Eritrea at a crossroads

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


The inspiration for this book stems from a desire to contribute to the existing body of knowledge about Eritrea and the Eritrean people, both historical and contemporary, as well as to the internal debate on the future of Eritrea, from the perspective of an Eritrean freedom fighter. I had initially wanted to write about the Eritrean experience of self-reliance in waging armed struggle for self-determination and in the pursuit of peacetime reconstruction and development as a world-historic heritage of peoples fighting oppression, underdevelopment and poverty while aspiring to advance freedom, democracy and prosperity. Undoubtedly, the Eritrean experience embraces an array of commendable achievements offset by lamentable failures.

My preoccupation with the daily chores of life in public service delayed the realisation of my initial project. In due course, elements of the book gathered as a study on Nation Building, State Construction and Development in Africa: The Case of Eritrea. Published by the German Foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in April 2010, the study was presented to the Parliamentary Working Committee on Africa of the Social Democratic Party, Deutsche Bundestag (German Parliament), in Berlin on 6 May 2010. Since the situation in the new State of Eritrea has steadily deteriorated, failing the will of the heroes of the war of national liberation and thwarting the aspirations, hopes and expectations of the Eritrean people, the work eventually evolved into Eritrea at a Crossroads: A Narrative or Triumph, Betrayal, and Hope

Coming out at the start of the third decade of Eritrea’s independence, the book seeks to shed some light on the fundamental disparity between the ideals and objectives of the historic struggle for liberation on the one hand, and the reality of independence, demonstrating the failed policies and practices of a dysfunctional government, on the other.

The greater part of my adult life revolved around the axis of Eritrea’s struggle for freedom, democracy and prosperity. Set against this backdrop of lifelong engagement, the discourse portrays my own personal perspective enriched by primary and secondary sources, neatly sifted through the prism of an insider’s knowledge and insight. It recounts general events as they unfolded and particular ones which I lived through in a specific Eritrean setting during the armed struggle and after independence. This work addresses issues that have matured and become ripe for open discussion without compromising Eritrea’s national security (as distinct from regime security), the drive for internal change, or the safety of former comrades-in-arms and colleagues. I set these red lines for the work in constant commitment to the interest of Eritrea, to my former fellow freedom fighters, and to the ideals for which we put our lives on the line.

Eritrea at a Crossroads: A Narrative or Triumph, Betrayal, and Hope aims to stimulate informed political debate regarding the prevailing situation in Eritrea and the way forward for the country and its people. Beyond Eritrea, it is intended to contribute to the greater knowledge, deeper understanding and more rigours debate of the root causes and key drivers of the essential fragility of the prototype contemporary Africa state, as demonstrated by recent developments in North and West Africa, and to a better appreciation of the challenges facing its reconstitution. It is a sad commentary that, fifty years after the accession to independence that marked the end of the colonial era, the typical African state remains fragile, dysfunctional and irrelevant to the wellbeing of its citizens. Overcoming the malaise would require restoring its legitimacy, establishing responsible governance and building institutional capacity to deliver. 

I am very grateful for several colleagues and friends who reviewed the text of various chapters and offered helpful comments. Avoiding mention in respect of their request, I deeply thank all of them anonymously. I am very grateful to my colleagues, Professor Stefaan Smis and Professor Joachim Koops of Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels), and my friend Peter Alexiadis of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, for the helpful comments and advice. I am especially grateful to two compatriot friends and two former comrades-in-arms who, for the moment, will remain anonymous, for their review of the entire manuscript, valuable comments and suggestions. But any errors in fact, analysis or interpretations are my sole responsibility.

Special thanks for Joëlle Aflalo, always there for me in true friendship and constant support.

Last, but foremost, I am deeply indebted to my family. My sons Johannes, Abraham, and Azazi, and my wife Alganesh, provided vital inspiration and indispensable support. Alganesh’s constant advice, assistance and encouragement made the work possible.


