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THE SHRILL CRY OF THE NAYSAYERSINTHE ETHIOPIAN DIASPORA

THE SHRILL CRY OF THE NAYSAYERS

IN

THE ETHIOPIAN DIASPORA

Part I of a III part commentary

 

 By Genenew Assefa 09-09-15

If you think president Obama's visit to Addis Ababa made a positive impression in the citadels of the Ethiopian opposition in the Diaspora, you are mistaken. Instead, no sooner the president's travel destination hit the wires than the vocal minority of naysayers took to the streets, protesting the Whitehouse decision as an inadvertent endorsement of an otherwise "illegitimate government". Whereas the covert ferry of the top leadership of AG-7 to Asmara, curtsy, no doubt, of the president of the pariah state of Eritrea, received applause in the shrill exile social media. As can be expected, the mainstream global networks headlined Obama's state visit to East Africa as a milestone event worthy of a cover story. Indeed Obama's three-day tour of the creedal of mankind is newsworthy as it marks a watershed in US relations with emerging Ethiopia under, in the president's own words, "a democratically elected government." In an inverted vain, however, doomsdayer opposition websites continue to post speculations of an impending doom to the ruling party in Ethiopia by dint of AG-7's huge military build-up in Africa's epicenter of regional destabilization, alias, Living Hail!  Not exactly an unwarranted designation, considering that thousands of Eritreans flee this nightmarish land in search of respite from unremitting torment of no parallel in the living memory of the first post-partition generation of Eritrea. Whereas, groves of core functionaries of outlawed extremist entities of all strands shuttle back and forth to Asmara to update themselves in cross-border terror and indiscriminate mayhem of innocent bystanders. 

     But for ESAT, arguably the most hate mongering media outlet on the planet, AG-7 leaders' stealth fret to the garrison state of Eritrea constitute a milestone in the multi-pronged ''Operation Restore Hope '' in the "land of despair" called Ethiopia. A backlog of disinformation briefs seems to have been in stored lest the Asmara-backed "Freedom Struggle-" is ridiculed by skeptics as yet another tricky ploy to milk the gullible in the Ethiopian Diaspora. To dispel any such doubt ESAT could only scramble to vouch for AG-7's resolve and readiness to lick the "pushover army of the ramshackle EPRDF government". The very government, mind you, that, contra ESAT, world leaders, not least president Obama, publicly hail as a bastion of regional peace and a beacon  in  an African age of radical change, characterized by growth and transformation.

       These contrasting views on vis-à-vis rising Ethiopia reflect the knowledge gap between the leader of the free world and the big shots of the miniature army of AG-7 which, for all its posturing, takes its marching orders from Shabiya's military-intelligence, answerable only to the omnipotent president of Eritrea. Yet, through ESAT, the mother of all lies, AG -7 is played up as a formidable fighting force, the likes of which the "Woyane/EPRDF enemy" had never encountered during its 17 years of treasonous armed rebellion against the last state to stand for Ethiopian unity. Never mind that national unity in this context precludes voluntary unity, but the claim nonetheless betrays a teasing irony. In that, until as recently as two years ago, the politically correct term of reference to the "oppressive duel enemy of Ethiopian unity'' had always been Woyane/Shabiya. But by some Orwellian osmosis, today Shabiya, we are told, is Ethiopia's true friend, committed to help the Ethiopian people attain the same freedoms that their Eritrean brothers take for granted, thanks to the reincarnation of the Eritrean Peoples' Liberation Front as a Popular Front for Justice and Democracy.  A leap forward, as it were, ushering in a quality of life in Eritrea that, in Isaias' eyes "trumps Sweden's standard of living." Whereas, the “cursed Woyane/EPRDF” remains as ever "the scourge of Ethiopia," albeit weakened, so the line goes, since the fallout with its mentor, Isaias Afwerki -- the mighty libratoory of Eritrea, turned  godfather of all Ethiopian ''freedom fighters,'' inspired by the landscape of unfettered freedom in Eritrea. 

