Eritrea Can’t Afford to Lose Its Momentum
|United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (C) and Isaias Afwerki (L), President of Eritrea, meet at the 66th General Assembly Session at the United Nations on September 21, 2011 in New York City.|
Eritrea Can’t Afford to Lose Its Momentum
By Yohannes Kifle,
It has been almost fourteen years since the Algiers Agreement was signed between Eritrea and Ethiopia. To Eritreans, April 13, 2000, was a very historic day. The final and binding agreement was significant enough reaffirming Eritrea’s hard-earned independence. In fact, it was remarkable enough to confirm once and for all, Eritrea and Ethiopia are two independent states. Eritrea has always believed and continues to believe that the Algiers agreement that is final and binding is the only document that will bring everlasting peace between the two states. After the Algiers peace was signed, President Isaias Afeworki was asked to comment on the signing of the Algiers agreement, paraphrasing his comments he said: Just because we signed the paper, it doesn’t mean it is over…it might take us another 15 years to accomplish what was signed on paper. Eritrea’s pursuit of everlasting peace was unquestionable and was proved time and time again for the past 13 years. Eritrea wanted to keep the momentum for peace by staying on course. Unfortunately, Eritrea never had partners to bring the desired lasting peace.
The regime in Ethiopia was forced to accept the Algiers Peace Agreement out of desperation as time was running out on its attempt to capture the port of Asseb hoping it would change the dynamic of the peace negotiation. Those who were following the war between these two countries would remember the late prime minister’s bravado saying, “give us 72 hours and we will finish the war”. Of course, the war was over; however, the result wasn’t what the late Prime Minister was hoping for. The regime in Ethiopia realized its military adventure to capture Asseb was squashed decisively and it recognized pursuing the war would result with more embarrassing defeat.
The military defeat was so catastrophic that signing the Algiers agreement was the only option for the regime’s survival. Though both nations signed the Agreement their motives for signing the Algiers Agreement were diametrically opposed. Eritrea, with the upper hand and the desire for peace, went to Algiers to sign the peace agreement while the regime in Ethiopia dragged its feet to go to the peace signing table hoping a last minute miracle from its military camp will change the equation.
To put matters in perspective…here is what was said then.
Eritrea insisted the withdrawal was no surrender – even as its troops retreated from former eastern border strongholds after a punishing two-day battle that saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war. "Things are not what they appear on the ground," presidential spokesman Yemane Gebremeskel declared in the Eritrean capital, Asmara. "Ethiopia is gaining territory but losing the war."
"Although the Ethiopians are still pushing, they are running out of steam, their drive and capability is not what it was any more," presidential spokesman Yemane Gebreab told Reuters news agency.
The Algiers Agreement was derailed for the past thirteen years from achieving its sole purpose followed by a diplomatic slump that Eritrea faced and battled for several years. The architects of the diplomatic attack were no other than the institutions and countries (powerful countries) with hunger for punishing Eritrea and, at the same time, resuscitating the dying regime in Ethiopia. Eritrea’s crime for the unwarranted punishment was its desire to stay on course with the final and binding agreement signed in Algiers by both countries and supported by the very same institutions and countries that deviated from the spirit of the Algiers peace agreement. The pressure on Eritrea to renegotiate was intensified as it became clear that the final and binding verdict wasn’t in the best interest of the regime in Ethiopia. In an effort to justify their unlawful act, the institutions and those countries that are behind it started to force “dialogue” in the name of peace. Several options were entertained to kindle “dialogue”; nonetheless, Eritrea never promoted the so-called “dialogue” that wasn’t necessary in the first place.
Those countries and institutions with desire to force “dialogue” were not happy with Eritrea’s stand and had to change their strategies to weaken Eritrea and hoping to accomplish their objectives to force the government of Eritrea to accept “dialogue”. The schemes those institutions and countries used to weaken Eritrea include but are not limited to creating internal conflict, diplomatic isolation, economic sabotages, etc…The last resort was to accuse Eritrea of supporting a terrorist group in Somalia in order to pave the justification for sanctioning Eritrea. This accusation was conceived by the late prime minister of the regime and Susan Rice, the former U.N Ambassador.
Lately, the regime in Ethiopia is confronted with economic and political obstacles coupled with unfavorable political statements from former officials of the U.S. Government that rattled its cage. Although, Herman Cohen and David Shinn were heard with comments that favored Eritrea, it shouldn’t be perceived as if lasting peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia is around the corner. However, it is fair to cautiously take their comments as a beginning of something positive. If Cohen and Shinn’s comments reflect United States’ change of policy toward Eritrea, it will undoubtedly be accepted by Eritrea with a hope it will pick up its momentum and not be lost.
Eritrea has built momentum for peace when her children defended their beloved country from 1998 to 2000 and forced the enemy to come to the peace negotiation. A momentum that continued with the idea of strengthening the defense force to protect the country from future invasion. With no war no peace attitude from the enemies of Eritrea, the leadership of Eritrea has continued to build the infrastructure to take the country to the next level. The progress Eritrea has made in education, health and other sectors are out there for the world to see. Utilizing her natural resources for the betterment of the country is an example to all nations. Eritrea’s tenacious respect for the rule of law has never been in question and it has become more obvious as relation with her immediate neighbors is solidified. The diplomatic blitz Eritrea has implemented in the past several years has paid off as we have now witnessed quite a few countries are sending their ambassadors to Eritrea. These are momentums Eritrea built in the past thirteen years and can’t afford to lose.
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