Den of Thieves

The latest drama in Asmara is a script compiled by the Maestro of power usurpation himself – PIA.

In a country where one can’t even take a single puff of [cigarette] smoke without half the country knowing it, a cesspool of corruption can only be tolerated because …

a fish begins to stink from its head.

PIA fired his guns at the Yemenis, the Sudanese, the Ethiopians and the Somalis.  Now he has brought his guns to the streets of Asmara and monasteries.  What next?  No one can be bigger than a nation! 

Act I of the Drama: The Ominous Sign

In 1996, PIA established a Special [Kangaroo] Court ostensibly to tackle widespread corruption in Eritrea.  Tegadelti Desu and Ermias Papayo were thrown into jail without due process of law on “charges” of corruption.  Open trials would have meant the entire Red Sea’s (09) dirty laundry would have been exposed to the public – and that wasn’t the purpose of the entire exercise of Act I of the Kangaroo Court Drama.

Act II of the Drama: A Hero Reacts

Gen. Oukbe Abraha, the hero of Eritrean independence and Egre Mekel, was made in charge of army logistics in 1998/1999.  General Oukbe was shocked at what he found in the army.  Top army officers were busy enriching themselves running shops in army garrisons, operating farms using public properties and national servicemen and engaging in other “personal” business ventures.

Gen. Oukbe wrote to PIA ten years ago expressing grave concerns that army officers running private businesses compromised the national security of the country.  Gen. Oukbe told PIA that army officers wouldn’t be too concerned about their primary jobs and would instead attempt to rescue their private properties during conflicts instead of defending their country.  Gen. Oukbe proposed to eliminate army businesses.        

PIA got angry with Gen. Oukbe for such proposal.  Instead of acknowledging the risks of allowing army officers running private businesses, PIA accused Gen. Oukbe of embezzlement and imprisoned him incommunicado.  After all, PIA needed the very corrupt system and corrupt army officers to maintain iron grip on power.

Ten years later, Gen. Oukbe’s concerns have blown into the public arena.  None of us are surprised over the latest developments.  We were just counting the days. 

Act III of the Drama:  Creating Suspended Animation

Soon after independence, PIA was telling us that Africa is sinking in corruption because civil servants weren’t adequately paid to meet cost of living.  Knowing this fully, what did PIA do?  Exactly!  He proceeds to strip Eritrean civil servants of their salaries.  Under the pretext of national service, PIA deploys national servicemen to run most of the civil service without any salaries for indefinite periods.  What are the servicemen to do?  They have to pay for their foods and their shelters out of NO salaries.  How are they to feed their families with NO salaries?  The answer can only be too obvious.

Then PIA told us during his 2001 speech celebrating the 10th year of anniversary that woyane wasn’t the primary threat to Eritrean national security but instead the concerns should be as follows,

  1. Corruption
  2. AIDS
  3. Woyane


For those who are tired of PIA’s drama, which has been so repetitive that it is too predictable, his speech was simply predicator what was surely to come.  PIA’s political theatrics is to forewarn the public of upcoming troubles, which he himself is responsible for igniting and fueling it, and then few weeks or months later to complain to the public of such problems – self-fulfilling prophesies designed to win over the gullible.  Suddenly, we are supposed to think of PIA as a prophet for foretelling such problems. 

Why create the den for thieves?

PIA knows that the Eritrean public and, even, his own Shaebia comrades are demanding the rule of law, implementation of the constitution and restoration of human rights.  PIA knows that he can’t become Emperor for life – Hail Caesar or Tsar of Eritrea – if the 1997 Eritrean Constitution is implemented.  The only means to maintain power is through the barrel of the gun, and that can only be achieved by creating a den for thieves.

If Special [Kangaroo] Courts were truly meant to prosecute corrupt individuals, Eritrean jails would have been full of the very same corrupt army officers and their lackeys who are currently terrorizing innocent Eritreans while they [army officers] are swimming in cesspool of corruption.  In reality, PIA’s Kangaroo Courts were established to persecute political opponents.

