Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 12:22:14 -0500 (GMT-0500)
From: Harold Marcus
To: Ken Wilburn

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Date: Sat, 26 Sep 1998 04:24:05 -0700 (PDT)
From: Solen Solen
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(Document 1 of 4)


By M. D.Selam - Geneva

The anguish and the suffering of the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea resulting from the three decades of protracted civil wars are still fresh in the memories of the peoples of the two nations. Since the end of these decimating and most ruinous wars in the African continent in 1991, the two nations have been grappling with the difficult task of reviving and rehabilitating their war-ravaged economies. In view of this, it is extremely saddening and frustrating to see that the peoples of the two nations are bracing for another round of conflict and socio-economic hardship. It is all the more disturbing and regrettable that the leaders of Eritrea remain provocative and hostile to all their neighbours including Ethiopia. In doing so they have clearly shown the world that their passionate love for war and conflict remains insatiable. It is not clear so far as to why the regime in Asmara has resorted to using war and conflict as the only means for settling dispute. This will remain vague and ambiguous until such time to come for the Regime in Asmara to explain its irrational war of aggression against Ethiopia. Nevertheless, in what follows in this paper attempt is made to reassess the ugly face and impact of the previous wars on the socio-economic conditions of the two countries. The article tries to shade some light on the root - causes of the current blatant Eritrean aggression against Ethiopia. In addition, it provides some reflections on the possible implications of the current crises to the political, social and economic relations of the two countries both at present and in the future.

In order to feel the pains and the sufferings caused by wars and conflicts, one has to live at least in a war - economy. The peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea, particularly the present generation need no reference books to tell their inauspicious story of the recent past. These peoples, being the first casualties of the longest devastating wars in Africa, are always centres of references for the ugly face of life in a war economy. I my self lived in Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, during the 80's as a student when the then civil war escalated to its climax. Thus, I may be among the living witnesses for the utter repugnance with which the Eritrean citizens viewed war and conflict. Although a three-decade war has resulted in horrendous loss of human and material lives in both Ethiopia and Eritrea, its effect on the latter was highly devastating and the anguish enormous. Besides these damages inflicted on the society and the economy at large by the war, there were some unique but sad stories of Eritreans. For the sake of simplicity, however, I shall try to reflect on some of the severe austerities faced by the Eritrean people during that time.

The supply of water, food, medicine, electricity and other basic social services in Asmara was precarious and almost non-existent during those years. As a result the cost of living was uniquely high in Eritrea. For instance, whereas the rationed and the market price for a kilo of sugar at a local (Kebele) shop and an "open market" in Addis Ababa were 1.05 and 3.5o Ethiopian birr respectively (the equivalent of about 0.50 and 1.5 USD at the then official exchange rate), it was about 10 birr in the open market at Asmara. Consumer price at Kebele shop may not give us a realistic indication of the level of cost of living in Ethiopia. This is because, first, there was suppressed (hidden) inflation in the country at large. Second, the local (Kebele) shop used to serve only about 25 per cent of the urban population of Ethiopia. On the other hand, the rationing shops (the Kebeles) at that time were almost symbolic in Asmara with only political significance to the Dergue regime. This shows us clearly that the people of Eritrea did not benefit at all from government subsidies during those years, mainly, due to deliberate and discriminatory policies of the then Regime against the people of Eritrea.

The price for a quintal of Teff, locally grown cereal and the staple food in the two countries, were about 120 and 800 birr in Addis Ababa and Asmara respectively. Similarly, the market price for a kilo of coffee in coffee-growing regions in Ethiopia was less than 2 birr and it was about 5 birr in the capital Addis Ababa during those days. The price for the same quality and amount of coffee in Asmara, on average, was about 30 birr. This was well above 10 USD at the then official exchange rate that was also 10 times greater than its international price. In those turbulent years the people of Eritrea survived the socio-economic hardship mainly through family remittance from Eritreans living abroad. Nevertheless, the unfortunate people of Eritrea who have passed through such enormous socio-economic difficulties in their history are still hankering for peace, stability, prosperity and decent life at least for the generation to come. The conspicuous lack of these important elements in Eritrea both in the past and at present have compounded further the difficulties that have been facing Eritrean citizens. It is sad to see that history is repeating itself as time goes on. And that the innocent people of Eritrea are, again, victims of the deliberate destruction and sabotage of its own leaders. This ugly behaviour of the Eritrean regime combined with the confluence of political, social, economic, psychological and natural factors has exasperated further the deplorable living conditions of the people of Eritrea.

It is not clear so far as to why the new State of Eritrea that was severly damaged by the previous ruinous wars has become a nation of war - mongers. What is clear, however, is that first, there is no cause that Eritrea could advance at present through war and conflict. Second, the already shattered economy of Eritrea is unable to sustain war and the resulting hardship. Finally, the Eritrean war of aggression against Ethiopia has no support and sympathy both from the people of Eritrea and the international community.

Many of the civil wars and conflicts that have been seen in the African continent during the 70s and the 80s were also been ignited by the then political polarisation in the world. Thus, following the demise of communism and the end of bi-polarity in the late 80's in the world there were intense discussions and debates among historians, academicians and politicians over whether the "cold war" was really "cold" for Africa. The main cause for such debates may be the fact that "Africa was among the first battlefronts and final casualties of the cold war" 1. Nevertheless, there was general consensus that for most fatal and ruinous conflicts seen in the African continent, the share of the "Cold War" was substantial. However, it should be clear that the burden of responsibility of some of our own leaders was equally significant in those devastating conflicts. This is more convincing particularly, at present, when dictatorial regimes are the sole causes for escalating conflicts and heightening tensions in many developing nations.

Ethiopia and Eritrea have been the spotlights of these pernicious conflicts for the last three decades and the socio-economic consequences of these conflicts were incalculable. According to the World Bank estimates, the defence expenditure of Ethiopia accounted for as much as 60-65 per cent of the recurrent budget during those years and in most years it exceeded, by far, the combined expenditure of the country on health, education and other social infrastructures. These estimates do not include cost-overruns and hidden transactions. The country's economy was devastated and Ethiopia ranked the poorest even among the poor of the world. The end of 30 years protracted civil war and strife in the poorest country on earth and the demise of the dictatorial military regime of Mengistu H/Mariam in 1991 was a source of hope and inspiration for Ethiopia and Eritrea to rebuild their respective nations. This is a rewarding but cumbersome task. Professor Claude Ake, in his article entitled: "A new world order: A view from Africa", has argued that "the end of war (history) is not a cry of triumph, but an acknowledgement of dark despair as development remains a plausible cause and poverty a great enemy of Africa for the 21st century" 2. The same holds true with Ethiopia and the new Eritrea as pervasive poverty and backwardness in these countries remain intolerable enemies of the people.

A. Post - 1991 Period

The close ties that emerged between Ethiopia and Eritrea during the last seven years following the end of devastating conflict in 1991 might have given the world a lesson. Particularly, Africa was conceived (now) "as more conscious than ever of the economic underpinning of its security and marginality in an age when economic power has come into its own and when the tragic consequences of its perennial economic crisis are all too evident" 3. In the same vein it was hoped that with the end of the civil war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the region as a whole and particularly these countries themselves would have a chance to rebuild their nations. Of course the end of the civil war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1991 has culminated in the following important sets of radical transformations at national, sub-regional, regional and the international levels.

These are:

The independence of Eritrea has brought about enormous implications on geo-politics and geo-economics of the continent such that Eritrea has transformed itself from "problematique" province of Ethiopia to an independent state. Hence the OAU and the UN-Membership were enlarged; the Intergovernmental Authority for Draught and Development (IGADD) revitalised and reorganised with the presence of Eritrea as sovereign state; peace and regional stability restored and the potential for (viable) regional economic integration was realised, etc.

