Fetsum Abraham 09-25-18
As we can see, something good is going on in our region since PM Abiy’s arrival few months ago. Things are developing fast and the current effort for regional cooperation in social, political, security and economic venues of at least Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia appears promising specially in the ambiance of common understanding on peaceful coexistence between the societies on the table. We also heard that the leaders of and signed a peace agreement in focused on “cementing their relations”, certainly a more comprehensive package than the Asmara agreement composed of 5 points signed without a neutral party the Eritrean regime disclosed few months ago. But the Jidda Agreement as exposed by the Eritrean government contains 7 points that the two countries signed in the presence of a collectively powerful third party (Saudi Arabia, UN Secretary-General and African Union Commission chairman Moussa FakiMahamat) as the witnesses of the event representing the planet at large. It was professionally done at the highest level of diplomatic connection, making it extremely important in view of legality and universal value. The Jidda Agreement contains the five points agreed upon in Asmara and other two points (Articles 6 and 7) that later developed in the process.
Yet, the dictator was the only actor from the Eritrean side, although he achieved outstanding results securing the sovereignty of our country in the deal. As usual, we have been ignored, undermined and condemned to remain outsiders in our private political business but we cannot help expecting the immediate implementation of the border decision that was crystallized as ARTICLE 4 in the Jidda agreement because that is what the people including the regime’s blind followers have in common at this moment in history.
Excuse me for being redundant in this opportunity to hit the point but in this interesting political puzzle, we saw Ethiopian activists returning home one after another, freely meeting their people and discussing their political future in open fields and stadiums. We are witnessing PM Abiy transparently communicating with the people about anything he does pertaining his country. The opposition forces are melting with him in the common journey to democracy. The people and the government seem more conceptually converged than ever in the past for “genuine democratic change” with high confidence against the Weyannes as a unit if not the Tigrean people as a community. Yet, the economy is in shambles and the ethnic violence in the country has been escalating beyond the control of the new government. We are witnessing a divided and violent Ethiopia under a very promising democratic ambiance and a peaceful Eritrean society under the grip of absolute dictatorship trying to peacefully coexist in the region. Ethiopia’s substantial freedom and transparency are expected to coexist with Eritrea’s oppression and opacity in what appears like two elements amicably facing the uncontrollable democratic air with conflicting understanding of the subject matter itself.
Therefore, while the portion of the agreement’s preamble that reads “Respecting each other’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity” is very good for both of us, the portion that reads “[the two countries] desiring to achieve lasting peace and cement their historical ties to achieve their lofty objectives” sounds impossible without the Eritrean people’s freedom from the grip of dictatorship. Their promise to “Reiterat[e] their commitment to the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations” remains a bluff instead of reality in view of the Eritrean people.
Many things are obscure but I think four fundamental issues have changed in today’s East African block as a matter of mandatory socio-political evolution: the incontrollable democratic vibe engulfing the region, the societies’ higher consciousness about the benefits of democracy, loss of place and momentum for absolute dictatorship, and peaceful coexistence for regional development minus any form of violence. There is no room for any excuse now to delay democracy in anyone of the countries in question including South Sudan. Folks! It is at this historical time where Ethiopia is contemplating genuine transition to democracy with full cooperation of the opposition forces and the people enjoying maximum freedom of speech and tolerance that the Eritrean President found himself at a confusing crossroads by surprising circumstantial events beyond his control, of course his capacity to adjust remaining in question.
1) He has suddenly become the axis of reconciliation between feuding Ethiopian forces conducting different meetings in Asmara to this effect as his prior diplomatic obligation. Leaving the many more Ethiopian issues aside, he has so far tried rectifying the difference between the Amharas within the power structure and the affiliated opposition forces stationed in Eritrea, Ginbot 7 and the regime, OLF and the Oromo group in the ruling party, DEMHIT and the central government, and The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). I am impressed with his capacity to manage all the activities in motion despite the result but in so doing, he is serving as the best catalyst to Ethiopian reconciliation process from conflicting grounds in unreconciled Eritrea.
2) His vengeance against the TPLF so severe (although the group did many mistakes on Eritrea), he has been busy empowering all the opposing political groups from the onset of their activism at a very heavy financial price. Now that “the game is over” this man is somehow conditioned to assist Ethiopia’s peaceful transition at the expense of the Weyannes from the angle of a disparaged Eritrean society under his nagging dictatorship.
