Magnanimous Eritrea Victorious Once Again

Amanuel Biedemariam

The price Eritreans paid to win freedom and keep it is unprecedented. Eritrea sustained years of battery and endured challenges never seen anywhere in Africa if not the world. Thirty years of Armed struggle from 1961-1991, war against the TPLF 1998-2000, and the last twenty years of No-War-No-Peace especially have proved extremely difficult. The only time Eritrea lived in peace was from 1991-1993 before referendum and until 1997 as UN recognized independent Nation. 

We can look at the legacies of the struggle for independence and the border war of 1998-2000 separately. But that would be a mistake. Because what happened over the last 20 years was a continuation of the struggle for independence and by far the most difficult journey Eritreans travelled albeit successfully. 

In 60 years, starting from 1961, Eritrea was forcefully annexed. Soon thereafter Ethiopia started to systematically dismantle Eritrea’s resources and disintegrate Eritrean populations. Countless villagers and villages were torched in quest to find Eritrean fighters. Thousands of Eritrean youth were imprisoned, beaten by Ethiopian soldiers.

First Haile Selassie in cooperation with the US, later the Communist Military regime of Mengistu Hailemariam expanded its repressive measures and escalated the wars. Western observers that witnessed the sustained bombings and wars once wrote, “The Stones are Burning,” to express the intensity of the war waged against the people of Eritrea by Soviet backed Ethiopia. 

The last twenty years particularly have been debilitating. For the first time in the history of the world, one nation was targeted by Washington’s all-might, Europe, United Nations, the Arab League, African Union, every country in the Horn of Africa. For unknown reasons China and Russia were acquiescent to Washington’s demands In addition, the west employed TPLF and gave the minority regime in Ethiopia green light to do anything it deemed necessary against Eritrea.

These campaigns were far reaching and revealing and showed how Western coordination of resources, media, NGO’s, human-rights organizations, military and financial institutions work. It exposed how the international PR and propaganda machinery work. It also exposed how the West use Human Rights, the War against Terrorism and freedom of speech as cover to pursue regime change in countries of interest. And every tool was all employed against Eritrea to its maximum impact. No country was vilified by international media all over the world like Eritrea. The cut-and-paste journalist pushed the same messages all over. Simply put, Eritrea was a nation condemned.

What happened to Eritrea was deliberate. Resources and strategic location made Eritrea target and the people suffered for sixty years mercilessly as a result. In sixty years, Eritrea endured systemic alienation, deliberate displacement of populations, economic strangulations, thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands wounded-disabled and millions were forced to become refugees. The people of Eritrea suffered economic hardships and unnecessarily endured tremendous pressures.

The timing of the war of 1998-2000 was designed to stop Eritrean take-off. They wanted to give Eritrea no break as a nation. It is hard to imagine in 1991, when EPLF entered Asmara victorious found a battered bare-nation, empty-banks and a nation without institutions. And in less than 4 years as a nation, Eritrea was forced into a war of aggression that she successfully repulsed, subsequently ensured the signing of the Algiers Agreement in 2000 and won arbitration in The Hague.  

Soon thereafter, the TPLF broke agreements it signed, violated international borders, announced it will conduct regime change and attacked Eritrea militarily at will, and the international community acted as if it was Ethiopia’s privilege.

Instead of punishing Ethiopia, the world rewarded by helping TPLF violate the rights of the people of Eritrea. Washington and Europe brazenly thought sanction measures and managed to place arms embargo denying Eritrea the right to self-defense and economic sanctions designed to debilitate and render her Eritrea failed state. The language that governed the sanctions were broad and invasive. According to the sanctions everything that entered Eritrea was subject to investigation. Countless number of goods shipped to Eritrea via the Red Sea were subjected to unnecessary searches, stopped and docked in Djibouti for months. Worse yet, Eritrea was paying for it. These included medicine and daily essentials. In simple terms, the term “Arms” can be interpreted anyway and used it as excuse to confiscate countless items and money.