Ethiopia and Eritrea have forged strong political and economic ties since 1991 accompanied with improved relations between the two peoples. Similarly, domestic exchange of goods and services between the two countries has changed into international trade. This phenomenon has also been coupled with free movement of people, goods and services across the borders of the two countries. Eritrea has been using the Ethiopian currency (the birr) as medium of exchange until recently when it introduced its own currency (the Nakfa) in November 1997.

It was realised that harsh economic realities facing the two countries such as problems of food-security and food-self sufficiency , high inflation rates, mass unemployment and under-employment, shattered social and economic infrastructures including transport and communications sectors, etc., would be improved as a result of peace and the resulting dividend.

In the national front, challenges facing the two countries at the outset were almost similar in nature and proved to be daunting during the last seven years. The reconstruction and rehabilitation of their war-torn economies, rebuilding basic social and physical infrastructures, rehabilitation of victims of war and restoration of calm, mobilisation of psychologically and physically distressed labour force , demilitarisation, the social and economic integration of ex-soldiers, repatriation and reintegration of the displaced, etc., were among some of the common problems facing the two countries.

The fact that the two countries' policies were, at the out set, focused on alleviating the abject poverty confronting their peoples has won them the solidarity and sympathy of the international community. The strong commitments of the two peoples to change their ugly images of the past have also given them growing importance in various international fora. Specially Ethiopia has radically transformed itself from the state of hostility into a regional force of stability. For example the role of Ethiopia for peacefully resolving the crisis in Somalia was substantial and until today Ethiopia is an honest broker of peace in Somalia. Despite its enormous socio-economic problems, Ethiopia was also among a few countries of the world that have sent their troops to abate the crisis in Rwanda in 1995. Similarly, Ethiopia has been an important catalyst and pivotal element in the effort for peacefully resolving the ruinous civil conflict in the Sudan.

B. Transformations in Ethiopia

At this point in time, it is important to revert to the domestic situation of Ethiopia and its enormous transformations following the end of civil conflict and strife in May 1991.

Unlike Eritrea, Ethiopia passed through more complex and challenging but radical transformations in both political and economic spheres. Political transformation of Ethiopia among other things includes: the establishment of a democratic system based on multi-party political pluralism, the creation of a solid foundation for the exercise of freedom of expression, rule of law and respect for human rights, building institutions compatible with the new system, creating governance and administrative structure that is more suitable for the unity of Ethiopia, putting in place constitutional and regulatory framework for governance, transforming military installations and institutions of the previous regime to civilian purposes , etc., are some of the classical cases for Ethiopia's successful political transformation.

In the economic sphere, "there were at least two major transitions in the Ethiopian economy - a transition from war to peace with its enormous peace dividend and a transition from tightly controlled socialist economic management to a free market economic system" 4 (Eshetu Chole: 1991). At the heart of these two transitions was the challenge of stabilising and reviving the nation's economy and putting it into the path to sustained growth and sustainable development. The emphasis was placed on attaining food security and food self-sufficiency. To this end, pertinacious macro-economic reforms and painful structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) were designed to help revive and stabilise the country's economy. These market oriented economic policies aimed at reviving and recovering the economy of the nation have created conducive macro-economic environment. This in turn helped Ethiopia in attracting effective foreign direct investment (FDI) and in mobilising private domestic capital, both of which are critical elements in fostering sound (dependable) capital formation required for economic development. Liberalisation of the country's trade and its regime has increased substantially its foreign exchange proceeds. Ethiopia's foreign exchange reserve has also grown from almost nil in 1991 to a level sufficient to cover its import requirements for several months in 1997.

Currency realignment of 1992, coupled with other prudential fiscal and monetary policies, has resulted in tremendous improvement in the nation's export/import ratio for the first time in the recent history of the Ethiopian economy. Sky-rocketing rate of inflation has been brought down to a level less than 2 per cent in 1996 from over 25 per cent in 1991. The share of public ownership in the various sectors of the economy has been substantially reduced. For instance, public ownership in the export sector alone has gone down to less than 40 per cent in 1997 from the absolute domination of state monopoly in the sector prior to 1991. Overall the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Ethiopia grew at annual average rate of 7 per cent over the last seven years from its downward trend in the 1970s' and the 1980s'. The country has also adopted a long-term plan called Agriculture Development-Led Industrialisation policy, the immediate objective of which is improving the dire living standard of the mass of its population-the peasantry.

The other most remarkable success worth mentioning in Ethiopia's modern history is the radical change in its foreign relations and policies. As a result of the new foreign policy of Ethiopia the prevalent hostility and animosity of the previous regime with neighbouring countries and with countries from afar have radically been altered. That the old siege mentality has been replaced by one based on mutual respect, common interest, fraternity and friendship. This is the biggest achievement in modern Ethiopian history. Following these enormous changes, we all hoped that hostility has gone away from the Horn of Africa once and for all specially with the fall of Dergue in Ethiopia and that of Siad Bare in Somalia.

Following the new foreign policy of Ethiopia, mutual trust has been developed with all its neighbouring countries and with all countries of the world. The relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea had also gained new momentum since the formal independence of the latter in 1993. Clearer forms of economic relations between the two countries were seen in April 1995. This was the year when the two Governments agreed to establish Free Trade Area (FTA) during the Third Round Meeting of the Ethio - Eritrean Joint High Ministerial Commission (JHMC), held in Asmara from 3 to 4 April 1995.

According to this agreement all tariff and non-tariff barriers on all goods and services produced and exchanged between Ethiopia and Eritrea will be removed. Although the net advantage resulting from this agreement inclined to the Eritrean side, Ethiopia's conception of the impact of this agreement was beyond short-term economic windfalls. Otherwise it was not difficult to imagine the magnitude of net benefit for Eritrea resulting from accessing the Ethiopian Market that is one of the robust and continuously growing markets in the sub-region. During the above meeting of the Joint High Ministerial Commission (JHMC), Eritrean vice-president (and Head of the Eritrean Delegation), Mr. Mohamud Ahmed Sherifo speaking of the joint efforts of the two countries, has stated the following:

"... the relationships that have been developing between the two countries (Ethiopia and Eritrea) over the past years were exemplary and this needs to be further strengthened and developed along the prevailing similarity of vision and understanding..."5

Similarly, addressing members of the Ethiopian Press Corps who travelled to Asmara during the meeting of the JHMC, Isaias Afeworki, the Eritrean President, shared the views expressed by his then Vice-president with the same tone as follows:

"... the relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea is not artificial....Ethiopia and Eritrea are going on through historic moment in their relationship and trying to regain lost opportunities. Ethiopia and Eritrea could have been in a better place to foster bilateral relationship and contribute to regional and continental development had it not been for the very long and destructive war which put the present governments of the two countries in a very difficult phase to face the challenge..."6

The above statements of the Eritrean authorities testify, in the clearest terms, to the importance of the growing ties between the two countries over the last seven years.

C. Current State of Affairs and its implications:

The grimmest spot in the history of Ethiopia and Eritrea came into the picture when Eritrean forces occupied Ethiopian territory on 6 May 1998 and devastated social and economic infrastructures in the area. They killed indiscriminately innocent Ethiopian civilians, particularly school children, women and the elderly by carrying out subsequent and brutal air raids at the Ethiopian towns of Mekele and Adigrat. The Eritrean forces also detained thousands of Ethiopian civilians living in Eritrea under the most intolerable and inhuman condition. They tortured and raped Ethiopians who wanted to leave for their homeland. This is perhaps the darkest moment of the two countries past, present and future political, social and economic relations.

The tremor that sparked in the wake of this Eritrean naked aggression against Ethiopia is still lingering in the minds of peace-loving citizens of Ethiopia and Eritrea alike. Such a shock wave has also been transmitted across Africans and the international community who have been admiring the growing ties between the two countries. History has created a huge opportunity for establishing strong bondage between the two countries that once have been in destructive war and conflict. However, the sheer fact now is that the Eritrean authorities with their unprovoked aggression on Ethiopia have squandered this opportunity. The ball is in the Eritrean Court to rescue such a shameful loss of grand opportunity and the time is ticking fast against them. Any time lag on their part may result in dangerous consequences on present and prospective relations of the two countries.

