Demarcation is the only Viable Option for Peace In the
Border Dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea
By Ogbazgy Abbay Asmerom
November 1, 2003
There is no other alternative to the demarcation of the Ethio-Eritrean border. The demarcation of the Border between Eritrea and Ethiopia is the only viable option that could lead to the sustainable mode of development and lasting peace in the Horn of Africa. More than anything else, the Horn of Africa needs peace. The Horn of Africa has been known for its turmoil and instability for many years. The source and cause for the distress in the area is Ethiopia. Ethiopia has become the destabilizing force in the whole region. Ethiopia is the “sick man” of the area. Unfortunately, when “Ethiopia sneezes”, it is obvious that “the Horn of Africa catches cold.”
War is not an option for Eritrea, even though Ethiopia continues to beat the drum of the wrong marching band. Ethiopia may afford to spend the lives of millions of Oromos, Amharas, Guragies, Kambatas, Welaytas, Somalis, and other minorities in a useless war. That is not the case for Eritrea. Eritrean life is precious. Eritrean blood will not be spilled in vain.
Eritrea has chosen the best option. That is Demarcation. There is no substitute to a clearer demarcation. There is no back door diplomacy or alternative way to the process of demarcation. There is no need for a dialogue with Ethiopia before the complete demarcation of the whole border. Ethiopian troops and Tigrayan squatter settlers must get out of all occupied Eritrean land. For Eritrea, Demarcation is the priority, not dialogue.
At this time, some evil agents of the Ethiopian government, mainly the Weyanies of Tigray and their Amhara cohorts, are insisting on having a dialogue with Eritrea. Dialogue for what? We all know, in the past, the Ethiopian government did not want any dialogue with Eritrea before the demise of the Eritrean People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (EPFDJ) and the downfall of the Eritrean Government.
It should be known to everyone that it is the EPFDJ that is the ruling party in Eritrea. The Eritrean government has withstood all kinds of stormy winds and weather conditions that came in from outside, plus an internal betrayal that did not install a puppet government, which was designed and was supposed to be subservient to the wishes of the leaders of Tigray.
What changed now in Ethiopia? What is the benefit of a dialogue with Eritrea? Did the devil give some vision to Meles Zenawi and Seyoum Mesfin? Did a monk or a debtera from some of the obscure Ethiopian monasteries see a revelation and indicated that it is good to have or entertain a dialogue with Eritrea? Did an angel of mercy appear in the mountains of Entoto or the dry gorges and valleys of Adwa, Axum, Adigrat or Meqele? Did someone whisper to the ears of the Tigrayans that a dialogue with Eritrea is an exit strategy? Is there a new prophecy that can be considered that would make Eritrea an ally to have a dialogue with and make business? Not at all!
As far as Eritrea is concerned, there is not an iota, a mustard seed, or a compelling reason to have a dialogue with the devil. We all know it is a delaying tactic concocted by the snakes and vipers of Tigray. It is a trap for Eritrea. The dialogue is not genuine. It is a non-starter! If dialogue will be needed, and if it can bring some form of normalization and reconciliation, it cannot be done now. It will not be tomorrow. It is not going to be next year. It is not yet time to declare and say, “Let bygones be bygones.”
It will take years to heal the wounded heart of the Eritreans. The ungrateful Tigrayans have pierced the loving heart of the Eritreans. If it were not for the help of the Eritreans, the Weyanies of Tigray would not have ascended to throne of Emperor Haileslassie! They would not have been able to rule over present day Ethiopia!
Who can forget the inhumane treatment of Eritreans in the hands of Tigrayans? Who can forget the deportation of more than 76, 000 Eritreans from Tigray and Ethiopia? What about those Eritreans who died in prison cells? Who can forget the more than 1.5 million displaced Eritreans?
Who can forget the bombings of Asmara, Massawa, and other Eritrean cities and towns? Who can forget the separation of families? Who can forget the looting and destruction of properties owned by Eritreans? What about the desecration of the graves of Eritrean martyrs? Who can forget the Eritrean civilians killed by the Weyanies?
Another burning issue that is hanging on the neck of the Tigrayans, like an albatross stone, is the process of compensation. By hook or crook, Ethiopia must compensate all of those Eritreans who have lost their properties during the war of 1998-2000.
Above all, we must remind the Tigrayans that there will be a time when Eritrea will ask for a hefty sum of money to be paid by Ethiopia as a compensation for the 40 years of destruction brought upon Eritrea and the Eritrean people through successive rogue regimes in Addis Abeba.
Thus, if there will be any dialogue, it should only come after the demarcation of the whole border is completed and Eritrea gains full sovereignty over its territories.
