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He Doesn’t Hate you; He despises You

My mother was in her late teens when she came to our village as a young bride. She has an incredible memory and recalls events with great details. Over the years, that has given me the opportunity to develop intimate portraits of all the giants and dwarfs who made our village life truly idyllic—where small and simple was beautiful.

I was fortunate to be born in the village; it has rooted me in my authentic culture, where my kinsmen ran their affairs in their own terms, reconciled their conflicts, and dispensed justice with compassion and dignity. I was, however, equally unfortunate to be cut-off, at such an early age, from this Utopian-like communal life of interdependence. My biggest consolation is that I live cherishing the example of a noble woman, who has remained true to her roots and fiercely fought to bequeath its ancestral virtues on her children.

Whatever spiritual, social and cultural longing and hunger I had felt as a young man was lovingly nourished by the guidance of this virtuous woman, whom my children in the footsteps of their father, uncles and aunties, endearingly refer to as Adey. As I get older, I am increasingly becoming aware of the enormous role Adey has played in my growth as a man and in the way I view the world.

Adey loves to talk in parables and it is in these stories and the context in which she invokes them that her innate intelligence, wisdom and sagacity shine through. As a preface to my article, I like to start with one of Adey’s stories.

His honor says: She is guilty

After the death of her husband, a young widow and her only son fell on hard times. Although the community, through their cooperative enterprise, ploughed her farms and harvested her crops, it was an existence devoid of any comfort. Her immediate neighbor was blessed with much livestock and foodstuffs and the occasional generosity she experienced from them had proportionally blunted her envy.  Nonetheless, she could neither suppress the inescapable awareness that life was unfair nor understand why much should be taken away from those who had little in the first place. Her constant musings on inequality, unfairness and the unceasing fight to make ends meet further exacerbated her craving for a luxury, but only a bit; she would hate to be the subject of other peoples’ envy or for the gate of heaven to be as narrow as the eye of a needle. (As I listen to the story, I often wonder why many people think the Gospel of human dignity, love and mutual respect is anti-prosperity.)

In those days, having a chicken for a meal was considered a luxury most of the people could not afford. Her young son, who had prematurely and through no fault of his, found out that he had to grow up and fill the void left by his father, was immediately crippled by his inability to be a provider. Inevitably, despondency overwhelmed him. One day, as he leaned in utter dejection on the neighbor’s fence, he saw one of their chickens laying eggs. Without any forethought, he whisked the eggs off the ground and scuttled towards home. With childlike excitement he handed his loot to his mother, who was only elated by the prospect of a decent meal, and didn’t bother to suspect any mischief or ask where or how he got them. Ill-gotten or not, they spared no effort to enjoy their relatively sumptuous feast.

The boy was proud of his achievement and had to do more of it. The wolf in his belly had to be fed and nothing is as addictive as crime. The first step in the life of crime is the hardest; repeatedly crossed it becomes the new normal. Leaning on the neighbor’s fence became a habit of the boy and whenever the chickens hatch, it was a date with luxury. Stealing eggs was no longer thrilling for the boy and had to find a way of making his mother even happier—he brought the chicken home. He had to push the envelope for the thrill of a crime is commensurate with the value of the object and the grandiosity of the scheme.

The neighbor had become aware of the dwindling supply of their eggs and was wondering what was wrong with her chickens. As she counted them, she discovered two of them were missing. She thought she would ask the widow if she has seen her chickens and went to her house. As she approached her residence, she could smell the aroma of a well simmered chicken stew. Immediately, she knew what had happened and as the custom dictated, she called for another neighbor to serve as a witness before summoning her alleged robber to court. The judge, Dagna, of the village was aboy Rusom. He was an honorable and wise man (his son, an EPLF veteran, is my god-father).

Per tradition, the plaintiff and defendant were allowed to speak. The defendant’s argument solely rested on ignorance—“I didn’t know where my son got the chickens and eggs.” The Judge summoned the boy to court and after a brief cross-examination found out what has truly transpired. In his verdict, Aboy Russom declared the boy innocent: first, he was a minor, who was wrongfully and through no fault of his own, robbed of parental guidance and, second, that his mother’s willful neglect was the main impetus for his crime. The mother was asked to make arrangements with her neighbor on how to pay back the value of what was stolen.

