[dehai-news] Shabait.com: President Isaias' Interview with the National Media Regarding National, Regional and Global Issues - Part II

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sun Jan 18 2009 - 09:44:11 EST

President Isaias' Interview with the National Media Regarding National,
Regional and Global Issues - Part II
Jan 18, 2009, 14:35

Part I: http://www.shabait.com/staging/publish/article_009288.html

Q: Excellency, could you brief us on the development of the nation's higher
institutions of learning?

President Isaias: The fact that there is a need for developing such
institutions is indisputable. But figuratively speaking, it's still at its
infant stage. It cannot be compared to the institutions elsewhere which are
over a 100 or 150 years old. The acquired educational culture, capacity and
the opportunities these institutions can provide cannot be compared with our
new institutions just opened. We need to improve a lot, like educational
facilities. But this doesn't mean that it is an issue that's being taken
lightly. Nevertheless, this doesn't mean that the work is done. I prefer
calling someone 'educated' provided that he, for example, goes to an
agricultural college and applies his newly acquired knowledge in boosting
crop production, etc; but not because he has a certificate. For instance,
the Sawa Vocational Training Center aims at instilling vocational skills,
which is bearing fruitful outcome, although more remains to be accomplished.

Q: Excellency, let's go to the issue of women now. Is the dedication of the
Eritrean government and the PFDJ on the issue of gender equality the same as
it was? Don't you think the participation of women in national affairs has
slightly decreased compared to the days of the armed struggle for

I am not sure such claims are based on fact. No one can belittle the massive
contribution of Eritrean women in the country's history. In fact, every time
an issue of importance is raised, we first consider the relation of the
issue with gender, because it usually is overlooked and has major
importance. But I question the aforementioned claim in light of women's
growing participation in education. They have reaffirmed their stance by
participating in all aspects be it agriculture, food security and the like.
This kind of talk doesn't conform to the reality on the ground.

Q: Let's proceed to Eritrean-US relations. Now that the Bush Administration
is coming to an end and a new President has been elected, what can we expect
as regards bilateral relations. Has any new attempt been made to normalize
relations between the two countries?

don't think it is wise to speak in terms of Presidents, be it Bush or Obama
at the moment. The election of Obama is the outcome of the American people's
opposition to the status quo in the United States. Perhaps his election
victory could be linked to Washington's interference in numerous cases
abroad that led to utter failure. The economic crisis in that country, US
policy of domination, the issues of Afghanistan and Iraq and many other
instances have brought about change in American public opinion, thus giving
rise to the need for change and electing a new leadership. But it would also
be difficult to assume that because Obama was elected as the new US
President; all the issues at hand will find an immediate solution. Some of
the good things Obama highlighted in his election campaign speeches, perhaps
a single term or four years won't be even enough. It is very difficult to
solve the problems that have taken years and decades in one go. However,
this being the case, we must not forget that the change is positive. To
assume and conclude that forces that have caused the current global turmoil
i.e. forces that have caused pain and death in different parts of the world
will stop because Obama is assuming office is a bit farfetched. We have no
problem with anybody, and there is nothing that could hinder Eritrea's
efforts to foster relations with any country. The problems witnessed in the
past years were caused by the flawed US foreign policy under the outgoing
Administration. And I hope that the change in the US would lead to change in
foreign relations with other countries, including Eritrea, as such kind of
relations are mutually beneficial. And we can normalize relations with the
US by ourselves; we do not want any party to serve as a go-between to
improve Eritrea's relations with the United States. But we do hope and wish
that the new President will work for changing the status quo. Perhaps in a
year or two we may see concrete outcome, we will see what happens when Obama
formally assumes office on the 20th of January.

Q: Do you think some of the beneficiaries of past US foreign policy and the
CIA will allow Obama to bring about change?

This is a big issue. It all depends on how Obama can overhaul the previous
system and bring change in spheres such as the finance. I do not think he
can automatically do away with the stance of many forces of yesterday,
forces that control the economic and financial centers, as well as the arms
industries, technology and the like overnight. For instance, if we talk
about Iraq, there are an estimated 150 or 160 thousand American soldiers in
that country. They are not the only ones though, because forces that stand
to gain from the conflict and bloodletting are there. And others who have
been there for centuries such as the FBI, Homeland Security, who in one way
or the other support such organizations, cannot be changed overnight just
because the new Administration wants it.

Q: The Bush Administration is continuing its provocations against Eritrea.
What exactly is being done on our part in this regard? What can we expect
after January the 20th?

As we know, the Bush Administration has been heaping accusations against
Eritrea such as linking it with the issue of piracy along the coast of
Somalia, Eritrea's alleged involvement in the current war in Gaza
'collaborating' with Iran and Yemen and many others. This is the last ditch
attempt by the Bush Administration to pass over such issues and blunders to
Obama's leadership. It appears that the Bush Administration is doing its
level best to place Eritrea in the list of states sponsoring terrorism. But
we are waiting to see change, and we are willing to work for it. I'm not
amazed or worried about the last ditch attempts of the Bush Administration

Q: Eritrea has established diplomatic relations with Iran and Syria. It
appears as if Eritrea has been working towards fostering such relations with
the two countries more than with any other ones in the Middle East. What are
the objectives of these diplomatic ties? Would it not affect our relations
with Israel and its supporters?

I don't think this is a new phenomenon. Everyone knows that in our struggle
for independence we had relations with Syria. I think it is a
misunderstanding to assume that a new course of events are bringing us
closer to either Iran or Syria. We were compelled to stall the relations
after 1991 because of some factors. Our policies govern that we could
establish diplomatic relations with even former colonizers, let alone Iran
or Syria. We may have common understanding of issues and benefits from these
countries. And we also need to remember that the states concerned are the
ones that extended material, moral and financial support throughout our
struggle for independence. Sheik Zaid of the United Arab Emirates has always
stood on the side of our struggle. The same also holds true of the other
countries in that region. There is also the contribution they have made to
us in the nation building process over the past 18 years. It is actually a
recent trend that emerged due to recent global phenomenon that requires
strategic unity among countries in the same region. The issue whether this
is going to affect our relations with Israel and its allies is something
else. Perhaps at this time it would be improper to avoid the question as it
may be important to some people. Provided that there is more time, an
exclusive answer could be given to this issue. I need to further reiterate
that relations and diplomatic ties we establish will not put Eritrean
sovereignty in question. We do not approach nations with such undertones. We
want to establish lasting relationship.

Q: Mr. President, let's come to regional issues. What is the exact capacity
of the TPLF regime? What is its overall situation?

