the order to evacuate from Assab.”

            I heard that many times and it could probably be true. If that is the case, that would be adding one more black spot on his record.

            2. – “It was general Totil who told his army, Weyane have to spill our blood and run us over before we abandon Aseb and evacuated”

            I knew Ibrahim Toteell in person. Toteeell was never a military-man (but a political genius) – not when he was with ELF, and not when he joined EPLF. The General that saved Assab (if true) is General Osman Saleh (agree with iSem).

            3. -” No body would have forced Ethiopia to agree to demarcation.”

            Wrong! Wrong! Wrong……. And this is the success of the Ethio-Eritrean “border” war:

            (a) It FORCED the Woyane dominated Addis regime to sit at a round-table and talk.
            (b) It FORCED the Woyane dominated Addis regime to resolve the Ethio-Eritrean border issue through a third party (UN border commission)
            (c) It FORCED the Woyane dominated Addis regime, as a precondition – to accept/agree the ruling of the international border commission, with no ifs and buts.
            (d) It FORCED the Woyane dominated Addis regime to agree with no precondition – after the ruling of the border commission to demarcate the Ethio-Eritrean border per the EEBC ruling.

            And that – by any political yardstick is a great accomplishment. Today, because of the Badme “border” war, we got our borders clearly defined, we kept all our ports (camel Wells as your hero Meles use to call them) , we kept our 354 islands, we kept our 1200 kms pristine sea coast, and last but not least, we denied future Addis regimes any excuse to cross our borders. And that is a great accomplishment in my view.

            4. – “Isayas was a seating duck………….. Assab was defended successfully defended by the gallant Eritrean defense forces”

            Not compatible! Both can’t be right as a seating duck can’t defend Assab. Your hate of Isaias is clouding your vision and judgement. Isaias might have made a judgement error/ mistake on a single battle (Assab), but for sure, he was the commander in chief of the whole war theater. And the end result of the Badme “border” war speaks for itself – or simply ask –


            5. – “Haile DurE said…” ወያነ አጠላቂዮሙና ነሮም፡ ምንኢሰያስ አብ ሱርኡ አሺኖሞ ነሮ”. You can agree or disgree on the comments or on the timing…but that’s the reality…Isayas was caught peeing in his pants…”

            As to the “Isayas was caught peeing in his pants…” part of your argument – ንዝረኣየ ይኹኖ: you’ve the burden to prove your claim.

            As to Haile DuruE’s speech – you’re not doing any justice to Haile DuruE. He didn’t say what you’re claiming here. Right after that controversial speech, a friend of mine (Eritrean) sold me a tape of that speach (before You Tube). I’ve listened to the tape many times – though out of context (what you saying) yes he did say “ወያነ አጠላቂዮሙና ነሮም….” being self critical (of the EPLF/GoE/PFDJ) battle(s) commanders and leaders. But he NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER…… said “ንኢሰያስ አብ ሱርኡ አሺኖሞ”

            6. – “As to what the Eritrean people will do, I can guarantee you 100% they will be dancing with flowers..as soon as Isayas is removed.”

            The Eritrean people may dance carrying flowers when Isaias is deposed – but not if the replacement to Isaias(PFDJ) are the current Woyane pampered Eritrean opposition.

            Semere Tesfai

          • Berhe Y

            Hi Semere,

            You like to duck and forget about the elephant in the room. why don’t you tell us how to get back Badime and force Ethiopia to demarcate or the UNSC to sanction.How do we move forward from here…how do we save the 5000 Eriitrean leaving the counry in a month, because we are in this no war no peace.

            I could be wrong on the name of Totil or Saleh…but regardless and Eritrean hero.

            Like I said, it’s Haile DurE successful diplomatic and negotiating skills that got the UN involved. NOT Isayas. It’s not me saying this but the American diplomat, Anthony Lake who wrote a comment in Boston Globe.

            When I said Isayas was a seating duck, because he waited for 2 years when Ethiopia was arming to the teeth and waiting for the opportune time to attack. He refuses all peaceful resolution and gave them the excuse they were looking to attack. As was demonstrated by the letter send to Isayas by Beraki (G15).

            Any change that comes from any where that would restore peace and democracy in Eritrea by Eritreans is welcome.


          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Berhe,

            I gave up on him when I saw Defending DIA than to the oppressed Eritrean people. It is not worth to spend your precious time to some one who doesn’t care the plight of his people. I remember my physical chemistry teacher (a Russian), when he can’t get response from the administration, he use to say “to speak to Ato Seleshi is to speak the wall”. Therefore brother Berhe & others has to know that “to speak to DIA and Semere Tesfay is to speak to the wall.”


          • Abraham H.

            Selam Semere, yes, you’re right; Durue didn’t say what you quoted about Isayas in that speech.

          • Abraham H.

            Selam Berhe Y, I heard actually it was Reisi Mirak and other military leaders stationed in Aseb at the time who disobeyed the order from Isayas to withdraw from the port city. They had actually withdrawn some of the ‘civilian personnel’ who were engaged in support services.