D. Why aggression, war and conflict again?

The natural question that one might ask and wonder about the Eritrean war of aggression against Ethiopia may be that why did they (the Eritrean Authorities) resort to conflict and war under the guise of border dispute? Before contemplating the possible reasons for the irrational and unjustifiable cause of Eritrean aggression, I found it important to establish the following facts at least for the benefit of the reader of this article. These are:

Eritrea can not be a force to destabilise the Horn of Africa but it could be one single factor for regional instability and perhaps chaos. With less than 20 million US dollars of export proceeds per annum and with less than 3 million people, more than 85 per cent of which are living below the internationally defined margin of absolute poverty line, Eritrea is too tiny to be a source and a force of instability in the Horn of Africa. In fact, at present Eritrea spends about 80 million USD (4 times lager than its export earnings) on arms purchase [see International Herald Tribune, Friday July 24,1998]. This is by no means a small amount and Eritrean people particularly the younger generation are the bearer of the balance either in the form of debt or through compromising their development requirements including their daily basic needs. Thus, Eritrean self-aggrandisement or self-glorification is simply a nightmare or an obsession.

Winston Churchill was quoted as saying that the Balkan region is the one that has "a penchant for producing more history than it can consume"7. No doubt that present day Eritrea is busy in writing and rewriting history that it could not stand for and which it could not consume or substantiate with reason and fact.

Resorting to war or using force for settling political, social, economic or otherwise problems and differences is completely out of date - "an old fashion". One has to know the changing paradigm of international political and economic parameters governing inter-state relations.

The plot of land which Eritrea is claiming from Ethiopia is less important than the wider interest and benefit that it has been enjoying since 1992 from its close ties with Ethiopia. This irrational and baseless claim will be less important even in the future with the rapidly changing inter-state relationships. Frances Cairncross of the Economist Magazine, in her famous book entitled: "The Death of Distance" has concluded that "... geography, borders, time zones - all are rapidly becoming irrelevant to the way we conduct our business and personal lives - the death of distance will be the single most important economic force shaping all society over the next half century..."8

Transitions and policy changes must be accompanied by attitudinal changes. Otherwise any socio-political change may be only a change of form or appearance - a mere transfiguration. Eritrean authorities have shown clearly to the international community that they are in constant motion of war and that their siege mentality and dictatorship are still prevalent. The Eritrean conflicts with Yemen over Hanish Islands; with Djibouti over a strip of coastal land; with the Sudan and now the war of aggression against Ethiopia are clear testimonies to the Eritrean passionate love for war and conflict. The Eritrean authorities should know that they could be agents and victims of their own actions and inaction at the end of the day.

One of the biggest miscalculations on the part of the Eritrean authorities is their conception of the problem itself that the border dispute and any aggression as a result of it will have only regional character in Ethiopia. That is, according to them, any problem with Region one (Tigray Administrative Region) is only a problem to the people of that particular region. This shows the vacuum of knowledge existing on the part of that government about the history of Ethiopia and its peoples. Ethiopians have never been seen fragmented in their attempt to stave-off their common enemy including poverty and backwardness. More than anything else Ethiopians are always ready to defend their territorial integrity at inestimable cost.

g) The other horrible gross mistake that the current Eritrean regime has committed is the overestimation of its own self and the capacity of that nation's most vulnerable economy to sustain war and conflict. It may be easy for this Regime to mobilise ex-soldiers and militia members for war; and it may be equally possible to keep them in battlefronts through rationing of scarce basic needs - food, water, medicine, etc. However, it is impossible to keep the entire population of Eritrea on rationing of these elements. Eritrea that depends for more than 98 per cent of its staple food on grains, cereals and even coffee produced in Ethiopia is once again facing terrible food crisis at home. As a result, the authorities in Asmara went on demanding the public to change their pattern of consumption. This is, no doubt, a difficult choice in itself and is also depriving the general public from their natural right and freedom of subsisting on something they prefer to do so.

h) The damage inflicted on the social and human capital as a result of the Eritrean war of aggression against Ethiopia, as described above is horrible and transcends the imagination and expectations of peace-loving citizens of the two countries. Particularly, the Ethiopian peoples feel betrayed by the Eritrean Regime in Asmara because they did not anticipate atrocities as retribution for many good things that they have done for the people of Eritrea. Such an unforgivable historical blunder committed by the Eritrean regime, no doubt, would remain in the collective memory of all Ethiopians that would pass from generation to generation. This is an irreparable criminal damage inflicted by the Eritrean authorities on the present and future Ethio-Eritrean relations.

E. Probable "explanations" for the irrational and unjustifiable Eritrean war of aggression against Ethiopia :

It is hard to find any particular reason or justification for the unjustifiable Eritrean war of aggression against Ethiopia. The only people who could give a full account and justification for such uncivilised and barbaric behaviours must be found within the Eritrean authorities at Asmara. Thus any reason or justification from an outsider may be based on speculation and arguments. The followings may be the possible reasons for an Eritrean war of aggression waged on Ethiopia.

Internal political problems in Eritrea:

Lack of tolerance to accommodate opposition groups and absence of political pluralism (political democratisation) in Eritrea have created enormous divisions among the Eritreans themselves. The long-standing division between the "Highlanders" (predominantly Christians) and the "Lowlanders" (predominantly Muslims) is steadily growing, creating enormous pressure on the Government of the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF) - the only ruling party in Eritrea. Rival political groups and parties have already been eliminated out of Eritrea by the ruling party and activities of opposition groups are banned from operating in side the country. The same dissection has been developed in Eritrea since its independence in 1993 among different sections of its society such that the politicians, the educated elite, those living abroad (emigrants) and those who fought for independence have different status. The educated elite are always viewed as "middlemen" by the government of Isaias Afeworki- the equivalent of "opportunistic" and those who fought for independence are the only "true" citizens of that country. Similarly, those who fled the country during the reign of terror of Mengistu H/Mariam are considered as "tertiary" citizens by the EPLF and its Government. The fact, however, is that virtually all Eritreans living abroad have been in the forefront of supporting the struggle for independence both financially and technically since the 1960s. "The transfer of resources in the form of family remittance to Eritrea, during those years, on average, was about 200 million dollars - almost 10 times its export proceeds "9.

The deliberate policy of discrimination between the Eritreans themselves, pursued by EPLF and its Government surprised and angered its ardent supporters from abroad. My own friend (an Eritrean by his nationality of origin) described present change in Eritrea as a mere change of form and appearance as old dictator (Mengistu H/Mariam) is now replaced by a new one (Isaias Afeworki). This is a widely prevalent view among rational Eritreans living in Diaspora.

(Editor's Note: the end of this document is missing)

Document 2 of 4

Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 12:51:07 -0500 (GMT-0500)
From: Harold Marcus
To: Ken Wilburn

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Date: Mon, 5 Oct 1998 06:58:06 EDT
To: EthioForum Mailing List
Subject: [EthioForum] - War scenario - a voice from Eritrea


Disclaimer: The opinion expressed is that of the writer. Ethiolist does not take any responsibility for the content of the e-mail. EthioForum - Open forum for news, discussions and free expression of ideas! !!!!


Subject: (fwd) War scenario
Date: Mon, Oct 5, 1998 02:49 EDT
Message-id: <6v9q6i$n17$>

Viewpoint: War Scenario

by Gabsha Khalil
October 2, 1998

Any time a devastating war between two neighboring countries, Eritrea & Ethiopia could restart and cover our TV screens and press headlines. According to reports coming from Ethiopia and Eritrea, the preparation and build up of armaments seems to have been completed. Both sides are already talking a language of war and gesturing their readiness to win it. War is inevitable. All that remains, according to the Eritreans, is for an Ethiopian soldier to fire the first bullet.

