Eritrea at a Crossroads

(Tigrinya ኤርትራ ኣብ ቃራና መንገዲ)

Eritrea as a nation waged a hard struggle and made enormous sacrifices for the liberation, reconstruction and development of the country and the freedom, progress and prosperity of the people. It is thus very painful to witness, and quite unbearable to admit, that things have gone awry in independent Eritrea. However, there exists no viable alternative to confronting and striving to change this unpalatable reality.


What went wrong and why? How can it be rectified?


Eritrea at a Crossroads: A Narrative of Triumph, Betrayal and Hope traces the historical evolution of Eritrea from pre-colonial times to post independence. It attempts to locate Eritrea in its historical and geopolitical context, contributing to a better grasp of the ‘root causes and key drivers’ of the status quo and the challenges facing democratic State reconstitution. Furthermore, it aspires to provide the basis for an objective understanding of the current state of affairs and point the way forward.


At the same time, serves as a forum for greater outreach via informed, inclusive dialogue towards national reconstitution and revival. In this context, the objective of serialising Eritrea at a Crossroads, in the form of short chapter summaries, is to convey the essence of the work. This aims to stimulate a deeper interest in the narrative as a whole and encourage engagement, commentary and feedback. 


In facilitating group sessions, seminars, conferences and online discussions, the overarching goal is to stimulate constructive dialogue, grounded on basic knowledge of the salient features of modern Eritrean history and a common understanding of the current situation in the country. This would help cultivate a shared vision of a State of Eritrea based on constitutional order and democratic principles, committed to the rule of law and respect for human rights. The ultimate purpose is to contribute to a realignment of the present reality with the original ideals that powered the struggle for self-determination: freedom, justice, democracy and prosperity for all.

“Eritrea at a Crossroads: A Narrative of Triumph, Betrayal and Hope”

Click on a released Chapter Summary below to read more.

Each Chapter Summary is available in English and Tigrinya.

Gradually released, the remaining chapters listed below will be highlighted in a brief summary to stimulate interest, discussion and feedback.

Ch 1. Introduction  

Ch 2. The Making of Eritrea  

2.1 The Land and the People

2.2 A Glimpse at Pre-Colonial History

2.3 Advent of Italian Colonial Rule

2.4 The Colonial Legacy

2.5 Fall of Italian Colonial Rule

Ch 3. The Plan to Dismember Eritrea  

3.1 British Military Occupation

3.2 The British Partition Plan

3.3 British Policy of Destabilisation

3.4 British Pillage of Eritrea

3.5 Imperial Ethiopian Interference

3.6 Eritrean Aspirations for Freedom

3.7 Formation of Political Parties

3.8 British Intrigues and Ethiopian Subversion

Ch 4. Transition from European to African Colonialism  

4.1 Maritime Access as a Pillar of Cooperation

4.2 The Geopolitical Setting

4.3 Federation of Eritrea with Ethiopia

4.4 Abrogation of the Federation

Ch 5. The Arduous Struggle for Self-Determination  

5.1 The Right to Self-Determination in International Law

5.2 The Dialectics of Repression and Resistance

5.3 Armed Struggle as Political Resistance

5.4 Choosing between Bad and Worse

5.5 A New Shift in the Military Balance

5.6 Solidarity Amidst Isolation

5.7 Eritrea Independent at Last

Ch 6. State Construction and State Development  

6.1 Essential Policy Instruments

6.2 A Unitary Eritrean State

6.3 Land and Internal Mobility

6.4 A Secular Eritrean State

6.5 A United Eritrean State

6.6 A Democratic Eritrean State

6.7 Gender Equality

6.8 A Developmental Eritrean State

Ch 7. Self-Reliance and the Coupon Economy  

7.1 Imprudent Policy Responses

7.2 Self-Reliance as a Euphemism for Isolation

7.3 Foreign Policy as an Extension of Self-Reliance

7.4 Eritrea-US Relations

7.5 Eritrea-EU Cooperation

7.6 The Shame of the Coupon Economy

7.7 A Contracting Economy in Crisis

Ch 8.The Scourge of Indefinite National Service  

8.1 Voluntary versus Forced Service

8.2 Proclamation of National Service

8.3 Erosion of Legitimacy

8.4 The waste of Student Summer Work Camps

8.5 Linking Infrastructure to Development

8.6 Opportunity Cost of National Service

8.7 The Silent Crisis of Mass Exodus

8.8 Open-Ended National Service

Ch 9. Resort to Force as a Default Mode  

9.1 Force as an Arbiter of Discord

9.2 The Historical Setting

9.3 The Confrontation

9.4 Detention to Suppress Dissent

9.5 Concentration of Power

Ch 10. Disconnect Between Policy and Practice  

10.1 Establishing a Constitutional State

10.2 Building a Democratic System of Government

10.3 Instituting Participatory Politics

10.4 Ensuring Gender Equality

10.5 Constructing a Secular state

10.6 Constituting a Developmental State

10.7 Divergent Policy and Practice

Ch 11. The African State in Crisis  

11.1 Snafus of Africa’s Development

11.2 The African Nation-State as a European Graft

11.3 A Dysfunctional Predatory State

11.4 Challenges of the African State

11.5 A State in Crisis

Ch 12. Eritrea: The Future of Africa that Works?  

12.1 The Colonial Narrative

12.2 The Eritrean Narrative

12.3 The Eritrean Counter-Narrative

12.4 Eritrea: The Future of Africa that Works!

12.5 Golden Opportunity to Blaze a New trail

12.6 False Hopes and Thwarted Expectations

12.7 A Prototype Authoritarian State

Ch 13.Engaging the Eritrean Diaspora  

13.1 The Evolution of the Eritrean Diaspora

13.2 The Diaspora as a Global Player

13.3 The Eritrean Diaspora as a National Actor

13.4 A Diaspora in Search of Engagement

Ch 14. In the Service of Eritrea  

14.1 The Formative Years

14.2 Dedication to the Eritrean Cause

14.3 Revitalising the University of Asmera

14.4 Building a Functional Central Bank

Ch 15. An Avoidable War  

15.1 An Amicable Divorce

15.2 Missed Opportunities

15.3 Allies at War

15.4 The Deportations

15.5 The Evolution of the War

Ch 16. An Uneasy Truce  

16.1 Implementing the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities

16.2 Humanitarian Mine Action

16.3 Pending Operational Issues

CH 17. Securing the Peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia  

17.1 Delimitation of the Boundary

17.2 Virtual Demarcation of the Boundary

17.3 Imperative of Durable Peace

Ch 18. We Did Not Do It For This!  

18.1 So Much for So Little!

18.2 Serenading in the Past

18.3 On a Personal Note

18.4 Crossing the Rubicon

18.5 Towards a Functional State