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Eritrea: Cries of a Nation on the Brink of Evanescence

The last six months have seen a flurry of diplomatic activities involving most of the Horn-of-Africa countries and some member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). These activities which have included a series of mediation efforts, state visits, summit meetings, and bilateral agreements seem to herald a new phase of regional geopolitics in which alliances are being redefined and new partnerships are being forged in the political, economic and security spheres. What these geopolitical shifts will mean to the long-term interests of the participating countries themselves and to the future of the region as a whole remain to be seen.

In Eritrea’s case, the implications of even the early stages of the new regional dynamics have become not only of grave concern but outrightly disturbing to the majority of its citizens. Despite the much-touted Eritrea-Ethiopia rapprochement and the dawn of an ‘era of peace and progress’ in the region, the Eritrean people have yet to see the slightest sign that the repression, destitution, servitude, and militarization they have suffered under for so long will end anytime soon. Never mind the life-transforming dividends one would reasonably expect to accrue to the population from the cessation of hostilities and from the much-hailed peace and cooperation agreements that followed!

To the contrary, the thousands of dissidents and prisoners of conscience that the regime threw in jail years ago still languish in its dungeons. If anything, more people are meeting the same fate for expressing concerns about the appalling conditions of their people and the disastrous path their country is taking. Drastic changes in the demographics of migration to Ethiopia have been observed since relations were restored with that country. Presently, four times as many Eritreans flee to Ethiopia daily as did before the border between the two countries had reopened. The exodus, which in the past consisted predominantly of youth, is now being joined by entire families and is sadly dominated by unaccompanied minors! Tens of thousands of young Eritreans who were press-ganged into indefinite military service continue their squalid existence in the harsh, desolate border areas four months after a peace treaty was signed with Ethiopia.

Time to Face Truths

For the majority of Eritreans, the 27-year record of President Isaias Afewerki’s one-man rule has amply exposed his inherent qualities and the true nature of his regime both of which are appropriately characterized as arrogant, tyrannical, belligerent and cruel. If some citizens had been duped into worshipping the dictator or otherwise had held out hope he will eventually redeem himself, his recent actions must have opened their eyes to the truth: Obsessed with evil ambitions and in pursuit of his own glory, President Isaias lives just for himself – he holds little concern for the well-being of the country, of the people and even of his own family!

For the better part of the country’s post-independence years, the Eritrean people have endured levels of oppression, destitution and enslavement that only Isaias Afewerki’s brand of extreme despotism is capable of imposing. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that many Eritreans saw the rise of nascent democracy in Ethiopia last April (and its new government’s peace overtures toward Eritrea) as harbingers of positive change in their own country. They had high hopes that their own government would soon follow suit by easing up its suffocating grip on civil liberties and by introducing reforms if only to lift the country from the morass of despair.

Unfortunately, neither these public yearnings nor the emergence of favorable political conditions in the region could sway Isaias Afewerki to do good. Rather, true to character, he ignored the interests of the nation and set out to exploit those conditions to serve his own selfish agenda: break out of his self-induced diplomatic isolation and regain political legitimacy in the region – all while overseeing further entrenchment of his tyrannical rule at home.

Impending Political Challenges and Dangers

Political disagreements between Eritreans supporting the PFDJ regime and those opposing it have centered on the philosophy of governance and involved questions of democracy and rule of law, civil liberties and human rights, economic development and social progress as well as war-and-peace issues. But, such disagreements appear to have narrowed substantially after the president signed bilateral agreements believed to have compromised national sovereignty thereby arousing public anger on both sides of the political divide. The regional diplomatic initiatives that yielded those agreements have also opened opportunities for domestic reform. Yet, the strongman has unambiguously shown that he is intent on neither addressing the people’s demands nor introducing even limited reforms of his own.

President Isaias’ frantic diplomatic maneuvers and international travels of recent months seem to be aimed at pushing forward his surreal agenda of emerging as a dominant political figure in Africa’s Horn region and even in the continent as a whole. His strategy for achieving this dreamlike goal appears to consist of: (i) inducing and encouraging Eritrea’s emptying of its youth, (ii) facilitating influx into the country of professionally- and financially-advantaged people from Ethiopia in the guise of “regional economic integration”,  (iii) promoting systematic erosion of Eritrea’s sovereignty intended to lead to eventual demise of the nation-state as we know it, and incorporation of its territory into Ethiopia and (iv) installing himself at the pinnacle of power in a bigger composite state.*

Isaias Afewerki’s self-aggrandizing vision of his own fate (Item iv above) is the wish of an egotistical leader at best and a delusion of grandeur at worst. But the machinations and conspiracies (Items i-iii) that he has set in motion to get him there are made doubly dangerous by their congruity with the wishes and plans of inimical external forces who have their own agendas to pursue. As such, they have begun generating political, economic, social and security dynamics which threaten Eritrea’s existence as an independent entity.

In the face of this existential threat and the cloud of geopolitical uncertainty hanging over the region, the paramount national concern of the day ought not to be PFDJ-regime’s governance quality or performance level. Neither should it be the implementation of the 1997 constitution, release of political prisoners or termination of indefinite military service. The supreme and most pressing national concern is saving the country from extinction! A desperate nation is crying out to ALL its children to fulfill their patriotic duty and pull it back from the precipice of doom and oblivion to which it is being pushed relentlessly by Isaias Afewerki and his cohorts. The self-described “pro-regime” and “anti-regime” political factions are being challenged to demonstrate, in action, the ’love of country’ that both groups claim underlies their respective political positions: to respond to their nation’s cries of agony by jointly mobilizing their resources and coordinating their efforts to ensure continuity of its existence!

Fighting the Causes of Eritrea’s Troubles

Seeking to rid their country of dictatorship, Eritreans have been waging a political struggle for nearly two decades amid relentless counter-campaigns by PFDJ’s intelligence/security agents and those of other nations that do not want to see a peaceful and democratic Eritrea. The effort has produced significant results which, though rarely acknowledged, have added up to move the struggle forward. The movement is where it is today because of the incremental progress that its constituent groups achieved over the years.

Sadly, the country’s problems have recently escalated into a crisis that threatens its very existence. It is therefore imperative that opposition groups undergo radical organizational and operational changes so as to transform their respective capabilities and effectiveness and, by extension, those of the movement. Key aspects to focus on include:

  1. Leadership: Ghedli-era freedom fighters are credited with having established Eritrea’s incipient opposition movement in the early 1980s and their members are believed to be still in the leadership of most existing opposition groups. But, Eritrea is now in an era where solutions to its present-day ills require new socio-political thinking and a worldview that are in tune with the dynamics of a fast-changing world. Thus, the time has come for the Ghedli-generation leaders to step aside and hand over leadership of their respective organizations to their younger members of the post-independence generation. It would be a fitting culmination of their lifelong revolutionary struggle for these leaders to facilitate the transition by supporting and guiding the latter to assume their new leadership responsibilities.
  2. Coordination and Integration: Opposition groups must reach out to each other and engage in a consultative process where ideas and opinions for advancing the democracy movement are solicited, compiled and evaluated at all-embracing discussion/debate forums. Action plans and strategies developed through such consensus-driven process would provide the movement with (i) effective tools for guiding its operations and (ii) grounds for fostering solidarity, harmonizing perspectives and coordinating activities among participating organizations.
  3. Political Support Base: Opposition parties need to build and/or expand their respective support bases through recruitment drives that articulate their visions for the country and lay out corresponding programs/strategies for their realization. Public support gained by each group must be quantified as a verifiable number of formally registered members. This would establish the legitimacy and political worth of resourceful groups and help narrow down the crowded opposition field by identifying the inept ones. The outcome of such a systematic effort is a strengthened and effective movement.
  4. Links and Alliances: Diaspora opposition groups must:
  • strive to strengthen underground activists-groups already operating in Eritrea and/or help additional ones to emerge. They may provide support (in the form of resources, technical training, action plans, advice on operational strategies, etc.) to facilitate the political agitation work that clandestine activists undertake to arouse the population to action.
  • establish and maintain relationships with: (i) PFDJ-regime insiders and recruit them as intelligence assets, (ii) governments, political organizations and the diplomatic corps in host countries. These would allow access to an insider, classified and intelligence information regarding conditions/plans of the regime and of other governments who may affect Eritrea. Such links may also generate recognition and assistance for opposition groups.

‘The Bottom Line’

The grim realities of Eritrea and the dangerous impulses of its unhinged dictator should fuel an energized and accelerated struggle for change that takes note of: (i) The time when it made sense to plead with the regime for reforms is long gone. It is now time for radical change, not for cosmetic reforms! (ii) Opposition groups should embrace the maxim “desperate situations call for desperate measures” and earnestly purge themselves of fatigued leaderships, weak organizational culture, stale ideas, outmoded attitudes and lethargic functioning. In short, they should recreate themselves by undergoing self-renewal thereby empowering themselves to wrestle control of the country away from an evil dictator!