ክስተት ናይዛ መጽሓፍ’ዚኣ ካብ ናብቲ ብዛዕባ ኤርትራን ህዝቢ ኤርትራን ዘሎ ታሪኻውን ዘመናውን እኩብ ፍልጠት፣ ከምኡ’ውን ኣብቲ ብዛዕባ መጻኢ ናይ ኤርትራ ዚካየድ ውሽጣዊ ክትዕ፣ ብኣረኣእያ ናይ ሓደ ኤርትራዊ ተጋዳይ ሓርነት ናይ ምብርካት ድሌት ይብገስ። ኣብቲ ፈለማ፡ብዛዕባ ኤርትራዊ ተመክሮ ርእሰ-ምርኮሳ ኣብቲ ምእንቲ መሰል ርእሰ-ውሳኔ ዚተኻየደ ብረታዊ ቃልስን፣ ኣብ መስርሕ ሰላማዊ ዳግመ-ህንጸትን ልምዓትን ዚሰላሰል ስራሕን፣ ከም ዓለምለኸ-ታሪኻዊ ውርሻ ናይ ኵሎም ኣንጻር ጭኰና፡ ድሕረትን ድኽነትን እናተቓለሱ፣ ናጽነት፡ ደሞክራስን ራህዋን ንምስፋን ሃረር ዚብሉ ህዝብታት፡ ክጽሕፍ እየ ደልየ ነይረ። ብዘይ ጥርጥር፡ተመክሮ ኤርትራ ንኡድ ዓወታትን ዘሕዝን ፍሽለታትን ዚሓቘፈ ኢዩ።

ኣብቲ መዓልታዊ ስራሓት ህይወት መንግስታዊ ኣገልግሎት ምጥሓለይ ነቲ ናይ ፈለማ ሓሳበይ ብኣግኡ ከይፍጽም ኣደናጕዩ። ምስ ምሕላፍ ግዜ፡ ባእታታት ናይዛ መጽሓፍ ከም መጽናዕቲ ኣብ “ምንዳቕ ሃገር፡ ህንጸት መንግስትን ልምዓትን ኣብ ኣፍሪቃ፡- ጕዳይ ኤርትራ” ተኣኻኺቦም። እቲ መጽናዕቲ፡ብፍሬድሪኽ ኤበርት ስቲፍቱንግ ዚተባህለ ጀርመናዊ ትካል ኣብ ሚያዝያ 2010 ተሓቲሙ፣ ኣብ በርሊን፡ ኣብ ፓርላማ ጀርመን (Deutsche Bundestag) ኣብ ኣኼባ ፓርላማዊ ሽማግለ ስራሕ ናይ ማሕበረ-ደሞክራስያዊ ሰልፊ ጀርመን፡ ኣብ 6 ግንቦት 2010 ቀሪቡ። ኣብቲ እዋን’ቲ፡ ኵነታት ኣብ ውሽጢ’ታ ሓዳስ ሃገረ ኤርትራ፡ንድሌት ናይቶም ጀጋኑ ኲናት ሃገራዊ ሓርነት ዚጠልምን ንሃረርታ ተስፋን ትጽቢትን ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ዚዀልፍን ኣንፈት ሒዙ ብቐጻሊ እናገደደ ምስ ከደ፣ ኣብ መወዳእትኡ እቲ ጽሑፍ ናብ “ኤርትራ ኣብ ቃራና መንገዲ - ታሪኽ ዓወት፡ጥልመትን ተስፋን” ኣምሪሑ።

