On the Jidda Agreement between Eritrean and Ethiopia
Fetsum Abraham 10-02-18
I heard someone in a radio saying ‘There is no happiness in a life that impedes others from living their lives’. And I thought of President Isaias’s life in view of the entire Eritreans trapped in his convoluted outlook of narcissism; his inability to see the natural course of events and the dynamic nature of human existence. The situation has changed after PM Abiy’s acceptance of the border decision positioning Isaias at the vertex of the political parabola. The only way to go would be in the opposite direction towards humility, forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation from that arrogance, rigidity, vengeance and brutality. Dictatorship cannot comfortably live in Eritrea after it experienced its highest energy with concrete results on the ground. It has to decay like anything else in nature beyond the pinnacle of its essence. Unfortunately, he has chosen to stick to his deceptive, exclusionist and outdated dictatorship at a wrong paradigm of time, space and reality. He would not let go his unusual greed in accumulating human beings behind the cage and wasting them therein. He has not grasped it yet, failing to adapt to the situation because of delusional disorder and fear.
I believe the entire region would have accelerated the peace and love drive had Eritrea at this time been under a different government. Isaias has become the biggest obstacle of regional peace by standing in the way of freedom and democracy. He is a macho man that showed his SIBINET and JIGNINET on Berhane Abrhe and his family. And Alamin Seid’s family is now in the death row, God knows who would be next. If the news is true, Isaias should be salivating to hurt with higher level apprehension and self-disgust. Whatever he will do with this opportunity, the brothers have opened a new chapter in the country at the cost of life; that the era of running away from the regime has also changed in favor of saying it on the face from within. I salute the senior citizens and their families for their heroic resistance at the expense of anything and I hope other members of the government will do their part in this challenging Eritrean experience.
Here is a brief discussion about my thoughts of the Jidda Peace Agreement on Peace, Friendship and Comprehensive Cooperation between the the Two Parties, which is said to have reaffirmed the Joint Declaration on Peace and Friendship that they signed on July 9, 2018 in Asmara. “The Two Parties agree as follows; -
Article One: “The state of war between the two countries has ended and a new era of peace, friendship and comprehensive cooperation has started.”
Comment: Beautiful agreement but this cannot succeed without constitutional law in Eritrea. The prison enterprise, refugee crisis and timeless SAWA conscription must change with the closure of the Badme conflict. Incentive oriented repatriation should replace the systematic exclusion of the diaspora through the 2% illegal taxing for citizenship rights. Inclusion and justice, freedom of speech and tolerance must prevail for peace to take place as promised.
The Ethiopians, in the flip have to be very careful about the importance of freedom in Eritrea and vehemently support it for the sake of their democratic journey and peaceful coexistence. They have to be careful about the Tigrean equation in their society. They should build their confidence instead of putting them down misusing the WEYANNE factorial for the journey to succeed with their genuine inclusion in the opportunity.
Peace is not achievable by cosmetic image in the material world at the expense of civil and political rights at home like what the dictator has been doing since Abiy’s arrival. His effort may be productive, but we have not seen any reformist action in Eritrea yet. Opening the boarders has in fact caused more Eritreans to cross for refugee life elsewhere. The regime simply has nothing to give the SAWA kids, the refugees and the Diaspora to enjoy the regional ambiance as much as our neighbors do. It has no heart for the people in hostile conditions all over the place; could not even say a word about the stranded refugees in Libya.
Article Two: “The two countries will promote comprehensive cooperation in the political, security, defense, economic, trade, investment, cultural and social fields on the basis of complementarity and synergy.”
