What Isaias Afwerki said about Tigray

“When corrective measures are taken in Ethiopia, we have to cooperate with them, not as an option, but as an obligation in order to ensure lasting peace with them. Ethiopia’s stability is important for the stability of the region. This concerns us more than any other neighbors.”

On 17 February, President Isaias gave one of his annual lectures – dressed up as an interview.

There have been several summaries of what he had to say.

The Eritrean Ministry of Information offered a summary.

Others can be found at Borkena, and EEPA.

This summary addresses the situation in Tigray. Other issues have not been included.

Isaias Afwerki: broadcast interview February 17, 2021

When the initiative for reform in Ethiopia took place, Dr. Abiy came up with words like love, peace, and cooperation with Eritrea. Many believed this to be a point of change of relations with hope for peace and tranquility.

When Abiy said he would respect the border demarcation verdict, it was a sign of game over to the [TPLF] junta.

TPLF did not feel good about this.  On our part, we did not rush for the border demarcation, but focused on building lasting peace and stability of Ethiopia.  But TPLF continued to prepare for war.  Both of us were following this up. Abiy suggested many good ideas out of good will.

But we did not rush for what he said because we had to look at the situation from different angles, based on our past experiences.

Abiy had requested that I meet with Debretsion [of the TPLF] repeatedly – there was no need for a middle person to do that.  And when we met in Zalembassa [11 September 2018] I did not have the appetite to talk at the time.

In the next meeting in Omhajer – I had always been saying no to meeting with Debretsion up through the night before, but when we got there, I changed my mind and talked to him for nearly two minutes – I had one question – I was even reluctant to ask the question, but I did anyway.

I asked Debretsion, why were they preparing for war? Why all of that?

Debretsion said, it will not be so. Then I wondered what that meant?  “You are preparing for war, why?” I asked. My main message was to tell him that war was not needed and telling him to avoid it – I said that I didn’t want to talk about other things, but just this message because Abiy was pushing me for that. But Debretsion’s response of saying it will not be so meant they would continue their preparation for war. Nobody knew where this would take us.

So, we started to assess different scenarios.

Finally on November 3rd [2020], while we were watching developments closely, an adventure in attacking took place, an incident which nobody in their right mind would imagine would happen. I still wonder why.

The Northern Command [of Ethiopia] had about 32,000 personnel, out of which 1/3 were Tigrayans. Earlier, an election had taken place in Tigray, followed by claims that the federal government was illegal. This was the first game plan. When they attacked the Northern Command, they planned to completely destroy the army and then head to Addis Ababa and then make changes there, and then change the government in Asmara. This was madness, a big miscalculation.

They killed and captured members of the army, but there was a section that survived it. This was a turning point. It is difficult how things grew up that fast to this stage. Maybe many movies can be made out of this in the future.

We can conclude that this happened as a consequence of the political situation in the last thirty years. This did not happen just now, all of a sudden. It was not created over the past two years.

We have to know the cause that goes back thirty years and one can say even fifty years. If we don’t know this cause, we cannot get a lasting solution for the future. I call it “politics of explosives.” We had many talking points on which we sometimes agreed, and sometimes not.

For example, in 1994 Meles came and showed me a draft of the constitution [for Ethiopia]. When I read it, all I could see was potential threat or danger. So I said to him that that constitution could not work for Ethiopia. Meles said that he expected me to say that, but argued that it was this constitution that could fulfill their long term objectives as it would place timebombs in all the regions of Ethiopia which would explode everywhere in case the plans to continue as one country did not work.

So the formation of regional states was designed for the mere desires of the TPLF – this is their philosophy or thinking, not just since 1994/1995, but one can go back to the 1970s. It is this thinking that has sown ethnic conflicts and confrontation for the last 25 years in Ethiopia. Until the recent correctional measure was taken.

So what does the situation in Ethiopia look like today? It must be assessed deeply. Many worrisome cultures have been inculcated in the last 25 years. We cannot live in peace as neighbors and cannot help each other unless these things are done away with.

It might be out of context, but it is a pattern that has been going on in Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Lebanon, and even what was plotted to take place in the Sudan are all of the same pattern, based on ethnicity, warlords that dis-unite countries. Sometimes organization comes under religious disguise. Then countries enter into chaos and end up being disintegrated. Small administrations come and then external forces come as humanitarian organizations. Then, no more national and sovereign institutions. Finally an agenda of external forces is implemented. What happened in Ethiopia the past twenty-five years is nothing different.

What makes us different is that we as a people have learned from past experience because we have gone through some challenges in the past. We have faced many divisive and confrontational experiences in the past.  We are not different.

The division introduced by the British administration has taught a lesson to our people. We have seen our struggle up to 1981. We managed to resolve all the differences in those years. We should not allow this to happen in our neighbors so that we can live in peace and harmony.

