Prime Minister Meles Zenawi: No Longer Playing Defense
April. 19 2011
In a wide ranging interview with awate.com on April 13th, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi discussed the economic progress in Ethiopia, as well as developments in the region particularly Eritrea, Libya, Egypt and South Sudan, and how that has, in some cases, brought about changes to Ethiopia’s policy.
Referencing his government’s recently announced change of policy towards Eritrea, abandoning “passive defense” in favor of more aggressive posture, Meles Zenawi said that it was necessitated by changes initiated by the regime of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki.
In the past, explained Meles Zenawi, the Eritrean regime’s campaign of terrorism was targeted against “government and government institutions, specifically, military and security establishments and other government entities. These are what they call hard targets, you can harden them and protect them.” But now, went on the Prime Minister, “the targets have shifted. The recent crop of terrorists that Isaias sent across the border were targeting things such as Fil-Waha [hot springs in Addis Abeba which caters to tourists and locals], Mercato [downtown shopping district] taxis, buses—these are what they call soft targets. The instructions that they were given when they were being trained around Asseb in Dankalia region was to ‘change Addis into Baghdad’.”
“So we now have to tell the Eritrean regime, if you carry outrageous acts in Ethiopia, not only the terrorists that you send, but you yourself, you are going to pay. And our response is going to be proportional.”