* For observations and analysis on the subject, refer to the earlier works of Professor Tesfatsion Medhanie and related literature.

About Yohannes Zerai

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  • FishMilk

    Hi All: Eritrea is honored to be 1 of 3 African countries which have been included in National Geographic’s just released list of 19 ‘cool’ places to see in 2019. Tourism in Eritrea will definitely be on the upswing!

  • Mitiku Melesse

    Hei George.
    It is very simple to compare. I could have shown you but I dont want to answer my question. As a hint how many killed, arrested, displaced, tortured, etc.

    • Selam

      Selamat M. M

      It is not simple to compare. Have seen any prisoner released in Eritrea. who opposes DIA. But in Ethiopia there are a lot during the last 27 year. whether member of TPLF or other party. In Ethiopia you have relatively better freedom of; worshiping and choosing your religion, movement, press, business, organizing yourself, protest and etc… You have constitution, parliament, and much more. In Ethiopia you have a right to live if you are not opposing Weyane elite, on the contrary in Eritrea you do not have right even to live. If you say nothing against them, they will come and demolish your house, or forbid you to do this and that, they close your business, they punish you collectively, if some one made a mistake in your profession. It is endless to list all. In general you have a right only to breath since they do not have the capability to control it. The biggest evidence for this is , how many Eritreans died in search of live in the desert of Sahara, in the sea of Mediterranean, in the river and jungle of latrine America. This is not because of economic problem as many said for political purpose either the western or DIA supporter. It is in search of the right to live ( the right going to work and support your self and your family, right to married, right to express yourself, right to worship what you want, right for a lot of things.)
      So how can you compare a person has right to live and not a right to live.
      ነገርየው በሰው ቁስል እንጨት ስደድበት እንዳይሆን ውድ ድሩን ማቆም ይጽሻላል
      have a nice day

  • Berhe Y

    Hi Alex,

    Do you know what PFDJ did in Mai Habar to the disabled tegadelti?

    How do you know it wouldn’t ?

    Berhe

  • Berhe Y

    Hi George,

    I only know Tigrinya from all Tigrinya languages. I will write to you in Tigrinya from now on if you can make sense. I don’t know how else to tell you, why you keep saying weyane, TPLF when you have no argument to say.

    For me it’s only about one thing and one thing only. The lack of justice for our people to live a dignified life without fear.

    I really doubt you lived in Eritrea.

    Please stop making up stories that your can’t back up. Please prove that I supported weyane invasion of Eritrea. I will get to the rest…

    Berhe

  • Berhe Y

    Hi George,

    I am not comparing Eritrea and Ethiopia. I was never defending TPLF either. I was responding to MM and responsing for his comparison.

    Why is it then 10,000 plus Eritreans have left Eritrea to Ethiopia since the peace. Why are the flights to Asmara are full but empty the other way.

    Shenkolel koynu natka neger.

    And please what ever good that’s in Eritrea including peace among its citizens, it has nothing to do with ERITREAN government. ZERO.

    We have very little or never in our history that we killed each other. Tomorrow when IA and PFDJ are gone, there will still be peace among Eritreans.

    Berhe

    • Mitiku Melesse

      Hei Berhe.
      You answered my question very well now. Tplf murdered directly or indirectly more than 100 thousands. The killings started from day one. No arm struggle for peace and democracy in both Eritrea and Ethiopia.

  • Berhe Y

    Hi George,

    Sorry I apologize. I meant to your idea/ thought not you personally.

    I get what you are saying but you proposal, I think is, to move the goal post so that IA does nothing for the Eritrean people.

    Here is what I mean:
    1) you add the region to recognize US is the problem ad then we ca tackle Eritrea internal issue. This is impossible and will never in our life time, and you know that very well.
    i) they are independent countries, why should we care?
    ii) who is to say being allies of the US is wrong? There are many countries who benefitted by aligning themselves with the US? And who really cares?
    iii) TPLF or anyone can be their agents but what does this have to do with Eritrea.
    iv) why do you ignore IA prostituting to the US? Ghirma Asmerom was paying 50K a month for US to have a base in Eritrea. IA had a press release with Rumsfield and said the SKY is the limit to how much he will cooperate with the US in a press release he had in Asmara.

    2) The UN/ Somalia / US
    i) Eritreans struggle for 30 years for independence, and I know it’s long time. But why you say 60 years? The last 27years was under IA. You want us to totally forget his rule?
    iI) as much Ethiopia is to be blamed, but I think Eritreans themselves who were to be blamed for losing our independence / country (the likes of Qeshi Dimepetros, Tedla Uqbit, Asfaha Woldemichael) who sold their soul to the king and handed over.
    ii) I also think the parliamentarians made a huge mistake in allowing Asfaha Woldemichael to be elected as chief administrator at the sane time serving the king. We paid huge price for that and we continue to do so today.
    iii) America will not and can’t do anything if the ERITREAN government will be abided by the rule of law. Isayas comes and Isayas can go if Eritrea had a constitution, rule of law and proper government.

    Listen to Haile Drue speech in Germany and what he said needs to happen.

    As to the priority you listed, you take care of your own leaking roof first before you take care of somebody else leaking roof, Somalia, Ethiopia or whoever else.

    Berhe

  • Saleh Johar

    Hope dear,
    This is something I want to advice you against. Don’t involve me in your bickering. If I wish I will respond to him. So do your thing and let others do theirs. That will be good for all of us.

    • Hope

      Ahlen SGJ:
      Oooh,Apologies Ya Ustazna SGJ:
      Did I guff up again?
      I was just trying to answer your question and inquiry -“Who is “Brother Amanuel Ze London”?
      You said :”Your bickering”?
      Oh Lord Jesus Christ,Have Mercy on us.
      Wedehanka Wo Selametka Yibba!
      Happy Thanksgiving Uncle Salih!

      • Saleh Johar

        Hope
        You just guffed again.
        Why are you communicating with me on an issue when it was a moderator who wrote a note for you?

  • Amanuel

    Hi Hope
    Are you out of your mind? Me to waste my time reading Ghideown tweets.
    Let’s move on. I don’t want to repeat my self but I have said TPLF & PFDJ have problems, hence the boarder issue. BTW if you believe PFDJ=ERITREA ALL THE ABOVE ARE TRUE.

    • Hope

      Hi back to U Aman:
      You see what prejudice , attitude and perception can do or lead to?
      Don’t curse people but try to refute ,challenge and their ideas.
      I know prof Gideon Abay Asmerom on a personal level.I don’t remember covertly or overtly Prof Gideon supporting or adoring the PFDJ or PIA,even though he he was a PFDJ Card holder,which doesn’t not make him a Traitor or Un-Eritrean.
      He defended Eritrea to the teeth when Eritrea needed it.
      Nothing is perfect in life and in this world let alone in politics.
      Do you believe in the Law of Relativity from Humanity and Socio-political point of view,form an Albert Einstein’s Physics point of view?
      Relatively speaking,Professors Gideon and Berhe Habte,have done a Superb job when it comes to defending Eritrea’s Interest and the ONLY thing they could not do is “Condemning Cursing PIA”.
      Their Motto and Principle have been ” Defend Eritrea under the disguise of PFDJ Membership”.
      FYI:
      The tweet was not about Prof Gideon but about the hardcore facts of the tweet.If you don’t agree with what he tweeted,then you are the one,whose Eritreanism should be questioned about.

      Tell me what tangible results the so called Opposition and its lame struggle has brought up to avoid or minimize the mess we are in!Please dont tell me that the Opposition has failed us coz of the PFDJ Trolls like Hope and Prof Ghideon,as some one boldly declared here..

  • Yohannes Zerai

    Dear Ayneta,

    I find your comment very perceptive of the existing realities in Eritrea and its neighborhood, the recent developments in the region and their implications for future positions/actions of contending political forces. I agree with you that the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace deal and the lifting of UN sanctions on Eritrea may have given Isaias Afewerki and his regime a short-term propaganda advantage and what will certainly be a short-lived psychological boost. But it is also true that these very “apparent successes” may well be the seeds for internal and external troubles that may finally bring about his ultimate downfall and the demise of his regime.

    I also agree with you that the PFDJ regime has established a ”spy & informant” network that permeates Eritrean society. But the functioning of this network is driven by the personal, short-term benefits (such as payment, subjective notion of their status in the society – “feared and respected” by virtue of their role, etc.!) NOT based on the conviction and ideological belief of its membership. As such, this is a type of “institution” that is certain to collapse at the first sign of the dictator and his PFDJ losing power.