So, when corrective measures are taken in Ethiopia, we have to cooperate with them, not as an option, but as an obligation in order to ensure lasting peace with them. Ethiopia’s stability is important for the stability of the region. This concerns us more than any other neighbors. Our first plan was to contribute some for the stability of Somalia, but that did not work out. For Ethiopia to play such a role, its domestic situation is decisive. This is what we learned in the last three months.

Eritrea’s past experience

Eighty years or beyond, after the end of WWII, countries have had their boundaries defined. Eritrea was one of them. When John Foster Dulles said that Eritrea does not represent the U.S.’s interests, our destiny was prejudged based on that. We had to fight for our independence because we were denied our freedom. We were forced to do so.

The British – 1941-1951—it was only for the service of the big powers.  Foreign agenda has forced us to fight for self-determination with big sacrifices. There was no need for us to fight Ethiopia, had it not been due to foreign agendas – not Ethiopia’s.

Come 1991 – end of cold war.  The new epoch allowed us to make good relations with Ethiopia. In a few years’ time the question of the border, and with Yemen, Ethiopia came because of foreign agendas. Badme [border dispute and war] was just a fabricated agenda from external forces caused by the betrayal by the TPLF.

For example, the United States gave $20 million to Ethiopia for this purpose. With unipolar power, they planned to create spheres of influence with much support given to the TPLF clique.

After 2000, many of the agendas were inspired by external forces. Even the Tigray case that past three years, all the thinking must be seen from that perspective – main actors are the big powers.

Our relation with TPLF over the years until 1991 was changing thanks to our experience despite the interference of external forces.

The case of Tigray is not over yet because those external forces are not going to sit idle. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia all show us what might come in the future.

Why sanction?  To weaken Eritrea, and this was done by defaming and disinforming. The 9-year sanction has its own history. What happened the last three months is following the same pattern. We have to know that we can control this only by effectively working against it.


  1. Isayas is a sadist criminal and care less of anything than staying in power. He has proven Staying in power at the expenses of Eritreans and the close neighbouring countries. Eritreans are responsible for giving the stage to this criminal creature who should have been thrown to the garbage long time. It looks now too late for Eritreans. It seems now it’s the responsibility of the international community to remove him from the stage. The world should not allow such criminal to stay in power and inflict so much damage to the surrounding..

    1. This is a question for you Alem, was there anything wrong with the statement above? I mean your comment doesn’t seem to be related to this article, I would say it is just a pre judgemental as it doesn’t refer to any point of the above.

  2. It is quite good translation but he also said in rounded meanings Abiy is anxious and in a hurry with his proposals. Even if he did not put it as a critic he exposed the nature of Abiy. It is mor pertinent to analyze what he does not say rather than the well directed one way interview. It is quite clear he admits implicitly that Eritrea has been involved in the war. He also makes it clear Eritrea has the responsibility to eliminate any idea, any group any one who would be on the way of his new political vision for Ethiopia through his proxy Abiy. He makes it clear here he is the big leader for Ethiopia. Due to an obvious reason he never mentions all the preparations that was going on between him self, his army, Abiy and Abiys army against Tigray. Many months ahead of the war Debretsion and many of the leaders in Tigray were claiming they are rounded by military from north to South, from East to west by both Isaias and Abiy. Why were these military moved from all over Ethiopia and Eritrea around Tigray, what was their purpose. It is so stupid to believe they can lure the world with these facts.

    He made it clear the war is not over. I read that, he needs time to eliminate the 99 % of the population who support TPLF. Ethnic cleansing is obvious.

  3. Correction: “Over the last 20 years, the US has given the TPLF well over 20 Billion for this purpose” that is what the PIA said not 20 million

  4. What is it about modern Eritrea, (a foreign/colonial entity founded about 130 years) and its obsession with big powers, external actors, and outside agenda, for the last 80 years? The message from the above piece is proof. We are told to expect the same in the future, under the name of kitet; it is about the same: conspiracy, political machinations, and betrayal from the outside. Eritrea will remain immersed in this labyrinth (for a century.)

  5. Isaias is a big setback for Eritrea’s development, prosperity,and he is a paraih dellusioned thinking every big powers are conspiring day and night to dismantle Eritrea and it’s because of him that Eritrea is a very strong nation. Today.come on ISU,come out of your cottage and socialize with your neighbor s and rest of the world and open up your compound and release ur ppl from Sawa prison.

  6. Just the usual mambo jambo.he doest have the moral value to say any thing about any one.he is the master.mind of all the evil plan .this was very obvious for any one to see it coming .him,Abiy and the Amhra elite planned the war for two and half years and excuited it as they planned it .the northern command is an excuse fiasco. Does this guy look an Eritrea leader no,he sounds like he the ptsident of Ethiopia. All his talk is about Ethiopia .He is a trouble maker. he is messing up every thing and the little Dictator Abiy is nothing ,Isayas is the boss and the eviliest of all, unless they remove this Dictator the horn will remain in chaos.