The people were not spared. As part of their destabilizing efforts, Eritreans became the targets. The youth especially were targeted because they are the backbone of the economy and the future of the country. To fleece the nation, US and EU enticed the youth to flee in large numbers by promising asylum. Anyone claiming to be Eritrean was granted asylum no questions asked creating a floodgate of refugees from other countries who thought asylum claiming to be Eritreans. Even Israel, under pressure from Washington, was pressed to accept asylum seekers from Eritrea which led to countless refugees flooding the Sinai. 

This ill-conceived agenda was creating human trafficking bonanza in Tigray Ethiopia, where thousands of Eritreans were trapped and exploited by traffickers. ID cards of Eritrean refugees were taken by TPLF strongmen and sold to Tigraians that used the names to enter Europe and US while the Eritrean kids languished in camps.

These are some of hardships Eritreans endured for twenty years. Intense state of conflict and entrenchment of the minority regime in Tigrai made peace difficult to envision. Eritreans are hopeful and resilient people and were certain the minority regime will fall. However, the TPLF appeared intent on abstracting the process. As the movement against regime intensified all over Ethiopia, the people of Tigray were doing their own resistance against the change. Large number of Ethiopian soldiers were stationed in Tigray region hence difficult to see how peace will come.

That changed quickly. To the surprise of many around the world, when President Isaias Afwerki swiftly accepted Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s call for peace and received him in Asmara and immediately thereafter, President Isais reciprocated by going to Ethiopia; that opened a new chapter of relations between the two countries. That marked the end of TPLF’s abstractions.

There are those who believe the changes that took place in Ethiopia, the rapprochement with Eritrea and developments in the region to be the result of Abiy’s efforts when a lot of work was done ahead of the change. Abiy Ahmed himself is the byproduct of the work. Eritrea always wanted peace with Ethiopia and stability in the region. Contrary to what the TPLF sold, that Eritrea wants to break up Ethiopia, Eritrea wants stable Ethiopia.

If Eritrea’s goal were the balkanization of Ethiopia, working with TPLF would have been easier. Instead, Eritrea invested on the people of Ethiopia financially, politically, diplomatically and militarily. Eritrea provided home to all those who thought justice and fought to bring change. Eritrea gave all Ethiopian groups room and opportunity to chart directions of their choosing based on their political inclinations knowing, one-day, they will become players in the future of Ethiopia. For this selfless act Eritrea paid dearly.

TPLF, designated these groups and individuals’ terrorists and tried to label Eritrea a country that harbors terrorists.

Eritrea never had and will never encounter enemy as determined and as vicious as Tigrai People’s Liberation Front. TPLF is the deadliest enemy Eritrea faced because its determination and willingness to do anything. To avoid listing the litany of crimes and human rights violations against the people of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and the region; we can simply say TPLF can give Hitler a run for his money. Had TPLF gotten the opportunity, it was capable to commit crimes far worse than that of Hitler’s Nazi.

Eritrea Exonerated

The people of Eritrea are now exonerated. Eritrea took a principled stand to stand with the people of Ethiopia who ultimately humiliated TPLF and chased it back to Dedebit tails between legs, leaving everything behind in shock. TPLF entered Addis Ababa escorted by Eritrean People’s Liberation Front tanks and was easily chased out of Addis by Ethiopian youth armed with stones.

The people of Eritrea and Ethiopia went through decades of conflicts that helped cement negative views about each other. To separate the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia TPLF made it point to seed and foment hate in schools and every way they can but failed.

At the end, the people showed TPLF that they are capable to overcome evil and start anew. The warm reception Eritreans accorded PM Abiy Ahmed and in return the warm reception President Isaias received in Ethiopia opened a new chapter of history between the two people.

Since, all the opposition groups that spent years struggling the brutal repressive TPLF regime from Eritrea are back in Ethiopia working with PM Abiy to strengthen the fragile transition taking place in Ethiopia. That is a major victory for Eritrea. 