    As for the apparent affinity of the exiled, refugee community of Eritrean youth to their tormentor (i.e., PFDJ government), I believe that their relations to pro-regime groups and participation in their activities are tactical ones meant to give them access to certain privileges (e.g. visiting Eritrea) and protecting their interests (e.g. avoiding government retaliation against their families back home). I would like to refer you to an earlier article of mine titled “Eritrea’s Socio-politically Disjointed Generational Succession” for a little more detailed arguments on this issue.

    Finally, I cannot agree more with your suggested strategy on how opposition groups/individuals must deal with government supporters. Winning them over to the movement for democratic change — or, at least, welcoming them as strategic allies on the bigger cause of defending the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity — would serve us (i.e., everybody) well. Hostility, recrimination, intolerance, confrontation, etc. as tools and as a strategy would bring nothing but failure.

    Thank you.

  • Saleh Johar

    Hello Yohannes,
    Reading your articles makes my mind go wondering. By the time I am ready to say something, all our friends have already said what I feel like saying and I do not want to repeat what is said.

    You have a way of handling tough issues and presenting them in a palatable manner and manageable portion. Thank you for providing us with well thought of content. That is the into and I might have to say/ask something. Now I have to read it again.

    Thank you

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Selam Saleh,

      Thank you very much for being kind in your comment. As for your brief statement about your reaction to the article and the comments it has generated, that is certainly not a bad thing to have experienced! I am referring to your statement: “By the time I am ready to say something, all our friends have already said what I feel like saying and I do not want to repeat what is said.” In a way, isn’t that the state/condition/reality that we all want to see as an ultimate outcome of our continued effort to finetune our discussing/debating style at Awate — i.e., to conduct our debate in a spirit of respect, tolerance, civility, etc. toward each other so that the majority of us would reach a common understanding on major issues of concern to all of us? And if we achieve that goal, most of us would be feeling the way you said you felt with respect to earlier comments on the current thread. Many of us would be saying “Well, I agree with what so-and-so has commented on this specific issue, and there is no need for me to repeat the same stuff in trying to post my own comment”! So, dear Saleh, as a moderator of Awate forum, you have set an example for us to follow – really, to be able to say “many like-minded participants have said what I want to say, and there is no need for me to repeat the same idea in another post”. You have done it as an individual — providing a sort of an “initial condition” for n=1 — and if we subject this attitude/mentality to ITERATION to the nth degree, then our discussion will ASYMPTOTICALLY APPROACH “CONSENSUS” as n goes to infinity!! Hey, where is Gitsatse? He is exceptionally good at expounding these complex mathematical manipulations using his poetic language and complex set of symbols, variables and equations!! He is certainly much adept at accomplishing the task than I am; and so, I will leave the responsibility of providing additional explanation to him!!!

      Thank you.

  • Natom Habom

    selam george
    why you wasting time to explain ,he is just a troll that speak wearing a fake mask of eritrean ,they are everywhere ,in aljezirah straim when they were quoting twitter about Eritrea one of them was from the south mereb ,he was blaming PIA ,and Aljezirah took the quote and continued the debate
    so they are everywhere ,sometimes its really annoying ,the majority of refugees in israel are not Eritrean but the well known tigrayan
    those people in their glory day they expelled us with the only cloth we had,they loot eritrean and ethiopian ,worst now with the huge huge huge scandal of theft ,they want to overthrow our Government in the hope that our people will link together and form one nation or agazian or abay tigray ,a way out to run from ethiopia and the crime they committed ,that why the obstacle to demarcate the bordel and PIA by ignoring the border is rushing to bury them alive

  • Berhe Y

    Hi George,

    Now we want people in our region to recognize the US as EVIL empire before we tackle any issue we have such as political and economic.

    For someone who knows the OBVIOUS, can you see the absurdity of your stupidity. ERITREAN people dying in the deserts, people behind bars for 20 years, people in the military services for years etc.

    Have to wait for Sudan, S. Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and others pay allegiance to KING ISAYAS the FIRST?

    Berhe

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Hope,

    No “holding” and no “grudges” on political disputes from sides. Sometimes politics become dirty and slides to a personal attacks. That is the bad part in our engagement. To have different opinion is natural, but to make our difference personal is not healthy. So hope, don’t worry now.

    But who is your uncle who was with me in Bahir Dar? Is he Gaim one year behind me or Anenia one year before me?

  • Reclaim Abyssinia

    Dear All,
    Thank you Yohanes, Hope, George and everyone,

    ####################Tell it like it is!###########

    Ever since towards the middle of the Iraq war, the defence contract obligations have grown dramatically globally. The financial benefit of obtaining the contract is enormous.

    Who would have forgotten the era of The Bush/Iraq Scandal, that Algore involvement of the Halliburton scandals. It was massively covered by the worldwide media. just to refresh our memory, the action of a quick Google search will land us here.

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2003/11/04/is-al-gore-responsible-for-halliburton/

    Quoting ..”there was systemic corruption in the awarding of official reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Half of them raise the following point: even if there’s no systemic pattern of corruption, it is true that Halliburton and Bechtel received big, fat, cost-plus contracts of indefinite duration. ”

    So, my question will be what’s it like the contract received by our two poor nation that is willing to do anything for a peanut? We know that they both not gone tell us.

    Is it possible to apply quantitative analysis? Is it possible to develop a theory and tools to make complex problems tractable for prediction and forecasting? do we always have to rely on an insider information? Do we need R algorithms?

    Back to theory;
    Coming back to our region, there has been a substantial amount of change in the political stand shifts in the southern red sea this year (2018).

    Iran and KOS assault over the Yemeni people in order to gain the upper hand with their defence and the commercial strategic place has caused a terrifying human crisis that the world has never seen, up to the level of extinction. Where is it heading? Don’t see me as selfish but is it ok to ask if it will come to us or not? Will it come to us?

    The impact of the failed war against Iran with the expansion of Shiite crescent is fast approaching the land of Eritrea specifically the coastal area of the red sea.

    The already endangered people of the Afar, Saho and Tegere are the next targeted people that are under the radar to be extinct from their land in order to fulfil the desire of the wannabe of the ‘Sultan of the red sea’.

    while we are in exile around all over the world, our ancestors land and sea are subjected for the highest bet of the interested parties in the region.

    The fight over the wannabe of the red sea sultans hasn’t started now with the ideology and expansion of the Shiite crescent. We the people of the red sea have a century-long history, especially the coastal people from Massawa-Adulis-Assab-Djibouti.

    The unwanted war has been waged on us by the world superpowers in every era that meant to protect law & order around the world. we have become the minority indigenous people of the land with a rich history of centuries subjected to extinction in the 21st century.

    we have been faced with numerous wars as far as history can keep a record, to mention some of them…
    The Ottoman Empire, for the purpose of its strategic location of the world trade;
    The Italian colonisation before the world war II,
    The British,
    The Ethiopian communist party & USSR,
    The xxxx & xxxx
    and now the middle east are contemplating to wipe us out of the mother earth?

    While the world is enjoying the fruit of peace after WWII, we still live under misery! Zig Zag Heil to Germany? Watch out Franco-Germany, Keep your hands of my pocket!

    Our city of Massawa, Foro, Hirg-Higo, Irrafele, Adulis, has been bombarded constantly ever since the end of the second world war in front of the entire world. The civilised cities that produced, great leaders, and intellect in the past has disappeared from the face of the world. The only thing that the world has left us is, the archaeological footprint.

    Reclaim

  • Mez

    Dear George,

    1) Our policy/political debate shall clearly steer away from the misconceptions of ” ….. US will continue to interfere in Eritreas internal affairs…”.

    2) We have to take facts on the ground into account and focus on basic challenges of the nation: rule of law, institutionalism and the likes.

    3) if you observe closely “…Empire, USA…” is fully embraced by no one else than pia/pfdj. Just count the contemporary historical facts on the ground; especially since independent.

    Thanks

  • Selam

    Selamat Yohanns Zerai,

    It is fantastic article; it emphasize the suffering Eritrean people going through, tells the current condition of IA, PDFJ and its supporter and points out what should be done by oppositions.
    I put myself in self critique as part of the opposition. The struggle against Eritrean dictator in the last two decades did not achieved as much as it should be, in fact the dictator himself helps the oppositions by imposing more suffering to the people of Eritrea.My question to you. May be you can give you analytical answer.
    1. By now why do not we have at least one or two strong opposition party?
    2. Why do not we have a satellite TV independent of all opposition party to reach Eritreans inside Eritrea?
    3. Do you think the oppositions does not know the points you mentioned under “Fighting the Causes of Eritrea’s Troubles” or they are not capable to implement it due to various reason?
    In the bottom line you quote “desperate situations call for desperate measures” this desperate measure can bring a sudden and an planed change. Are we ready for this kind of change? What should we do to avoid aftermath chaos?