A simple analysis of the war scenario would be relevant at this moment. Questions must be asked in relation to the whole episode. What will be the objective of this war? How will it end? What will happen after the end of the anticipated war? In my simple analysis I will try to answer these questions in brief to allow others to follow it up.

What is the objective of this war?

There is no regime that goes to war simply for the sake of it. There must be an objective to be achieved. Whether such objectives are based on justice and fairness to others is a different issue all together. For the TPLF/EPRDF government of Ethiopia the declared objective is to drive out the Eritrean forces from the Bademme, Sheraro and Zalambessa areas which were under TPLF/Tigray Killel administration until May 1998. For the EPLF/PFDJ government of Eritrea the declared objective is to defend Eritrean sovereignty over all the disputed areas until a peaceful and mutually agreed resolution is reached.

So if we take the above official (diplomatic) positions, both sides have justifiable reasons to convince their respective public opinions that their war is actually to defend the national sovereignty of their countries. In the absence of free press, debate, free political association and genuine democracy, the peoples of both countries will certainly be dragged into the nonsense bloodshed. A significant number of Ethiopians and Eritreans are currently being driven by their emotions and ill-defined heroism and nationalism to support their antagonistic regimes, hence playing to the war tune.

I am one of those who believe that the whole issue goes far beyond the so-called border conflict. To sum it up in one sentence: It is a power struggle between the EPLF and the TPLF. Both groups are well known for their hegemonic attitudes and will do every thing, including going to war, to achieve the unachievable. In fairness to the TPLF, at present it is the EPLF who is fighting to continue dominating the TPLF (and through it Ethiopia) while the later is seeking to ensure that this can not be or continue to be and fighting to make the EPLF leadership understand that partnership should be based on equality.

How will it end (if it ever started)?

Only god may have the accurate answer for this question. But I can make an assumption based on my observations and readings as an Eritrean opposed to the despotic regime of Mr. Afeworki. The TPLF and EPLF led regimes will go to this war knowing that their very existence will be shaped by its outcome. No U-turns. To be or not to be is the case at hand. EPLF has created and nurtured the TPLF (my respect for the Tigrayan hard working people is unshaken by this fact). Afeworki can not afford to see the later go out of control be it in the economic or political spectrums. After seven years of successful ethno-centric governance and determined process of recreating Ethiopia after 100 years of Amharisation, the TPLF led regime has long ago left the stage when it had to receive policy dictates from the office of Mr. "President" in Asmara, often over the phone as was described by Ato Meles. The days of such quasi relations have gone unnoticed by Ato Issayas who was busy bullying his own people and his other neighbors. Afeworki is a well-known gambler. He will attempt to turn the clock back and subjugate the Tigrean elite once again. Whether he will succeed this time or fail it remains to be seen.

Back to the question "how will the war end"? As I said above, there is no easy answer to this question. Will Eritrea win it or Ethiopia is not the issue here.

I have always argued against my fellow Eritreans who say we won the 30 years war of independence against the Ethiopian aggressors. Because my measurement of any war's outcome is quite different to some of my fellow countrymen and women.

It is true we have fought against the Ethiopian occupation of our country and paid the dearest price with dignity. We have lost our young brothers and sisters. Over 700 (seven hundred) Eritrean villages were wiped out of existence. The untold atrocities committed in our once peaceful villages like Oona, Ad Yassin, Hergiggo, Berekenteya, Agordat, Aylet-Gemhot etc. are ever lasting memories of our relationship with the previous Ethiopian rulers. My argument is the 30 years of war was lost by both Ethiopia and Eritrea. In Eritrea we kept dreaming of a country free of atrocities we dreamed of creating a country where justice and democracy prevailed we dreamed of rebuilding Eritrea once the occupiers have left. Instead, the 30 years of war for liberation resulted in a devil called Issayas Afeworki and his ruling clique within the EPLF (we should be careful of assuming that the EPLF and Eritreans in general are one homogenous group, because they are not). For the last seven years the Eritrean people who paid the highest price for his liberation has been living in an open prison. Over half a million refugees who left their war torn villages are still unable to return to their homes and farms, living in a very appalling conditions in refugee camps in Eastern Sudan.

The millions of dollars contributed by the Eritrean Diaspora during the struggle for liberation are still unaccounted for. Since its creation in the late 1970s, the EPLF has never stopped milking the Eritrean people inside and outside Eritrea under different pretexts. It may be the case that many non-Eritreans do not know the fact that all Eritreans, including myself, who do not contribute a percentage of their income i.e.2%, 10%, $100+ for the handicapped etc. etc. (latest $1000+ for the current war effort) are not recognized as citizens and would have no rights under the EPLF regime. In other words, to be an Eritrean you have to be an EPLF loyalist and make regular financial contribution which no one dare asks where it goes. The very disabled fighters in whose name the EPLF has been milking poor Eritrean pockets were killed and wounded when they attempted to demand the regime to better their appalling conditions in the outskirts of Asmara just after the independence. The fate of hundreds of Eritrean schoolteachers who opposed and challenged the health of the EPLF curriculum, which is nothing but an EPLF propaganda that does no justice to the young Eritreans' right to education, is still unknown. Today many Eritreans homes are insecure more than ever. What we Eritreans call "night visitors" are terrorizing the whole population to the extent that no one can trust any one any more. This is common even within one family member. EPLF informers and agents have infiltrate even families. Many Western journalists are often misled to assume that Eritreans are behind their regime in every aspect of their life because the people can not say anything but good about the regime to spare their lives from the "night visitors". I see all these as an outcome of the 30 years of war for liberation, which make me feel that we still have not won the bloody war. Yes we have won back our beloved small country but lost it again to another despotic and rootless regime, the only difference this time is that it is not Italian, British or Ethiopian military dictators, but it is an Eritrean regime.

I stated the above argument to conclude that both Eritreans and Ethiopians will lose the war. The two regimes will seek each other out.

What will happen after the end of the war?

The outcome of the current conflict will shape not just the Ethio-Eritrean relationships but also the way each of the countries is governed. The danger is if both or one of the antagonists is crushed there will be a power vaccume which could threaten the very existence of the countries. Given the plurality of their societies and the deep -rooted distrust among the different ethnic groups within each country, Ethiopia and Eritrea could at best be Somalised and at worst may fragment into small sultanates, emirates, chiefdoms and kingdoms or vice-versa.

The other danger is (again in fairness to the TPLF) if the EPLF comes out of this conflict/war victorious, we will face even greater challenges of making Mr. Afeworki understand that aggression and arrogance do not pay. (This should not be understood that the disputed areas are Ethiopian. They are disputed areas and their ultimate status should be resolved peacefully. The fact that they are disputed areas however, they do not necessarily have to be occupied by the EPLF, which is why we disagree with our despotic regime).

End of Document 2 of 4

Beginning of Document 3 of 4

Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 12:08:47 -0500 (GMT-0500)
From: Harold Marcus
X-Sender: ethiopia@hs1
To: Ken Wilburn
Subject: [EthioForum] - We Are Prepared To Stand Alone If Need Be For Principles and For Our National Dignity! (fwd)

----------------------------Original message----------------------------

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 02 Oct 1998 14:55:38 -0400
To: EthioForum Mailing List
Subject: [EthioForum] - We Are Prepared To Stand Alone If Need Be For Princ= iples and For Our National Dignity!


Disclaimer: The opinion expressed is that of the writer. Ethiolist does not take any responsibility for the content of the e-mail. EthioForum - Open forum for news, discussions and free expression of ideas! !!!!


Ethiopia says:" We Are Prepared To Stand Alone If Need Be For Principles and For Our National Dignity"!!!

Please enjoy this clear and loud message!