          • iSem

            Hi Semere T:
            This is a proverbial comment by a proverbial tegadali: taking whatever you want and spinning it to make your point, that is fine in a adversarial politics where each side is making their point because they believe it would advance the interest of their nation, but in our context, in the Eritrean dilemma where the future of the country precariously hangs on the edge of a cliff or to use your fav line (PS: you never admitted it but it can be gleaned from your myriad defences of the indefensible) that proverbial edge of the sharp knife ( belhi melatse”, this comment of yours can be categorized not as spinning to advance ones believes that in turns advance the security and well-being of the nation but to ensures the longevity of the tormentor.
            BY mentioned the best speech given by an Eritrean, the speech of Haile DeruE and you glossed that over that is very telling Sir. Haile D criticized his own administration, he rightly praised and glorified the Eritrean people, a far cry from what EPLF and IA are accustomed to, paid tribute to the world leaders who helped and mediated, reiterated the mission of the Eritrean Ghedli for liberty and dignity, emphasized the need of rule of law, reminded that we should not seat on our laurels and you had nothing to say about that since you came out of the woodwork to challenge Ali Salim, and BY indavertly gave you a chance to say something about that speech, but as some of the refugees whose stories are discussing would say: debit akannu……

          • KBT

            Selam Berhe
            You said you suspect meles wanted to finish the war quick and not going beyond badime, really? ?????
            What assab front, what about tsorona front, barentu, tesseney, the destruction of martyrs memorial, their thrown everywhere.
            Are you from tigray or one of those so called opposition that sold their soul to the devil? ?????
            The eritrean defence army fought and defended the survival of eritrea and have impressed the hole world .
            Issayas, issayas that the only thing you have in brain

          • Berhe Y

            Selam KBT,

            I am telling you the truth because you guys do not understand the reality on the ground. Please see my response to Semere T.

            I am not denying Eritreans didn’t defend, what I am telling you, no body could have forced Ethiopia to agree to go to court.

            Anyway, instead of you crying badime, demarcation, why don’t you try to take it by force…and while you are at it, why don’t you try to remove weyane from power…


          • Berhe Y

            Dear KBT,

            People like you are hypocrites so it doesn’t surprise me. What people like do is, they do all possible means and way to make sure their family are protected and leave and be in the safe countries that they abhor, including they help them escape via Ethiopia. And the worst part is, they even go to Ethiopia to vacation and search business opportunities and they turn around and label everyone, weyane this, Tigraway this, etc..

            The reason I say Isayas is, because he is in charge of all and everything related to Eritrean lives. He is bigger than God, he decided who lives and who dies by the reckless decisions he makes on behave of the country and the people. We do not have a parliament, a military, a court, a news paper that challenges him and his actions.

            This is the reason why I say and many others say Isayas must go or he must change his ways…do you get it…but why do you care, as long as you go and vacation in Eritrea, and you help escape your family members and you have no body serving and dying ….it’s business as usual…

            One more thing, please be confident in your own skin…


          • Blue Asmara

            Salam Berhe Y and thanks for your comments. My view on the border issue is crystal clear in that both Meles and Isaias signed on the dotted line and agreed that the EEBC’s ruling would be final and binding; Ethiopia continues to illegally occupy Eritrean land. There are no “If, ands or buts” about the matter and how it relates to Eritrea’s sovereignty. Rule of Law, basic principles of what if right and wrong, and morality have no Statute of Limitations.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Blue,

            It really doesn’t matter what your views and my views are if they are clear or not. To be honest, I don’t think there is any Eritrean who has any different view than yours. I have yet to hear anybody saying..we should give them Badime and other disputed territory. Everyone that I know is for the rule of law and the boarder decision ruling.

            Let me give you a simple analogy..say you have a father and mother who have 4 children…And this mother and father fought and they decided to go to court to divide up the house and the contents inside. And the courts decided the ruling, that both agreed to be abide by. When the ruling comes, say the mother decided to accept the ruling, and the father refused to accept because some of the contents of the house “a coffee table” is in his posession and the court decided to award to the mother and he refused to give back. But the court say, if both parties chose to negotiate exchange some of the goods or where the division line is, they can do if they chose to do so. Let’s also say the children are divided 2 are with the mother and the other 2 are with the father.

            The father is moving on with his life, he is in position of the coffee table, he is taking care of his 2 children, allows them to go to school, to work and when they grow up to start a family, own a business, move out of the house as they wish.

            While the mother is punishing the children to make sure they always guard the line, and she doesn’t want the children to do anything with their lives, they are not allowed to go to school, they are not allowed to work, they are not allowed to start a family, they are not allowed to move out, but instead she wants to live the rest of her life crying, about that freaking “useless coffee table” and would not move on with her life.

            In the process some of her children are dying of hanger, the run to foreign land, and some die trying to run away as far as possible.

            What kind of mother would sacrifice her children for a coffee table. Even if she insist on getting the coffee table, why can’t allow her children to move on with their lives, work, study live free and start their family if they wish too….WHY does she insist to hold them hostage in their own side of the house.

            And this what the problem is my friend…Eritrea is like the mother who is sacrificing her children for a piece of land. What kind of mother would such a thing to her children..

            I use this analogy, I don’t know if you are father or mother but that’s what you are doing when you insist “no ifs and buts”…ok no “ifs and buts” but leave the children alone to move on with their lives and stop them from wasting their lives guarding a line or waiting to get the coffee table.

            If you are a father or a mother, I am sure you will do anything in your power to make sure your children are protected and get what they can achieve. You would not sacrifice their lives for a coffee table…and that’s my position my friend. How long and for how many years are you prepared to hold the children hostage or allow them to die running away from you.


          • Abi

            Hi Berhe Hawey
            What if the mother in your example is not the real mother? She is a great example of a bad foster mother who abuse children under her care. The children should have stayed with their father where they were loved and respected. You see Berhe Hawey, the children were misled by the charm and charisma of the mother.

