Interview with President Isaias Afwerki on current regional issues and GOE domestic development programmes

Salient Points

  • Reform movement in Ethiopia engendered hope and optimism
  • TPLF, with the tacit approval of its sponsors, devoted unremitting efforts to roll back the reform and it was accordingly immersed in intensive military preparations;
  • Despite our desire and commitment for constructive engagement, our concerns were not allayed due to overwhelming information on TPLF’s preparation for war; (TPLF denied this fact during a brief meeting in Omhager)
  • Still, nobody could predict the sudden assault that TPLF launched on November 3;
  • Twin objectives were to topple Ethiopian Federal Government and attack Eritrea. As we later found out, TPLF planned to hit over 100 key targets in Eritrea for extensive devastation.  The missiles fired were tip of iceberg;
  • We had to provide sanctuary for some of the contingents in the Northern Command who resisted the initial assault. Our reaction was a spontaneous act of legitimate self-defense.
  • TPLF’s gross miscalculation to unleash the assault, which stemmed from its dominant control of Ethiopia’s Defense Forces during 27 years of monopolistic power, did not succeed as anticipated in the early months of the conflict.
  • Intensive diplomatic pressure and psychological war by its sponsors, mostly aimed at Eritrea, led to what can be termed as a “tactical setback” when the Federal Government declared a unilateral ceasefire.
  • TPLF subsequently committed another reckless military campaign when it ventured into Amhara and Afar Regions, controlled Dessie and Kombolcha, and bragged about capturing Addis Ababa.
  • The debacle it faced subsequently was predictable from the perspective of objective military analysis.
  • Critical issue now is whether there is a real prospect for soul-searching by TPLF and its sponsors. Flaunting “negotiations” as a tactical agenda will not serve the interest of regional peace and stability
  • All possible scenarios must be considered and we should always remain vigilant. We have no latitude as we have always been on the receiving end.
  • TPLF’s anomalous historical position, its dualist policy which oscillates from the monopoly of power to the establishment of “independent Tigray” has remained a cause of conflict and chaos for past decades. Institutional ethnicity emanates from this policy.  External powers have traditionally supported policies of ethnic polarization as it suits their agenda of control through pliable actors in various “spheres of influence”.
  • In the event, we have no option but to bolster our constructive engagement as developments in Ethiopia have ramifications to Eritrea.
  • President Isaias also discussed at length the illegality of UN Sanctions when and if adopted through political horse-trading and pressure rather than rigorous procedures and on the basis of fact and law. The President also elaborated on the rationale and objectives of unilateral coercive measures.
  • The recent visit and significance of the Chinese Foreign Minister to Eritrea, the situation in the Sudan, and GOE development priorities for 2022 were discussed.

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