Before I begin, there is a Tigrinya saying, “Hamus- Hamus tbl alla,” I do not know its origin. If anyone knows, please let me know on the comments section.
In my three recent episodes of Negarit I talked about an imminent flood building in our region. It looks like it’s in a “Hamus-Hamus” state—particularly Isaias’ PFDJ and Abiy’s Poverty Parties. In Tigrinya, Hamus means Thursday and that reminds me programing—from now on I will try to publish Negarit episodes every Hamus, every Thursday.
Today’s Negarit 121 is a continuation of the topic of Torrents I talked about in episode 117, 118, and 119.
I will also talk about the reinvented argument that Eritrea is not a viable state. And non-other than the ruler of Eritrea himself is echoing it!
Some people didn’t take my warning about the imminent torrents we face seriously. I urge concerned Eritreans not to ignore it. The stakes are high, and only a quick, organized, smart response and tangible actions can save Eritrea.
Naturally, there are skeptics on the proposal of an Eritrean Unity Government. I hope they realize their skepticism is coming at the expense of an urgent matter to save Eritrea.
The situation is developing by the day and it’s extremely fluid. Thus, an urgent action is needed; watching from a distance when others are discussing and negotiating the fate of Eritrea behind closed doors is not prudent. The matter calls for a genuine Eritrean participation before it reaches a “take it or leave it” stage, with no other choice.
I believe the Isaias-Abiy alliance is damaged beyond repair. However, some vested foreign entities could resuscitate to protect or salvaging their interests at the expense of Eritrea and Eritreans.
Let’s briefly touch on what’s being re-invented to pursue non-Eritrean interests.
Re-invented argument: “Is Eritrea a viable state?”
There’s an Arabic saying, Haamiha Haraamiha. It’s a resigned statement uttered when a protector of something becomes the looter. It’s as if you hired someone to guard a bank but then the someone loots the bank, and you discover the looter was the person you hired to guard it. Eritrea is facing a similar fate.
Trouble starts when people pledge allegiance to an authority on behalf of people they do not represent. In the forties some people pledged allegiance to Haile Selassie (the 6th Ethiopian king) and two years ago Isaias submitted to Abiy Ahmed, (the Ethiopian “7th king”) on behalf of Eritrea.
Since then, Isaias has made repeated pronouncements undermining the viability of Eritrea. And that is why people wonder: why does Isaias’s statements sound like the Ethiopian rulers?
Eritreans know the port city of Massawa existed for a long time, at least two decades ago. And Isaias believed it did; that why he spent millions of dollars building an airport in Massawa. However, only the now forgotten Nassair made a few flights to that airport and the airport remained a ghost airfield. And the failure is Isaias’ though he never admits it (@6:20 mark).
But two years ago, he declared the country he rules is not viable when he emphatically denied the existence of Massawa. And the late Yemane Gebremichael, the Eritrean singer who immortalized Eritrean ports, is turning in his grave.
Isaias’ statements could be old copied from the notes of Aklilu Habteweld (Haile Selassie’s prime minister) at the UN deliberation in the late 1940s.
Isaias’ Disparaging Remarks about Eritrea
In his recent put-down interview Isaias mocked and diminished the spirit of Eritrean small businesses owners and entrepreneurs. He displayed his cruel and unsympathetic attitude towards the common Eritrean worker. And he made that in his usual crude manner.
So far, Eritreans have been subjected the most severe lockdown since the appearance of the Covid 19 pandemic. Unfortunately, they let alone to receive basic subsistence support, the ruler would not afford to sympathize with their hardships. He downplayed the impact of the lockdown: if one thinks there is an economy hurt by the pandemic, it is only exaggeration. “He doubled down: there is no economy that can be affected by Covid 19” and belittled small businesses by picking on the bicycle business: Ciclista. Ciclista. Ciclista (219:00 mark)—insignificant. He so clueless that many hard-working Eritreans have not had any income for over a year. He doesn’t know how they are suffering or how they are making ends meet. But that is expected from a detached ruler who thinks he is an able economist. Yet, those who follow him can see through his rudimentary and primitive knowledge about economics. economic hardship when there is no economy in Eritrea!
BICYCLE SHOP -Che cycliste
Bicycling is a major mode of transportation in Eritrea; more Eritreans travel on bicycle than in cars or busses. The overwhelming majority of workers around the cities ride bicycles to and from work. Furthermore, bicycling is a major sport and a tradition in Eritrea. And Isaias should know that Eritreans feel proud about their internationally acclaimed cyclists who are on the top of the International Cycling Union (UCI) ranking.
In a recent item it released, the ICU ranked Eritrea on the 1st place with 1907 points, followed by Rwanda,(1059) South Africa (1026), Algeria (760) and Morocco (690.) The top 5 individual cyclist ranking includes 3 Eritreans: 2nd, 4th and 5th place.