It could be seen in different perspectives. Is it political, security or
military wise? The evaluation should begin with the regime's nature and the
basic denominators that characterize its nature. We do not need to evaluate
the nature of the regime on the basis of day-to-day, month-to-month or
year-to-year events. The nature of this regime could be evaluated on the
basis of three dimensions: narrow mentality, inconsistency and lack of
confidence. The current political situation of the TPLF regime is the result
of the continuous policy it has been perusing based on its nature. From the
beginning, the regime had no Ethiopian agenda. Its narrow mentality has been
observed wrangling from time to time and after it seized power in 1991 the
real challenge in its political thinking and governance emerged. The regime,
in order to stay in power, pursued the philosophy of divide and rule. The
so-called Federal Administration adopted in 1995 and other political
versions of the regime are not deviated from its narrow mentality. Hence,
when we evaluate the nature of the regime, we should take into account these
fundamental issues. The TPLF's way of thinking is that, "if you want to stay
in power the Ethiopian people should be divided along the lines of ethnicity
and nationality". If we ask ourselves, what is the power and capacity of the
TPLF regime, on whom is it depending to stay in power? With every parameter,
the regime has no power and capacity. The only way that it could survive is
when the Ethiopian people are divided and in conflict with one another. The
formation of a political system based on nationality and the rights of
ethnic groups and nationalities is only for propaganda consumption. The very
fanciful constitution which states the rights of nationalities and allows
for the rights to self-determination up to secession may appear as a
democratic political system for those onlookers. In reality, however, this
is not the case. What the regime has been doing in its 18 years in power in
terms of institutionalizing the concept of political formation based on
nationalities has never been seen in the history of that country. The design
is simply to divide and rule Ethiopia. All the devious political maneuvers
of the regime are only shortening the days of its stay in power. The
tangible evidence is that when the Ethiopian people became aware of the
regime's nature and political agenda, they disclaimed it during the 2005
elections. At that time, the opposition of the Ethiopian people reached its
highest peak. The TPLF regime was saved from the turmoil not by its internal
capacity but due to the support of external forces. The regime then resorted
to crashing the opposition through sheer force. Crashing popular uprising
through means of force is not, however, long lasting. The popular uprising
and opposition is ongoing and evidently it is pushing the regime to demise.
When you talk about the prevailing situation in Ethiopia, we should not
forget the Tigrayan people. It is a wrong conception to mix up the people of
Tigray with the TPLF regime. Seizing power as a result of the Tigrayan
people's struggle, the TPLF did not look out for the interest of the
Tigrayans. As a result of the TPLF's brutality and narrow mind, they have
been forced to live in constant fear and face animosity on the part of the
other sections of the Ethiopian people. The constant fear of the Tigrayan
people has been the creation of the TPLF regime expecting that the people
could support it in order to relieve itself from its state of mind. The
people of Tigray have gained no benefit in the past years; on the contrary
they have fared worse. What we have practically observed is that by putting
the people into the worst situation of fear and doubt and eventually to use
it as a sanctuary. The people of Tigray have nothing to benefit from this
regime. The survival of the internal political situation of the TPLF over
the last couple of years has been through subsidy from outside quarters.
This might look prolonging the stay in power of the regime, but through time
its existence is diminishing. What is currently happening in the Oromiya,
Ogaden, Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions is the result of hatred and
isolation of the people towards the TPLF regime. The regime in its history
has never thought and worked considering itself as an Ethiopian entity.
Moreover, the TPLF, in order to stay in power, has perused the policy of
alignment with foreign forces. Not only the current situation in Ethiopia
but in every country where governments or regimes that lack popular support
from their people have to seek someone that could stand beside them so that
they could stay in power repressing their own people. As we have witnessed
in the past 18 years especially the past 8 years, the regime can only
survive by relying on external support. That is where the US Administration
comes in. Domestically it has no chance of surviving with the ever mounting
opposition of the Ethiopian people. The TPLF regime in order to get external
support has to offer itself for sale. And to get the highest bidder it has
to serve the interest of the buyer because there is no support for free.
That is exactly what we observed in the last 8 years. In recent years, the
bond between the US and the TPLF regime has been deepening as the regime is
serving as a proxy for American interest in the region in the name of
terrorism. The TPLF regime's invasion of Somalia and the border crisis are
examples of the regime's servitude of American interest. What does the
regime benefited from this? What it expected to benefit is survival in
Ethiopia. This might seem working for the time being. If we look at the last
days of the Bush Administration with the unrealistic measures sought to be
taken against Eritrea fading out, there were some activities underway to use
the TPLF regime as a proxy in the region. On the other side they have come
also to realize that the capacity of the regime was not as they expected it
to be. Washington officials have been questioning for some time that they
could remain without a substitute servant. Because with all the funding and
support the TPLF regime was getting was not found to fulfill the mission as
expected. If we observe the political situation of the TPLF regime from
within and outside, we can draw the conclusion that its profile is being
exposed to the world. The current political situation the TPLF regime is in
foretells the long-term outcome of the regime's future. The regime is
stalling for the time of its downfall. And what does one do to stall for
time? One would concern oneself with security. Strengthening the security
system within the organization and on the other hand trying to control the
economy. The opposition of the Ethiopian people, especially since 2005, the
discharge of personnel within the Army or other individuals in different
posts who are thought to pose a threat - all these indicate the growing
weakening and eventual collapse of the TPLF regime. In some instances, the
regime might have delayed the discharge of Army members so as to make use of
them for purposes of border aggression. The TPLF is using the Army as a
means of prolonging its stay in power. The Army is considered as the last
card that will protect the regime from any challenges the regime might face.
The developments witnessed in 2005 have also influenced the Army members and
in realization of that, the TPLF has suppressed any opposition that may
arise within the armed forces. Some incidents might be cited specifically
meant for publicity purposes, but everything is falling apart for the
regime. However, due to the rising threats now and then, the Ethiopian Amy
has been kept as an insurance and for serving the regime's interests. For
instance, as regards the Somali issue, the TPLF has been appearing as if it
has the might and many times it has tried to oppress the opposition within
through force. If we should ask whether this stance has changed anything at
all, I think the reality on the ground tells it all. The force that protects
the TPLF political organization has been weakening from time to time despite
the subsidies it gets from abroad. To strengthen this force, a number of
attempts have been made, including the training program in collaboration
with US Army. Sometimes they try to give explanations for this, saying the
training is aimed at preparing troops for service in UN peacekeeping force.
It's like being sent on a fool's errand, just to prepare the Army for the
life of servitude just like the TPLF itself. If we see the instruments the
TPLF used to crash the popular opposition in 2005, it is all Washington's
scheme. Following this, the TPLF regime has been announcing that it will
send so-called peacekeeping force to Sudan and Burundi. The adventurism that
we have been witnessing in Somalia also confirms this fact. We might read
about that but to someone who reads between the lines, it sends out clear
message that all this is being orchestrated for political purposes. If we
should observe what has been done one by one both within the country or
outside, if we ask what developments it have brought about, it indicates one
thing, and that is that the TPLF is falling apart. There might arise some
economic and lateral questions here, the Somali situation, the border
dispute, and the TPLF regime's interference in the regional issues - it all
sums up to be a failed mission. If we take a glance at the 11-year old
border issue, all the ploys the TPLF has been applying have resulted in
utter failure; the delaying tactics on the part of the regime under the
guise of 'negotiations' and other ploys have all failed, despite the
collaboration of the US Administration with the regime. It is true that
sovereign Eritrean territories still remains under occupation. The TPLF
regime has invaded our sovereign territories, but this is another topic. In
any case, the TPLF regime has been totally defeated legally as far as the
border issue is concerned. Despite the regime's continuous futile schemes
and tactics designed to delay the implementation of the EEBC ruling, we have
not faltered even for a second in our stance. Looking at the issue from both
political and legal standpoint, we have firmly established that our
sovereignty is legally guaranteed. The TPLF regime's ploys in the region are
proving more and more futile. It could also be asserted that the current
political, economic and security crisis which the US Administration is
facing has an impact on the regime. This crisis by itself is a big loss. So
taking all this into account we can conclude that the TPLF regime is in
search of rescue from its current desperate situation.