      In marked contrast, Woyane/EPRDF is said to be losing altitude, if not, its political bearing amid a gathering storm in the guise of AG-7's mobilization, whose inevitable triumph is guaranteed by a sovereign state, though presently under UN sanction. All the same, as far as AG-7 is concerned, the EPRDF is at the edge of a steep cliff, waiting for a nudge to tumble down to the lowest bottom of the political precipices. For a ringside view of EPRDF's rapid decent to ground-zero, suffices to glance at ESAT's recently run stunning report with a scripted narrative interspersed with predictable punch lines for especial effect. As a first installment, the report heralded the route suffered by the Ethiopian national army at the hands of self-proclaimed "Ethiopian patriotic forces" on several fronts along the Ethio-Eritrean border. This animated ESAT reportage of simulated facts did not end in suspense, leaving the audience on edge in anticipation of the thrilling sequel to AG-7's military operation.  But, to the relief of the anxious, the report ended in a high note, signaling ESAT's aroused fans to stay tuned as more decisive victories are to follow one after the other. Warrant for this spectacular series of military feats to come, we are told, lies in the brave decision of the former heavyweights of the defunct CUD to abandon their life of comfort in America. And personally man AG-7's command-post, bringing to bear on the "freedom struggle" their 2005 experience of spearheading street turbulence from the comfort of their gated-homes in the safest quarters of Addis Ababa.  On ESAT's prediction, therefore, each of AG-7's inevitable hammer blows would instantly expose the paper tiger that Woyane/EPRDF had always been without the aid of its once powerful big brother -- the Eritrean giant-- Isaias Afwerki.

       Colossuses as he is in tiny Eritrea, Isaias is not a man to be trifled with under any circumstances. Witness how, angered by “Woyane's treachery”, Isaias decided  to  get even by reassembling in Eritrea former CUD stalwarts hitherto stuck in exilic political limbo, reminiscing their short-lived days of  glory back in the year of Our of Lord, 2005. Though by no means unsolicited, accepting Isaias' invitation to Asmara could not have been easy to the veterans of the botched 2005 color-coded revolution. Understandably, they had to first overcome whatever squeamish they may have had before realigning themselves with the ''mastermind of the Woyane/Shabiya  secrete-accord” that robed Ethiopia of its only outlets to the sea. Today it matters less that those who idolize Isaias are the same architects of CUD's 2005 revanchist election bid to nullify the 1993 Eritrean referendum, had they succeeded in burying Woyane/EPRDF under the weight of a mighty mass urban unrests.

      Politics, as they say, makes strange bedfellows, but in this case its seems to boost  AG-7's combat spirit, though the upper echelon of the foreign wing  in the USA is registered as a life-saving charity center for the  "abused victims of  misrule in Ethiopia.” ESAT is predictably silent on AG-7's duplicity of masquerading itself as a humanitarian NGO in the USA: While posturing as a full-fledged armed insurgency in Eritrea, determined to capture power by means of force without having to risk probable defeat in another round of peaceful electoral bout. Instead, ESAT focuses on transmitting even more hopeful messages that no sooner the real AG-7 blitzkrieg kicks-off from Eritrea than the  "conscripted army of the shaky Woyane/EPRDF" regime starts to reel back, even as far inland as the Somali border to Al Shabab's thunderous welcome gun salute to mark the burial ceremony of the Ethiopian defense forces. 