    Have a nice day

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Selam,

      Thank you for your comment. Although your questions seem to be directed specifically to me, I hope others will step in and provide more insightful answers than I am capable of providing. But let me go first and give it a shot:

      1. Because opposition groups have not managed to work with each other harmoniously in a spirit of cooperation, unity and solidarity; and they have not been able to organize and manage their political affairs effectively and efficiently. The reasons for these deficiencies and weaknesses are:

      a) The OPPOSITION has always consisted of people who have to work to earn a living and who shoulder the responsibilities of supporting families and financially assisting their folks back home. Thus , they can carry out their political activism only on their “spare time” supported by meager resources that were perhaps contributed by a small group of activists, their family members and circle of friends.
      b) Their ADVERSARIES/ENEMIES — PFDJ government and other governments who oppose democratic change in Eritrea — on the other hand allocate hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars a year to finance the salaries and activities of their security/intelligence officers assigned to the mission of disrupting the political activities of Eritrean opposition groups. Not only that, but these officers also recruit full-time Eritrean and non-Eritrean agents to carry out covert operations against opposition groups and individuals that include sabotage, promoting divisiveness, intimidation, extortion, and other hostile activities.
      So,THIS IS WHY we do not “have at least one or two strong opposition party”.

      2. I believe it is because of lack of adequate financial resources and the usual tendency of Eritrean opposition groups to want to compete against each other instead of cooperating with each other (which can be rectified only if the opposition groups undergo the changes and transformations outlined in the article).
      3. No! Opposition groups are pretty much aware of what Eritrea’s problems are. But they have not been able to fight against them effectively mainly because of the factors outlined in my answer to Question #1 above.

      Finally, I must point out that the last statement in your comment is a misunderstanding of what was intended by the concluding remarks of the article. I used the adage “desperate situations call for desperate measures” to refer to the radical change that I believe opposition groups must undergo in order to become effective organizations. It was meant to indicate that opposition groups should not expect to significantly improve their performance in the struggle by just ‘tinkering around the edges’, so to speak. I was NOT referring to change that should be brought to the country! So, no worries; despite your expressed concern, what I have proposed in the article will by no means create chaos.

      Thank you.

      • Selam

        Selamat Yohannes Zerai,

        Thank you for in detail and analytical answer. Sorry for the misunderstanding in my last question. I do not mean just only for your adage, but in general for the reality it may happen if..

        have a nice day.

        • Yohannes Zerai

          Hi Selam,

          Thank you for your comment on my rejoinder; I am glad that we are now on the same page, so to speak.

          Hey, no need to be sorry! You asked an honest question; I made the effort to respond to it by explaining the message that the relevant section of my article was intended to convey. Having played our respective roles, you and I concluded the engagement by reaching a common understanding. That’s exactly what participating in discussions at this forum is all about!

          Now, having read your clarification that your question on potential “chaos” was, in fact, asked in the broader context of rapid, radical change in the country’s overall conditions, I agree with you that it is indeed a situation that one should be concerned about. Obviously, a sudden, drastic change of conditions in a country carries with it a serious risk of inciting instability and chaos.

          Here we go again — another point of mutual understanding reached! But this time with a slight adjustment on my part in the way your question ought to be perceived!

          Thank you for engaging.

  • FishMilk

    Hi Yohannes Zerai. Please correct me if I am mistaken, but is not your pen name here short for Dr Yohannes Zeremariam of the current ELF? Are you not a member of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA) and the Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change (ENCDC)?

  • Selam

    Selamat George,

    We all know every country work for its own interest and we know many country work with America including our neighbors. If Americans get their interest why are they against us and as a consequence against their interest?
    Since we become independent country we face American presidents from the two major parties and all those presidents were against us, on the contrary Eritrea has only one leader since then. America rule by institution and Eritrea by a single person.
    Based on the above fact and IA arrogant character, it is easy to say who is working against who.
    Let’s change the man from Eritrea then we will see Whether America works against its interest or not.

    have a nice day.

    • dehai

      We love the man, He is not going no where. He will stay.

  • FishMilk

    Hi Yohannes Zerai Thanks for the well written article. I would agree with most of what you have said with a few major exceptions. You mention that ‘Thus, the time has come for the Ghedli-generation leaders to step aside and hand over leadership of their respective organizations to their younger members of the post-independence generation’ and you later suggest to ‘establish and maintain relationships with PFDJ-regime insiders and recruit them as intelligence assets’. Here is where I believe you run adrift in a major way. First, not all remnants of the EPLF are in the 60+ age group. Second, when major change does take place in Eritrea, it will still most likely be built upon more progressive members of the current PFDJ. So, when you suggest building a strategy of recruiting PFDJ insiders as intelligence assets? For whom and to what purpose with these intelligence assets serve and report to? Keeping in mind that the organized opposition in the diaspora, in general, has a very low trust confidence level among most Eritreans.

    • Selam

      Selamat FishMilk,

      I take the last sentence from your post. “Keeping in mind that the organized opposition in the diaspora, in general, has a very low trust confidence level among most Eritreans” I am asking an honest question; Why the opposition in the diaspora has a very low trust confidence level among most Eritreans? If they do not trust them why do not change them or organize themselves in the way it could be trust among most Eritrean? They are free and have all rights to organize themselves but… You know this is becoming a difficult question to me.
      Now I am asking myself about the state of mind of Eritreans specifically and a human being in general.
      The reason why I am a question about Eritrean state of mind is: May be you are not jailed because you criticize nobody, you are not forbidden to do something because you have nothing to do something, you are not bitten, your belonging is not confiscated because you have nothing, etc…, but on the contrary it happens all either to your brother, sister, other family member, friends or neighbor and you saw all it happens because of right abuse. After all this; either they deny what happen to the person or they blame the person for the abuse it happens to him/her. Even the worst some Eritreans it happens the abuse to them but they deny themselves. These is very worrying and wondering state of mind of Eritrean. At least to me.
      Are you also asking the same question?
      A million dollar question to me.

      have a nice day.

      • FishMilk

        Hi Selam. Thanks for your questions and comments. There are several reasons why most Eritreans have a low level of trust confidence in the diaspora opposition to include: 1) Most opposition groups have not been transparent in providing information on their funding base, 2) Most opposition groups had earlier sided with the TPLF as they had assumed that the TPLF would eventually be able to overpower and overthrow the PIA/PFDJ regime, to include basing their opposition base in Ethiopia and receiving funds from the TPLF; 3) Opposition groups in general only envisage the overthrow of the PIA/PFDJ regime and do not consider the possibility of a post PIA Eritrea with a more progressive PFDJ/Quasi-PFDJ assumption of power, 4) Opposition groups do not provide clarity on who/whom they would support in a post PIA/PFDJ scenario, 5) Opposition groups in general either remained silent or supported unjustified UN sanctions that were placed on Eritrea; 6) Most opposition groups did not contest Ethiopia’s (TPLF) illegal occupation of Eritrea, 7) Most opposition groups remained silent while the TPLF led an isolationist strategy against Eritrea, and 6) The core of many opposition groups has even a more advanced average age than the PFDJ, many having lived in western countries for decades.
        You ask ‘If they do not trust them why do not change them or organize themselves in the way it could be trust among most Eritrean?’ This is a very good question for which I do not have a good answer other than to say that the very fragmented and generally pro-TPLF opposition movements, which have dominated the past two decades, have laid very difficult breeding grounds for neutral broad-based opposition strategies to evolve which could attract broader based participation.
        On a positive note, with the Peace Agreement having been signed, I believe that the major western powers will now be in a far more advantageous position to navigate exertion of positive pressure on the PIA/PFDJ regime to encourage and motivate much needed reforms, as Eritreans inside of Eritrea will progressively be demanding fundamental rights, liberties and protection. I have seen in the news today that the United States Congress’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission is asking the government to push Eritrea to undertake urgent human rights reforms.