Q: Considering the TPLF regime's servitude to which you have already
referred, there are speculations that the relations between the US and the
TPLF will not continue the way it has been. Your comments on this, Mr.

h the new US Administration in office, concerns are being raised such as
what Washington's policies towards Ethiopia and the rest of the region would
look like. The TPLF has been continuously serving the CIA. The puppet
strings might be cut any minute now. There are also questions regarding the
subsidies that have been extended to the regime that are directly or
indirectly linked to the US interests or the different enlisted lobby groups
in the United States. The TPLF regime is still working on the regional
issues that have not yet found a solution in an attempt to resume the
marionette role it has always been playing. To predict that the relations
between the US and the TPLF might not work as it used to be, might sound a
bit exaggerated. At this moment, we can't foretell what the outcome might be
after six months or a year. It requires close follow-up of situations and
their developments patiently. But the intensive care the TPLF has been
accustomed to might not continue as it used to be. Not only with the TPLF
regime but also in similar other cases in the African continent or other
regions of the world, the benefit one gets from a certain power don't
necessarily continue once the concerned leadership is out of office. The
benefit is only temporary till the concerned power in the office is still
holding the upper hand. Hence, before we rush to make any hasty
speculations, we can look back at history and see for ourselves how the
policies pursued by the US in the past had influenced countries all over the
world. We should observe in gross that the US global adventurism and its
influence on many countries of the world, during and the post-cold war era,
as well as the recent abrupt developments and their impact are not only
influencing Washington's domestic situation but also having impact
worldwide. Personally, I don't think the TPLF regime would continue on
getting the favors it was accustomed to. But referring to the tangible facts
we should ask how the situation looks like in those regions where the TPLF
regime has been rendering its servitude? How is Washington's policy going to
look like in these cases? Only time would tell as to how the regime is
planning to prolong its stay in power, what tricks would it apply this time
to secure its existence in Ethiopia? But as old habits die hard, the TPLF
would not be changing the pattern it has been pursuing to achieve its set
objective. This is the overall situation the TPLF regime now finds itself
and how its future looks like. Putting dramas aside, the regime is heading
to its demise.

Q: The TPLF has monopolized the Ethiopian economy through establishing
various economic and financial institutions; what would the impact of this
scenario be on the Ethiopian people as a whole? And what would the benefit
of the regime and the people of Tigray be as a result of such monopoly?

If we are to talk about controlling the market, the mentality is always
controlling the market with shares of partnership. It is not only in the
areas of security force and power and political strategies and tactics but
also controlling the economy. The economy should be in the hands of those
few that struggle to stay in power. This is the mentality of the TPLF. This
doesn't mean that the TPLF regime has not invited other avaricious partners
to the feast. This is to prolong its ever weakening existence. The other
side of the drama is that the TPLF has made sure that the economy would be
in the hands of its cadres. So if they should talk about development, where
exactly did such development take place? In what way was the development
accomplished? Why? To whose benefit is it directed? If we should go into
details it is really vast. These days, if the TPLF cadres' source of income
should be evaluated and questioned as to how much they have in their bank
accounts? What their monthly salary is? Who pays the salary? How do they
secure additional source of income? The manner they accept bribe demonstrate
the regime's strategies in securing the wealth of the nation to the benefit
of the few. Most of these circles engage in commerce, foreign investments
and the like; they all control the local market. To prevent any economic
development in the rest of the Ethiopian administrative regions and to
control the economy, the TPLF has been setting barriers and issuing
regulations. Thus it has become very impossible to invest and carrying trade
activities from one region to another. The ruling clique has not been able
to bring about economic or social change even within their own place of
origin. Only a few TPLF cadres have been provided with economic
opportunities while the majority have so far been denied any benefits. The
people don't have the opportunity to participate equally in the economic
activities of their respective regions. Only those individuals which the
TPLF can use anytime it wants have access to economic opportunities and are
provided with certain privileges. This is the overall picture as regards the
TPLF regime's way of thinking and outlook. In general, the regime's strategy
of monopolizing the economy has created a lot of resentment even among the
people of Tigray themselves. The people from other Ethiopian regions might
wrongly be prejudiced against the Tigrayans thinking that the latter are the
ones getting all the benefits. But the reality on the ground is quite the
opposite. Most of the financial and commercial institutions in that country
are all ridden with corruption. And this is the TPLF regime's version of
economic activity. What do the development projects in different regions
look like? Some regions, including those in dire need of governmental
intervention have never received any attention. For instance, even with
their vast and fertile lands the Oromo people's participation in the
country's economy is almost nonexistent. As I mentioned earlier, except a
handful of individuals that serve the regime, the majority of the Ethiopian
people have not secured economic opportunities. The people of Tigray are
more close to Eritrea in terms of geographical location than to Ogaden or to
the southern or western parts of Ethiopia. A number of geographical and
other factors can be cited to explain this phenomenon. Hence, if anything
major factor transpires either in Tigray or Eritrea, it will be heard and
talked about on both sides; if the TPLF regime had done anything significant
in Tigray, it could be easily learnt about on the Eritrean side. At any
rate, if the Ethiopian people had been given the chance to freely engage
themselves in economic activities without regional restrictions, how could
Ethiopia stand in the present state of affairs? How would the people of
Tigray benefit from an economic system of equal opportunities? They would
have lived and prospered free from resentment by other nationalities. But
the TPLF regime is manipulating Tigrayans and holding them hostage.
Considering all its rich natural endowments, had serious and tangible
development endeavors been carried out in the past 18 years, Ethiopia not
only would have been able to feed itself but would even have provided the
surplus for others. Ethiopia's natural resources are by no means small or
insignificant, and they could have been used to achieve a lot. However,
under the TPLF rule, every year we hear that a quarter of the population is
at risk of starvation. As everyone can observe, the country's economy has
thus far been monopolized by very few individuals. In talking about the
economic situation in Ethiopia, one must not forget the continuous external
subsidies, which have so far been used only in increasing economic
opportunities for TPLF cadres. And if we relate these economic problems with
the political reality there exist a lot of problems than cannot be seen on
the surface. We can talk about the TPLF regime's attempts to create
hostility between the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The regime has placed
the people of Tigray in a very precarious situation in the history of this
region, and this is one of the major worries of the Tigrayans. The feelings
of hatred and resentment created inside Ethiopia as a result of the TPLF
regime's actions cannot be denied. Sometimes, the TPLF regime even tries to
make it sound as if the Eritrean people hold an unrelenting grudge against
Tigrayans, which is totally a baseless allegation. This goes hand in hand
with the regime's strategy of holding the people of Tigray hostage. Had the
TPLF regime worked for an economic partnership between the two peoples, then
everyone could have benefited. More importantly we feel that the people of
Tigray would have played a very significant and productive role in this
case. There are also other related issues of strategy, geography and
security. A lot could be said as regards where we would have been today had
the political atmosphere been conducive, and we can easily evaluate the
missed opportunities. From this point of view, we can see the damage done to
the economy of both countries and the region as a whole as a result of the
erroneous TPLF regime's economic and political strategies. The situation in
Ethiopia in particular is getting ever worse with each passing year. This
year's famine problems are worse than that of previous years, and the next
year it will be far worse. We can assert that the current economic problems
in the country are a direct outcome of the economic and development policies
pursued by the TPLF regime.

