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Eritrea; a glimpse on its sovereignty essentials

Eritrea; a glimpse on its sovereignty essentials

By Amanuel Zekarias

Last time, I have observed in social media that there were two events that have involved wide discussions in relation to Eritrea. Both seem separate events, but for me were interrelated, consequential and deliberate as well.

First, in his inaugural ceremony, pm Abye Ahmed whispered that his country, Ethiopia has in an urgent need for normalization with Eritrea and he further applauded that the Eritrean government must end the years of misunderstanding by volunteering itself for negotiation. His ideas of sermonizing for peace may seem perhaps fresh and innocent, though for those who soundly understood the situation very well might create an opportunity for wondering that, or might recall a Tigrigna proverb that says; ‘ዘይሓፍር ሰራቕስ ምስ ዋና ንብረት ይማጎት’ or ‘a shameless thief will argue with the rightful owner’.

Further, this might be a good news, perhaps for some Eritreans too, which are the sufferers of a public infection, like what an honorable Eritrean philosopher and author late Mr. Beyene Hayle writes about it and defined it as a syndrome of “public amnesia” (forgetfulness toward the past).

A distinguished author Beyene Haile, in one of his interesting books titled ‘Tixbit Bahgu’ or ‘The ambitions of Bahgu’, narrated and described the following, best suited behavior of Eritrean masses toward their past.

Beyene writes that, after the demise of the federal arrangement and the invasion of Eritrea’s sovereignty by Ethiopia, Eritreans left with one choice, of deciding to forcefully challenge such injustices of both Ethiopia and so did international community. In such a critical historical juncture, Ethiopia collaborated by one of a very super power in that era (the Soviet Union) intended to eliminate Eritreans from all over Eritrea of commending a mantra of; ‘what we need(Ethiopians) are not the people, but the territory’, ‘To eliminate the fish, you have to drain the sea’…etc.

Respectively, the Derg juntas managed offensives against Eritreans for eight times, from 1978 to 1985 to eliminate revolutionary thoughts. In each offensive, Ethiopians were equipped to the head with more updated armaments that were produced by the Soviet’s military industry. In some offensives for example, they made a use of restricted weapons, something like cluster bombs and chemical weapons. In all offensives then, ‘Eritrean patriots had challenged all the invasions from first up to eighth ones at paramount resilience, heroism and courage’.

After the completion of the exceptionally arduous 30 years struggle for independence in 1991 too, the same enemy with the same intent launched a full scale war against Eritreans in May 1998. Then, the unfortunate syndrome of the Eritrean masses came into reality of the ‘public amnesia’ that ‘despite the fact that we had to numerically categorize an invasion of the same enemy with the same intent as ninth’ writes Beyene, we unfortunately started from one and we called it first offensive. Beyene, then raised one critical angle that, and asked what is all this about? Hence, the whole idea of Beyene’s logic of an ‘amnesia syndrome’ is all about forgetting would be not only dangerous but offensive likewise or to forget the dead ones would be similar to killing someone for the second time.

Certainly, Pm. Abye’s comments couldn’t be a ‘wake-up’ call for peace, we have to, and understanding the fact that history is our biggest teacher, of we have been paying an ultimate price to safeguard our continuity and territorial integrity from the misbehaving attitudes of the same enemy with the same objective for nearly 57 years(from 1961 till this moment).

Second, another big news that have fascinated me and have been repeatedly publicized through various media out lets during past weeks was the arrival of Donald Yamamto, US’s Acting Assistant Secretary of the State for African Affairs and his team to Eritrea, a country which Eritrean history have been placed as a cardinal actor in redefining Eritrea’s sovereignty discourses. Such historical scenario could be built from the fact that, US have a very direct linkage in both during the federation era and at the Algiers peace agreement as well.

Then, it is my sincere pleasure to proceed or to give a general glimpse about sovereignty and its international and national discourse.

Sovereignty is a notion which, perhaps more than any other, has come to dominate our understanding of national and international life. As Joseph Camilleri and Jim Falk in their interesting book titled “The end of sovereignty” describes, it is central not only to the language of politics but to the politics of language too. The book paraphrases sovereignty as a fundamental source of truth and meaning, to distinguish between order and anarchy, security and danger, identity and difference.In particular, it is a form of association and rightly reminds that the concepts of national interest, national independence, national security and the notion of national strengths.

Sovereignty as both an idea and institution lies at the heart of world history over space and time where as its modern practicality laid at the phenomenon of Westphalia treaty in 1648 after the Thirty years war.

Of consolidating historical facts of watching most civilizations sovereignty in Africa, Asia and Latin America, some scholars refuted as a quasi’ universal conclusions of admitting it has mainly a western source. Nonetheless, the notion of sovereignty popularized after Westphalia treaty of recognizing religious stalemate in Europe, derives to secular rule and the principle had acknowledged each state to have a political control coupled with relocation of population and territory, equipped with its own centralized administration and possessing a virtual legitimacy over enforcing decisions.

