By Girma Tesfaye
Tigrai Onlne - April 27, 2014
It was not that long ago…, a year maybe. At that time, I remember reading an article under the title “Eritrea: back to the dark ages” on the blog of Martin Plaut, African editor at BBC News. The journalist, citing his sources in Asmara, said that the citizen’s are living in horrendous conditions.
He claims that a very small people, who have their own generators, are the only ones with electricity in Asmara city, while the rest lives in conditions that are similar to the dark ages. Plaut’s article does not only stop with this – it also claims that Scarcity of petrol and diesel has made public transport very difficult.
As a result, the city’s dwellers are forced to use wheel-burrows and Horse drawn carts like the olden times. Also the article stated that the Asmarites are forced to stand in a long queue to get clean water, while they have to visit the dictatorial government’s shops to get kerosene that would be used to cook meals, supplied once or twice a year.
He also added that a single family is only allowed to take more than five liters of oil, one packet of teabag, three kilos of sugar in a month. If any Eritrean is to use one of the city’s restaurants, it will cost him/her entire monthly salary. And this expected of one who is a middle income person with a monthly salary 1500 to 2000 Nakfa.
If a middle-income Eritrean has to use all of its monthly salary just to barely get by, then imagine how the low income Eritrean without a government job is living. All in all, it’s very sad the way the brotherly people of that country are living, which is in borderline Dark Age living, as told by Mr Plaut.
However, here it’s appropriate to ask the questions; what is the reason that’s heading the people to live in a life that’s similar of the dark ages? Why does this deteriorating government interfere in other countries affairs, while having a failing economy?
The Eritrea Administration, that’s led by the iron-fist rule of the Asmara honcho Ato Isaias Afwerqi, instead of working to make its citizens life better, its delved into a havoc strategy led by its bravado (adventurous) mentality that has lived with it since its inception.
As the government is busy getting involved in arming terrorists by buying weapons and exporting it to neighboring countries, instead of growing and expanding its productivity, it does not have the time to contemplate on ways to change its citizens’ life for the better.
As its known, the dictatorial squad that’s in the driving seat of the Eritrean government is a collection of delusional, who since it organized itself 22 years ago, wanted only to grow through exploiting other country’s resources, instead of by using its own country’s citizens labor and creativity and natural resources.
As a result, the country’s economy has been drowning for years to a point where its citizen’s is forced to lead miserable and wretched life. As the Asmara’s hawkish squad turned Eritrea’s economy full attention to exporting chaos and havoc, it has lead it deep into a dark abyss. As a result, currently there’s a huge tension between the people and the Shabiya squad. And there are various reasons for the start of the tension.
The fact that the Asmara administration economic relation (link) with its neighboring countries has broken, the fact that its economy lost its labor force, the fact that it’s dependant on the Diaspora’s remittance money and the fact that it’s using the money to buy arms and work day and night to terrorize its neighbors, are some of the many reasons for the tension.
The Shabiya squad, which aims to impose it’s will on the region’s countries through force, and looks at military bravado as some kind “Jeanie card”, it has lost all its economic privileges it would have gotten from a peaceful and working relationship with its neighbors. And it’s plainly obvious that its erupted relation with Ethiopia is the main reason for its economic downturn.
The other reason mentioned for the Shabiya-led economy’s failings is the deficiency of labor force. As a consequence of the forced national service conscription in Eritrea; which exposes the productive and energetic youth for exploitation and slavery, and the huge exodus of most of the youth of the country to neighboring countries to get away from the brutal regime of Ato Isaias, the economy is facing shortages of labor force. So, farmers are not able to appropriately harvest their production, due to shortages of workers.
The other reason for the Shabiya-led Economy’s failings has to do with the fact that ¼th of the economy is runned by money collected from the diasporas, as opposed to an income generated from within the country.
Nevertheless, Eritreans in the Diaspora have decreased the money they used to send once they realized Eritrean government’s rent-seeking attitude. And recently, following the expulsion of Eritrean diplomats from some countries like Canada; as a consequence of UNs Security Council resolution 20123, the government rent-seeking pocket has dried-up. In relation to this, it should mentioned that Ato Isaias knack of arming terrorists by buying weapons with the money he squeezed out of the people is also one of the reasons for the economy’s current dire state.
The Asmara vandal squad contemplates on elongating its time in power with militaristic thinking and dictatorship at the expense of its people well being, which led its military expenditure to reach 6.3% out of the national spending. This has put Eritrea on number nine position (from 10 countries) on the list of countries that spends heavily on arms procurement; the only African country on the list.