Q: So, what is the Eritrean government's attitude towards the Tigrayan

We have under no circumstance made any mistakes in this case. We have never
drifted into an emotional thinking. We take a practical stock of the
situation and we hold no grudges. We won't say that we are happy with the
TPLF regime's actions but who is this clique? The regime might claim about
being one with the people of Tigray and there might be certain people who
might have been misled by the regime's fake claims; but the Government of
Eritrea does not harbor any resentment against Tigrayans. We look beyond
present circumstances into the future and everything will unfold as it
should. All the current crises and the missed opportunities are a result of
the TPLE regime's narrow mentality. The mistakes of putting all blames on
the people of Tigray is unthinkable in Eritrea; for we are from two
different schools of thought. Our principles and philosophies are not based
on creating division but on bringing people together under one vision while
prioritizing development endeavors. Our principles did not just spring to
life in 1991 but had been nurtured throughout the years of the struggle for
independence, and we had been working beyond narrow sub-national attitudes
since then. Our domestic strategies are totally different from that of the
TPLF regime; for theirs is by all measurements a strategy of divide and
conquer. I don't think anyone can say that there exists hatred or hostility
against the people of Tigray on our part because one has to be able to look
beyond the horizon. The TPLF's motives in fomenting feelings of hatred and
hostility between the people of Tigray and other Ethiopian nationalities, as
well as the Eritrean people are quite obvious. Our primary focus has always
been on how to develop our country and foster peaceful and cooperative
relations with our neighboring states. We harbor no ill will against the
Tigrayans. If there is going to be any improvement or change in Ethiopia's
relations with its neighbors, particularly with Eritrea, the people of
Tigray will play a significant role. The Tigrayans have learned a lot from
the experience of the past 18 years, and thus the role they can play in
improving relations with others cannot be viewed lightly. Taking into
account the aforementioned facts, it is impossible to think that there
exists narrow-minded grudge or hostility in Eritrea towards the people of

Q: Going back to the issue of economy, the only government claiming to have
scored economic progress at this time in the world is the TPLF regime. At a
time when even countries like the US, China and France are talking about
economic crisis, what are we to make of the TPLF regime's boasting of
economic boom?

This is just pure irony. It is nothing but a sarcastic joke. How can the
economy be booming while a quarter of the Ethiopian population is facing
starvation? Quoting GDP figures and making claims of economic growth is just
a game played by changing statistical data. Does the starvation of a quarter
of the population signify development? And which parts of Ethiopia are
witnessing this so-called development? Development is not just the
fluctuation in annual figures. It should be noted that sustainability of any
economic progress should be based on internal capabilities and potential. An
economic progress that is dependent on external subsidies has no
sustainability. One of the biggest challenges facing Ethiopia today is the
culture of dependency on external assistance which in turn has given rise to
serious problems in the day-to-day economic activities of the population.
While the TPLF regime is boasting of economic progress, the IMF is saying
that Ethiopia needs a one-billion dollar subsidy. The IMF and the World Bank
have been providing subsidies to Ethiopia as per the US Administration's
strategies. So, if these organizations are saying that Ethiopian needs that
much aid, then where did the TPLF bring the figures signifying 'economic
progress.' One can say a lot by playing with statistical data, but you
cannot change the reality on the ground. The TPLF regime's claims are but
just a joke.

You have been referring to the massacre and unrest witnessed during the May
2005 elections in Ethiopia. Still, the TPLF is presently preparing for
elections in 2010. How will such an election look like when opposition
movements are saying peaceful political opposition is over and the way
forward is for armed struggle? Under the circumstances, what will the
Ethiopian people's political stance be?

So many things will surface in Ethiopia within the next two years until the
so-called 2010 elections. We won't talk about it as if it will at all take
place as scheduled. The things I have mentioned earlier, the existing
political state of affairs in the Ethiopian security apparatus and the
various internal scenarios all these problems created by this regime are not
simple. There is a political game underway with the assistance of the US so
as to help the regime in the same manner as the 2005 elections. Due to the
popular uprising in 2005, the predicament the TPLF regime was then indeed
deep. But the turmoil was not only for the regime but also for Washington.
We can easily look over the past three years resulting from the
aforementioned political scenario. A number of mechanisms were resorted to
in a bid to weaken the popular opposition such as that of the Oromo
opposition forces. So much have been invested to divide and dismantle the
Oromo Liberation Front, especially in the Diaspora. This was purposely done
to weaken the political developments that could emerge in spite of the ever
growing opposition over the past couple of years. An intensive campaign has
been going on over the past three years along with the collaboration of the
US and its allies, particularly the UK to undermine the resistance movement,
which nonetheless ended up in failure. When one looks into the political or
armed opposition on the part of forces in Tigray, the Amhara, the Benshangul
from the south and southwest of Ethiopia, the Oromos, the Ogadien people,
the Afars and others have actually been gaining strength from time to time.
You can't say that these campaigns don't have any
input at all. Still, we shouldn't take election time as a timeframe. There
exist other types of speculation that should be taken into consideration. In
recent time, the TPLF regime is harping on a concocted 'Afar issue', I just
want to cite this as an example. The TPLF cadres have launched a program for
those they refer to as Afari cadres aimed at articulating as if Assab was
the center of the Afar people in the Horn of Africa from Ethiopia, Djibouti
and Eritrea. What is the reason for the regime to resort to such kind of
comical game? Is it for the sake of the Afar people? To find solution for
the internal turmoil created? According to the TPLF, the wild thinking boils
down to 'finding a passage to the sea because you don't have one.' All these
futile attempts emanate from of the political bankruptcy of the regime.
Looking at the situation from a regional perspective, taking as a pretext
the opposition movements operating along the border with Sudan, the TPLF
regime is blackmailing Khartoum. Similar acts could also be mentioned with
regards to Kenya. Generally speaking, when one looks at how the TPLF regime
is playing its cards, it only indicates that the regime is in a state of
total bankruptcy. At a later stage in this interview, we would look into the
prevailing situation of the regime with regard to Somalia and others.

Q: How about Eritrea's relations with the various political movements in

Well, what is particularly frightening as far as the TPLF cadres are
concerned is Shaebia. This is not something that needs an explanation.
Whatever problem the region is facing, the TPLF regime will accuse Shaebia
or the Eritrean government as if they were the 'cause' for that. Such a
distorted thinking emanates from the TPLF's disturbed state of mind. To come
to the point, following World War II, the Eritrean people's right to
self-determination was neglected, and for that very reason, the Eritrean
people were compelled to wage a protracted and bitter struggle for
liberation entailing enormous sacrifices. What we believed in our 30-year
long struggle for independence is creating conducive atmosphere for mutual
cooperation with the entire Ethiopian people. Furthermore, we worked hard to
foster relations of friendship and understanding among peoples both at the
regional and international level. The cooperation we had fostered with the
Ethiopian opposition movements in the days of the Haileselasie reign or that
of the Mengstu regime was based on the aforementioned assumptions. Even our
relation with the TPLF could not be viewed differently from this stance.
Besides, the other relations we had with the various political entities in
the region is based on this stance. The TPLF regime has strived to undermine
efforts to realize the lofty objectives just mentioned. As a result, both
the Eritrean and Ethiopian peoples have been deprived of reaping the fruits
of mutual development and prosperity. We won't abandon the principles which
we had been nurturing domestically and regionally as regards relations with
the Ethiopian people. Not only for ourselves but also for the whole region,
we still aspire for prospects of a prosperous and peaceful region. However,
we won't let the TPLF regime ruin such cherished goals. We have a moral
obligation to stand alongside the Ethiopian people and their resistance. It
is a basic principle that we have cherished for long and still uphold in the
interest of both the Eritrean and Ethiopian people.