The Congress of Vienna in 1815(a frame work for the concert of states in world history), where European powers decided to and to abided by the concept of sovereign equality also plays a supportive role in dealing with issues of sovereignty. Hitherto, the international system was run by a single actor (a great power) who was capable of both economic and military dominance.

First, in concert to power equilibrium and historical legitimacy, the post Vienna Convention era was mostly identified by a motive to work together in a close alliance under the agreement that is known in history as the Concert of Europe (a best example was from 1815-1853). The practical effect from this time would be the desire to sovereign equality and collective security starts to shape international relations. This mode of rules then played a significant role, at least, in guiding the why and how states could interact in both diplomatic and economic versions.

Nevertheless, one single point needed to be emphasized here is that, this concept of Vienna convention was the concert of the great powers, or in particular the winners. It was an opportune moment for institutionalizing the supremacy of all recognized Great Powers using dozens of political and financial arrangements, to produce a privileged status in dealing with issues of international trade and security; the practice that is maintained up today. In other words, it is a way of strengthening geopolitical interests too, of enlarging zones of concerns through material and spiritual subjugations against weaker nations.

The motives of consolidating the notions of self-determination, non-intervention, sovereign equality and collectivization of security may accommodate multiple inclinations to deal with statehood. However, throughout history, the reality is upside down that, lawless motives have been undermining, if necessary victimizing the wills of the public in pursuit for justice.

In 1940s and 50s, the question of Eritrea’s self-determination was considered too complicated, was difficult to address nether by internal political units nor by external actors. This was a very crucial stage that African states starting the decolonizing process, of many of them started to grant like a gift from colonial masters, while some of them had actively engaged in a revolutions accepting the fact that ‘force could be the only approach to challenge force’. As a result, Ghana became the first independent country in Africa in April 1958, and excessively the 1958’s Accra conference gave support or pushes for anti-imperialist and anti-colonial attitudes.

Afterward, dozens of African states started to achieve their self-determination thanks to two points. First, it was a hard time for the colonizers, of being the victims of the two world wars and necessarily forces their attentions to divert in ward. Second, significant numbers of revolutionary movement with the aim of dismantling colonial outsiders had also flourished throughout this continent. In Eritrea too, the numbers of organized political movements were certainly multiplied. In other words, there were Ethiopian affiliated unionists, having well-constructed lines of interest with the feudal regime in Ethiopia in one face and the freedom bloc in the other.

It was in this crucial stage that, the international community sent a diplomatic crew to Eritrea to deal with the future of Eritrea. Eritreans quest for self-determination was coherent with many colonial questions throughout this continent. But, the issue was completely controlled by the winning bloc of WW2 and was dominated by the Allied forces in dealing with or dividing former Italian colonies in Africa {Libya, Somalia and Eritrea}.

During the immediate postwar years British retained controls of Eritrea and later on proposed that Eritrea be divided and parceled off to Sudan and Ethiopia along religious lines. But, this was rejected by the Soviets and some Arab countries too, whom the former wanted Eritrea to return to Italy (anticipating communist party was on the verge to power in Italy) and the later dedicated for an independent Eritrea reasoned out by the need to deter Ethiopia’s expansions.

In this stage there were clatters of interests emanated from the geo-political adventurism of the great powers and in the same way from the delusions of exclaiming that there were phantoms of cultural intolerances with in Eritrean society. To justify this for instance, there were two non-accidental, however, planned Christian-Muslim conflicts occurred in Asmara in 1946 and 1950, where the Unionist Party supported by Ethiopia played a big role and the Sudanese Defense Forces were also got involved.

Eritrea was a country that experiences industrialization and its capitalist fruiting in its row version, where the unionization of artisans, factory workers and other social forces started to organize in this country early 1900s. Around 1940s there was in Eritrea that both civility and maturity in issues regarding national questions. Conversely, it was a period of aggravated emotions and political battles too presided into two dimensions of demanding liberation in the first place and the unionists in the other.

Recognizing the strong secio-economic entwining of the latter group with that of the ruling class in Ethiopian, the unionist were more advanced than in financial and logistical sense, but not in moral yards.

Therefore, with all the dilemmas, it was in this particular epoch that the UN Commission came to Eritrea to deal with the issues of territorial as well as public sovereignty. This was an internationalizing Eritrean’s sovereign queries, not for a bad but for worse.While The UN Commission (UNC) arrived in Eritrea on February 9 and began its carful inquiry, Ethiopia in the other side reorganize terrorist activities, of anti-peace elements through Unionist Bandits to make unblemished that an independent Eritrea could be a fertile ground for anti-peace, violent and destructive elements.