      Admittedly a resounding military success of this magnitude is bound to be greeted in Asmara with euphoric delight though not without a tinge of embracement. This may sound paradoxical as Shabiya has vested interest in weakening Ethiopia by cross-border proxy war of attrition as direct aggression is tantamount to committing suicide.  A weakened TPLF/EPRDF, needless to say, is a welcome prospect in Asmara, a demolished Ethiopian army even better.  But not, as it were, at the cost of the reputation of Eritrea's flaunted military might. Indeed it would not look good on Shabiya's fighting potency, if by some miracle, AG-7 were to seize huge swath of territory in so short a time with so few a dubious armed bands recruited from refugee layovers in route to Europe. Or better still, to the USA from where firebrand ESAT agitators broadcast AG-7's unstoppable south-bound march, leaving behind telling reminders of the futility of resistance against an “irresistible force of national reunification.” The sky is closer to a seated man--- runs an Amharic saying, often invoked in response to facile claims from a position of comfort.  But ESAT is oblivious that such a scenario could deflate Isaias' ego and tarnish the credentials of his fierce army, though lately more fierce at shooting Eritreans fleeing to Ethiopia than its reputed forte, violating other countries' boarders with impunity. Surely, in a delicate sense there is built-in trade-off in Isaias' policy of arming and training AG-7's army which cannot escape his acute sense to spot a potentially embracing backlash. For, if  hypothetically speaking, AG-7 were to make headway in previously government- held territory, the starker would become the disutility of Isaias' own 400.000-strong army. Including his policy of gang-pressing every able-bodied Eritrean into harsh boot camps in the name national military service with no end-point in time. Granted, militarization of state and society could be justified under verifiable circumstances of credible threat to national security. But Isaias' justification for garrisoning the country's entire Zobatat is hardly convincing to any sane Eritrean, barring the remaining inner circle of the PFJD leadership.  All the more so, given that Eritrea is the least threatened country in the Horn of Africa.  To the contrary,   it is the State of Eritrea which every adjacent country sees as a regional menace, deserving of tougher UN sanctions, pending demonstrable improvement in Isaias' Mafioso-like behavior.

       Yet, undaunted and unconcerned by the crippling impacts of the present or even future UN sanctions on ordinary Eritreans, Isaias remain defiant, confident that he can count on resilience of the Eritrean people to bear any hardship under the banner of self-reliance. But lately, the Eritrean president seems to lose confidence in the loyalty of his once most trusted Halawa Sewera  intelligence community, the Eritrean equivalent of Iraq's dreaded Mukaberat under Sadam Husain. One clue to Isaias' growing mistrust of those close to him among his compatriots is the changing of the national identity of his praetorian guards. Much to the insult of self-respecting Eritreans who, as it is, seem to increasingly lose faith in his commitment to Eritrea, Isaias no longer relies on native-born security units for his personal safety. Distrustful of his countrymen, not altogether an indication of paranoid suspicion, Isaias today counts on the wickedness of a motley band of Tigrigna-speaking Ethiopian runway criminals to do his ugly biddings. Mind you, we are talking about mobilizing scumbags, that by extension says much about the underside of Isaias' split personality, though both malicious towards Eritreans as well as next-door  Tigreans  with whom he is reportedly bound by kinship ties. Sadly, however, disgruntled Eritreans, still in the thick of Shabiya's mindset of uppity, hold Isaias' part Tigrean linage responsible for his gratuitous malice towards his countrymen who, up until they belatedly discovered his mendacious side, worshiped him after their creator.  With love lost with a growing number of Eritreans, Isaias, however, seems to hanker for substitute admirers to hail him as a great liberator and harbinger of freedom to peoples suffering under the yoke of Ethiopian captivity. Perhaps this is why, in addition to having a chip on his shoulders, Isaias backs self-proclaimed liberation/freedom movements mobilized around mutually exclusive agendas, pitting beneath the surface the adherents against each other. For instance, the WSLF and OLF, the doyens among Isaias' tramp cards, seek nothing else but secession from Ethiopia. Whereas the ramp Arbenogch Genbar and its ambitious sister organization, Ginbot 7, born and raised in Philadelphia, are bound by a unionist credo of reunifying "disunited Ethiopia".  Isaias cares less that ultimately the two agendas cancel each other out, so long as each serves to ignite rebellion as his ambition is destabilizing Ethiopia.