Q: During the past 20 years, relations between Eritrea and the Sudan
witnessed ups and downs. What is the current status of the relations? Could
you explain Eritrea's position regarding the policies of the Sudanese
Government of National Unity in general and the issues of South Sudan,
Darfur and East Sudan?

At the Conference of the Sudanese People's Initiative towards Peaceful
Resolution of the Darfur Issue which was held recently in Khartoum, I had
raised two important ideas. Sudan today is at a cross road. Under the
prevailing circumstance, it is well known as to what our relations with the
Sudanese central government, the NIF and later on the Popular Party, as well
as other forces in the Sudan. What relations we maintain with the SPLM? How
did it develop? It is a long story. The main issue is that Sudan being in a
cross road, our policy towards the country is that we do not want to see it
getting engulfed in an endless quagmire and civil strife. Based on this
strategy, Sudan should get every support we could afford. A situation of
conflict and civil strife in that country does not benefit t the Sudanese
people and that of the region as a whole. Hence, all our attention and
strategy should be geared towards this. But what do we mean by being at a
cross road? After all the years of conflict in the Sudan, an agreement was
signed in Naivasha, Kenya, between the SPLM and the Sudanese Popular Party.
With all reservations, we hoped a positive outcome might be borne from the
Agreement. In the hope that the Naivasha Agreement would bring about peace
and stability in Sudan, we decided to positively engage with full capacity
in the process. However, the situation did not proceed as we expected.
Within three years since the signing of the Agreement, the situation further
deteriorated. The responsibility, however, does not fall on the side of the
South or North Sudan or that of the SPLM and the Popular Party. The
developments taking place in South Sudan represent very dangerous ones that
could lead to more crises. The details are many. Viewed at from the
political, economic and security angles, we could say the situation is going
out of hand. Who might be harmed from the situation? Over the last three
years following the signing of the Naivasha Agreement, with all the
distrust, hatred and accusations, the amount of money provided to the
Government of Southern Sudan
is not small. The Government of Southern Sudan has received more than five
billion dollars of its share. Where has this amount of money gone? What
change did it bring about? If we ask how many roads have been constructed;
to what extent has the supply of potable water being made available, what
health service has been provided, what job opportunities have been created,
development and investments projects implemented in Southern Sudan? The
answer is definitely none. Instead of perusing unity, ethnic and clan
divisions became rampant. Instead of good governance, a corrupt system has
been established. This is an alarming situation. I do not want to explain it
in figures. In what position has this placed the Naivasha Agreement, the
overall situation in the Sudan, particularly South Sudan, is really
upsetting. Things have to be rectified. To this end, the core problem has to
be identified. There is nothing that could be done by hiding the problems.
This is one issue. After the Naivasha Agreement that was believed to bring
peace and stability to the country, the Darfur crisis followed. In the past
few years, an AU peacekeeping mission was deployed to Darfur which failed to
accomplish anything. Then the UN came into the scene which further
complicated the situation. As a result of all of this, the situation in
Darfur is going out of hand. You could not foresee an immediate solution.
The splitting up of the different factions is growing; the interference of
external forces is on the rise leaving no room for domestic initiative
towards tackling the problem. We could say the situation in Darfur is
worsening with each passing day. The prospects for lasting solution are far
from showing any positive trend. It requires more and serious effort. Within
the past eight years, the Bush Administration's interference to destabilize
and to foment conflict in the Sudan has been enormous. The target of the
external interference is the instability of Sudan and its people through
creating animosity among the country's citizens. Hence, the interference of
external forces has further aggravated the situation in the Sudan. Besides,
the situation in East Sudan has not progressed either as expected. However,
it is not comparable to that being witnessed in South Sudan and Darfur. What
is our policy regarding this? We do not want to contemplate over what
transpired in the past. The territorial integrity and sovereignty of the
Sudan should be respected. The central government of Sudan, with all its
setbacks and challenges should be supported. The stability and peace in
Sudan is to the interest of our region. The problems in that country should
be handled and carefully scrutinized sector by sector and issue by issue.
Otherwise, creating further fragmentation of the Sudanese people that could
be beyond resolution, leaving aside the main issues and concentrating on
minor cases that would eventually complicate the situation, will not benefit
the people of Sudan and the neighboring countries. The problems have to be
evaluated with their objective reality without perusing for personal
interests. The different forces in the Sudan should put aside their
differences and work for viable solution. On our part, we are working
towards reconciliation of the different factions and the normalization of
relations between Chad and Sudan. Other friendly countries are also working
to this end. Our stance regarding mitigating the problem in Sudan will never
weaver with the regional and global political changes. The end result is to
be seen in due course.

Q: Excellency, what is the level of external interference in Sudan? What is
the real problem in South Sudan? Is it the Naivasha Agreement; is it
internal problem or the interference of external forces? Could you give us
an insight on the real cause?

This is a big issue that could not be easily articulated. The Naivasha
Agreement was signed for realizing self-determination on the part of the
people of South Sudan. The people of South Sudan beginning from Sudan's
attainment of independence in 1956 until the signing of the Agreement have
been marginalized and sporadic armed opposition has been witnessed. The
Naivasha Agreement was an important step forward. We had reservations
regarding power-sharing and allocation of resources. With all the
reservation on the philosophical, legal and practical aspects of
implementation of the programs designed during the transitional period and
later, we had the conviction that these would be rectified through time.
John Garang had a big influence on the organization. After his death, a huge
gap was created in the SPLM. It does not mean that there was clean and
efficient direction during his leadership. There was unfinished political
process which was underway that led to the signing of the Naivasha
Agreement. The situation that we observed later, the division of the people
on the basis of clan and ethnicities is the creation of external forces. The
political development that was on the process was not finished and the
organizational structure that was supposed to consummate the process was
also not solid. The amount of money that was squandered in the name of the
Agreement within the short time since its signing is substantial. According
to the figures we are familiar with; it has reached an estimated 6 billion
dollars. One would expect that such an investment would help South Sudan to
achieve significant development. But the amount has disappeared without a
trace because of corruption due to the existing political vacuum. Although
the corruption is byproduct of the political status quo, it further
aggravates the situation and creates more division, thus making the solution
much more difficult to achieve. Relations between Meatemer and the SPLM,
instead of improving over the past 3 years, it has brought further conflict
and rift. Some claim that South Sudan will be divided. But what will happen
if it is divided tomorrow. It will be a stateless chaos, with no unity; it
could become a bizarre display of sectarian violence. We would witness the
same thing that is happening to the Central African Republic. The
neighboring countries of South Sudan, due to the fact that they want to make
use of developments in the region to their advantage, do not contribute
anything towards helping solve this dilemma. It is obvious what would happen
to South Sudan and its people if it is divided. But considering the domestic
issues of South Sudan, interference by external forces would further
complicate the issue and entail huge consequence. The issue calls for
constant attention and follow up, and this is the basis
of our foreign policy regarding the issue.