          • KBT

            Selam Blue Asmara
            No They won’t debat about the border issue, in fact there is this guy from the opposition on VOA who said than they agree with tplf regime to hold badime until they come to power. Can believe this and they claim that they care for our people and ignoring the hundreds of thousands who left their home in that all erea ,
            Hypocrite for their mouse nothing true come out,

    • KBT

      Selam Paulos
      Yeah many come and saw and gave good judgment but for the so called opposition it is hard to see or to swallow the reality after all they don’t care about the people it’s just an excuse they are against the legitime ruler of state of eritrea they seek power so for those who believe that there is a suffering come and see,and for who seek power come and claim it

  • said

    Thank you Yohannes in describing the present state of Eritrea accurately.
    It should be no surprise the IA is doing exactly what he is being doing for long time and Nobody can say they were not warned
    Nobody who followed Eritrean politics and policy closely of EPLF can say they were not warned of ISAIASEZIM. The Eritreans true to their Political Culture are equally victims of the Cult of Personality, that one man, a dictator, a savior, superhuman, would decisively contribute to their deliverance. With time that single leader is bestowed with the traits of mini-god, completely out of the reach of accountability. IA is the perfect example as he and his coterie ought to vacate the place make room for truly representative democratic institutions to take it from there. The absurd, defying all sensibilities, travesty of all travesties of the International Law. The resignation and the Apathy of the Eritreans find their best example in the enduring stranglehold of IA over the Eritreans Cause, the Eritreans people and the whole destiny of the Eritreans. However, the sad irony of it all, entirely unprecedented in the annals of human history, is of the Oppressed and subjugated people and yet you find among diaspora collaborating and spying for PFDJ oppressor to ensure the security and continuity of the Asmara regime.

    How do we not end up like this? and how some Eritrean loved and worshiped Isaias’s the student of Maoist, in the processes and many within ELPF leadership enabled to be come Dictator. Who only seek to destroy any one in his way. As Eritrea sinks in its own making, foolishness, incompetence and depravity, and no one hold him accountable. That a nation’s IA is willing to serve only himself seems to us like travesty now. given IA’s dictatorial rule and the man’s ingrained superiority complex was well known;
    Under IA, Authority entered into complete controlling the country and with his hand picked security collaboration and coordination and security apparatuses answerable only to IA .
    Nearly of all times revisiting certain cataclysmic events centering on the fate of the top nationalist and patriotic within EPLF political cadre personalities becomes of most relevance to put the evolution of current events pertaining to the continuing Eritrean misery and the worsening situation in perspective. The premature eclipse of these many great Eritreans and the list is very long across Eritrean society, we may know top G15, the like of Solomon Petrous, Sharifo , and previously the death of great comrade Ibrahim Affa personalities, the premeditated physical elimination proved most calculated as perceived in retrospect and within the context of very valid givens realty fact and not theory.
    Many civilian Eritrea from diaspora were willing to serve their nation and many of those EPLF leader enjoyed exceptional powers and influences over their ELPF supporters. Ironically, the premature physical elimination of the top brass leaders, prepared the grounds for IA to be dictator. and the ultimate demise of Eritrea aspiration and solidarity among Eritrean.