Sadly, the ruler of Eritrea doesn’t think about the infrastructure that support the main sport that is the pride of Eritreans. His remarks sounds as if his curse is: May you be a bicycle business owner! He doesn’t stop proving himself as a detached ruler.
Is a bicycle repair of sales business detestable? Well, in Eritrea bicycle shop owners are in the middle class—but to Isaias they are nuisance to his party’s monopolistic economy. He mocks anyone working hard, and honestly, to make a living.
Imagine how many women raise families selling local beer (Suwa and Mes). How are such women surviving during the draconian lockdown? Isaias should know better.
Discouraging entrepreneurship, belittling the youth, badmouthing people who leave Eritrea because of his cruel maladministration, defines his character. He thinks putdowns are the best way to intimidate the people to make them submissive to his rule…. Of course, we knew Haile Selassie had a motive, what is Isaias’ motive in undermining Eritrea and Eritreans?
The Ghost of Aklilu Habteweld and Ibrahim Sultan
Patriotic Eritrean leaders of the forties faced an orchestrated assault against their aspiration to be independent. Haile Selassie and his allies did all they can to thwart the Eritrean struggle for independence in local and international forums arguing that “Eritrea is not a viable state,” thus, it must be united with Ethiopia and submit to its king.
At the forefront was Aklilu Habteweld, Haile Selassie’s prime minster who trashed Eritrea’s potential with the collaboration of some Eritrean diplomats. Their main target at the UN consultation were Eritrean giants including Ibrahim Sultan. They irritated Ibrahim Sultan by trying to diminish the Eritrean economic and technocratic capacity: Eritrea doesn’t have an educated class to run. A government!” Ibrahim Sultan snapped back: we have more than we need and that’s why the Ethiopian government hired many of them to run its affairs. That counter argument was effective since the proportion of officials with Eritrean heritage in the government, compared with the rest of Ethiopians, was only matched by the ruling Ethiopian nobility.
Over seventy years later, the so-called president of Eritrea is reinventing the shocking arguments–though it doesn’t shock Eritreans anymore. It’s in his character to belittle everyone and imply he is the best man Eritrea has ever produced. Isais is known to be a very damaging downer. Why all the jabs against Eritrea and Eritreans?
Isaias has unilaterally decided on something he has not openly declared apart from what we can read from his statements. And they are not pronouncements that bode well, or make Eritreans feel secure with him at the helm. Not many trust him except the cult he leads. And Eritreans have long realized they do not have a government. It’s time they created one. Thus, the idea of a Unity Government.
The current situation is precarious and interest groups from the region and the world are busy planning for the post-Isaias period. Therefore, Eritreans should not allow their country to be bartered based on narrow interest that allows Isaias to negotiate a comfortable place for him at the expense of Eritrea. That is what is at stake and that is why Eritreans need to urgently create a Unity Government in the Diaspora.
Over the last week, you must have made connection between what I said in my recent Negarit edition and between the news flooding Horn of Africa region, particularly the ethnically motivated Ethiopian civil war. The torrents that are building up in the region are real, as real as the conclusion that Isaias is not useful in the post-torrent period.
I repeatedly tried to make people aware of the situation—some were worried, some understood the severity of the situation–only the leaders and senior cadres of the PFDJ are not concerned about the wellbeing of Eritrea. They only want to make sure their capo and organization survives, even at the expense of Eritrea and its people.
So far, many indications have come to the fore and as usual, the USA is a barometer of how a country is doing and what the potential risks it faces are. The PFDJ and its ally the Ethiopian poverty party are in trouble and the Isais-Abiy alliance is bound to crumble. We can only guess how they will navigate through the messy situation they created. Add to the mix the Saudis, Sudanese, UAE, and other countries beyond the region that are engaged in planning the future of the region—and Isaias’ personal plans.
Eritrea needs a leadership; it needs a unity government made of Eritrean political parties. The viable and well-organized movements should be heavily involved in making this a reality. However, political parties alone cannot do much; all patriots must identify and realize wis they are a political party or not. If they are not a political party but want to be involved in that, they should negotiate and find a way to work with the existing parties. If they wish to remain as movements, associations, unions or any other form or organized activists, they must support the proposal. Because a government will certainly need technocrats, professional and many other skills to create the necessary institutions. And that requires a full-time dedication; it is not a job for part-timers.
This undertaking is a serious and urgent matter. Creating a unity government needs hard work… and hopefully that will set the Eritrean cause in the right direction to face the more difficult tasks of assembling qualified people to handle the critical tasks of post-PFDJ Eritrea.
Finally, remember the Eritrean nightmare is bound to be over. How fast depends on the situations and how fast Eritreans move. Don’t give up and wait for change with preparedness. Work with tenacity, honesty and dedication. And soon, Eritrea will breathe a sigh of relief.