Eritrea is victorious on so many levels. Until 2005,  many Ethiopians had eschewed view and used to see Eritrea as enemy that wants to see instability by creating division amongst Ethiopians and believed Eritrea wanted to take advantage of Ethiopia. Rather than focusing on their issues, many focused-on Eritrea wrongly until they woke-up and understood TPLF and its evil agendas. Eritrea was in a way the whipping boy.

It is major victory for Eritreans to see their nation seen as example by Ethiopians and people of the region as country that lives by paying for tomorrow, by making sacrifices, in cooperation with one another, by self-reliance, without foreign meddling for collective good. These are stands Eritreans live-by. The people of the Horn of Africa have witnessed Eritreans suffer and sacrifice collectively to ultimately overcame all the adversities and became victorious.

For a long time, Eritreans were trying to reach-out and met stiff resistance. Today, Ethiopians, and the people of the region know what Eritrea stands for and her capability. They know Eritrea is a friend that means no harm because, in the darkest moments of Ethiopia, when every country in the region sided with TPLF, Eritrea was the only nation that stood by the people of Ethiopia

Leaving Behind Trails of Losers

Eritrea faced interesting mix of adversaries that operate as opposition. Concurrently they acted as human rights activists, refugees, victim-advocates, religious rights activists and NGO’s centered on Eritrean issues. They have made cottage industry out of human rights, refugee, freedom of press and related issues in the name of Eritrea. 

The regime change agenda US, EU and TPLF pursued against Eritrea created opportunities for anyone who claimed to have a cause. They recruited, incentivized and encouraged Eritreans, foreign NGO’s, activists and Tigrayans in the name of Eritreans to dissent, campaign and lobby anyway they can. Funded and propped by TPLF and its handlers, anyone can establish websites, radio and satellite TV stations to reaching Eritreans.

These individuals have enriched themselves as authorities and experts. They were given access to in UN and Geneva to set Eritrean agendas, create narratives to be used by international and regional organizations such as the UN Human Rights Commission. They were emboldened to believe that they can vilify, harass, intimidate and get physical with Eritreans that stood with their government and people against the minority regime in Ethiopia and injustices of the West.

With stroke of a pen, by an agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, all that ended. Ethiopia closed the offices and stopped supporting all the anti-Eritrea elements that operated out of Ethiopia. These include, religious extremists, disgruntled individuals that held high level positions in Eritrea, individuals with power-ambitions and armed-organizations created and funded by the TPLF. For example, as soon as PM Abiy Ahmed announced peace with Eritrea, the Afar armed movement TPLF run immediately retreated to Tigray because they realized they have no cover. 

Now, most of these people are ashamed and in hiding unable to show themselves publicly. Their funding, and support is drying because there is no regime change agenda anymore. The US, EU and their organizations are working to mend relations with Eritrea. The visible few are desperate and starved for attention from anyone. Their voices are louder and their tactics, (lies, deception and misinformation) are brazen and changing with every news cycle. They are bankrupt in principle.

When PM Abiy made the call for peace, they said, “President Isaias will not accept peace because he is using the conflict with Ethiopia to control Eritreans.” After he accepted it, they said, “He is selling Eritrea and uniting it with Ethiopia.” It is amusing to witness their daily flip flap and duplicity.

These groups and individuals were working with TPLF on an agenda that tried to undermine the government Eritrea. The TPLF called for people to people relations between the people of Tigray and Eritrea to usurp the government which ultimately was designed to  undermine Eritrean sovereignty. But when Eritrea gave Ethiopians free access to enter Eritrea after the peace agreement, they cried foul claiming Isaias is selling Eritrea. And on and so forth. Their stories change day by day. These is done to cast doubt on the peace process and create a wedge between the people and government of Eritrea. That is over now.

