The Prospects and Puzzling of Peace Between Eritrea and Ethiopia
The Prospects and Puzzling of Peace Between Eritrea and Ethiopia ________________________ The instantly blowing wind of having negotiation for peace and the growing tendency of utilization of Port of Asseb become a hot concern in current political
The Prospects and Puzzling of Peace Between Eritrea and Ethiopia
The instantly blowing wind of having negotiation for peace and the growing tendency of utilization of Port of Asseb become a hot concern in current political affairs of Eritrea and Ethiopia, and have raised different controversial comments which need a critical analysis that guides the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia in their struggle for justice and democracy.
The memory of the bloody war of 1998 has been a moral, human, economic, social and political disparaging not for the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia, but for the whole destabilized region of the Horn of Africa. Primarily, the war was being conceived and described as “border conflict” over the contested area of Badme which is a small village found across the border of Eritrea and Ethiopia. The horrible war took more than 70,000 lives; consumed billions of dollars; devastated various property, instilled resentment; stolen human freedom and dignity, and frustrated the futurity of the peoples of East Africa.
The consequence of the war is much bitterer in Eritrea than Ethiopia as the country has small economy, meager resource, low demography, weak diplomacy, despotic government, failed justice system, massive brain drain and chronic academic deterioration. The Government of Eritrea failed to address the growing problems rather it turns into hostile and violent actions intimidating, harassing, torturing, jailing and murdering its citizens which disbursed thousands of innocent, young and productive Eritreans to refugee camps, and pushed to wonder in different part of world in search of safety, justice, freedom, job and educational opportunities to which they get refrained in their mother land.
Relatively speaking, Ethiopia is able to endure and manage the consequence of the post war situation as the country possesses strong institutions, vast economy, potential resources, big demography, flowing foreign aid, improved infrastructure, expanding educational horizon, and growing agricultural activities. Nevertheless, the Government of Ethiopia systematically engages to paralyze the progress of democracy silencing freedom of expression, intimidating, harassing and jailing critical journalists, weakening the political pluralism subjugating influential political leaders, and displacing, torturing and murdering people in Ogaden, Afar, Gambella, Amhara and other region. The State Department has reported instantly, and the following sources can be explored to comprehend the depth of the violations, and to examine the challenges of the mixed legacy of the former PM Meles Zenawi that saw in Ethiopia:
The prospects of peace become unequivocal in many respects, because of new political developments and unsuccessful past political strategies that devastated both countries and destabilized the Horn of Africa:
- The peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia have not benefited from boarder conflict and the current unresolved tension which turns both governments more militant, aggressive and violent. Regardless the ego of political elites, the ordinary people are more enthusiastic for sustainable peace, true justice and practical democracy breaking the painful political chains;
- The growing foreign investment in Ethiopia demands more stability in the region with intention of eliminating piracy, restoring Somalia as state, mediating Sudan and South Sudan, and the tendency to neutralize the tension between Eritrea and Ethiopia to utilize the Port of Asseb which has growing geo-political and geo-economic importance not only for Ethiopians but more for foreign investments and interests. The Port of Asseb is required to take part in the economic boom in the region to avoid unnecessary port congestion, cost and insecurity;
- The question of utilization of Nile water has raised a growing tension amongst countries in North and East Africa. Ethiopia works to build Renaissance Dam for poverty reduction; and Egypt strives to guarantee the life of the future generation. In fact the fast population growth in Egypt, the climatic change, the future tendency of Ethiopia to utilize the water for agricultural expansion, and the future profit from hydro electric power used for military hegemony in the region always worry Egyptian officials to stop any project by any means that put the life of Egyptians at risk. Egypt has already started strengthening its relation with Sudan and Eritrea for any possible future political or military strategies. Eritrea is not reluctant to exploit any opportunity to turn to its own advantage as previously, the government has supported Al Shebab for the purpose of proxy war in Somalia. Henceforth, the best mechanism that Ethiopia can use to end the unresolved boarder issue with Eritrea, and quickly normalize its relationship which can easily impact the politics in Sudan, and frustrate the ambition of Egypt to impact the Nile source. Earlier PM Hailemariam Desalgn and later Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Tedros Adhanom have insisted to normalize the situation with Eritrea involved in direct negotiation without any condition. Courageous action is expected to be taken.
- Eritrea becomes a fertile ground for Ethiopian oppositions and rebels which destabilize the central government. Demhit has emerged as strong rebel filled with committed combatants aimed to remove the central government with intention to liberate Ethiopia. The growing rebel groups in Eritrea mounts the cost of military rather than utilizing the capital in development. Improving relation with Eritrea helps can control the movement of rebels and reduce the cost of military expenditure that could help Ethiopia to boost its economy.
- Eritrea owns fragile political and economic conditions that the nation fails to maintain the country effectively. The country could not tolerate and manage the huge military expenditure though the army members are kept as “national service” which is endless. Thus, the Government of Eritrea is open to make relation with any force that supports either in equipment or financial resource to solve the economic bankruptcy, and strengthen its power grip. They have good relationship with Qatar, Iran, China, Sudan, Egypt and other Arab countries to survive as a militant nation. Nonetheless, the growing weakness of its army, economic deterioration, flooding of youth, diplomatic isolation, military sanction, growing political dissidents, lose of political and legal legitimacy of PFDJ could possibly push the government to normalize the situation with Ethiopia to avoid committing self-suicide.
