By Dawit Gebremichael Habte
I am sure all of us have been dismayed (but not surprised) by the removal of the “Report of the Secretary General on Eritrea (S/2012/412)” from the UN web site. On my part, a number of ideas and themes to write about came to my mind. I thought of “Susan Rice’s War” (in contrast to Charlie Wilson’s War), but then it couldn’t add up. Susan Rice was Madeleine Albright’s errand girl in 1998 when she tried to bite something she couldn’t chew (US-Rwanda Peace Plan). At the time, Anthony Lake and Gayle Smith from the US National Security Council were sent to rescue Susan Rice from the hole she had dug and put herself into. The torch of “mother Ethiopia or death” was then handed over to Jendayi Frazer, Bill Clinton’s U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. And now, the torch is handed back to Susan Rice.
Nothing seems to change or amend with the changes of personalities in the US government. It seems to me the “puppet masters” have been pulling the strings from the various US government institutions for so long. With that in mind, I decided to revisit some of the old articles I had written on Dehai. Here is an article that I think is as pertinent then as now.
War or No War?
The Marxist Leninist League of Tigray (MLLT) led Ethiopian government seems to be beating the drums of war once again. Irrespective of the esoteric bravado, the clique on the helms of power in Ethiopia is less likely to declare another war against Eritrea. Granted, this may be a wish-full thinking of every Eritrean. Considering the fact that we all have a vested interest in having the Eritrean-Ethiopian border issue resolved peacefully and legally, none of us wants another war. As clearly observed from the announcement of the 19,000 Eritrean martyrs of the first three successive invasions by the League of Tigray, every Eritrean has felt the loss of a brother, sister, cousin, uncle, aunt, and/or friend. We all have grieved of each other’s loses, yet we applauded the selfless sacrifices of our heroes and heroines and their memories is eternal. South of the border however, it is another story. The deaths of the 135,000 plus Ethiopian youngsters were ignored with the usual Tigrayan phrase “zQereyema Qeriy’u” (the dead is dead) as they did with the tens of thousands they lost to unseat Mengistu. The Ethiopian youth that were made the sacrificial lambs of the Tigrean war to wrest power from the Amharas did not get the deserved respect of a fallen hero. They were merely listed as “dead persons” in the leaflets of the Marxist Leninist League of Tigray and never got the honor to be listed as those who died for Ethiopia.
For the Marxist Leninist League of Tigray, Ethiopian soldiers (read Oromo and other non Abyssinian people) are disposable chess pawns. Pity the mothers of these “fenji-regach” (mine deflators). As if the thousands who died in the thirty year war to subjugate Eritrea were not enough, thousands more were sacrificed in the war of 1998-2000. Poor non Abyssinian soldiers are still dying in Somalia; the goal to keep the Tigrayans in power.
Currently, the clique in Addis is hoping to fight its “LIC” (Low Intensity Conflict) against Eritrea. In his book titled “Overworld: The Life and Times of a Reluctant Spy”, Larry J. Kolb, describes Low Intensity Conflict as a “total war, without the visibility of total war.” He adds “This is the way a superpower fights a guerrilla war. You don’t have to actually win this kind of war. Stalemating the opposition can be enough. LIC knits psychological, economic, diplomatic, military, and political actions into a single system.” It’s far too ostentatious of the Marxist Leninist League of Tigray politburo to consider applying the principles of LIC on Eritrea. The clique seems to be mistaking a lizard for a snake. LIC can only be applied by a superpower that has proven its superiority on all aspects of a given conflict. The delusion of grandeur aside, it has no power to initiate let alone sustain multiple wars (a war inside Ethiopia against those that it stole the elections from, a war against the 40 year old of the Oromos for self determination, the war in the Ogaden, the war in Somalia and another war against Eritrea). The clique might overestimate its powers or underestimated Eritrea’s resolve to hit back and hit back hard. Either way if the Marxist Leninist League of Tigray declares another war on Eritrea, let it be known that this will be the end of the clique.
However, the superpower ally of the clique can and it looks that is exactly what it is going on. Have your pick from Larry J. Kolb’s book of the various aspects of LIC the US government has tried to exert on Eritrea:
- Psychologically: The United States is hoping to pressure Eritrea through constant threats of possible invasions by Ethiopia through its experts who are declaring “war is going to start in two weeks.” This is a well orchestrated psychological warfare aimed at breaking the Eritrean determination.
- Economically: It is a widely known fact that Eritrean economy is heavily dependent on remittance from expatriates. This remittance is of two-fold: money sent by Eritreans to their relatives and the voluntary two percent tax paid by Eritrean Diasporas in order to gain equal rights to land, property, and other citizenry rights and privileges. The US government has tried to put an end to the flow of remittance from Eritreans and Americans of Eritrean origin by invading the Eritrean Community and Civic Center (ECCC) located in Washington DC and by officially closing the Eritrean consulate located in the West-Coast. Additionally, the US has tried to punish Eritrea through sanctions and boycotts and covert and overt banking measures. There is no question that the US government is behind the various restrictions and budgetary “requirements” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are applying to Eritrea’s loan requests. If the restrictions and “requirements” the IMF and the Bank are demanding of Eritrea were to be imposed on a country dependent on the US or any other foreign country, the country is finished. It is only Eritrea’s principle of self-reliance that has saved the day.
- Diplomatically: The US has intensified the pressure by restricting the movement of our ambassador, paying defectors, and promoting sham labels like “sponsor of terrorism” or “country of particular concern.” The hope here is to isolate Eritrea. Mind you Eritrea is listed as a country of particular concern when it comes to religious freedom when US allies who have no religious freedom at all are left unmolested. Eritrea is being threatened with a label of “sponsor of terrorism” when Ethiopia is hosting to one of Bin Laden’s groups in its capital and most of Ethiopian financial assets as one US newspaper tried to point out has a shadowy link with the Bin laden family business.
- Militarily: The key here is using proxies. Instead of sending its own troops in, the US is generously funding the mercenaries, the Marxist Leninist League of Tigray, to do the work for it. Despite the efforts of the US Congress to limit the support being provided to these mercenaries, the US government’s teams of military advisors are there helping the Ethiopians.
- Politically: The US government has been trying to insert covert operatives to ruin Eritrea’s peace, spread disinformation, engineer public opinions, and ghost-write articles on fictitious opposition websites. It is also not that difficult to see the US government’s generous support to some fundamentalist Christian organizations that are willing to go the extra mile to serve as political operatives.
During his Yale University Commencement Address in June 11, 1962, President John F. Kennedy said “if there is any current trend towards meeting present problems with old Clichés, this is the moment to stop it before it lands us all in a bog of sterile acrimony.” And for Eritreans, War or No War, if there is a time that requires steadfastness and utmost sacrifice since we saw the light of independence, this is the moment. We know for a fact our compatriots back home are paying the ultimate price including the avoidable ones. We know our parents, siblings, and friends are hanging on a double edged sword. But the alternative of letting go of the sword is not an option. If they can face the day’s challenge with all of the hardships they are going through, we surely can. This is the way I see the purpose of the ongoing “hzbawi mekete” (popular challenge) of Eritreans around the world.