A wolf and a sheep.

When people in authority fail to do their part, crime thrives; it is their negligence that enables people to first commit small crimes that eventually morph into serious transgressions. Promoting moral righteousness is the best deterrence, but when crimes happen the most effective way is to nip them in their bud. Repeat offenders are the worst and most dangerous criminals.

People are born with the potential to be good and bad; a wolf and a sheep dwells in their belly and what the societal system chooses to feed them determines what kind of people they would become—a wolf or a sheep will rule over them. When authority is entrusted on unqualified people, Islam warns, is a sign of doomsday. The quality of leadership in any society is a good indication of its health.

It is the Revolution stupid— not the National Liberation

Unlike the ELF, which started as a national liberation front and slowly and gradually negotiated a not so “revolutionary” garb, the EPLF was, from the onset, a truly revolutionary one and the young, radical and idealist Isaias Afwerki was at its front and center. To the EPLF, the liberation of Eritrea was an essential and a just goal, and yet, a means to grandeur experiment of overhauling the society. The EPLF spoke in terms of progress because in its omnipotence it knew what the final destination was—Eden on Eritrea. Towards this, people were generally divided into two categories: the progressives and the reactionaries: gesgesti  adHarHarti.

Leftist revolutions hate history, traditions, religions and family values. They consider them reactionary forces that must be eradicated. All mass movements that lean left from center suffer from the original sin—they are vultures of individual rights and freedom. The farther left the movement, the more dangerous it becomes; the more it chants equality the less freedom it provides.

Religiofication is an essential component of leftist revolutions—people serve the cause, ideas and organizations and not vice-versa. Man was made for the Sabbath and not the Sabbath for man.

The loyalty of EPLF fighters was primarily to the front and not to their comrades for the latter requires individualism. The EPLF demands from its followers: “if any man come to it and hate not his father and mother and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be an EPLF tegadalay.” In the words of an EPLF popular 70’s song that encapsulates the spirit de corps: ‘eddl aleni gnbar aleni ab hzbawi gnbar zeselefeni. How fortunate I am to be a member of the EPLF.

Unlike most religions the EPLF lacked the Golden Rule to temper its excesses and extremities. For the leftist organizations such as the EPLF the Bronze Rule is that anything will do if it is either perceived to promote the goal of the organization or does not hamper its growth. All competing forces must be squashed and the end-result is always totalitarianism—they have to control everything. It is important to them that all traditional virtues are profaned; so much so that asking the where-about and well being of a missing loved-one is regarded as treason of the highest kind.

The singular commitment to the cause made the EPLF the best guerrilla organization the world has ever seen. Organizationally the EPLF was as impressive as the Nazis’ blitzkrieg, but also equally abhorrent. It was the embodiment of the beauty and the beast and our goal should be to save the beauty and slay the beast.

Understanding why the EPLF Tegadelti did not have any qualms to liquidate their own comrades, former classmates, and childhood friends is to understand what will be the best approach to effect change in Higdefite Eritrea. It was the system that fed the wolf in their bellies and it is the system that is our enemy. The overwhelming majority of the people serving the regime are decent Eritreans that we need to win over into our side; they are our natural allies in the struggle for change. The repeat offenders are the most dangerous elements and their determination to hang on to power must not be underestimated. He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.

Isaias does not hate you; he despises you

Isaias was just the first among equals; whatever has happened in the EPLF was the responsibility of the collective leadership. It cannot be denied that he was a brilliant man who won the respect and fear of his comrades through sheer dedication, commitment, steadfastness, ruthlessness and chicanery. As the principal leader of the organization, he deserves the lion’s share of the credit as well as the blame.

Isaias loved Eritrea; he dedicated his life to its struggle, but over the years, he came to love more his idea of Eritrea more than Eritrea itself. This love has totally blinded him and made him immune to alternative visions of Eritrea. The idea of Hadas Ertra was a collective vision, but Isaias had played a major role in its midwifery. This strong attachment has induced a fanatic zeal on him; always vigilant against those “bad” elements who might derail its progress.

