Peace and Isaias Afewerki’s Eritrea can never be bedfellows

By Dilwenberu Nega
March. 20 2011

The Government’s statement to the international community last week calling for its pressure to bear on Eritrea to cease its continued acts of terrorism inside Ethiopia, is the clearest sign yet that the administration of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has reached the end of its tether with Asmara’s wayward behaviour. Now the Prime Minister has made it public that the full weight of Shabia is operating in cahoots with shameless anti-peace quislings from Ethiopia, enraged Ethiopians expect “Wendata” (Amharic slang for a no-nonsense man) Meles to cut the hydra of terrorism promptly for as the English idiom reminds us “a stitch in time saves nine.”

As the Government goes out to the barricades of our sovereignty, it can count on the whole-hearted support of patriotic Ethiopians both at home and abroad.

Relations between Ethiopians and Eritreans are blessings which we need to foster, notwithstanding that the sanguinary divorce between Ethiopia and Eritrea. After all do not lose sight of the fact that not only do we share a common border, but our ethnic and cultural consanguinities warrant us “a special relationship” like Britain enjoys with America. It is true that the blossoming of people-to-people relation can only take place when the state of belligerency that now exists between Ethiopia and Eritrea is removed.

Will it be removed as long as Isaias Afewerki is in power? Many believe that even the very thought of it would be an exercise of futility. What is it that is so incorrigible of Isaias Afewerki which makes us lose hope of a rapprochement with Eritrea so long as he is in power?

The sole fountainhead of all antagonisms, not only between Ethiopia and Eritrea, but in the entire Horn of Africa, is none other than the enfant terrible of Eritrea who, it is claimed, has survived numerous assassination attempts during his 20 years tyrannical rule. The arbitrary arrests and random killings he unleashed on his own people as well as his acts of unprovoked aggressions against Yemen, Ethiopia and Djibouti, not to mention, of course, his arming of the terrorist group, Al Shabab, in Somalia, are indices which underscore the widely-held view that peace and Isaias Afewerki’s Eritrea can never be bed fellows.

In essence what is good for Eritrea and Eritreans can only be good for Ethiopia and Ethiopians, and vice versa. But in our heart of hearts we, Ethiopians, know it all too well that the fulcrum of the continued state of belligerency between Ethiopia and Eritrea is Isaias Afewerki’s unmitigated Ethiophobia (hate of Ethiopia). The dread of seeing Ethiopia at peace with itself and transformed –in the words of Sir Bob Geldof “beyond recognition”- is what makes him leave no stone unturned to destabilize Ethiopia. Many Horn of Africa observers also believe that the personal relations of Meles Zenawi and Isaias Afewerki are manifested by intense rivalry chemistry. Witnessing Meles Zenawi at the helm of an increasingly influential and a power-to-be-reckoned-with-Ethiopia, as well as Meles’ rise and shine in international affairs are claimed to cause President Isaias regular bouts of insomnia.

Ethiopia’s on-going confrontation with Eritrea has another ominous dimension which makes it imperative for Ethiopia to embark on a quick option that would allow her to surgically remove the malignant cancer of the Horn. If Yemen fails to overcome the current uprising which has forced President Ali Abdullah Saleh to declare a month-long state of emergency, then the danger for Yemen slide into becoming the play-ground of Al Qaida affiliated groups would be the worst case scenario for Ethiopia, but a best case scenario for Eritrea. The prospect of witnessing the involvement of Asmara in Yemen to arm terrorists – like it armed Somalia’s terrorists – would pose an existential threat to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

How long more must Ethiopia continue to struggle with an albatross around her neck? It’s now or never!