      Well, it could be argued that it is double standards to decry Asmara's support to Ethiopian insurgents and not Addis Ababa's accommodation of Eritrean dissidents, who openly call for the downfall of the PFJD. Admittedly, the facts are right, but there are two fundamental problems with this objection, which places the two countries on the same negative moral footing. First, as signatory to UN Security Council Resolution 1373/2001, and a victim of state-sponsored terrorism, Ethiopia neither abates nor aids a terrorist organization, regardless of country of origin. Whereas Eretria, unencumbered as it is by any international obligation, provides aid to terrorist outfits, including to AL Shebab. This went on until the UN decided to slap the PFJD government with heavy sanction, incidentally, still in force, as the world is not convinced by Isaias' recent tactical restraints, suggesting behavioral change. Second, as much as Ethiopia accommodate exile Eritreans dissidents, it bears to keep in mind moral imperative of its decision as Eritrea is the only country in the world without a constitution. In which even tipped individual protest carries sever penalty, let alone organized peaceful protest, which for Isaias constitutes treason that calls for summary execution. In this light, Ethiopia bears an obligation to receive Eritrean refugees and facilitates the ground for those determined to struggle for legitimate cause by all acceptable means, barring terror.  Yes, Ethiopia tries to mediate between the factions of Eritrean opposition groups to iron out their differences and emerge as a democratic alternative to Africa's North Korean state and regional menace.  Eritrea, on the other hand, has no qualms with actively arming insurgents against elected governments. Not least against Ethiopia where periodic multiparty elections are held on universal suffrage, protected by a bill of rights enshrined in the constitution. Occasionally, however, sour election- losers flee to Eritrea and reappear as "freedom fighters", in the hope shooting their way to the summit of political power, against the will of the Ethiopian electorate, 

     Take the OLF, for instance, which in vane forfeited its constitutional right to peacefully pursue its agenda, in the mistaken belief that it could achieve its goal faster by other means with shipments of arms from Eritrea. Today the OLF, for all intent and purposes, is a spent force of no use to Isaias, much less to the Oromo people, which it still claims to represent, despite a two decades of hiatus from Oromia. Perhaps the OLF could take comfort in the fact that it is not the only one to foolishly rely on Isaias' Eritrea. The Dahir Aweis wing of the UIC, including a host of western Sudanese insurgents have all painfully discovered that the cost far outweigh the benefit that accrue from a secret deal with Asmara. In fact, the record of the last 15 years shows that these insurgencies were better off before than after their leaders thought it clever, for their own good, to hook up with Isaias.

      All other things being equal, the same fate awaits AG-7, the latest of Isaias' destabilizing beauty queen, whose political leaders reckon they can do better than their huge windfall electoral gains in the 2005 national election. Unwilling to learn  from the sad experience of the OLF, the  AG- 7 leaders not only count on Shabiya, but they also shamelessly echo Isaias' contemptuous view of  democratic election and caricature loyal opposition parties. This is their prerogative. But it is a puzzle how they easily forget that it was through a peaceful campaign that in their CUD incarnation the present G-7 leaders made a name for themselves. Surly it was through the ballot box that the former CUD frontline candidates turned AG-7 honchos won the race for Addis Ababa while their running- mates clinched a huge number of parliamentary seats. But, in an irresponsible grandstanding, pressgang their present arrogant posturing as freedom fighters; the current AG-7aspirants squandered everything by upping the ante in the subsequent tense faceoff with the incumbent, As it would be recalled, no sooner pressure was brought to bear than the four-day impasse ended, culminating as it did in the dispersal of the CUD as a legal contender. Wiliest the diehards in its ranks chose to regroup in exile and return with vengeance by way of Asmara to reclaim  the trophy of state power, denied them by voters.

      In this regard, AG-7's front-man is the last person to mock, as he often does, the morality and effectiveness of peaceful struggle. For there is no grosser  immorality than inducing misguided youth to bleed for no apparent cause worth sacrificing time, much less precious life. Brave, but tellingly undemocratic as it is, it remains to be seen how many Woreda councils of northern Tigray the  G7- 7 is to control by  means of arms ten years on since its founding. For, there is a huge price to be paid for even sending a scouting team to any village in northern Tigray, especially from Eritrea. Alas, the people of Tigray did not endure 17 years of hardship only to stand aloof, much less abate hired pawns, determined to undo the autonomous regional state of Tigray.

     Be that as it may, the OLF, AG-7 or the WSLF, for that matter, can at any time return to Ethiopia and promote whatever agenda they fancy, so long as they are ready to renounce violence and abide by the federal constitution. In plain terms, the Ethiopian government respects the right of each and every opposition party to return, regardless of past record. The right, however, is predicated on disavowal of violence and compliance with the Ethiopian constitution, as there is no other legitimate way of doing poetics in this republic. Hear lies, then, the fundamental reason why it is erroneous to equate the policies of Eritrea and Ethiopia vis-à-vis exiled or self-exiled dissidents. For no dissident or organized opposition group is crazy enough to return to Eritrea so long as the Isaias regime is in power. Who would, given that Isaias' major occupation is intimidating the Eritrean people into fleeing the country and disturbing the peace of the whole wide region?