When Isaias, the chairman of the secret party, made it possible for the EPLF to take some draconian measures against dissidents, there was none in the leadership who uttered words of condemnation. In fact, most of the information I have access to indicates that they had cheered for the decision, or even worse, they rationalized it on the proverbial megogo owner, who let the rat go so as not to break the mogogo.

The culture of rationalization and the fetish with timeliness (gzi’u aykonen/twgaH imo) are the twin maladies that have severely curtailed us from taking action and stifled our intellectual creativity. Getting rid of these two or tempering them with some level-headedness is a big part of bringing in positive changes.

Isaias evolved into what he is because there was no meaningful voice to check and balance him. In his mind the greatness of the EPLF was his; and as a true believer he could not give up on the aims of the revolution even when the prevailing conditions in post-independent Eritrea were not conducive.  His comrades who evolved with time were seen as apostates who betrayed the cause, and genuinely he saw them as defeatists, fifth-column and collaborators with foreign enemies. What is even more, they were, through their acquiescence, the enablers who put him on his road to perdition. They knew full-well what the punishment for transgression was, but they were not brave enough to pull the trigger and relieve him of the burden of the revolution. He despises them, but even more, he despises the Eritrean people who have not, in any meaningful way, stood up to him to defend their honor and dignity.

Young Isaias was a bully but his playground was limited to Geza-kenisha; now he has the whole country under his control. By now we should know what to do with a bully—stand up to him, and the house of cards he has built will come crumbling down.

To contact the author:

About Semere T Habtemariam

Semere T Habtemariam is an author and a columnist at Awate. He holds a BA in Government and Politics and a MA in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas. He lives in Dallas, Texas. His two books are: Reflections-History-Abyssinian-Orthodox-Tewahdo and Hearts-Like-Birds.

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  • Woldai

    s Michael
    What you wrote was all fiction! Eritrea’s leaders trained & still training all kind of Ethiopia’s enemies! The Islamic court , alshabab & other Ethiopia’s enemies ran to Eritrea every time Ethiopia hits them! Nobody fought at Assab front at all, but at Ethiopia’s torritories at Bure! The saga of Assab is simply a fiction created by isaiasawyan! Ethiopia never had & don’t have & will never have a master! Did you forget Ethiopia’s political & deplomatic fight against fanatic Neoliberalists in the past 14 years

  • abebe

    Eritreans discussing about Eritrea goes like this, A:- Why do you it food? B:- becouse my neighbour is hungry. A: It is your neighnour who is hungry, why is it you who eat. B. It is When he complains about food i know that i too need to eat. Ask Isayas why he is supressing Eritreans, he will say Desalegn is in Sudan.

  • saay7

    Hey Amde:

    Ah, about that jaw you had to pick up, I am not worried: Ethiopia is very good at reconstructive history, I mean surgery: you will be alright, good as new.

    My two points about the events leading to the Badme War–that Isaias Afwerki did not consult his colleagues and did not report his grievances to the AU or UN–were made by his former colleagues (G-15) and the Claims Commission at The Hague. Anything more I can say would be repeating myself. So I won’t.

    Speaking of miscalculation: I am telling you that Ethiopia had a 50-year record (1941-1991) of miscalculating the Eritrean desire to be an independent country. And, since you once said that the only reason you hang around awate is because you believe that Eritreans will, in small incremental pieces, ask to be part of Ethiopia, you are continuing on a tradition of disastrous miscalculation because you are relying on the passion of a few misguided souls. Politics, as you know, is about numbers. Let’s talk raw politics. Do you really think that Eritrean Highlanders, upon whom the Neo Andnet are pining their Join Ethiopia Project, (well, actually, that would be assertive, theirs is more whiny and it is: a We Wish We Were Part of Ethiopia Project) will really give up a system that guarantees them a near-permanent majoritarian number (and the power that comes with it) within Eritrea so they can be a a permanent minority in Ethiopia after they carried much of the burden to make Eritrea independent? Really?