As Emperor Haileselassie and Col. Mengistu Hailemariam before him, PIA knows fully well that the best means to buy loyalty is by doling out cold cash [and land for the Diaspora].  Top army officers are pampered with new houses, millions of dollars, the free use of national servicemen and exemption from all criminal and civil laws to ensure that they don’t become threats.

But PIA isn’t taking any chances by just bribing army officers to buy their loyalties.  Instead, PIA maintains power balance by ensuring that there are enough rivalries among the army officers that they can’t collude against him to gain power.   

Shabait’s Oct. 24, 2007 editorial titled “Corruption: Treason against Our Martyrs” is a drama if it is aimed at Gen. Wuchu, but true if aimed at Eritrea’s Tsar himself.


  1. In my view, and this is purely a speculation, PIA has every intention of getting rid of the top army officers once he had forced the demarcation of the border.  These corrupt army officers would be sacrificial lambs to win over gullible Eritreans by imprisoning the top corrupt army officers.  There would be some public relief.  PIA would then promote second generation of army officers that are being currently well fed in Sawa and other army barricades.


  1. The current warfare between two groups of high army officials must have bubbled to the surface a bit sooner than PIA anticipated.  PIA must know that greed would eventually cause gangland style rivalries among these army officers.  This writer had always wondered what is itching PIA so hard that PIA feels time is working against him.  One reason may have just been revealed – greed could explode into gangland style rivalries threatening his power.


  1. The other implication of maintaining corrupt army officers is that one is left wondering as to their willingness to put national interests ahead of their personal interests [as Gen. Oukbe pointed out].  But we aren’t without hints as to what PIA intends to do with these corrupt army officers if another war breaks out with Ethiopia.  During the 1998-2000 conflict with Ethiopia, PIA left out most of the experienced war strategists and commanders such as Mr. Mesfin Hagos, Gen. Oukbe Abraha, Mr. Petros Solomon and many others who commanded Eritreans to independence.  PIA may do the same to these army generals, i.e. put them on the sidelines, which would further erode Eritrea’s fighting capabilities.  But again, PIA wouldn’t go into a war with army generals who may shoot at each other as much as at the enemy.  PIA is gambling with Eritrean lives and future, i.e. Eritrean sovereignty and territorial integrity, by sidelining, antagonizing and corrupting experienced army officers.  Gen. Wuchu is corrupt and danger to Eritrean security not because Gen. Wuchu is an evil person per se, but because PIA is evil enough to manipulate Gen. Wuchu and other army officers to do his dirty works.  PIA is “Clear and Present Danger” to Eritrean national security.


  1. Some speculate that PIA may imprison Gen. Wuchu.  Even if Gen. Wuchu is found with the smoking gun, nothing will happen to Gen. Wuchu.  The four zonal commanders were chosen precisely to maintain a balance of power.  Eliminating Gen. Wuchu may tilt the balance in favor of say, Gen. Teklai Habteselasse, which would then threaten PIA.  Can PIA replace Gen. Wuchu with another of the other 40 army generals and then still maintain that balance against the other three zonal commanders?  We will find out soon.  This writer bets that Gen. Wuchu will remain at his post, and now that PIA has thickened the dirty file against Gen. Wuchu, PIA feels even more secure against Gen. Wuchu, who will feel that he must do extra to please the boss.  After all, Gen. Wuchu didn’t directly threaten PIA who can live with the dangers of greedy officers.


  1. The key factor to watch is what Col. Simon Gebredingel will do.  He will seek his revenge against Gen. Wuchu.  But PIA still needs Gen. Wuchu to maintain the equilibrium among the army officers to cling to his power.  Col. Simon knows that Gen. Wuchu is untouchable, but Col. Simon will work overtime to undermine Gen. Wuch, further endangering the security of our precious country.


