By Awetehegn Teferi
Feb. 14, 2012
What is it about Eritrea that Ethiopian government couldn’t coherently address the problem? The issue of Ethiopian government policy toward Eritrea didn’t get a deserved attention; many of us held back ourselves from raising the issue to be publicly discussed for many reasons. One of the reasons is, however, such an important issue has been trivialized by the so called Diaspora opposition by accusing the EPRDF/TPLF leadership as Eritrean. Amidst such irresponsible accusations, many us preferred silence. We didn’t want to be part of them.
Without sharing the extremists’ politics of hate and racism, I think it is time for us to question the validity of Prime Minister Meles’ policy toward Eritrea. When the Somali Union of Islamic Courts posed an imminent danger toward Ethiopia, the EPRDF government responded decisively which resulted in the annihilation of the Courts. When it comes to Eritrea’s’ transgression subsequent the 1998-2000 border war, Ethiopia didn’t respond in such a way as to deter Shaebia from committing further violations. If there is anything Ethiopia did, it is only appealing to the international organizations when the Shaebia’s victims involve foreign citizens. This is in complete contrast to Ethiopia’s measure against the Somali UIC.
The question is why is the government of Prime Minister Meles doesn’t take a decisive measure to protect its citizens? It is common knowledge that people on the border towns and villages are killed on almost regular basis. What is it about Eritrea?
I for one, do not concur with the extreme opposition who see in the prime minister an enemy to the Ethiopia. Such accusation doesn’t do justice to the leader who has a remarkable record of economically transforming the country. There is no more absurd than such imputation of the opposition.
Yet, I believe his empathy for Eritreans is playing the trick. We know that the prime minister has said things about Eritrea and Eritreans that sent berserk many Ethiopians. If you look at the fact that he as a TPLF leader wrote about Eritrean struggle for independence in response to a certain Fissehatsion alleging that the struggle will not end in upside down, deporting Eritreans deemed dangerous to national security during the war as totally wrong, being the only person to vote “no” to go to war against Eritrea to liberate Shaebia held territories, and the Ethiopian government failure to claim the areas adjacent to Tsorona in the international court tribunal, then one will be forced to think that the foreign country called Eritrea is not ordinary foreign.
There is no doubt that the prime minister who as a young boy had turned himself as amature guerilla fighter for an Ethiopian cause has the will to defend the interest of Ethiopia. But, his ambiguous policy toward Eritrea seem to suggest that he is very much consumed with the fear of causing unnecessary cost (both moral and physical) on the Eritrean public if his forces engaged shaebia with the only language it understands. (I am not suggesting here that the innocent Eritrean public should bear the brunt of war). The Ethiopian prime minister seems to be waiting for a miraculous moment that could deliver him an opportunity to surgically root out Shaebian leadership. What is this magical moment that could strike a perfect balance between the Ethiopian and Eritrean interest in one hand and the removal of shaebia on the other? Is there any semblance of the story of torn between two lovers here? However ideal it may be, it is unlikely for Ethiopia to find a solution for its ordeal with such state of mind. In fact the prime minister has himself admitted that he doesn’t expect any solution while he is at the helm of power.
Ironically, most of the Eritreans I know could not see a friend in Ethiopia and its leader prime minister Meles. If anybody could make an objective assessment on the track record of the Ethiopian primer regarding Eritrea, one would easily conclude that he is more than sympathetic to Eritreans. In fact, some sarcastically even ask if he were the leader of both countries given the compassion he has for them.
The misguided understanding of these Eritreans about Ethiopia and its leader is the result of an over dose of shaebia propaganda. It is true that Prime Minister Meles is successful in cutting to size the inflated ego of Issayas Afewerki. But it is also true that Isayas has succeeded in evicting Meles Zenawi from the hearts and minds of Eritreans through propaganda. I must add, Isayas also has succeeded in causing emotional wounds on Meles by brutalizing Eritreans. Looking at the gravity and the enormity of the suffering of Eritrean public dictated by the nature of Shaebia and Isayas, one might even wonder in the bizarre world of shaebia if Isayas is thinking of avenging Meles by the harsh treatment of his subjects. In the world of shaebia, there is no short supply of paradoxes. Anything is possible. But, I believe an end to the predicament of the Ethiopian and Eritrean public from shaebia solely lies in an effective Ethiopian action.