Important points from Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki interview
- Giving agenda to Tigray: he repeatedly reiterated that the TPLF leadership made military and political blunders that caused the loss of thousands of Tigrayan lives. This is likely to add further fuel to increasingly vocal opposition against TPLF’s political failure.
- A subtle warning for TPLF leadership not to make another ‘miscalculation’ and attempt open war with EDF. No indication of negotiated settlement with TPLF but talks a great deal about nullifying TPLF’s troublemaking.
- He has let his frustration with Abiy’s reluctance to carry out what he believes is crucial for long term stability of the horn – doing away with the ‘ethnic’ constitution’.
- A new alliance with China. He goes to great length to emphasize US’s failure to assert its dominance and China’s overtaking of the US. It is his way of saying US’ measures are not going to have any effect on him. He discusses developmental impediments of the past and gives details of projects planned in alliance with China on various industries.
Key points of Isayas Interview
- There was an atmosphere of great anticipation following the reform
- On Omhager, I met with Debretsion and asked him why they were making preparations for war. He denied it.
- We were prepared for all possibilities. However, we were not fully prepared for the magnitude of what was coming in November 4.
- Despite our sovereign territory being invaded we didn’t resort to defensive warfare but patiently waited for 18 years for other means
- November 4th attack was primarily focused on Eritrea. More than 100 targets were intended to be hit by missiles. What they planned was difficult even to conceive.
- We had waited for 18 years but on November 4th it came to us. We don’t need to ask the permission of anyone to defend ourselves.
- Why did it happen? North Command had 30-32,000 soldiers out of which a quarter [close to 10,000] were Weyane. There wasn’t a sovereign army in Ethiopia. During the past 30 years the national army and intelligence that defended the interests of the country were eroded. This emboldened the leaders of Weyane and caused them make miscalculations [that they could win].
- 5-6,000 [TDF fighters] refused to surrender and approached our borders. We became involved not only to defend ourselves but because it was going to result in dangerous developments on Ethiopia.
- Our intelligence informed us of impending danger which forced us to be involved. It took a long time. It didn’t go the way the Weyane had planned. The foreign involvement caused prolonging of the war and prevented it from quick resolution.
- The main attacks [of TPLF] were against us. We were accused of despicable things. The primarily plan was to attack us. We are used to it; it didn’t surprise.
- The unexpected withdrawal of ENDF from Mekelle occurred. We didn’t panic. It is a tactical setback. We said we have to check this ‘troublemaking of Weyane’
- Weyane leaders can’t be said to have expected the outcome [retaking of Mekelle]. What spoiled the scenario was the role different external pressures. The second ‘trouble making’ was [TPLF’s decision to] march to Addis.
- He ridicules TDF march to Dessie & Kombolcha as insane. The 1st ‘troublemaking’ is excusable as the brittle situation of the national intelligence & army may have caused [TPLF] to make miscalculations. But the 2nd one is inexcusable and makes one wonder how the Weyane leaders failed to see the absurdity.
- They were being encouraged by external forces to march to Addis Ababa. Weyane was leaning a lot on foreign powers. It is illogical of the TPLF leadership to let the Tigray forces to wander into unfamiliar territory which would suck your strength.
- After [TDF advance] deep into [central Ethiopia], the adventure was not only halted but quickly reversed. It has cost a lot of human losses [Tigrayans]. He rejects TDF leadership’s claim that it did so by its own initiative.
- They [Weyane & its alleged handlers] have not learnt from it. They are merely trying to use different tactics. It’s a cat & mouth game. They are calling for dialogue which we know has traps they had planned. We are aware of it.
- For Eritrea’s future existence this ‘troublemaking’ has to be nullified.
- Foreign involvement has caused 80 years of turmoil between Eritrea & Ethiopia.
- He accuses the Weyane leadership of having failed to change their attitude towards Ethiopia’s unity. He cites the conception of independent Tigray in the 1st TPLF manifesto. He argues that the borders are essentially colonial and thus sovereignty is not directly related with self-determination but colonial based boundaries must be respected. “we advised them to change it”. Weyane’s narrow minded perspective was not corrected until the present.
