Radio Erena: 08 December 2020
On the 4th of December, the Arabic program of Radio Erena presented a comprehensive program on the impacts of the recent Ethiopian war on Eritrea. Here, we would like to share some of the contents with our readers.
All existing signs point to the active Eritrean military intervention in the fighting which erupted in Tigray on the morning of November 4.
Eyewitnesses have confirmed to Radio Erena the massive troop movement from different parts of Eritrea to the border with Ethiopia. Military service recruits and soldiers were called to report to their units without further delay. Families abroad have confirmed the news of their family members being engaged in the battles; as well as some families obtained confirmed news of some of their members being injured in action. Health services authorities have also asked inhabitants of the capital to donate blood.
Finally, the former Defense Minister Mr. Mesfin Hagos has given a detailed account of the Eritrean army’s participation in the fight in Tigray. These troops, according to his letter to Eritrea Hub website, included elite commando units whose members spearheaded the attack against Tigrayan armed forces from the North.
It is now an open secret that Eritrean troops played a decisive role in the encroachment of Ethiopian government troops into Tigray. It had provided a wide-range artillery shelling cover in Shire-Shiraro Axis, the matter which led Tigray forces to bombard Asmara with Missiles. Keeping to a low-profile role in the war, Asmara hasn’t officially responded to these unprecedented attacks. Furthermore, Farmers from the Akhran area were forced to feed and shelter Ethiopian soldiers. Premier Abiy Ahmed himself referred to this fact when he thanked Eritrea for feeding and sheltering the Ethiopian soldiers who fled from the attack on the Northern Command in his brief to the Parliament. Eritrea’s dictator Isias Afewerki has more than a reason to actively engage in the war. A victory in this Ethiopian war would mean removing the last-ditch of enemies blocking the lethal ambitions of the Eritrean avaricious leader. Two birds with one stone: to remove the Tigray formidable enemy and to pave the road for his regional superior leadership along with his junior ally Abiy Ahmed. This long-sought regional leadership had long been in the center of his war against the one-time powerful Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi.
Equally, Tigray leaders were the ones who refused to pull out Ethiopia’s troops from Badme and other occupied Eritrean territories. Tigray People’s Liberation Front TPLF leaders used the heavily armed Northern Command near Mikelle as a deterring post against any Eritrean military adventure to recapture the occupied territories. Tigray leadership did not hide its dismay about Abiy Ahmed’s agreement with Isias Afwerki regarding the implementation of Eritrean Ethiopian Border Commission ruling, claiming that this matter concerns Tigray more than the federal government in Addis Ababa, therefore, Tigray should always have the last say in the relations with Eritrea in addition to military-related decisions. Defeating the archrival TPLF leaders represents the godsend chance for Isias to win back the occupied territories and the regional political stature.
Assuming that the joint Ethiopian-Eritrean campaign won full control over the Tigray region, what would be the impact of such victory?
It would mean opening the trade routes and allowing Ethiopia direct access to Eritrean ports- the closure of borders hindered the mutual agreement regarding operating Massawa port-, Humara, Zalambessa will resume their leading commercial roles. It’s also anticipated that reviving the trade exchange between Eritrea and Ethiopia would ease the economic hardships on Eritreans in cities and countryside.
Despite the benefits, the defeat of Afwerki’s enemies will have some essential injurious impacts. Three decades under dictatorship made the idea of the presence of some enemy or another indispensable component of the dictator’s policies to cling to power. Actually, Isaias Afwerki cannot rule without a horrible and impending enemy, be it real or imagined. The militarization policies, the unending widely acclaimed conspiracy theory against Eritrea and its people are the essential gimmicks in the dictator’s toolkit.
Then, who will replace the defeated TPLF leaders in Isaias’s future plans?
The predominant possibility is that the Tigray region will turn into an incessant headache for both Asmara and Addis Ababa if TPLF leaders choose guerrilla warfare; in this case, Isias will not put his guns down; and the army will always be ready for the call. If the dust settles and the region is peaceful, which is a flimsy possibility, the war-worshiper Isias will turn to the West of the country to start his next badly needed war, for which he will never be short of excuses.
As usual, peace will bring with it the inflammable questions of development, democratization, soldiers’ demobilization, and rampant human rights abuses, such demands will definitely stretch his rule to the breaking point, given the fact his rule has never been flexible or tolerant to positive winds of change.
By Fathi Osman