A big Thank you to the shared people of Afar, Kunama, Irob and Agew generally Tigreans, and another big thank you to the Government of Ethiopia and all the people of Ethiopia.
By Higus Eritrawi
June 5, 2018
Over a month ago the people of northern Ethiopia asked their new PM Abiy to end the no peace no war status-quo between Eritrea and Ethiopia, that they have tolerated for far too long not to disrupt the country. He acknowledged and delivered first step today.
At first some of my fellow Eritreans were incredulous that ordinary Afar Kunama Irob Agew Tigreans, the same people we have in Eritrea, would ask the prime minister of their country this pointed, this clear and this challenging question in the open. Since I know all the peoples in the border and their culture I explained to them that these people are as much courageous to challenge their leaders as much as they are loyal to give their life if need be under leadership of the same leaders. They are prepared to go to war under the same PM Abiy with the same respect, same enthusiasm, same trust they asked him the difficult questions in public. And he told them I have no doubt in you, you have no doubt in me. I was not born here, but I know you in difficult times. You are tested under fire like Gold.
I showed my friends a video of a farmer from Adyabo challenging late PM Meles, that the Dagmay Weyannie which they raised from birth (11 person) and along with other peoples made it reach Addis Ababa, never came back to build us a single decent road here to start traffic, but has built ring road and super highways to ease traffic in Addis Ababa. PM Meles was visibly shaken one of the rare moments, then smiled appreciating the free minded and courageous people, yet looked challenged. He simply told the people it will be done soon no explanation no long politics. At the end of that town hall meeting a farmer gets up, even though the whole meeting was all sitting around, and he says the following stunning statement:
“You are our son, you are our leader first before we gifted you to the country. We hear some Dergists are giving you a hard time for your Tigrean root. (this was 2005). We are your harshest critiques, but if any one of our enemies takes even a bug away from your eyes, without your permission, I want you to know our minishirs are still hanging where we put them away in 1991. You never forget that.” PM Meles smiled, looked at the man pointedly and in the most series of his faces bowed his head and said Yes verbally.
The Alger's agreement has been one big problem for us Eritreans who are in no position to challenge our leaders, to even ask simple questions. For example: people don’t even know it has parts to it and the delimitation is actually only one part of the agreement. Eritrea has been driving the propaganda war and has brought down the whole issue to just Badme, hoping that Ethiopian leaders will not have the courage to close this file and move ON. Eritrea forgot that the people are there on the Ethiopian side with their spirits. Eritrea assumed the people on the Ethiopian border will never ask or challenge their leaders. Boy. Were they mistaken. Big time.
The situation has dramatically changed. No I am not talking the change of PM in Ethiopia. That may be a factor, but is the least one. Why the Ethiopian people were patient till recently?
1. GERD changed everything.
For the people of Afar and Tigray and Semiyen GERD has more meaning to it than shear economics (we are also included pre-1890). It is heritage, it is millenial history, it is respect of their ancestors it is preservation of their identity. All wars from Egypt in the thousands of years of history always happened in what is now Eritrea, Afar and North West Tigray in Ethiopia. Whether it was the Afar, defeating a 1500 well equipped (with latest American guns) Egyptian soldiers, led by Swiss German colonel pasha Munzinger, annihilating them to a man (Bizey Melas Awyat) or Hatse Yohannes destroying, 20,000 Egyptian army, led by no less than 40 Americans (captain to generals), and capturing 12,000 arms, 6 Cannons etc in the process, it was always a threat all for Tana lake all for Abay river.
GERD is a millenial game changer:
Egyptian leaders that made:
· Making Hatse Minelik to sign not to touch Abay or tana and prevent anyone in Ethiopia from doing so, through their protector Britain;
· Hatse Haileslassie to be dumbfounded, but could do nothing when Egyptians shared themselves and Sudan the whole water of the Nile, without even talking to him;
· Anwar Sadat threatening Mengistu that Sadat will slap him on the face in public to humiliate him and succeeded intimidating him
· Husni Mubarek threatened Meles in Meeting where other heads of states were present that he will destroy Tana Beles project if Meles did not stop it;
Are now only asking Ethiopia to slow the filling schedule of GERD.
Meles had told Mubarek in the same meeting: “your ancestors have tried thousand years many times, but not a single one lived to tell their story, if you think you will be the first to change that I have the same people and same mountains and rivers as my ancestors had.”
But Meles was not happy with the verbal threats, being not his culture, but very common for Mubarek. Meles went to Tana Beles, made sure of the security and went to villages around and had a chat as he did many times with the farmers about their lives, problems and that their situation will change, but most importantly they have to change. Ethiopia cannot continue like this.
Well GERD status is the most significant factor in the change of policy and ultimatum to Eritrea that PM Abiy and his government confirmed from their latest status report.
