What Eritrea Achieved with the Peace Deal with Ethiopia
July 19, 2018
Peace is not lottery price that you win by gambling. Peace is not something we can buy or barter to get. Peace is not something that is handed as gift. Peace is a decision, a commitment for tranquil, quiet life free from disturbance. Peace is a decision a commitment to life-free from hostilities, wars and violence.
Eritrea suffered mightily due to the unwarranted Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) aggression that held peace hostage for twenty years. The people of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, development agendas of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union were artificially suppressed from conducting regular activities for lack of peace.
The Horn of Africa was in suspense unable to conduct normal business because the TPLF hampered movement of people, goods and services. Trade was halted in the entire region because the minority TPLF regime decided to play zero-sum game to defeat Eritrea by all means.
What did Eritrea try to achieve and achieved with the peace deal?
The number one achievement of the agreement is “wining peace” with Ethiopia! Because peace is catalyst to development, prosperity and stability. Without peace nothing is possible. Peace requires confidence, trust and willingness. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s call for peace with Eritrea was the right call and the response by President Isais Afewerki shows that Eritrea was waiting for the right partner. The response was swift.
To move forward with the agenda of peace and normalization however, clearing hurdles to peace was crucial. Because for peace to take hold, the implementation of the Border agreement must take center stage.
By signing the agreement, the government of Ethiopia agreed to the full implementation of the Algiers Agreement. Which means, there is absolutely no border issues with Ethiopia from this point forward. Eritrea and Ethiopia share a long boundary, 1033 Kilometers in length. From now-on none of it is in dispute. That is the second most important stage of the agreement.
By ending the dispute, Eritrea and Ethiopia will free money once squandered to protect the boundaries. Both sides can now use the resources once used for armaments to build a future. That is a major immediate achievement. Not to mention the incredible human resources both countries were forced to commit that will now be freed to help develop new found economic opportunities.
It will free the borders. Hence, traditional border control is all that is needed to enable the natural flow of goods and services. That can and will facilitate cross-border trade and at some-point, natural flow of people across borders for personal reasons.
Because of the tone the leaders set, more than ever, peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia is possible. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s visit to Eritrea which was immediately reciprocated by President Isaias Afewerki’s historic visit, the reaction of the people on both sides was something that history will revere for a long time because the rapprochement was unlike anything the world has ever seen.
The outburst of affection and desire to leave the hostilities behind and look forward was simply unexpected pleasant surprise. None of us were ready for the good news to take place as fast and the way it came about. The rapprochement that took place between Eritrea and Ethiopia is unlike anything we have seen before because it touches so many issues at one time making transition from hostilities to peace-time a lot easier.
The reasons being: A) Eritrea and Ethiopia have clearly identified the obstacle to peace. B) Both people have said enough and rendered the enemy impotent. C) They were hungry for change from the suffering and acrimony. D) They wanted economic freedom and movement. E) They wanted peace to achieve their goals and aspirations.
And for the first time, the stars were aligned, and everything worked-out including the sentiment of the people.
The sentiment of the people of Eritrea was natural when they expressed unreserved affection during Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s visit of Eritrea. The outburst of emotion by Eritrean people was inspiration to the people of Ethiopia that in turn used what Eritrea did as example and received President Isaias with exceptional level of hospitality.
Eritreans and Ethiopians embraced each other, showed love and expressed peace-gestures similarly and expressed it by the way they welcomed their leaders. It was love-fest between two countries in a manner unseen before.
People were glued to their television sets, internet and smartphones for days on-end to witness these historic events. It was full of suspense and intrigue. The possibility that things can go wrong was in the minds of everyone. But what became immediately clear was that the people of both countries were determined to ensure the success of the visits. People took it upon themselves to protect and safeguard the festivities. It was remarkable historic achievement for both peoples.
The implementation of Algiers Agreement comes with dividends that people in both countries want and for the first time, both leaders are willing to take it upon themselves and took necessary steps to push for normalization.
The third and significant achievement of the rapprochement is the recognition of the Independence of Eritrea by the people of Ethiopia.
The independence of Eritrea in 1991, ushered the fall of Derg and the ascension of the Tigray People’s Liberation front (TPLF) to power in Ethiopia. At the time, and after bloody 17 years of the military rule of Col. Mengistu Hailemariam, the people of Ethiopia were uncertain about the transition that took place. It was unexpected change with unfamiliar leaders.
