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Eritrea: Ethiopia’s Achilles’ heel–Will PM Abyi Ahmed Succeed in Bringing Peace?

Following the Ethiopian political developments has become a roller coaster for Eritreans. As much as they are impressed by the developments, they are worried about what happens next. Ethiopian politics do influence Eritrea and the entire region greatly.

The recent election of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was well received by the people of the Horn of Africa.  His inauguration speech was very calming because he assured the world that his priorities are advancing the causes of peace in the region. He also pledged to resolve the lingering dispute with Eritrea and called for an end to the “years of misunderstandings” expressing his wish that “the Eritrean government to take the same stand.” Immediately, Yemane Gebremeskel, Eritrea’s information minister, responded with a tweet stating “the ball is in the Ethiopian courts.”

We wish Yemane benefited from the speech to engage in a badly needed introspection and retrospection of Eritrea’s past blunders and failed foreign policies instead of a knee-jerk reaction.

No doubt the security and political challenges in the region are enormous. However, as far as Eritrea and Ethiopia are concerned, the un-demarcated border remains a thorny, unresolved issue.

Over the last twenty years, the no-war-no-peace situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea continues to negatively impact the economic and social aspects of most Eritreans, and to a lesser extent that of Ethiopians living along the border areas.

As witnessed, Ethiopia doesn’t seem to have been hampered by the closure of Eritrean ports, and un-demarcated border, Eritrea, however, has been watching idle ports for almost two-decades– Massawa and Assab used to be bustling outlets since the WW2 when many of the other port cities in the region were sleepy seaports. Now both are ghost ports, save for its recent use to cater for the military adventures of the UAE in parts of Assab. Even that has become a hindrance to the local Afari population who depended on the Red Sea shores for trading and fishing throughout the memorable history.

The challenges in the region are great and they require bold actions by the local governments. Adding problems to the already chaotic region doesn’t benefit the long-suffering population of the region.

The Eritrean regime has frozen all meaningful life in the country using the pretext that the border with Ethiopia is not demarcated. It has militarized the nation and the youth have been living in trenches for twenty years, wasting their useful years away due to the scarecrow of the unresolved Eritrean-Ethiopian borders. That excuse fits the Eritrean government very well. It has been buying time and keeping the country under its iron grip. The economy has been and continues to be, a war-economy serving only the regime, its affiliates, and wider network of beneficiaries. The rest of the Eritreans have become prey to the regime’s political recklessness and military adventures.

We wish peace reigns in Ethiopia because a peaceful Ethiopia influences the stability of Eritrea and denies the Eritrean regime the benefit of a pretext that it has overused for almost two decades. It is with that in mind that we encourage the Ethiopian government to demarcate the border.

For years this website has advanced the view that the un-demarcated borders cannot be a reason to keep life in a never-ending standstill because many countries in the region also have un-demarcated, or highly contested border issues. But that has not prevented any of them from having normal relationships with each other. One example is the Egyptian-Sudanese border dispute over the Halaib region, a dispute that has not prevented Sudan and Egypt from having normal relations where people travel and trade freely. It has not prevented the two countries from having diplomatic relations and mutual visitation by officials from the two countries, even when there seemed to be major differences between the two on several issues. That is not lost on the Eritrean regime, but it pretends it doesn’t know about it because the prevailing no-peace-no-war situation serves it well.

As for Ethiopia’s foreign policy, to ensure peace and stability, which Dr. Abiy Ahmed has promised, we hope Ethiopia will, 1) pursue a nonintervention policy in the region and avoid repeating the costly mistake it made by invading Somalia under the pretense of fighting terrorism, 2) not to engage in regional proxy wars, 3) not to encourage regional or international military intervention in the internal affairs of the Horn of Africa, and, 4) to promote and support the cause of democracy and human rights in the region.

It is our wish to see a return to normalcy in Ethiopia, where political disputes are resolved in the courts, where riots become a thing of the past. But that requires creating a free political space for parties and assuring their protection by the law. We hope the EPRDF would expand its base to include sections of Ethiopians who feel disenfranchised or misrepresented. We also hope the Ethiopian opposition would enjoy more political room to advance the interests of their constituencies, though we hope the opposition learns from past debacles that were motivated by the principle of “The Winner Takes It All”.

We truly hope the opposition parties have learned from the past and are willing to keep their struggles peaceful and be ready for a long-haul. Democracy, or perfection of governance and rule of law, is not a wishful thinking that is realized easily. A well-grounded civil society and viable democratic institutions are required to uphold the fruits that such a struggle achieves. Therefore, educating the constituencies on the rights of citizens, and society at large, is an arduous journey. And naturally, nothing can be achieved if the government doesn’t create a conducive environment where democracy and good governance can flourish.