    The Irony in all of this is for IA to act as the absolute ruler, the crowned king, who would, on a slight signal without reference to any rules and to non existence the consultative executive and legislative Institutions that will make-up the hoopla of a nascent non existence Eritreans democracy.
    Acting as the uncontested king, found it fit and appropriate to impromptu issue blessings, in his sole individual capacity, of an initiative of great consequence without reference to any rules.
    In short, King IA took it upon himself; took the law into his hands; reduced the complexity and the myriad rightful claimants to the holiness of a 30 old struggle and liberation to his personal whims.
    With dictatorial power, come the consequence of the dismantling of Eritrean hope, solidarity and Eritrean unity.
    Some of EPLF leader, were very seasoned, a very solid statesman like, represented a huge obstacle and a deep challenge to IA and for his hegemonic mission.
    Newly independent, with IA, a country very ill-prepared for economic development given the country’s dearth of economic absorptive capacity; a country most seriously lacking the necessary physical and social infrastructure that could handle and cope with economic development this would seriously undermine the whole human fabric of the country and play havoc with social relations impinging deeply on the country’s long observed and long adhered to moral framework. On wonder if Ethiopia can make great progress economically.
    Then the potential for Eritrea was huge and within framework, and resource with diaspora capital and would have adopted a more gradual, orderly development plans suitable and in line with Eritrea ’s slowly growing absorptive capacity and improved economics and infrastructure. Eritrean intelligentsia and capability would consider adopting a more calculating and a more cautious, more balanced and a much less wasteful economic development would save national wealth and, in time, direct national wealth towards projects that would contribute to the diversification and the broadening of the economic bases towards value-adding productive economic projects to ultimately lessen the country’s reliance on many national resources commodity, like Gold. That is for another day.
    Those leading Eritrean within their field, true patriotic leaders and many name less in their own capacity, whose physical elimination rendered Eritrea, the with a new and a different face, totally in disarray, lacking direction and with nearly completely wasted generation and wasted national wealth
    Lesson to be learned for caring. In Psalm 118, it is written, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and that’s precisely. a promise means nothing, and belongs to none of us, unless it belongs to the least among us, the most discounted, oppressed and despised. We are not doing anyone a favor or being selfless when we align ourselves with the powerless, the forgotten, the strangers among us. We are taking the only sure path to our own salvation.
    If anyone is excluded from universal promises and protections, then we all are. It’s just a matter of time for each of us before our individual luck runs out. There is no one whose life is so foreign, so strange and alien to us that it does not reflect on our own humanity. In fact, the stranger and alien it at first appears, the deeper the connection ultimately goes.
    Situation to understand. A hundred and fifty years ago, a German physicist derived the concept of “entropy” from the second law of thermodynamics. Since then, entropy has stood for the idea that everything in the universe eventually moves from order to disorder, from structure to formlessness, and from predictability to uncertainty. Entropy is the measurement of that change. It is also the most fitting description of current trends in geopolitics and geoeconomics.
    History to learn from. Good judgment bordering on defeatism refraining from active peaceful resistance by the oppressed Eritreans brings back to memory the movie of a true story of a Polish General that I once watched on TV nearly, many years ago. The story relates, if I well recall, to an episode at the start of the First World War (WWI) with the German Army making its invasive thrust into the Polish Territories. As the Polish General of an outmoded branch of the military of the Polish Cavalry was deliberating with his officers the best strategy to stop or slow down the advancements of the invading German Army, to all officers’ great astonishments, the officers discovered upon the gathering of fresh intelligence that the advancing German troops were highly mechanized with state of the art military vehicles that the Polish Cavalry was no match to resist or make the slightest dent in resisting the advancements of the invading German Army. The Polish officers including the General all agreed that any attempt at resisting the advancing German troops would be completely futile and would definitely result in the immediate defeat and total obliteration of the resisting Polish Cavalry. However, cognizant of the stupendous odds and understanding the inevitable dismal outcome, the Polish Officers and the Polish General, all, unanimously took the decision to stand up and resist the advancement of the highly modern and mechanized German Army.
    The Rationale of the unanimous Decision by Polish Officers rests on the wisdom that stand up to the invading German Army that would result in total massacre of the resisting Polish Cavalry would give to present and future Polish generations: “Considering the ephemerally of existence, let’s leave a legacy that would inspire future Polish Generations.” Poland now stands as a free and a prosperous nation as the lessons learned, the Legacy left by the steadfastness of the Polish Cavalry Regiment continued to inspire the Polish to resist foreign occupation until final victory.

  • Abi

    Hi All
    This is how Ras Abi defines a mafia government.
    A mafia government is where a Bank Robber turned into a Bank Governor.
    It is definitely a mafia government where it’s Embassy turned into a ground zero of Money Laundering. This illegal activity was overlooked by most or all citizens. Actually, it had a very high participation and success rate.
    Money Laundering becomes the main mission of an Ambassador who was a Bank Robber.
    Sorry, if I’m a little rough on the mafia government.

    • Blue Asmara

      Salam Abi and thanks for the comment. What type of money laundering are you referring to? I hope not the 2% tax issue. Eritrea and the U.S. are the only two countries in the world that tax their citizens while they are abroad.

      • Abi

        Hi Blue
        I have to secure a permission from the moderator on duty to describe in detail the money laundering scheme perfected by the regime in the Eritrean Embassy at Addis Ababa.
        It looks like it is a taboo topic to discuss . My comment was deleted for equating the regime with mafia. This comment offended the moderator for no apparent reason.

  • Amde

    Selan Yohannes

    You said,

    “To the PFDJ mafia group, Eritrea is not a people deserving of liberty, justice, dignity and decent living. It is simply a territory whose sovereignty affords a shield from criminal liability and a sort of ‘command-and-control-bunker’ from which to run an international mafia enterprise. ”

    What a crisp and wonderful phrasing.

    I have posted here before my belief that PFDJ will live for a very long time as a criminal network even after being deposed from power (however that happens).

    I think this is the most accurate; and more importantly, most actionable characterization of the regime. It is free of the debilitating ideological, confessional, regional “schisms” within the Eritrean opposition and community.

    Kudos sir.


  • des


    This is the most honest diagnostic of the current regime in Eritrea!

    What is not much covered is the role of the people of Eritrea, what is their role in the mess which is destroying them to extinction?

    What is the solution and when will it come?

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Hi des,

      In response to your first question, I can only state the obvious: In any society there always exists a dynamic process of continuous change and adjustments (as in thinking, knowledge, association, etc.) that enables the society to cope with its existing circumstances. A needed, major societal change or adjustment would materialize when a certain set of conditions or factors are satisfied. It is, of course, very difficult to be specific about the current state of this dynamic process in Eritrean society or any other society for that matter. All we can say is that such a dynamic process is definitely in progress (subtly and below the surface) at the moment in Eritrea, and the resultant change will be witnessed when the process will have been completed with “the alignment of the key, determinant sociopolitical factors.”

      As for the question of “When?”, people (as individuals, groups, organizations) can, through their actions, affect the pace of that process of change; but they cannot predict with any certainty the timing of the anticipated change itself.

      • des

        Hi Yohannes,

        Thanks man, one of the key area which I always think missing in these days is organizational skills, if we fail to organize then there is no much we can achieve. Only when you organize you can propose ways to tackle the current problems. Money is one of the main driving force for change and because of lack of organization Eritrean opposition could not generate money that would be used to mobilize and show strength to attract the masses of our people.

        Our generation is divided and diluted and could not think much to bring them together.

        If there is no time plan for the change even in principle, the practical change wont be easy to be visualized. It is blind ruling the blind.

