Democracy, Tolerance, and G7’s position towards Eritre
September 27, 2013
by Kirubeal Bekele
On Sunday September 22, 2013, the Ginbot 7 leadership had a very revealing and open discussion in Washington DC meeting like it has never had before. As you know, the issue of working with Eritrea has been a bone in the throat for G7 as well as for its supporters around the world. Many have argued against using Eritrea as a spring board to wage an armed struggle against TPLF.
Opponents claim that Eritrea cannot be trusted based on their experience with Isayas Afeworki so far and his public rhetoric as it relates to Ethiopia. They may have a point. But the problem is that they don’t practice the position they defend or argue for. They don’t provide an alternative and actually implement that alternative. For example, they don’t answer to the question of where to wage an armed struggle and show us the way by an example. They don’t. Why don’t they find a place within Ethiopia and wage an armed struggle and show us the way? Why don’t they go and practice what they preach like G7 Popular Force instead of simply analyzing and arguing from the comfort of their homes in the West? What they do is simply disagree and sometimes with bitterness and even animosity against G7’s position towards Eritrea.
Instead of making an honest and logical attempt to convince and win support, those who oppose G7′s position in Eritrea use intimidation, name callings, insults, put downs and innuendos to impose their opinion on G7 and its supporters. But the irony is that these forces claim to believe and fight for democracy in Ethiopia and yet they forcefully impose their position on others. G7 has repeatedly expressed the right of any political entity to follow a path it believes in without imposing its policy or belief on any one else except asking their support. G7 has often made clear that it does not oppose other political parties who pursue a political path different than its own. It is interesting whether we know how to win support with a clean and convincing argument backed by results on the ground instead of using endless spurious arguments and worse innuendos and name callings.
Those who oppose G7 are not all in the same wave length. One group is of course the enemy. Pro-TPLF mercenaries like Awramba Times editor and TPLF dogs are barking against G7 simply to accomplish their paid assignments. It is their duty. There is no surprise there. They are part of the package. There is a second group that questions and suspects a multi-national political force like G7 for fear of revenge by TPLF victims in the form of genocide or a lesser nationwide violence. This group has a legitimate fear.
But opposing such a political force like G7, or any other multi-national force for that matter, is not a solution to their fear. On the contrary, a force such as G7 that has created an alliance with Tigray People Democratic Movement (TPDM), if strengthened, may help stabilize the country by preventing a possible chaos and ethnic violence in Ethiopia when TPLF collapses. But there are some in this group who may have their own ax to grind who dream to preserve the ethnic hegemony of the status quo by reforming TPLF one way or another. And they strongly oppose the emergence of a formidable multi-national party or organization like G7 or any other multi-national party or group. They support and are comfortable working with a passive resistance movement(s) and if possible lead it (them) or high jack its (their) leadership. They infiltrate these types of do-nothing organizations and use them as their handy tool to wage their smear campaign and propaganda against G7 and anything related to it.
There is a third group. These are political organizations that are contemplating and competing for power in Ethiopia after TPLF. They believe that if they don’t cook the dish, it will never taste good. They want power at any cost and by any means. They are ego-driven and uncompromising, full of intrigues and back stabbing. Nothing satisfies them until they are in charge. They oppose everything any opponent does. They deliberately or honestly believe that truth is on their side. Compromise or giving a chance to others wounds their ego. If something is successful and they are not a part of it, by chance or by design, they want no part of it. And they will oppose it. That is why we see people and even organizations that have the audacity to oppose ESAT some openly and a few in silence. This hurts their ambitions and their life long political journey for fame and fortune extinguishing their chances to positions of power in Ethiopia. And they don’t like it a bit.
There is one final group which I consider innocent but suspicious. This is the vast majority that is mostly patriotic that should be handled with care. They have no ax to grind except to see Ethiopia free. It is critical that they should be convinced to make a difference. Our story with Eritrea is full of suspicions and actual heart-breaking experiences due to the war waged between Ethiopia and Eritrea for over 40 years now. This group doesn’t trust anything related to Eritrea no matter who said what including God. It has a legitimate concern but suspicion should not tie our hands and prevent us from doing what needs to be done. Our situation today is desperate. TPLF has done and still doing all it can to destroy our people and country.