Finally, we realize that every major progress in history, as the one we are witnessing in Ethiopia, is equally matched by regressive forces that try to pursue the impossible task of slowing down the wheels of history. We would be tone deaf not take stock of the lasting impact of the bloody war that left Eritrea and Ethiopia an avoidable death and destruction during the national liberation period, which followed the abrogation the federal system between Eritrea and Ethiopia.  We also would be delusional if we forget  the noisy minority that refuses to accept  Eritrea is an independent state, and still clings on bogus historical claims backed by aggressive postures, to occupy Eritrean shores with the pretext of acquiring  access to the Red Sea as it did during the 2005 Ethiopian election when it adopted an anti-Eritrean platform dangling Assab as red meat to its narrow base.

Another example is the brazen activities by some Diaspora Ethiopians and Eritreans who claim to be promoting friendship between Ethiopia and Eritrea by conducting provocative public seminars and discussing frameworks of federation and confederation between the two countries–such activities of perpetual opposition has become a way of life for some elite from both countries. We believe the leaders of these groups, once a privileged elite of the old feudal regimes, particularly that of Emperor Haile Selassie, are the very same people who stood on the wrong side of history. Their futile attempts represent the final throes of what remains of the feudal autocracy trying to pump life into the chauvinist imperial ambitions by opening old Eritrean wounds. They are undermining the breathtaking change in Ethiopia that they cannot stomach or fathom its depth. We are confident that both people squarely reject these silly ideas that are recycled ideas that have been tried and miserably failed, though it wasted the lives of tens of thousands of people and left both people at the bottom of every human development index in the last sixty years.

Finally, we wish all Ethiopian peace and stability and we wish the new prime minister success in the challenges that lay ahead.

About Awate Team

The Awate Team is a group of individuals who collaborate in preparing editorial contents that mainly appear under the PENCIL signature and other columns that carry the Awate Team signature. It represents the collective team's view.

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  • Amazing article! i like it! Thank you!
    Best regard, George – essay writer from https://tutoriage.com/

  • Simon Wogderesegn

    This is the best thing I have ever read in my life. It is fair and unbiased as all other Ethiopian and Eritrean media outlets biased by oppositions and ruling organs. Be blessed.

  • FishMilk

    Hi all. PM Abiy is now facing a major crisis in regards to Ethiopia’s critical low hard currency levels. Although the central bank supposedly devaluated the birr, there is now a HUGE difference between bank and black market exchange rates. The bank exchange rate is currently 27.57 birr per dollar whereas the black market rate is 34+. It is clear that the TPLF and their cohorts are frantically trying to quickly take their money out of Ethiopia. Not a good sign at all.

  • Natom Habom

    Dear berhe selam
    you are wrong again ,diabetes ,and other diseases mostly come
    from lazy peoples that don t like hard work ,or rich that live in the comfort with poor movement ,eating ,sleeping no burden in their head ,
    stop thinking about supporter you cannot reach them ,they are way ahead,they don t waist time behind computer , they are doing a great job for their country ,they have goal unlike others
    just do some physical movement ,it s healthy and do not worry about eritreans they can take care of themselves

  • Natom Habom

    selam Hope how did he manipulate you or kept hostage you for its evil agenda ?
    AND WHAT IS HIS EVIL AGENDA ??
    PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME I MIGHT BE IN THE COMA FOR LONG TIME

  • Berhe Y

    Dear Hope,

    Ykunelka.

    Berhe

  • abay

    Dear Fish…and Hope
    It would be wise to control emotions and weigh words before using them. Mr. Fish… you have no right to use such insulting and degrading phrase about Ethiopia…”paradiso”. It is impolite and immature. You are probably writing this at the comfort of Kentucky Fried Chickens. If you were in Eritrea or in the neighborhood, you would know better than forwarding such comments on a country that does so much from the little it has to its neighbors. If you think you can pollute and spoil the cordiality the seniors of this forum are trying to put in place between the two countries, let me tell you, you cannot. The divorce between the two countries, rest assured is completed never to reconcile again, period. If you think Abi’s comment is improper, you should tell him so in isolation not in any “summery execution”. And even then, before you do so, you should first start by addressing the improper comments of Mr. Fish… for his irresponsible comments on my country as that is what ignited Abi as much as it has many of us. And you know what, everyone has to brush the teeth before mentioning a name of a country in a morning breath as a country is holy in the heart of its citizens. God forbid, how would you feel if anyone vulgarized your country? By the way all of us will watch and follow this forum and if your wish is for us not to do so, you should stop discussing Ethiopia, period. What ever happens in Ethiopia is simply the business of Ethiopians. Your concern should not be any more than the concern of a Sudanese or a Djiboutian, as neighbors is what you are! Simply mind your business and then, many of us will have very little interest in the forum and trust me we will leave.
    But not leaving until such time. Abi, please don’t leave.
    Thank you.
    Abay