Shocked and in denial, Ethiopia moved-on for about six years without processing the transition until the TPLF declared war against Eritrea in 1998. After the war started, it was easy to notice the pent-up emotions that was revealed, albeit deliberately stoked by TPLF in pursuit of its interest. The outburst of emotions in the streets of Addis after Badme was infiltrated by Ethiopian troops was evidence to the point.
At the time, the TPLF managed to bring all Ethiopians against Eritrea. The anger expressed then, the call to take Eritrea back and if that fails to take Assab was the bait TPLF used to keep the anti-Eritrea sentiment and campaign alive.
However, not long after the war ended, the people of Ethiopia recognized the brut nature of the TPLF and its evil agendas. Today, it is safe to say, all Ethiopians and Eritrea have identified their true enemy and have united approach on how to deal with it. And it is quite evident, the TPLF is no match for the collective power of the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia! The TPLF is an island, encircled by powerful peace-loving people on both sides.
It is ironic, for a long time the TPLF used Eritrea as wedge and to galvanize the Ethiopian people. Today, it is safe to say, the desire to get rid of TPLF gangsters is one key reason the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea came together so quickly.
The twenty-year separation, conflicts and, the no war no peace suspense and the negative impact it brought to the lives of both people was good-enough reason to look for alternative and the alternative is peace.
The people of Ethiopia had twenty years to process the fact Eritrea is a nation independent from Ethiopia. Regardless of what some revisionist tries to inculcate in the minds of the youth and the gullible; Eritrea is independent nation recognized by the United Nations as member nation.
Hence, when Dr. Abiy announced he wanted to make peace with Eritrea and followed through with announcement that Ethiopia will implement fully the Algiers agreement and expressed willingness to normalize relations; the people of Ethiopia embraced it fully without qualifications.
Therefore, implementation of the Algiers Agreement, the call for peace and normalization of relations paved ways for the people of Ethiopia to accept Eritrea as a nation.
That culminated when both countries exchanged leaders for State visits and were both accorded warm welcome. Most significantly, they pushed for normalization quickly and reopened the Embassies.
The flag raising ceremony attended by President Isaias and Dr. Abiy will be remembered as the most significant turning point in the history of both nations. Reopening the embassy is symbolic because it signifies the resumption of relations between the two countries as sovereign entities.
That is a significant achievement only made possible by unwavering commitment and sacrifices the people of Eritrea made to ensure this day happened. To underscore the significance, one must listen carefully to the announcement President Isaias made on July 13, during Sawa graduation ceremony. He said,
“The prevailing situation in Eritrea and Ethiopia is unique in that it represents the renewed freedom for the two countries.”
The battle against the TPLF and its handlers was continuation of the struggle for independence! Nothing more and nothing less. With the agreement: peace was attained, they agreed to end war, implement the Algiers Agreement, resume bilateral relations, cooperate in many areas especially security and will work for regional issues together.
Peace has it dividends. Travel, economic cooperation, developing bilateral relations, people to people relations, cultural, sport and related activities-based relations etc. Partnering on security matters is incredibly important in thwarting threats of any kind. What has been achieving thus fur is remarkable.
There has been some confusion on social media about the agreements and implementation of it. The reality however, the focus should be on the main issues that were at one time barriers to peace.
That is, to ensure that the borders are defined in accordance with the final and binding ruling and the second and most profound point is to ensure the people of Ethiopia recognize Eritrea as a nation, peacefully. Everything else is a plus.
The people of Eritrea have already proved that they can secure and safeguard the sovereignty of the nation. The security agreement ensures further Eritrean rights to deal with the undesirable threats from within Ethiopia if they come up. Like the extremist groups that the TPLF trained for years.
Hence, now that the Ethiopian issue is settled, and normalization is on track, the future is bright. Eritrea’s quest for freedom free from existential threats is achieved. The people of Eritrea have done incredible job establishing infrastructure and mindset ready for the next phase.
It is not complete, but, now that we-are where want to be, it is time to focus on developing the social, political, economic, physical-infrastructure and develop human resources capacity. It is time ensure Eritrea has a transparent governance structure that reflect the needs of the people. For that to happen, we must all play our roles from wherever we are by contributing whatever to ensure a bright future.
Congratulations the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia for peace. Praise to his Excellency President Isaias Afewerki and His Excellency Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed for charting a new path to peaceful coexistence.
Note: On a previous article, I wrote Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is Another Messenger of TPLF. I admit, I was wrong. And I am glad that I was because it turned out that Dr. Abiy Ahmed is a messenger of peace and love.