Flashback – From the Archives
I wrote the article below bearing the title “Ethiopian Officials Are Escalating Their threats Against Eritrea” in March 2002 when I was based in the Netherlands. The article had clearly identified the closed mind-set of the Tigrian rulers of Ethiopia and their vindictive mood and attitude towards independent Eritrea. Accordingly, back then I made a call on every Eritrean patriot – lowlander or highlander, Moslem or Christian, opposed to the anti-democratic Eritrean regime or a committed regime supporter – living inside or outside Eritrea – to be ready to defend our mother country, Eritrea, irrespective of the costs involved, if and when Eritrea is under attack.
At a time when the puppet Woyane Prime Minister, Haile Mariam Dessalegn, has openly threatened to invade Eritrea, I have decided to post the article in the interest of the readers of this website. Enjoy reading it.
Once Again, Ethiopian Officials Are Escalating Their Threats against Independent Eritrea
Drs. Tsegezab Gebregergis, Amsterdam, March 4, 2002
I am dismayed to observe on the eve of the Ethiopian-Eritrean Boundary Commission’s deliberation of its final verdict that the Tigrian rulers of Ethiopia are threatening directly and indirectly to disown the Hague decision if the verdict does not favour Ethiopia. Indeed, the Ethiopian Prime Minister and a Senior Tigrian local official have threatened to declare the Hague verdict null and void if the contested areas are awarded to Eritrea. The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, recently made one such indirect but threatening statement. He stated: “It would be difficult to imagine such a demarcation handing the strategic border town of Zalambessa to Eritrea, which Eritrea captured from Ethiopia and destroyed in the early months of the conflict. I cannot envisage the possibility of any legal, transparent process coming with a result that would award Zalambessa to a government that destroyed it completely”. 1 For his part, Solomon Enquai, the Speaker of the Tigray Regional Assembly, i.e. the region adjacent to independent Eritrea, made a direct threat should the disputed border areas be given to Eritrea. Notably, this threatening statement was made in clear violation of the Algiers agreement signed between the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments in December 2000, and at a time when the 15-member delegation of the United Nations Security Council was visiting the Tigray region. Here is what he said: “These [the contested areas] are Ethiopian territories and will remain Ethiopian. There is no force that can change this reality. We are confident [however] if the law of evidence is working we shall get all that is ours”. It is interesting to note that the words “all that is ours” are meant to suggest that Eritrea is claiming areas that are not hers to claim in the first place. 2
Considering therefore the general vindictive mood and attitude of the Tigrian political elite towards independent Eritrea, and in view of the menacing statements coming from Ethiopia, it becomes rather clear that the Tigrian rulers of Ethiopia are not preparing themselves to accept and sign the verdict of the Boundary Commission. On the contrary, all the signals coming from the mouths of Ethiopia’s Tigrian rulers seem to suggest that, sooner or later, Ethiopia will enter into a military showdown with independent Eritrea.
It is therefore imperative that Eritrea and its people are ready to answer decisively for any possible Ethiopian military attacks that could be sparked off under various pretexts in the post-delimitation or demarcation periods. This means in practical terms that every Eritrean patriot – lowlander or highlander, Moslem or Christian, opposed to the anti-democratic Eritrean regime or a committed regime supporter – living inside or outside Eritrea must be ready to defend their country, irrespective of the costs involved, if and when Eritrea is under attack. Let thus the historical enemies of Eritrea and its people know that Eritreans do have political differences like all existing political societies and are busy at this juncture searching for an alternative democratic system, one that would eliminate the basis of internal schism and keep multilingual, multi-religious and multicultural Eritrea and its various people glued together. This does not mean, however, that because we are soul-searching in our struggle we are divided when it comes to the defence of the independence of our nation and its people. The enemy should not miscalculate again, for we will defend the honour of Eritrea and the dignity of its people. Eritreans shall never claim what is not theirs, but they shall never also surrender what is rightly theirs.
It is therefore now up to the Tigrian rulers of Ethiopia. If they want to have peace and good neighborly relations with independent Eritrea, they could have it. Nevertheless, if they opt for war, they will be choosing their own ultimate demise, not only in Eritrea but also in the rest of Ethiopia.
It should be understood clearly that I am not advocating, have never advocated and will never advocate for war between the oppressed peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia. On the contrary, I have indefatigably struggled for peace and for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Nevertheless, I would never be a spectator, remain neutral or cooperate directly or indirectly with the enemies of Eritrea and its brave people, as some power-hungry individuals and groups are doing today, when my country is under the threat of war or at war against its historical enemies. I therefore believe that there would be no justification whatsoever for an Eritrean to stay aloof if his/her country was involved in armed conflict with Ethiopia. Those who fail to perform their patriotic and national duties will be marginalized for good in Eritrean society. I therefore say that we should all be for Eritrea, just as we wish Eritrea to be for all of us.
- See a report at Asmarino.com filed by William Maclean, the Reuters correspondent in Addis Ababa, on February 19, 2002, under the title “Ethiopia says war hurt Eritrea leader’s standing”).