EPLF HGDEF Vision Room Interview with Amanuel Biedemariam

On Saturday August 4, 2018 I expressed my views on the current developments in our region, the peace agreement with Ethiopia, sanctions, geopolitical juxtaposition in the region, Eritrean community and the challenges we endured to get to where we are with EPLF HGDEF VISION ROOM Pal-talk. I discussed Tigray People’s Liberation Front and how it is using Tigrai region as human shields. I was compelled to get out and share my views to provide perspective. Please enjoy.

 

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We Are All Isaias Afwerki and He is US

This article was written in in September, 2011 during President Isaias Afewerki’s visit to New York that galvanized Eritreans from all across the US, Canada and around the world. So much was done to demonize his Excellency then. It failed, they failed and those who rallied against him dropped one by one like Mosquitos-on-zapper, tzss… The people of Eritrea are the backbone of President Isaias and he is the backbone of the people. Most importantly, he is a man of the people, peace and proved as one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen!    

We Are All Isaias Afewerki and He is us
Amanuel Biedemariam

There is a Facebook group, which I belong to, ”We Are All Isaias Afewerki”. From the start, there were discussions about why we are all Isaias Afewerki? The answers were all the same worded and presented differently.

We are, because he is the embodiment of what Eritrea is all about. We are because he is and has been the face of Eritrea past, present and has set a precedent for the future. We are, because he is what Eritrea is all about; grit, determination, perseverance, commitment and he is a finisher. We are because he is like every one of us; humble and determined to leave within his means while focusing on the future sacrificing a great deal. We are because of his commitment to honor the martyrs by building a nation worthy of their sacrifices and, the list could go on…

One of the most important foundations to life is thankfulness to God/Allah for the small blessing. It is only then that the blessings multiply and recognizing those small blessings is a blessing in itself.

Eritrea was dealt many disadvantages. However, those disadvantages that we were dealt-with turned out to be blessing. For example the fact that Eritrea was denied independence when all African countries were handed their “freedom” turned out to be a major blessing. It gave Eritrea the opportunity and time to see the entrapments that are laid-out ahead in plain day light. Eritrea learned from them. There is a saying in Tigrigniya, “let him give you an example and not make you one.” Eritrea was lucky to have-had examples of how not to be. People
Eritrea needed direction on how to chart directions away from the failing of the others that regressed for many reasons including corruption with few on the top echelon sucking the foundations-away from the people to ruins. These indiscretions are rampant around the world particularly Africa.

The struggle for the independence of Eritrea was a blessing in a sense because it became a struggle for freedom not only from the chains of colonialism but also from the mental slavery that the west placed upon Africans.

The struggle gave Eritrea a space to deal with the political upheavals Eritrea faced during the first half of the struggle that could have undone the revolution. The ethnic, religious and regional divisions the Eritrean revolution inherited was paralyzing. These divisions and differences led to a civil war that lasted for years frustrating many that wanted to see Eritrea focus on the enemies. The infighting triggered massive exodus of Eritreans into Sudan and other places around the globe. PIA Invite

Eritrea also had nothing in terms of organizational structures, resources and support to start the struggle. There was no standing organized army. The tasks at hand seemed impossible or insurmountable, and the odds were stacked against Eritrea. The possibilities that Eritrea could eject Ethiopia a country backed by US, Israel and the USSR was almost unthinkable to the world. Then as now Ethiopia received massive military, political, financial, diplomatic and other assistances at the expense of Eritrea.

What Eritrea had were determined people that want independence, peace and life of their choosing. Eritrea had people willing to work hard, to sacrifice and pay all that they have in life that is necessary for freedom. Eritrea had people that are willing to endure the rigors, hardships and pain necessary for victory. Eritrea is blessed by people that want to chart their own course using uncharted ways and strategies.