1) He has managed building their confidence to liquidate TPLF with his virtual support in the background. He has become a defender of the inclusive Ethiopian government that has allowed all Ethiopian politicians to freely participate in the country’s democratic process without TPLF’s destructive interference. The antagonistic relationship between Isaias and the Weyannes has opened unlimited venues for the Ethiopian people to democratize their country a step at a time. He has been doing all this at the expense of his political philosophy and from a contradictory political vision vis-à-vis the Eritrean society.
The question is what is next? We are all tired of war and mismanagement, ready for democracy beyond the benefit of experience but Isaias is today swimming the complex political pool in a fake Ethiopian democratic image with dictatorial Eritrean outfit. The man is standing at crossroads sandwiched between the region’s uncontrollable democratic air and Eritrean darkness in absolute dictatorship at the height of the Eritrean people’s craving for freedom and democracy. His self destructive policy has now conditioned him to work hard for Ethiopian democracy from his expired absolute dictatorship at home. What was controllable back in the days was grudging with the Weyanes by directly supporting the Ethiopian opposition forces at the expense of the Eritrean people from his safe heaven in Asmara. And what has become out of control now is his unexpected role in reconciling and democratizing the Ethiopians with his absolute dictatorship anchored in Eritrea, once again at the expense of the Eritrean people. The equation has, however, changed and the game over with the new socio-political variables on the ground!
Dictatorship could have caused people like Berhanu Nega to rebel against the Ethiopian regime but the overall dynamics has made them strong advocates of multi-party democracy in today’s Ethiopian political environment that no one can seemingly sabotage, specially with Abiy at the highest hierarchy of the country’s political system. Isaias’s dedication against the Weyannes through Brhanu Nega et al factorial has, thus ended up producing a potent Ethiopian democratic movement that will end backfiring at his dictatorship at the end of the puzzle, not because of personal issues but as a matter of necessity and survival. This is because it was a tactical relationship with antagonistic strategic value that could only last until the Weyaness’ disposal from power, of course in the absence of reconciliation between the dictator and the Eritrean people. They used him to this extent of empowering themselves and will continue to use his virtual presence in the Weyanne equation till they consolidate their ground in the country’s unstable political environment. Another game will have to be over at that time then because of their contradictory positions in the political pendulum (democracy and dictatorship), once again as a matter of necessity and conflict of interest and only in the absence of reconciliation between the Eritrean people and himself. The only way out for Isaias is allowing the people to enjoy freedom in their country like the Ethiopians earned it to do. It is only in this condition that the relationship between the two countries can develop to the next level of socio-political achievement, fragile and in the verge of breaking otherwise because politics is a nasty phenomenon heavily dependent on circumstantial realities. Guess what! The circumstances have changed for him to quit his old state of hallucination without delay.
I, therefore argue that Isaias did not become a potent Ethiopian democratic and reconciliation force by intention but rather by accident; although the Weyanne’s ultimate downfall was apparent to many keen observers of the region. Fear of changing his political outlook based on the current regional situation is forcing him to overwork himself with external forces with nothing going on for our people so far. I think this is the reason he appears paralyzed from doing anything positive for the people to keep them hopeful using the current regional dynamics. Simply, he has a lot of catching up to do with the Ethiopians in terms of allowing freedom and democratic ambiance to survive the unforgiving regional dynamics that directly affects the Eritrean people in general. The change came at the right time for Ethiopians who chose to democratize the country and Isaias could not help being part of the drama because he had lost the people’s confidence as a result of his choice to abuse, oppress, jail and kill without due trial. There is still a spacious room for changing the terrible relationship in between with INCLUSIVE state of operation; everything he has been doing would have been smoother and more beautiful for all of us in the region but impossible with his current quality of mind.
What is interesting is that all the opposition groups that he supported in the past have been allowed to be the engine of Ethiopia’s democratic process; Berhanu Nega’s outstanding pro-democracy speech in Addis being a case in point. This means adios! the dictator can not influence his old friends to adapt dictatorship because it is exhausted and outdated, needless saying Africa’s tendency for elected governments specially in our region and the current Ethiopian democratic effort for multi-party political system can no longer accommodate his absolute dictatorship as a healthy partner of the political game. Bashir’s recent dissolution of his entire cabinet is a reflection of this unforgiving truth. Whether he will form a new cabinet or not, the dictator is today twisting and coloring his mustache to figure out his place in the regional democratic environment beyond his control. Nor can our dictator negatively influence, the highly conscious, smart politician PM Abiy who is preaching his people through televised speeches about the death of dictatorship in East Africa. He is actually indirectly and strongly telling Isaias about the essence of democracy, freedom and justice through the media, although not in direct communication because of the dictator’s childish nature. The subject is unavoidable and obvious but he does not want to agitate Isaias to mismanage his anger, at least for now. But this phony relationship cannot continue in the same form and Abiy will have to directly face him sooner or later for his own democratic vision’s sake.