PURE SPECULATION [Conspiracy Theory]

It is never outside the realm of possibility that the latest drama was stage managed by PIA to send out the illusions of a [Eritrean] regime in turmoil to the Woyanes.  PIA has done everything in his power to goad the Woyanes to spark another round of conflict through proxy conflicts and training and arming insurgents in Ethiopia.  If everything fails to goad the Woyanes, why not fake instability in Eritrea to goad Woyanes to launch their war? 

Some will say, hey, but the dude ran away to Italy.  But think of it like handling a grenade.  No matter how controlled the test may be, you want to be as far way as possible just in case.  As for the Italian government, they turn away victims of dictators and embrace the dictators themselves.  This writer will write an article in the near future [during lull moments in political activities] to show how the West is more dangerous to budding democracies than dictatorships.    

What will dismiss this theory is the fact is now engaged in fear mongering that Woyane and the US are planning to invade Eritrea in November.  Clearly, the situation in Eritrea is so unstable that the regime must scream ‘wolf’ in order to divert attention away from intense internal rumors that may threaten this power.  We are in DEFCON 4, but not yet DEFCON 5. 

Anatomy of Corruption

According to the various reports on the opposition websites, the Eritrean mafia gangs are divided into two groups.  Each group has a web of frontmen who amass millions of Nakfas on behalf of their mafia bosses.  The most prominent frontmen are the two deceased during the latest open warfare, namely [civil general] Samson and Fiqre. 

Army officers give large contracts to these frontmen without any or bogus tenders.  The interesting question is how and what the army officers do with the kickbacks.  There are at least three possibilities,

  1. Receive kickbacks immediately and put it in the bank.  This possibility is less likely because in such a small country words would leak out exactly how much each army officers has in bank accounts.
  2. Receive kickbacks immediately and stash it under their mattresses.  But how much money can one stash under one’s mattress?
  3. Most likely, the kickbacks remain in the hands of the frontmen such as Samson and Fiqre as ‘trust funds’.  No legal contracts can be signed but “mafia agreements” are made that bypass the legal system and use their own mafia justice if anyone breaches verbal agreements.  The interesting question is, what happens to the trust monies if a party [a frontman or handler] to these verbal agreements is killed – as happened to Samson and Fiqre.  The corrupt generals must now threaten Samson’s and Fiqre’s inheritors to cough up the dirty monies.  Although the generals have more than enough money to last them more than a lifetime, they won’t forget their ‘trust monies’ that could be inherited by Samson’s and Fiqre’s families.  Corruption and power are too consuming to know where to stop.


Corruption presents “Clear and Present Danger” to Eritrean Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity and PIA is SOLEY responsible for fueling and encouraging corruption to maintain his power.

Ten years after the establishment of the Kangaroo Courts, Eritrea is swimming in cesspool of corruption because the most corrupt person is still in power.   What next to Kangaroo Courts?  The main actor may set up an Execution Court, where you simply state your name in court and they just execute you right there and then in the name of stamping out corruption?  Drama!

Those who cheer, apologize and sympathize with a regime that is swimming in a cesspool of corruption are also endangering Eritrean Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity!  Where is OEA?  As PIA said during his 2001 Independence Speech, these apologists of a corrupt system are more dangerous to Eritrea than Woyane. 


Dear activists,

Our ten thousand heroes in PFDJ Dungeons spend 24X7 of their time for our cause.  It is our duty to dedicate a couple of hours a week for our shared cause.  Our job isn’t to move a mountain, but to nimble away at its footings by simply being a nuisance to the regime.  Let the regime know we are here to stay because there is no alternative to freedom. 

This is our 2% for our country – 2% used to build the foundations of Eritrea.  Higdefawiyans pay their 2% to win favors to buy land while the ordinary Eritreans are denied same rights; their 2% is used to buy weapons to terrorize ordinary Eritreans; their 2% is being used to corrupt Eritreans. 

Hijiwin Ab Metkelna!

Release all political hostages immediately!

These brave men & women are the cornerstone of our future democratic Eritrea!

Their names shall flourish for thousand years!

Berhan Hagos

October 27, 2007

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