The evil machinations of the Ethiopian government are designed to derail the demarcation process, proclaim to the world about the dialogue, and claim there is a dialogue going on and then abandon the demarcation process. Eritrea will not entertain an approach that does not accept the full demarcation of the border. For Eritrea, there is no partial demarcation!
Currently, Ethiopia is attempting to make an association and a comparison with the border dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon and equate it with the one going on between Eritrea and Ethiopia. This is an absurd comparison. In addition, it is a foolish Mathematical Calculation! All of my former mathematics and algebra students can detect the imbalance of the two equations presented by the Tigrayans.
The two do not have any common elements or similarities to be compared. Such a comparison comes only from a crooked mind and heart. There is no equation that can be proven about the similarities of the two situations. Let Nigeria and Cameroon deal with their own problems. They have the capacity to resolve their border dispute.
The so-called dialogue or proximity talks entertained and encouraged by some quarters will put the Eritrean government on a permanent state of mobilization, no peace- no war situation, inaction for development and a state of frustration. No one in the Eritrean government should be deceived by the idea of a false dialogue. No Eritrean official should be duped, bamboozled, tricked, and deceived in accepting the premature dialogue. If that happens, it will be an act of suicide to the Eritrean government.
Those who try to entertain such an idea, whether it is the British Ambassador in Addis Abeba, or the US or the UN, or the AU should not have their hopes built on quick sand. They should not even contemplate such a dialogue is necessary.
We have heard it many times, and in many occasions, through diplomatic channels, behind closed doors and secret meetings, the West does not want to see Ethiopia disintegrated and there is no substitute to Meles Zenawi. We should know Ethiopia would bring its own disintegration. It is working on its self-destruction! We also know that Meles Zenawi is not an immortal person. If the West wants to save Ethiopia from being disintegrated, it is imperative that Ethiopia first learns how to behave in a civilized manner. It must put its house in order.
A shuttle diplomacy between Asmara and Addis Abeba, similar to the one taken by Anthony Lake, Susan Rice and their handlers, will not bear any fruit. It must stop before it gets started. Eritrea has learned a lesson. It does not want its hands to be burned again. Eritrea will not allow itself to be presented as a sacrificial lamb on the altar of secret diplomacy for the sake of Ethiopian unity. Eritrea does not need insincere foreign diplomats whose objective is to save Meles’ neck.
It is time to close the shop of unproductive arms twisting and tell Ethiopia, enough is enough! Eritrea knows the contemplated dialogue is only a facade to hoodwink world opinion. The dialogue has no value, but to waste time and pull down Eritrea to the gutter of Ethiopian political instability.
Badme will not be given to Ethiopia, It is an Eritrean territory. There is no dialogue on the status of Badme. Eritrea does not give away what legally belongs to it.
It is to be recalled, at the end of the 1998-200 border war that took place between Eritrea and Ethiopia, it was agreed under International Peace Agreement, the border was to be delimited and demarcated by a neutral Border Commission. Both parties, Eritrea and Ethiopia, agreed to accept the decision to be final and binding. A Final decision was issued on April 13, 2002. There is no second ruling! Final means, final! There is no double tongue here.
The Border Commission did not use “Wax and Gold” metaphor to deceive the world community. Its decision is simple and clear. It is straight and forward. Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, the president of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission, in many occasions, has told the Ethiopian government the decision is final and binding. The UN Security Council, through its regular meetings and resolutions, has told Ethiopia it must accept the decision without any delay. What is more clearer than this?
As we can see from the explanations given to the Ethiopian authorities, there are no ifs, buts, or other methods of reopening the debate.
However, the Tigrayans have copied the “Wax and Gold” means of communication that the Amharas have been using for centuries and are now trying to deceive the world community by issuing ambiguous statements, such as “we want peace with Eritrea, we are for the demarcation of the border, we will not fire again the first shot, but we have to ask for some variations”.
Eritrea, knowing that the decision was final and binding, accepted the ruling without any reservation and equivocation. The Ethiopian government, without knowing the truth about the ruling, indicated it has accepted the decision. It even claimed, falsely of course, that it has acquired more land that previously belonged to Eritrea. Gradually, the Ethiopian government began to show its true nature and colors of deception. Badme was never awarded to Ethiopia. A bombshell fell on the heads and backs of the leaders of Tigray and Ethiopia!
The truth was revealed. Eritrea was vindicated. It was ruled by the Border Commission that Badme, the center of the conflict, is inside Eritrea.
The whole world knows now the Weyanies of Tigray have deceived their own people. They have become the liars and cheaters of the 21st century.
