By Tibebe Samuel Ferenji
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Martin Luther King Jr.
It would have been easier to say “we told you so” and walk away; but putting our citizens in harms way is never an easy matter. Few years ago, some concerned Ethiopians warned that dealing with the Eritrean despot Issaias Afeworki was a dangerous and risky game. I was one of those who attempted to shade some lights by writing several articles on this particular subject to warn those misguided fellow Ethiopians that Issaias is someone who cannot be trusted. Those who were stubborn enough to ignore our warnings are now learning the hard way that Issaias would not allow anything in Eritrea that he cannot control.
Reading various articles regarding the arrest of Colonel Tadesse Muluneh and others who joined the Ethiopian opposition groups based in Asmara, I am amazingly surprised by the reaction of those who expected a different result from Issaias. It is unfortunate that individuals who lack vision and strategic planning are putting, patriotic Ethiopians who could contribute a great deal to the struggle, in harms way by trusting a despot whose sole interest is to put a puppet regime in Menlike Palace. It has been said that Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result.
Other than to those die hard Issaias supporters, it is clear to the world that Issaias wants to build the shattering Eritrean economy at the expense of Ethiopia. In order to achieve this evil objective, Issaias has to create a government that he could control from Asmara. Either because of utter ignorance or vengeance some in the opposition quarter are dreaming to bring a democratic change to Ethiopia through Issaias Afeworki. Unfortunately, mixing the principle of Democracy and Issaias is like attempting to mix oil and water.
Issaias ruled Eritrea with an iron fist and with brut for the last 20 years. If it was up to Issaias, the Eritrean people would not breathe without his permission. If Issaias is not allowing a democratic governance in his own nation, it is clear that he will not allow any sort of democratic governance in the neighboring country.
It is unfortunate that those who relied in getting support from Issaias did not learn anything from EPRP’s relationship with Issaias. Issaias kept EPRA (EPRP’s army) from engaging in armed struggle after EPRA reorganized itself after a heavy blow by the Dergu military force in late 1970s. Issaias kept EPRA fighters under control of the EPLF army until EPRA became ineffective. The recent OLF history indicates the same pattern of behavior in part of Issaias. Several reports have indicated that Issaias have kept OLF leaders in Asmara under house arrest.
Recently, we have learned that an opposition organization based in Eritrea has an Eritrean Colonel “adviser“. It is not clear to me why “Ethiopian Freedom Fighters” need an Eritrean advisor unless the Eritrean regime has an enormous interest in controlling and directing the action of the fighters. Why in the world Ethiopians invite the regime in Asmara to interfere in Ethiopian affairs? Time and again, we have seen Mr. Issaias acting against the interest of Ethiopia. The notion that Issaias would be an ideal liberator for Ethiopians is not just a cruel joke but also an ignorance of history.
Does anyone expect a Pigeon from a snake egg? Expecting Issaias to contribute anything for the true freedom of Ethiopians is not any different from expecting a pigeon from a snake egg. Issaias is someone who should be charged for crime against humanity in a court of international law; he is not someone who can be considered a trustworthy partner. Some in the opposition quarter who think politics is a child play because of their utter stupidity or ignorance do not seem to learn their lessons yet. It is bad enough that they put several Ethiopians in harms way and at the mercy of this brutal murderer, yet they are telling us that Mr. Issaias is not responsible for the detention of Colonel Tadesse Muluneh and others. They tell us it is because of Mr. Issaias’ subordinates that Ethiopian opposition organizations based in Eritrea have become impotent. They tell us that some rogue colonel is responsible for their dysfunctional organization failure to move forward even an inch for the last ten years. Until the recent terrible news coming from Eritrea, these same individuals were painting a rosy picture about the Eritrean accommodation of Ethiopian opposition organizations. Now we know that they have been lying to us. According to their own account, they were aware of the abduction, arrest, and mistreatment of Ethiopian opposition leaders based in Eritrea by the regime in Eritrea.
Instead of coming forward with the problem they have faced, and contribute in strengthening the true struggle for lasting peace and democratic governance, they mercilessly assaulted those who tried to warn them that the path they were following was dangerous. They wasted an enormous human and financial resources and contributed a great deal for the division among the opposition groups. What is sad is that they have not learned their lesson even today. Once again, I am here to tell them that they cannot bring a Holy alliance within the opposition by making a deal with the devil himself. Issaias has only one objective: to control Ethiopia’s resources by any means necessary-period!
For those who refused to listen in the past and were stabbed on their back, I want to tell them once again that it is not too late to change course. I want to tell them that they are dealing with dangerous despot who has an enormous disregard to human lives and to the rule of law. I want to tell them that Issaias will not allow any thing to function in Eritrea unless he has full control. If it is possible, please, save the rest of the “freedom fighters” by moving them out of Eritrea. Some who are working with Issaias are above their league. This is not child’s play, this is real. Several lives are at stake. You are incapable of thinking strategically; you are using your heart instead of your head. Leave the political leadership to those who are capable leaders. Stop labeling those who can provide effective leadership, and stop dehumanizing them just because your finger is capable of punching key boards. By your smear campaign, you are narrowing the political space and contributing to continuation of the predicament that we are in.
Let this be a lesson to you. Instead of taking dismissive and defensive positions, entertain ideas freely, listen, examine, study, and most of all know your real enemy. Don’t let your hate for the TPLF cloud your judgment. Ethiopians only have to depend on ourselves to bring the desired change to our country. Although the none violent opposition seems slipping to its usual habit of complacency, we need to poke them and wake them up. There is no time for complacency. Where are you MEDREK, and others? Politics is not only during the election period. The TPLF is working 24/7, 365 days a year. What about the rest of us? We all should demand the release of Colonel Tadesse Muluneh and other Ethiopians from EPLF’s deplorable prison camp. Please take your time, consult with one another and strengthen the none violent struggle and the opposition functioning in the country.
I like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year. I hope 2010 was a productive and joyful year for all of you.