It was miraculous because what Eritreans carried was a stick compared to the tanks that they fought against. One can easily say that Eritrea had only sling-shots to throw stones to fight war planes. That was all they had. Eritreans used ingenuity and illusiveness to elude the enemy and fought against organized armies with rifles. PIA Horse

In the process Eritreans learned to scavenge/rip-off the enemy’s arms and used it against them effectively. For the first time in the history of Africa, a well-trained and armed army was outmaneuvered by rebels armed with determination, brilliance and will.

At the end, Eritreans armed themselves with armaments they took away from enemy soldiers that they killed and captured in battle and used it to build a national army.

Eritreans fought Ethiopia and the superpowers with everything they had. They fought Ethiopian soldiers and intelligence from within Ethiopian-held cities and territories risking their lives. They fought the fight for freedom from every corner around the globe. They were resourceful, brilliant and dedicated.

That became yet another blessing that benefited independent Eritrea. It created a network of organized Eritreans in every corner of the world. The traditions and values that were established then are serving Eritrea in this challenging world in ways unseen anywhere. It is saving Eritrea from many threats that are threatening to wipe clean the history of the martyrs and to undo the hard won independence.

Central to these struggles was a group of Eritrean women and men that are farsighted, brilliant, dedicated, imaginative and fearless. They were humble, down-to-earth and cognizant on the fact that Eritrea’s number one asset is her people. They lead the struggle with a realistic approach to life grounded around established traditional, ethical, religious and cultural values.

They exploited those values and harnessed a work ethic that became a way of life in Eritrea. That work ethic was designed to empower the people and free Eritrea from handouts. They taught Eritrea only collective efforts can yield desired outcome, victory.

They supported their aim with a slogan that reflects the true nature of Eritrea, “Victory to the Masses.” 

They trekked the hard unpaved roads of Eritrea believing, “Our struggle is long and VICTORY certain.” They trekked unfazed by distractions meant to derail the struggle.

They ignored the noises then as now saying, “let the DOGS bark as the camel strides.” And they arrived. They arrived into a new nation victorious led by Bitsay, Tegadalay, His Excellency President Isaias Afwerki.PIA ABIY

As a new nation, Eritrea required her leaders to meet certain requirements. The leader needed to be strong, visionary, committed, selfless and experienced. It required a strong character with unshakeable faith on the people of Eritrea. It required incorruptible character that will not sell the people as they do all over Africa. It required someone with a military-like discipline, with a work ethic, unfazed by the glitziest and glamour. It required someone that knows the people of Eritrea and has personal attachments, understanding, compassion and genuine affection. It required someone that understands the anguishes, hardship and painful struggles that Eritreans endured to get her.

Eritreans needed someone who knows their homes and families; someone who is like them. Above all, they wanted someone that will honor their sons, daughters, mothers and fathers that perished. They needed someone that can carry the mantle in their honor everywhere.

What makes for a great partnership between a country and leadership and make everything work even when things look bleak and at their worst is that all Eritreans assume their roles effectively. Every Eritrean plays his or her part. That is what brought independence, what saves Eritrea during hardships and enable it to persevere. Eritrea does not need a ruler. Eritrea needs someone that can be a captain of the Eritrean ship in uncharted waters.

In that regard Eritrea is blessed by a unique leader that the world has ever seen. His Excellency President Isaias Afewerki is one of the greatest gifts Eritrea is blessed with. It is not common in Eritrea to praise a leader. Eritreans are squeamish since all have contributed mightily and equally. It is understandable because there are those that have given their life, their entire families, and limbs. Eritreans have lost their near and dear to worship anyone.

President Isaias met all the requirements that Eritrea required and more. He is the source of strength, unity, the voice, the parental figure, the brother and warrior in trenches. He is the guide that points Eritrea in the right direction. He led the mothers in a distant field toward the water that can quench the thirst of child. He is a farmer roaming throughout the entire country greening the land wherever he goes. He is the teacher that believes all kids deserve and must have the same opportunities to learn. He wants all Eritrean kids to thrive in life and in the process lift Eritrea to the highest of standards. He is the friend of the doctor that saw a nation’s health as a national imperative and built medical schools and facilities throughout Eritrea. He is a man that knows military strategy, intelligence, security and geopolitics. He is the man that spearheaded one of the strongest armies in the world and created a national service program to ensure perpetuity.

