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The false narrative of the Financial Times and Co on Eritrea and Ethiopia, uncovered.

Serawr Information Centre 07 July 2018

In the past few weeks, the fast improving relationship between Eritrea and Ethiopia, has received large international  media coverage. Ethiopia, under the new prim minster, Abiy Ahmed, decided to fully accept and implement the Ethio-Eritrea boundary commission, to which Eritrea responded positively by sending the fist ever delegation in two decades.

The world’s leading news organisations have given the development a coverage that it deserves. However,  the reports and analyses have been marred by a considerable amount of misinformation and misrepresentation. Constructing  a false narrative with the intention to cover up  the fundamental factors that led to the changes that have taken place in Ethiopia, while at the same time making Eritrea the focus of their attacks.

The fundamental issues, which the leading news organisation and the so-called experts are shying away from addressing include – the state of the no-war, no-peace that was imposed on Eritrea for two decades, was meant to produce a regime change in Eritrea, how did then the story become about saving Ethiopia? Whatever happened to the TPLF, the organisation that was pampered by the most powerful countries in the world and the threat it poses to the positive changes in Ethiopia and relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea?

The above points will be discussed below. Let’s now take a look at one of the main offenders, the Financial Times, a news organisation that prides itself as “one of the world’s leading news organisations, recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy”. The organisation published a news report on the new development between Eritrea and Ethiopia titled “Eritrea replies to Ethiopia’s olive branch with envoy to Addis” by its correspondent John Aglioby on 1st of July 2018. 

The sensationalized report started by describing the historic visit by the top Eritrean delegation that was a response to  Ethiopia’s “olive branch” offer to Eritrea. After pronouncing Eritrean government as “one of the world’s most reclusive and repressive regimes”, the reporter employs one-sided analyses from two representatives of western think-tank organisations and a regional security analyst to brand Eritrea as the villain in the situation.

The entire focus of the coverage becomes about Eritrea, and a deliberate and calculated forgetfulness about the elephant in the room: historical and political perspective that led to the changes in Ethiopia and the current threat Ethiopia is facing from the TPLF.

According to  Ahmed Soliman of Chatham House, while the motives for the new prim minster Abiy Ahmed  to want peace are “easy to understand”, they find the  motive for Eritrean President “harder to read because peace would eliminate his justification for ruling as he has for 27 years.”

Rashid Abdi, the Horn of Africa director for International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think-tank  underplays the national security threat Eritrea, a country with only five million people, faced from the TPLFan oranisation that ruled a country of 105 million population with much economic, political and diplomatic support from the West.

Mr. Abdi also claimed that “the rise of the young a dynamic young leader changing the region, that sends jitters through regime like one in Asmara”

Mr. Abdi goes on to rant about how “the Eritrean leader is also under pressure from the diaspora, who are refusing in increasing numbers to pay taxes he demands in return for consular services.”

The first thing that must be stated, is that these think-tank organisations have no moral authority to make judgments or the independence to give objective analyses about the region. They represent and stand for the interest of their respective funders and their job is to advocate for Western political and economic system in other countries.

Second, these organisations have been part of the problem. Over the years, they have produced misguided documents advancing a particular interest that mislead policy makers in prolonging their failed regime change policy on Eritrea.

The Brussels-based think-tank, International Crisis Group, produced documents that are aimed at instigating unrest in Eritrea and giving a false hope for the possibility of regime change in Eritrea. The documents were littered with their failed predictions. 

Not only did the group make a very bleak predictions about the possible downfall of the Eritrean government, but also about the “non-viability of the nation itself”. The group was so sure of its “academic study” that it discussed the threat the “inevitable collapse of the state poses to regional security”.

Similarly, Chatham House, the world-leading international affairs think tank became a platform for presenting biased papers on Eritrea and spinning politically motivated papers as a scientific production. A paper that predicted the collapse of the Eritrean economy in a matter of months; and others that attempted to undermine the final and binding Algiers agreement, are some of the many that can be mentioned.

These organisations are now clearly repositioning themselves to rewrite the present history to fit their own agenda. Using the huge platform of the global media organisation, they want to tell us that the history stared and ended with the rise of the new prim minster Abiy Ahmed. They see this as opportunity to achieve a regime change in Eritrea. A task that proved to be impossible through military invasion, imposition of sanctions, economic, political, diplomatic and all form of pressures. 