    Let me see if I can provide a cold (but necessary) shower. The only reason that Isaias Afwerki is still standing–despite UN sanctions, despite massive loss of confidence in his leadership, despite supporters leaving him in droves, despite a non-functioning economy, despite running a police state that has victimized every Eritrean family–is because he has convinced a large number of Eritreans that without him Eritrea will lose its autonomy. The Eritrean drive to be autonomous, not a satellite of Ethiopia, is THAT strong. And it runs deep in Eritrea, but specially in the Eritrean highlands. Abort your mission buddy: the Neo Andnet project is still-born.


    • Amde

      Selam Saay,

      Are you giving up just like that? Oh – this is not a “mission” for me….don’t flatter yourself…. I would be terrible at this “mission” if what I can manage is popping in once every other day or so. No Saay, it is just me reading the tea leaves and projecting 20 years ahead – believe me this is nothing that will happen anytime soon. There is going to be another round of tragic miscalculations while those who fantasize Eritrea’s problems are 99% due to Issayas have a go at Shaebiya 2.0 and life in turn teaches its own lessons. Believe you me on this one.

      In the meantime though I am dropping in my perspectives when I feel like it – keeping you honest. You are a slow learner but you are coming along lol.. you even used the word “autonomy” instead of “independence” (“…that without him Eritrea will lose its autonomy…”). What you really wanted to say was “sovereignty”, but autonomy is good – I’ll take it.

      Your responses were quite illuminating though. I had thought (silly me) that your website would be one where serious dogmas are questioned. But this whole Badme business tells me you are seriously delusional. And this whole “highlanders will prefer to be the majoritarian group…”, while the highlanders are being depopulated literally as we speak. :-0 Holy bamboozles!!!


      • saay7

        Selamat Amde:

        Again, with apologies, I am going to do that terribly unfair thing of quoting back your words (in context) back to you. We were discussing the issue of “self autonomy up to and including secession”, which appears in the political program of at least two Eritrean opposition organizations, and this is what you wrote:

        “Even if the pieces do vote to secede, they will just be joining mama Ethiopia in small digestible pieces. I actually would not spend time here if I did not believe that it is an inevitable process that will be good for Eritreans and Ethiopians.”

        Now you are saying that is a 20 year project. So, you are only spending time at awate (every other day) to follow-up on this 20-year project. That’s some commitment. awate should consider putting together an email notification service or an RSS feed focused on this “inevitable” process.

        Your “believe you me!” is not very believable, not the least of which is due to the reason that most people who use that phrase are in sports bars making loud proclamations and prophecies. But thanks for trying.

        Now, a different perspective on this 20 year project of yours.

        1. In 20 years, by 2034, Ethiopia’s population will be 182 million plus, and it will be the world’s 9th most populous country. At the same time, Eritrea’s population will be only 9 million plus;

        2. In 20 years, by 2034, Ethiopia and Eritrea’s GDPs will either (a) keep pace or outpace population growth (God willing) or (b) will not keep pace or lag behind this population growth.

        3. Both being sub-Sahara African countries, history does not appear to be kind to them in terms of probabilities for success. Even now, as Ethiopia talks about have an explosive GDP (impressive), it is always loathe to talk about GDP/capita (still dismal.)

        4. Your project–and all the siren calls of the Neo Andnet movement–have one Eitrean target population: the Eritrean highlanders. Thus the wailing about their de-population (which, incidentally, is the same wailing that was done in the 1980s and 1990s about the second largest group, the Tigre-speaking being depopulated from Gash-Barka, Sahel and Semhar. But that is SO last decade)

        5. Whether Eritrea remains under the rule of Isaias Awerki, or Shaebia 2.0 or Shaebia 3.0, or a perfect democracy built in a lab somewhere, the Eritrean highlander will have the lion’s share of power in Eritrea. Them are the math.

        6. Your project is flawed. Certainly not worth your 20 year investment of checking a website every other date for updates:) Godot ain’t coming.


  • saay7


    Ante fara, there is no such thing as a generic Ethiopian. That would mean that the people of Ogaden, for example, have the same perspective about Ethiopia as the people from Showa. Not even close.

