Zero sum game outplay

 Politicians …mostly have   sweet tangue singing patriotic songs that pale their within.
The deteriorating  political environment within/without, the disarray outsmarted for long , the looming failed state and the hope to breakthrough moved stakeholders to seek ways forward past clever words.
 Thus initiatives mushroom for and against change (including detracting and averting agents) .
One welcomes aboard, initiatives anew if they  add value. Or at least avoid destroying achievemens.
EFND( Eritreans for Facilitating National Dialogue) attracted my attention for:
 1) An adhoc group for Facilitating national dialogue.
  2) An arrow pointing the way forward, and
 3) An inspiring outset quote that warmed up the expectation for differentiation.
But what I read is a call on  Eritrean Democratic Forces (  remticent of the historical EPLF/ELF ping-pong ). That too is acceptable, as every purposeful get together is welcome as long as  it  declares its stand.
They quote,
“Democracy is not defined by the liberty that one has to say what he wants to say, but rather, by his capacity to recognize and tolerate the liberty of others to say what they want to say even in the face of the views expressed by them that are diametrically opposed to one’s own. This is foundational to genuine reconciliation and constructive dialogue”..
This beautiful piece is never said any better, but followed by their take …
“During crisis situations, external markers of identity such as kinship, ethnicity, race, religion and region in particular become convenient fallback strategies for those who seek to advance their personal interests and ambitions under the guise of advancing the cause and interests of some groups they purport to speak for or represent.”
A saying goes،do what the preacher says but not what he does.
Yet here, facilitators of reconcilliation (non political and non civic org.) an Adhoc catalyst is promoting aged political agitation.
What did they leave for the despot organs? . At least the Despot has the means to extract confession of classified intentions such as  ” Advancing personal interests”  under creative torture means.
 A bad start for an agent of reconcilliation .
Regrettably  the abused term ‘Democrat’ in our context vexes me a bit. For it and family are freely exchanged no strings attached or cost involved like the triple A in USA.
 DF   (& co) at our creative politick environment,.  Is formidably enigmatic,  and usually fail litmus test. Of course with due respect and apologies to all patriots who fell under its banner in good faith , in the good old days. The same applies to the rival connotations “Reactionary & co”.
It is not what you are it is your Star.  The Northern star under any banner is a Northern star.
The outset quote..
 “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” 
I didn’t get it yet , anew (or no) path, so far it is repeating history. So shall wait for the upcoming conference  take.   Their immediate task is  “.. First…reconciliation within existing organizations, whether political or civic. The second level of reconciliation involves overcoming the ELF-EPLF divide. “
ELF/EPLF  divide is history overused  for the youth and to most seniors , nostalgia is not real politics. “Rechercher pour le diable” …or search where the devil lies. 
They market the Mandela example of forgiving the oppressor . Which is commendable , but is of different dichotomy where Apartheid regime was named and shamed world over compelled to  confess detailed account of its crimes  …before the court of law , the living victims and the relatives of the dead.
Doesn’t prudence urge to   define the oppressor and the oppressed, not the one man scapegoat , and name and shame it ?
A Sudanese saying goes like : “He stares at the elephant and
stabs its shadow”.
What is on ground now and here is not “external markers” but real  cheuvanistic system already overly tolerated and still apparently accepted LESS its living godfather.
 On the other hand a spectrum of marginalized groups including the  Muslim the munkhafadat the kunama  the  afar etc..and modest democratic elements all languishing in acute pain plus dissent in the weathring ‘hights’ of the state.
How could it fail their notice after 14 months of preparation!?
But after exhausting “political militialization”, they qualify it with…
““It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.”
I expected finger pointing but was cleverly subdued after all said , as follows
”  No inference must be drawn from this observation that we are finger-pointing at identifiable individuals or groups engaged in political militialization at this point in time. But we have to be frank with ourselves that the potential is there. If we think otherwise, then we must be trapped in irredeemable self-delusion and self-deception of a grand-scale. The burden of responsibility that we bear is that we must preempt the pregnancies of this nature from being born, which requires prospective vigilance”
If so far they identified none. How can they preempt the embryo. It is sad they put the primary contradiction as secondary …
”   Indeed, the struggle against political militias can be harder than fighting the already discredited dictators because political militias have nothing to account for. After all, they raise the same banner of democracy as progressive democrats do, but the foundation to their politics is reactionary counter-mobilization of external markers of identity such as kinship, clan, ethnicity, religion and/or region”
 Such fear mongering and yet no embryo is identified to preempt based on Kenyan, somali, Libya etc..developments.
An astute deep look inside  is enough to replicate the fear but Eritreans nurtured with deep rooted national feelings did not use urgent fallback  as naturally  people under duress do. It is not certain for how long they could entertain the Zero Sum game outplay..
The late Nelson Mandela renown  for clemency, said
“A freedom fighter learns the hard way that it is the oppressor who defines the nature of the struggle,and the oppressed is often left no recourse but to use methods that mirror those of  the oppressor.  At a point, one can only fight fire with fire ”
From  Nelson Mandels , Long Walk to Freedom (not short cut)
Should they call for Eritrrsns for Democratic Forces straightforward ( EFDD), I would mind less for It’s connotation is tacitly understood within the Eritrean context.
