“Little Spoken Facts, Untried solutions: Revising the Ethio-Eritrean
Conflict”, by Dade Desta, attempts to galvanize all concerned people and as
a result I hope it will bring vigorous reaction, especially, from the citizen
of both countries to the issue he is trying to address in a fascinating way.
I found this
paper very commendable in content and approach, showing the real causes of the
conflict and pointing toa clear message as to how and why both countries should
act responsibly in order not to be condemned to a similar mis-hap.
point of this article is that Badme was not the essense of the conflict to
begin with as the Eritrean government tries to convince his own people and the
On page 2
paragraph 1, line 5, Dade says,
a more authentic account of the situation, the international community naively
embraced this characterization of the conflict and treated it as a border
dispute. So much diplomatic and international resources were mobilized in this
direction in trying to end the war. Tracking and analyzing incidents occurring
in Badme had consumed several diplomatic dispatches for years. However, the
devastating war that inevitably followed was a clear reflection that Badme was
not the real essence of the conflict. Badme still remains the physical
manifestation point of the underlying tension.]
Then on page 20 paragraph 3 he added:
are now proofs and circumstantial evidences to refute the border dispute
argument to be the primary cause of for the Ethio-Eritrea conflict]
And I agree
with Dade that if what Eritrean government had said were true:
conflict would never end up in a stalemate and still no solution in sight.
- The level
of devastation could not be reached to the scale of tragedy, as we knew
strenuous effort of Eritrean government to unseat the EPRDF government
from power through all possible means.
By taking the
above facts we can reach to the same conclusion as Dade pointed it out in his
article that the conflict is deeply embedded beyond border disputes. So it is
illogical and uncharacteristic to think that the conflict was solely a product
of a mere border conflict. The cause was beyond that and the fundamental reason
was the economic one.
Let me try
to throw a light on the past relationship of EPLF and TPLF when they were in
jungle and fighting against the Derge government. Their political relation was
bounded with deep mistrust and suspicion. To my understanding the following are
good reasons why EPLF was considering TPLF as rival not an ally:
- When TPLF
became strong in military and other related instances, EPLF started to see
that dynamism as a threat against its paternal ego and its agendas in the
region. Based on that assumption EPLF tried its best to weaken TPLF and
retard that organization by employing different covert tactics and even
horrible means. This practice was witnessed in 1984/5 when TPLF and Tigray
people were at great danger because of the famine. At that time EPLF
blocked a passage to innocent hunger stricken Tigreans and we know what
happened as the result of that blockade. This ill-will act was
deliberately implemented to bring TPLF to the level of devotee status.
What I am trying to say is that EPLF was looking a weak political organization
and only its willing executioner in Ethiopia.
problem was the Marxist ideology that was introduced by TPLF leaders to
their organization and labeling of EPLF as undemocratic organization was
absurd to EPLF people and were considering that practice as an
over-stretched and act of meddling in the internal affairs of their
leaders had never trusted EPLF leadership and were afraid to be left alone
if negotiations went on well at that time in favor of EPLF with dergue
government, which could have negative impact on TPLF to continue as
liberation front of Tigray and later Ethiopia. So TPLF was using all
necessary means to avert that danger from happening.
haughtiness of EPLF was another factor in driving wedges between these 2
political organizations. Relatively EPLF had better experiences and
exposures to the region and to the world affairs than TPLF at that time
and wanted to be treated as all-powerful political entity in that region.
That kind of attitude had no acceptance by TPLF people and was creating a
rift in their future relations. As a whole the relationship was not
harmony, but full of doubts. That’s why both they focused only to joint
military operations against the common enemy till the demise of the
military government from Ethiopia. In other words, the whole relation was
similar to mice and cut plays.
Based on the
above facts at least one can imagine that their relationship could lead to some
kind of enmity at one day. The reason was that both were ambitious and the only
difference was that EPLF saying it openly, but the other one kept it covertly.
that to return to Dade’s suggestion the economic one is the main cause for the
conflict and military aggression of Eritrean against Ethiopia is true. Eritrean
government felt like a driven cat into the corner and because of that became a
tiger to intimidate and reverse the economic policy of Ethiopian government
under the guise of border conflict. History tells us that the driving force for
the past devastating wars and atrocities were the economic factor and this will
be true in the future too. That’s why the exhausting shuttle of diplomacy and
grand efforts directed toward the solution remained futile and fruitless.
That’s why the mediators could not pull the two leaders from the brink of war
on page 19 para. 2, line 8, [Mediators are not in a better position
to help the parties. Actually, still do not seem to be motivated to try to
understand the real cause of the conflict. The conflicting parties are not in
any way softening up their attitudes. Animosity and mistrust remain so strong
that they appear to override all other sensibilities. Even if the parties lack
a fresh reason or an objective capacity to launch a war, they will always find
other ways to harm each other]
were simply taking this conflict as sheer border conflict and they were trying
to solve the conflict based on that false cause. That’s why Dade tries to
remind us that their act was wrong and similar to looking dung in a field that
never roamed/browsed by the cow. They did not try to address the core problem
and only hedging on the issue. In the beginning they did not put it in a right
way so as to get it right.
I admire Dade
when he says both governments should not be captive of the past thing, [Ethiopia
and Eritrea must start seeing in terms of what they can do in the future, page.
Reconciliation involves the creation of social space where both truth and
forgiveness are joined together, rather than being forced together into
encounter in which one must out over the other, page 28, par.4] and
that “where there is a will there is a path” at least for peace and
co-existence. He is sending a clear-cut message that in times of crisis both
leaders should feel responsible to guide their people by revaluating our
tradition to preserve peace and stability than turning stones to look for
excuses so as to justify for what went wrong. Our good culture and values are
still operative among us and I hope it will help us to cleanse our grudges and
move to the right direction.
paper is insightful and informative about the unfortunate conflict of Ethiopia
and Eritrea before a decade and I hope it will invite others to tell us what is
left and look for better solution.
Ethiopian I stand always in favor of my country interest. However, I would like
to remind both countries people to think first about the welfare of each other
than economic advantages or out-let to sea. Let’s show to the world that we are
not beasts but reasonable men and capable of solving our problems in a
countries got a lesson from this conflict that peace is the best option for
their people and to the region. No one will benefit from the misery of another
and accordingly let’s direct our energy and resources towards that direction
and I hope one day we will both win.