ኣብ መእተዊ ናይቲ ሳልሳይ ዓሰርተ ዓመት ናይ ናጽነት ኤርትራ ተሓቲማ ኣብ እትወጽኣሉ  ዘላ እዋን፣ እዛ መጽሓፍ’ዚኣ ብዛዕባ መሰረታዊ ፍልልይ ናይቲ ኣብ መንጎ ሃረርታን ዕላማታትን ናይቲ ምእንቲ ሓርነት ዚተኻየደ ታሪኻዊ ተጋድሎን እቲ ኣብ እዋን ናጽነት ተኸሲቱ ዘሎ ክዉንነትን ብሓደ ወገን እቲ ፍሹል ፖሊሲታትን ግብርን ናይቲ ብግቡእ ዘይሰርሕ መንግስቲ ድማ በቲ ካልእ ሓድሓደ መብርህታት ፈይ ከተብል ትሕልን።

እቲ ዚዓበየ ክፋል ናይ ዓቕሚ ኣዳም ህይወተይ ኣብ ዓንኬል ቃልሲ ኤርትራ ንሓርነት፡ ደሞክራስን ራህዋን ተጸሚዱ ኢዩ ኪዘውር ጸኒሑ። ብመንጽር’ዚ ናይ ዳርጋ ምሉእ መዋእል ጽምዶ’ዚ ትንታኔ ናይቲ መጽሓፍ ነቲ ብምርምር ናይ ቀዳማውን ካልኣውን ምንጭታት ዚሃብተመን ብፕሪዝም ናይ ውሽጣዊ ፍልጠትን መረዳእታን ብጽፈት ዚተነፍየን ናይ ገዛእ ርእሰይ ውልቃዊ ርእየት ወይ ጠመተ ይገልጽ። ብዛዕባ ኣብ ፍሉይ ኤርትራዊ ዓንኬል ኣብ እዋን ብረታዊ ቃልስን ድሕሪ ናጽነትን ዚተኸስቱ ሓፈሻዊ ፍጻሜታትን ብዛዕባ ገለ ድማ ብፍላይ ብኣካል ዝነበርኩዎምን የዘንቱ።

እዚ ጽሑፍ’ዚ ብዛዕባ’ቶም ግዜኦም ኣኺሉ ንክፉት ክትዕ ዚበሰሉ፣ ንሃገራዊ ጸጥታ ኤርትራ (ንጸጥታ ናይቲ ስርዓት ዘይኮነስ) ነቲ ምእንቲ ለውጢ ዚካየድ ውሽጣዊ ቃልሲ ይዅን ንድሕነት ናይቶም ገዳይም ናይ ቃልሲ ብጾተይን መሳርሕተይን ንሓደጋ ዘየቃልዑ ጕዳያት መምዩ ይትንትን። ነዛ መጽሓፍ እዚኣ ክጽሕፍ እንከለኹ፣ኣብ ነባሪ ሓልዮተይ ንረብሓ ኤርትራ፣ ንድሕነት ናይቶም መዛኖይ ገዳይም ተጋደልቲ ሓርነት፣ ንክብሪ ናይቶም ምእንትኦም ህይወትና ብሓባር ከነውፊ ዝተሰልፍናሎም ዕላማታት ብምጽናዕ፣ ነዘን ቀያሕቲ መስመራት እዚኣተን ሓንጺጸ ከይሰግረን ወሲነ።

ኤርትራ ኣብ ቃራና መንገዲ፧ ታሪኽ ዓወት ጥልመትን ተስፋን ብዛዕባ’ቲ ኣብ ኤርትራ ሰፊኑ ዘሎ ህሉው ኵነታትን ኣንፈት መጻኢ ጕዕዞ ናይታ ሃገርን ህዝባን ኣብ ጽጹይ ሓበሬታ ዚተመርኰሰ ክትዕ ንምድራኽ ትሕልን። ኪኖ ኤርትራ ድማ እዛ መጽሓፍ እዚኣ፣ ብዛዕባ’ቶም መሰረታውያን ጠንቅታትን ቀንዲ ደፋእቲ ረቛሒታትን ናይቲ ከምቲ ኣብዚ ቀረባ እዋን ኣብ ሰሜንን ምዕራብን ኣፍሪቃ ዚተራእየ ምዕባሌታት ዘረጋግጾ ርኡይ ድኽመት ናይዘን ናይዚ እዋንና ኣፍሪቃውያን መንግስቲታት፣ ዚዓበየ ፍልጠት ዚዓመቘ መረዳእታን ዚዋዕወዐ ክትዕን ብምድራኽ ንዚበለጸ ግንዛቤ ናይቲ ንዳግመ-ኣቃውማአን ዘጋጥም ብድሆታት ከተበርክት ትዕልም።