- We suggested to them that there has to be a 10 year transition period which has to be devoted to nation building. We can’t go straight to it in such fragmented.
- He describes Weyane’s outlook as Schizophrenic. On one hand they had sought independent Tigray and then came up with EPRDF coalition which aimed at ensuring TPLF’s dominance by using other parties as tools. He says his attempts I 1991 to advise TPLF to readjust their outlook wasn’t successful.
- I was privileged to see the constitutional draft. I read it at least 4 times. My reservations grew. Not just article 39, the whole spirit of the constitution can’t be used for nation building. It is a dangerous precedent that institutionalizes ethnicity and cannot be good for Ethiopia. They [TPLF] claimed that it would enable them to rule unchallenged. They said “we will place explosives everywhere and will trigger them if a threat rises”.
- What has occurred in Ethiopia took place by design. [External forces] placed a narrow minded party at the center and devised how they can you rule over the others.
- The situation in Ethiopia is not unique; Somalia, Libya, Iraq, share similar problems with Ethiopia. He alludes that it is related to divisive ethnic politics.
- The fragmented state of Ethiopia is opening conducive opportunity for foreign intervention. Under these circumstances stability of the horn can’t occur. 3 generations have been affected. The future isn’t promising.
- A miscalculation of the situation has led to such problem. The resilience of the people [Eritrea] is the outcome committed strength. [Warning TDF not to misread Eritrea’s strength and attempt war against them?]
- They may be thinking of the 3rd ‘troublemaking’. He says that based on the situation next direction of the troublemaking can be predicted. “We have to remain vigilant”. Regarding to Eritrea’s role in helping Ethiopia he states “we will engage constructively” and beyond that he cannot say more.
- As to why the US was allegedly so worried & in support of TPLF: He discusses about global superstructure where 1 percent of the elite in US & Europe are stirring things behind the curtain. He claims after WWII, John Foster Dallas had decided “Eritrea doesn’t suit our interests”. He claims, “our fate was decided there”. Their decision forced the emergence of resistance movement.
- He Discusses about the cold war. Questions how Soviets fracture came about [whether there were invisible hands] which led to end of civil war. They had planned to create a unipolar world which will come under our control in the next 50 years. They planned to put the world in different influence zones. Anchors were identified that would dominate the influence zones. Ethiopia and Kenya were chosen as anchors in this sphere [HOA].
- They planned to limit Russia’s influence through containment strategy. They planned to contain Russia’s threat within 30 years [after end of cold war]. The conflict in Ukraine is part of the strategy.
- They didn’t anticipate Chinese emergence. They had tailored their mechanisms of control to the resources & assets of the countries. Trillion dollar companies are the ones that are designing these plans.
- The big companies that migrated to China seeking high consumers and low paid laborers miscalculated into thinking that the Chinese can only consume but can’t invent. China has outsmarted them and has overtaken the west in production and economic progress.
- US debt rose to 30 trillion making every US citizen around 10,000 dollars. A quarter of the debt is that of China.
- Their assumption when planning to create unipolar world was wrong and reflected their biases. He discusses in glowing terms how the Chinese have managed to supersede the west.
- IGAD & AU have practically become non-existent because of this wrong policy and intervention of foreign hands.
- China has outmaneuvered them. They couldn’t contain Russia. They couldn’t stabilize the European market. This has caused frustration. The current turmoil is the result of this miscalculation. Those with special interest have biased & narrow perspective.
- We had hoped that Trump’s government would recognize US’ wrong policy [towards Eritrea] and had attempted to pursue an engagement strategy. He says ‘we’ have learnt from it now implying disappointment in failure of Eritrea’s diplomatic efforts.
- Regarding why US keeps carrying out sanctions: US policy is “blind and unable to revisit its losses. An irrational policy”. The unipolar agenda can’t work. This has caused frustration. Their response is reactive which is vengeful. They resort to sanction after sanction. How could a big country impose sanction on a small country for 9 years? With what court did it decide [Eritrea is guilty]. History has taught us. We are not worried. We will remain committed to our principles.