Comment: The success of all these goodies depends on the factors discussed above. The quality of their economic, trade and investment cooperation depends on their balanced socio political arrangement. Dictatorship and democratic vision cannot mix well for positive result in these categories. Working in cultural and social fields on the basis of complementarity (harmoniously matching) and synergy (cooperation) sounds good. One example to this end is the current activities between Asmara University (if it ever exists in fragmentation) and Addis Ababa University on joint programs. Another is said initiative of RIFT VALLEY UNIVERSITY (“the largest private university in Ethiopia that has the capacity to grant a bachelor's degree, in Accounting, Business Management and Law”) that wants to build a college in Eritrea. This is good and it can thrive like the successful joint programs between Kenyan, Tanzanian and Ugandan Universities if properly managed. But the probability of success depends on freedom of expression and liberal journalism in both countries needless stating on free participation of the native professors in different academic institutions around the world as well. Society cannot exclusively depend on outsourcing knowledge ignoring local intellectual resources because it defeats the purpose at serious economic burden. We have many qualified Doctors and Professors that have the capacity to authorize the accreditation of international universities that can be utilized to the best end of this opportunity; would otherwise be a disastrous brain drain as in the past (“more than 30 native professors were fired from Asmara University towards its destruction”). Further, I don’t think it is possible for the institutions to produce qualified Lawyers in the lawless country without freedom of speech.
Now, what is Political Cooperation? “Political cooperation broadly denotes the governments of differing states working together toward a common goal. This cooperation can occur in areas like military alliances, economic affairs, and the deciding of territorial boundaries. It often comes by way of treaties. A treaty is formally approved agreement between two states.” The political entity of sovereign countries should then be directly proportional to undisputed territorial boundaries between them. This agreement, thus necessitates the immediate demarcation of the border without delay and good faith and transparency, at minimum.
What is Military Alliance? “Military alliances can be loosely described as collaborations between the armed forces of two states (like the military alliance between the US, Britain, and France against Nazi Germany during World War II). Interestingly, military alliances don't just take place during times of war. Many times, military cooperation exists almost as a promise to come to the aid of another country should the need arise, sort of a 'we've got your back' kind of situation [like the US and British relations]”. Through this agreement, the two leaders will have to, at least cooperate against their common enemies. They can attack any political adversary together. The two countries have no threat from the East Coast of the Red Sea and our neighbors in general for them to jointly apply this agreement in defense, but certainly against the WEYANNE and others considered to be “common enemies” of the relationship. They will have to scratch each other’s backs in case the WEYANNEs violently react on something pertaining the two countries in question. This should exert a heavy pressure on the group but it would be a big mistake isolating the Tigrean people from the democratic process of their country.
What is Security Cooperation? “This works under the Department of Defense and involves cooperation in sharing “programs and activities with foreign security forces and their institutions [for national] interests; it enables partner nations to provide access to territory, infrastructure, information, and resources; and/or to build and apply their capacity and capabilities consistent with their defense objectives. It includes, but is not limited to, military engagements with foreign defense and security establishments, administered security assistance programs, combined exercises, international armaments cooperation, and information sharing and collaboration. Additionally, for achievement of strategic objectives, such as deterring terrorism.” With this agreement, the two countries will jointly work sharing security and even performing joint training programs for their armed forces. Some may consider the activities of the Arabs in our area and the foreign businesses in Ethiopia a threat but they took place by consent. Therefore, I don’t see the use of their security cooperation in this regard. But both of them can involve in the Yemeni conflict with this agreement. One of the news reads as “Jun 15, 2018 - Military sources here in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have told the BBC that a major force of Yemeni, UAE and Sudanese troops is on standby in Eritrea to take part in a final push to retake Hudaydah port from Houthi rebels. The report also said the Houthi rebels, who control northern Yemen and are fighting the Saudi-Emirati coalition, may have committed war crimes.” Whether Eritrean forces are involved in this criminal activities, the dictator’s vision here may have the potential to influence the two countries to join the coalition forces against the Yemeni rebels.
This agreement may further give the two governments to fully cooperate fighting their opposition forces for the most part. The Ethiopian opposition forces are all safe in their country for the government not to seek Isaias’s assistance in this regard. But the Ethiopians may go as far as expelling the Eritrean opposition forces and even worse, handing them over to the Eritrean regime against international law at extreme offense to the Eritrean people. I don’t think this will happen but it is possible under the agreement. At minimum, I think Isaias has guaranteed himself the capacity to explore anything pertaining the opposition in Ethiopia at group and individual levels of the relationship. The security cooperation for “deterring terrorism” clause will give him direct or indirect access to any relevant information about the “terrorist cliques” unfit for the collective strategic objective of the region; despite Ethiopia’s outlook of the matter.