        I argue we should organize and set our time and see what happens to the plan.

        We cannot morn and diagnose and we have no clue of the solution. We should at least try to come with something!

  • Ismail AA

    Selam Yohannes,
    This is one of the most lucid and well-written articles I read in a while. It summarized the ruinous pillars on which the system stands: the economy and its operational mechanisms. I agree with your conclusion that the external agencies that sustain the regime’s funding raising and procurement agencies should be tackled because they constitute one of the crucial life lines. By the way, the elaborate mafia-style economic operations were built and became entrenched from as early as the regime’s time as liberation front.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Hi Ismail,

      Your positive comments are greatly appreciated. Yes, I learned that the existing nefarious economic system that the regime benefits from is a holdover from the armed-struggle era, but has since been refurbished and expanded to involve the regime’s overseas “diplomatic missions”. I hope serious discussions on how the diaspora opposition movement ought to deal with this issue will be initiated in the coming weeks and months.

  • Blue Asmara

    Salam Everyone. While the above article is well written, it is simply a recapitulation of what has already been said many times over. Is that it? Is the strategy simply to keep on lambasting PIA and the PFDJ in hopes that will force a change of Eritrea’s Government? Has not work so far. A lot more brainstorming and creative ‘Out of the Box’ ideas are needed at this stage.

    • Paulos

      Selam Blue Asmara,

      Let me take a wild guess, you still want to talk about the border ruling right? And I am sure when you suggested talking or brainstorming out of the box again you meant to talk about the border. Well, science may have given us the reason why we yawn but I say there is one more reason and by now it should be obvious.

      • Blue Asmara

        Salam Paulos and thanks for your comment. Does talking about the border add less value than talking about the meaning of ‘Sakit’? There are a number of other possible strategies to discuss in regards to Eritrea such as 1) Use of a neutral third-nation mediator, 2) Use of regional coordination mechanisms such as AU, IGAD and EAC; 3) Possible use of ECOWAS; 4) Possible use of Eritrea’s ports for humanitarian purposes, and 5) Use of the U.N. transformative agenda.

        • Stefanos Temelso

          Hi brothers, Are AU, IGAD, ECOWAS etc bigger than the UN? The regime so hard headed that it will not even listen if Jesus himself comes and tries to make it understand the folly of no war no peace or intransigence. I think the regime only listens to the devil!

          • Blue Asmara

            Hi Stefanos Temelso and thanks for your comments. Maybe the regime is too hard headed but efforts to engage them should never ever stop; which is largely the case at present. The U.N. is big but definitely has a neutrality issue as far as Eritrea is concerned as does the AU, ECA which are based in Addis Ababa and IGAD as it is based in Djibouti. These regional coordination mechanisms should be pushed to have meetings regarding Ethiopia & Eritrea at a venue outside of Ethiopia. EAC and ECOWAS are possible interveners.

          • Abrehet Yosief

            Hi Blue Asmara,
            The idea of discussing different ways to engage the regime is a good one. It is when you try to normalize Isayas Afwerki that we get side tracked. You mention regional coordination mechanism as a solution. ECOWAS as a community of West African Countries is out of the picture. The second one EAC, if you mean the East African Communities, is one of the pillars of African Economic Community. IGAD is also one of the pillars. Eritrea, finding it difficult to work with IGAD would be persuaded to welcome an intervention from EAC. That would be an interesting idea.

          • Blue Asmara

            Salam Abrehet Yousief and thanks for your comments. ECOWAS has before expressed it openness to mediate disputes outside of their membership; so they should not be discounted especially as they can be seen in an auxiliary function to the AU and the UN’s transformative agenda. East African Community (EAC) is well suited to play a mediator role, also in that it is based in Arusha. Tanzania is neutral in terms of Ethiopia and Eritrea with neither country having an Embassy in Dar es Salaam. Former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete could be called on to lead mediation efforts.

    • Simon Kaleab

      Selam BA,

      You said: “Is the strategy simply to keep on lambasting PIA and the PFDJ in hopes that will force a change of Eritrea’s Government?”

      You forgot something. Some of them were trying to analyse Isaias’ fate by reading tea leaves and consulting Voodoo priests [Tenkolti].

      • Blue Asmara

        Salam Simon and you are indeed correct in that some here “are still trying to analyze Isaias’ fate by reading tea leaves and consulting Voodoo priests [Tenkolti]”. Add on top of that, the majority of commenters here who are Ethiopian, seem totally content to spend their time discussing the veracity/accuracy of ancient Ethiopian history, telling jokes, and expressing how much they love each other and how they are ‘all one and the same’.

        • Abi

          Hi Blue
          You got it wrong Blue. The Ethiopians are telling you we are all one and the same. That includes Eritreans.

          • Blue Asmara

            Salam Abi and thanks for your comment. About two-thirds of modern Ethiopia’s population would fail to meet the Habesha litmus test whereas about 85 per cent of Eritrea’s population would pass. Now, please tell me about how much in common Eritreans have with Oromos, Somalis, Gama, Gambella, SNNPR, etc. Anyways, it is rather a moot point in that Eritrea has been a sovereign independent state for almost a quarter of a century.

