Surprises of the war
By Mussie Msghina
October 14, 2003

The recent war between Ethiopia and Eritrea had very few surprises. Most of the local and international actors behaved in a quite predictable way. The reaction of mainstream Eritrea was extremely gallant, but nothing unexpected or out of the ordinary. The behaviour of Meles, the TPLF and Ethiopia in general was also uncontroversial in the sense that it followed an expected course. Meles and the TPLF did nothing Eritreans wouldn't expect them to do. In fact in trying to repeat the atrocities of Alula, the woyane were behaving in a very predictable way.
The behaviour of the international community also followed an expected course, trying to be as impartial as possible while turning a blind eye to the atrocities of 'democratic' Ethiopia. Nobody was surprised by Meles' recent tantrums, or the slapping he got by Sir. Elihu Lauterpacht. The west can promise Meles a brand new Badme on his side of the border, but cannot allow him to taint the Magna Carta by going against the rule of law in an international setting. All these were not unexpected, or in any way surprising. The noise currently being made by Moa Ethiopia groups and other Mother Ethiopia groups regarding Assab is not unexpected or surprising either.
What was most surprising and totally unexpected was the behaviour of the so-called Eritrean opposition, and the behaviour of disgruntled elements within the Eritrean ruling party. The immaturity these two groups, and their associated websites, displayed during the course of the conflict was beyond comprehension. Imagine how they'd have reacted had the following thought experiments been real facts:
01. Imagine it was Eritrea that declared war on Ethiopia
02. Imagine it was Eritrea that took the war to the skies and started air raids on Ethiopia in the first few days of the conflict
03. Imagine it was Eritrea that lied about this and was busted by the BBC
04. Imagine it was Eritrea that started deporting non-combatant civilians
05. Imagine it was Eritrea that rounded up Ethiopian exchange students and imprisoned them for more than two years

06. Imagine it was Eritrea that was launching repeated offensives against a defensive Ethiopia
07. Imagine it was Eritrea that rejected the Algiers peace agreements it said it accepted only to launch the thrid offensive
08. Imagine it was Eritrea that used its ethnic minorities as human mine sweepers (the so-called fenji-regatch)
09. Imagine it was Eritrea that callously sacrificied more than 123 000 soldiers, mostly belonging to ethnic minorities
10. Imagine it was Eritrea that insisted on regime change in Addis Abeba as the only solution to the conflict

11. Imagine it was Eritrea that declared the EEBC decision a total victory few minutes after its announcement
12. Imagine it was Eritrea that declared the same EEBC decision a total defeat few months later
13. Imagine it was Eritrea that rejected the EEBC decision it promised to accept as final & binding without ifs and buts
14. Imagine it was Eritrea that is now dragging its feet on border demarcation, hence peaceful resolution of the conflict
15. Imagine it was Eritrea that is throwing tantrums, and threatening blood bath if its tantrums are not taken seriously by the UN.

16. Imagine it was in Asmara that 42 university students were murdered in broad daylight
17. Imagine it was in Barentu that 100 members of an ethnic minority were massacred during a peaceful demonstration
18. Imagine it was in Keren that 1000 peacefully protesting citizens are estimated to have been killed by police in just one year
19. Imagine the corruption level in Ethiopia was also the case in Eritrea, and being an official meant becoming a millionaire.
20. Imagine a guy called Hayelom was Eritrea's most popular general, a guy called Kinfe Eritrea's number one security officer, and a guy called Samuel top security adviser, and all mysteriously died one after the other.

All these are true of Ethiopia, most, if not all, unimaginable in Eritrea. But does that mean Eritrea has no serious problems of its own? Of course Not! It has both structural and political problems of its own. But does any of that justify the gutter behaviour of the so-called opposition and associated websites? Not by a million!

During World War One, Lenin wanted Russia to be militarily defeated by Germany on the assumption that a defeated Russia would be more ripe for his proletarian revolution. He wanted Russia to be a failed state so that he can build his own Russia on its ruins. Now the empire that he built on the ruins of his country is itself in ruins. Communism and his 'proletariat paradise' are no more with us. Incidentally, 'failed state' is a favorite term among so-called Eritrean oppositions when describing Eritrea. A friend of mine said that Eritrea will sooner or later have to deal and come to terms with the so-called opposition. My reply was the day Eritrea takes them seriously will be the day it stops taking itself seriously.