The Battle for the Future is asking us a rhetorical question, ‘how is it possible that a state itself a victim of Jihad can be a sponsor of terrorism?’

As our forefathers said, “kab kifu’e zigeberukha, kifu’e zelmedukha!”

How can a nation that was victimized through Woyane’s expulsion of over 80,000 precious Eritrean citizens proceed to expel equivalent numbers of its own citizens out of their own land?

The latest developments within the Eritrean political arena clearly indicate the dawn of a new era.  Active opposition against the regime is proliferating, with new civic societies and opposition websites popping up every week.  PIA is reduced to campaigning for his regime on his own, leaving Mr. Yemane Gebreab to entertain very young and passionate Eritrean in Diaspora, whom we always want to nurture.  Ali Abidu’s one line snipes on international news media is now replaced by PIA’s multiple snipes on the same international news media.

If we were to map the current struggle onto our struggle for independence, the opposition is today at the point of February 10, 1990 – Operation Fenkel, the liberation of Massawa and the beginning of the end of the dergue regime.  One can only be heartened by the planned rally on October 19, 2007 in London of all the opposition parties, regardless of their differences.  That is political maturity that will build a nation!  We can learn to agree to disagree – without losing respect for each other.  We all want the same thing!  All our hearts are in the same places!

PIA has placed our Eritrea in mortal danger.  Propaganda aside, it would be naïve to think that the political world is divided into ‘good vs. evil’.  Instead, it is more prudent to believe that ‘the way to hell is paved with good intentions’.  We all carry the seeds of destruction.  Fighting the likes of PIA begins by understanding ourselves.  The root of evil is found in absolute self-righteousness that borders on believing one’s own infinite wisdom.  Only tolerant societies have flourished the longest throughout history – until they begin to adopt or to import intolerant beliefs.  If there is one lesson in history, it is that people [leaders] never learn from history.  Hence man is condemned to repeat tragic history.  Indeed, as King Solomon is alleged to have said, “Nothing is new under the sun.”  We should be aware of Eritrean cocoon politics, which isn’t healthy.

While we were all euphoric over our independence on May 24, 1991, Eritrea faced the single biggest challenge to its future.  EPLF carried within it two diametrically opposed outlook for Eritrea’s future.  One side believed that only an EPLF style rigid military structure assured the success of future Eritrea.  It was to be the Chinese Communist Party transplanted in Eritrea.  The other side believed that a constitutional government must be established over a phase out period.  Based on the 3rd EPLF Congress and the Central Committee and National Assembly meetings of September 2000, the wishes of the vast majority of the ruling class was indeed to embark Eritrea on a path towards a constitutional democracy.  This ideological conflict is now consuming Eritrea

Today’s struggle is about the future of Eritrea.  Woyane, Somalia, Sudan and the US are simply sideshows.  These are simply smokes and mirrors designed to divert us from PFDJ’s tricks to impose its despotic beliefs.  Within the tragedies of PFDJ dungeons, the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, we see the increasing rise of mature political activism that will assure the success of Eritrea’s future.  Examining the [Diaspora] opposition political scene three years ago and today, one can’t help but notice the 180 degree turn in content and span of opposition.  The sharp increase in the number and size of opposition rallies, the quality of analysis, discussions and articles in opposition websites are first rates that give high hopes for our future.   As much as we criticize each other in the opposition, sometimes too passionately, we have to learn that this is the nature of the beast called freedom of expression, i.e. everyone is free to express his/her peaceful views.  National consensus is a long process that can only be achieved through debates and discussions, mixed in with a healthy dose of tolerance.  We are indeed on the dawn of new Eritrea.  Keep up your excellent efforts!  Given the opportunity, domestic opposition politics can only be more realistic than Diaspora opposition politics.

We all wish if the thousands of PFDJ hostages could see the degree of our commitment to their, and our, vision of future of Eritrea.  We hope that they can read us through telepathy so that they can gain strength to see the truly free Eritrea which is just around the corner.  Their sacrifices and braveries are the cornerstone of our future Eritrea.       

In contrast, the dwindling regime supporters are becoming demoralized – reduced to cheap shots that expose their true natures.  The regime and supporters ignored the opposition for years hoping that we would eventually disappear – that we would forget and abandon our brothers and sisters in PFDJ dungeons.  They forgot our own history; they forgot our traditions and cultures; they forgot who we are, and what we are; they forgot who we are as Eritreans.   Now we must teach our own that patriotic Eritreans refuse to bow down to tyranny and will only increase their activism.  Unable to stop the gathering storm, the regime and supporters have begun to acknowledge the opposition – but then to dismiss it in the same breath.  That is only natural progression towards the inevitable!