     As a specialist in destabilization, Isaias has even gone to the extent of dovetailing social misfits which he plays up as freedom fighters under a pretentious name, Tigray Peoples Democratic Movement TPDM, otherwise known as Demehit. Bogus as it is, however, ten years after its reincarnation as an insurgent regiment, Demehit has yet to conduct a single credible military operation even in the tiniest and remotest Adi of northern Tigray. Instead, throughout these years,  Demehit's only claim to fame lies in shielding Isaias from potential harm and harassing the Eritrean people with boundless impunity with scarcely any precedent in the annals of Italian occupation: Much less in the chronicles of the successor government of the last emperor of both Ethiopia and pre-Mengistu Eritrea.

     The irony of irony, one might add, is that the increasing cruelty of Isaias' one-man rule is taking on the same egregious characteristics of the very regime of Colonel Mengistu from which the Eritrean people wrested independence at great sacrifice. No people, not least Eritreans, deserve the government they happen to have as cynics often say who know "the price of everything but the value of nothing."  But, Eritrean elites must, in hindsight at any rate, understand that the PFJD regime is, in a way, the price  for conceiving  liberation in too narrow territorial terms in which respect to peoples'  basic rights is caricatured as a luxury, even dependent on the good will of whoever is in charge  in the new state.  Granted, right-abuse in Eretria worsened after the 1998-2000 Ethio-Eritrean war, but heavy-handedness in treatment of those implicated in trumped-up suspicion traces back to the years of the liberation movement. In other words, muzzling expression of discontent within the EPLF is not a recent phenomenon.  Nor a  deep secrete, concealed from the Eritrean nationalist elites both at the front and those abroad, who played a major role in popularizing the Eritrean cause. However, by exercising self-censorship amid Shabiya's frightening excesses the progressive Eritrean intelligentsia contented itself with denouncing the anti-democratic practices of the Ethiopian American, Russian, even the Israeli government. This misplaced    silence, at a time when speaking out mattered most, gave Isaias boundless latitude to build a personality cult and shape Shabiya in the image of his own authoritarian personality and characteristic intolerance of dissent. The notable exception, it has to be said, is the Mencha group, a distant forerunner of the G15, which paid dearly for raising questions that Isaias and his cronies found threatening to their tight grip on the popular front. Whereas, the bulk of the politically conscious activists, privy to information pertaining to harsh treatment of dissenting fellow Tegadalies, chose to focus on the bright side the impending Eritrean independence. For many, speaking out against the increasing arbitrariness of the EPLF leadership amounted to an unpardonable act of betrayal: Or treason against the struggle for the total liberation of every inch of Eritrean territory from Ethiopian occupation.

     True, constant complaint against petty misdeeds here and there saps the military strength of a liberation movement. But silence in the face of an incipient pattern of unaccountability destroys the spirit of a liberation movement. Yet, though the comparable experience of the TPLF suggests otherwise, many Eritreans attribute Shabiya's success to its habit of iron-fist control and intolerance of dissent within the ranks of the hierarchy of the organization. Sure enough, today the PFJD holds sovereign jurisdiction over the length and breadth of the Eritrean landmass after a long struggle, ironically by virtue of OAU’s cardinal principle of honoring inherited colonial boundaries. In consequence, Eretria finally has its own national anthem, a national flag, a national currency, a seat at the UN etc. On the downside, however, the country is increasingly becoming a forlorn abode of the aged and the infirm. For the generation below the retiring age is fleeing en masse at great peril of exposure to harm by human vultures not to mention kidney hunters. This in a way a continuation of their search of one thing they had longed for, basic freedom, an unfulfilled aspiration even after a hard-won liberation. As much as the post-independence plight of the Eritrean people is a tragedy with seemingly no end, their experience, nonetheless, stands as a reminder of the folly of vesting  excessive pride of place on territorial sovereignty  as opposed to a people-centered definitions of liberation     