The commission then, thanks to such disturbances of unionist bandits dispatched from Eritrea without a unified agreement where this became an opportune situation for self-interested actors to fulfil their geopolitical visions. It was at this juncture that the US Ambassador to the UN, John Foster Dulles, said, "From the point of view of justice, the opinions of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. But the strategic interest of the United States in the Red Sea basin and the considerations of security and world peace make it necessary that the country has to be linked with our ally Ethiopia”.

J.F Dulles was a super power’s representative at the UN, (a forum of the winners), where his exact opinion both in its content and object tells us the magnitudes of the ambitions for self-determination. Later on in 1950, prioritizing Ethiopia’s geographic and economic interests and ignoring the choices of the peoples of Eritrea, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution390(AV) that propels a federal link where this decision later declined and abrogated by Ethiopia in 1962.

Conventionally, large interactive systems perpetually organize themselves to a critical state in which a minor event starts a chain reaction that can lead to bigger ones. Thus, motives of disregarding sovereign equality, self-determination/ territoriality, and rules of law in the first place and reactionary motives of demanding for justice then gave birth to the armed struggle in 1961.

Eritreans 30 years of war for independence from 1961 to 1991 was one of the longest and bloodiest movements in human’s history. Typically, it was a multi-dimensional social movement where a distinguished political culture of patriotism, collectivism and resilience had empowered.

After independence, Eritreans were hard pressed for the right step that, to decide a very mature, naive decision of ensuring Eritrea’s legitimacy and an international acceptance through popular referendum. Forgetting and forgiving all the past mistakes then, the leading front for the liberation of the country or EPLF appealed to the international community that it was a right time to deal with the issues of legitimacy.

Eritrean liberation was, of course, achieved through the very material and spiritual contributions of the Eritrean mass with zero external support. Thus, this makes the fact that it was a hard won, precious and historic. The country was ruined, its values were harassed and its society was displaced too because of the war. The victimization of Eritrean masses by Ethiopian rulers and the war casualties were also witnessed by history. Nevertheless, learning from history that complete victory has never been fulfilled by the result that the victors always anticipate or understanding for a victory breeds among the vanquished a desire for vindication and vengeance, was the main factor that derives EPLF to call for referendum.

There for, it was an incidence of all about forgiving the past and get back to work. And this is how a sovereign and legitimate Eritrea came into being in 1993.

Respectively, such packages of historic analysis remind that how Eritrea’s sovereignty discourses and its core essentials have synthesized. Conclusively, it is my pleasure then to applaud certain thoughts regarding Eritrea’s sovereignty essentials, of reminding that we still pay an ultimate price because of them and emphasizing that, the forces of destruction, their inherent objective and their wickedness still eminently survived till this second. Putting Ethiopia at fore front, the international community have been dedicated to instigate in Eritrea a ‘crises of destroyed state’, which accordingly, Eritrea must experience a crises of failed state that perhaps lost not only its territory, but its secio-political order too.

There for, for any new fashioned political attitudes toward Ethio-Eritrea political scenario and toward Eritrea’s engagement with any external actor, of regional and international power, are the following uncompromised sovereignty essentials that conclusively directs us and have been deeply indoctrinated in our historic march toward statehood that;

1, toward any call for Eritrea to be volunteered for negotiation with Ethiopia, here is a clear answer like what Mandela once upon a time said that; “Only a free men can negotiate. Prisoners cannot enter into contracts.” So, Eritrea has been in a clear violation of its territorial right by that of Ethiopia. So, the ball is at Ethiopia’s hand. If Ethiopia wants peace, it must have first withdrawn from Badme, an Eritrean territory, and respect the Algeris Peace Agreement.

2, toward any misunderstanding in relation to Eritrea’s engagement sometimes with China, Arab states, Russia or by now the US, here according the government’s essentials toward Eritrea’s sovereignty and according to the historic principles (developed during the country’s greatest and longest social movement) that, Eritrea never believe in making alliances. History could prove this and realty can attest it.

Understanding and accepting that alliance could always weaken nations, Eritrea chooses an independent path or is only needed an independence and freedom of maneuver. This was and has been the greatest essence of Eritrea’s sovereignty.

3, one of from top Eritrea’s sovereignty essentials too is; understanding it is impossible to build a secure world only for yourself, and even less at the expense of others, Eritrea should committed for genuine, participatory and cooperative bilateral and multilateral all round engagements, that could create a ground for mutuality as well as for transformation too.

Then believing and accepting the above fundamentals, let me conclude my article by asking a simple question; ‘what is new and why are the hot discussions in relation to the above two events?

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Eritrea; a glimpse on its sovereignty essentials Reviewed by Admin on 12:51 PM Rating: 5

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