Q: Let's go back to the topic we raised earlier as regards relations between
Chad and Sudan. As you have mentioned earlier, Eritrea has been striving to
solve the problems between the two countries. Taking into consideration the
complications external forces are creating, what could we expect as regards
developments in Sudanese-Chadian relations? What would be the effective
approach to tackle this problem?

Yes, there might be different opinions regarding this issue, but the
solution should emanate from shared views and direct dialogue with the
concerned parties. The problem in relations between Chad and Sudan is
connected with the situation in Darfur. How did the situation in Darfur
become a complicated issue? Has the Central Government in Khartoum anything
to do with this? We could raise the aforementioned questions and discuss the
matter, but the situation has assumed a complicated phase where the
concerned parties are engaged in counter accusations and the involvement of
foreign powers has complicated matters and has even been aggravated into
conflict. So instead of focusing on the main issue of Darfur, it has become
a conflict between the two governments. Both sides have their own reasons
and their own justification, but this mainly concerns them. However, this is
obvious and clear to us, and thus if Sudan is to enjoy lasting peace the
Sudan-Chad issue should to be resolved first. The conflicts that had evolved
as a cause needs to be averted. Hence, relations between Chad and Sudan as
one issue by one side and the situation in Chad by the other side should be
resolved one by one and again together as one issue. This requires the
goodwill of both concerned parties. On top of this, it needs honest and
candid parties of reconciliation; it calls for candid mediators. So far, the
parties that have been engaged in the reconciliation of the two parties have
been abusing, misusing and exploiting the issue. Neither to bring any
solution to the Darfur case nor to resolve the conflict between Sudan and
Chad, what is the case here then? It simply shows that tackling the issues
at hand was the least concern of the reconciling parties. What is the motive
behind Washington's interference in this case? Or any European countries for
that matter? Especially the countries that don't want the stability of
Sudan, this is a big opportunity for them and they are using such an
opportunity. But despite all this, we have been working relentlessly to
promote stability in the Sudan. It is our duty to offer what we can towards
normalizing Sudanese-Chadian relations or promote solution of the Darfur
issue. Lately, there emerged a note from the International Court concerning
the Sudanese issue. Despite its legal irony, what is the message they are
trying to convey through this? This is a ploy designed to expose Sudan to
permanent crisis. This is not aimed at securing justice or guaranteeing
human rights for the Darfur population, nor is it aimed at directing the
future of Darfur along the correct path. By all standards, this has nothing
to do with Beshir either; the whole thing is but an attack directed against
the Sudanese people. We can raise a number of questions in this regard: What
are its legal aspects? What is it based on? How did they initiate the issue
and do they have concrete evidence for this? How many lives were lost in
this conflict, what is the number of casualties here? Why is the Darfur case
so important to them? Is it because the degree of the catastrophe is so
intense here compared to other incidents around the globe? Or is it because
this holds a special appeal to their interests? All these have their own
answers. But ultimately this is not all to contradict Beshir but to put
Sudan in permanent crisis. When still the Naivasha Agreement is under
implementation, when it is clear to everyone that there would be challenges
in the implementation process, and when the Darfur situation has not yet
been directed along the right path of reconciliation, when there still
prevails the situation in East Sudan and when the general situation in the
North is still in as it is, I don't see why they are so insistent on
resolving the issues in Darfur or protecting the right of the Darfur people.
What is the preoccupation with this issue? If we should ask the impact of
this in undermining the political structure of Sudan and the overall outcome
of this on the people of the country and how many more lives it is going to
affect? If we should contrast all that has been going on, in all
measurements looking at it from both political and legal standpoint, this is
unjustifiable. This is a challenge and despite the political differences
they have, the people of Sudan should work against this because it affects
them in every aspect. Our stance on this is clear and we have voiced it on
numerous occasions. Thus, any developments that might arise in the future
would be looked at from this policy and it would be possible to attain the
desired goal. The situation between Chad and Sudan should hence be
considered side by side with Sudanese issue, which by the way should be
given increased attention.

Q: As you have already made reference to, the International Court has
charged Beshir with 'crimes of genocide' and has demanded that Sudan should
hand him over. What do such institutions stand for? Who administrates them?
How do they operate? What is the stance of the Government of Eritrea
regarding such issues?

This is a very broad topic. We could raise questions such as what the origin
of such institutions is or who funds them? Do they really know the law or
are just mere messengers? Do they stand for justice or have some other
hidden agendas? If we look at it in different angles, this was initiated by
the Security Council. Invisible elements that pushed the Council to initiate
this was the United States. The Bush Administration has orchestrated it.
When they announced that genocide has been committed they were merely making
a political statement not because they were concerned about the number of
casualties or the war that was going on. It is not possible to debate
whether genocide has been committed or not or the fact that the situation
was getting out of hand. The reality on the ground is sufficient testimony.
But right the moment the situation was studied whether genocide has been
committed or not, it was announced that it was a genocide attack. The reason
behind this is political in nature. And due to some political interests, the
issue was escalated just like that not because there was a concern about the
situation of Sudan or to relieve the people of Darfur from their miseries
but due to some political interest. This was used as a means to exploit the
situation in Sudan so as to achieve some hidden agendas. Thus, the Security
Council was used as a means. If the Council is really interested in
resolving issues, how come its decision on the Eritrea-Ethiopia border issue
that was passed six years ago has not yet been implemented on the ground?
How come the Security Council failed to address the Somalia issue? Why is
the Council specially interested on the case mentioned above? This leads to
the conclusion that in this case there is some hidden political agenda
behind and they are using this opportunity. The plan behind all this is to
hold Sudan hostage using the issue as a pretext. The situation would
continue as long as they get what they want and they will realize it by
exploiting the situation in the Sudan. So, by appearing to master the
situation in Sudan, they are delaying a possible solution so as to pursue
their agenda. By securing their stay in Sudan, they are attempting to
exercise their agenda on the region. This is the policy that the Bush
Administration has been pursuing. This is not a matter of law or
lawlessness; it is not a matter of justice or injustice either. These
so-called human right advocators are simply a symbol. What are they trying
to highlight by saying the genocide in Darfur is the most terrible act as
compared to other atrocities committed all over the world? Why has it drawn
international attention? These quarters could claim to be 'impartial' or
advocates of the rule of law and justice and that they are 'independent'.
But from what we have witnessed over the past 20 years or even before, we
can tell who manages these institutions. Whom does the Security Council
serve or by the same token the other international organizations for that
matter? And who controls the World Bank or the IMF? Who brought the
so-called human rights activist organizations? How did they originate? And
from where do their staff members come from? Who pays and gives them orders
or work directives? Various documents could be referred in connection with
these matters. But generally speaking, the intention to bring Bashir to
court is conspired for the purpose of realizing different hidden political
agendas. If they are really fighting for human rights or working to solve or
to look on matters of genocide, why don't the so-called organizations do
something to verify the allegation. You might put aside the issue of
bringing somebody to justice. However, why does one bring another obscure
problem that would further complicate the prevailing crises? It is really
baffling to talk about these so-called organizations. If you look back into
history to identify the origin of the NGOs, it is not difficult for anybody
to find out the real truth. I can only say that the latest information being
disseminated about the origin of such organizations or their staff members
is enough for someone who wants to have a clue. There is no new thing to
talk about them.

