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Re: Fw: Annan blames Ethiopia...

by alexy2k gerard

10 April 2000 02:56 UTC

>Ethiopia is undoubtedly run by gangsters. So is Eritrea.  In fact these
>gangsters were in a very, very close alliance. Both regimes have many
>political prisoners. Both have resorted to assassination against critics.

hello Alan:

I do not dispute the  point that you made above.  However, you cannot use 
for avoiding to take a stand on issue in question which is the devastating 
war and the impending famine.  I have followed it closely and I assure you 
that the gangsters in Ethiopia are the intransigent ones as their ambition 
is to reverse Eritrean independence and dominate the region.  This same 
gangsters are also perpetrating untold crimes against the long suffering 
Oromo people.  For a little background, please read the following peice.



Why Ethiopia Doesn’t Want Peace

Okbazghi Yohannes April 6, 2000

I must admit that, after thinking long and hard, I have reached the 
conclusion that the conflict and the consequent war between Eritrea and 
Ethiopia over Badame is a superficial representation of something larger 
that has to do with the mind-set of the Ethiopians in general and the 
Tigrayan-controlled regime in particular. Before elaborating on this point, 
I would like to bring two cardinal questions to the attention of the 

First, the fact that the Eritrean Government has unequivocally accepted the 
Algiers peace plan must be acknowledged in contrast to the intransigence of 
the Ethiopian regime on the matter.  The ball is now in Ethiopia’s court.  
Therefore, the international community has an obligation to bring sustained 
pressure to bear on the Ethiopian regime to quit dragging its feet and come 
to the peace table.     

The second question involves the gross international misperception 
surrounding the nature and genesis of the conflict.  Precisely because they 
ask the wrong questions, many journalists and even scholars have difficulty 
understanding how two former stalwart allies could fight over a desolate 
piece of land.  Without a proper diagnosis of the problem, no one can 
squarely face the challenge of peace in the area.    

I sincerely believe that the Ethio-Eritrean confrontation over Badame is a 
sheer pretext on Ethiopia’s side for a larger ambition.  In 1992, long 
before the eruption of hostility between the two countries, the British 
human rights activist and keen watcher of African politics, Alex Dewal, had 
actually foreseen a serious problem looming in what he termed “Abyssinian 
fundamentalism”.  The Amhara and Tigrayans of Ethiopia traditionally 
referred to as Abyssinians to distinguish them from the rest of Ethiopians, 
have the antiquated notion of land and sovereignty.  Their geographic 
definition of Ethiopia runs counter to the modern conception of territorial 
delimitations and the principle of self-determination. 

 It was this fundamentalist orientation that fueled Ethiopia’s thirty years 
war on Eritrea, claiming that Eritrea was historically part of Ethiopia.  
Still imbued with the same delusional perspective, the Amhara and Tigrayans 
had been having difficulty accepting Eritrea’s independence.  Given this 
mind-set, it was only a matter of time before the Ethiopian regime embarked 
on a belligerent policy against Eritrea.      

The Adwa syndrome is the logical frame of reference for Abyssinian 
fundamentalists as the Amhara and Tigrayans have been socialized into 
internalizing the doctrine of Ethiopia’s almost boundless territorial reach 
and self-invincibility.  The unavoidable consequence of this syndrome is 
belief that only a military solution is the viable option.  It is no 
coincidence that the Ethiopian regime today draws a bogus parallel between 
Ethiopia’s victory at Adwa in 1896 against the Italians and its seizure of 
very tiny piece of land around Badame a year ago.  Under the battlecry: 
“Adwa victory repeated at Badame,” the regime temporarily succeeded in 
calling Ethiopians to the streets of Addis Ababa in its attempt to create 
unbridgeable gulf between the peoples of the two countries. 

Although the Amhara and the Tigrayans share the belief in “greater Ethiopia 
ideology,” watered by Abyssinian fundamentalism and the Adwa syndrome, 
is an additional complicating factor, having to do with the emergence of a 
bellicose Tigrayan nationalism, one that seeks to establish Tigrayan 
dominance in Ethiopian politics.  We need to recall that until the 
mid-eighties the Tigray People’s Liberation Front was wholly committed to 
creating an independent Tigrayan state. 

However, it soon dawned on the TPLF leadership that Tigray, poorly endowed 
with natural resources and surrounded by Eritrea on the north and southeast 
on the one hand, and by the Amhara of Ethiopia on the south and west on the 
other, could not and would not exist as a viable state.  So the TPLF 
leadership reversed gears and embraced the “greater Ethiopia ideology” as a 
means of realizing their “greater” Tigray ambition.  In order to achieve 
this desiratum, the TPLF judiciously sought the simultaneous cooptation of 
Eritrean partnership and containment of the Oromo Liberation Front, the 
object being effective displacement of the Amhara and establishment of 
Tigrayan dominance.  This strategy was responsible for the TPLF coming to 
power in Addis Ababa in May 1991. 