  • Abrehet Yosief

    Selam Yohannes,
    Excellent article. For me the apparent sadistic nature of the commanders is the biggest puzzle. It seems, what drives them is not only their greed but some perverse hatred against their people as well. Guinea-Bissau, the only nation described as a narco-state has its leaders and highest army commanders completely involved in drug trafficking. Since the drugs end up in Europe, the drug enforcement agencies and European countries do not leave Guinea-Bissau alone. Hence, a weak government structure that is not an accomplice to the drug trafficking continues to exist. In the case Eritrea, the commanders are clever enough not to interfere too much outside Eritrea so as not to invite serious intervention. They continue with their illegal activities which allows them to indulge in their heir petty cravings with impunity. But it seems to me they also take pleasure in the suffering of their people.

    • Blue Asmara

      Salam Abrehet Yosief and thanks for your comments. Eritrea’s Government is really not unlike many other dictatorial regimes in Africa and across the globe. Mafia regime? Come on! PIA has always styled the Government on Enver Hoxha Albanian style of Governance; nothing more and nothing less.

      • Abrehet Yosief

        Selam Blue Asmara,
        First, the time we live in and the times of Hoxha are completely different. Second, Hoxha believed in Marxism-Leninism in its purest sense, what does Isayas Afewerki believe in? I am aware he confesses to believing in Maoism and detested Deng Xiaoping for making changes, but this Hoxha comparison is a new one. Last, and most important, I don’t understand your “he is not any worse than others argument.” What is your point? You think being called a Mafia meant he was worse than other dictators? I think calling him mafia is being magnanimous.

        • Blue Asmara

          Salam Abrehet Yosief and thanks for your comments. I did not say ‘not worse than others’ rather I said ‘not unlike others’. The comparison with Hoxha is hardly new and in fact, in days of old, both Meles and PIA were open adherents of Hoxha and had said that the EPLF and TPLF had looked to Hoxha for inspiration. PIA not unlike Hoxha, while on their path to Socialism, both enforced a Stalin-like cult of personalities and created a completely isolated society with virtually no tolerance of political dissent.

          • Hameed Al-Arabi

            Salam Blue Asmara,

            To deny a criminal his crimes while he is at large is accepted, but to deny individuals who have no pie in the crime is the most wonderful. I can’t describe such individuals more than labeling them as the most retarded individuals. Do we have such individuals in Eritrea? Yes, we have many. At the end of the day when everything is divulged and exposed, they will simply tell you without any shame “Kimzi De’a Zeymeselena”. We have many such experience in our very near history.

          • Blue Asmara

            Salam Hammed Al-Arabi and thanks for your interesting comments. A true mess Eritrea is these days, there is not doubt about that. But aside from a frontal attack on PIA/PFDJ, other strategies at the same time need to be pursued for which at present is simply not the case.

          • Hameed Al-Arabi

            Salam Blue Asmara,

            Frontal attack is not good on a group that changes its strategy from time to time for the welfare of the nation with good intentions. The people of Eritrea are face to face with a group of criminals who didn’t make any changes in their conduct for the past 45 years. If you know any change in the course of their past history kindly inform AWATES. Do you hear in your life people negotiate criminals or criminals change their attitude 180 degrees?

          • Abrehet Yosief

            Dear Hameed,
            There is no possibility to change for the regime, no one left to rebel …
            ንጥርዓነይ ሰማዒ: ንዓውደይ ሰፍኢ: ንዝኣረገ ኣድገይ ዝብኢ: ኣይትኽለኣኒ ::ይብሉ ኣቦታትና (n’Tri’Aney sema’EE, n Awdey sef’ee, nzi’arege adgey zib’ee, aytKHl’ani) Our elders said “Lord don’t deny me a kind heart to listen to my plea, a tool to gather my harvest, and a hyena to eat my old donkey. The kind farmer having no heart to euthanize his old/senile donkey, prays for a hyena to end their suffering.

          • Abraham H.

            Selam Abrehet, your mastery of the Tigrinya language and wisdom is simply wonderful. Thanks for the good laugh-)

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Hi Abrehet,
      I posted my response to your comment above nearly 2 hours ago, but it has yet to get through. I just found out it is now held on discus with “pending” status. I can only hope it will be released soon and reach you overnight.

  • Paulos

    Selam Yohannes,

    The clarity of your article in tandem with the substance in it is simply beautiful. Thank you.

    If I inject a “spin” in to it, the label—mafia seems misplaced from a historical perspective to the very least where its genesis is traced in the late 1800s of course in Sicily when the island was ripe in lemon or citrus cultivation. I sure don’t mean to lecture you on history but the rise of Mafia happened because of weak states as they failed to protect private properties where one of the mandates of a state is to uphold the rights of the people and to protect their properties as well. That is, the state wouldn’t have concrete justifications against the Mafia because the rise is again because of the state’s failure or weakness. The land-owners turned to the Mafia for protection from random predators. In light of the otherwise terse historical thread, the regime in Eritrea is a league of its own where historians and political scientists are straggling to throw it with in the cocophony of “isms.” To be more precise, Sakitism appears an apt label if you will where a regime of its kind is holding the people hostage not only for a ransom but to suck their life line as in blood like a rabid vampire.

    • Abraham H.

      Hello Paulos, I’ve heard this term ‘sakitism’ on several occasions lately, I tried to find its meaning to no avail. Could you explain what it means? Thanks.

      • Paulos

        Selam Abraham,

        Sakit as in something is done with or on a whim or impulse where it can also mean utter recklessness as well. I remember growing up in downtown Asmara we used the word to sound so cool hustling and bustling with in the posse. I suspect it is Arabic in origin. Maybe Awatistas can say or add more about the word.

        • Abraham H.