Q: Two years ago, when the TPLF regime and its masters were preparing to
invade Somalia, you said that the war was bound to be a march into a
quagmire. Your predictions were proven right not long after the invasion
took place. How do you view the developments over the past two years since
the invasion and what would future developments look like? And what will
Eritrea's role be in this case?

We now have to look at it from two angles, though we can't make detailed
predictions. Anyone who knows enough about Somalia couldn't have taken such
adventurous actions. Even if you stand to gain something, in the end one
cannot gain much from servitude. As their initial claims of "we will leave
Somalia in a matter of weeks," implies that they could easily crush any
opposition and accomplish what they want. It is not something they were
saying to deceive people but the TPLF really believed that they will easily
put Somalia under their control and then receive compensation from the US
for their servitude. If we look at it from a global perspective, the
Security Council had just then passed a resolution banning Ethiopia,
Djibouti and Kenya from interfering. If we look back and read the
aforementioned resolution, it uses phrases pertaining to the sovereignty and
unity of Somalia. Confident in the supremacy of the US, the TPLF regime took
this adventurous step disregarding both the UN resolution and the situation
in the region. But if you look back even into the early 90s, it is really
difficult to imagine the Somali people's ferocity of opposition. As I had
mentioned on a number of occasions before, with all their advantages even
the Haileselassie and Derg regimes did not commit such a disastrous mistake.
It was because they knew a lot of things and refrained from taking such a
step. Even with substantial external support, these regimes were not able to
completely control the Somali people in the Ogaden region. But the TPLF
regime did make this adventurous mistake. So it is natural now to ask what
transpired over the past two years in relation to what was said at the
beginning of the invasion. But first and foremost, the Ethiopian people
should ask why the TPLF regime entered into war with Somalia. As everyone
knows the primary reason that drove the TPLF regime to take such a measure
is to gain some benefits from its backers and prolong its stay in power. The
claims that terrorism and terrorists in Somalia posed a national security
threat to Ethiopia were just baseless deceptions. Now the TPLF regime is
talking about withdrawing, but what had the regime accomplished in the past
two years? Even using as much military force as they could, the TPLF troops
were unable to accomplish a single thing. Instead they created chaos and
destruction among a people who had just been able to experience relative
stability. Though well-concealed from the rest of the world due to
Washington's influence, the war crimes committed against the Somali people
over the past two years are beyond comparison. But since the direct legal
responsibility rests on both the US Administration and the TPLF, the crimes
and humanitarian crisis were prevented from being aired and reported by the
media. A day will come when all the crimes will be revealed before the
world. Countless Somalis have lost their lives in the past two years; who is
to take responsibility? Displaced from their homes, Somali people are now
living in misery and hunger. This is what happened in the past two years.
Maybe the TPLF regime would take this as an accomplishment, but the hatred
it has created in the past two years will entail repercussions for years to
come. Besides the problems created in the past two years, we should also
look at the political atmosphere that arose during the rule of the warlords.
The people of Somalia were gradually strengthening their unity and building
their country till 1990. Though there were certain weaknesses that emerged
shortly before the end of the Siad Barre regime, the Somali people had made
some progress. After the English and Italian colonies were unified as one
people under one government in 1960, the Somali people began to slowly build
their nation. This progress took a down turn during the final days of the
Siad Barre regime and the rule of the warlords began to expand during the
extensive period of power vacuum. If we remember the Black Hawk incident, a
number of attempts were made by external forces to perpetuate the state of
lawlessness and power vacuum. During the prolonged period of the rule of the
warlords, the progress the Somali people were making in building a unified
nation of one language and one nationality began to quickly decline. The US,
the TPLF and other external forces manipulated this situation to advance
their interests. Even the piracy situation we are witnessing at present is a
result of the power vacuum. How did the divisions of Somaliland, Puntland
and Benadir land came about? This was the work of the warlords who were
being encouraged and subsidized by external forces. We can say that the
turmoil and division encouraged the TPLF regime. Somalia's brief return to
stability in 2006 created an unfounded anxiety for the TPLF. Being a country
with 3000 km-long coastline and than other African states, Somalia could
play a significant role in this region. Facing enough problems within
Ethiopia, the TPLF regime is always afraid and suspicious of any stability
in the region. But although there are problems of terrorism and other
threats, the clique's primary challenge is the Ethiopian people. In the
Somali case, the TPLF and the US Administration manipulated the warlords and
encouraged the division of Somalia into different areas. So you can say that
they gave rise to terrorism themselves because they wanted to manipulate the
situation. We cannot ask why things changed in Somalia in 2006 because it is
something that happens everywhere in the world. How and where the change
came from is another topic altogether. I don't think that anyone could be
surprised as to why a group of people with strong Islamic philosophies began
to effect the change. The developments in 2006 clearly showed that the
people of Somalia had had enough of the warlords and civil war. Given the
chance to continue with their initiative, the Somali people might have once
again unified their country which had been divided into different areas. As
I mentioned earlier, when the Security Council was talking about the
sovereignty of Somalia, it meant about the entire nation. I can talk a lot
about our views regarding Somaliland, but generally these separatist
movements would further exacerbate the overall situation in Somalia. Why did
the TPLF take hasty measures in 2006? What were they planning to do once
they oust the UIC from Mogadishu? If as they said their intention was to
wipe out terrorism then it must be a joke. And if they were intending to fi
ll the power vacuum in Somalia, then this is not something that can fool
anyone. The TPLF felt threatened by peace in Somalia but the Ethiopian
people had nothing to fear from the unity and stability of a neighboring
country. Since the TPLF regime had already troubles securing control within
Ethiopia, the stability of a neighboring country may seem like a big threat.
If we look at it from the perspective of the US Administration's global
strategy, particularly after 9/11, the TPLF regime was more than encouraged
to enter into Somalia. For the past two years, the TPLF regime's forces have
been bearing the consequences of the foolhardy measure. How many Ethiopian
soldiers have lost their lives so far? Where were they operating till now?
We can go into details as to what the two years have entailed for the TPLF
regime, but it would only be stating the obvious. The regime had utterly
failed. Now to cover up their failure, they are saying that they will
withdraw from Somalia very soon. But we have already seen what happened in
the past two years, and thus we will just wait and see what happens in 2009
and 2010.

Q: What about Eritrea's role?