Eritrea Victorious Once Again

What is success, victory for the people of Eritrea? The people of Eritrea have made heavy sacrifices to earn opportunity to live in peace and build nation worthy of the lives that were lost to bring a free nation. They know, to build a nation worthy of the sacrifices made by our martyrs, they must all play their due role. For 20 years, with blood, sweat, money, time and hard work Eritreans ensured sovereignty in ways no African country ever did. The achievements are numerous and layered. 

For the first time in the history of Africa, Eritrea and Ethiopia have a border agreement that was agreed to and signed by two African countries! Hence, it is no longer colonial boundary. 

Since the end of World War II, the United States eyed and tried to control Eritrea using Ethiopia. For brief period the Soviet Union tried that as well. The US used unlimited resources, might, international influence and brains to achieve that.

US’s number one weapon of choice was Ethiopian leaders. The US used Ethiopia to pursue military and other adventures against Eritrea. Eritrea was forced to deal with combination of US and Ethiopia with their unlimited access and influence in the African Union (AU), Arab League, Israel and other regional actors; US position at the UN Security Council; control of the global financial and trade networks; control of the massive mass-media, influence and control of aid organizations, Human Rights groups; partnerships, and collaborations between US and its European partners. Brilliant Eritrea overcame by controlling the situation with Ethiopia.

TPLF’s grand scheme entirely depended on winning against Eritrea, controlling the Red Sea and by extension to control a Balkanized-weakened Ethiopia and region.

Due to its strong standing with the US and EU, the minority TPLF regime was emboldened, overconfident and felt-invincible. TPLF felt, war on terror-card will work forever. Exploiting US interests in Ethiopia and the region, the TPLF diverted funds meant to Ethiopia to Tigray to private coffers of the party and individuals in the party. Indirectly, the US, was funding TPLF’s aspirations of independent greater-Tigray expansionist agenda. These emboldened some who started to see Tigray as independent country.

Eritrea managed to withstand all aggression TPLF can master and gradually exposed it for the world and Ethiopia to see. Ethiopians sided with Eritrea and defeated TPLF.

The last twenty years proved there is nothing worse than a neighbor who wants to destroy you. The people of Tigray know who Eritrean people are, how they live and conduct their affairs. They used these knowledges against Eritrea and in collaboration with US and Western powers aimed to destroy it. There is no sugar coating this historic fact! In twenty years, Eritrea managed, against all odds, one more time to fight and retain independence. Here are some of the challenges Eritrea endured:

  • Deadly Wars from 1998-2000. More than 20,000 Eritrean youth perished.
  • Deportation of 80,000 Eritreans by Tigray People’s Liberation Front from Ethiopia.
  • Hundreds of thousands internally displaced from Eritrea’s most fertile agricultural land.
  • Diplomatic hurdles designed to weaken Eritrea’s hands before Algiers agreement.
  • Attempted to alienate Eritrea
  • After signing Algiers Agreement, machinations to undermine the agreement.
  • Tried to undermine sovereignty of Eritrea UN peacekeeping mission.
  • Initiated No war no peace to keep Eritrea on a sustained state of conflict to weaken Eritrea economically, militarily, to undermine resolve, to frustrate the youth.
  • Deliberate mechanisms to entice youth to flee and fleece the nation of her youth. Youth that fled were in turn used to vilify, demonize the government, and the national service to justify punitive measures.
  • Persistent coordinated effort by western intelligence operatives that operate as NGO’s to undermine Eritrea history, resolve, image, nationalism and sovereignty. They used all global institutions at their disposal to bring Eritrea to her knees. This include the Human Rights Commission at the UN.
  • Coordinated media campaigns by Western agents that operate as journalists and cut-and-paste journalists all over the world.
    Extreme debilitating sanctions designed to undermine Eritrea was thought and enacted, shutting down the economy, banking and, placed arms embargo. The arms embargo was used to stop all shipments for unnecessary search holding shipments for months at a time.
  • TPLF hired, funded operatives all over the world. The TPLF hired countless lobbyists, Public Relations firms, individuals in key positions all over the world to influence policies that could help undermine Eritrean independence.
  • TPLF hired and funded Eritreans to operate as opposition inside Ethiopia and in the Diaspora.
  • TPLF stole identities of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia and used it to send Tigrayans to Europe and the US as Eritreans.
  • In coordination with some Tigrayans born and raised in Eritrea during Ethiopia’s occupation of Eritrea, these Tigrayans acted as Eritrean opposition and worked hard to sally the image and history.
  • Long standing US Eritrea policy.  Eritrea under control of Ethiopia.