    • FishMilk

      Hi Abay. Ethiopia’s illegal occupation of Badme constitutes an Act of War. Withdraw from Badme and then I really don’t care if Ethiopia wishes to become the United States of Tigray and to elect Azeb Mesfin as it’s PM, for it will then indeed be your own business.

  • Saleh Johar

    Thank you, Hope,

    I wish I deserve a fraction of the accolade, I am flattered.

    Okay, all I need is to be awarded an honorary recognotion by my conscience. Unfortunately, honors are awarded for political reasons, and I fail in that aspect because I do not play the game, and I do not want to play it. So, there are a lot of things that stand on my way and I am at peace with that hurdle. Think about it, what good is an honorary award if I lose myself to get it? So, if I do not embarrass people who know me, and they are okay with me, that is more than enough.

    Thanks

  • blink

    Dear Abdulworld
    You replied to Buruno . “take care of your people and develop your country.. Stop acting like retarded guerrilla fighter who shots everywhere..” are you taking care of yours ?
    Just asking because for weyane guys it’s very hard to look to the reality.
    2.I wouldn’t be surprised if they welcome the Ethiopian army. ? There was war in 2016 if you are to young in your head.
    3. Your number 3 point is a pure weyane lies in your head because just 1 million people were displaced due to Ethnic based disagreement.

    Ethnic friction in Ethiopia will not be solved by EPRDF not necessarily by the current one.
    Tigrians will continue to exit another part of Ethiopia just for the obvious reasons yet you can’t know because you are too blind to see it . The fact is your reality based politics is just like weyane 100% election joke . If you are Tigrian who loved sibhat nega act like one because you are acting weird.
    You also holistically coloured Eritreans as not critical thinking people, come on what are you ? A night owl zooming in the wrong nest ? Keep your sullen head at tigrai on line , people everywhere are able to think to any corner and it has nothing to do with geography. I can see ,you are unworldly person to completely write off Eritreans and that say something about your complexity you have. Just as a lesson don’t insult all Eritreans in general terms. It is bad for you and it will not advance your agenda.

  • Alex

    Hi Abdulworld,
    If you are a man go fight PFDJ rather than dreaming to come on TPLF tanks to power. It’s not going to happen. You are one example why Eritreans gave up on some of the opposition since they are losers who can not gain support from the silent majority with all the misadminstration of PFDJ. I am one of them who will put the country first, because there’s nothing good that could come from TPLF support.

    • abdulworld

      Hello Alex,
      1. I am not member of any opposition or organization.
      2. I believe the so called silent majority did not give up on opposition- the opposition is just not delivering anything. I believe leadership should be measured how much positive impact or things they do for people. If you are not doing anything constructive no one will listen to you. If you are not able to do anything constructive it could be because of talent, education, or just simple intelligence.

      3. I believe there are people under impression that the PFDJ is Eritrea and Eritrea is PFDJ. So, if PFDJ gets overthrown then Eritrea will be lost. The government will turn any neighborly disagreement into existential threat.
      4. First I don’t know about TPLF- You mean Ethiopian government. Most Ethiopian don’t care much of Eritrea or have interest in Eritrea..

      5. I am not going waste sentences responding to your first sentence..

  • Berhe Y

    Dear abduworld,

    I think there is no “they” and “us” when we speak of opposition. There is only “us”, us meaning those of us who oppose the PFDJ. And they should be only “they” for those who are PFDJ and who support PFDJ.

    Because we are not all card carring members of the opposition political parties, it does not mean the “opppsition” is not ours or we have no responsibility to shape the our future.

    These people being fighting the PFDJ all their lives, they chose to die in exile seeking justice rather than compromise their integrity and principle.

    Then why do you think the opposition who do not agree on anything?

    All I am trying to say is, I think it’s mistake to try to divide, old generation, new generation etc., because that’s the kind of divide the PFDJ uses to divide

    The PFDJ has mastered the game of secrecy, division, evil for over 50 years and they got the play book from the worst of the worst past dictators, Stalin, Mao, Cambodia, North Korea, Cuba and others.