     In almost the same vein, those in charge of AG-7 are silent when pressed to explain by what alternative democratic program they intend to placate the Ethiopian people. In this AG-7 intellects resemble the Eritrean elites who, despite widespread self-inflicted abuse, deferred the question of democracy until declaration of independence, though it has now come to haunt them. Likewise, the AG- 7 intellects refrain from explaining their vision of democracy, pending consultation, as they often say, with the Ethiopian people after freedom is attained from “EPRDF's tyrannical regime.”  A good response, perhaps in the bygone cold-war era, but in this age of global democratic awakening, no people can be had by a self-proclaimed freedom-fighter on mere promise of future "consultation". Much less one, that calls on the poor masses to pay sacrifice on pledges of consulting them after ascending to power. The AG-7 leaders are equally forgetful that they owe, whatever recognition they may still have, to the democratic landscape in Ethiopia, where in the 2005 protest vote, the people elected them to parliament, but never to wage war on the very parliamentary state which provides for multiparty competition. Not at any rate in cahoots with president Isaias, a man certain to exact a heavy price, for he is not the kind of ally who puts his own security at risk for the sake of freedom in Ethiopia. No-one would blame him, knowing as he does, his own army's unreliable fighting prowess, should a head-on collision occur with its Ethiopian rival on account of AG-7. Yet, the AG-7 leaders have the chutzpah to have us believe that they would militarily outdo their last electoral showing with lightning speed.

       In any event, should AG-7's anticipated lightening advance into the hinterlands of ''Woyane'' territory  comes to pass,  Isaias' Afwerki would have to account for dithering  decision to  recapture Bademe. A stone-throw away from where the battle-seasoned regiments of his army had long dug in ever since the crushing defeat  at the hands of his erstwhile foe in the wake of Operation Sun Set. Not, mind you, for lack of any desire on the part of the president of Eritrea, as it were, but out of fear of the concern of the ramifications of a preemptive military action against an adversary with devastating retaliatory power. Whereas, as Shakespeare somewhere said, fools trade where the Gods dread, the AG-7 "patriots" have the audacity to think of repeating EPRDF's march to Addis Ababa even in a lesser time-span, as if the journey is a stroll in the garden under a perfect weather. Apparently AG-7 is oblivious that, should it be foolish enough to be carried away by its own brave rhetoric, it is bound to trap itself in a precarious situation of confronting Woyane's stubborn Tigray militia with no guarantees against a stab in the back by treacherous Shabiya. It is, in fact, a sign of desperation that AG-7 banks on Isaias' reliability in a war against Woyane/EPRDF, without careful stocktaking of the latter's latitude in terms of leveraging the former to reconsider escalation of hostility by proxy.

       Differently put, what AG-7 is missing is that, should push come to shove, Ethiopia  has much by  which it could easily  induce Isaias into reneging on his pact with any party, much less with a woeful dependency like AG-7. Anyhow, evidence abound that entering an alliance with Shabiya is less than a zero-sum game in which each gain is offset by a twofold loss. In other words, assuming that it has the wherewithal, every time AG-7 gains ground on the military front its indebtedness to Shabiya would double, as such are the unequal stakes involved in a Faustian bargain. On this exorbitantly one-sided deal, therefore, even if  AG-7 were to bring the Ethiopian version of the Eritrean liberation war to the gates of the" occupying oppressor ", the lion's share of the spoil  would perforce belong to Shabiya. Who else would call the shots in Ethiopia once the EPRDF is removed by a Shabiya's latest lackey, AG-7, whose former front-man, Andargachew Tsege, including his present heirs, regard president Isaias as a model statesman for Africa? Though unreasoned, the AG- 7 leaders have clearly shifted away from sweeping characterization of the EPRDF and Shabiya as "axis of evil" to solemnizing Isaias as the rock on which they would build the future Ethiopia. Even if these wheelers-and-dealers were to somehow placate an alternative sponsor, they seem to lack the guts to renegotiate whatever deal they may have entered with their initial patron. Consider, if you may, how AG-7 leaders hold in awe and heap lavish praise on Isaias, whose government has made Eritrea unlivable for all non-card carrying members the PFJD. Only to levy a flat tax on everyone who sought sanctuary in the Diaspora on pains of retribution against their next-of-kin stranded in Eretria. Worse still, on top of rounding-up disheartened family members by turns, the standard vindictive punishment for absconding siblings, Shabiya's loot-seeking army officers line their pockets by scheming cash from fleeing folks before letting them cross the very borders that all Eritreans had once held sacred. Thereafter the fate of many among the fortunate to exit Eritrea alive would depend on depraved human-traffickers who prey on the desperate of this world. Not least on vulnerable Ethiopian youth, enticed to risk a dangerous journey abroad, though not by the push factor of intolerable state repression. But, by the lure of human-traffickers, who promise their unsuspecting victims a life of affluence both in the rich West and the filthy-rich mid-East. Mindful of Foster's saying, as it were, that "Home means they have to take you in" the Ethiopian government, however, actively encourages unhappy illegal immigrants to return home. Confident, as it is, in the expanding conditions of life-changing possibilities within the country, the Ethiopian government has gone as far as setting-up institutional mechanism to facilitate reverse migration. An opportunity denied to Eritrean refugees by a regime whose solvency largely depends on remittance from hard working Eritrean Diaspora.          