The list is endless. Eritrea overcame. Here is how:

  • 1998-2000, Eritrea managed to repulse hundreds of thousands Ethiopian soldiers that aimed to reverse Eritrean independence at best or, take Assab by force.
  • After 20 years, Ethiopia accepted The Algiers agreement and peace is won.
  • Embraced 80,000 forcibly deported Eritreans and resettled them in Eritrea.
  • Resettled hundreds of thousands of Eritreans. By building dams and expanding agricultural farm-lands to sustain Eritrea’s bright future.
  • Overcame unnecessary aggressive shuttle diplomacy.
  • Eritreans remember US official who went to Badme the disputed land Eritrea won in arbitration and, echoed TPLF’s talking point, “We can’t divide churches,” to demarcate borders to undermine the agreement. US officials on board.
  • UN peacekeeping mission was systemically shut down for overstaying its mandate and for serving as intelligence gathering tool. 
  • No war no peace agenda is dead and buried with TPLF in Tigray. In a humiliating fashion, TPLF made Tigrayans from villages in the border area with Eritrea to cross the border waving white-flags and plea their desire for peace with Eritreans.
  • The TPLF enticed Eritrean youth to flee so they can pick-up arms to fight against the government. That didn’t materialize. All the youth wanted to do is help their families. 
  • Foiled all attempts to alienate Eritrea.  
  • All campaigns by international NGO’s, mainstream media are being exposed daily. 
  • The illegal sanctions are lifted.
  • US longstanding policy against Eritrea changed to bilateral relations

Eritrea patiently and methodically dismembered all hostilities and started a new chapter. Geopolitically, Eritrea is the epicenter of the region. Eritrea’s geopolitical importance is cemented as indispensable. Saudi Arabia, Israel, UAE, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia and Kenya see no stability or progress without Eritrea’s engagement. Sudan is trying to mend past mistakes. Europe is clamoring to enter Eritrea.

The United States changed its long-standing Eritrea policy as part of new Africa strategy and announced it will strengthen bilateral relations with countries of importance which include Eritrea.

While under duress, under unbearable external pressures; Eritrea laid foundation that ensure food security, laid platforms that ensure infrastructures for the future of Eritrean roads and railways. 

Eritrea partnered with mining companies that believe on mutually beneficial approaches centered on educating Eritreans to develop indigenous expertise and ensure sustainability. 

Eritrea managed to change extreme existential threats to long term opportunities that ensure viability and sustainability of her programs. Eritrea managed to change the mindset of many in the region, the world . Eritrea is an example of resistance based on just and self-reliant approaches. Eritrean ways are worth emulating because they are guaranteed to help foster regional partnerships and cooperation to ensure bright future for the region. Once slated for alienation, Eritrea  is integral part of the future in the region.

Concluding Remarks

After TPLF ignited wars, General Sibhat Efrem once remarked,

“Our difficult challenges are behind us. For Eritrea, the most difficult challenge was to build our home. Once we built our home (referring to Eritrea’s independence), no one can tell us how to decorate it and run it. It is all up-to us. No matter what others say or do, it matters none because they have no right and there is nothing, they can do about it. Because we control our fate, destiny.”

In 20 years Eritreans achieved unprecedented achievements. Everything, all the money resources spent (in the billions), the machinations, wars, psychological warfare, economic strangulations, propaganda, vilifications campaigns and distortions applied against Eritrea were designed to do one thing; undermine the resolve of Eritrean people. The people of Eritrea foiled it.