It is as I mentioned earlier. Our views and opinions have not changed. Our
commitment to bringing about peace and stability in this region is not
something that developed suddenly. Somalia's strategic geographical location
has a crucial effect in the peace and stability of the Horn of Africa. Had
circumstances enabled the Somali people to keep on with the progress they
initiated in the 1960s, it is not difficult to imagine the contribution it
would have made to the peoples of the region. This is how we can look at the
missed opportunities. Everyone knows the kind of cooperative relationship we
had with the TPLF before and after 1991, but it was thwarted after 1998. The
Somali case is no different. When you look at it from a wider perspective,
the TPLF regime ruined and obstructed the conducive atmosphere that could
have been created for all peoples of the region. Thus, we should sympathize
with the Somali people, taking a practical stock of all developments and
without taking sides with any group. We showed our support for the
developments of 2006 because we felt it could lead to creating a better
situation. Like I mentioned earlier, we had worked with Ethiopia towards a
common goal and mutual benefits with good intentions. The same is true when
we come to Somalia. The Ethiopian regime has, however, obstructed the
stability of the Horn region. For this particular reason, we stand with the
Somali people. We have followed the Somali case closely after 2006 because
we thought it was a hopeful situation. We did not choose to get involved
during the rule of the warlords. We see some hope in Somalia, but this is
still the beginning. The allegations that are being propagated by Washington
and its cronies such as the Ethiopian government about Somalia being a proxy
are simply baseless. We just chose to be involved in Somalia because we saw
an opportunity after 2006 to draw Somalia out of the shambles it was in.
When the Asmara Conference on Somalia was held, a lot of Somalis from all
over the world participated, and we once more reaffirmed our stance that it
is our duty to assist the Somali people to draw experience from the rule of
warlords and rebuild a better Somalia. So, although we had a border issue
with the TPLF regime, we cannot have used that as a pretext of getting
involved in Somalia. Somalia has been degraded into a stateless chaos; it is
not recognized by the Arab League, the African Union or anything else. It
ceased to exist in maps and there is no governance. These are the things
that have caused the religious extremism and terrorism and issues such as
that of piracy, issues that benefit the Ethiopian regime and those who do
not want to see a united Somalia. Terrorism, religious extremism and piracy
are not to the advantage of the Somali people anyway.

Q: The tripartite grouping among Yemen, Sudan and Ethiopia recently made
Djibouti and Somalia to join it and they recently conducted a meeting. What
is the motive?

It has no aim at all. It was used by the Ethiopian regime as a pretext to
isolate Eritrea. There is no bilateral financial aid or treaty or anything
like that. It is something that was created with the backing of the United
States. At first some of the members, like Yemen and Sudan were fooled into
joining the grouping, but they eventually realized that it is one of the
many ploys employed by the TPLF regime to isolate Eritrea, and as such they
are not as active as they used to be. For instance, if we try to read
between the lines of what President Ali Abdalla Saleh of Yemen said, we
could see what he exactly feels about the whole thing. The TPLF regime has
got nothing else to dream about other than vainly trying to create problems
for Eritrea. The grouping finally added Somalia and Djibouti to its
membership. There is nothing Djibouti can gain from this; it is engaging in
a severe blunder. Why would Puntland be included in this, it's not even a
sovereign entity. It is one of the numerous foreign policy failures of the
TPLF regime.

Q: Still on African issues, last year the Eritrean government played a major
role in attempting to solve the Zimbabwean political crisis as well as the
civil war that erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo. What do other
Africans learn from this?

I cannot say I know much about this. This has not been one of our priorities
and because we haven't been able to continue the initiative as envisaged. We
tried to play due role in stabilizing nations such as Rwanda, the Democratic
Republic of Congo because the stability of this region concerns us. Although
different nations in Africa can solve the problems that may arise in their
respective regions, we have been involved because that may also affect us.
We have pushed for such initiative during the 63rd Summit of the African
Union in Cairo. But it was one of the issues in which the Ethiopian regime
tried to obstruct our efforts. Most of the problems were mainly caused by
the fl awed strategy of the Bush Administration. We cannot say that the
Zimbabwean case was a just one. However, we question why so much effort was
put into giving it such a major media attention when there exist several
other important issues at hand that deserve extensive media coverage. The
Bush Administration has been very much concerned with creating such
scenarios of chaos and then managing these things to its advantage. What we
are witnessing in Africa today is a mere continuation of the divide and rule
policy on the part of Washington so as to manage it. We are observing the
consequences of such policy today; some understand this policy and choose to
become accomplice for reasons of pure self-interest and others get simply

Q: In view of the fact that IGAD, the AU, the UN and other international
organizations are puppet bodies of the uni-economic power, USA, how can an
organization or organizations capable of providing leadership at global
level come into being? On the other hand, there is an argument that it is
better to work inside these organizations and fight to reorganize their
structure rather than suspending one's membership. Your views regarding
this, Excellency?

There may be arguments on this. However, you can't argue without having a
case and evidence and sufficient knowledge on that matter. When you even
speculate you need to have concrete information. After 1991, the end of the
Cold War era, there were so many things that could have happened looking
through different perspectives. And the reason is quite obvious. It is what
the Washington Administration resorted to in order to control the former
Organization of African Unity (OAU) at present the African Union by way of
dividing the African continent into four major regional centers of powers
via Addis Ababa as it is assumed to be a convenient spot. It is a conspiracy
designed to control the organization and serve the US strategy; this is not
a secret. I am not saying that regional or continental organizations are
irrelevant or unnecessary; there is no option either. The contemporary world
needs the existence of global, continental, regional or sub-regional
organizations. However, conducive ground should be created to make them
viable institutions. If you happen to be working for the agenda of the Bush
Administration and its allies, you need to control not only a regional
African organization but also others in different parts of the world. When
you look at the matter from the military perspective, you can have a much
more clear picture about the entire topic. It is only about ensuring world
domination; monopoly status over financial institutions, technology, and now
practicing the agenda in Africa through different organizations such as
IGAD, ECOWAS, SADEC and so forth. Weaving a number of conspiracies, one sees
to it that the particular organization serves Washington's interests. And we
have witnessed some disgraceful agents or organizations. For instance, if we
take the case of IGAD, it is just in that status. It is an organization that
not only helplessly watching the genocide committed in Somalia but also
actually voted against the will and choice of the Somali people through
siding with the Security Council. So, how can we be a member of such an
organization? In expression of our solidarity with the Somali people, we
decided to suspend membership in IGAD. However, this does not mean that we
don't need regional or global organizations. There should exist bodies that
work for mutual benefit and collaboration among peoples. Still, you need to
fight for the right alternative being inside paralyzed organizations. In the
case of IGAD, you can restructure it as a member. We can also take the case
of the Sana'a grouping; had it been serving a worthwhile purpose, why not
participate in it. Countries should strive for mutual benefit. Till now,
however, from what we have observed, there is nothing significant to benefit
from such organizations.

Q: But how can dynamic organizations come into being?

It is not a desire or choice. It requires a long struggle; we have witnessed
so many things since 1991. What should we do to create a viable regional
organization the membership of which comprises Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
Djibouti, Somalia or even Yemen? When you give this assignment to anyone
with or without the necessary information about the situation in each
country, what would one do? We are working to accomplish the demanding task
on the basis of our capacity, for instance the Sudanese issue. We are doing
this not only to secure bilateral advantages but also promote greater
interaction at the regional or global level. Earlier, we have talked about
the Somali issue, the Ethiopian crisis and the Djiboutian case. In order to
meet these challenges, we are exerting maximum efforts to lay a conducive



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