      Rent-seeking as it is incompetent, the Isaias  government, in fact, rates its leadership quality as the " best in Africa,''  despite reducing Eretria into a society "with more undernourished adult women among eighty-three countries that have demographic and health survey," including Ethiopia. Yet, since beauty, as they say, is in the eyes of the beholder, AG-7 leaders denounce the Ethiopian government, which only a few months ago received an international award for cutting hunger by half a year ahead of the MDG schedule. One would think that the implication of this achievement, particularly in terms of regime change or staying-power, would not be lost on AG-7. If only because, it was largely failure to prevent drought from turning into famine, as many recall, that sealed the fate of two successive Ethiopian governments. In this light, at least, you would think that AG-7 would be judicious enough to say, in Churchill's witty phrase, "a few good words about the devil." To the contrary, AG-7 prefers to pour accolades on   Isaias as the last white hope if Ethiopia is to be as free and affluent as Eretria under the wisest leader of Africa, Isaias Afwerki. 

     No offence intended, but since praise often leads to emulation, it is possible that AG- 7 leaders could be secretly tinkering with the idea duplicating Isaias' mode of governance in Ethiopia. If so, it would be flattering to Isaias who crave for personal adulation now that praise to his presidency, as everything else, is in short supply in Eritrea. But even he might be suspicious if AG-7 were to toy with the idea of Eritreanization of Ethiopia as, too good to be true. Besides, as Isaias thinks that he had been betrayed once, by Woyane of course, he is unlikely to be impressed by AG-7's musing with the notion of emulating his political ideology of self-reliance, largely because, in his view, only Eritreans are capable of doing without foreign assistance.  Nor does he care what state  model  post-EPRDF  Ethiopia chooses to follow  so long as AG-7 kept its end of the secrete bargain. One thing that can be said with caution is that Isaias may already have entangled AG-7 in a compromising situation lest, in the event of a final victory, the "patriotic" leadership reneges on its commitment to Sabiya.  Whatever the detail, the potential contentious issue can only be -- who gets what-- among the two partners in an open conspiracy to dismember the Ethiopian government through cross-border insurgency.  

     Thought counterfactual, the tragedy is, by the time AG-7 would have seceded in ushering in freedom in Ethiopia, its debt to the world's most extortionist creditor would have soared beyond a repayable threshold. Thus, against this bleak prospect, AG-7 would do well to factor in the odds before counting its eggs. For, once the EPRDF is out of the equation, Shabiya is not one to settle for a small fry as Bademe. Nor is he to be satisfied with mere recognition of Eritrean independence across the Ethiopian political spectrum. Nay, in the event of a   new reconfiguration of power structure in Ethiopia, Isaias is sure to demand for his troubles a large cut that not even the EPRDF, the most sympathetic party to the aspiration of the Eritrean people, could be willing to concede.