But again the time is ticking.  For PIA, the moment of truth is here.  If he truly loves Eritrea he has to stop his belligerent policies and return to a path of sanity.  Our mortal enemies are never found outside our borders.  Instead, they eat with us; sleep us; and marry us.  The very notion that Woyane is our mortal enemy is simply a dying regime’s propaganda.  Our enemies aren’t defined by what ‘Haddas Eritrea’ says, but what they do to us.  Aster and Senait aren’t imprisoned by Woyane.  The thousands of political hostages and prisoners’ of conscious, and the thousands of refugees aren’t where they are because of Woyane.  The brutalities are being inflicted by our own – and that can NEVER be acceptable.

AS A LAST WORD, we have a tendency to underestimate the degree and size of Eritrean opposition movement.  If we examine many other Diaspora and internal opposition movements around the world, Eritreans may actually rank as one of the highest political activists in the world.  Over twenty thousand Eritreans are languishing in PFDJ Dungeons for their beliefs.  Instead, they could have simply bowed to the Pharaoh and lived like the other kedemti, neither alive nor dead.  Let us not sell ourselves short!  The regime finds itself in a state of paranoia NOT because of a sole grudge against PMMZ, but his war is more against Eritrean political activism.  For those who conveniently capitulate to dictatorship under the false pretenses of demarcating the border, let them know that today’s Eritrean political battle is about its future – its directions.  It is about the legacy we leave behind for our children!  We can’t sell slavery to our children.  They were born free, and they shall remain as free men and women.  That is our solemn oath to our martyred brothers and sisters.

On the border,

Mr. Berhane M. Tekeste has written yet another excellent article on the border stalemate “Eritrea: A Perverted Understanding Of The Algiers Agreement”

Based on Mr. Berhane’s previous analysis, this writer, among many others, had fretted that PIA’s decision to deploy its troops inside the TSZ would only provide PMMZ with further excuse to stall the demarcation process.  Surely enough, in its excerpts and analysis titled, “Awate Exclusive: Transcripts of EEBC’s 09/06 – 09/07 Meeting” we learn that Ethiopia is precisely using the same excuses to stall the process as many within the opposition had earlier speculated.

The question is, what is PIA’s approach to push the demarcation process forward?  There can only be the following approaches to resolve the border issue,

  1. Legal and peaceful approach – this would mean Eritrea must abide by every section and clause of relevant treaty and decisions.  As Mr. Berhane pointed out, a party to such agreements can’t pick and choose which sections to abide by.  Eritrea can’t blame the other side while it is engaged in breaching the very same treaty.  Moreover, as Mr. Berhane pointed out, one can’t say that certain sections are more important than the others, but all the sections must be adhered to in their entirety.  If PIA wants to pursue only legal and peaceful approach, then he himself must adhere to every section and clause in the treaty.  Under this approach demarcation may take long time to finalize.  But what will be lost if demarcation takes another decade?  Nothing!  PIA has dismissed this option because this would mean an even stronger pressure to implement the Eritrean Constitution and releasing political hostages.


  1. Threaten war or regional destabilization to push demarcation process forward: this is most likely PIA’s current position.  This is a bluff aimed more at the US than Ethiopia.  PMMZ has his own internal political juggernaut to pursue and is less likely to agree to the border decision.  PIA hopes to play on US fears of total chaos within the Horn to put indirect pressure on PMMZ to proceed with demarcation.  Judging by the political developments in the last few weeks, this hasn’t worked – and may even land our precious country on a blacklist [something that OEA is unwittingly helping PIA to achieve].  But this is a muddled option.   This is neither pursuing legal option nor pursuing open war.  This is can only be slow death!  PIA has chosen to escalate his belligerent policies, going through marked phases in the past seven years.  Each phase was unmitigated disasters requiring even more belligerent policies to cover earlier mistakes. Muddled options must either revert back to legal and peaceful options or must escalate to war.  In reality, muddled options are never options at all – at best they are phases, moving from legal and peaceful option to war option.  


  1. Open War:  the question really is, can an open war lead to the finalization of the border demarcation?  It won’t!  Discussions of this option would take volumes to address.  However, it would be simplistic to argue that regime change in Ethiopia would result in demarcation.  It is more practical to assume that any instability within Ethiopia can only be a bad omen for Eritrea.



PIA’s sole political philosophy is “Might is Right”.  Indeed, West’s political philosophy is that no nation or leader is ever a permanent friend or permanent enemy.  Their political positions are governed by the facts on the ground.