This suspicious group should know that there are times in life when you have to do what you got to do to get out of a rock and hard place by swallowing our pride and controlling our suspicion. There is a saying in our country,”ቀን እስኪአልፍልህ የአባትህ ባርያ ይግዛህ” that sums it up. This group has to be convinced that there is no alternative except to give the policy of using Eritrea as staging platform to deal with TPLF. This is the group Ato Andargachew Tsige specifically addressed asking them to give G7 a chance while holding its suspicions.
We have been spinning our wheels for over 22 years while TPLF is in power. We have left no stone unturned in this struggle for freedom and democracy in Ethiopia. We have been there and we have done that all we can. Nothing happened. Zilch. Twenty two years is too long for doing the same thing for the same problem over and over again. It is time to take a risk or two and test a different path. TPLF has been working hard to negotiate with Eritrea for years. It has tried 37 times to get a deal from Isayas. And not so long ago, TPLF has even offered free electricity to Eritrea when the ‘dream’ Dam is completed. Three weeks ago, Ethiopia’s outgoing president said he wants to go to Eritrea and negotiate on an individual bases without representing his government. All these furious activities by TPLF should ring a bell in our brains. They know Eritrea is the only option left for the opposition to launch a meaningful offensive against it. Not exploring to use the Eritrean option, despite its problems, is very troublesome to say the least, especially when no alternative has been found for the last 22 years.
At this point, all of us have one universal enemy. And we have to focus on it. And that is TPLF. And it is wise to postpone and talk about our differences after we free Ethiopia from TPLF at any cost and by any means necessary. Now, we don’t have the privilege or the time to go against each other’s throat. We simply can’t afford it.
The G7 leadership has directly presented the question in a ‘take it or leave it’ manner to the audience and to the Diaspora watching on ESAT. Ato Andargachew Tsige, secretary of G7, has explained in detail about the Eritrean question during the meeting. It may be hard to tell if everybody is convinced. With all their suspicions remaining, there is no doubt many may be considering to give G7′s policy on Eritrea a chance, if it has any possibility of working, given the dire and critical circumstances Ethiopia has found itself at this time.
There is no sure thing in life as well as in struggle. You take chances and you take risks. Not a blind risk but a pragmatic one based on the circumstances you found yourself boxed in. Not taking that risk, no matter how difficult, is committing suicide. You put all your options on the table. And you pick the one with the least risk. And then you move on. And if not, the choice is to get stuck in some meaningless and fruitless activity and continue to waste time, money and even lives for nothing and finally give up and be forgotten. G7 seems to have made a decision to take the least risky option, according to Ato Andargachew Tsige, and is pursuing it with resolve.
We should permit and even provide whatever support we can to G7 while we are trying our own. If we can’t do this, then the easiest and smartest thing to do is to get the hell out of the way. G7 or any other organization doesn’t need the approval or the blessing of others to pursue its objective. Every organization has its own organizational independence. Unless we are supporting it financially as well as in other ways, we are in no position to force it change its policy. Let G7 pay for its own destiny even if the result along the way confirms our suspicions. Democracy includes the right of an individual or any organizational entity to make its own mistakes and hopefully learn from them. G7 has that right. So does every other organization.
And for those of us with an opposing view, let us do what we believe in without encroaching our position on G7 and its policy towards Eritrea. According to Ato Andargachew Tsige, G7 is not forcing its position upon any person or political entity. He said they don’t oppose the positions other political organizations are taking when it comes to Eritrea.
The take home message is that, we in the opposition camp should all follow our individual political choices in our quest to remove TPLF from power. There is no need to vehemently be involved in slash and burn campaign against a position we don’t agree on. No one party or person has the monopoly on the truth of what works best to bring TPLF down. The only way to establish that truth will be based on the results of a given policy on the ground. And let us all give G7 a chance, with patience and a grain of salt, to see what works with our suspicions still intact. As long as G7 is an anti-TPLF force, we should tolerate the alternative path it is taking at its own risk even if we don’t agree to it. In the final analysis, the vast majority of Ethiopians are patriotic at heart and are dreaming day and night for TPLF to go away, once and for all, out of their lives and out of their beloved country at any cost and by any means necessary. Now!