Now, it is time to turn the house into home unperturbed, unfazed, victorious and once again saying Awet N Hafash, victory to the masses while remembering why it is important to give our-all and work to achieve the highest standard of living based on high standards because that is the only way we can repay their debts and honor them.

Glory to our Martyrs 

In Commemoration of the 29th Anniversary of Operation Fenkil  

Advertisements

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.

 

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!

Ambassador Girma Asmerom Embodiment of Valor and Victory

This piece was written on October 8, 2016 to honor Ambassador Girma Asmerom. I am reposting it to honor him in the best way I can because, if there is anyone who deserved to see peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia achieved at the highest level,  it is the late Ambassador Girma Asmerom.   

Ambassador Girma was the anchor of Eritrean community in the United States. He was the glue that set the tone. He coined the phrase “Tighten your belts. ሽጥ መዓንጣ.”

He faced the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) shenanigans in Ethiopia and challenged all their criminal activities to the day he passed at the UN and as Ambassador.

So, this is my way of saying ,we carried the torch for you. You are with us in spirit. To share the glories by remembering your undying contribution.  Because, it’s hard to forget someone who gave so much. You will be remembered and celebrated along with our martyrs. 

Ambassador Girma Asmerom Embodiment of Valor and Victory

By Amanuel Biedemariam
Ambassador Girma Asmerom’s passing is a great loss for the people of Eritrea. His life was the embodiment of selflessness, bravery, dedication and sacrifices – hallmark of Eritrean grit, stamina and doggedness that propelled the nation to independence against all odds.  Girma1

Ambassador Girma was there every step of the way to oversee Eritrea transition from arduous struggle for liberation to nationhood. Ambassador Girma wore every hat to accomplish the task of achieving independence and beyond.

After independence Ambassador Girma became a diplomat. Most diplomats of the world are trained career professionals – trained in the art of diplomacy to represent their nation. Eritrean diplomats represent Eritrea in unique ways. Ambassador Girma’s responsibilities as a diplomat was unprecedented and different because he served the people of Eritrea not only as a diplomat but as a representative to the cause they fought for decades to bring to fruition. The independence of Eritrea.

It was a symbiotic relationship between Ambassador Girma who fought for independence and wanted to ensure perpetuity; and Diaspora Eritrea that wanted to retain the hard won independence. Perfect marriage. All he needed to do was lead. And he did.

He led by example. He exemplified leadership in the humblest of ways and with humility that disarmed every one that came in contact with him. He embraced everyone with dignity, grace and made them feel at par with him. He was focused and never relented-once or, deviated from message. He was mister consistent-aware of the task-ahead and pursued it doggedly. He worked hard and he was extremely focused. In the process he ensured that people understood what he was doing and what was going on.

Ambassador Girma’s tasks i.e. assignments fell in the most hostile of environments for Eritreans and Eritrean Diplomats in the world namely Ethiopia and the US.
In Ethiopia, Ambassador Girma faced the most disgraceful and barbaric Ethiopian regime that uprooted over 80,000 Eritreans in the most horrific of ways. It was mayhem of the highest order that Eritreans faced. It was ethnic cleansing that will remain seared in the hearts and minds of Eritreans forever and Ambassador Girma was in the middle of it all.

In a manner unseen anywhere, the criminal regime in Ethiopia ransacked Girma’s residence, offices, in complete disregard for international diplomatic-norms and protocol. TPLF violated Eritrea’s diplomatic pouch repeatedly.

This took place in Addis Ababa in the middle of Africa’s diplomatic center. Yet, no one voiced outrage to the outrageous inhuman act perpetrated by the defunct criminal of Tigrian minority regime full of hatred and jealousy toward Eritreans.

A look back at these events provides unique perspective on what Eritreans endured over the last 18 years and the important the role Ambassador Girma played to lift Eritreans and their cause.

Above all, it is a reminder how calmly and eloquently Ambassador Girma managed to capture the essences of the challenges Eritreans faced and how he stirred Eritreans to stand against all the machinations designed to destroy their nation.