ሎሚ፡ሓምሳ ዓመታት ድሕሪ’ቲ ምጽንቃቕ መግዛእታዊ መዋእል ዘበሰረ ምጭባጥ ናጽነት፡ እታ ተራ ኣፍሪቃዊት ሃገር ከም መርኣያ ናይ ድኽመት ብግቡእ ዘይሰርሕ መንግስታዊ ምምሕዳር መነባብሮ ዜጋታቱ ዘየመሓይሽ ስርዓት ኰይና ኪትግለጽ ኣዝዩ ዘሕዝን ተርእዮ ኢዩ። ምፍዋስ ናይዚ ሕማም’ዚ ድማ ሕጋውነት ምምላስ ምዕሩይ ምሕደራ ምትእትታው፡ ግቡእ ኣገልግሎት ዚህብ ትካላዊ ዓቕሚ ምህናጽ ይሓትት።

ነቶም ነቲ ፈለማዊ ጽሑፍ ናይ ሓያሎ ምዕራፋት ናይዚ መጽሓፍ’ዚ ኣንቢቦም ሓጋዚ ርእይቶታት ዝሃቡኒ ብዙሓት መሳርሕተይን ኣዕሩኸይን ልዑል ምስጋና አቕርብ። ስሞም ንኸይጥቀስ ንዘቕረቡለይ ምሕጽንታ ብምኽባር፣ ንዅሎም ብስቱሩ ዓሚቝ ምስጋናይ እገልጽ። ንመሳርሕተይ ኣብ ናጻ ዩኒቨርሲቲ ብራሰልስ (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) ንፕሮፌሰር ስተፋን ስሚስን ፕሮፌሰር ዮኣኪም ኩፕስን ንዓርከይ ፒተር ኣለክስያዲስ ናይ ጊብሰን፡ዳን & ክራቸርን (Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP) ስለ’ቲ ሓጋዚ ርእይቶታቶምን ለባም ምኽሮምን ኣዝየ አመስግን።

ብፍላይ ነቶም ነቲ ድርሰት ብምሉኡ ብምንባብ ኣዝዩ ጠቓሚ ርእይቶታትን እማመታትን ዚለገሱለይ፣ ንግዜኡ ኣስማቶም ብስቱር ዚተሓዝ፡ክልተ ኤርትራውያን ኣዕሩኸይን ክልተ ገዳይም ናይ ቃልሲ ብጾተይን ፍሉይ ምስጋና አቕርብ። ይዅን’ምበር ዚዀነ ጌጋ ኣብ ሓበሬታ፡ ትንታኔ ወይ ትርጉም ምስ ዚህሉ ናተይ ናይ በይነይ ሓላፍነት ኢዩ።

ፍሉይ ምስጋና ንጁወል ኣፍላሎ ብሓቀኛ ዕርክነትን ቀጻሊ ደገፍን ወትሩ ኣብ ጐድነይ።  ኣብ መወዳእታ ግን ከኣ ቅድሚ ዅሉ ዚስራዕ፡ልዑል ሞሳ ንስድራይ ከቕርብ ይግባእ። ደቀይ ዮሃንስ ኣብራሃምን ኣዛዚን፣ በዓልቲ ቤተይ ኣልጋነሽ፣ ህያው ክስተትን መተካእታ ዘይብሉ ደገፍን ሂቦሙኒ። እቲ ቀጻሊ ምኽሪ ደገፍን ምትብባዕን ናይ ኣልጋነሽ ነቲ ስራሕ ክዉን ጌሩዎ።