I hope it will be noticed by the conferees to ‘go were no’ Eritrea democrstic forces  ‘has gone before’ and fair the term “National” in their Acronym.
Another misunderstanding is the  “our turn to eat” cry of  Kenya elites they mention. This has nothing to  do with our  bold realities unless it means the DFs power struggle.
Life is full of variable ideas and interests , one has to stand on the  hill of the other and see for himself his own hill from there. Or recall the Amharic saying what is the use a neck if you can’t turn it to see around . .it is natural during crises to start with what you can and defend comnon interests.
 Priorities of the majority is to avert failed state,  secure their  existence first and stand up for their rights their fair share in a level play field . Goes without saying by uprooting the decayed system.
The supremacy of internal forces?! fair premises…if it meant the people (proper)  and its effectiveness. but if America  pulls the political plug  success is  probable for the mobilized forces, The question is sustainability.
It is not a fast fix , what is needed is vision and tolerance for strategic solution to avoid formal incarnation of failed state par  excellence.
 Moreover our commulative out flax since time immemorial exceeds our birth rate within the inferno . If not already there,  couple of years from now the outside shall vivdly overwhelm and ulimately might comeback in a different lingua , style and uniform.
  What needs great attention is how to deal with the double edged  Military and its environs…a dangerous threat particularly it was carefully crafted and built brick on brick to serve a clear hegemony.  No such military shall remain entact  unless the political elites come out of their enclaves rub up ( not wrap ) their eyes well and tackle serious genuine issues. To avoid eruption of war lords already nurtured in uniform. (Similar to our brethren , italian ex-colonies)
They call  for the army to follow the Tunisian example.  Optimism is infectious they say.
The Tunisian top brass is singled out as professional elites compared not only to our warlord commands but to the more advanced  top brass in the region who duly earned their ranks.  literacy in the country, is enviably high. Besides Ben Ali with all his crimes had not adulterated  the military.
They refer to  a Somali who shared his concern on trends in Eritrea with a potential  of repeating the somali fiasco,  this is not a wild guess but under different premises. Divorce is a last resort and at times can fair well as in the somaliland.
Incidently,   A  seasoned Somalilander’s concern may suite our case.
It was post creation of the somaliland defacto state, when I expressed my dismay over the split and  In a nutshell he argued.
1.   Historically we called for unconditional union with the Italian Somalia when they did reluctantly dictate their terms.
2. They were less fortunate on civic and beaurocracy (legacy of British Vs Italian colony)
3.Our elites were modern state dreamers and theirs were sicilian  narrow interstate  boomers
4. Siad Barre (southerner)  and clique led a military coup under revolutionary slogans but were never short of tribal fascist measures.
5. They marginalized the British somalis, they incarcerated or neutralised voices of wisdom liberal  or muslim across the board.
6  Finally the north took arms for liberation and succedeed after paying blood and sweat…. houses were burned to ashes , people maimed or displaced,  bullets and bombs were rampant and random .
7.  In the aftermath, we ended up free with straightened back  and fair distribution of wealth and power , broad representation and higher ballot  turnover in the region, albeit smaller state not recognized by the International double standards. Growing steadily self reliant ,  left behind the headache in the house of the oppressor, incubator of premature warlords. for me one in somaliland and you win.
Whether his version is accountable or not, at the moment I felt it resonated my own tragedy and I retreated with a tail between legs lamenting undertone.. that  now their wounds are healed , a federal state might be a win-win once the southern dust is settled.
But to date his words ring  “What is the use  of a big nation with dwarfed third rate marginalized citizenship!?” .
And always I ask myself why are we paying a lot of lives for  reckless ventures while at the end we are condemned wholesale  as transient third rate citizens with an arrow pointing to the sky at best.
“The immediate task  is to remove the one man regime..the most important is the substitue..” They say.
A thorough and scientific diagnosis (To borrow DF big mouthing) would have led to a  workable inclusive  dialogue launching pad to come up with different priorities.  It is deeper than the despot, its the mind set he understood well and exploited extremely well.
 The immidiate task is not the  one man regime substitue, it is the whole decayed system that needs uprooting or painful negotiated full overhaul at worst.
What is built on null and void is null and void as the Arab saying goes.
Change the mind set, Change the false premisis and promises.  It is the whole system and nothing less.
 And if progress meant a relative advance in the way forward as it should be , then,  at least look further south, dialogue politics in play.
Gone are the days of the Zero sum game outplay .
Ibrahim Osman
  P s
_ Reference :Eritreans for Facilitating National Dialogue (EFND) : Proposed Platform, Internal Working Memorandum, October 2014 |
-In every peace I read I visualize the reaction of its owner if suddenly Isayas publicly condemns his past and plead provisional period to reform.
I find EFND may suggest  ” give the man a chance to avoid the Somali/ Libyan quaqmire”.

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