    How did we get from Atse Tikur Sew to Harbegna Meles Zenawi? My point was that Menelik, or Tikur Sew in the parlance of Teddy Afro did, for reasons known only to himself, but I am guessing it is because he was in a mad rush to consolidate his empire in South and southeast Ethiopia, made a huge blunder in disowning Eritrea. Here’s a piece of history from “A Narrative of Captivity in Abyssinia With Some Account of the Late Emperor Theodore, His Country and People” from the 19th century

    “The Hababs are a large pastoral tribe, inhabiting the Ad Temariam, a hilly and well-watered district, about fifty miles north-west of Massowah, included between longitude 38.39 and latitude 16 to 16.30. They represent the finest type of the roving Bedouins; of middle height, muscular, well made, they claim an Abyssinian origin. With the exception of a darker hue of the skin, certainly in other respects they do not differ from the inhabitants of the table-land, and have but few characteristics of the aboriginal African races. Some fifty years ago they were a Christian tribe—nominally, at least—but were converted to Mohammedanism by an old Sheik, still alive, who resides near Moncullou, and is an object of great veneration all over the Samhar. Once their doubts removed, their suspicions lulled, the Hababs proved themselves friendly, willing, and obliging.”

    Gebah ahun? If you disown people, and then you spend 50 yeas bombing them, killing their women and children, burning their land, slaughtering their livestock, they disown you. I know, I know, people are really strange and ungrateful.

    Ok, if you insist: let’s move from one Mesfen to another: from Menelik to Meles.

    1. All the lefties in the US came up with “war of choice” to demonize George W. Bush (a phrase you are uncritically mimicking here) but ALL wars are “war of choice.” I mean, there is always a CHOICE to do nothing, specially if you listen to our new School of Cost-Benefit Analysis, pushed by YG, Hayat and all the YG disciples. You always have a CHOICE never to fight back. Wouldn’t you agree?

    2. If you read a single piece of the various documents issued by Eritrea’s Reform Movement (G-15), you would know that Isaias Afwerki had kept Eritreans in the dark about his dark dealings with Meles Zenawi on the eve of the war. (An accusation also made by the G-something version of TPLF: they said, “we were kept in the dark.”) So the incidents that led to the ignition of war between Eritrea and Ethiopia in May 1998 were largely and almost exclusively a Meles Zenawi-Isaias Afwerki affair. So your claim that this was a project of the WHOLE EPLF LEADERHIP (thanks for shouting) is not based on facts.

    3. Hence, there are only (AND ONLY: my turn to shout) two reasons that I blame Isaias Afwerki for: (a) not keeping his colleagues (EPLF LEADERDHIP) in the loop and (b) not screaming bloody hell to the OAU/UN when the provocations were happening prior to the breakout of the Badme War. Just those two. The rest is just the “logic of war” which is always, but specially in hindsight, nonsensical. It is a series of provocations, attacks, counter-attacks. This is what every Ghedli-defamer (and nationalist Ethiopian) craves: a complete and total blame on Eritrea, and a complete and total conclusion that this was the natural outcome of Eriterans “adventurism” and “superiority complex”, “ghedli values” and minamin minamin. But, unfortunately for them (and you), that’s not what the facts show.

    4. When I said “please also note that you are admitting that Ethiopia’s sole interest was and is access to the sea” you feigned surprise and you said “I am?” Hmmm. Let’s play the reel, as sports announcers like to say. When Dawit wrote “Had the treaty of Wuchale given Ethiopia the 900 miles plus red sea coast, Eritreans would not have waged war against Ethiopia.” you replied, “I agree with many many thumbs up!!” Natkan ny enda amatkan thumbs teleqiHka, you reduced the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict to sea coast. Didn’t you? Of course, Dawit was right and you were right. My difference of opinion is that (a) this is not a case of Eritreans fighting to maintain their Red Sea Coast ( you won’t find that argument in any of the Eritrean founders argument: their issue was much larger: autonomy for the whole country) but that of Ethiopia basing its arguments on its need for access to the Sea, an argument that the UN (particularly the US) found compelling and (b) Ethiopians demand for access to the Sea was not uniquely emphasizing Eritrean Sea: it just wanted ANY Sea and its push for Eritrean Sea was only because Haile Selasse was frustrated by his demand for Somali Sea because the Brits were more wily and treacherous than the Italians.
    5. Of course, the Isaias Afwerki strategy didn’t work out, but not for the reasons you think. If you spend half your time (1982-1991) disowning the Eriteran Liberation Front; and if you spend the other half (1991-1998) disowning the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, then, when hell breaks loose, you will have a tiny nationalist Eritrean (Isaiasists) ready to put it all on the line to defend the country. That’s what happened to us. (If you don’t believe me, get a bunch of ELFers and they will tell you that TPLF’s Badme reach was just part of its Greater Tigray hegemony. But don’t talk to them in Addis: they have gone all mute there.)
    6. You know (or should know by now) my sense of the Ethiophile Eritreans and how I have NO interest in winning them over but crushing them. Lucky for me, they really are “beTat yemiqoteru” and they only appear huge and a popular wave thanks to the “chaw chaw” factor of the Internet. I am, as I keep saying repeatedly, “benatem abesha, be’abatem abesha.” I consider the people you venerate, the Ghedli-defamers, as possessing the LEAST abesha traits: they are not proud, they have no dignity, they are wussies.