- There is a least possibility or scenario that Eritrea to be a strategic ally of Al Shebab or the Arab world and Egyptians in particular, because it has least economic and cultural links though Eritrean Muslims appreciates and aspires to associate themselves with the Arab world as the roots of Islamic faith and tradition originate from Arab world. The Government of Eritrea has technical relationship with Arab countries to get necessary support to face Ethiopia mainly financed by West. However, the possibility of Eritrea to be a strategic ally of Ethiopia is very high though the scars of war are still fresh and painful. The components which help to make a strong relationship with Ethiopia are cultural similarities, shared history, ethnic relationship, common geo-political interests, and the tendency of regional economic integration in the near future with growth of Pan-Africanism philosophy. These factors can serve as catalyst to narrow the gab between Eritrea and Ethiopian governments, if not between the common peoples who are wry to the unwise and inconsiderate political approach of both leaders.
- In spite of the fact that the existing government in Eritrea does not promote ethnic, regional and religious politics, the opposition parties fails to address the national problems at national level reducing themselves to sub-nationals that increasingly complicates the political trend for true democratization; and possibly cause political tectonic in the near future. These ethnocentric political elites consider Tigrinya and Christian ethnic group as repressive and dominant which stagnate the struggle for democratic change. Besides, few, but engages in intensive cyber warfare, to promote union of Eritrea with Ethiopia disseminating unbalanced, undocumented, ill researched and unverified information targeting the history of armed struggle for independence, the economic viability of the country, and the diversity of the Eritrean people to destroy the values of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Eritrea. These cyber combatants instantly uses a systematic rhetoric to dismantle the national pillars refuting Eritrean identity as artificial and bolding Ethiopia as democratic, united, secured and safe heaven and undermining the pain of thousands of Ethiopians, and exploiting the miserable life in Eritrea because of the wrong system. There is high expectation that the Government of Eritrea to eradicate those elements constructing a new relationship with Ethiopia and in return Eritrea will quite supporting Ethiopian opposition in its soil.
- The growing input of intellectuals to promote peace and the revolution of social media to neutralize the relationship between Eritreans and Ethiopians show a promising result to build tolerance between Eritreans and Ethiopians for peaceful co-existence. The sagacity of people to people relationship in diaspora starts to break the iron curtain between the two governments, and fruitless political maneuver and sick political propaganda. Therefore, the desire for peace is more flown from down to top as it could be painful and risky that the despotic system to exist in environment where there is a domain for peace and justice. Obviously, it may take time to synchronize the efforts, but never stop the mass based revolutionary change.
All the above mentioned factors can be taken as prospects that bring peace and swiftly normalize the relationship between Eritrea and Ethiopia for well being of the Horn of Africa. Nonetheless, both countries are subject to puzzling of peace initiatives as a number of politicians do not need the flourishing peace and justice which can risk their position, power and existence. Definitely, peace cannot be a jungle of perpetrators and criminals rather it is the home of oppressed citizens who erects their hands for justice, humanity and dignity. Who will be responsible for harassed, tortured, displaced, jailed and murdered innocent citizens in both Eritrea and Ethiopia? Do the leader in both countries need peace? Is it safe to do so?
The current hot cake in social media is about the Nile water and the prospects of peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Ethiopian government officials this week reaffirmed their commitment to have peace discussions with longtime foe and neighbor Eritrea with the aim of ending decades of tension along the border that has seen war and strife. According to the ministry of foreign Affairs, Dr. Tedros Adhanom expressed solidarity with the people of Eritrea whom he said are continuously suffering due the regime’s “brutality and obstinacy to peace” (http://erigazette.org/?p=5536).
The crucial puzzling about peace is coming from the side Ethiopia as it primarily refuses to implement the legal Algiers Agreement which is final and binding. True initiative for peace is meant to be abided by the law without any condition which easily normalizes the relationship between the peoples of two states. In this specific legal aspect, the Government of Eritrean cannot be accused though Ethiopia has come with the idea of “negotiation” before implementation which is not totally part of the agreement.
The agreement pursues clear steps: Ceasefire – Demarcation – Normalization. Ethiopia insists accepting the agreement in principle not in practice claiming negotiation before demarcation through which the Government of Eritrea uses an excuse to hang the national constitutions, freezing political pluralism and kidnapped independent thinking, suppressing rights for having assemblage, practiced endless national service, jailed influential political figures, silencing freedom of expression, involving in extra-judicial killings and tightly controlling the economy of the country. Seriously speaking, the strategies of “No Peace No War” systematically used to weaken the Government of Eritrea to concentrate more in militarization that dries the economy, frustrates the futurity of the citizens, detaches the government from the people, disrupts the social harmony, provokes identity crisis, bears sanction, causes extensive human rights violations, kills the rules of law, instigates diplomatic isolation and brings flooding of thousands of citizens to neighboring countries. Ethiopia official Berekhet Simon appreciates the strategy of his government to weaken the existing system in Eritrea, and to create a conducive ground for opposition in Eritrea by any means during his discussion with Smerrr Paltok.
In my conclusion, I need to reiterate that the media outlets stated that Dr. Tedros Adhanom expressed solidarity with the people of Eritrea whom he said are continuously suffering due the regime’s “brutality and obstinacy to peace”. It has a good political sound, but the initiative to promote peace should go beyond the political rhetoric used either for media or diplomacy consumptions. Ethiopia should accept the legal border demarcation in practice, not only in principle, and ought to take a bold action to normalize the relationship later in which the existing system in Eritrea will be drained without any form of excuses, pretexts or apologies either to escape from peace or public demand for establishing a constitutional and democratic state. No matter what divergent political perspectives exist, the border conflict must be settled legally; and the political tendency or any form of political choice should be mixed with that last decision; and all entities must be governed by rules of law, because at the end nobody is above the law. Otherwise, if we are not law abiding entity, don’t accuse others for transgression.
Written by Adhanom Tewelde
May 7, 2013