    If fighting such system is easy, then why do think, Cuba for example with massive support from the US and like you said organized community not able to overthrow Castro and his system. Same for North Korea and others.

    Berhe

    • abdulworld

      Hello Berhe,

      Reality is reality. The opposition or those claim the opposition party are not organized.

      1. It is simple what positive or constructive impact have the Eritrean opposition brought? Some of meetings I have attended seem more like a retirement social club.

      2. I don’t like policies of the government that doesn’t mean I part of opposition group.
      Whatever group I join- I would like to read their platform and look at their leadership to see if they are capable and maybe I join..
      There is nothing wrong with noticing generational difference. It is healthy. The old guard is dying and maybe it is time to pass torch.

      3. I doubt any those claims. It is amazing how much Eritrean blame stuff on Mao, stalin, etc.. Eritrean government is just bunch guerilla fighters with feudal lord.. they are more Eritrean than anything else. Zemen Stupid.

      4. Don’t understand your Cuba point? Cuba has top healthcare, education, etc.. Cuba secrets is it delivers for its people on most things even with embargo.
      Don’t compare those retards in Asmara with Cuba…

      I admire those Cuban in Miami are organized and have business clout, and run the city of Miami. That is social or organizational intelligence. I don’t see that in Eritrea diaspora community.

      • Berhe Y

        Dear Abdulworld,

        You wrote “I don’t like policies of the government that doesn’t mean I part of opposition group.”

        I think you need to ask your self if your difference with the government is just some policies.

        In any case, please continue to stay engaged.

        Berhe

  • abdulworld

    Hello Alex,
    I am looking at the situation from realpolitik angle.
    Realpolitik defined “a system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations”

    1. I don’t hate eri government or anyone. Hate blinds. I believe their policies are not effective in addressing the people’s need.

    2. Ethiopia wasn’t addressing the need of certain segment of Ethiopian population. Ethiopian protested and raised the issue. The leadership made an adjustment and a new prime minister who is 41 year old with Phd was brought to top. 70% of population is below 30 years and they put prime minister close that age or reflection of the majority.
    Most people of old people in the 55 to 75 age range will look at situation via ethnicity- I am looking at via demographics.
    What we are seeing in Ethiopia is healthy leadership that is able to make adjustment and continue on its economic and development growth..

    3. The court made the decision but the government can still re-negotiate. Nothing is written stone.

    4. I am not advocating any position just look at situation via realpolitik perspective.

  • blink

    Dear Hope
    Do you think all the newcomers are new people? Abi is a known racist guy and he is explaining about himself than telling us about other people. Do you really think all these around are dropped by sudden gravity of awate ?

  • Teodros Alem

    Selam abi
    1,It is u people, not the whole of tigrai people lie.
    2, i guess Amde knows the person i was talking about, the descendent of aste yohanes.
    Because he told me his neighborhood in addis.

  • blink

    Dear Alex
    I understand what you are saying but I still wonder bout 126,000 in one year is mind boggling to me . Yes you are right they can go visit their families, marriage and different personal matters and still it is a big number. I mean not everyone visit every year and if you extend the number to every year it means almost all Eritreans abroad visit Eritrea except few , that has to be a reason to ask where are the opposition while they have the chance.

  • Teodros Alem

    Selam abi
    I hope so too.
    My point was tplf=beloved tigrai.
    Me too strongly believe some people sound smart if they don’t lie and proud who they r.

    • Abi

      Hi Tewodros Alem
      TPLF or not I want the people of Tigray to have plenty of ህብስት ጥህሎ …
      ሽግር አለ? እዋይ አንታ!
      Btw, you don’t have to lie to be proud of who you are specially if you are a descendent of Atse Yohannes and General Raesi Alula. You should be extremely proud. They are the pillars that help Ethiopia stood strong against adversaries. We are forever indebted to them.
      Are you kidding me!

      • Teodros Alem

        Selam abi
        So why all this lie?
        Personality don’t come from descendent. It is what u earned from ur behavior and work , not by lying. By the way believe it or not my best friend(almost a family) is a 4th generation of aste yohanes and he never barge about it never because they r proud of themself. i can prove it to Amde and they from temben more of agaw.
        A proud person don’t lie.

  • Teodros Alem

    Selam abi
    I don’t think he been to beloved mekele. Which is tplf=tigrai.!.