In the last 50 years Eritrea achieved miracles with brilliance of Eritrea’s leaders and a leader. When the history of the world looks back on this era and particularly relative to African nations, Eritrean leaders led by His Excellency will be looked at as the greatest role models. Their commitment to freedom and will to build a nation by relying on itself is unmatched. What is even mind-boggling is the simplicity of the formulas they employed.

It is a formula that just focused on the masses. It is formula that taught to be aware, organize and get armed, for life.

In life, the average person is limited to certain accomplishments mainly personal. Eritrea’s leaders have done wonders. And President Isaias epitomizes the best of them. He is selfless, focused, brilliant and a true Eritrean who made Eritrea, his life’s work. He lives Eritrea. Eritrea is his mission, his way of life and life. He has dedicated his life to Eritrea.

That commitment is the reason why he was able to oversee Eritrea transform through critical stages that propelled Eritrea into the world stage that we are witnessing today. He saw the beginning and lived the transformation. He experienced all the ups and downs of the Eritrean revolution from atop. He lived through the hardships to see the independence of Eritrea by defeating enemies. He directed the overthrowing of the Derg regime and facilitated a regime change. He ushered Eritrea into a new Era of independence through the referendum and produced the signature that engraved Eritrea at the United Nations.

Soon after independence, Eritrea was challenged as a nation militarily, politically, economically and in every conceivable way by enemies that wanted to reverse a hard won independence. His Excellency again guided the nation with strength, and showed Eritrea the way-out onto a new platform. PIA UAE 3

The simplest way to describe it will be to liken it to a nuclear submarine navigating through the darkest and most hostile of deep waters under extreme pressures. The President has guided Eritrea through the deep waters into freedom.

To say we are living in the most hostile part of the world is understatement. All one has to do is think of Djibouti, Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia and think about the internal strife in these nations. Think about the geopolitical interests of the superpowers that want to destroy any semblance of nationalistic attitudes anywhere in the region. Think about the greedy that want to exploit our riches at the expense of the people. Yet, only Eritreans are truly enjoying their nation in its truest of form as one communally in unison with President Isaias in observance.

Not to say that Eritrea is unaffected but relative to the raging fire and destitution plaguing the region, Eritrea is peaceful because of leaders that bought Eritrea time and anchored the people in united purposes. That is the hard truth that the enemies are finding hard to swallow and forced to accept.

In an effort to subjugate Eritrea and make the people of Eritrea kneel and bow; with the idea, if you cut the head the body will fall; the enemies of Eritrea waged major demonizing campaigns against His Excellency President Isaias Afewerki and wanted to the takeaway the president from the people. President Isaias is Eritrean. He is part of people.  Because, Eritrea is succeeding today due to the hard work of the people led by his excellency. I am, and we are Isaias Afewerki because we all stand for one common purpose, Eritrea.geneva-demo

Hence, His Excellency President Isaias is Eritrean representing Eritrea, his people. And the people are saying yes! Eritreans are flocking to New York from Europe, Canada, and West coast and all over US to show him support. They are flocking in busses, planes and cars spending thousands to say “We are All Isaias Afewerki. He is us, we are him and we are Eritrea and, nothing can change that”!

Eternal Glory to Our Martyrs

What Eritrea Achieved with the Peace Deal with Ethiopia

Amanuel Biedemariam

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. Came Ethio

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.  People

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. Erppl flg

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. Pppl

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 Bandera Addisas 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.

Conclusion

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.                                      

Glory to our Martyrs!

The Tiffany Hadish Story and Its Implication to Diaspora Eritreans

The Tiffany Haddish Story and Its Implication to Diaspora Eritreans
Amanuel Biedemariam

The best way one can describe Tiffany Haddish’s commitment to her heritage is, “Inspirational.”

