Crush and Punish: The Dictator’s War of Retribution

Radio Erena: 14 June 2021

Although the Eritrean government officials seldom discuss in private or in public the war situation in Tigray, it is not difficult to fathom the motives behind this blameworthy presence in this northern region of Ethiopia.

It’s a given fact that no war rages on without seemingly sound or lame excuse. Worldwide, the warlords and their media-control servants are the masters of doublespeak in this respect. In Eritrea, tracking the thin line of information that is trickling from Eritrean channels and officials can still illuminate the background of the military involvement in Tigray.

What the Eritrean media and government press releases reveal can give an implicit but not a mistaken reason why the Eritrean troops are out there for naked retribution. The soldiers are fighting to satisfy the murky and sickly desires of their ultimate Leader. Their pattern of behavior, in this regard, is telling.

Reliable sources disclosed to Radio Erena that the Eritrean troops are deliberately blocking food aid from reaching civilians in areas under their control, in ironic contrast to the Ethiopian Federal Army that is allowing NGOs to distribute food aid to the needy. Reports of a looming famine in Tigray can’t be denied. U.N. aid agencies sent out the cries of alarm. Blocking food aid is the main cause of the pending catastrophe.

The wounds, particularly the wounds to the dictator’s ego inherited from the previous war in 1998-2000 are the sole motivation behind this revengeful kind of behavior against the civilians in Tigray.

This merciless attitude of ‘crush and punish’ is rife and Asmara doesn’t tolerate any criticism of her heedless crusade against the civilians. The aim is all clear: crush the fighters and punish the civilians.

It is also not difficult to figure out the underlying currents of the discourses of the president and that of the Eritrean regime supporters abroad. A widespread argument assumes that when TPLF used all Ethiopia’s resources and might to attack Eritrea and its people, the whole world kept silent; now when our turn came to square the account and return the injuries the world jumped down our throats. This is in addition to the outright calls for the annihilation of all the Tigrayans. The Eritrean president and his generals want a carte blanche to finish what they have already begun last November in Tigray. Furthermore, social media is full of statements of regime supporters that the TPLF and the Tigrayans are paying for what they have once done to Eritreans.

At a higher level, Foreign Minister Osman Saleh distributed a letter on June 7, to the Security Council members blaming Biden’s Administration of “stocking further conflict and destabilization through interference and intimidation in the region.” The message is clear: let us finish what we have already started and don’t try to get the TPLF off the hook. Eritrean Minister of Information unambiguously accused the international community of trying to ‘absolve’ the TPLF.

Likewise, as today’s generations in Tigray are paying for injuries of the past, Eritrean future generations will pay for today’s blind policies. Civilians in Tembien and Axum and other areas under Eritrean forces’ control will not forget how ruthlessly they were treated by the Eritrean soldiers; exactly when the Eritreans themselves didn’t forget the suffering of 100,000 of their fellow citizens who were expelled barefoot from Ethiopia under Meles Zenawi’s rule during that ugly war.

Hundred or more years of wars in this region taught us that today’s wars are the debts of tomorrow. Repeating the same cycle of hatred and war and blaming others for them is not a wise policy.

Those who build the fire of this war won’t’ be around some hundred years from now, but what they had sowed will always be there, and for this unique reason, we shall always stand against this war and other absurd wars that will devastate the peoples’ cohabitation in the region; whoever is behind these deadly wars. It is not a war that demands great courage; it’s peace.

By Fathi Osman