Mahmud Saleh replies to Abdulrazig
I know I will disappoint some friends, but they know what I will mean; and it’s consistent with what I have been saying.
Firstly, I want to tell you that you came very close to my views. I have been saying similar opinions in the past two years.
1. While many argued that Eritrean stiffness resilience and militaristic culture must be broken, I argued that those qualities could also be used for catalyzing change.
2. While many mocked and downplayed Eritrea’s epic and heroic journey to independence, I argued those records belong to Eritreans; few of us underlined that all the good achievements belong to Eritreans and all bad stuff belongs to the party ruling Eritrea, because it’s ruling without any actual mandate bestowed upon it. We argued that we should not leave those positive traits to be celebrated by and associated with PFDJ; we should not have PFDJ own Eritreans’ heroic history. My debaters assumed the known TPLF position that belittles and negates Eritreans epic contributions to the independence of their country and to the demise of Durg from power in Ethiopia. They defended Ethiopian policies more than they promoted Eritrean interests. The result is clear. While PFDJ is able to rally Eritreans in Eritrea and across the globe, the organized political opposition is in a disarray; it could not even hold itself tight let alone to see it standing to be the alternative to the current regime.
3. I argued that the realistic and ideal change will and should come from inside. I pushed the idea that the Diaspora should play it smart; it could not impose a change on Eritreans, but it could play a catalyst agent by coordinating its efforts with domestic forces. I called that it should focus more on things it could realistically do: advocacy, media….I actually repeated the term catalyst so many times, at the end I stopped talking about the political organizations,
4. Many a time I came into confrontations with individuals I respect because of issues related to the separation of Eritrea as a state and PFDJ as the ruling organ. I famously said we should not strangulate Eritrea in order to get rid of IA. I said we should not use a kitchen knife in order to excise out PFDJ.
5. I fiercely defended Eritrean ghedli, and for that I was called names by some misinformed and confused debaters.
6. Western ideas of libertarianism such as the views pertaining to the role of government vis-à-vis citizen and economy could not be copied and applied in countries such as Eritrea.
6. Regarding foreign relations: I argued that when Eritrea expands its orbits of influence, when it engages the international community:
a/ it accelerates domestic change
b/ Expansionist Ethiopian regimes could realize that their encirclement is futile, Eritrea could survive without them; and that they should come to their senses and solve the border problem the way they signed it.
Coming to your point:
I believe you missed the primary reasons as to why the political organizations are not making progress.
1. They lack the essence of what they profess. They profess they are for justice and democracy yet they fail to exhibit those qualities in solving their own problems. Eritrea has been ready for change for decades now. But their origin goes back to the old politics of the 80s and 70s; the core organizations making up the opposition had already been in existence, long before Eritrea was independent. Therefore, for the core cadre of those core organizations, their reason of existence was not justice and democracy but fighting and punishing EPLF. With the independence of Eritrea, they made some cosmetic changes, but the core cadres and the movers and the shakers of those organizations remain to be those who had fought EPLF while EPLF was fighting Ethiopian occupational army. The politics of grudges and retribution has taken its toll. Eritreans are smarter than they appear to the gullible cadre of those organizations. Therefore, the main reason why they are not making headway in appealing to the public by registering progress in the areas of justice and democracy is because they were not created to achieve justice and democracy; they are poorly equipped to even entertain that idea. You need no more explanation. Their score card tells it all.
2. Another reason why they have been rendered useless is the fact that their position in many questions is almost the same with that of the Ethiopian regime. They were effective in advancing Ethiopian interests more than they could do their own let alone Eritrean interest. Eritreans have long stopped counting them, in part because of their squabbling and ever expanding self-multiplying, and in part because their stances are not distinguishable from that of the Ethiopian regime when it comes to Eritrean sovereign interests and other related questions.
New reality must begin. I know there are many dedicated Eritreans who are doing the best they could in order to instill life into these organizations, but I would confidently say it is fruitless. New direction, new motivation, and a vision based on Eritrean reality are needed.
PS: Happy Independence Day. It is one of the best show of Eritreanness. To the disappoint of few*, Eritrean flag is flying high by Eritreans, opposition and HGDF alike. We will all join today to celebrate our independence.
* They make you hate Eritrean flag; then they make you hate Eritrean struggle, then they make you hate Eritrean state, then Eritrean identity….they take away what makes you Eritrean layer by layer; you become naked; then they laugh at your naked being.