Eritrea: Ethiopia's problem not the UN's
By Berhane Kahsay
Dec. 04 2011
Eritrean continues to be a thorn on Ethiopia’s side. A failed state, the size of a pin head, has been relentlessly working to create chaos and bloodshed in a country that is nearly twenty times bigger than her. And all mighty Ethiopia could do is dispatch high ranking foreign office officials to plead with the UN to impose sanctions against its erstwhile province.
Eritrea is routinely interfering in Ethiopia’s affairs with impunity, and shows no sign of abating. Failure to curtail Eritrea’s dangerous and audacious undertakings has placed the economic and political transformations currently underway in Ethiopia in perilous situation. Proscribed surrogate organizations such as Genbot-7, OLF and ONLF wouldn’t last long for long without the help of Eritrea. You deal with the terrorist outfits by dealing with their sponsor. Ethiopia has the military capability that could deliver a mortal blow to any aggressor in the Horn region. This being the state of affair, it is incomprehensible indeed, why Ethiopia is being repeatedly humiliated by a failed state. All the troublesome ex-Ethiopian region has is, a demoralized rag tag infant army coming out of Sawa every other day, with no desire to fight but to abscond to either Ethiopia or Sudan at every opportunity.
Although Eritrea is weak, disunited and wounded, it is prodding along on her usual trajectory. No material change in her behavior towards neighboring countries. Eritrean spies are in and out of Eritrean refugee camps in Shemelba and Afar region at will; some opponents are assassinated and some are kidnapped and taken to Eritrea. OLF, Ginbot-7 and ONLF are working day and night to plant explosives they acquire from Eritrea in the AU capital; recruitment of new terrorists is in full swing and the government of Ethiopia is by in large succeeding in picking them up one by one. The cat and mouse game has been allowed to continue for over a decade now, and it doesn’t look like it is going to end soon. Precious time and resources that ought to have been invested on the fight against poverty are being used to run around to apprehend terrorists groups on the payroll of Eritrea. Unless there is a dramatic and real change in the way the Eritrean issue is dealt with, the effort to destabilize and create mayhem in Ethiopia would continue uninterrupted.
The various Eritrean opposition groups that exist today are weak and disorganized; they pose no threat to Essayas’ grip on power. Most, if not all, were with him during the liberation struggle, and the rouge Eritrean leader has very easily infiltrated them and managed to place wedges between the various groupings. He isn’t unduly perturbed by their timid and ineffective actions to dislodge him from power. It is indeed a mystery what the Ethiopian government sees in these myopic elderly opposition gatherings that have no strategy to save their own people from the firm grips of a renowned tyrant. All they do is gather in Addis periodically and discuss irrelevant issues like whether Essayas is a ‘dictator’, ‘tyrant’ or ‘authoritarian’ at the expense of the Ethiopian tax payers. To expect these dead woods to bring about a regime change in Eritrea is like waiting for the Ayatollah Khomeini to convert into Christianity. They are simply in politics to settle old scores with their former comrade-in-arms. Only last week they gathered in Awassa, and by the look of it, they seemed to have had a memorable holiday.
The engine for change in Eritrea is the untainted youth, and the leaders of Ethiopia would be better off focusing on them instead. Lately, we have been witnessing how the gallant and brave Eritrean youth in America, Sweden, Israel, UK and other countries have been effective in confronting and chasing high ranking servants of the Eritrean dictator. The humiliation meted out against Yemane Gebre’ab and his lady friend in a New York hotel is being repeated on other die hard lackeys of Essayas all over the world. Eritrean refugees residing in Ethiopia are also organizing themselves and their voices are being heard loud and clear. Thousands of Eritreans are abandoning their country under the hail of bullets to enter Ethiopia where they believe there is respect for human rights. Hegedef is their enemy, not Woyane, and they are confirming this by flocking into Ethiopia in droves. Real momentum is gathering and is there for the taking. New generation of leaders are coming to the forefront and must be given all the support they require to bring about lasting changes in Eritrea. Support should also be afforded to the Kunamas and Afars who are waging an effective and successful armed struggle against Hegedef. More would have been achieved if only they had the helping hand on par with the opposition dominated by the high landers.
There would no AKELDAMA if Essayas was to be sorted out once and for all. Drying out the source of the instability, which is in Eritrea not Ethiopia as Prime Minister claimed in parliament a while back, would compel the very few gullible members of the opposition to conduct their political activities according to law of the land. If the terrorist outfit’s military and financial support emanating from Eritrea were to cease, the political environment in Ethiopia would no doubt change dramatically. Talking and communicating with the opposition in a serious and sincere way would also a have a tremendous and long lasting impact on the development of the prevailing democracy in Ethiopia today. It is the inability to do this basic thing that is forcing the opposition into the hands of the enemies of Ethiopia such us shabiya and Human Rights watch. Arresting individuals is a bad practice and seriously damages Ethiopia’s image abroad. And this would impede the flow of external investment which the country is desperately endeavoring to attract. Adverse publicity must be avoided by stopping the incarceration of soft targets.
The make or break, Growth and Transformation Plan, would be in great jeopardy if the persistent ‘mist’ that has reduced the visibility range to few meters isn’t cleared pretty soon. Only naïve people would expect Eritrea to desist from its destructive activities because of the imposition of new sanctions. The ball is in the EPRDF’s court and they must score. If they don’t, Eritrea one day might get lucky and manage to place a spectacular goal behind the net. And if this happens there would be dire consequences that would be bitterly felt for many years to come.