1 OCTOBER 1998

Mr. President,

I would like, first of all, to extend to you, Mr. President, the Ethiopian delegation's congratulations on your well deserved unanimous election as President of the 53rd session of the General Assembly. We are fully confident that under your guidance the work of this session of the General Assembly will be a resounding success.

I should also like to express our appreciation to the outgoing President of the General Assembly for a most effective guidance he provided to the 52nd session of the General Assembly and for the most valuable contribution he has made in this regard.

We are indeed deeply indebted to our Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, who has tried to inject new vitality into the United Nations and who has, under difficult circumstances, continued to make a difference at the helm of the Organization. We appreciate very keenly, in particular, what the Secretary-General has been doing to ensure that the voice of all those whose points of views needed to be heard is heard, and that there is a more effective co-operation than hitherto between the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity. I wish in this regard, to commend him with great satisfaction for what can only be called a historic report he has submitted on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa. This report by the Secretary-General, for which he has deservedly already been congratulated by many, raises all those issues which are vital for the future of Africa and treats them with so much frankness and transparency that it is only my hope that we will all have the necessary resolve and commitment to follow up its recommendations and ensure their implementation.

Mr. President,

We in Africa have made over the past few years tremendous efforts to change Africa's image and reality. Despite the apparent slips of the past few months, what has been achieved in our Continent since the early 1990s can hardly be underestimated. This applies both to activities in the economic area as well as to the work for peace and stability in our Continent.

The past few years have shown quite vividly how most African countries, including my own, Ethiopia, have shown the necessary determination to create the domestic climate conducive to economic growth and development. There is today hardly any country in Africa which has not acknowledged that the economic future of countries lies in market-based and private sector-driven economic transformation, and which has not taken the appropriate steps to that end. It is indeed gratifying to note that the results, certainly in my own country, have been encouraging.

However, Mr. President, it is hardly disputable that our performance in the economic area has not, by any means, measured up to our expectations and has been far below what is needed to prevent hopelessness and despair in our Continent, specially among the younger generation. Although the reasons that provide part of the explanation for this may not be wanting, it is nonetheless very obvious that the well known limitations we face in international economic co-operation, in particular, in trade as well as in connection with the debt burden constitute the major impediments to Africa's economic regeneration. Consequently, the Secretary-General has reiterated in his report I referred to earlier, that there is indeed an urgent need for political will, to ensure sustainable growth and development in Africa, not only on the part of we Africans but also on the part of the international community as a whole.

Mr. President,

We in Africa have also, in the past few years, made every effort, in particular through sub-regional organizations, to work for peace and to prevent and contain conflicts. In this regard, the establishment by the OAU of a Mechanism for the Prevention, Management and Resolution of Conflicts in Africa has been a major step we have taken and our achievement on this score over the past few years can hardly be underestimated.

In our own sub-region, we have continued to exert the necessary effort for peace in the Sudan as well as to assist the people of Somalia achieve national reconciliation and to establish a broad-based government and a central authority. In both cases, while success has not been easy, the efforts we are making have nonetheless continued because of the conviction, including on the part of our partners in the international community, that there is no effective alternative to these efforts carried out at the sub-regional level through the mechanism of IGAD.

It is however very clear, Mr. President, that these gains, however small, over the past few years in the area of peace and security in Africa have come to be tested very severely in the past few months. Developments in the Great Lakes Region, most particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, indeed represent sources of some of the serious concerns we have in this regard. Nevertheless, we remain hopeful that a way out of this looming danger in the Great Lakes Region would be found based on full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries of the region including the Democratic Republic of Congo, and on the full recognition of the security concerns of all countries of the region. It is Ethiopia's firm conviction that there is no alternative as a guarantee for peace and amity between states to the scrupulous observance by all of the principles of international law governing inter-state relations.

However, the greatest danger for peace, in this connection, Mr. President, is not so much the violation of international law per se, but the response by the international community in the face of such violations. When the international community, for whatever reason, fails to respond to aggression and to violations of international law with the required indignation and resolve, then aggressors would be sent, wittingly or unwittingly, the message that the principles of international law are not there to underpin the peace and that laws are there to be violated with impunity.

This has been, Mr. President, the lesson that we have drawn from one of the major recent disappointments that we have had in the area of peace and security in Africa. I am, of course, referring here to the naked aggression by the State of Eritrea against Ethiopia on 12 May 1998. Despite the efforts by various parties, this aggression continues to portend the outbreak of a full-scale war between the two countries because of Eritrea's intransigence that the peaceful resolution of the crisis must be linked to Ethiopia's acceptance of the loss of its sovereignty over a part of its territory and to the consequent appeasement of Eritrea and the dangerous impression the international community is conveying that aggression entails not costs to the aggressor but rewards.

Mr. President,

The aggression committed by the Eritrean regime against Ethiopia is unprecedented in more ways than one. First, it is aggression, which was not only unprovoked, but was also carried out against a state which, until the day of the aggression, was a true friend of Eritrea, probably the only true friend that Eritrea had until that day of infamy when it decided to stab Ethiopia in the back. Secondly, this is an aggression which was designed, paradoxical as it may seem, to impose Eritrea's will and policy on a country which is in no shape or form suited to play second fiddle to Eritrea. It is quite possible that Ethiopia's preoccupation with development and with the fight against poverty over the past several years might have created the wrong impression in the minds of Eritrea's leaders with a fixation on muscle-flexing and military might.

Mr. President,

Conscious of its responsibility not only for its own people but also for peace and the image of our sub-region, Ethiopia has exerted, and continues to exert, the maximum possible effort to ensure the peaceful resolution of this crisis which was created solely by the Eritrean aggression against Ethiopia and the subsequent occupation of Ethiopian territory. Our full co-operation with the various efforts made in this regard ----ranging from the US-Rwandan facilitation to the on-going effort by the OAU----attest to the maximum self-restraint that Ethiopia has demonstrated under difficult circumstances and in the complete absence of a rational and reasonable partner for peace on the part of Eritrea since the early days of the aggression.

Mr. President,

The origin of the crisis between Ethiopia and Eritrea is not any bilateral dispute between the two countries. Rather, it is the result of aggression --- an unprovoked aggression which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law. To many this Eritrean aggression against Ethiopia has been incomprehensible. But to those like us who are familiar with the internal Eritrean situation the behaviour of the Eritrean Government stems directly from the total absence of the normal characteristics of a state in Eritrea. The absolute failure of institutions, the absence of the rule of law, and the lack of accountability can explain the aggressive behaviour of the Eritrean leadership towards its neighbours ever since the establishment of Eritrea as an independent state. As a result, these factors also constitute the single most important cause for the current crisis between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The fact that, Mr. President, aggression was committed against Ethiopia by Eritrea has been indisputable for sometime now. This has been the position and conclusion of all those who have so far tried, under difficult circumstances of Eritrea's obduracy and lack of civility, to make their good offices available as facilitators and as brokers for peace in this conflict. No one who has been intimately involved with these various efforts for peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea would fail to see that Eritrea has never ever been prepared to give peace a chance. No one who has been close to the efforts that have been made so far to resolve the crisis peacefully would fail to have noted not only the absolute disregard for peace on the part of the Eritrean authorities, but also their attempt to conceal the truth, their lack of transparency and the sheer failure to demonstrate a minimum of decency towards all those who have tried to help. Nevertheless, it is indeed regrettable that the conclusion appears to have been drawn by some, jettisoning principles, that in the face of the known irrationality bordering on the insane in Eritrea, what needs to be done is to lean on Ethiopia, the victim of the aggression, to compromise on principles and to agree to the appeasement of the aggressor and to reward aggression.