2. Horn of Africa latest peak in Strategic importance and urgency:
Just like the 19th century the Horn of Africa is going through with break neck speed alliances, military bases, political transformations, positioning of commercial routes etc. In the 19th century, the French came to Djibouti. The British came to Somaliland, Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya. The Italians came to Somalia and Eritrea. They all told Negus Minelik what territory they are taking. They also told him his reward if he helped them secure the borders of the territories they want and have claimed. In return they will leave for him a circle with his Shiwa at centre, recognize him and arm him to help them quell any rebellion. They promised him not to help any of his competitors Gojjam, Afar, Semiyen and what little left after all the wars in Tigray. They all agreed and Hatse Minelik signed and collected his rewards.
At this time:
UAE is in Eritrea and Somaliland. The French, Americans and Chinese are pushing and shoving each other in Djibouti along with many of their friends including Saudi Arabia. Turkey Qatar are in Somalia and Sudan and America is also in Kenya and partly South Sudan.
Ethiopia today geography wise, is exactly same as Hatse Menelik days. No Zeila, no Tajura, no Massawa, no Assab and no Kassala and partly no Suakin.
All the players have changed. In Ethiopia there is EPRDF a game changer. Friend of Everybody including Eritrea. Yet quietly went to work and has one of the top 2 or 3 real defence capability/fire power in Africa. Built assets that the whole world wants to have a piece of them from Airlines, to Banks to Electricity to Road networks. From just 2 to 42 universities...etc.
From a country that was at mercy of its neighbours like Sudan, Somalia, etc all her neighbours and even far away nations look up to and want her umbrella. Every one offering her real estate, port, dry ports for free, airport so that Ethiopia will protect and help protect those gifts.
The new Ethiopia is a game changer and thus Eritrea’s ill wishes became ashes killing the big good dreams along with it. This and his recent visits to Sudan, Djibouti and Saudi Arabia has given PM Abiy all the advantage, all the cards.
3. Is there any country in the world today, that is darling to US, Russia, China, Europeans, Japan, Korea, Turkey, SA, Brazil....all at the same time?
The United States and China plus Turkey/Russia are keeping Ethiopia not only on their active radar screen, but some also as sticky. Cannot do without. Turkey needs Ethiopia in Sudan, America needs Ethiopia everywhere even in Mali, China wants Ethiopia in Djibouti, Both Sudans and Somalia, Britain wants Ethiopia everywhere and France doesn’t want to be left out in what looks like there is something special going on there.
This gives PM Abiy all the information, all the co-operation or at least neutrality by everyone, for just about any option he needs to follow or wants to take.
My Eritrea that was bragging “we are not America’s water boy we are independent. We challenge to America in the Horn and we are not begging” has now been reduced to celebrate, shamelessly brag about Ambassador Yamamoto spending 3 days in Eritrea. That was sad and very funny. Another sad and funny thing was Eritrea was reduced to diaspora Ethiopians helping her get out of sanctions to no avail. That was embarrassing for both Ethiopians and Eritreans.
4. Ethiopia the war preventer, peace maker and peace keeper:
If Ethiopia was not there to prevent wars, Eritrea would have had 2 or 3 fights with Djibouti and Sudan already. The situation in Eritrea is so dire and closed packed ready to be taken to war, yet no knees to war the one and only that is preventing war. Eritrea has been suffocated for long time. No friendly neighbor to have a good coffee chat, but to go all the way to Saudi Arabia and serve in Yemen in that of our age’s most brutal conflagration. Yemen is kind of situation where you need countries like Ethiopia no matter how poor have conscience and history.
This also provided Dr. Abiy with the hand to navigate comfortably. That meeting with the defence and security departments he had was all smiles and jokes filled discussion. One can see the PM in his most comfortable and jubilant. He is humble, polite person in his meetings, but with the military he simply told them you are on top of the continent, I know it and I will increase and strengthen naval forces. That was shocker to those who thought Samora is just another Weyannie fighter brave and courageous and not modern not educated to make his country a player in world stage, the PM looks were a confirmation of the Samora and his team education and modernity.
To make sure the soldiers understood he again told them that they have changed the face and conduct of wars for their country. Nations have abandoned the idea of facing us, they all know the price is too high. From here on is all proxy wars that you will face, its all technological cyber wars that you will face.
Timing. Eritrea has narrowed the Algeir’s agreement to just Badme. Never mentions one of the most important parts of the agremnet that who started the war and reparations. That was Shaebia. Since Shaebia will never tell Eritreans of this, Eritrea will generally say yes to the ultimatum.
To the children of Sibagadis in both Kilils in Ethiopia and Southern Eritrea. You have paid the heaviest price in life, limb, property and lost investment, lost/slowed development. Not even a decent asphalt road could be built. You suffered during the war, after and to this day. Your name she be placed on one of the GERD turbine generators. Now there is light at the end of the tunnel. My hope is unlike the end of the war in the 1940s the Ethiopian government has plans for rapid development in your area to catch up to the rest of your neighbours. For Sibagadis children on our side, I wish we will one day see all this as a past.
With hope that the no war no peace will come to an end as peace.
June 6, 2018