The Shrinking Turf – by Paulos Misgina

In the past few weeks, many Eritreans who are opposed to President Issias’ regime, unable to figure out if, with his current diplomatic scramble, he was unhooking himself from the noose that is in his

In the past few weeks, many Eritreans who are opposed to President Issias’ regime, unable to figure out if, with his current diplomatic scramble, he was unhooking himself from the noose that is in his neck, have been expressing nervousness and displeasure in various social media networks as well as individually. Anxiety has been building as months of good news that have been piling up in their favor all of a sudden seem eroded by the regime which is making a last-ditch effort to circumvent doom. It indeed must have felt to them like a snake that has been hit repeatedly and pronounced dead by its attackers crept anew.

In whatever is bad to the angel is good to the devilfashion, the government’scomp has picked up this anxiety, and throwing cheap shots by spinning the recent developments in order tofrustratethe ever growing opposition which is now mainly composed of young, bright, bold and information-savvy opposition. At the same time, it is using the opportunity to quench its thirst for good news for the first time in almost two years.

Absurdly, Meskerem.net, which most snub and refer as lazyman’s website due to its disorganized, hoarder’s-like, messy one-line commentary webpages, posted a disclaimer, warning that people with heart disease should not read its unconfirmed report about rumors of President Issias’visit to New York to attend the 66th session of the UN General Assembly. Supporters and agents of the regime are back to maneuvering,this time slowly and clandestinely though, to mobilize followers in order to give the President a hero’s welcome. At the heart of such mobilization lies the objective that If he comes and they turn out in droves to show their “love”, “support” and “admiration”, then those who are pushing for the tightening of sanctions against the regime will get the message that he has his peoples’ full support, thereby forcingthem to reconsider. Even though delusion is abundant in systems like this, it is highly unlikely that this maneuver will help President Issiasescape further sanctionsthat is already in the pipeline.

The Diplomatic nail

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In reality andby the readings of many observers, however, the regime, more than any time before, is at itsdeath’s door. President Issias’s visit to Uganda, as later on became clear, was not worth the jet fuel and his manhood. A few days after he returned home from his visit to Kampala, Uganda’s Ambassador to the African Union and Ethiopia, in what looks like a deliberate message aimed at robbing the Asmara regime of a diplomatic talking point, told reporters that Uganda’s stance on Eritrea has not flinched a bit. To those who try to spin this as Kampala being not fast enough to update its Ambassador toAddis Ababa on its change of heart following President Issias’ visit, the fact is that neither has its representative been recalled nor an attempt has been made to polish its tone so far.

Worse, his visit to the Equatorial Guinea was debilitating to his spirit. In an interview he conducted with TV-Ere, the President, unable to deliver even fabricated good news to his people, talked astray, with agony and half his left lips barely moving. Instead, the man who has beenincapable of building any credible institution during his 20 years at the helm of power, other than the most hated Pseudo-college boots camp, lectured Africa on the need to dismantle its old organization and mechanisms and built a new foreign-proof one in its place. Such is the message he delivered in Bamako that anyone who think he can sway the continent to his side to fight his way out of sanctions is delusional.

Making President Issias’ agony worse than this, Prime Minister MelesZenawi this week analytically put the alignment of Security Council’s vote on the sanction proposal as a hopeless case for his foe in the north. According to him, with the exception of China which would abstain to pave the way for its passage and adoption, the remaining four members of the Security Council have neither interest nor sympathy to vote otherwise. The United States Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, knows President Issias and his reputations since the Clinton days. Besides, she has a personal grudge for a derogatory insult that she sustained at Issias’s mouth which is not polite to repeat here. Great Britain, among other disagreements and differences in policy and human right issues, just came out of a diplomatic squabble with the regime over the four Britons who Asmara detained and denied consular service in contempt. Thus, its diplomatic blood is still hot. To France, the roughing up of Djibouti by President Issias has been what one can compare to the famous Eritrea’s saying of the death of ones fiancé – it was unable to cry loud so far but will definitely vote affirmative. Never discount the role of history and long relations in decision like this.Russia has been so close to Ethiopia for a long time now, they say there are people who eat injera, Ethiopia’span Cake made of taff seed, in Moscow. But above all, after weakened immensely and when the end comes, even a levy cannot negotiate water. So what is President Issias going to accomplish if and when he comes On September 19?

After removing Gaddafi, we have now a bold Europe which is stepping into a new role of checkmating dictators and clearing obstacles from potentially vital interest areas. As if to deny President Issias any further meaningful diplomatic maneuver from hereafter, the European Parliament and Amnesty International, the day before and yesterday respectively,nailed the last nail in sealing the door on him. They are now calling with a tone of forcefulness to release DawitIssak, an Eritrean- Swedish journalist,and all political prisoners unconditionally who have been detained by the government for over ten years. With this resolution which, among others, calls for denying President Issiasa Visa to enter Europe at any point, he now cannot stop in that continent for fuel on his way to New York. Will he still come? It is very unlikely.

The meskerem.net factor

Meskerem.net has some time ago come up with a table of opposition organizations’leaders and their respective correspondingethnic and regional background. According to its editor, Mr. AlemGoitom, his excuse is the allegations by an opposition website that the overwhelming majority of the Eritrean army officers are almost exclusively from one region, Hamassien. He claimed that this prompted him to come up with such a table so as to turn over the script on them.

For the sake of prudence, magnanimity and political correctness, one normally expects this, and other “nationalist” websites for that matter, to refute the oppositions claim or boldly address the issue head on. In the absence of this, however, in the eyes of the rest, the opposition website’sclaims fly as true. If so, would it not be logical that those who oppose the government will also be almost exclusively outside that region and that they take this as one of their grievances as well? How accidental is for most supporters to be from one region and the opposition from the rest? Why is it needed to laser-focus on one region alone – Akeleguzay? Is this considered to be a tactic deliberately employed to divide the opposition and plant a seed of mistrust among the people?

In an Eritrean wedding ceremony held last weekend in Portland, Oregon, anger over this finally spilled over. According to witnesses, agents of the Peoples Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), used the social occasion to announce the coming of President Issias to New York and invited supporters to travel so as to give their leader a warm welcome. Soon, the wedding turned into a political brawl and fist fight that culminated in chasing out the implants. Sadly, it involved the brandishing of a sword which is traditionally used to lead and accompany the groom and hisentourage. It was reported that the groom’s family, who happen to be from Akeleguzay, took offense as disrespectto use their wedding stage for a political announcement. Towards the end of the brawl, words such as “go and tell meskerem.net what we can do”were thrown out. Is that what the editor of meskerem.net want to see in publishing that table?

Like they say,if you mix the dough, also take charge of the baking.

aseye.assenna@googlemail.com

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