  • said

    selam Natom Habom and Alike
    ,i did not have time to answer you.
    your quotation to me (so much sharme and advice for ethiopia ,the same ethiopia
    that massacred thousand upon thousand innocents in a day light but when it come to eritrea you and you alike wish is to see our downfall, you and your kind attack pfdj on killing whitout one shred of evidence to show than fake news and propaganda, where is your judgment my friend ??)
    Just remember you are repeating, which is not of yours, a false narration and quotation, known you, you do not have any background when it comes to articulating reasonable respond. your are ignorant and you mind is closed, if you have an open mind and you open your sick heart that is rusted and covered with black stone, just try just a little more human. Instead of presenting new possibilities and working for peace and social harmony, all you want is and like your do all you can to maintain the divisive status quo and act in accordance with the past history. But life is not static, it cannot be contained within Ethiopia colonization of Eritrea or any ideology – religious, ethic /political/economic or social – all must change to accommodate the new era of human evolution and progress. And the new is now flooding our area at least there is some in change in Ethiopia, it is for many Ethiopia stimulating change, Ethiopia are demanding response and accommodation. Over the last 25 years or so Ethiopia a peaceful, gentle and quite demand, yet profound shift in attitudes has indeed been taking place within large numbers of Ethiopian people; the increased level of social-political participation and in Ethiopia revolt against historical injustice and suppression testify to this development. Whist this is extremely positive, urgent and fundamental change is required if the many issues facing Ethiopian are to be overcome and a new way of living set in motion. Change will come to Ethiopia.
    What are the crises facing Ethiopia : – poverty, inequality, the internal displacement of people, and, Ethiopia above all is festering beneath all of these, the socio-economic systems under which Ethiopia all live. These issues, and they are but the most pressing, are the effects of certain ideals and conditioned ways of thinking; they are the results of the underlying Ethiopian major crisis, what we might term the Crisis in real term and Ethiopian are Consciousness of this , or the Crisis of sympathy and Love. Not token sentimental, empty word of emotional love, but love as equality, as justice and a unifying force for liberation from human bondage and real change. Love as the true Sword of Cleavage and uplifting, sport as the exposes of all that is false, unequal ,unjust and corrupt in our part of east Africa.

    Keep in mind. Our region in east Africa, the society is besieged by a series of interconnected crises. Millions of people know this and are crying out for change, for a different way of living, to choose their elected government, they want democracy, for rule of law. for justice, peace and freedom. The long-term intellectual ability humans have developed to investigate, gather information and learn from the material world has lead us on a continuous journey of discovery. But in every generation, there have been segments of the population that either cannot or will not adjust their worldview when new paradigms, once unknown are uncovered, and then reshape our part of region. For lasting change to take place, for peace and justice to flower, we must do all we can to break free of this inhibiting conditioning and in so doing cease to add to hate and prejudge others
    Our Society as large or small as Eritrean nation, is a reflection of the consciousness of those who constitute that within a boundary and confined to society; it is formed by the generational values, relationships and behaviour consistently and predominantly expressed by the people within Ethiopia or any given nation . Such expressions are to a large degree the result of socio-psychological conditioning, poured into the minds of everyone from birth by parents and peers, friends and educators, the media and political propaganda. This conditioning pollutes the mind, distorts behaviour and creates a false sense of self. It colours every relationship and forms the corrupt foundations upon which our lives are set. From this polluted centre, filled as it is with selfishness, competition, nationalism and religious ideologies, action proceeds and the divisive pollution of the mind is externalized. Where there is division conflict follows, violent conflict or border conflict, community antagonism or regional disputes.

    • Natom Habom

      selam said
      just saw your answer to me
      be cool my friend no need for me and you her to be paper tiger,your answer sound
      good but no basis ,and you trying also to said that ethiopian regime is aware and his fixing the problem ,minimizing the crime of a bloody regime that is killing innocent ,this is why you guys will never enter asmara ,in the name of democracy you will kill and massacre ,you will rob and destroy citizen and always America will cover up for you as I am sure you all are candidate for future western puppet in case you succeed keep fantasizing
      freedom of speech you said ,for what ?? isn t enough the insult we get ,you want also to be official ,so you can call us by name ,tigrigna ,or maybe nonbeliever (kafir)
      any way wish you good luck my friend knowing you won t achieve nothing sheers

  • Abel

    Selam,
    Just returned from a visit to Ethiopia this week.Unlike the terror of fake news on face book, the country is indeed very peaceful and busy. I was amazed by the pace of development the country is going through, to deny this fact is pure ignorance/idiocy.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear Abel,

      Nice, So you are regretful. And tell use more..

      KS..