          Selam Paulos, thanks for the reply, I tried to google it, coudn’t find the term. May be it is something newly coined as someone is faced with the challenge of characterizing the nature of the Isayas regime.

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Abraham H,
            Sakit is Arabic for silent. However, its colloquially it means, “just like that”, “for nothing”, “useless”, and “for no reason.”
            It is one of those words that gain currency and adopted by speakers of other language, like the Arabic “marra” meaning very. It is common to hear marra zuhul, marra kebiru, etc. If someone asks you why didn’t you stay at home yesterday? You can say, “sakit!”, meaning “just like that.” So, ‘sakitizm’ means “quietism”, literally. Colloquially, it could mean any of the above.

          • Paulos

            Selam SGJ,

            Many thanks for the info. If it literally means as you put it “quitism”, how would it fit into the narrative as in the regime is in an impulsive drive if you will.

          • Abrehet Yosief

            Selam Ustaz Saleh,

            To add my two cents worth here, in the case of “sakitizm” it is more on the “for no reason” than the “quiet” meaning of it. In Sawa the political education was given by tegadelti. If you may recall, there was a leaked document listing a number of questions that students were raising for which the cadres couldn’t answer. They were teaching them that a Eritrea was following mixed economy, a mixture of free market and command economy. This was explained to the students as much better than capitalism, socialism etc. The students kept asking more questions including for an example of a country that succeeded with a mixed economy and what that exactly meant. Putting all this in context and the way they were being managed and ordered around, the street savvy students nicknamed the method of the authorities as “saktizim”. Those in command did whatever they wanted, for no reason. Rules or “law” were described by the students/national service as written in “pencil”, meaning it could be erased anytime the authorities changed their mind. So it was the national service students who coined the word “saktizm” to describe the regime. Indeed it is absolute “saktizm” when you see it from the perspective of those living inside.

          • Paulos

            Selam Abrehet,

            That is precisely what I was looking for and I remember someone telling me to that effect. And many thanks for walking us through its eventful development.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Abrehet,

            Thank you for elaborated reply for the origin of the word sactism.

            I heard it for the first time by someone who was writing inside information on Facebook, I had no idea there was a prelude to it, I thought that guy coined it, but brilliant that he used it. It is brilliant word that describe the regime exactly for what they are.

            Sakit, to me it means “someone who does something for no god reason – useless, waste of time”.

            For example this Agazian guy, kla gdefena, suq elu dey sakit eyu.


          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello Berhe Y,

            It just occurred to me that you are forcing “Berheway” with your nick. Hmm!

            Anyway, you said “Sakit, to me it means ‘someone who does something for no [good] reason – useless, waste of time’.”

            Close enough, but “Sakit” is usually applicable to an action than to an actor. The literal meaning and usage was described well by SGJ, and the etymology of “Saktism” (or “sactism”, as the facebook guy spells it) was beautifully described by Abrehet Yosief above.

            I am simply here to make you an expert with it.

            Usage example:
            What are you doing out there? Sakit
            What are you talking about? Sakit
            What happened? Sakit
            What are you thinking? Sakit

            “suq elu dey sakit eyu” is okay as long as it is implied:
            suq elu dey sakit eyu [zidekim zelo | zizareb zelo | ziKheyed zelo… insert some action here zelo.]

            Now you may begin to act superior netom deki Asmara.

          • Berhe Y

            Thank you Fanit,

            For sure you will make me shine among Asmarinos, but that is an enormous task in itself.

            Due to time and my laziness, my only source of Eritrean politics is AT and the forum. I don’t follow any other source, with occassina news on FB. If I am not mistaken, this is the first attempt to describe what this “sactism” means, and in what context it was coined.

            I was very impressed when I read what the guy was writing on FB and I thought he coined the term and thought what a fitting. I had no idea it was coined in SAWA and what a fitting description of the regime, which I think was more important than the actual detail meaning of the word.

            Now going back to Paulos first comment to the author, instead of Mafia to describe the system, it’s best to use sactism.

            Dear Yohannes Zeria,

            Would it be possible to change the title of your article from “A Mafia Group Masquerading as Lawful Government” to “Sactism Group Masquerading as Lawful Government” and give introduction to the word “Sactism / Saktism” which ever is appropriate. (I prefer “Sactism” becuase it’s widely used and give homage to the person who used on FB, with the explanation of the work and the meaning given by SGJ and Abrehet.

            The idea is to use the word again and again, to describe the regime and their empty “sacit” idealogy and when repeated it will stick.

            The beauty of the word is, i am going to steal a line from my friend iSem, everyone who speak different language in Eritrea knows the meaning.


          • iSem

            Hi BY:
            Not only that but Mafia is a compliment when used to describe PFDJ: The Cosa Nostra (Gudayna/our thing) has some honor, they honor their word, protect what is dear for them: their wives, their daughters an families. PFDJ, no matter of our railing that they have it good, they cannot even protect their own loved ones, many of their children get shot by them when crossing the border, some are in prison and many drown in the sea like every one else. Hayat once told us a story of a high ranking officials’s wife who was dancing with IA and in his drunken stupor touched her in appropriately to which the husband quipped “ezi sebay ente sheribu zgebro ayfeltin eyu”. Do that to a mafia wife?

