Isaias Afwerki Interview: On North African Uprisings And The Horn

In part 2 of his interview with state-owned Eri-TV, Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki explained that the North African and Middle Eastern uprisings are the result of popular displeasure with vertical polarization and power/financial concentration in the hands of the elite coupled with external intervention by the practioners of “creative chaos”, who were caught by surprise and now want to control the outcome.

This, he said, is the manifestation of those who espouse “the ideology of the New World Order”, as advanced by “Fukuyama and Huntington.”

[Francis Fukuyma is best known for ‘The End Of History And The Last Man” where he argued that, when it comes to governance, the evolution is over and “liberal democracy” has prevailed.  Samuel Huntingon, a critic of Fukuyama, is best known for “The Clash Of Civilization And The Making Of World Order” where he argued that the evolution is far from over and that the bi-polar Cold War conflict will be replaced by contest between values of civilizations.  Chaos Theory, developed in mathematics and physical sciences to supplement Newtonian theories, was adopted by Organization Management consultants and is only lately being introduced in political science.  Needless to say,  within its context, chaos is not as “chaotic” is Isaias Afwerki makes it out to be.]

The uni-polar world that followed the end of the Cold War has proven more dangerous than the bi-polar  world it replaced, claimed Isaias Afwerki, because the exponents of the New World Order believe that domination and supremacy are the goals and and anything done to bring that about is justified.

“I am not talking just about America,” he said, “but those who advance its ideology, the network of the New World Order.”

We no longer know “what is terrorism? What is not terrorism? Yemen, Eritrea, Ethiopia want terrorism?” he asked rhetorically and accused the “network of the New World Order” of using terrorism as a guise for taking arrogant measures.

President Isaias Afwerki’s skepticism towards American preemption against terrorists came about in 2004 after the United States refused to intervene to help with Eritrea’s border conflict with Ethiopia.  In December 10, 2002, he hosted then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld where he pledged unlimited assistance and, in fact, the regime of Isaias Afwerki employed lobbyists to convince the United States to choose Eritrea over Yemen and Djibouti as its military base.

President Isaias Afwerki derided claims that the leaders of the regimes which have been swept off had amassed billions of dollars, arguing that they couldn’t have done it without the active collaboration of those who are now criticizing them for doing so.

Isaias Afwerki did not mention that the most prominent demand of the uprising is that the regimes go because they have been in power for too long and that they had denied them their right to freely express themselves and to hire and fire their governments, and to hold the regimes accountable for their crimes.   Because this message finds resonance in Eritrea, his State Media has yet to cover the uprisings which are over four months long.

Speaking of regional developments in the last 20 years, Isaias Afwerki explained that in 1991 there was great hope for co-operation between the Horn of Africa states but nobody has the powers of prophecy and he could not predict the then developing “network of New World Order.”

His regime, he explained, has a compass that guides its priorities: avoidance of vertical segmentation along tribe, region, religion; ensuring equitable distribution of resources; and sovereignty that denies opportunity for external interference.   Though he did not say it, this “compass” of:the state monopolizing the political, economic, social space allegedly to ensure “fair and equitable growth” was tried many times and has failed everywhere it has been tried.

Using this “compass” President Isaias Afwerki attempted to explain his regime’s tense relationship with the neighborhood.

Ethiopian governance does not measure up because it is vertically segmented by ethnicity and its regime is a tool of the “Network of New World Order.”

Somalia, during Siad Barre, symbolically buried tribalism in coffins and harbored irredentist Greater Somalia ambitions, but is now mired in tribalism.

Regarding Djibouti, he explained that its situation is no different from the rest.

As for Sudan, he said it had embraced in the 1990s the ideology of “Islam is the answer”, an ideology which was “introduced to the world by the United States” during the Afghani resistance against the Soviet Union in the late 1970s, an ideology that became a replacement for Pan Arabism.

Regarding South Sudan, President Isaias Afwerki stated that it was his preference that their right to self-determination be within a united New Sudan.

“The birth of South Sudan is accidental; a consequence of human-made mistakes,” he stated and that although its independence is fait-accompli, it doesn’t mean that the Eritrean regime will accept anything South Sudan does.  Peace and stability in Eritrea is dependent on peace and stability in the neighborhood and his government, “using our compass” will attempt to influence the outcome because right now there are “worrying signs” that in South Sudan there is vertical polarization on tribalism, concentration of wealth, and external interference.

Attempting to influence, from the perspective of the Isaias Afwerki regime, always means providing weapons and training bases (as was the case with Eastern Sudan dissidents, Somali dissidents, Ethiopian dissidents), and this is why South Sudanese dissidents have a new home at Sawa.

From the interview, it is clear that the regime of Isaias Afwerki will continue to have a spoiler role in the region, as it holds its “compass” as the only right way to govern a country; it makes no admissions of any wrong, and its paranoid delusions of “Network of New World Order” will continue to keep it  highly militarized and isolated from the rest of the world.  In short, the bet is that the uprisings in North Africa couldn’t happen in Eritrea, but why take a chance: do not have them broadcast in Eritrea.

But at least the supporters of the Eritrean regime, who have been mute about the uprising,  now have a new phrase they can repeat endlessly: “creative chaos.”



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