- Eri-Eth-Somalia alliance is perceived by the powers as a threat to their interest. It prevents them from bullying the Horn easily. They don’t encourage cooperation. They want to make use of regional organizations to manipulate and control.
- He ridicules accusation that Eri supports Al-Shebab by claiming that Eritrean government will never forsake its principles and collaborate with terrorists. He claims that it is “them [US]’ that created terrorism.
- He emphasizes the sovereignty of nation’s guarantees that external entities can’t intrude in their internal affairs. Hence he rejects the repeated UN meetings and pressures in relation to the Tigray war.
- He claims that the process that got Eritrea sanctioned on UN Security Council [about a decade ago] was illegal. He laments the fact that Russia supported the sanction for its national interests. He also claims China shouldn’t have abstained but should have asked for clarifications. He condemns international relations as ‘the law of the jungle’ to insinuate that powerful nations illegally force their will on less powerful ones. The NWO is the law of the jungle.
- Where is the evidence for genocide?
- We will not stop fighting to get justice for the illegal sanctions and other actions that are being taken on us.
- They are engaged in “Demonization of Eritrea”.
- The primary aim of the sanction is to cause economic crisis. He mentions similar trends in other nations. Why isn’t the 8 billion dollars of Afghanistan that has been withheld given to its citizens who are starving? What is the rationale behind making the current Sudanese government pay for the wrongs of the previous one? This is to cause economic depression to incite revolution.
- Though the sanctions have inhibited our economic growth yet it taught us the wits to resist the new sanctions. It has taught has resilience. The Eritrean people have a long history of enduring hardship and have gotten used to resisting against such coercions.
- Some say why do we care? We can’t afford to be negligent over the affairs of Ethiopia. The stability of Ethiopia is necessary. We can’t live like an island.
- Regarding Eri-Ethiopia sore relations of the past: We don’t accuse the people but the leadership. The leadership of the past 80 years have not contributed to the country’s stability. TPLF’s regime is the worst of them all. To support his argument that Eritrea must be concerned about Ethiopia’s affairs he recounts an incident where a Sudanese official had told an ELF rebel leader [during the guerrilla years]: “can you be safe if your neighbor’s house is on fire?” He insists, “more than others, the people of Eritrea will be directly impacted by the developments in Ethiopia
- What we have done so far is not sufficient. We have to do more. [in regards to assisting Ethiopia].
- He reiterates that removal of institutionalization of ethnicity must be necessarily erased for long term stability of Ethiopia. Remedial actions will only buy time. Current situation is ideal for constructive measures to reverse the negative problems. It will take 10 years to fully remove its ill effects. [He appears frustrated by Abiy’s government’s reluctance to take drastic measures to change the ethnic constitution]
- TPLF’s institutionalization of ethnicity was intended to sustain the conflict & division
- TPLF identified Amhara chauvinism and used it to incite the people of Tigray. They had disseminated propaganda claiming “they [Amhara] belittle us.” He argues that only a small group of leaders were engaged in such belittlement and insists that they were directed not only to Tigrayans but to other peoples as well. He accuses TPLF of keep inflaming hate. It gave rise to another class of your own that dominated the rest. This has caused Tigrayans to be hated by other Ethiopians. TPLF has held Tigrayans hostage. Tigrayans are the ultimate losers in the past 30 years.
- Ethnic federalism has to be removed. If the healing is to take time [10 years] clear criteria has to be set on how the changes on social, cultural, economic etc aspects are to come.
- Regarding Sudan: John Garang only sought citizen politics and new Sudan. Secession never crossed his mind as well as other leaders. None of the problems prevailing across Sudan have not been solved during the past 30 years. The accumulation of unsolved problems caused purely unorganized popular revolution that brought down the regime.
- The army stood by the side of the people because it shared its problems. It refused to shoot when commanded to do so.
