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Eritrea: An Offline State Thriving Online

(Tesfay Nigus Ayenew)

A little nation, as young as my nephew and as isolated as no nation on the continent, is trying to be a state to be reckoned with in the cyber world in recent times than ever before. Many had hoped to see a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation in the aftermath of the hard won independence; the price paid for such hope to take hold in the hearts and minds of Eritreans and non-Eritreans alike was unprecedented. Nonetheless, all hopes and ecstasy of being independent and free degenerated into nightmarish despair, agony and national humiliation.

The leadership much has been hoped and expected became arrogant and despotic overnight. It began to take the nation off the normal course to a rogue political communion very early. Its machinery began to extort the public and extensively engage in illicit undertakings. Organized human trafficking and contraband have become an official broad light economic undertaking on which it perks its life.

To the shock of neighbors including those who even died for its long pursued national independence goals, the nation had begun to show off its muscle in an attempt to force them to come to political economy terms favorable to it. Immediately after its de jure independence, Eritrea went to war with virtually all nations that shares border with, that culminated Eritrea being on the losing side all its way. A nation well-known to the world for bad, continue to be a menace to the region and beyond.

Isolated by the international community, leading a solitary life in the family of nations, the Eritrean government has thrown the Eritrean pride, both as a people and a nation, to its nadir. Once dubbed as a land of hope and resilience, the people, from children to elderly, flock out of Eritrea in exodus on daily basis. The people left no hope back home. The people and the regime have betrayed each other. The government can take whatever measure it thinks is necessary to stay in power; and the people can take whatsoever measure it thinks is available and appropriate to slip away from the deadly tooth of PFDJ. In fact, Eritrean asylum seekers are the second largest in Europe only outnumbered by Syria.

Ambassadors sent to serve the interest of their nation are fiercely and shamelessly engaged in disfiguring the image of other countries (particularly Ethiopia) which by no means can add value to the sending state. To the huge surprise of most netizens of the world, Eritrean Ambassadors and delegates use their official twitter and facebook accounts to exaggerate, fan, distort and denigrate any case whatsoever that have a direct and indirect connection to Ethiopia. In a time when global politics is at its greatest complexity; and diplomats and ambassadors seem to have huge national responsibility with no time to spare for leisure, the Eritrean Ambassadors seem quite idle to the extent of shying away from their official duty a nation at perilous situation desperately needs.

Eritrea’s activity against Ethiopia is not limited to providing support and enthusiasm to any event that paints bad picture of the later. It is not uncommon to see the regime and its supporters to fanfare causes aimed at compromising peace and order in Ethiopia. From fabricated lies to doctored images and videos, the regime officially engages in social networks to spread hatred and contempt to the regime and particular ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Recent situations in Ethiopia appeared enormously lucrative affair to Eritrean regime and its global network of supporters. One could witness official and fake accounts opened by PFDJ authorities and its supporters using hashtags like OromoProtests at times more than parties to the issue. Even though this is an extension of Eritrea’s destabilizing project, and could trigger retaliatory measures, Ethiopia has as usual considered it as a typical symptom of a dying horse and rather preferred to take domestic solution for a domestic problem that ended up with neutralizing and stabilizing effects.

In this regard, Ethiopia’s adherence to its foreign policy dictate, domestic action on poverty reduction and governance as a national priority, has proved successful. In fact, when anyone perpetrates violence in its domestic affair, Ethiopia’s foreign policy doesn’t preclude proportional responses. To this end, if the regime in Eritrea continues to stir its tongue to splash poison of terror, the response remains to be seen until many folds of poison it intends to splash would be poured into its own gut. Eritrea and the PFDJ leadership also know the consequence, and Ethiopia will not hesitate to retaliate against anyone who attempts to disturb its peace and development. Now, more than any time, order is invaluable to Ethiopia.

Such intrusive behaviors from Eritrea seem to have increased in the wake of Saudi’s phony war against terrorism in the Red Sea region. This ostensibly fortunate incidence seems to reinvigorate Eritrea’s confidence that it could provide an opportunity to continue its usual business of destabilizing the region in a more aggressive scale than ever before. Eritrea’s fresh dance with its new allies is without doubt under close oversight by the concerned bodies particularly of neighboring Ethiopia. And Eritrea knows very well that if it attempts to disturb Ethiopia, the reaction would even result in the culmination of Eritrea as a state, or at least bring the reign of PFDJ to its end.

The recent Eritrean honeymoon with its new allies is rather a self-defeating political maneuver. More, it is a showcase that Eritrea has always difficulty to sustain as sovereign state in its own. To make matters worse, leasing its sea coast to other countries in the Middle East signifies that the regime is ready to barter national sovereignty for power longevity. Indeed, it is ironically rebuilding Eritrean pride in colonial legacy that has been lost after the Second World War freed the Red Sea nation from 50 years Italian colonial administration. The online vibe thriving here and there, resurfacing the habit of looking down on others and distorted self-image is nothing but its manifestation.

Nation building endeavor today is more about building vibrant economy based on domestic resources. Eritrea’s flawed policies fashioned the state outwardly and pursue military alliances that can’t sustain the regime let alone building an enduring state. This level-headedness among Eritrean foreign policy makers drive them to alliances with countries that depend on God-given oil whose price is subject to the uncertain global markets, thus, the rent Eritrea planned to extract may not have a happy ending. Eritrea could ultimately become a good analogy to a poor man who gives his home for free and expects to get the reward in heaven.

Eritrea is now at crossroads due to all its economic, political, social and demographic aliments. The future would further put it on a more criss-crossed and precarious position. Thus, the time ahead is impregnated with predicaments and perplexing possibilities. The abortion or miscarriage of such a pregnancy requires a craftsman leadership unfortunately lacking in the overall PFDJ clique; and that can only be succeeded by unseating the regime through whatever means available; and this lies in the hands of the Eritrean people.
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Source: HornAffairs.com

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