        • Selam

          Selamat FishMilk,

          Thank you for the answer to my questions. You gave the reason why Eritrean opposition group have low trust among most Eritrean diaspora in a list of bullet point. I try to go point by point.
          1. I agree with you they should be transparent, but would it be a reason not to trust them at all and stop struggling the system that force me to leave my country? After all every member has a right to now the income and expenses of the organization, if it a registered organization at least in Europe. I do not in other part of the world.
          2. Sided with TPLE is not clear for me. If you based in the country does not mean you are totally sided with government of the country. If they agree 100% on all policies of TPLF towards Eritrea, they are not struggling for Eritrean people. But they can agree with some policies like in every democratic country the two successive leader may not have the same police towards their neighbors.
          Just make your base on Ethiopia does not mean you are sided with TPLF. Eritrea was a hub for all Ethiopian opposition groups including those they do not believe in Eritrean independence. DIA gave not only space but also finance them with the 2% diaspora collected money and income from mining companies. Where is the difference. Is that not hypocrisy.
          At first instance no Eritrean want to overthrow DIA. They request him in a very respectful manner and civilized way to give the power to Eritrean people. The request was not only one times, he rejects all request aggressively and some pay their life. After he did all those atrocities to Eritrean people, he was requested for reconciliation with amnesty, he rejects again. What will expect one after this? He did not give any chance to Eritrean people except to overthrow him. This is not Eritrean people choice it is his choice. No. 3 included in No. 2. DIA’s choice and weakness of PFDJ leads to the status quo.
          4. As far as I know it is clear. There will be a transition to the democratic reform then the elected one lead the country. I do not think this is a reason not to trust. The objective of the struggle itself answers this question.
          5. If we are talking reality and truth the sanction does not have any impact to daily life of ordinary Eritrean citizen except that DIA and PFDJ uses it as an excuses to impose their own sanction to the people. They are three points and none of them affects the people. After sanction there was investment in the mining sector and the companies are not affected by the sanction so that they leave the country. In fact they made profits and some other companies are also interested to invest in the mining sector during the sanction period. Why they are not affected by the sanction whereas they need heavy machinery and spare parts while the bread of ordinary citizen affected? Because of sanction neither the economy nor the security of Eritrea affected.
          sanction is an excuses.
          6. On the contrary to what you said some even talk very laud before 1998 border war. DIA and EPLF/ now PFDJ give them a deaf ear. If really the land is a concern why PFDJ are not demanding their leader to bring their land in the time of peace agreement? TPLF is still on Eritrean land, Even the federal government of Ethiopia acknowledge that their troop is on Eritrean land through accepting to implement fully the EEBC decision.
          Those people that are accusing the oppositions because they were silent while Ethiopian military is in our land, Today they are also silent because DIA said land or border is not a priority, even if the situation of occupation is not changed and we are in better condition to demand it. Isn’t it weird?
          7. This is either misunderstanding or a deliberate mixing up of a country and politics. DIA/PFDJ work to isolate or dismantle TPLF/ Weyane and TPLF/Weyane work to isolate or dismantle DIA/PFDJ.
          Now TPLF is not in power in Ethiopia and PFDJ start to work with the new government of Ethiopia. The same will be to TPLF, if a new government come to Eritrea TPLF will work with them. Even they struggle togetherto remove durge and they worked together as independent country. So please separate country with politics.
          8. PFDJ is not different but I agree with you about the age. In some cases transformation of experience from the past needed to optimize the future, therefore their active engagement and participation is needed but not full occupation of the leadership position.

          At the time of all excuses exhausted (No peace no war and sanction). DIA shows his true character. He ignore and disrespect the Eritrean people. His people waiting him to say something about the internal affair, but he is busy on solving others problem as if he does not have at home. However, he says and shows clearly that there will not be a change and reform, the PFDJist are working hard to buy time and find other excuses for his misbehaving and ignorance.
          If PFDJ want to be in the right side of the history of Eritrea, they should put pressure on him to resign and discuses with all Eritreans to bring lasing solution.

          have a nice day.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Selam FishMilk,

      I thank you for your comment.

      – The article’s recommendation (or proposal) for invigorating the Eritrean democracy movement through timely changes of leadership at individual opposition groups is simple and straightforward. Without nitpicking about the ages of different groups of veterans of the liberation war, the arguments of the article are: (i) the same individual ex-combatants (or groups thereof) have been leading many opposition groups for 10, 15 and even more years, (ii) they should now step down and allow a fresh blood of leaders from within their membership to take over.

      – The issue of recruiting “intelligence assets” from within the PFDJ regime is unrelated to the notion of leadership change outlined above – unrelated in purpose, location and requirements for filling the respective positions. The people to be selected for the second role are envisaged to be disgruntled insiders still working for the system inside the country. Other than that, there are no requirements such as age, profession, past combat experience, etc. The reasons for recruiting such “assets” have been described briefly in the article.

      – You concluded your comment with the statement: “Keeping in mind that the organized opposition in the diaspora, in general, has a very low trust confidence level among most Eritreans.” To my knowledge, there is not a single credible evidence to support the assertion of this statement. If there is, I would very much like to see it! We know that opposition groups (and the diaspora opposition movement in general) are vilified on a daily basis for being dormant/stagnant, for having “accomplished nothing”, for being non-functional. Logically, therefore, it does not make sense to talk about the existence of public trust (or lack thereof) regarding organizations that are variously described as “inactive, “unproductive”, “non-functional”, etc. In view of this reality and given the geographic locations involved, one may (at worst) claim that diaspora opposition groups do not get much support from the Eritrean public — even that would, of course, require producing supporting evidence. But to claim that there is lack of public trust is nothing short of crossing into the realm of absurdity.

      Thank you.

      • FishMilk

        Hi Yohannes Zerai. Thanks for your comments. In your article you said ‘time has come for the Ghedli-generation leaders to step aside and hand over leadership of their respective organizations to their younger members of the post-independence generation’. The key work here that you before mentioned is ‘younger’ and my reply was catered to such. You are now instead saying ‘fresh blood’ for which I am in total agreement. As I have expressed before, having one leader at the helm for 27 years is simply not acceptable in any country or in any context. However, when you say that ‘there not is a single credible evidence to support my assertion that there is a very low level of trust confidence among most Eritreans in regards to organised opposition in the diaspora, you are simply wrong, and this has nothing to do with daily vilification of opposition movements/groups (et all). The AENF decision to hold the Eritrean Opposition conference in Addis Ababa on October 2, 2002, really set the stage for mistrust to foment. Opposition groups have in general been siding with the TPLF over the past two decades and have been openly traveling to Ethiopia to meet with the TPLF. If you do not believe that such action breeds mistrust among most Eritreans, there is not much I can say. As it is not the weekend, I cannot provide links but a simple Google search of the following will reveal mistrust of Eritrean organised opposition in the diaspora:

        >NOREF Eritrean opposition parties and civic organisations
        >Eritrean opposition parties and civic organisations – Eritrea | ReliefWeb
        >Cable: 10ADDISABABA50_a – WikiLeaks
        >The Pitfalls of the Eritrean Opposition (for Justice) Camp: Lack of a Coherent and Unified Message for a Democratic Transition in Eritrea
        >Divided and dispersed, Eritrea opposition struggles to harness spirit of resistance
        >The Eritrean diaspora and its impact on regime stability: Responses to UN sanctions
        >The May 5-11, 2008 Eritrean political opposition congress in Addis Ababa
        >ILPI | Eritrean opposition parties and civic organisations
        >Ethiopia instructs Eritrean opposition parties to cease activities
        >Fetsum: Eritrean opposition forces under examination III
        >BTI 2018 : Eritrea Country Report
        >Opposition Group Promises Attacks Following Sanctions on Eritrea for Support of Terrorism
        >The Eritrean Opposition still has a long way to go
        >Ethnic Cleansing – Agaiazian Brotherhood
        >Interview with an Eritrean opposition Yonathan Sebhatu | Horn Affairs
        >Arrivederci Esayass – tigraionline
        >Summary of the report – DSP-groep
        >Badme: An Eritrean Opposition Deathbed

      • FishMilk

        Hi Yohannes Zerai: Again, in regards to your proposed building of a strategy of recruiting PFDJ insiders as intelligence assets, for whom and to what purpose will these intelligence assets serve and report to?

  • Mitiku Melesse

    Hei Yohannes.
    I herd many assumptions that Ethiopians democracy and human right protection was better than tplf Ethiopia. But my comparison of the facts on the ground between the two countries tells me the opposite. I compared what tplf the killer machine directly killed to suppress democracy and human right and its divide and rule of poisonous ethnic hatred among different ethnic groups. Through out tplf regime more than 100 thousands Ethiopians lost their lives and more than 2-3 millions displaced internal or external. The crime in prisons and the brutality to disperse public protest , the economical crime has no equivalent in the history of the country or no where in the vicinity of our country.

    Tplf crossed the border and made Eritrea a big prison in its isolating Eritrea policy. Ethiopians are grateful for the help Eritrea’s struggle to topple the criminal regime in Ethiopia. Ethiopians gratefulness has nothing to do with worsening the democratic development in Eritrea. To the contrary the peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea brings a better life in Eritrea.

    In my opinion an Eritrea under siege of tplf is better with peace. It was not long time were tplf could bomb Eritrea whenever it wanted.

    We dont need war or NPNW to accept Eritrea as an independent country. I am not even sure that Eritrea can join or leave Ethiopia as it wishes. We have to have a little respect for the majority of Ethiopia regarding this.

    But if you use ”Ethiopia is coming for you” to awake the toothless oppositions of yours which has nothing to do with change in Eritrea for the last 27 years (what ever change in Eritrea is made by the Eritrean regime so far) then you are twisting our bad history for your interest. That is morally wrong and it is fallacy.