According to researched report of Stockholm International Peace Research Institution (SIPRI), out of the African countries with the highest share of military expenditure with proportion to its wealth, Eritrea is the first on that list. Shabiya; which spends heavily on arms procurement to quench its addiction to military-bravado, instead of importing modern tools that would help increase that poor country’s science and technology and agricultural and industrial productivity, it has turned to chaos and aggression to divert attention and cover its problems.
At one time NATO has caught the regime red-handed on the Indian Ocean with a 15 million dollar worth of ground–to– air missiles, 15 ton of Rockets, grenades that it bought from North Korea.
Not only this. It’s been some time since it became clear that Shabiya’s adhered economic philosophy is “war economy”. My dear readers, you may raise the question ‘what’s war economy philosophy?
This philosophy has to do with Shabiya filling its money sack through creating and escalating war (and exploit various scenarios within the process).
For instance, Ato Isaias’s government training, arming and supporting role that it’s giving in Somalia to terrorist groups like Al-shabaab is one of the manifestation of this ‘War economy”.
Shabiya, by receiving money from sides that sponsor terror activities, trains Al-shabaab, transfers terror-waging materials through air and land, and it also works hard to escalate the conflict (war) by giving various logistical supports. Taking war as a business, it fills its money sack through the blood of innocents. In addition to this, by creating terrorists and anti-peace forces in peaceful neighboring countries with its own spit image, it uses them for its own terror work.
In order not to make its vault empty, it takes its “commission” from forces that sponsors its terror services. However, according to recent confidential information gathered from ‘Wikileaks’, which cited former American Ambassador in Eritrea, this ‘War Economy’ philosophy of Ato Isaias is failing.
According to this information, as half of the population of Eritrea was born after the country’s independence, it can’t be satisfied with former rebel stories of Ato Isaias. It wants economic development. Today’s Eritrea youth is facing indefinite and forced conscription with little money.
Although, the independence vision which took the sacrifice of one generation had hope of better future, Ato Isaias calculated war economy is killing that hope fast.
Despite this and the fact that the Ato Isaias regime is close to its demise (as a result of the internal tension), the information shows that there is belief among some authorities of the regime that the gold mining that’s being carried out in placed called “Bisha” will save the country’s economy and regime from falling from the cliff. After coming clean about the regime’s ‘war economy’ philosophy, “Hagos kisha”, one of the main authorities of the regime, recently spewed his confusing message “we are moving to the path that we used to follow immediately after independence”.
Nevertheless this Ambassador’s cable that was made official by ‘Wikileaks’, calls this hope of the authorities as “unthinkable” Let me explain this further…
The foreign company that is doing the mining project has signed a contract with the Eritrean government to mine zinc and gold. And the company will take all the income from the sale of the minerals (resources) for the first two years.
Even after these long years, the income will not amount to anything for the Eritrean people, as it will be taken up by “Hagos Kisha” and will be used to fill the money value of Ato Isaias. As a result of these reasons, its not expected that the mining will breathe life in to the country’s economy, which is in its dying bed. It’s crushed beyond repair by Ato Isaias’ “war economy” policy. So, the hope is same as “putting lipstick on a pig” according to this confidential information.
When the truth is this, the Shabiya honcho and their lie-machine television; through their boring and repeated propaganda are confusing the people by stating “our economy is growing”, without even putting the economic change in a coherent way.
The fact that the Eritrean people has no place in Shabiya economy, outside of being a spectator, did not stop the Eritrean government cohorts from spewing this kind of ‘the oldest trick in the book’ propaganda.
But I think these handfuls of Ato Isaias’s cohorts should know the facts on the ground are as what African editor for BBC News Martin Plaut and the diplomat that used to be American’s ambassador in Eritrea have said. Because lying to the people by giving empty hope is the same as disregarding what you to know to be the truth and trying to pull an obvious and foolish trick on the people.
Of course here it should be asked ‘Is the Eritrean people worth this kind of foolish and obvious antic from its government?’ A government cannot fool its people through outdated and obsolete propaganda.
Any people in any country are all knowing, fair and just. It can know very abstract phenomenon that are done in confidential, let alone issues that touches it. With regards to this, our brother, the Eritrean people absolutely understand any of the sinister acts carried out by the Asmara’s havoc administration. Unfortunately, it’s stifled by Ato Isaias’s government security forces.