However, at the same time, the West is very conscious of ‘precedence’.  They are wondering what kind of precedence be created if PIA is perceived as the “winner” in this border conflict after PIA’s acceptance of the Border Commission’s ruling that Eritrea is responsible for starting the border conflict?  What ‘precedence’ is being created by PIA’s belligerent policies [including clear violations of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities] if the West ignores PIA’s violations and pressure the other party to the Algiers Agreement to proceed with the demarcation process.  These are not just legal questions, but carry severe international political implications.  Of course, those who judge us aren’t holding themselves to the same standards.  But unfortunately, we need them and thus must play by their rules without abandoning our core beliefs.

PIA and company can afford to be belligerent because they get their three square meals a day and don’t have to line up for 5 hours for two loafs of bread.  They can be belligerent because their children are well provided for, and won’t have to face severe consequences when their belligerent policies surely go awry.  Leadership, especially for a poor and small country, is all about aligning people’s interests with the regime to make use of every available domestic resource.   Slavery and threats of cruel punishments can never align national interests.  These are very short term and illusionary solutions that are self-defeating.

On Sudan,

One of the regime’s [i.e. Eritrea’s] illusionary selling points is the ‘peace’ it brought to Sudan.  Unfortunately, Sudan is a ticking time bomb.  Under the Machakos Treaty, which is part of the comprehensive peace agreement with the Southern Sudan, the South can conduct its referendum on self-determination in six and half years [in 2012].  Based on human history, it is almost inconceivable for the Khartoum regime to simply cede away the South.  Moreover, if the South gains its independence, the rest of Sudan, beginning with the Darfur region will demand nothing less. 

One would be naïve to believe that the Sudanese political challenges are simply an internal problem.  The West, and esp. the US, perceives the Khartoum regime as unreliable partner in its [West’s] quest for long-term economic certainty.  Separating the rich oil fields of [Animists and Christian] Southern Sudan from the Khartoum regime can only be the West’s ultimate goal.  This writer strongly recommends that its readers read ‘The Prize’ by Daniel Yergen on the history of oil.  The 20th Century West has been, with a kind of this writer’s ambivalent admiration, pursuing to shape its future into two or three generations ahead.  Some of their acts have been unmitigated disasters while many others have borne them their plentiful fruits.

Eritrea must learn to live with the political uncertainties that surround it.  Tiny Djibouti has quietly survived in a brutal neighborhood.  Eritrea must realistically assess the prospects in its neighborhood and avoid from getting dragged into their political vortex, which PIA has sunk into.  Eritrea must formulate its long term strategies knowing that this region may remain unstable for years to come.

Eritrea’s contributions towards this region aren’t by sacrificing its precious sons and daughters in endless and pointless conflicts in the region, but by creating its own vibrant society based on its own values.  Eritrea can become the socio-economic locomotive engine in the region only by practicing its own shared values.  We can never build our Eritrea and the horn region by losing ourselves in other people’s conflicts.                   

To reiterate, today’s battle within the Eritrean political arena is about Eritrea’s future.  It isn’t about demarcation, but a battle of diametrically opposed visions of the future of Eritrea.  Let us not reduce it to demarcations.

The US,

The current American administration is pursuing a conflicting strategy to bring about stability to the horn.  It wants to pressure PIA to abandon his Somalia campaign, and yet wants PIA to bail out the US from the Sudanese quagmire.  PIA is calling the threat of blacklisting a game of bluffs precisely because he is gambling that the US needs him to resolve the Sudanese quagmire.  Stabilizing Somalia is only a short-term interest for the US, but separating the oil-rich south from Khartoum’s grips is a long term interest.  Aware that the Sudan card is critical, Ethiopia is pledging to send 5.000 troops to the Darfur region.  But the UN/AU forces can never be peacemakers.  The powerbrokers work behind the curtains, and countries such as Eritrea, Libya and Chad play the bigger roles in the Darfur region – and South Sudan.  The South Sudan and Darfur are more politically and economically sensitive for the US than Somalia.

We should be aware of US’ ambivalent game in the Horn that gives PIA the impression that the US needs him.  The thousands of Eritreans in PFDJ Dungeons, the Sahara and Sinai Deserts and the Mediterranean Sea have become expendable pawns for the players in the region.  But who cares about African lives – beginning with Africa’s own leaders who have no respect for human lives?    