    The last 27 years has taught us Eritreans are not that cruel to one another compared to what we have witness in Ethiopia tplf vs the rest. So all Eritrean opposition go home and work for democracy and development in Eritrea.

    • Amanuel

      Hi Mitiku Melesse
      Normally, I don’t comment on Ethiopian internal affairs out of respect of the millions of Ethiopians and also as an Eritrean I believe there is enough on my plate to comment about Eritrea. However, when it came to the Eritrrean self determination and independence, TPLF as a movement and government stood its ground and did the right thing, that is very important to the Eritrean people but the highest crime in the eyes of people like Mitiku Melesse. That doesn’t mean TPLF didn’t have problem with PFDJ and the boarder issue but these problems shouldn’t be confused with Eritrean independence.

      As per your advice that Eritrean opposition to go home and work for democracy, thanks but NO thanks as we don’t take advice from some one who learnes Eritrean internal affairs from ESAT. Please have respect for your self. Your suggestion exposes your knowledge on how Eritrea is run currently.

    • Brhan

      Hi Mitiku

      TPLF then EPRDF and EPLF ended the rule of th bloody Derg regime in Ethiopia. Can’t you at least give them a cerdit for that?

      Thanks

    • Selam

      Selamat M. M

      In Ethiopia most of the time history and facts are twisted. the resent fact about the boarder war.
      During a boarder war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, most Ethiopian show their real thought about Eritrea. Most Ethiopian youth recruited Voluntarily to fight against Eritrea with the idea to bring back Eritrea. That war make Weyane popular, Even Meles decided for war to stay in power. For sure they should be accountable for any war that has been fought during their leadership, but in case of Ethio – Eritrea border war most Ethiopian people did not have different opinion.
      Mitiku your concept to make Weyane being hate by all may work for internal politic but not for external politic.
      Now the two countries are in peace deal so it is better to talk about peace. In both side made a mistake. we can not go back with time reference and correct the mistake, but we can do better now and in the future by making peace with all Eritreans and Ethiopians not only with selected group.

      Have a nice day.

      • Mitiku Melesse

        Hei Selam.
        I reread what i wrote and your reply. It seamed you did not understand what i wrote. I will make it simple and short.

        Can you compare what Eritreans and Ethiopians have went through their respective Pfdj and Tplf rules in the last 7 years? How many of them went to prison, tortured, killed, exiled, displaced internal and external, targeted due to their ethnic group, exposed for uneccessary bloodhade just to let one ethnic control the whole nation economy etc. (Feel free to take the population in mind when you do the maths).

        ”In Ethiopia most of the time history and facts are twisted. the resent fact about the boarder war.” is bogus and is your personal opinion and i dont waste my time on it. But when you read about Ethiopia help yourself not to twist it. Just read it the way you read others history.

        Bye.

        • Berhe Y

          Hi MM,
          I think this is quite simple. There is no real comparison. Because in the last 7 years,

          Ethiopia:
          Ethiopian were rebelling, demonstrating, defying government, burning trucks, shutting down factories etc.

          Ethiopian journalist, human rights advocates, opposition party leaders were arrested, tortured, exiled and in some cases even killed.

          Ethiopia had a press and terririst law that it banned some activities and it was infringing in peoples rights and the constitution.

          Eritrea:
          Eritreans were not and could not do similar activities because they were all (the young) in prison (sawa). How can the government, shoot, arrest, kill people who are obeying government orders. Do you think Ethiopian government would have resorted to those tactics if the young didn’t rebel?

          In Eritrea all the journalists, opposition, human rights advocates are either in jail or in exile or they are murdered by IA.

          Eritrea does no have any press law, what ever it had was shelved or never used. It does not have any constitution and it’s at will, to kill, disappear, torture people as it wants when it wants and as many as it wants without visitation rights, know where abouts.

          Now just think about what would be the response / reaction of the ERITREAN government would be had Eritreans oppose/ defy the regime of IA half of what Ethiopians were doing?

          My guess, they would be rolling the tanks and roll over them. That’s the crueling of IA.

          Berhe

          • Mitiku Melesse

            Hei Berhe.
            Wrong answer. I said 27 years. And off course it is simple to compare. The 20 years struggle and suffer brought us to the last 7 years.

        • Selam

          Selamat M.M

          Tplf crossed the border and made Eritrea a big prison in its isolating Eritrea policy. Ethiopians are grateful for the help Eritrea’s struggle to topple the criminal regime in Ethiopia. Ethiopians gratefulness has nothing to do with worsening the democratic development in Eritrea. To the contrary the peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea brings a better life in Eritrea.

          In my opinion an Eritrea with peace now much much better than Eritrea under siege of tplf is better with. It was not long time ago where tplf could bomb Eritrea whenever it wanted.
          Mitiku: I gave you the answer for the above statement you post. What I want to say is; do not tell us that only Weyane work hard to isolate Eritrea Most Ethiopians also did. A good example Dr. Workenhe the first foreign minister to Dr. Abye. He was one of those working hard to impose sanction to Eritrea, now he is was another team made a good effort to lift sanction. It is politics.
          DIA also did his part to dismantle TPLF by supporting any opposition to TPLF including a fund to ESAT.
          Both side invest a lot money and time for the death of each other. I do not like the principle የጠላቴ ጠላት ወዳጀ ነው. I do not like the effort made to convince people to hate to you don’t like even if they do not have a reason to do so.

          Have a nice day.

  • Berhe Y

    Hi George,

    I have to make sure because, you never seem to know the obvious i.e. IA wanna be Stalin.

    If it wasn’t for Abiy and if it wasn’t for Qerro / Oromo revolution that there is a change in Ethiopia is the reason the sanction is lifted.

    It has nothing to do with ERITREAN government efforts or resistance. Eritrean government withdrew its hands and it stopped from what ever it was accused of doing.

    For example, had IA died eating and there will be another government that complies with the UN and the world budy, the sanctioned would have been lifted.

    You forgot to answer my other question, which is more important. When is IA going to make the country livable for its people.

    Berhe

  • Saleh Johar

    Ahlan Hope,
    “My sincere apologies for my uncalled for arguements and uncalled for unconstructive disputes with you,sir!.

    I like that. This is quite a pleasant surprise coming from you.

    Thank you for the civility

    • Amanuel

      Hi Saleh
      Do you buy that? Why does he needs to go from Bahir Dar to Seraye and involve a lot of people including Siyoum and Nittric, in stead of simply apology. The one you quoted above would have been perfect.

      • Saleh Johar

        Selam Amanuel,
        I am a tough buyer, I do not bye anything unwanted. But that one quote attracted my attention–my comment is limited to that apology and I meant to encourage him to internalize it fully–I don’t see anything wrong with encouragement.

        • Hope

          Thanks Ustaz SGJ for the encouragement.
          Remember that attitude,perception and prejudice can easily destroy societies,not just individuals and friendships.
          Brother Amanuel Ze London should learn more about this issue and You better encourage him to have a positive attitude and perception and to avoid prejudice.

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Hope,
            Who is “Brother Amanuel Ze London”?

  • Yohannes Zerai

    Dear George,

    I thank you for your comment.

    The statement “People move to greener pastures” you presented as an explanation for the exodus of young Eritreans fleeing their country tells me that you and I sit at opposite poles about the facts and realities of our country. As such, you and I would be wasting our time if we were to engage on most of the issues you raised in your response.

    But there are two issues of factuality and accuracy in your comment that I would like to point out to you:
    1. You wrote “…. Woyane, yeah, the one you ALWAYS avoid to mention in your article ….” The contents of any one of my articles are dictated, as they should, by the title of that article. Thus, when I write about Eritrea’s domestic affairs – the oppression, poverty, injustice our people are subjected to – I mention the government that is running the country, not Woyanes. I am not obsessed with Woyane to want to bring them up in everything I write.
    2. You asked rhetorically “Why would you prescribe more blood to be spilled when we just averted a war.” Is there any statement anywhere in the article where I advocated anything that would cause “blood to be spilled”? All I have written about is waging a political struggle to bring about democratic change. How could that be equated with prescribing “more blood to be spilled”?

    Thank you.

    • George

      Dear YZ

      Thanks for responding. Pointing out Woyane is not obsession it is an obligation if you are here preaching, plotting and praying the demise of the Eritrean government. After all Woyane have the same goals. It does not matter what your title. Your message always the same, the toppling of GOE. Any any sane person, let alone you, possibly with advanced degrees and very good command of English would know any kind of instability would immediately trigger a negative reaction from the ever alert and determined mortal enemy of Eritrea Woyane. That would most likely cause blood to be spilled. I not need to remind you the last war was as bloody as it comes.

  • Yohannes Zerai

    Dear Amanuel and Hope,
    I am highly appreciative of the words of encouragement both of you extended to me and I thank you both for the views/opinions you expressed in your respective comments.