The state of the no-war, no-peace that was imposed on Eritrea for two decades was meant to produce a regime change in Eritrea; but the outcome of the long and very difficult cold war turned out to be the defeat of the TPLF.

Understandably, most of the parties that invested millions of money and two decades of their time and effort for the regime change agenda in Eritrea, are having difficulty in accepting the hard reality. Therefore,  the analyses in the global news organisations do not want to address the decisive factor that led to the positive  changes that have taken place in Ethiopia and the relations between the countries – namely the strategic partnership of the struggle of the Ethiopian people and Eritrea that brought down the TPLF regime to its knees.

The factors that allowed the TPLF regime to stay in power for so long, include the institutionalised ethnic divisions it created; Western economic and political support; its domination of the army, the intelligence, political and economic powers.

The major Ethiopian political movements of different ethnic groups and the people at large, identified the above factors and managed to address them successfully. They strategies and reorganised themselves with clear vision. They managed to turn their liability and the TPLF’s main asset – ethnic divisions  into their own advantage by coming together for one purpose and common destiny. They developed higher level of organisation and communication strategy – utilising what the information age offers.

The Ethiopian people brought the regime – that regarded itself as powerful and unteachable – to its knee. They forced the allies of the regime to question their unconditional support  to the regime.

The TPLF’s strategic and unresolved problem is the question of Tigray. The first objective of its struggle was to secede Tigray from Ethiopia. While this objective was changed in the 1980s and the organisation came to power leading the whole country in 1991, the idea was never abandoned altogether.

 In fact, many of the programs it has carried out in Ethiopia and Tigray, prove it views secession as a viable option  in an event when it can no longer have its way in Ethiopia. However, the organisation viewed Eritrea as an obstacle in this regard. Therefore, dismantling Eritrea at any cost became its only strategy of a way out. The TPLF was lucky enough to have the full support of the three consecutive USA administrations and other Western powers in its mission of regime change in Eritrea.

The consequences of flawed US policy on the Horn of Africa combined with several blunders and incompetence of US officials, including the former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer and the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice – have allowed the Ethiopian regime to have a greater say on the way the US conducted itself in the region and freely allowing the regime to destabilize the region, commit untold atrocities on Ethiopian people and the region at large, and illegally occupying Eritrea territory.

President Donal Trump came to power promising the USA will “no longer want to be the policeman” of the world. This seems a significant  change from the post Cold War American Interventionism. Judging by the recent interview by the American ambassador to Ethiopia, the USA seems to be taking a back seat and allowing both countries to sort their own problems out.

In conclusion, no amount of false narrative, can change the fact the decisive factor that brought about the positive change in Ethiopia and its relations with Eritrea, is the struggle of the Ethiopian people and the strategic role of Eritrea; which brought the TPLF to its knee. Eritrean President declared the game for the TPLF was over in the beginning of this year. 

This was followed by the rise of Dr. Abiy Ahmed to power, a leader fit for the great moment and bold enough to deliver for purpose, which many people gave their lives for. The prim minster with the support of his colleagues have put the last nail on the coffin of the TPLF. The time for the TPLF’s burial that needs to be attended by all concerned, should not be too long. 

The prim minster is inheriting a country with many structural problems that he will overcome with support of the Ethiopian people and cooperation of all countries in the region in particular Eritrea.

 

As for Eritrea, it is a country with small population and unique history, which has been sentenced to death by the most powerful entities in the world. No stone was left unturned for the collapse of the country. In fact Eritrea  was written off as a country that would inevitably collapse by the Western think-tanks.

 The enormous challenges including military invasions, sanctions, political and economic pressures, have affected every Eritrean family greatly. The ugly war that was waged on Eritrea  required a rule of engagement fit for the challenge. Eritrea has come out of the trying times that put its very existence into question as a formidable nation and with its principles intact.

With the emerging peace, Eritrea will be able to refocus its effort and resources towards improving the living stand of its people and building a strong and viable political and economic system.

Here, let it be clear for the think-tanks and other entities – that are trying to create a false narrative and repositioning themselves to advocate or impose a particular political and economic system in Eritrea- if it was difficult yesterday, it is impossible today. 

However, for the well-meaning friends, rest assured that Eritrea will  build a strong, organized system that will protect the rights of its people; that can withstand and adapt to future domestic, regional and global challenges.

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Serawr

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