Now, the prime Minster of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, stated Ethiopia would not accept the decision. He wrote a personal letter to the Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan. Meles believes only Mr. Kofi Annan would save him from being overthrown from the palace of Haileselasie. Mr. Kofi Annan does not have the authority to change the decision of The Border Commission. The decision is final and binding!
The Security Council of the UN has told Ethiopia that the decision is final and binding. Thus, Ethiopia’s request for an alternative ruling has been rejected by the Security Council. What is the problem that Ethiopia could not comprehend this rejection? Does Ethiopia think it can continuously deceive the Security Council and get away with it?
Recently, the Ethiopian Prime Minister also told his parliament that the Border Commission’s Decision is “null and void”. What a farce of insincerity! What an arrogance to show! Where is the respect and principle of observing an international law? Did he not, day in and day out, use to accuse Eritrea of violating an international law? Was not Eritrea being accused of following the law of the jungle? Whose music are we listening to now? What is going on in the secret place of Menelik, Haileselassie, and Mengistu? Are not the diplomats stationed in Addis Abeba observing such words of inconsistencies and contradictions coming from the offices of the Prime Minister and his Foreign Minster? Do they not have a diplomatic scale to weigh the intellectual acumen of the leaders of Tigray and Ethiopia?
It is shameful that the Ethiopian government has picked up a fight with the Border Commission. Meles Zenawi and his cohorts are accusing the Border Commission of being “inconsistent, wrong, partial, and its decision arbitrary and illegal”. Meles Zenawi and his Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, have repeatedly accused the Border Commission for being on the Eritrean side. After all, did Ethiopia not choose its well-known lawyers and representatives to be members of the Commission? What went wrong in the heads of the Weyanies? Did they assume Badme was going to be given to them?
We know the respected jurists do not have a stake on the issues of territories, except on justice! The International jurists are men of integrity. They will not reverse their decision simply to accommodate the selfish needs of the Ethiopian government.
Emotionally, mentally, and psychologically, the leaders of Tigray are “damaged men.” They have an explainable inferiority complex. They are jealous of Eritrean independence. They are angry and mad that Tigray is not independent. Due to their crooked mind, they do not want to see a prosperous, stable, and peaceful Eritrea. Hence, the leaders of Tigray can be called the “men of disorder “in the Horn of Africa. It is conceivable to deduce that the many years that Tigray was ruled by Menelik, Haileslassie, and Mengistu had brought immeasurable mental anguish and distortion in the minds of the Tigrayans.
Thus, because of the border crisis, another problem began to develop in the inner circles of the Tigrayian Government of Ethiopia. Fear of losing the palace of Addis Abeba began to creep into the minds of the Tigrayan leaders. Hence, the Ethiopian government declared it has rejected the decision of the Border Commission and has asked the United Nations to come up with a new ruling that would give the town of Badme to Ethiopia.
Any layperson knows this is not going to happen! An international law does not, very easily, get violated by deceitful governments. The rule of law must be respected. An international law does not get overturned by the stroke of a pen.
The decision of the Commission should not be reversed by anybody or through back door diplomatic maneuvering. The World Community should not allow Ethiopia to poke its fingers at the nose of the UN and embarrass the International Organization. If that happens, the relevancy of the UN will be affected. The rule of law will be trampled. Henceforth, there will not be any nation that will keep any UN Resolutions. If this happens, the idea of Collective Security will fly out through the windows of the UN Headquarters in New York City.
We all know the issue for Ethiopia is not Badme! The prize for Ethiopia is to get back all of Eritrea! The main thing for all of the crying over Badme was to find an excuse, annex, and occupy all of Eritrea. Of course, and yet, the unfulfilled Ethiopian dream is to have the two Eritrean seaports, Asseb and Massawa, come under the control of the government in Meqele and Addis Abeba.
Some Amhara chauvinists and their Tigrayan disciples still think the border of Ethiopia in the north is The Red Sea! What a dream! For sure, that is not going to happen. Eritrean independence is a reality. It cannot be reversed. A lot has been paid for it. Eritrean independence is paid by the sweat, blood, and tears of every Eritrean. It should be clearer to the Tigrayans and Amharas, Eritrean independence is not for sale to the highest bidder!
It is true, The Security Council of the United Nations (UN) has rejected Ethiopia’s recent request to have a variation in the ruling. Ethiopia is unhappy and mad about the decision. It is crying “wolf” and is shedding crocodile tears. This is being done so that it may get some sympathizers and supporters. Oromay, the issue of the border is final and binding! It is sealed, delivered, and it is a done deal! Thus, Demarcation is the only viable solution to the impasse of the border crisis!