Two things must not be overlooked by the international community with regard to the enormous implications of Eritrea's aggression against Ethiopia for international law and for the future of peace and stability in our sub-region. First, it must be recognized that this is precisely a trap laid by the Eritrean authorities in the form of a deliberately designed game of chicken calculated, these authorities hope, to end with rewarding aggression. Needless to say, Ethiopia refuses to play according to the Eritrean script, and we call upon the international community to take the same resolute stand.

Secondly, it should never be assumed, Mr. President, that through appeasement, war would be averted and that durable peace can be ensured in our part of the world --- a part of the world which because of its recent history although admittedly needs peace most cannot be expected to pay any price to avoid war in particular by accommodating aggressors. Clearly it stands to reason and history has amply demonstrated that war cannot in the long run be averted by appeasing aggressors.

It is a total illusion, Mr. President, to believe that Eritrea would be tamed and we are saying this from experience. One just has to look at Eritrea's track record of the past few years in our area. Eritrea's propensity to aggression has manifested itself first in its belligerent attitude towards its neighbours over the past seven years culminating in its most extreme form of aggression against Ethiopia. In the face of such destructive attitude one may ask why such belligerence by Eritrea was tolerated for so long. The answer is that we somehow entertained the hope that since transition from leading a liberation movement to running an independent state would take time and that the Eritrean leadership would mature over time as it is the case in almost all other similar circumstances. But our hopes were finally dashed on 12 May 1998. In light of this, we have absolutely no doubt that if we failed telling the Eritrean authorities in no uncertain terms that their unruly behavour cannot be tolerated any longer the result will be even greater instability and interminable conflict in the sub-region with enormous implications for peace and stability in our continent.

That is why Mr. President, the Ethiopian Government and people firmly believe that this flagrant violation of international law by a small nation which is totally blinded with arrogance and led astray by a leadership which has concluded that brinkmanship would always pay should not be left unchallenged. On our part whether the international community stands with us or not, on the fundamental principle of preserving international law and resisting aggression, regardless of the consequences, we are prepared to stand alone if need be for principles as well as for our national dignity. This, Mr. President, as we all remember would not be the first time for Ethiopia to be in such a situation. In this connection, one is reminded of Emperor Haile Selassie and the League of Nations following Italian aggression against Ethiopia in 1936. The measure proposed at the time against Italy was the imposition of an oil embargo which certainly would have been effective in crippling Italian aggression against Ethiopia. Nevertheless, since appeasing Facist Italy was the preferred option for the great powers of the time the proposal was rejected. Instead, in a clear demonstration of injustice unprecedented in the history of inter-state conflicts an arms embargo was imposed by the League on both the aggressor, Italy, and the victim of aggression, Ethiopia. As a result we all know and history has recorded that this dismal failure of the League of Nations to prevent aggression was one of the causes which brought about the demise of the Organization and later contributed to the outbreak of the Second World War. It is Ethiopia's hope that this shameful episode would not be repeated by the international community today, although the nature and scale of the challenge Ethiopia is facing today is radically different and is not comparable to that it faced during those difficult days on the eve of the Second World War.

Mr. President,

The United Nations is still grappling with various issues affecting international peace and security around the world. Among these the situation in Angola is a cause for serious concern to us. The behavour of UNITA clearly constitutes a dangerous trend which might lead to the derailment of the peace process, namely, the full implementation of the Lusaka Protocol. We urge the United Nations to exert maximum effort to save the fragile situation in Angola and ensure the establishment of lasting peace and stability in that country.

On the situation in the Middle East we hope every effort will be exerted towards the full implementation of the Oslo Accords with a view to establishing durable peace in the area.

With regard to the question of Western Sahara it is our earnest hope that the proposed referendum on the future of the territory will be held as soon as possible to bring about the final and successful settlement of the issue.

Mr. President,

As a founding member of this Organization Ethiopia has always been prepared to contribute to the best of its ability to all efforts designed to make the UN and its various organs more effective and more representative.

Accordingly, my country attaches great importance to the ongoing exercises aimed, among other things, at reforming and restructuring the Security Council. A satisfactory, fruitful and expeditious outcome of this process is indeed vital for the effectiveness, credibility and, I might add, for the enhanced legitimacy of the world body.

For Ethiopia, and for all those who have trust in the efficacy of multilateralism, there is no alternative to the United Nations. The UN should, therefore, be protected and what it stands for --- whether in the areas of economic co-operation, disarmament and human rights ---- promoted and fostered with all the dedication and commitment. In this endeavour Ethiopia will continue to be second to none in discharging its responsibilities to the UN in this and other activities of the Organization.

I, therefore, wish to conclude by renewing Ethiopia's commitment to the United Nations and to what it stands for.

I thank you.


End of Document 3 of 4

Beginning of Document 4 of 4 Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 11:58:47 -0500 (GMT-0500)
From: Harold Marcus
To: Ken Wilburn

----------------------------Original message----------------------------

Forwarded message
Date: Fri, 2 Oct 1998 16:52:50 +0200
From: "G.G. Mekonnen"
Reply-To: Ethiopian Email Distribution Network

=======> "E E D N -- A Home away from Home" <=======


Dear Ato Deneke HMariam,

you have distributed an article from the ERITREAN PROPAGANDA MACHINARY in Asmara. It is really a distorting information when you deliberatly try to inform all ethiopians that the article originates from ETHIO.COM. There is NO article of this sort in You got it from "Source : Eritrea Profile Vol. 5 No. 29 September 26, 1998 " present in the eritrean network information center.

G.G. Mekonnen


-----Urspr|ngliche Nachricht-----
Von: Deneke HMariam
Datum: Friday, October 02, 1998 12:16 PM

=======> "E E D N -- A Home away from Home" <=======
All material posted on EEDN is the sole responsibility of the author. No Material can be distributed, or reposted in another medium. Visit Ethiopia on the WEB at URL:--> ====> ETHIOPIA-REQUEST@HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM <====

N.B.: An interesting article from if you have time to read.

The Woyane leadership in Ethiopia - Some personal observations
by Professor Asmerom Kidane

Except for six years of graduate work and employment in the United States I had lived most of my life in Addis Ababa. I have many friends from all ethnic groups, I established family and was employed at the Addis Ababa University starting from graduate assistant all the way to the position of full professor. In my capacity as applied statistician, I was involved in teaching, supervising graduate students, conducting research and university management, advising various ministries and parastatals as well as representing the University in various regional and international organizations. In early 1995 I left Ethiopia for the United States; starting on September 1996 I joined University of Asmara on a permanent basis and I am enjoying every minute of it!

The reason why I am prefacing my article by the above paragraph is to impress the readers that I know Ethiopia and Ethiopians fairly well. I am familiar with the socio-political setting of the country starting from the empire state, to the era of the Derg all the way to the establishment of the TPLF government in 19" and afterwards. In general I feel I am in a position to put my impressions on the current TPLF leadership.

I wanted to write this article after witnessing the recent provocations, preposterous lies, character assassinations and deceptions that is being labelled against Eritrea and Eritreans by the Woyane radio and TV, by their cadres and diplomats especially their "loose mouth" foreign minister-Seyoum Mesfin.

Over the past century or so Ethiopia has been ruled by Haileselassie which was replaced by the Derg. Both these regimes had all along been challenged by Eritrea and later by different Ethiopian opposition groups main amongst them the TPLF which worked hand in hand with the EPLF. Both these organisations in the course of their struggle inflicted heavy defeat on the Derg army.

Since 1988 the Derg regime thought that it would somehow prevail and that Eritrea and Tigray would eventually be subdued. After the famous battle of Afabet in March of 1988, however, it began to realize that its grip on Eritrea was fading; it more or less came to the conclusion that the liberation of Eritrea as being a fait accompli and began to openly discuss as to how Eritrea would be free. The 1989 attempted coup against Mengistu as well as the 1990 capture of Massawa by the EPLF and the advances by the TPLF put the final nail into the coffin.

In the mean time the Ethiopian ruling class became very resentful of the TPLF advances; They began to realize that their grip to power was slipping rapidly.