      Never mind that the giddy are incapable of asking at what cost to Ethiopia could Shabiya consent to underwrite AG-7 freedom fighters?  Nor do they wonder why the Eritrean army shirks from laying its hands on Bademe. If, according to AG-7 and its mouthpiece ESAT, Mekele including Sheger are there for the taking by as little effort as a cakewalk. Rather, in blissful wishful thinking, the credulous among ESAT's audience eagerly await news reels of AG-7's speedy stride from victory to victory, supported by graphic video footages, showing "spineless Woyane solders surrendering in mass to the advancing regiments of the unionist army''. A tall order, if you ask me, particularly for an apprentice in combat skills, though admittedly AG-7 is an expert in fundraising on a promissory note of delivering Woyane on a silver platter. The irony is, mindful of the hazardous repercussion involved, not even Echalo or Warssaye dare to take on the boarder-patrol, guarding the porous boundary line separating the partitioned states, let alone the regular Ethiopian army, which had once taught Eritrea's megalomaniac president an unforgettable lesson. Obviously, reversing the outcome of the 1989-2000 all-out confrontation --- by proxy-war to boot -- is easier said than done. More so in light of president Obama's recent high rating of the Ethiopian army's efficiency in pacifying violence in troubled spots in Africa. As well as the army's proven effectiveness in uprooting terrorist insurgencies from any entrenched redoubts within the Ethiopia's national security comfort-zone. A fact which behooves AG-7 to think twice before provoking the Tigray militia, as it is capable of holding in check any armed cross-border infiltration without reinforcement from the regular  national army, mostly away on UN peacemaking missions elsewhere in Africa. But, unwilling to  heed the cautionary  words of a US president, privy to real-time global military intelligence than anyone on earth, AG-7 boasts of  its combat readiness and resolve to smash  the Woyane/EPRDF army. A prospect, which for good reason, Eritrea's veteran military officer can only dream of doing, as their opposite counterparts had done to them at the dawn of the new millennium. 

      Surreal even more is that in anticipation of such a spectacular feat, ESAT may already have drafted a series of spectacular military communiqués, heralding regime panic, rapid lose of nerve and strategic grounds to the “unstoppable liberation army of AG-7.” Predictably, reinforcing this exhilarating prospect, ESAT is sure to issue a barrage of follow-up communiqués, each echoing louder than the other, EPRDF's utter disarray to the point of even considering to release  Andargachew Tsege as a last ditch effort to assuage AG-7 and prolong the collapse of the regime. Yet, despite AG-7's reported proximity to rid Ethiopia of its plights, the exile opposition has not slackened its media campaign of demonizing the EPRDF. The hope is to arouse a mass uprising and finish-off the EPRDF government no sooner than AG-7 had delivered the penultimate blow at no cost to its "patriotic army".  An outcome, however, which had always elided many in the past as it continues to elide ESAT & co. even with generous financial subsidy from unidentified state-funders, threatened, as it seems, by Ethiopia's rising.

      The latest variation on the same theme of unvarying vilification of the EPRDF, however, sounds less palatable, except to a few diehards, whose visceral hatred to any EPRDF sympathizer is only exceeded by their boundless ignorance. They alone avidly follow ESAT's broadcast for no other sources of information validate their ignorance of what the EPRDF stands for and why it does not yield to undue domestic or external pressure. No wonder that both the format and content of what is advertised in ESAT as an accurate rendition of unfolding tragedy in Ethiopia, is even cheesier by the standards of second-rate docudrama. For, by design the network is fraught with glorification of bigotry, small-mindedness and intolerance of differing opinion. The epitome, as it were, is ESAT's latest star-studded theatrical reenactments of fabricated right-abuse in Ethiopia, featuring famous hacklers, reputed stage dancers, and matinee-idol emcees of humorless totalitarian comic reliefs. Chief in this ensemble of real local artists in lead roles of fake reality-shows, include the famous limelight seeking trio, Tamange Beyene Abebe Belew and Abebe Gelaw. To only name the lead performers on the cultural front of the phony war for freedom and justice in Ethiopia. Modeled writ large on the freedom and justice provisions enshrined in the stillborn constitution of the State of Eritrea.

 


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