Article Three: “The two countries will develop Joint Investment Projects, including the establishment of Joint Special Economic Zones.”
Comment: “A joint venture is a business or project in which two or more companies or individuals have invested, with the intention of working together.” The success here still depends on freedom and justice in both countries but they can still engage in common projects such as building port access under the management of Eritrean Port Authority, highways, pipe lines and even train facilities like what we have been hearing here and there. But allowing Ethiopians to invest in Eritrea with closed doors to the capable citizens around the world will be a bitter pill to swallow and cannot last for a long time.
In the flip, “Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is an area in which business and trade laws are different from the rest of the country. SEZs are located within a country's national borders, and their aims include: increased trade, increased investment, job creation and effective administration.” This sounds rational because there have to be different laws applicable to people living in the borders of the two countries (movement, trade, etc.). What comes in and what goes out will have to be lawfully controlled to avoid illegal activities.
Article Four: “The two countries will implement the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission decision.”
Comment: Implementation is “the carrying out, execution, or practice of a plan, a method, or any design, idea, model, specification, standard or policy for doing something. It is the action that must follow any preliminary thinking in order for something to actually happen.” I think the terms clearly speak for themselves here. Application of this agreement dictates the destiny of the entire Jidda Agreement in view of the Eritrean people, needless saying the confidence between the regime and the Eritrean people as well. Putting this issue to practice is not only good for the Eritreans but also for the Ethiopians. Therefore, it has to be immediately done for the people to start trusting each other for bigger achievements ahead.
Article Five: “The two countries will promote regional and global peace, security and cooperation.”
Article Six: “The two countries will combat terrorism as well as trafficking in people, arms and drugs in accordance with international covenants and conventions.”
Article Seven: “The two countries will establish a High-Level Joint Committee, as well as Sub-committees as required, to guide and oversee the implementation of this Agreement.”
Comment: There is nothing I can say about articles 5 and 6 because almost all nations on planet earth declare such words for goodwill formality. The dictator may have Kat (Chat) in his mind and I believe he did a great job in this regard because the effect of the drug in the Djiboutian, Ethiopian and Somalian societies has become out of control. And the last article is about checking and balancing the implementation of the package in general, thus welcome.
In conclusion, the region is excited about the peace ambiance and waiting for concrete change with high expectations. Ethiopians are enjoying the new environment and the Tigreans doing excellent within their turf in terms of unlimited freedom of speech. A civilized relationship is going on between the people of Tigrai and their leaders and I congratulate them for their effort to make peace with our people. They should continue to build their confidence with a genuinely transformed mindset without becoming obstacle to the border demarcation by the books, and we will help on the backdrop for our peaceful coexistence. Nothing will go right in our region with marginalized Tigreans and abandoned Eritrean people that remain natural allies in this rugged political game despite the terrible errors TPLF did to the Eritrean society in general (provoked or not). We have done our mess through the dictator’s destructive actions as well but neither should TPLF represent the Tigrean people nor should we entertain the dictator’s biased attitude against the people of Tigrai anymore. As Chairman Debretsion said it, this is time for new leaders to emerge in Tigrai and we think so should be in Eritrea.
Finally, the honeymoon is almost over and there is nothing more for the dictator to do now after his admirable peace making role in Ethiopia and South Sudan. The world is keenly watching his actions with great disappointment on his failure to excite the people this long into the new opportunity. Our people are waiting with high degree of uncertainty and sense of betrayal. They are watching many Ethiopians entering the country with their material goods and the youth leaving it because of hopelessness. The situation is motionless. The politicians in the government, the Generals and advisors should as well be in confusing state of mind, God knows how the dictator lives his days nowadays at the extraordinary burden of our society. He is delaying the border demarcation for survival without knowing that he is also simultaneously digging his grave on the merit. Enough for today and see you soon!