    Hope,
    I have gone through your extensive commentary with interest. You certainly have raised a number of interesting points but it is not easy to respond to all of them in one go. Nevertheless, I expect them to be taken up progressively by others as the discussion proceeds. For now, let me try to address an issue that I know is in the minds of many and one that is often raised in discussions.

    You wrote “We have known, at least in our minds and on papers about the solutions but as Prof Dr. SAAY lamented and inquired, the MAJOR question is: How can we execute those strategies and solution in an efficient and effective way as we have tried them before but in a less coordinated and disorganized way?”

    In my opinion, the answer to this timely and critical question is contained in the idea presented in Item “3: Political Support Base” of the article. As important as individual dedication and effort is to the struggle, progress cannot be achieved unless these isolated efforts and contributions are coordinated and consolidated into group/collective action – a group that becomes bigger and stronger with time as more and more stakeholders are co-opted into supporting the struggle and identify themselves with the CAUSE. Obviously, such a COORDINATING and CONSOLIDATING task is not something that can be accomplished by individuals but requires an organization (or organizations) that carry and/or possess legitimacy, respect, authority and resources all generated by virtue of (and reflected in) the popular following they enjoy. At the moment, I believe, none of the existing Eritrean opposition groups has achieved this kind of political/organizational status that would allow it to lead the struggle for democratic change. What we have now as opposition groups are nothing more than “clubs of small number of friends or associates” who rely on themselves and have no followers/members (i.e., support base) to speak of. I believe that effective leadership, unity of purpose, coordination and integration of groups of the Movement for Change would be possible ONLY when conditions outlined in Item “3: Political Support Base” of the article are met through the collective effort of genuinely patriotic Eritreans.

    Thank you.

  • Berhe Y

    Dear George,

    Let me a

    • Mez

      Dear Berhe Y,

      Good points to take into account about some supernations of our globe–including the US.

      Our national policies will have to take into account these global realities–we have to get more pragmatic and do realpolitik at all levels; be it national or regional.

      Thanks

      • Berhe Y

        Dear Mez,

        I agree with you Mez. SaEnKa maEre egriKa, as our elders say. I don’t think anyone seriesly believe that Eritrea /IA are and capable of working against the US interests. All this acting like garden angels is just empty talk to divert attention for failing (or purposely sabotaging) Eritrea people from living in their country peacefully.

        There is no better prostitute as IA and his government when it comes to his interests. How can one forgets his stance on the Iraq war and Saddam, Libya, Sudan / al Bashire in direct support of the US government.

        And just recently issuing a press release against the Canadian government in support of Saudi Arabia for a childish confrontation between the crown and a “tweet from the FM of Canada”.

        Berhe

  • Brhan

    Hello Yohannes,
    Thank you for your article. Addressing the issue of the opposition group, you have stated important points that enhance this group in its struggle against the dictatorship in our country.
    I want add some important points , though they are technical , but if implemented within the strategy , they will be good asset in the struggle:
    1. Respect time of the meeting: start on time and with the people who came on time
    2. Have a written agenda of the meeting , ask the participants to add item/s and stick to the agenda.
    3. Avoid egocentrism
    4. Show integrity: see an opposition leader and an opposition member equal
    5. Plan. Plan. Plan
    6. Engage the youth in leadership. Being legendary Tegadaly (ELF or EPLF) is not a ticket for infinite control of leadership
    7. Allow more women in the leadership positions
    8.Be pragmatic: have meeting consensus on the means of the communication of the meeting. In USA, it is easy to run meetings in English and etc
    9. Division of roles Specialize: We can’t be every thing: some people are good in writing and some in speaking, give every role to an expert
    10. DO NOT BE SHY OR AFRAID ALL/SOME OF THE ABOVE IN THE MEETINGS

    Thanks

    • Selam

      Selamat Brhan,

      Thank you; You get all technical problem not only in political organization but in general for all type of Eritrean organization. Culture of organization and meeting needs improvement.

      have a nice day.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Dear Brhan,

      Interesting set of things that certainly deserve our attention and which we must try to adopt and implement as tools to improve both the management and outcome of our political discussions and debates. I see your listing as a kind of “guideline” on process, protocol, discipline, participation, etc. which, if adhered to, would greatly enhance understanding among ourselves while increasing efficiency and effectiveness of activities we engage in as a community. Finally, it should be apparent that the items in the list are not any less important than the political decisions we make and political actions we take to push our struggle forward. Nothing will be achieved unless we ensure fairness, order, respect, representation and efficiency in our discourse and in our activities.

      Thank you.

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Selam Yohannes,

        In the Eritrean politics these values, you alluded such as, “fairness, respect, order, and representation” are all “lost values” for decades. Watching the current of our politics, I doubt they are redeemable so to speak, though our struggle will not stop to thrive for them. The worst thing is, we are deniers to our realities. We try to claim something we aren’t. Very Sad.

        • Yohannes Zerai

          Hi Amanuel,

          What you stated in your comment is absolutely true, and one does really feel this “loss of values” at every incident of engagement with follow Eritreans almost on a daily basis and wherever such an encounter occurs. Nevertheless, such a realization/experience should constitute neither surprise nor discouragement for anyone of us. We just have to accept that this is one of the negative outcomes of having stayed under a cruel and absolute dictatorship for so long – almost three decades! As such, we have no choice but to fight against the continued erosion of our traditional societal values as part and parcel of our greater struggle to remove the existing tyrannical order and institute a genuine democratic change in the country. But first and foremost , WE MUST CONVINCE OURSELVES AND BELIEVE THAT THIS COMPOUND MISSION IS INDEED ACHIEVABLE!

          Thank you.

  • Ismail AA

    Selam Yohannes,

    Being glad to have you back after a while of absence, let me start the remarks hereunder by a conclusion. You article, and the thoughts articulated therein, draw our attention back right to times immediately prior to the 1962 annexation, which were unmistakably signaled by de-hoisting the national flag immediately followed by arrival of Amharic language instructors ( being here it is needless to underscore the implication the flag and the languages had meant to the people). The salient reasoning expounded in this article ,thus, sketch out considerable similarities of the emerging geopolitical realignment of interests in the region and the players in the game to the post WWII politics and interests that impacted our fate as a nation, which competently remind contemporaries of the period I just mentioned. As you have mentioned, the lining up on the chessboard who among the regional actors would act as pawn, bishop and castles remain to be seen, in which if he would survive the competition of so many wolves would get his p lace.

    Now, the point I have pondered on while reading this article was that If Yohannes Zerai were to write this article during those times of the impending annexation, it could have been more than likely (in my reflection) that he could have come with similar sense and thoughts that would have been geared to the call upon the Eritrean patriots to close ranks and save their country that was on the verge of been swallowed by the neighboring feudal-imperial regime of the time. In a word, thus, in purpose and intent this article is both timely and useful to those who would care to respond and benefit from it. For that, gratitude is due to the writer for the time well spent.

    Having scribble that much though, I share you and the readers that I was scared by two words in the title. These are the verbs “cry” and “evanescent”. Since I am not possess expertise its connotation in science , for politically inclined reader, and in appreciated in the context it is used, the word “evanescent” is quite impactful considered in the backdrop of the unwholesome politics the despot is playing. These two terms (words) resonate frightening a sense the as did the traditional early morning call (ኣውያት) announce death and burial of persons in villages. Incidentally, in the couple of days before I arguing exchange-ably under another thread with some dear brothers in this forum about hope and desperation in the background of the situation you discussed in the article. At first sight of the title, thus, I was struck with awe that title and the article could rank up to a testimony that in fact we as Eritreans have come to the point of giving up hope and trust in our people and our nation, and that I was not realizing that the nation was indeed in the hours of waning hope and the sunset is closer than one can imagine.

    But, luckily my anxiety was allayed when I came to the paragraphs under the subtitle “Impending Political Challenges and Dangers”. The buildup and coherence of the thoughts squared up to gain pertinence, relevance and timeliness to assemble thoughts of a subject matter powerful enough to jolts Eritreans to wake up and realize that their ambivalences, indifferences and utter failures to do what they needed to do when things were still within the limits of normal demand of civil and political liberties and better alternative governance have added up to cross over those limits to set their hard-won national sovereign homeland in limbo due to a vicious despot who carried two mindsets that catered for his hidden plots and conspiracies on the one hand, and on the other, keeping substantial segment of our people hostage by way of appearing a socio-cultural hero who allayed their real and imagined fears. It’s this latter part of the equation that Yohannes calls to be altered and lead to the pro-regime patriots to shoulder the burden of duty to the nation they love and join ranks with the declared anti-regime compatriots and establish a capable front behind one national front lining up behind formidably fortified trench.