Majority of the Eritrean youth and young adults in their thirties forties in the Diaspora today were raised by parents that came to the US and other countries in the eighties and early nineties. Their parents came from Eritrea through Sudan and other places escaping  death, imprisonment, torture and hardship from the hands of Ethiopian military. 

eriam
EriAm

These Eritreans expressed their love for Eritrea in their daily lives. They lived, breathed, sang and played Eritrea every day. They gathered in Eritrean events, honored Eritrean heroes and supported Eritrean struggle for independence financially, morally and advocated for the Eritrean cause every day. Eritrea was in their heart. It was and remains their purpose, mission and life. They are dedicated backbone of Eritrea. They support their families and Eritrea at the same time equally. Eritreans have demonstrated to the world what it means to love a country, family and community as one.

The kids grew up in these environments and were influenced by it. They knew Eritrea emotionally and grew up loving Eritrea as their parents did. Their houses were decorated with Eritrean arts, souvenirs and memorabilia. They ate Eritrean food, listened to Eritrean music and grew up with Eritrean families in Eritrean communities. They went to all Eritrean events and wherever they travelled Eritrea travelled with them. 

Sandman
Sandman Negus

They grew up understanding their obligations-aware of their responsibilities and know what it takes. They know it takes their commitment, time, dedication and sacrifices. They have learned that their heritage is extremely important and they are dedicated to lift and honor Eritrea. 

Eritreans have been enjoying these children flourish and bring Eritrea to the forefront lifting it like the EriAm sisters Haben, Salina and Lianda did when they burst to the seen in America Got Talent in 2009. These kids went as far as Sawa Eritrea with their parents and expressed their love for the people with music before they became the sensation the world knew them to be. 

YRB 2010 Art Issue Celebration
Nipsey Hussle

Nipsey Hussle is thriving, Layne Tadesse is keeping reggae alive and relevant everywhere he goes. The late Sandman Negus left indelible impression. Who can forget Shannon-Ogbani Abeda who made history as the first Eritrean from Africa to compete in Winter Olympics PyeongChang in 2018. There are more than can be mention here. These children are flourishing with Eritrea in their heart and mind. And their need to promote Eritrea is having impact on the life, perception, image, mood, self-esteem, pride and inspiring others. It is a great example how one can do good for the greater good. 

layne
Layne Tadesse

The Tiffany Haddish story is no different from the stories above. What makes here story unique is that she elevated it to a new stratosphere. She took it to a level that is undeniable. She did it with pride, gleeful pride that is infectious. She did it with love and affection for her heritage. In one night, Tiffany brought Eritrea to the world. She inspired millions, particularly her peers. She placed Eritrea in Hollywood’s radar instantly. In doing so she aroused curiosity, interest about Eritrea.

In the last 20 years, Eritrea received unprecedented undeserved negative attention. The vilification campaigns waged against Eritrea has been relentless. Major part of the campaign was directed at Eritreans in the Diaspora. It was meant to cripple their resolve. However, the long struggle for independence is foundation impossible to nudge.

The Tiffany Haddish story therefore, is the untold story of Eritrea that the world is yet to see, hear and experience. It is the story of resolve, resilience, perseverance, struggle and victory. It is the outcome of a struggle that Eritreans waged from all around the world as one. It is an example that the world can learn from. That is, when people are connected by a cause; no distance, time or obstacles can stand on their way.

Tiffany Haddish is a blessing, inspiration and incredible talent. Her late father Tsihaye Reda Haddish must be beaming with happiness knowing that he bestowed the love for her country, people and heritage. It is obvious that he loved Eritrea and expressed it with incredible affection that motivated Tiffany to travel all the way to Eritrea. Her Eritrean dress in the Oscars was the icing that seared her queenly image. 

Thank you Tiffany for the smile you bring to the world.

NBCUniversal Summer Press Tour, Los Angeles, USA - 20 Mar 2017
Tiffany Haddish