The patterns of Eritrean Conflict and its consequences

By Fesseha Nair

The nature of the Eritrean political conflict has never changed since the birth of Eritrean nationhood during the 40th both in its subject matter in the form of its expression.


Looking at the discussion going on the Eritrean cyberspace media and other platforms reminds us there is no differnce between the past policial cleavages and the present. Social media has a role in public opinion-building and awakening of the popular uprising if it is used with knowledge and skills but if it is only used for blame games and entertainement then it fails to achieve its short term and long term objectives and goals.


We don’t  see any dramatic changes. The intra-state conflict- that the one which is taking place between the groups within the state of Eritrea is the conflict that Eritreans failed to manage their conflicts scientifically and in accordance with our situation.


Their failure of intra-state conflict shows that even they are not capable to manage their inter-state conflict by democratic methods. Eritreans have lost all opportunities because of their incapacity of managing their internal conflicts during the 40th and now after they have got their independence and sovereignty.


Eritreans fought each other and still fight each other not because of ideology but because of identity based on religion, ethnicity, language and region. The old methods of conflict management were by crushing these componenets of identity in the name of national unity.


What we need today are not the old methods practiced during the liberation period – thus liquidating each other ( violent conflict management) but new approaches which recognize the importance of building sustainable internal political structures. Traditional approaches are reappearing in the Eritrean opposition forces as we witness them in the various factions of political and civic organizations. Such approaches never address the needs and interests of the Eritrean diversity. Still there is a trend of dominance and arrogance of some political elites who fuel the internal conflict imposing unsutiable solutions in ways of ad hoc and inapporiate ways.


Many new groups are appearing at this time opposing the dicatorship in Eritrea by using the traditional methods of exploitation and manipulation which is the highest potential for conflict. Those who pursue such methods are the new –comers in the oppsotion camp.The issues of internal conflict are not the same as the issues of conflict during the liberation period. The issues of conflict of today are how to remove the system of dictatorship and build a state structure that recognizes the fundamental rights of all citizens and the right to participate in issues that concerns their daiy lives.


The Eritrean internal conflict is a combination of  identity-based factors.( power sharing in all political, economic, social and cultural)  and injust policies manipulated by opportunistic leaders- ethnic entrepreneuers) as we have seen it directly after the liberation of Eritrea by EPLF. The same trend is appearing in the opposition camp today.


Looking the Eritrean internal conflict through analytic lenses one can see three angles where the conflict rotates.


Situation:  The Eritrean conflict generates when power resides in the hands of one section of a population and excluding others- so called the politics of exclusion. If one group has an exclusive access to all the national resources over another group then this situation is a potential to conflict. Looking at the Eritrean situation is the winner takes all. What the EPLF/ PFDJ policy is the policy of exclusion and marginalization others and this trend is now also being seen in the Eritrean opposition.


Behaviour.  The action of the people. One group acts in an aggressive manner towards another group: hate politics, politics of discrimination and marginalization . Then the other group reacts such can spiral into wars. Still this behaviour is existing between Eritrean. The behaviour of exclusion and agreession still exists. We see the indicators in our daily communications in social media and in the ground.


Attitudes.  Attitudes and perceptions of groups and their images and attitudes towards each other is the belief  that one group is less valuable than our group or you believe that they are plotting our destruction. Their own beliefs and perceptions offend our moral code. They generallyare danger to our existence


These three elements can each be a the root of conflict. Once it starts with one of these three elements it spreads to all elements. They are interconnected and reinforce each other.


The Eritrean cleavages and linkages of groups are good examples for presenting the conflict triangle.


The aim of this article is to bring the better academic analysis and to present the Eritrean internal conflict in a usuful and manner. How can we achieve national unity without the knowledge of conflict management is the main issue for discussion not simply speaking and reciting, ” National unity for the Eritrean people’s Salvation” is not the real solution.


Reversing these three elements of conflict needs leadership that can build bridges. This leadership can be a tool. Its purpose is tracing the Eritrean internal conflict origins and managing the issues of conflict leading us towards national unity in diversity. Celebrating our diversity and tolerance are the building bridges for peaceful co-existence. Let us work towards this honourable and humanistic roots of the Eritrean people.


The Eritrean political arena is characterized by its failure in managing bot hits internal and external conflicts.( intra-state and inter-state) Our political leaders have been following the methods  of escalating, polarizing , segregating and destructive  approaches leading us towards disintegration.


What we need is to bring dynamic changes in our managing conflicts through building bridges- transforming the the triangle of conflict towards making Eritrea the land of inclusion and not of exclusion, changing the behviour of or acion of the people to each other  with mutual respect and reasonable benign. Changing the attitude of negation to attitude of acceptance and mutual respect.


The writer of this article believes that we must all need to work for a platform of discussion and negotiation to work together. Improve our communication. Our relation must be based on trust and respect. The issues of conflict must be substantive and objective. Building bridges is the prefered method for managing the conflict through cooperation to reach national unity not through the attitide of negation and exclusion.


Building bridges is assumed to be the best method of communication for cooperation leading us towards win-win solution.


Those who follow  the approaches of polarization, segregation and exclusion are the losers.


What have we learned from the Eritrean traditional method of conflict management?


  • Misunderstanding of the complex divided situation in Eritrean internal conflict/ politics of exclusion.
  • Historical mistrust inbuilt through Eritrean nationhood.
  • The attitude of agreesion and violent conflict management.


We still remain divided. We still follow the politics of exclusion. Our behaviour is a behviour of negation and our attitudes are aggressive. We are still in the the conflict triangle. In order to get ot of this triangle of conflict we need the wisdom and humanistic thinking respecting each other first as human -beings before our diverse identities.


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Posted by on Aug 15 2016 Filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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