    I should underscore as a veteran of the national armed struggle era that if indeed the post liberation generation together with generation immediately before them would gather their act as Yohannes calls on them to do, and want to the baton of nation redemption passed to them, I would do best I can, and I am sure many would be relieved and happy to do, to be led by a leadership filled by the new generation and do as a foot soldier what I keep on doing until the last breath. This simply to tell Yohannes that your call is relevant and positively answerable once the target group rises up to the call of duty.

    To revisit the content of the opening paragraph, let me say that as the article has competently sorted out and simplified, and as Eritreans had stood face-to-face with fateful decision in 1958-1961 whether to respond to the call of the moment at the time and prepare to do what history had called to do with all what that content of history was, now in closing and beginning months of 2018 and 2019, respectively, of the new century, Eritreans (majority of them as Yohannes had written) are facing moments of history in the making to remain divided and lose or rally together and preserve a nation that had cost them so much to win back. I agree with Yohannes that the trenches that separated the pro-regime and anti-regime patriots has been swamped and mixed to push each side to no-man’s land from where they cannot see anything else but a national state in menace. The Eritrean patriots must understand that time is of the essence, as is conventionally said. The more they stay divided for parochial reasons or even political and ideological ends, the more the cost will be to salvage a nation. They much be reminded by history that if during the 1942-1962 politics ranks had been closed on time as they did after 1974-75, the cost that we have paid would have been much less, and we would not have been in 2018 economically, socially and culturally in the same conditions we were during those decades because we would have not given egoistic characters like the current dictator to have crisis in which they could incubate and grow to vicious monsters.

    • Reclaim Abyssinia

      Dear All, Dear Johannes

      First of all, I didn’t want to post this crapy post on the top of Ismail AA great post, it’s intended to reply…

      I have listed some questions below based on the article, just trying to get some clarification and to get the conversation started. No doubt on the quality of the article, it is superb. Here are the questions, for the wider community & possibly for Yohannes Zerai

      1.”What these geopolitical shifts will mean to the long-term interests of the participating countries themselves and to the future of the region as a whole remains to be seen.”

      Judging by its history of the region, and the participants of the region, it seems like the writer have sufficient information on his hand to predict for what lies ahead.

      Dear Yohannes or anyone, Would you be able to give us a list of possible outcome for the future of the region?

      2. Time to Face Truths

      “Rather, true to character, he ignored the interests of the nation and set out to exploit those conditions to serve his own selfish agenda: break out of his self-induced diplomatic isolation and regain political legitimacy in the region”

      what are those conditions he set out to exploit?

      why did he regain political legitimacy in the region all the sudden?

      Is that means they are happy with his work?

      Is there any term and condition imposed on him when the region acknowledge his political legitimacy?

      3. “Sadly, the country’s problems have recently escalated into a crisis that threatens its very existence.”

      What are you referring to, are you concern that Eritrea might become part of Ethiopia via federation/confederation? Or is there something else that we don’t know?

      Thanks,
      Reclaim

      • Yohannes Zerai

        Dear Reclaim Abyssinia,

        No, your post is not “crappy”; not at all. On the contrary it takes a refreshing approach of venturing into prognosticating about what the future may hold. This is in contrast to the tendency of dwelling in the past which we all succumb to from time to time. An obvious truth is that it does not hurt to occasionally engage in a mental exercise of contemplating how past or present events/actions/processes may influence future developments.

        Now turning to the set of questions you asked, following is my best attempt at answering them:

        1. No, contrary to your suspicion, I do not “have sufficient information on [my] hand to predict for what lies ahead “. I wish I do! At any rate, predicting the future in general (and particularly as it relates to the politics of such complex region as the Horn of Africa) is an extremely difficult task and I would not even try it! Like everyone else, I do make my own observations about the present going-ons in the region; but I do not believe they give an insight deep and broad enough to allow making predictions about the future. Perhaps others may be able to help with answering your question.

        2.
        – The conditions that he has set out to exploit consist of: a) The decision by PM Abiy’s government in Ethiopia to make peace with Eritrea and build a new relationship of friendship and cooperation, b) the spirit of rapprochement and the notion of regional economic integration that Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. are trying to promote in the region backed with their readiness to bankroll economic assistance and investment.
        Because countries in the region now find it in their best national interests to engage him and work with him.

        – No, not really. The reason is simple: they need his services to promote their interests and he has agreed to serve their interests in return for some benefits they may provide (economic, political, military, etc. assistance/support).

        – Yes, he would have to work within the parameters that they set for him in return for the political, economic and perhaps security benefits he would receive from them.

        3. By “crisis”, I mean any internal or external event/process that would directly or indirectly lead to full or partial loss of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Eritrea — hence, anything and everything that would cause the withering away of the Eritrean nation-state. Eritrea’s incorporation into Ethiopia in any form would be but one such outcome of the crisis I have in mind.

        Thank you.

    • Yohannes Zerai

      Selamat Ismail,

      I am in complete agreement with the perspectives you provided and with the elaboration and analyses you presented on some of the points and ideas contained in the article. Indeed, your comment serves a useful purpose of supplementing issues in the article which were not adequately expounded and/or elaborated upon due to limitation on text-length that I had to observe. So, I do thank you for having offered a helping hand on this!

      You have superbly articulated the notion of the phrase “cries of a nation” as intended in the article. But I would like to add here a brief explanation of the sense in which the said phrase was used lest it be misconstrued as projecting negative or defeatist sentiments. For me and I believe for the majority of our people, the patriotic zeal of Eritreans combines HOPE for the country’s future and URGENCY of the moment vis-à-vis its present predicament – of course, all viewed within the context of the crisis that we find ourselves in.

      Yes, URGENCY & HOPE – hope based on confidence that the current agonizing experience of the Eritrean people shall pass, that the people’s struggle shall triumph and that Eritreans shall once again live in peace and harmony! The word “cries” signifies not death but rather an emergency call that the country is putting out to alert its people to the URGENCY of the moment and to the need for collective citizen-action to avert the impending threat.

      Thank you.

      • Ismail AA

        Dear Yohannes,

        Thank you for detecting and supplementing the point that I should cared more to elaborate. Besides, your impeccable civility means to me, for sure many who benefit from thoughts in this room, than your enlightening writings. Here, allow me to be act a bit opportunity and use this opportunity as a note on the margin and appeal to you, as well as others like saay, SJ, Ghezae, Beyan, Dawit Mesfin, Ismail Omar Ali, Amanuel Hidrat, Dr. Paulos, rest of columnists in this forum and casual contributors to fight the torment of time constraint and do more to our nation and cause for freedom that are facing testing times. Perhaps, the current ordeal shall pass thanks to our people’s vigilance to be narrated by later generations as one of the challenging chapters and get place in the annals of the history of our national struggle.

        • Yohannes Zerai

          Selam Ismail,

          O’ ho, ho! Ti’hisho de’a z’hawei! Civility emo natkan ghenezbkan endyu — zitinkfelka yelon!! The wording of your comment exudes politeness and civility as always! Thank you for projecting, once again, that humble and decent demeanor of yours at this form. I join you in paying tribute and expressing gratitude and deep admiration to each and everyone of the people you listed and all others NOT on the list — I understand that one cannot possibly list all the members of the multitude who has contributed to the discussions/debates at this forum over the years — for their ideas and contributions. But make no mistake; I intend to place YOU at the top of that “extended list”!!

          Thank you.

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Hope,

    Just a correction: “Industrial chemistry” and “chemical engineering” are two different career subjects. I was graduated as “Industrial chemist” and not as a “chemical engineer” from “Polytechnic Institute” of Bahir Dar.

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Yohannes,

    Excellent piece. Very timely to the point, explaining the crises of a nation and calling for its citizens to save it from extinction. Telling the truth – pointblank, bold, becomes a hallmark of your identity. Let me quote few of your remark that apropos of the accolades I gave you:

    (a) “His strategy for achieving this dreamlike goal appears to consist of: (i) inducing and encouraging Eritrea’s emptying of its youth, (ii) facilitating influx into the country of professionally- and financially-advantaged people from Ethiopia in the guise of “regional economic integration”, (iii) promoting systematic erosion of Eritrea’s sovereignty intended to lead to eventual demise of the nation-state as we know it, and incorporation of its territory into Ethiopia and (iv) installing himself at the pinnacle of power in a bigger composite state.”

    (b) “….the paramount national concern of the day ought not to be PFDJ-regime’s governance quality or performance level. Neither should it be the implementation of the 1997 constitution, release of political prisoners or termination of indefinite military service. The supreme and most pressing national concern is saving the country from extinction! A desperate nation is crying out to ALL its children to fulfill their patriotic duty and pull it back from the precipice of doom and oblivion.”

    The most reminding point of all is: “installing himself at the pinnacle of power in a bigger composite state”. Thank you for this timely piece. I enjoyed your writings, above all your “unflinching constructive ideas.”

    regards