It is with this reality in mind that the Eritrean people are today keenly observing Isaias’ actions with higher consciousness, magnified presence and thin patience believing that there is no more excuse for his dictatorship in the country. The best way of changing our political mess would have gone better with his cooperation but assuming he can continue his dictatorship would be the biggest misfit and mistake he can do at this political stage of regional reality. I am saying this with full acknowledgment of his importance and criticality during our struggle for independence and nationhood at large. I cannot disrespect what he did for the cause since the era of independence and to this point in time without disrespecting myself, and I admire his endurance and capacity to survive against all odds as an individual and a leader at large. His obstinacy and confrontational mindset may have contributed to our sovereignty to certain extent but the game is over for this too. Deciding on critical national matters alone without the cream of the society, a single meeting with the heavily weakened bayto and even his cabinet reflects Isaias’ maximum abuse of power in our country. The situation is humiliating, dull and uncertain; a golden opportunity with tragic outcome: we could not even enjoy the amnesty of our prisoners, something the least we deserve as a society in this unfortunate situation. It is about waiting and guessing, a regrettable exclusion to this level of idiocy because of lack of leadership.
In so saying, Berhane Abrehe’s straight shot message is in my opinion the best advice the dictator could use to save himself, his family and the nation from the havoc he created for. The brother shared his mind from Isaias’s block of dictatorship because he could no longer keep quite about his endless deception and dictatorship. The Ethiopians are saying TPLF’s dictatorship was expired to no more materialize in their country and we are saying the absolute dictatorship has exhausted its life cycle with maximum stretch of our patience and must leave us alone now to adapt democracy. He told him to respect the people, stop making obscure deals without their consent and to wise up taking advantage of amnesty by willingly giving power to the people because that is the best the Eritrean people can give him in this condition considering what he did to the society through the years. He told him the danger behind undermining society and conditioning the people to change the intolerable situation by any means necessary. What he said and wrote are considered normal and productive in other societies like Ethiopia. It was indeed a realistic and selfless advise from a concerned citizen that Isaias should have used as a precious opportunity to resonate to the region’s democratic air before it gets out of control. It should have served him as a wake up call to change his unhealthy understanding of society and political power.
I thank the Minister for his gallant move that accentuates the real condition of our people under the dictatorship. I appreciate his service to our society since the struggle for independence with substantial obedience of the status quo and commendable patience. I admire his selflessness to fearlessly tell the truth from within the flames of absolute dictatorship. I feel sorry for how the dictator ended the saga with his evil mind full of body counts. It is obvious the action was a derivative of fear and poor self confidence needless saying it is disrespect of the people and a clear sign of lawless insanity that must be stopped by any means necessary. What he proved here is the fact that he was a misfit to the democratic vision of the region; a reason that agitates me to predict his relationship with Abiy from anarchic dictatorial foundation will fail sooner than we think.
In conclusion, his passionate service to the Ethiopian democratic vision with dictatorial mindset may fool him of temporarily having a well dressed front appearance in their view but what the world has seen so far reflects his naked butt in view of our people without their participation. It is a fake relationship bound to turn against him as a matter of survival because they know their political journey cannot blend with his savage dictatorship beyond temporary excitement. He should understand that his old friends (BirhanuNega et al) will democratize their country leaving him soul searching alone at the end of the day simply because his dictatorship was a shield in the past that remains to be a serious problem to the region as it stands today. I believe this reality will will be apparent sooner or later after the HONEYMOON is over, but only in the absence of his reconciliation with our society. They won’t need him anymore except for protection from the Weyanes until they succeed achieving their dream, which can only be DEMOCRACY from now on. Isaias may also be usable in cutting illegal and unfair deals with them that will only cause suffering to both countries ahead. This will be at the expense of his safety should he tend to diminish his importance to another level of disgrace but he can glorify his long and effective contribution to the Eritrean cause and close the chapter with colorful legacy. This, he can do if he invests the rest of his energy for secured and democratic Eritrea!!