    I will make it simple for you. Eri-TV had a documentary on the burial ceremony of General Wuchu. Its really that of a man who is TRULY benatum abesha, b’abtum abesha: a fearless man, a man who is underwhelemed by threats and intimidations and a man who is the very embodiment of Ghedli: he was there, everywhere. He was our White Hat. Mr. Morale: the man who told his followers not to be intimidated by numers. BUT. But, after Eritrean independence, he was a black hat. Corrupt, dumb-loyal, and unable to differentiate between loyalty to an autocrat and loyalty to country. This to me is the classic case of the Stanford Prison Experiment: get people to take orders from people in white coats and they will execute any instruction, no matter how cruel, because people are sheep: they need shepherd.

    All I want, all that is necessary for Eritrea, is to get rid of the prisoner. And that is Isaias Afwerki. Simply put: there is no psychological problem with Eritrea; there is only one man, Isaias Afwerki, who must be neutralized. We have an autocrat and we need rule of law. All you Sigmund Freuds with your couches can retire it: its not very complicated.

    7. Ummm, ok. What is it that the Ethiophiles can sell us? What is the buyers remorse? If we had chosen Ethiopia we would have been 1/20th of the population? We could have enjoyed a status of being a very low income country? What??


    • Amde

      Hi Saay,

      Hope you are having a great Sunday.

      Saay, I have to tell you that I will be sending you a bill for fixing my jaw that fell to the ground on your revisionist version of the Badme events. I can’t tell if you are that naive or you think your audience is that dimwitted.

      So, some time in a May many summers ago, a “series of provocations” by an Ethiopia that had essentially completely demobilized, had caused the sudden mobilization of
      a mechanized Eritrean army. You know it ain’t like hopping in your car and picking up groceries. Somebody has to call up the reserves. Somebody has to distribute the weapons. Issue munitions. Issue fuel, rations, medical supplies. Make detailed operational plans. Position the troops. Set aside the budget. This in a small country where everybody knows everybody else, and the sole ruling Party IS the State AND the Executive. And we are led to believe Magic Issayas had the power to mobilize, arm, plan, and deploy this army to execute operations without the knowledge and participation of the EPLF leadership at the time?? Are you kidding me????

      Oh, that’s right – I forgot – He Did Not Keep Them In Da Loop y’all..

      And you actually used the phase “Greater Tigray” hegemony. Wow – what is this – Dehai 1999?

      You blame Issayas for not raising bloody hell to the UN – well of course he can’t because he didn’t have anything to say. Most likely, he was the arson lighting up the fires.

      And as far as the ex-officials, of course, once the magnificent delusion ends in a spectacular clusterduck, they gotta blame it on somebody. They say defeat is an orphan, and victory has a thousand fathers. No wonder he sends them all to jail – he wasn’t taking the rap by himself for something they all participated in. He is that pissed off that he would rather they never see the light of day.

      Now, to be fair, I think you meant to say that the discussion of the border issue was the personal agenda between Melles and Issayas, and that is what you meant when you say “keep them in the loop”. But the status of negotiations between two individuals is one thing – embarking on an invasion is quite another. So pinning the whole Badme fiasco on the one-and-only Issayas maybe eases the conscience a little bit, but in my opinion it is delusional. And it is a dangerous delusion.