  7. This is all Isaias and his practiced lies about TPLF: that the formation of regional states in Ethiopia was for the mere benefits of TPLF. That the action in the Northern Command was a TPLF plot to head to Addis Ababa and make changes there, and then turn around and change the government in Asmara. This is all preposterous, but then Isaias will not admit that there was beforehand a preparation for military operation against TPLF, that for years Isaias was waiting for this moment to exact revenge on TPLF and Tigray. Isaias, TPLF, and Abiy – the tragedy and the travesty of it all !!

  8. To Isayas

    “the formation of regional states was designed for the mere desires of the TPLF” this from a former freedom fighter! Wow! How could you have forgotten that the regional states created then were the ultimate realization of the equality right for many nationalities ( like Eritreans ) such as the Afars, Oromo, Somali-Ethiopians, Tigreans etc that have been colonized for over two hundred years by the Amhara? The same colony you fought against! Your hate for Tigre people has really blinded you. Why you repudiate the identity of other Ethiopian nationalities struggling to gain their right of self determination – same one you struggled for. One would have thought to have gotten support from old bro like you who have been through the struggle for self identity. Instead you are denying the existance of fellow nationalities following your foot steps with no enmity towards your people – the Eritreans. What a conundrum!
    To add insult to the injury, you state again that “ Many worrisome cultures have been inculcated in the last 25 years” . Tell me, what is worrisome about the Oromo culture, Somali culture and so on?
    This is the pure mentality of the Amara-Elite. You are echoing completely their false narrative. And by the way if you believe AMARIZATION is such a good policy why did you leave Ethiopia in the first place? Aren’t you delegitimizing the struggle of your people when you applaud the return of Amara colonization – the nonsense you call corrections. When you say “ based on ethnicity, warlords that dis-unite countries “ what that does that make of you? Isn’t Eritrea an ethnicity itself? Or is it that when it was your turn it was a nation struggling for self determination and when it is others it is ethnicities disintegrating a nation? What a contradictions and bullshits!
    These can not be emanating from a sane former freedom fighter. Either you got issues with your head or you were an opportunist hiding under the freedom banner in the first place, engineering the illusion you seem enjoying – THAT YOU ARE THE ONE AND ONLY MAN IN ERITEREA!
    Your background must be re-checked before the few days to your demise expire!

    A Somali-Ethiopian

    #tigray #ethiopia #tplf #abiyahmed #tesfagiorgis #biden #eu #england #martinplaut #africa #usa #middleeast #addisstandard #eritereahub #ethiopiainsight #tigrepeople #amhara #somali-ethiopians

    1. Upgrading one sentence in my above comment – after reading his recent interview

      ” that you are the one and only man in eritrea ” should read
      ” that you are the and only man in the east-african-areana ”

      You are day-dreaming. An autocrate dictator can not be such a man!

  9. Yes, Isaias was being dishonest about TPLF and the reasons for the formation of regional states in Ethiopia. In fact Isaias was one of the early ethno-nationalists when he waged war of secession because he did not want Eritrea to remain as part of Ethiopia. Isaias is being vacuous about this matter because of his obsession against TPLF, and Isaias also wants to be a cheerleader for Abiy.

  10. Isayas is a career criminal and a dictator to boot. Like many dictators, Mussolini, Hitler, Polpot, Idi Amin, and others, he has a devoted followers in the Eritrean community. He kept the Eritreans ignorant so they could continue to worship him. He started his criminal career by gunning down his comrades in 1972-73 labelling them as “Menkae”. Since then he has murdered thousands of Eritreans, as Teklai Aden, his long time Security Chief, disclosed. In September 2001, a day or two after the 9/11 incident, he locked up his closest comrades. No one knows whether they are dead or alive. The West knows his criminality, but as Washington Post editorialized a couple of weeks ago, he is a dictator that the world chose to ignore. He would not have been ignored for such a long time if he had challenged western hegemony. Now he has sharpened his skills of mass murder and wholesale plunder of Tigrayan property and destruction. Eritrea under Isaias is a slave system that has not produced anything of economic value; so they had to steal to make ends meet. He is a cancer that the world needs to get rid of, for Tigray and much more for Eritrea.

  11. Isayas Afwerki in his interview had never addressed regarding the situation in Eritrea people are suffering from starving, since they locked down the whole country. Even people don’t get access to get hospital due the transportation was banded from movement, not enough water to drink, no electricity, unable to talk for your right.

    So, Isayas Afwerki is unmoved, ruthless and evil person only cares for him self to stay in power for the rest of his life. And wanted to make people to hate each other. He is the most crimal person in the world. I don’t understand why the world allow him to stay in power for thirty years.

    However, For Ethiopian”s people that thinks Isayas is supporting them, “No”, he is doing for his benefit not cares either of you and he will come back after you. just watch!!

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