Since the resumption of peace with Ethiopia, Eritreans appear to be having difficulties in coming-up with a unified retort to their leader’s frequent bilateral closed door meetings with PM Abiy. No-one knows what the deliberations were all about, but many Eritreans feel that an independence that was realised after three decades of gruelling struggle costing thousands of lives is being endangered by a President with no electoral authority form the Eritrean people.
It must be painful for the Eritrean people to end up with a ruthless dictator after paying dearly for liberation, justice and democracy. Adding the number of fatalities incurred during the armed struggle to the Ethio-Eritrea border conflict of 1998, over 100,000 Eritreans have lost their lives. Equally harrowing is the number of Eritreans that have been compelled to abandon their country in search of peace, security, freedom and opportunities elsewhere. In Tigrai alone, there are nearly 200,000 living in various refugee camps.
After Syria, Eritreans are the second biggest migrants to Europe, and according to the United Nations assessment, one in 10 of all prospective migrants to Europe are Eritreans. UNHCR reported that in 2015, 40,000 arrived on the shores of Italy which is roughly the same as the previous year. In 2015, the European Asylum Support Office indicated that there were 47,020 asylum applications of Eritreans to European countries, and this figure increased significantly in 2016. To introduce reforms in Eritrea, the European Union authorised an urgent grant of 200 million euros in January 2015, but this was instead exploited to beef-up the institutions set up by the tyrant to maintain his tyrannical reign.
Eritreans are so desperate to leave their country; they take risks by passing through Libya to reach Italy knowing full-well that they would be kidnaped for ransom, and would only be released if they paid the amount demanded by their captors. Other perils faced by Eritreans include rape and this is what an Eritrean who passed through Libya said: ‘’the smugglers choose a girl they like and make her stay for about a year and they let her go whenever they want and choose another girl for the next year. You cannot imagine the feeling we had when we saw this, especially their husbands and brothers. You cannot even stop them they immediately kill you if you try to stop them.’’
The current Eritrean political parties spend a great deal of their time squabbling over minor issues and to expect them to dislodge President Esayass would be like waiting for pigs to fly. The longer he is left in power, the harder it gets to get rid of him because the Arab states would do everything in their power to make sure their ‘man’ remains at the helm to discharge their commands.
While Saudi Arabia remains in control of Eritrea, it will be engaged in spreading Sunni Wahhabism, the precursor of ISIS and Al-Qaeda, to sustain her presence in the Red Sea state in order to continue policing the vital Bab-el-Mandeb Strait route. Staying in Eritrea’s port of Assab would also help Saudi Arabia to prevent Iran from spreading its influence in the sub-region from its position in Yemen. Also important for Saudi Arabia is having an alternative sea outlet in case Iran interrupts the shipment of oil through the Straits of Hormuzto its eastern part.
Esayass now feels he is in a better situation than previously because of the recommencement of peace with Ethiopia. This may be the best moment to get him when his guard is down as he senses no threat to his authority in Eritrea and his erstwhile enemy; the TPLF is ‘defeated’ and believes that this organisation is no longer a danger to his rule. His confidence is oozing and spends a great deal of his time in Ethiopia fraternizing with the those that used to poison water wells and drop napalm bombs during the liberation struggle.
This man is so treacherous and vindictive; he is now siding with the enemies of the TPLF that supported the EPLF during the Derg’s Operation Red Star campaign in the 1980’s. TPLF provided three brigades and the talked about offensive was concluded in victory and this triumph was described by many as the turning point in the decades long armed conflict. The Derg never recovered from this defeat and lost further grounds in Af Abet, Shire and Massawa.
EPLF and TPLF busted the Derg’s motivation to continue fighting in Tigrai and Eritrea resulting in victory in 1991. Moreover, the TPLF came in the nick of time to save the EPLF from extinction when the Derg almost conquered the command center of the Shabiya in Sahel at the time of ‘selaheta warar/ creeping invasion.’ After all these, Esayass is siding with the likes of Gedu in his preparations to invade Tigrai which is the birth place of his parents. In any case, Tigrians are capable of defending themselves but the Eritreans must act swiftly before their country ends up being a playground for the uncivilized Arabs.