Issayas Tesfamariam
April 11, 2003

After a short winter hibernation, patronizing pundits and know-it-alls such as Martin Plaut, a South African by birth, who passes for British, is springing back at it again. This time, with an oxymoronic analysis that belongs in the dustbin of history.

In his latest babbling entitled; Analysis: Crucial point for Horn Relations, for the BBC, a news organization that has fallen so low that it had almost become an extension of Radio Weyane when it comes to anything Eritrean. Based on his South African/British schizophrenic mind, his “analysis” can be divided into two parts.

In the first part, to be fair, he correctly, stated some of the following points:

  • "The EBBC has ruled unequivocally that the village of Badme is Eritrean."
  • "The problem for Ethiopia is the commission’s ruling is final and binding, and there is no possibility of appeal (which Ethiopia agreed to before the EBBC decision) "
  • "Eritrea is quite within its rights to call for the backing of the international community (as guarantors of the Algiers Agreement) in enforcing the terms of the agreement. "
However, in the second part, the schizoid kicked in with a big bang. Here are some of the points he raised. Sit tight for the roller coaster.

"With the international community fully engaged in the crisis in Iraq, there is little chance of the UN or anyone else dispatching troops to the region to enforce Eritrea’s claim. "

Why? What does the crisis in Iraq have to do with the demarcation process? Isn’t Mr. Plaut going to work everyday, despite the fact of what is going on in Iraq? So why would it stop the UN from continuing its work in Eritrea? By raising the aforementioned statement in his second part of his analysis, he had already answered his own rhetorical statement in the first part. This is what he said a few paragraphs earlier:

The UN has called for enforcement In the following terms: “measures to be taken by the International community should one or both of the parties violate this commitment, including appropriate measures to be taken under Chapter VII of the UN Charter by the UN Security Council. Chapter VII is the section of the Charter that allows for action up to and including the use of force.

For starters, the UN should tell Ethiopia, in no unequivocal terms that it should abide by its signature. If not, sanctions and/or force would follow.

As to the notion of no one else sending troops; there are 4200 troops already on the ground. Like other mandates that were added later, the enforcement mandate could easily be added to UNMEE’s other mandates.

"The best way forward would be for both countries to agree that Badme is not important."

If this is not a racist remark, I don’t know what is! Would Mr. Plaut ever dare tell his British Government that the war over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) 300 miles off the coast of Argentina and 7500 miles from the UK, was after all- a small insignificant group of islands?

For Ethiopia, it had been crystal clear from the beginning that the cause was never Badme, but the reversal of Eritrea’s hard won independence (first choice) or change of government in Eritrea(second choice) as has been evident later. For Eritrea also the issue is clear. It doesn’t want anything that is not legally its, and at the same time it has no intention to give away anything is legally its. As sovereign Eritrean territory every square inch of Badme or any other border place for that matter is important.

He continues by suggesting that there are several possibilities for resolving the impasse. One example he gives is that Ethiopia could continue to administer Badme while acknowledging Eritrean sovereignty over the area.

To quote Mr. Jim Hightower, author of “There is Nothing In The Road But Yellow Stripes And Armadillos”, Mr. Plaut, is putting out more baloney than Oscar Mayer. All I have to say is, Mr. Plaut, there is no impasse to resolve. Badme is ruled by the EBBC to be sovereign Eritrean territory. Therefore, Ethiopia should vacate Eritrean land immediately. Period. If there is any impasse, it would be between Ethiopia and the UN.

His other suggestion was to build another settlement for Ethiopia in the Badme plain, which could also be called Badme. Mr. Plaut, Ethiopia can build a thousand cloned Badmes if it wants to. That’s Ethiopia’s business. However, that will not change the fact that the one and only Badme was and is west of the famous straight line and thus inside Eritrea.

Finally, two points.

  • One, Mr. Plaut reminds me of Suleiman who, in the Turkish folk story, was a man who had lost his gold in his hut. He starts searching for his gold outside his hut. The neighbors came and try to help him find his gold. The neighbors asked him where he lost his gold. He replied that he lost his gold inside his hut. The neighbors dazzled, asked, “why are you then searching your gold outside if you lost your gold inside your hut”? Suleiman answered back that he could see better in the moonlight.

    So, Mr. Plaut, you better search for solutions inside Ethiopia and not come running to Eritrea because of Ethiopia’s problems. The Minority Government of Ethiopia has shot itself in the foot. Ethiopia’s leaders have brought it on themselves. Heck, they have to live with the consequences.

  • Two, spring is here. The pundits will be mushrooming again. Already, RSF (Reporters without Frontiers/Borders), modern day Sans-culottes to the south of Mr. Plaut are starting to make the same old boring noise. I can correctly state that Mr. Plaut and Co., to the north, in the UK, and the RSF in France are both suffering from a minor Fashoda Syndrome.
In the meantime, Eritrea will continue to prove the know-it-alls wrong over and over again.

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