      The Badme project can only be one of two things:
      a) the actions of a Rogue dictator who planned and organized it in secret, resolutely executed by unthinking minions;
      b) a national project lead and implemented by the country’s elite – Issayas + EPLF leadership in this case.

      Now, if you say your choice is (a) – which I believe is what you are saying – that happens to be a terrible indictment of the caliber of the people who are in dungeons now. I personally don’t think they were all incompetent yes-men. What is most likely is option (b).

      I would like to ask you again to consider the following:
      a) What was Eritrea’s political objective for the Badme invasion?
      b) Why did Eritrea feel it could meet its objectives over an opponent that was many times its size?

      My thoughts are that
      a) Eritrea wanted regional hegemony;
      b) Eritrea felt it could feasibly effectively choke Ethiopia into submission by virtue of its control of the coast.

      When you consider the vast differences between the two countries (size, population, economy), the only rational reason why a national (and somewhat rational) leadership of a smaller nation would even consider (a) as a feasible project would be due to a perceived strategic advantage such as (b). And hence, like clockwork, Crispi’s battle at Adwa, was followed by Mussolini’s invasion in 1935. The interregnum of HaileSellasie and Mengistu saw no peace. And Melles – for all his staring into Issayas’s soul – was rewarded with Badme.
      And the proxy fighting in Somalia (soon to expand into South Sudan) has been inherited by the new PM.

      That is why you can swap out Menelik (Tikur Sew) and put in Melles. Whether Harbegna, Guad, President or NeguseNegest, it is immaterial who rules in Ethiopia, and who has the power in Eritrea. The logic of the geography is such that the probability of conflict recurring is high.

      What is even worse is that this logic drives the conflict into wider areas. That is why Issayas arms rebels in Somalia and Sudan. That is why he is right now being accused of starting a proxy war in South Sudan, a country which shares no borders with Eritrea.

      And while it may make Issayas happy to show the world he is a bad-ass, the cumulative impact on Eritreans is perfectly predictable and quite visible. There is no free lunch – especially for geopolitical adventure. The cost has to be borne by the same small poor population.

      And that is the importance of the coast – yes there is commercial value, but more importantly it is security. Not just Ethiopian – but for the whole region. To get back to Dawit’s point, would Eritrea have attacked Ethiopia if Ethiopia was not landlocked? I would resoundly say NO, and agree with even more fingers.

      I frankly do not understand the reference to the Habab you made – sorry “ahunim algebagnim” What you just quoted was of the Habab – who admitted themselves to be Abyssinians,- changing religion sometime during or just prior to the reign of Tewodros. What does that have to do with Menelik’s decision of the 1890s? I do agree Menelik’s decision proved to be terrible – and you and I are here because of it.. Why he did so has perhaps many variables and frankly that is a lot of water under the bridge now. I get your point about the Menelik’s abandoned children, and I can certainly imagine the terrible cost incurred on those who lived in the war areas. You won’t find me defending atrocities during counter-insurgencies.



    I think you guys love and enjoy talking about the past, which i can tell is based on some truth and myth combined. I would take you deep in to remote past and let you feel some antiquity’s realities and deceptions, but not. Not in this century when China shows intentions to use drones to clear its atmosphere from pollution, when scientists are talking about future cars connected wirelesly to each other to control accidents and stuff, ON ONE HAND. AND when people in your respective countries are in poverty and despair trying what ever it takes to bring food on the table.


  • Amde

    Selam S Michael,

    Holy chocolatta – you seem to have read my comments!! I am truly flattered Do you want to start my fan-club? Thinking of a fan club for me though reminds me of the old Groucho Marx joke, “I don’t want to belong to a club that would have me as a member” 😉

    I am sorry but your FACTS are opinions about which you and I will not agree.

    I wish you a good Sunday.


    • S Michael

      And if I may add:
      You also stated that the TPLF would like to have a strong highlander leadership in Eritrea for now to achieve their business.
      The TPLF gang officialy declared the last front against the kebessa people as these people is/are the main obstacle for achieving the TPLF gang agenda besides creating Saho Liberation Front,Bilen Liberation Front,Kunama Liberation Front, the Red Afar Liberation Front and now, Akelguzay Liberation Front(which has existed underground) ,Al Islah al islamia–Front, and now Eritrean Christian movement-being cooked up as we speak),which you deliberately omitted .
      Have a blessed Sunday as well.

