The Bloody African Horn Region
This week, both Eid and Fasiga came a few days apart; on this occasion, I wish Christians and Muslims who finished Lent and Ramadan, Happy Holidays time. Hopefully, the fasting cleared some bad air and you will have spiritually fulfilling days ahead.
For Eritreans, when Christian and Muslim feasts coincide, they become optimistic believing it is a sign foretelling of a harmonious future. But there are many who have no clue about the different feasts.
I have such a longtime friend; the last time we talked I told him it was Fasiga, and Eid was coming. He said, “so it’s the sheep slaughtering time, lot of mutton.”
I said, “no, that is Eid Arefa, the pilgrimage feast and it is seventy-days after the end of Ramadan Eid.
He looked surprise, “Oh, so we are in Ramadan?”
“Yes… also today is Fasiga, the Christian holiday.”
“Is it the second Damera or the first?” He remembers Damera, the Day of the Cross when bonfires are lit in all parts of the country. I think I told him it’s the third Damera; he wouldn’t know or remember anyway. He exclaimed, “Ahaaa.”
To him, all Christian holidays are Damera, maybe that is the only thing he remembers … or doesn’t remember. It makes no difference. If I didn’t end it that way, he would have tormented me with his outlandish remarks. I was thinking of another bonfire burning in Sudan
I am not going to talk about Sudan much as many asked and expect me to. I see the process of the Sudanese crisis like a soccer match, of which I know little. Sometimes, if no team wins, they extend the game by 15 or 30 minutes. If no team wins after that, they give the teams equal free kicks until one comes out as a winner. Sometimes even the free kicks don’t produce a winner and the game becomes boring. I think they finally resolve it by tossing a coin.
Now dear soccer lovers, if you were told you can only watch half the game, which half would you chose to watch , the first or the last half? I would prefer to watch the last half. Watching the first half doesn’t tell you the final result; the second half does. One would rather watch the conclusion.
That is what’s happening in the Sudan crisis. The two sides are playing the first half and that is why I am not interested. Like everyone else, I am frustrated with the never-ending boom-boom in the Horn of Africa that has long replaced South America as the Domain of The Generals. I can assure you the generals will play the second half before the bloody games stop.
I once heard, that in journalism, if you cannot BREAK NEWS, you better have the last word on the MENDING NEWS. However, we are in an age of limitless supply of rumors, amateur-news that supply the supposedly major media outlets, speculations, propaganda, and all. But no one has an idea how the war will end. Yet, many think they can accurately forecast the end.
In 2012, South Sudan seceded after a long protracted civil war that resulted in the dividing of Sudan. This time, I am afraid the end might come in the form of the separation of Darfur from the rest of Sudan. Then General Hmedti Dogolo can have a fiefdom of his own in Darfur leaving the Sudanese Generals with a chipped Sudan. They are good at that. I hope that scenario doesn’t happen; Sudan doesn’t deserve the agonies, and Sudan doesn’t deserve the reckless generals either. Sadly, until the generals end their bloody war, Sudan will be destroyed by the same generals who claim they care for its wellbeing!
What about our own warrior state, Eritrea, the modern Sparta?
Well, the regime never learns anything. Some of its followers and pseudo supporters are already rooting for Humedti simply because he made a pilgrimage to Asmara and kissed Isaias’ hand. To them, that is enough reason root for him.
I am sure you know the Amhara Fano militia of Ethiopia; Hmedti is the leader of the Sudanese version of the Fano militia. He leads the Janjaweed, before it was baptized RSF to make it palatable.
In the sixties and early seventies of the last century, Asrate Kassa, emperor Haile Selassie’s representative and governor of Eritrea had such a militia that was loyal only to him: the Israeli-trained paramilitary Commando force, and other peasant militias known as Militia Sernay (Wheat Militia). They were paid in wheat and thus the populist name.
I have known all the mayhem the Fano, the Commandos, and the Janjaweed, created; they do not have any goal in life except to roam around shooting and torching villages leaving a scorched earth behind.
Omar AlBashir, the previous Sudanese president who was deposed in 2019 left many time-bombs and landmines behind him. They keep popping and blowing up though the Sudanese generals believe they can walk over them blindfolded to resolve their chaos they created. But what their issues that ignited the chaos?
At the moment, it seems the warring parties and those who support them have no issue except the difference in choosing either Hmedti or AlBurhan to lord over them! But they had agreed to hand over power to a civilian government, and they did only to depose it in the beginning of 2022!
That doesn’t matter with the supporters of the Eritrean regime. If it did, they would be rooting for one illegitimate General against another illegitimate General. Well, they are determined to keep Isaias’ throne safe and anything helps, even insane politics!
I will not delve into the alliances and dynamics of the Sudanese crisis because I have nothing I can add to the already saturated terabytes of information. Every social media outlet is repeating the stale news with no added value; most copying each other. Such is the fate of societies that are not trained in critical thinking, or do not know how to think for themselves. They believe parroting the views of their rulers is the most patriotic thing to do. You might need a proof, here:
Why did Eritrea go to war in the last Ethiopian civil-war and what did it gain? Nothing. On the contrary it lost four years of its time, wasted so many lives and resources, and inflicted deep psychological scars on the people. The scars and their repercussions will stay alive for a long time.
What did Eritrea gain from Abiy’s much celebrated 2018 visit to Eritrea, and the lame document he signed with Isaias? The document they misleadingly called “Peace Agreement” was a farce. Eritrea gained nothing and it didn’t see any sign of peace for the following reasons. First, the so-called peace agreement was not sincere, and second, there was no follow up to whatever was agreed. For instance, five years later, the border issue that caused the death of over a 100,000 lives is not yet resolved. There you have it!
The PFDJ is a political disaster; it does not have the interest of the people at heart. It didn’t take advantage of Abiy’s gestures as he did to advance his own war agenda. When skilled politicians and diplomats find a small crack they sneak through it and exploit the opportunity for their national benefit; Eritrean leaders do not have that skill and they are too arrogant and selfish to do a cost and loss analysis. Now after five years, Eritrea needs to practice some accounting: did it gain anything?
The Arabs says, “Faqd alshey laYaAtih”, you cannot give what you don’t have. The PFDJ has nothing to give to the people, it is always focused on keeping its grip on power. And currently, there is fear the regime might repeat its customary recklessness one more time in Sudan. Military skills is the only thing the PFDJ can provide effectively, and it boasts about it, rightly so. But what good is a military muscle if it doesn’t translate to peace and stability for the people who sacrifice their children endlessly! What good is it if cannot prevent the emptying of the country of its youth? But let’s not forget, it’s Eid and I cannot talk much about the Sudanese crisis; there are many things I do not know yet. Once I find out more information, I might share it with you.
For now, I can tell you one thing: The ground is moving under the feet of the people of The Bloody African Horn Region. There is instability and wars in Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan. And like a soccer game the war will end. For now, what I can say with confidence is, “please stop rooting for bloodshed and violence, instead, try to ameliorate the outcome.” For a change, try to embrace peace. Stop emboldening the corrupt leaders, instead, defend the rights of their victims. If you cannot do that, you deserve what you got though sadly, you will be the cause of the miseries of the victims who will be more victimized. Stop the foolish warmongering.