Knowing full well that the TPLF, representing just 6% of Ethiopia’s 60 
million people, could not rule Ethiopia without enforcing horizontal ethnic 
fragmentation, the leadership devised ethnic federalism as a stratagem to 
anchor “greater” Tigray within the political framework of “greater 
Ethiopia.”  The stratagem allowed the Tigrayans to snatch territories 
originally belonging to the Amhara provinces of Wello and Gondar under the 
pretext of ethnic identity.  However, the territorial reorganization of 
“greater” Tigray placed the TPLF leadership in a quandary regarding the 
question of how to incorporate territories that are within the confines of 
independent Eritrea. 

In addition, the notion of “ethnic federalism” and the TPLF’s involuntary 
acquiescence in Eritrean independence in exchange for EPLF support soon 
created a legitimacy crisis for the Tigrayan leadership since the now 
alienated Amhara conveniently accused the Tigrayans of betraying one of the 
fundamentals of Abyssinian nationalism, namely the territorial 
indivisibility of Ethiopia, by allowing Eritrean independence to take 

As part of the effort to deal with the legitimacy crisis confronting the 
regime in Addis Ababa, the Tigrayan leadership promptly crafted two 
complimentary strategies.  The first is a minimalist strategy designed to 
strengthen the position of “greater” Tigray within “greater” Ethiopia by 
securing an access to the sea through the annexation of Assab, in the 
southeastern region of Eritrea.  The second is the maximalist strategy, 
on enlarging the territorial reach of “greater” Tigray through the 
reabsorption of the whole of Eritrea while at the same time regaining the 
entire Red Sea regions of Eritrea for Ethiopia.  In effect, the maximalist 
strategy would undo Eritrea’s independence.  Apart from denying their 
rivals reason for opposing the Ethiopian regime, the strategy, if realized, 
would allow the Tigrayan leadership to solidify their grip on power.  
lies the origin of the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. 

Badame is simply a small outlet for the realization of the larger Tigrayan 
ambition.  The Tigrayan leadership could have invented any other incident 
begin a provocation or confrontation with Eritrea.  Thus, in truth, the 
fundamental obstacles on the road to peace today are the general Ethiopian 
mind-set and the virulent nationalism of the Tigrayans.  This is something 
most analysts, scholars and statesmen have failed to understand. 

There are also two additional factors that are reinforcing Ethiopia’s 
intransigence.  First in the past one hundred years, Ethiopia has benefited 
from the services of a galaxy of expatriates, who overtime developed 
bonds with Ethiopia and the charming elite of the country.  Most of these 
expatriates have today become the unofficial mouthpiece, propagandists and 
defenders of the Ethiopian cause. Some of them are in academia, others are 
in government, and still others are in private policy-making organizations. 

These international propagandists in the Ethiopian cause are the 
the Levines, the Erlichs, the Marcuses, the Gilkes, the Claphams, the 
Heinzes, and Smiths of this world.  Because of their expatriate identity 
their connection to the world of knowledge and politics, and the media, 
these individuals have been able to effectively orchestrate and legitimize 
the Ethiopian regime’s dangerously misleading diplomatic maneuvers, thereby 
obscuring the real cause of the Ethio-Eritrean conflict. 

They have thus far succeeded in effectively scuttling from the 
radar screen the humanitarian dimensions of the conflict, particularly the 
plight of the over 70,000 Eritreans and Ethiopian nationals of Eritrean 
origin, deported by the TPLF-led regime after confiscating their hundreds 
millions of dollars worth of property. 

Even as recently as February 17th, 2000, neither President Clinton nor 
Secretary Albright made a reference to the humanitarian tragedy besetting 
these deportees in their speeches before the National Summit on Africa.  
Even the more starkly bizarre thing was the fact that Gail Smith, the 
Clinton Administration’s Senior Director for Africa and Ethiopia’s 
mouthpiece within the Administration, never said a word on the ethnic 
cleansing taking place in Ethiopia despite the fact that the topic of her 
speech before the National Summit was “Democracy and Human Rights in 
Africa.”  It is such callous indifference to the human tragedy that has 
given the Ethiopian regime a false sense of confidence that it can prevail 
over the Eritreans in international diplomacy.  This has certainly 
reinforced the belligerently intransigent position of the Tigrayan 
leadership, making them blind to the larger picture regarding the 
consequences of the war.      

The second factor reinforcing Ethiopia’s intransigence is the myopic belief 
of the Tigrayans that they could militarily prevail over Eritrea because of 
Ethiopia’s superior endowment in terms of both population and natural 
resources.  The belief is, however, delusional.  The truth is that the 
in the demographic and resource distributions has not changed for in the 
past thirty years, the ratio in the demographic and economic distributions 
between Eritrea and Ethiopia was one-to-eighteen, and the same ratio holds 
today.  The previous Ethiopian regime had collected $11 billion worth of 
military gadgets, and yet it could not prevail over the Eritrean struggle. 

After all, nations are judged not by how many resources they have but by 
they manage their resources in the furtherance of the common good, the 
welfare of their citizens, and of human understanding and cooperation.  We 
Eritreans may be poor in material resources and small in number; but we are 
richly endowed with the valor, ingenuity, imagination, and resourcefulness 
of our people.  That made all the difference in the past, and will surely 
continue to make the difference in the future.
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