- He rejects the claim that there is conflict between the army and the public. During such situation where multi directional conflicts prevailed and no one group capable of taking charge to solve the problem, a foreign intervention escalated it.
- He seems to believe that the most common issues need to be agreed on for common objective [ber al aman] and the rest should be given time to solve.
- He recounts what Sheik Hassan [Sudanese politician?] had told him regarding the situation in Sudan: “there is 1 producer and 20 brokers. We are working to reverse the situation” After several years he says he raised the same issue to him upon which Sheik Hassen replied “now there are 80 brokers.”
- Sudan has fallen into a predicament where it is now the toy of outsiders.
- Regarding visit of Chinese delegation: Eri-China relationship didn’t come in 1993 but during the 60s. Sha’abiya was trained there and received its first weapons from China. It is a relationship that has spanned more than 50 years.
- Eri-China relations is a strategic alliance. We’ve signed Memorandum of Understanding which is very elaborate and covers all aspects including Intelligence and defense [he claims it can’t be seen as any different from developmental issues.
- He insists deal with China is not a superficial agreement. We are allying with China now because it has become powerful. Even before it became powerful we had formed a relationship with them.
- Regarding developmental issues:
- He notes Eritrea’s underperformance with regards to different sectors road transportation, water, ports etc and promises major comprehensive roadmap prepared by the government to improve & develop various industries. He says National Security issue is to be given great attention but rates it as secondary.
- Road transportation projects should aim to connect Eritrea with neighboring horn countries.
- Calls for enhancement of organization and mass mobilization for developmental endeavors. He doesn’t emphasize mobilization to combat national security threats. Our defensive capability is not that concerning. We are able to handle outside threats.
im i missing something? is he the eritrean president or ethiopia?
He talks through both sides of his mouth. A typical egomaniac’s perspective.
The pain and suffering of the horn of African will continue as long as this man is alive . He is delusional and sadistic. He blaming the west particularly the United state for everything and anything happened under the sun . He will continue the war of vengeance towards Tigray but it will be his last .
As always, blame-shifting, finger-pointing to Weyane, USA, Western….bla bla…Always excuse-making….. He is and will be definitely a debt to the Eritrean people for generations.
He has been same thing for the last 20 years, he never talk the domestic issues to divert our attention.
President Isaias-afwerki is one of the most experienced leader and politician in the world. He doesn’t submit to aggressors and countries that want to impose what needs to be in his country just for their own advantage. I share and believe the correctness of the main points listed here. I believe there are words and grammatical mistakes, and words in the points that should have been corrected before posting.
These are words of a lunatic that are not worth repeating.
Why waste time interviewing someone who can’t even “remember his own name” let alone the destruction he caused to the Eritrean people and the region?
What I cannot fathom is why there is not a single person in the country, brave enough to die for speaking the truth, to tell him what he says is a load of none sense.
The man is clearly mad and he has to be stopped before he burns down the region to the ground.
I think people and politicians should understand this crazy dictator. He has to be defeated not by fighting against but by strategic collaboration with similar minded people in Ethiopia. He is against Tigrayans but his main target is Oromos and others Ethiopian ethnic groups
This old dog is obsessed with Weyane. Everything & anything that he doesn’t like has to be associated with Weyane. As long as this maniac is alive the HoA will never be in peace, so for the sake of the stability of the horn at large this man must go.
The North Korea of Africa who put Eritrea into hell. No university, no constitution, no, election, no development at all. Issayas ruling for life, an ego man that want to steal the wealth of others and doesn’t have a clue how to work and develop. Very sad what a loser.
There is no space for dictatorship in the culture or future of the Somali people. The alliance Afwerge and Abiy are dreaming with Somalia will never happen. If any or someone said or signed worthless paper or promised false or other nonsenses that is null and void. Nobody has that power in our federal system which also transitional and authorit to that extent exsist in Somalia. Our land and sea are sacred for every Somali otherwise will be wars and wars. You already use the ports of Somalia and Gibouti and you can use all the ports of Somalia without hinde but don’t be fooled by some fools who might suggest otherwise.