As any reader of this article knows, the pain the Asmara squad is inflicting on the same people it patronizes of setting free is very bad. The average Eritrean which go through the day waiting in a line at Shabiya shops for its daily consumption, is leading a hellish and painful life.
This has destabilized its peace. It’s now a people forced to take two options, considering its fate will intertwine with prison if it even so much listen to talks of development and democracy, let alone raise them itself.
The first one is to sit there suffering shutting its mouth, or the second option to free to neighboring countries. The Eritrean people, which does not have the right to express their views, where the speaker, journalist and political analyst is only its dictatorial leader, is hurting from poverty and misery.
For this, I think we can cite “International Crises Group” one time analysis and report done on Eritrea. The report stated ‘As Eritrea is immersed in a huge economic and political chaos, the country may soon be a failing state”. According to the group, if things go on as they are now, a very bad disaster may erupt in the country.
The report implicated that the political system is close to a blood bath, and the situation is manifested by the instability seen in the country. Although the country’s economy was deeply deterioting as all the developmental works are getting under the control of the government and has persisted for the last ten years, however the problem was covered by Ato Isaiass’s regime.
The report also claimed the forced national conscription service, which is done in the name of development and nation building, is one of the reason for the country’s failings. According to the group’s political analyst Mark Schneider, the Eritrea’s dictatorial regime which seemed stable is now cracking up. He shared his fear that Eritrea might end up being the other Somalia.
The personal belief of this article writer might be the Eritreans recent suffering that was presented through BBC African Affairs correspondent Martin Plaut, the aforementioned exploitive outlook of the Asmara’s dictatorial regime, the ‘war economy’ philosophy and the analytical prediction of some research groups.
Here it’s important to ask ‘why does the Eritrean government with its failing economy, courtesy of its ‘war economy’ philosophy, interfere in other countries internal affair?
Even though the choice remains in the hand of Shabiya, but I believe the Asmara administration will choose the second option. For this, it can be mentioned one known fact that relates to its behavior. That is Ato Isaias cannot stop wreaking havoc, because it means stopping his paycheck.
It would be naiveté to expect him to suddenly drop this innate nature of his, he perfected through 30 years of rebellion and 22 years of governance. It would be easier to expect his former partner–in–crime Hosni Mubarak to get out of jail and get back to leading Egypt again, than to expect Ato Isaias drop his antics.
He can’t drop his ‘war economy’ philosophy, and stop meddling in other countries affairs. He doesn’t want to lose the benefits he gets from wreaking havoc. It can be safely said that, not only is it hard for ‘Wedi Afom’ to do, but it’s an existential issue for him. This is why; I believe he wouldn’t back from interfering and destabilizing south Sudan.
Recently, when the regime was accused of interfering in South Sudan internal affair by the American government representative; citing that it heard from other countries, it retorted with its usual ‘I-don’t–know–anything’ straight face lie.
But, I don’t think this antique tactic will help Shabiya and its minions get away, especially considering the international community is well aware of this antique tactic of the regime.
This obsolete tactic is so much used in the corners of the regime’s base, that it’s only considered as a practical joke. The truth of the matter is the officials of the Eritrean regime all follow a policy and strategy of lying.
Let me present you evidence for this Shabiya’s straight face lies displayed on the meeting of UN to impose the second sanction on Asmara based on report of the Monitoring taskforce.
At this meeting held by UN Security Council, Eritrea’s Ambassador to the UN Ara’aya Desta was seen playing Shabiya’s trademark ‘we-don’t-know-anything’ straight face lie as a response to the claim made by the American ambassador representative.
America’s ambassador to the UN (at the time) Susan Rice made her country’s position clear with regards to the issue by saying “As a consequence of Eritrea’s destabilizing role in the region, my country supports the effort to impose additional sanctions on the country, and believes it’s the right time (to do it).
After hearing this, Eritrea’s Ambassador (at the time) reacted as it comes to be expected from member of the Asmara regime. He even went as far as saying ‘How can a small country create this entire problem on the region’s countries’. Classic Eritrea’s regime tactic of lie & confuse as much as needed to cover your tracks.
Nevertheless, as the report that was presented by the UN had a differing account to what Ato Isaias Afwerqi’s government claimed, the second sanction was imposed on him…
So it’s not surprising to see the regime, again today like yesterday, claim that it’s not interfering in south Sudan’s internal affair – it’s an act part of its grand opera entitled ‘lie as you don’t know anything about it’. All in all, I think the international community should give a serious attention and put an end to regime’s constant meddling and interference around the region – as the repercussions of its actions will not only be regional but international as well.