After he became Eritrean Ambassador in the US, Eritreans embraced Girma and he became central figure in their lives. He was accessible, and a magnet to all types of Eritreans particularly to those Eritreans that have families forcefully ethnic cleansed out of Ethiopia by the minority Tigrayan regime. He was a source of comfort because he experienced what their families experienced.

Eritrean ambassadorship is a unique responsibility. In Washington DC, no one can point to a single embassy or ambassador that deals with its diaspora communities like Eritrean ambassadors.

As soon as he arrived in DC, Ambassador Girma faced many challenges. The barrage of attacks by international mainstream media that tried to malign and sally Eritrea’s reputation. Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) leadership that is determined to see Eritrea on her knees and the propaganda campaigns it waged to that end. Diplomatic challenges posed by US State Department. Above all and importantly, tending to the needs of his constituency, the people of Eritrea.

Ambassador Girma was a true leader of people. A masterful politician, motivator and diplomat who know what to do, how, when, where and why. He was brilliant, witty and funny in the process. He never took Weyane, or the TPLF which he called “WEYIN”  seriously.

He was funny when he addressed TPLF but he was on point. He managed to expose them every step of the way. He challenged them every step and became a thorn on their side. He spoke their language, understood their psyche and tendencies. He was a source of strength to Eritrean Diaspora.

Eritreans are communal people. The life of the people of Eritrea is not individual it is community based. Ambassador Girma understood it well and harnessed the power of the people every step. He conducted regular meetings with the people and communicated the issues effectively. He educated Eritrean Diaspora and showed them where the challenges lay ahead and empowered them. More importantly he showed them how to stand strong “SHE’TT MEAN’TTA” was his favored expression and it means, tighten the belt. Eritreans heeded the message and tightened their belts and marched alone with him as one.

Ambassador Girma anchored the Eritrean community in Diaspora in the most critical time and his legacy will forever reverberate. Ambassador Girma served Eritrea at the UN and other places uniquely and effectively.

His services will be missed. Above all he will be missed. He was towering figure and personality uniquely Eritrean. His experiences in life are unmatched and worthy of emulating. But it is impossible to fill his shoes.

From a star national soccer player, a scholar, to a leadership position in a revolutionary endeavor, a central figure on formulating a national media outlet Dimtsi Hafash, to a diplomat and statesman. He was a star and will remain one in our hearts forever.

Ambassdor Girma lived true Eritrean Tegadalai’s life and as such disregarded his personal life. Ambassador Girma gave his life to Eritrea until his last breath. He enjoyed the challenges, the comradery, educating, the mingling and the Eritrean life. He lived his life with a purpose. He exemplified the meaning of living life with a purpose.

Ambassador Girma achieved Eritrea’s independence and helped lead Eritrea’s effort to ensure a bright future by addressing an existential challenge posed by the minority regime in Ethiopia. He saw their demise but unfortunately it was not God’s will to see their burial.

Hence, it is incumbent upon all Eritreans to ensure that WEYIN is buried deep in the ground in his honor. It is incumbent upon all to aspire to live his legacy and ensure united Eritrean community that stands with Eritrea.

PS: every time I thanked him for his selfless dedication and hard work he always turned it around and told me ” No, Thank You. Salakum.” Meaning, because of you. Ambassador Girma Asmerom, allow me to thank you one more time with this short poem. 

Isayas Welcomes Abiy

 

   Ambassador,
Thank you does not serve you justice,
But, thank you anyway,
For there is no other way
But, I must thank you aware
Gratitude must be repaid
In deed worthy of your honor
Repay you by emulating you
Aspire to be you
In my own individual ways
Centered in the causes you lived for
To honor your life so you can live
So that we can live
Centered and anchored by Eritrea
A nation that will light your torch forever
Deservingly                                      

                     Shet Meanta Prevailed!  ሽጥ መዓንጣ