Is war with Eritrea justified?
By Dilwenberu Nega
Tigrai Online, Ethiopian News, July 22, 2016
In an interview with Aiga Forum, H.E. Ato Abaye Tsehaye, a veteran of the liberation struggle, and currently a member of the Government’s Policy and Research troika with the rank of Minister, spoke candidly on EPRDF’s current strengths, flaws and challenges. I however found his call on the continued need to contain the State of Eritrea with only punitive actions if and when it happens as fraught with bewildering maze.
In an ideal world this description and prescription would have been right, but as Ato Abaye Tsehaye knows better than I do, the current status of Ethiopia and Eritrea, is far from ideal. In point of fact the oft-repeated “No peace; no war” description of the status of Ethiopia and Eritrea is somewhat a misnomer. Given Eritrea’s never-ending terrorist attempts to destabilise Ethiopia, would “A state of belligerency” not be the right diplomatic nomenclature to describe the state of affairs which exists between the two otherwise sisterly nations?
While I fully concur with Ato Abaye’s opinion that when the chips are down, it is not the advocates of war who will place themselves in harm’s way, but rather it is ordinary Ethiopians who are striving and yearning for a better life, it nonetheless would be wrong to condemn the advocates of war as a bunch of self-centred individuals salivating to profit from the rigours of war. No sane individual supports war. By the same token however no sane individual will sit on their hands while a whimsical Isaias Afewerki despatches disgruntled Ethiopian quislings to maim and to kill anyone and everyone who oppose them, to ignite and fan internecine conflict among Ethiopia’s diverse peoples.
Why do we then seem to forget that durable peace is a prerequisite to and indispensable for progress of a nation? To paraphrase that much vaunted counsel of historians “If you want durable peace, strike at your enemy while the iron is still hot!”
In my “ Has push come to shove yet for the Government? ” (www.aigaforum.com and Tigrai Online one 15 July 2016) which I wrote neither to make a drama out of a crisis, nor to milk from an anticipated war booty, I advocated for “an all-out blitzkrieg attack to remove Asmara’s limping regime followed by a carefully crafted exit strategy.” All I was doing was give vent to public anger, indignation, resentment and rage at the way Asmara had exploited the “Wolkait Crisis” to advance its aim of fanning internecine conflict. The sight of a street violence with fatalities in the streets of historical Gondar, one of Ethiopia’s popular tourist destinations, has no doubt impacted adversely on Ethiopia’s image as an “Oasis of tranquillity in a troubled region.”
We are told that the Security Services have managed to catch a mole of the Eritrean State receiving instructions from Asmara to kill and maim Ethiopians who oppose Eritrea’s subversive acts in Ethiopia. This is only the tip of the ice-berg. Our Government’s umpteen efforts to contain Isaias’ voracious appetite to destabilise Ethiopia has not produced the desired results. Neither has Isaias refrained from recruiting, arming and despatching into Ethiopia disgruntled individuals to cause havoc; nor has his defence forces been sufficiently annihilated so that they never dare launch an attack on Ethiopia’s positions. The fact that our gallant forces repulsed an attempted Eritrean frontal attack on the Tsrona front – the first conventional war between Ethiopia and Eritrea since 2001 – is proof, if proof was needed that hitherto attempts to scupper Eritrea’s defence capabilities had not succeeded.
This being the reality on the ground what good comes out from waiting for another attack from Eritrea. I am of course acutely aware that neither I nor my children, nor my friends or relatives have what it takes to fight for Ethiopia. The brunt of the burden is unfortunately going to fall on ordinary Ethiopians for whom the bells of Developmental Democracy have rung. The burning question here is what to do with Eritrea whose whimsical leader had made no secret of his emotion, affection and desire to destabilise Ethiopia? Whatever is the answer of my compatriots, you can count on my chivalrous loyalty and high forbearance.