Cousins at War Need Elders' Intervention - latimes
Ethiopia PM willing to meet long-time Eritrean enemy. ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said he is willing to. Many Horn of Africa observers also believe that the personal relations of Meles Zenawi and Isaias Afewerki are manifested by intense rivalry chemistry. All I know is Meles Zenawi and Isaias Afewerki were families. they do not have any blood relations except Meles was by father from Adwa.
But I will offer one view, which I believe shows how Meles Zenawi, as articulate and diplomatically cunning as he can be, still fell prey to the cultural shortcomings that have plagued Ethiopian interaction, both political and apolitical since time immemorial.
Ethiopians spark genuine interest in them from outsiders. Besides their vastly diverse physical features, languages and writing systems, their exquisite cuisine, hospitality and a die-hard dedication to the motherland also make them standout.
Yes, that last one, one would say would be added to the list of Ethiopian cultural pros and not cons. But one could also argue that it also testifies to a frustratingly chronic inability of many Ethiopians to listen to each other and compromise when necessary.
Culturally, hesitation and a lack of decisiveness can be attributed to fear, weakness and even cowardice. While this may be perceived as a cutthroat determination to remain upright to values and a steadfast loyalty to convictions, it unfortunately has also served to disenfranchise many Ethiopians at home and abroad, both past and present.
This has led to many Ethiopians, in particular people of Oromo ancestry, to face a century old state sponsored discrimination due to their leanings and political aspirations clashing with those of the ruling monarchs and subsequent governments. On a smaller scale, this inability to compromise has created a society with a near zero tolerance for dissenting views, especially those that stray from the mainstream.
The good thing is that there is a growing number of educated Ethiopians who are less likely to be held by the near cultural stranglehold that prevents them from sincere reconciliatory communication. They will be needed as previous generations of decision makers have failed miserably when it comes to topics such as ethnic strife among other contentious issues.
In Ethiopian political circles where reconciliation is perceived as conceding defeat, decades old feuds continue unabated. As the leader of the country, Meles Zenawi strived to redirect the country in the right direction. Meles Zenawi was a well read, extremely articulate and relatively young leader upon his ascent to power in To the western superpowers, especially the United States, Meles Zenawi and Isaias Afewerki taking over in the region was a source of optimism.
The region was in good hands.
The devastation of the Ethiopian civil war that ravaged the country, exacerbated the drought turned famine and caused untold suffering to millions is well documented. Meles Zenawi is among those who know more than others of the cost of such conflicts. Clad in camouflage, the TPLF rebel spoke of the disheartening scenes he had witnessed as a result of the war and famine.
Peace and Isaias Afewerkis Eritrea can never be bedfellows
I have seen many desperate times. But none of them as desperate as this. The lengthy war had ended, the two friends had succeeded. Images of the two frolicking former rebel commanders, smiling together at gatherings and holding joint press conferences made it clear to the world that the governments of the two countries would now put down their arms and work to ensure the joint prosperity and peace of the citizens of both countries.
With Meles Zenawi and Isaias Afewerki appearing to be the best of friends, it seemed like it was all water under the bridge for Ethiopia and Eritrea. As is well documented, the two men would later have a falling out. The two leaders enjoyed a close friendship prior to Isaias Afewerki and Meles Zenawi during the Ethiopian transitional government period Both men, Meles Zenawi and Isaias Afewerki are products of the same society.
The two men grew up in the aftermath of the decision to federate Eritrea into Ethiopia after World War II and grew up in this new look country. As a result, Ethiopians and Eritreans share many of the same cultural and behavioural characteristics. Inwar between the neighbouring countries broke out. For the next two years, Ethiopia and Eritrea fought each other in primitive trench style warfare. Contested border areas including Badme, Bure and Zalambessa became the venues for endless bloodshed.
Tens of thousands of youths from both countries perished in a barrage of shells, landmines, airstrikes and gunfire. In FebruaryEthiopian troops uprooted the well entrenched Eritreans from their fortifications in Badme, one of the most heavily fought over lands among the disputed regions.
Ethiopian troops marching to a battle front The Algerian government later spearheaded efforts to bring the two parties to an agreement and the two governments finally signed a peace deal in December of in Algiers.
Meles and Isaias, the two former battlefield allies who had spent so much of their lives fighting for the same cause, could barely look each other in the eye as they shook hands, publicly ratifying the peace deal, buoyed on by cheering African diplomats and an overly enthusiastic Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Meles and Isaias shake on it, agreeing to end the war The Ethiopian-Eritrean war of saw both governments spend millions on state of the art military technology and hi-tech weaponry.
