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The Peace Between Ethiopia and Eritrea is Inclusive, is Tigrai Ready for it?

Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed sharing a joke with President Isaias Afwerki in Asmara - July 8, 2018



The Peace Between Ethiopia and Eritrea is Inclusive, is Tigrai Ready for it?

By  Abel Kebedom

In the middle of the prevailing triumph of the Ethiopian and Eritrean people, there are unhealthy words and ideas thrown into the internet by people who have no idea how and why the current fast paced peace and reconciliation between the two brotherly people is happening. In this short article, I would like to highlight the misconceptions and misunderstandings of those people who are willingly or unwillingly disseminating such destructive information through the internet. I will try to explore the issues one by one and provide my humble opinion.

1.The Peace and Reconciliation Between Ethiopia and Eritrea is inclusive.

Tigray Online website, known for propagating hatred towards Eritrea, asks “Is peace without the people of Tigrai possible?” In my personal understanding this statement comes from a website that is bewildered and confused by the current fast paced wind of positive change between the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia. If the reconciliation is between Eritrea and Ethiopia, how can someone in his right mind expect it to exclude Tigrai? It is true that there were bad things that happened between the people of Tigrai and Eritrea. Moreover, due to the historical and shared relationship between the two people and later the TPLF and EPLF, the people of Tigrai and Eritrea may have expected and deserved better. Unfortunately, that was not what they received in the past twenty years. Two organizations who fought together in Nakfa, Shire, Bahirdar, Kobo, Alamata and all the way to Addis Ababa to turn on each other and make their people enemies was deeply regrettable. For now, that is something that needs to be left for history. Ultimately, I hope the two people will learn from that grave mistake and will use it as a big lesson to safeguard the gains from their new reconciliation and renewed ties. The point is, it is impossible for the peace and reconciliation between Eritrea and Ethiopia to exclude Tigrai. Instead the relevant question that needs to be asked is “is Tigrai ready for it?”.

2. Ethiopia Accepted the Alger’s Agreement and the EEBC Decision Without Preconditions.

Some people, who are not happy with the current wind of positive change, are still trying to think that there is another way to solve the border problem. It is true that the current peace and reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea is bigger than a border, and through time the latter may not be relevant at all. Having said that, it is important to underscore the point that there is no solution to the border ruling, other than the EEBC decision. Suggesting a solution other than the EEBC decision is an attempt to use the border issue between Ethiopia and Eritrea to discredit the federal government of Ethiopia and undermine the reconciliation between the two countries. Who benefits from that? In my opinion no one except a sick mind.

3. Trying to Reverse the Current positive Wind of change in Ethiopia is akin to committing suicide.

The current change inside Ethiopia did not come overnight. It is an accumulation of Economic, political marginalization and security problems the country has faced over the last 20 years. A sensible policy maker can not borrow billions of dollars to build a rail road to Djibouti while the ports of Assab and Massawa are idle. A sensible policy maker can not think it reasonable to spend billions of dollars to isolate Eritrea and prolong the suffering of its people while the Ethiopian people are losing hope on the economic and political situation in the country. A sensible policy maker cannot think it can prolong its rule by building more jails than factories. The conclusion is, the current change in Ethiopia is the result of the previous TPLF led Ethiopian government short minded and misguided policy filled with hate and zero-sum game.

Hence it is impossible to reverse it, because at a certain point it realistic to expect for a zero-sum game policy to be replaced by a win cooperative policy. Hence trying to reverse the current historical transition will be not only futile but also dangerous to the party or group of people behind the idea. They will be left behind, and it will be difficult to catch up with the prevailing rapid changes. Therefore, it is time for everyone to hop into the ship of change and contribute their part for its safe arrival at its destination.

4. Divide and Rule is Obsolete Strategy and It Will not Work Anymore.

In the last 20 years a coordinated effort to divide the Ethiopian and Eritrean people through outside alliances and the different ethnic groups inside Ethiopia through divisionary security, political and economic policies have resulted in the current prevailing grave situation. It led Ethiopia into a brink of war and destruction. The lesson is when you are a minority, it is not healthy to rule the majority without building coalition. If you are to lead the majority, you need to build a coalition that will help you to have a majority rule. What happened in Ethiopia defied such cardinal rule of politics. A minority, in the name of fake coalition, tried to rule the majority through the barrel of the gun. Obviously, that did not end well. If it had not been for the wisdom of the Ethiopian people, the consequence could have been worse.

Accordingly, it is a good lesson to everyone that attempts to bring the previous rule back. Such attempt not only it will not work, but also it will be dangerous to the parties behind it. The solution is to accept you are a minority and try to convince others to join you to make the majority and win elections. It may take time, but not impossible.

5. To Develop, The Horn of Africa needs Peace.

The Horn of Africa is home to humanity and full of natural resources that can lift the population from the prevailing deeply entrenched poverty. The region has been denied peace and suffered from war, draught, and misadministration for decades. This is mainly due to weak governments that do not have confidence in themselves and trying to use an alliance with foreign powers to impose themselves on the people. The existence of weak governments triggered armed struggle that prolonged to the suffering of the people.

Therefore, it is naïve to think peace will be possible in the Horn of Africa without the emergence of strong governments that have the mandate of their people to lead. Hence, for lasting peace, in the long-term, building governance institutions that have strong mandate from the people should be the agenda of the people of the Horn. If not, they will continue to be divided and antagonized to each other by outside parties that have special interest in the region and ultimately long-term peace will be elusive.

6. Jealousy and Unhealthy Competition is a Malignant Cancer.

The horn of Africa is a collection of a closely related family of people who have lived together for thousands of years. If there is development in one country it is easier for the other people to cross the border and be part of the economic benefit. Hence any development in the neighborhood will benefit all the people in the neighborhood. The thinking that if my neighbor becomes stronger, it will be a national security threat to me is short minded, myopic and one that fails to see the whole picture of the people of the Horn and their historical relationship.

7. No Country Develops Without Trade and Cooperation with its Neighbors and Beyond.

Ethiopia and Eritrea are among the few countries in the world that have deep historical and economic ties. The thinking that Ethiopia could develop with out Eritrea and vice versa is not only naïve but also unrealistic. Ethiopia is a big land locked country. It needs a reliable port and alliance with its neighbors. Germany is a big country in Europe and it benefits from its ties to smaller countries in Europe, including Greece. That is why Germany spends hundreds of Billions of dollars to support the Greek Economy. Based on such argument, there is no any other country in the horn that is politically economically and socially important to Ethiopia than Eritrea. To deny such realty and not to work to wards that end is a grave mistake. In fact, thinking about trade, in the end Ethiopia may not have any thing to pay to Eritrea. If you add the access the Ethiopian Airlines gets to Eritrea and possible Eritrea’s import of Electricity and cement from Ethiopia, the latter may not have a negative trade balance with Eritrea at all. This would be a positive boost to the economies of the two countries. Well thought trade relationship can result in win-win relationship.

8. People to People Relationship Between the Two Countries is Healthy and Necessary.

Youngstersin the two countries who were born after 1998 have limited understanding about the historical relationship between the two countries. This is very dangerous and can lead to misunderstanding in the future. Governments are temporary and people are permanent. The only reason the current relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea was able to survive the tumultuous past two decades was because the generation that had the cultural ties between the two countries is still around. Without that generation peace between the two countries would have been unthinkable. As a result, people to people relationship should continue and any effort that restricts that initiative needs to be abolished.

Peace to the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Let’s safeguard our peace from spoilers.


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