  • Hailey zeru

    AWATE’S rebellion started against the British administration later against the Ethiopians.
    Those who say eritreans did not fight agaist other colonialist are dishonest in case of yg and I do not know what to say of Hayat and the rest of cheerleaders team. You should ask if we fought agaist the Turks and the Egyptians and you will find surprising answers.

  • S Michael

    I admire your mastery of English Language and Debating ability but that has nothing to do with the FACTS on the ground.
    I care less about your origin or identitiy/ethnicity eventhough you could be the same YG or his identical twin bro.
    Here are few of the FACTS you have tried to hide or ignore:
    1-“Eritrea is a Failing State and is 20yrs behind Ethiopia and Eritreans do not know how to build a Nation(shared by Haile)
    A-Eritrea and Eritreans have proved to the world that they have achieved not only solid Statehood from the scratch but Eritrtea was labeled as the “Hope of Africa” within 5-7yrs of its creation by all standard in the words of your own masters.But as Professor Tesfatsion Medhanie eloquently clarified it, the weak weyane conspired with its masters at that time that the Independence of Eritrea was meant to be temporary one until the weak weyane gets stronger with the help of its masters,which became evident over the time based on the facts we have witnessed on the ground since 1998 and based on the wikileaks documents–to the extent of officialy declaring regime change not only with the green light by the USA but with full back up of the West in all aspects but failed miserably despite all evil intentions and deeds–call it sanction,containment–regime change–applying Arab Spring style mess,military provocations—against all ODDS ,indeed.Case in point,do not forget the purpose of the 7-day-war at Aseb front.
    And not only they failed but Eritrea and its leadership rather STOOD TALL and remained stronger than ever——-Facts you cannot turn down—-,hence,no surprise that you are crying—
    It has been declared that Eritrea is/will be one of the FASTEST growing economies in Africa, at least–not to mention the pending a trillion dollar worth economic boom—-despite all the sanctions—etc—-
    2-The role of Ethiopa:
    You hopelessly declared that Ethiopia does not want another failed State like Somalia and both Somalia and Eritrea miscalculated and became the victims of their own miscalculation.
    As mentioned in #1,Ethiopia has been working non-stop with the help of its masters by all means possible to destabilize and disinegrate Eritrea into pieces and to make it another failed State like Somalia–but Eritrea again stood tall and became stronger than ever.
    .Before Eritrea was betrayed by the weyanes and until now, Eritrea’s stand about Ethiopian Unity remained clear and firm and the only thing that changed was its stand on the weyane agenda.Eritrea and its leadership outlived the Weyane leadership and the Abay Tigray saga or dream.
    3-The Refugee issue:
    -Why are you blindly ignoring the role of the officially declared No peace–No War status backed by your masters to subjugate Eritrea and Eritreans and crying faul about this?Not to mention the role of your masters and the corrupted UNHCR leading to this hellish incident.Please review the wikileaks documents.
    The fact that Haile et al sided with you does not mean that Eritrea failed its people.
    Despite its weaknesses and misgovernance(PFDJ), have you ever seen in the history of any Nation in the world with-standing all these odds but still standing TALL? Give me a single example.
    4-Ethio-Egyptian Issue: Eritrea and its leadership clearly stated their firm stand on this issue ,not now but 8 yrs ago.If Eritrea changes its mind, it is only because of the belligerance of Ethiopia.Please review Haile’s clip on PIA’s interview 8yrs ago.
    As to the geo-politics ,well, Eritrea has the right and the obligation to do what is the BEST for its National Security and Interest.

  • S Michael

    But do they have that kind of brain and mind to understand though?

  • S Michael

    Good point Zeru and that is exactly what we call a FALACIOUS LOGIC that YG is an expert on/about.That is why I am crying about ,i.e.,why should we give an attention to a falacious logic?

    • Hailey zeru

      Fact is Pfdj system of education clouded the research and education about eritrean history that does not conform to its objectives. The unintended
      consequence is that people like Yg have fertile ground.