          • Yohannes Zerai

            Dear Berhe Y,

            As I indicated in my earlier response to Mr. Paulos, I have no problem rephrasing the title or even some of the text of the article so long as the notion I am trying to communicate is preserved. I used the word ”mafia” not as an insult to the unquestionably deserving ruling clique. Neither was I trying to equate the clique with past and/or present Mafia Criminal Syndicates of Europe, the Americas or even Japan. All I had tried to do was to portray the true nature of Eritrea’s ruling group – rogue, ruthless, cruel, deceitful, lawless, criminal. If there is a consensus that the word Saktism or Sactism does convey that very notion or image of the repugnant “political” system in our country, I would say “Why not, Go for it!”

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Yohannes,

            As usual good reading. Sackitism is “good for nothing” and it does not define DAI and its organization, specially to the kind of behavior you listed them in your comment. Your title snugly fits to the contents of your article. Well done.

            Amanuel Hidrat

          • saay7

            Hey Berhe Y:

            Don’t let non-asmarino like His Fantiness lead u astray with Asmarino Tigrinya. “sakt” (mistyped as sact) is a complex adjective adverb noun. It’s most precise definition is “no reason at all.”


            Asmarino 1:

            “Tmali saket awate keyde sactism dbahal yzarebu nerom
            Asmarino 2
            “Entay rekhibuwom?”
            Asmarino 1:
            “Saket yom bejakha!”

            “Emo entay dea rekhibuwo salih neru Fantiness arimuwo”
            “Nere dye. Saket!”


          • Thomas

            Hi Saay,

            That is a one, “Tili’e endo!! Fanti sakt eu kelimwom”.
            – sakt mew’ali yikoneka ember sira’h ai’konen
            – sakt n’do hatefte ai’tibel
            – keli’yena iake esom sakt eyom kelimomuka

          • Fanti Ghana

            Selam Thomas,

            Aye nay deki Asmara neger! sakt faH abilkaya zereba.
            sakt = “no reason at all” anywhere but in Asmara.

            By the way, we have an equivalence in tigrinya.
            anti entay dea koynki? siK ile. A typical “Habesha” lady’s response to all questions except when asked “do you love me?” kid beAlege!

            do not reply, I will be hiding for a couple of days.

          • saay7


            You have swerved into the answer: “sakt” = “suq ile” and all its conjugations “suq ilu, ila, ilom, ilna” which, as u should know, means “no reason at all.” It’s a verbal shrug.

            If Thomas agrees, u are hereby given an apprentice Asmarino honorary certificate


          • Thomas


            Fantiness is a cool/asmarino guy. He can take any “masya” and enjoy live like there is no tomorrow as such gets my vote:)

          • saay7


            Let’s also not forget “assekt”:

            Application: in a game of billiards, a big mouth is taunting you and you defeat him. Then ur friend says “assekitya”: you shut him/her up.

            This may or may not be the origin for the regular tigrinya “asqt”, but that is a different daughter of the case.


          • sara

            Dear Abrehet,
            could you share with us in which round of sawa did this “saktizm” word is coined, was it before the invasion of weyane or after ? i am curious.

          • Abrehet Yosief

            Dear Sara,
            The Warsay – Yekaalo school, as it is officially known, started after the border war. It is hard to pin point an exact round. This kind of saying would have started as a joke between friends. As all jokes that ring true it would gradually gain momentum and be accepted as an appropriate description of the situation. When living under a totalitarian regime it is always safe to ascribe such astute observations to someone who has escaped censor by either being too close to authority or being declared insane. Thus, in Eritrea, we safely give all credit to Wedi Gebeya, may his soul rest in peace.

          • Abraham H.

            Selam Abrehet, we could probably say the Sawa youth were trying to say something to the effect of a ‘fallol’ system with rules that come and change haphazardly; a situation indicative of a system that is entirely run by the whims of one person. Eritrea has been run by this trial and error improvisation method without any sense of regularity for 25 years, as if the country doesn’t have many sons and daughters who could do a much better job.

        • Brhan

          Hello Paulos the word ” Sakit” or ساكت in Arabic, is also used among Tigre speakers to mean like ” good for nothing” or someone did something for nothing

          • Paulos

            Selam Brhan,

            Thank you. The word probably got adulterated from its pristine meaning into the streets of Asmara and then to Sawa.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Paulos,

      I thank you for your comment. I am in agreement with the historical background you provided. And for the balance of your comment, let me present brief clarifications: First I note that a mafia underground did thrive in, for example, the U.S. although (a) there was no collapse or critical “weakness” in its legal and security institutions, and (b) there was no legitimate demand for protection/security that the government could not provide (that is, save those coming from elements of the criminal world itself).

      Second, the focus of the article is not on labeling the PFDJ regime, but rather on identifying its inherent characteristics. As such, the article explicitly states actions taken and methods employed by the regime are “similar” to those considered typical of mafia organizations; it uses the lower-case “m” in mafia throughout the text; and it uses such terms of similitude as “mafia-like”, “mafia-type”, etc. when referring to the regime. Thirdly, (where they co-exist) a governing body and a criminal organization are normally two distinct institutions at loggerheads with each other. In Eritrea, the two entities come rolled into one!

      • Paulos

        Selam Yohannes,

        Of course the gist of your otherwise superb article is not to examine if the regime is Mafia or not in the strict sense of the term, rather it brings to light as you have put it the perfection of masquerading as a legit government when the cleaveges are more than the naked eye can see. Again, the similarity with the Mafia is not in the early years of the latter but when it morphed a century later in to a criminal organization as in Coppola’s “God-Father” or Sergio-Leone’s, “Once Upon A Time In America.”