The death toll is estimated to be somewhere between 70, andon both sides combined. The war that cut short the lives of so many young soldiers brought about the most minuscule of border changes. Today, upon realization that the wanton bloodshed was all for changes that rendered the map almost as identical to what it looked like prior to the outbreak of war inone would most likely declare the conflict pointless and maddening.
Badme, the main strip of land that saw the most casualties and the most fighting, was a barren town of barely a thousand inhabitants and no resources of note. Foreign media were especially critical. One foreign journalist likened the war to two bald men fighting over a comb.
The brotherly camaraderie that had Meles and Isaias agreeing that the two would continue to share a common currency, the Ethiopian Birr while Ethiopian merchants would continue to use the Eritrean Port of Assab for importing activities free of charge had disintegrated. The two governments grew increasingly at odds with each other over this and a failure to agree on the demarcation of the common border. Wartime grudges eventually came to the forefront and things appear to have gotten personal.
Whether it was a case of personal pride or whether it was the political stakes amassed, neither side was willing to back down and the tone between the two governments became increasingly hostile. The clash was explicitly between battle hardened men who had been friends for at least twenty years. The general public was kept in the dark as neither side wanted to expose weaknesses and give away propaganda opportunities to their rival. Meles Zenawi, as a statesman, a diplomat and a leader of the country, was at the helm when the major decisions of the late nineties regarding Eritrea were made.
But despite his being a well read ideologue well acquainted with the devastating effects war had on his people, he fell prey to the cultural trait of stubbornness and hardheadedness.
Halafi Menghedi, what role did Meles Zenawi do for Isaias Afeweri? - Mereja Forum
A refusal to compromise on his position and no sincere desire to come to terms with his former allies meant that he played a part in pushing the two countries to the point of no return. The personal feud between members of the TPLF and their EPLF counterparts could have been solved had the hardheads in power put aside their pride, political aspirations and pent up anger. There were reports that Meles did all he could to avoid war, coming into personal confrontations with members of the TPLF central committee.
These efforts came way too late, after Eritrean army forces had already taken over Badme. If anything, this testifies to an utter selfishness of the two men, their close confidants of and the henchmen of their respective inner circles. Both Meles and Isaias, unable to overcome their seething hate for each other, cast thousands of their youths into a fire in vain efforts to destroy each other.
We are in favor of federation.
A false narrative to make Ethiopians trust Isaias Afewerki
This is the only way the damage the Derg has done can be repaired. How are your relations with the EPLF? Do you talk to Isaias Afewerki? I talk to Isaias often. We have no disagreements now.
Brothers divided by war
During the s we worked together and had no serious disagreements with them. In we broke relations. The break was over different understandings of the Soviet Union.
They still believed the Soviet Union offered a model for the future and that it could be reformed. They argued that the Soviets were misled on Ethiopia. They wanted to persuade the Soviets to support them instead of the Derg. They thought the Soviet system was a model they could apply in Eritrea. We thought this was foolish because we had learned in Tigray that we had to develop our own model and apply our own system in accordance with our own conditions and practical experience.
We watched all these talks where the Soviets tried to use the Italians and the East Germans to bring the Derg and the EPLF together and we always thought nothing could come of them. So we had very poor relations with the EPLF for four years, Then we worked out an agreement again.
They came to see the Soviet Union the way we did. They gave up their illusions. They saw what was happening in the Soviet Union under Gorbachev. After their great victory over the Derg at Afabet in earlywe both began to cooperate again. They have given us help, but we are still a very independent movement.
We are not dependant on them. We control all of Tigray now. We would not want to be dependant on anybody from the outside. We won our battle at Enda Sellassie with our own strength.
If they had not helped us, it might have taken longer, but we would still have won. But that does not mean that we see everything the way EPLF does. I want to assure you of that. What are your differences? The EPLF has a much more difficult situation than we do. Many of our differences result from that, and we have an understanding and sympathy for their position. In Tigray we have a united people. That is not true in Eritrea.
The population is much more divided. The Eritrean Muslims themselves are divided. There are at least three groups among them. The EPLF has some of them with it and its policies have been sensible -- it is trying to make the Muslims part of a united movement. But that is not possible and the closer the EPLF comes to taking power in Eritrea the more dangerous this issue becomes. There are serious tensions between Eritrean Christians and Muslims in Sudan.
We do not have this problem among Tigrean refugees.
They all stick together — the Christians do not resent the Muslims and the Muslims do not feel oppressed by the Christians. And separatism — how do you see this issue in comparison with the attitude of Eritreans? The EPLF has the problem that the population hates the Derg so much that it has all become separatist. Isaias understands some of the difficulties of this because he has thought a lot about it in the past year.
But he has terrible pressures from his people. It is a difficult issue for him. Are the Eritrean highland Christians as strongly in favor of an immediate declaration of independence as Muslims?