PIA’s biweekly trips to Tripoli are possibly designed to sell the Sudanese card to the Libyan leader as a political card to be used against the US and EU.  No leader would ever want to pass up an opportunity to own an ace in the hole – some trump card that can be used as leverage against bigger players.  The Hugos, Kims and Ahmedinejad’s of the world have learned how to partially make up for the Cold War game when dictators could threaten to run to Moscow.  Libya suffered in isolation for over a decade because there was no Moscow, and finally repented reluctantly.    

For the US, wishy-washy approach to resolving the horn problem will only exacerbate uncertainties in the horn region.  The US should be made aware that inherently unstable dictatorships in Eritrea will always be causes of instabilities in the horn to the detriment of US’ long-term interests in the region.  On the other hand, Eritrea is ripe for democracy and if the US and the EU play their cards right in Eritrea that it can become the socio-economic engine for the entire horn region.  It will be like tiny South Korea, Singapore and other tigers that are pulling giant China, Indonesia and others.

If the US is to play a constructive role to bring about comprehensive solution to the horn region, instead of bluffing or seriously considering ineffective blacklisting, the US can bring about change in regime behavior by beginning serious meetings with Eritrean Diaspora opposition groups.  Which opposition organizations to negotiate with?  First, the purpose of meeting these groups is more an acknowledgement of the opposition camp designed to raise the opposition camp’s profile hence putting pressure on the regime to reform itself.  No serious negotiation can take place except with post-PFDJ government.  Second, as to which organization to negotiate is probably the easiest in Eritrean opposition case.  There are two blocs and a couple of independent ones.  A group of some ten of these representatives can probably represent 99.9% of the opposition camp – and that is really a testimony to Eritreans’ ability to coalesce for common cause, which can’t be found anywhere else in the world.  There is no excuse for the US or EU to pretend that they don’t have Eritrean opposition partners to push forward reform in Eritrea

To reiterate, without resolving the Eritrean political quagmire, the US will only further ensnare itself into the horn crisis.  Wishy-washy politics won’t work!  The threats of blacklisting or even blacklisting won’t work.   International media are surprised that PIA is relaxed when conducting interviews, but they forget that PIA is a guerilla fighter that has lived through significantly worse challenges than merely blacklisting.  PIA’s sole game is to win – at whatever cost.  If the US is pursuing a standardized policy manual on dealing with dictators, they will soon find themselves in an unpleasant surprise.  The US Administration must make hard decisions based on realistic and focused assessments if it wants to bring about stability in the horn region.

Yes, Eritrea’s self-confidence is damaged – thanks to PFDJ.  We are full of doubts about our future.  However, from today’s tragedies will arise the new horn tiger called Eritrea.  Looking at Warsai Yikealo, remembering the 100,000 martyred, and looking at the thousands of Diaspora Eritrean activists – Eritrea is indeed a land of tigers.

Political Ideologies of today & tomorrow,

PIA and his supporters’ political ideologies are outdated by at least 25 years.  The global village precipitated by the information revolution, the fall of communism, the rise of multinational corporations and heavy global trading is seeping into national politics.  The false praise of ‘self-reliance’ is not reflective of the time.

Today’s ideological anchor, which remains dynamic, is about creating the right domestic conditions that allows a nation to link itself with changing world socio-economic factors.  PIA’s continued ideological defense based on cocooning his turf as if it is some kind special and fragile creature is only reflective of an outdated ideology.    

As for creating Japan Inc., Singapore Inc. or especially Dubai Inc. where Sheik Al-Makhtoum and his government probably own half of its explosive growth in the last 15 years, that will be left for another discussion.

This writer is struck with admiration of ever increasing excellent articles by such people as Simon Woldehaimanot, Daniel Rezene, Dawit Maekele, Berhane Tekeste, Yosef G., Selam and many others – and the usuals such as Gadi and Younis.  My continued admirations for Asmarino, Awate, TV ADAL and TV ZETE and many other media organizations!  Eritrean civic organizations across the world are blossoming and give us unfettered hope about the future of Eritrea.  The former editors of the popular independent newspapers of Setit, Keste Demena and others have now become the central forces for change.  Many new websites are gracing the opposition camp such as,  and


all political hostages ARE RELEASED!

Bitweded speaks through us!  Hassan speaks through us!  Germano speaks through us!   All the other hostages speak through us!

We must fight for our freedoms because — there is no alternative to freedom!

Hijiwin Ab Metkelna!

Ewe, Kiwegh Eyu – Absolutely right!  The first rays of Dawn are breaking through the horizon!

Congratulations to Zeresenai Tadesse!  You are what Eritrea and Eritreans are all about!

Berhan Hagos

October 13, 2007

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