The inevitable happened in 19" - the Derg was overthrown and the TPLF formed a government. Their resentment intensified when the TPLF government redrew the provisional boundaries by awarding themselves a big chunk of fertile land that originally belonged to Gondar and Wollo; the entire country was stunned at this unilateral declaration of annexation. Towards the end, most of the Derg servants rallied behind Mengistu-the man who murdered their leaders, relatives and friends; the man who liquidated their "heroes" the generals of the Derg army. In the end many Derg sympathisers realized that they could no longer challenge the EPLF and TPLF. Their remaining option was to plant seeds of hatred and animosity among these two groups. Thanks to the latest series of TPLF glaring errors adventures and miscalculations, they seem to have momentarily succeeded.

In May 19" the TPLF-EPRDF took the helms of power in Ethiopia (actually the name EPRDF is a misnomer; for all intents and purposes the TPLF is the real power in Ethiopia. The others are nothing but satellite parties and would probably secede from the "coalition" if and when the opportunity arises). From the time the TPLF entered Addis Ababa they were extremely unpopular. One day after they took power there was a mass demonstration in Addis Ababa against the new leadership; the demonstration was partly organized by the former Mengistu's henchmen. Scores of people have died and the new authorities had no choice but to declare a dusk to dawn curfew. This is in distinct contrast to the liberation of Eritrea where the leadership of the latter lifted all curfews and other restrictions for the first time in thirty years or so.

The TPLF authorities had to heavily depend on local EPLF supporters. We took it upon ourselves to assist them in any way we can sometimes at the expense of compromising our safety. We felt that assisting the TPLF was tantamount to expressing our solidarity with the Provisional Government of Eritrea. At the same time the TPLF leadership was facilitating the formation of different Eritrean professional, civic and other associations in Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia. While Eritreans were raising funds for the rehabilitation of their new country, they were equally enthusiastic doing the same for various causes of the new government's program.

In order to maintain law and order, former Kebele officers in urban centres of Ethiopia had to be replaced by Peace and Stability Committee. The entire Kebele and government bureaucracy were dominated by elements extremely hostile to the new government. At the same time Addis Ababa was in a virtual state of anarchy with weapons and grenades in the possession of disbanded and demoralized Derg soldiers and others. In order to put this explosive situation under control the TPLF leadership felt that the newly formed Peace and Stability Committee must, by and large, be composed of would be loyalists; the TPLF leadership again heavily depended on Eritreans. It saddens me to see that Eritreans residing in Ethiopia who contributed immensely towards consolidating TPLF's hold to power and to the maintenance of law and order are now humiliated and labelled as security risks, agents of Shabiya and then declared persona non grata.

After consolidating its power the TPLF leadership began "to address pressing economic issues" facing the nation. The TPLF followed two distinct economic policies within Ethiopia; one for the nation other than Tigray and another for the latter alone. Some of the economic rehabilitation measures that were undertaken in Tigray were quite standard and probably satisfactory; these include the rehabilitation of social infrastructures such as schools, clinics, health centers and hospitals. However others were not; they seem to be grandeur projects that require substantial capital outlays with marginal benefits. As a foundation for the future establishment of the University of Mekelle, two colleges, the college of Business as well as the college of Agricultural and Engineering were established. The Ethiopian Commission for Higher Education, a body that oversees the smooth operation of higher education institutions in the country was never consulted. The Commission had legitimate concerns as this new undertaking was not properly integrated into the nation's educational plan. No prior preparation was made; no library, insufficient textbook, mediocre teaching staff and hardly any building. Some Ethiopians began to refer these institutions as Open Air Colleges. Many professionals openly refused to participate in the preparation and implementation of this grandeur project. Some of us, despite some misgivings assisted in the preparation of curriculum and related assignments. This was out of our wish to see the TPLF leadership succeed in its endeavour.

The most serious flaw appeared when the TPLF government launched its most grandeur plan- a plan that aims at industrialising Tigray "overnight". The project seems to be similar to the disastrous "Great leap forward" plan of China that was initiated by the country's communist party in 1958. This industrial policy was simplistic, amateurish and probably dangerous. First the resources earmarked for this, though substantial by national standards, were still limited. These resources could have been efficiently utilized in alternate undertaking such as the development of the agricultural sector, the development of handicraft and small scale industries as well as other more realistic and feasible projects. It should be noted that all the fund was secured from the central treasury without due process to standard budgetary allocation.

This ambitious and "daring" industrial undertaking included the simultaneous establishment of a cement factory in Makelle, textile factory in Adwa, a brewery, with the collaboration of a Dutch company in Abi Adi, Tembien. With regards to the latter, TPLF cadres were openly bragging that they would capture the entire beer market of Northern Ethiopia and Eritrea thereby dwarfing the Melotti factory at Asmara. Along with these three, there were also other grandeur "white elephant" projects.

Besides being simplistic and unrealistic, the so called industrialization of Tigray had other flaws. First the TPLF decision to undertake these establishments was inconsistent with the national plan and contrary to the government's commitment made to the IMF-World Bank that they would privatize all state owned enterprises. On the one hand the IMF-World Bank imposed structural adjustment programmes were being implemented in earnest in other regions of Ethiopia. State owned agricultural, industrial, construction and service sector establishments were being privatized resulting in extreme hardship to thousands of employees, their families and other dependents. On the other hand the already mentioned grandeur industrial establishments to be constructed in Tigray were government owned and operated.

The above establishments were undertaken without even attempting to consider the most elementary form of feasibility study. Issues that ought to be considered in the establishment of industrial enterprises where never entertained. Availability of inputs, appropriateness of sites, marketability of outputs, availability of skilled labour, appropriateness of technology, environmental factors etc. were not considered.

Basic infrastructures that are necessary for smooth transport of inputs and final products were not available. Also the TPLF leadership had little regard for standard accounting and audit process. Millions of Birr continue to be squandered for these establishments. On the average it may take three to five years between the inception of an industrial establishment like the cement and the commencement of production. The TPLF wanted to establish such factories in a matter of months. In general TPLF leadership does not seem to differentiate between possibility and feasibility. Given sufficient resources it is possibility to erect any establishment at any time and place. But with extreme resource constraints, alternate investment sectors ought to be considered. TPLF leadership did not take this into consideration and seem to recklessly squander public money.

One of the most laughable and outrageous industrial projects was a proposed establishment of Paper and Pulp factory in the Maichew area. An engineer, a prominent biologist and myself were asked to participate in the preparation of the project. The engineer and myself asked for clarification as to whether policy makers are aware that the major input in the Paper and Pulp factory is the availability of forests and trees. A TPLF cadre present at the meeting stated that he is definitely aware of this. I then stated that the Maichew area is by no means an appropriate site for the establishment of Paper and Pulp factory as there is hardly any tree in the vicinity. The TPLF cadre then gave us an answer that was difficult to comprehend. He stated he is aware of a new tree variety that is appropriate for arid zone areas like Maichew; the seeds would be imported from abroad immediately, seedling will then be germinated, planted, grown and one can easily grow trees and "make forests"! The trees will be used as inputs in the proposed establishment. We strongly argued that this is an exercise in futility; I even stated that this idea should never have been entertained by responsible policy makers. The TPLF cadre was adamant; he stated that funds were already earmarked to undertake preliminary study; he asked me if I could go to Maichew and make a study on labour supply in Maichew area; he offered me perdiem and honorarium. I declined the offer and never showed up at their meeting again. Later I came to understand that they were still considering the idea in earnest and that funds are earmarked for the purpose.

At a national level some of the economic policy of the TPLF government is leading the country down hill. As stated above, they had agreed to undertake a very painful structural adjustment programme as prescribed by the IMF and World Bank and as a result thousands continue to suffer miserably. I was given an assignment by the World Bank to study the social and distributional consequences of the structural adjustments in Addis Ababa and in Makelle in 19". I was able to find that one out of every three residents are poor and that massive funds have to be earmarked in order to alleviate the plight of the poor. All this is the result of a blind adherence and complete submission to the instructions of IMF-World Bank.

Because of its submission the TPLF government began to receive billions of Birr in the form of grants and loans, especially the latter. The country was already debt ridden as a result of the Derg's military adventures and this continued to pile up after 19". Nowadays large portion of the country's foreign exchange earning is earmarked for debt servicing; mainly for payments on the interest from debt-not the principal. Initially the annual growth rate of the economy was about six percent; however this growth is apparent than real as it is driven by foreign loans and not based on private investment. As soon as the loans dry up what will happen is anybody's guess.

Funds continue to be wrongly earmarked. Instead of investing on carefully chosen and priority sectors, the government continues to squander its limited resources on grandeur projects. Failure to earmark appropriate funds for the prevention of HIV-AIDS has resulted in the high incidence of the latter. About 3 million Ethiopians are suffering from this deadly virus; the figures continue to increase at an exponential rate; the city of Adama (Nazreth) in Southern Ethiopia has one of the highest incidences of HIV-AIDS in the world.

The agricultural policy is also far from satisfactory. Recently the TPLF government introduced an extension package programme where farmers are believed to have been provided with better seeds, fertilizers, chemicals and implements. Later they concocted some statistical data claiming that productivity per acre has increased several folds and that Ethiopia has not only become self sufficient but also a net exporter of cereals. The international media-VOA, BBC, Radio Germany and others began to applaud the TPLF government's achievement in food self sufficiency and for being able to export grains to nearby Kenya. Six months later the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission of Ethiopia announced that millions of Ethiopians are on the verge of starvation and urgently requested the world community for thousands of tons of food aid. What a farce! To play with statistics is the highest form of deception and hypocrisy.

Because of this continuous adventures and mishaps the TPLF leadership is becoming more and more isolated even among their satellite parties. Whenever they move from an area to another, to and from the airport they are heavily protected by soldiers with light and heavy weapons; the entire traffic flow on their routes is blocked, cars are rerouted and at times business disrupted. Intimidation and harassment by security agents is common. At one of his press conferences the current prime minister was commenting on the success of one of the local "elections". He stated that he had personally visited one of the voting precincts and noted that the electorate was supportive and enthusiastic.

When asked as to which election precinct he visited and whether he spoke to the voters, his response was quite revealing; he said he had to do it incognito!

In this article I have tried to record some of my observations and experiences with the TPLF government between 19"-1995. I was made to note my impressions after observing the recent war of aggression of the TPLF government against its neighbour and probably a natural ally. I was at first shocked at the lies and deceptions of the TPLF propaganda through their radio, TV, their cadres and their diplomats.

However when I relate my experience with the TPLF as expressed in the article, with their current state of behaviour and their neighbour, and their treatment of innocent Eritreans residing in Ethiopia, I am not surprised at all. These people are nothing but vicious and mean spirited.

A political organization like TPLF that depends on lies and deceptions fails to comprehend that living in harmonious relation with a neighbouring country has a lot of advantage-both political, economic, social and psychological. They appear to have no vision; they know that they are unpopular in Ethiopia and as of recent in Tigray. They have now declared war on their only remaining natural ally.

Through their deceptions they may have gained some psychological satisfaction. However, this is nothing but a short run phenomenon. In the long run, they are likely to be in deep trouble. The Ethiopian people including that of Tigray will be aware of their policies to the degree they could no longer accept them and rise against them.

Will the International Community foot the bill for Ethiopia's reckless military adventure?

There is a perverted logic coming out from Addis Ababa these days. Ethiopia's leaders are unabashedly telling their people that the "international community will support the military offensive" that they intend to unleash against Eritrea. What is more, they are falsely claiming that "Ethiopia will obtain substantial external assistance to re-build what may be destroyed in the war".

This sickening argument first appeared in the September (1998) issue of the EPRDF weekly paper: "Revolutionary Democracy". But the TPLF ideologue and politburo member, Abaye Tsehaye, has repeated the same convoluted logic in an interview with Radio Tigray on Wednesday this week. In his words; "...We have made all the necessary preparations, military and otherwise. I have no doubts whatsoever that our aim of teaching Eritrea an unforgettable lesson, of annihilating the enemy, will be fully accomplished. ...Tigray is in the front- line and the war may entail physical destruction to our factories. But we shall solicit assistance for reconstructing what may be destroyed...".

Ethiopia's intransigence is pushing a border conflict that is so easily amenable to a peaceful and legal solution to the brink of a full-scale war. In the first place, the skirmishes that occurred between May 6 and 12 in the Badme area were triggered by the unprovoked attack of Ethiopian army contingents on Eritrean patrol units. It was also Ethiopia that launched the first air strike against Asmara on June 5, 1998. And, it has been weeks now since Ethiopia's leaders - from senior EPRDF leaders including President Negaso Gidada down to all the army Generals - have been bragging about their full and meticulous preparations "now well-known to friend and foe alike" to launch a full-scale war against Eritrea.

Apparently, Ethiopia's leaders have a delusion of their military might. They seem to have contracted a fatal fixation of "teaching Eritrea a lesson" and, in the words of Abaye Tsehaye, "installing a new government in Asmara" that will be at the beck and call of Addis Abeba. This pipe-dream has made them oblivious to the loss of human life and immense material destruction that any war between the two countries is bound to entail.

But what is galling is their audacity to portray their adventure as something endorsed by the international community. They are resorting to this inexcusable fabrication with the sole and debased aim of pushing the innocent citizens to support the war in the belief that its disastrous consequences would be cushioned by a sympathetic international community.

Otherwise, the writing on the wall is crystal clear. Ethiopia has been told, time and again, by all concerned governments and international bodies to seek a peaceful and legal resolution to the conflict. The resolutions adopted by the OAU, the Security Council, the Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement all speak the same language: to avert an escalation of the conflict by ensuring an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities. The resolution (see box) adopted this week in Brussels by the ACP-EU Joint Assembly (which brings together 15 European, and 71 Afro-Caribbean and Pacific countries) sums up succinctly the stance of the international community on this unfortunate and avoidable conflict.

But in their frenzy to impose a military solution, Ethiopia's leaders are quite capable of misreading the word. When the conflict was about to be discussed in the UN Security Council last June, Ethiopia's impetuous Deputy Foreign Minister, Tekeda Alemu, had boasted: "... the US Government and the international community are on our side and we are certain that the UN Security Council Resolution will be supportive of Ethiopia. This will allow us to take any action we want on the Eritrean leader as he will have been portrayed as Saddam Hussein and on Eritrea. The Port of Assab will fall into our hands in the next few days". Mr. Tekeda had to chew his words when Security Council members told him, through Resolution 1177/1998, that his crazy ideas do not find currency in such august bodies.

The international community is not only opposed to an escalation of the conflict but several governments have warned Ethiopia, in the strongest possible terms, that the substantial development assistance that it gets will be terminated if it resorts to war. And Ethiopia depends heavily on external assistance. The World Bank's resident representative in Addis Abeba, Mr. Omar Faez, acknowledged early this month that "Ethiopia is not only the largest client of the Bank in Africa but also among its largest clients world-wide.... Up to this fiscal year which ended in June 1998, the Bank has financed projects worth 669 million dollars in the country". Similarly, Ethiopia is the largest recipient of European Union (EU) support both in programmable and non- programmable resources ahead of any other ACP State, receiving 265 million ecu from Lome IV alone.

In light of these circumstances, the dire implications of war have been sternly conveyed to Ethiopia's envoys when they toured several European capitals last month. If they have misread this message or wish to disregard it, it will only be to their peril. The Ethiopian people too will not be hoodwinked by their transparent deceit.


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Last Revised: 8 October 1998

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