Delaying the inevitable: Would it be war or peace?
By: Yohannes Kifle
December 20, 2004

Despite the fact that his regime declared victory on the battlefield and in front of the International court, against Eritrea, Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Melles Zenawi is having a difficult time to disembark from his misconception. This figment of his imagination that there would be and should be a dialogue between Eritrea and Ethiopia to resolve the border issue that has already been resolved would only establish the fact that he is buying time to block the forthcoming, which in this case is, peace. On the other hand, the International community and the would-be "GUARANTORS" are inadvertently playing the same role as the regime in Ethiopia by supporting it financially and simply by overlooking the integrity it lacks. Their action is also delaying the imminent, and of course, in this case would be war.

However, delaying the inevitable war should not be confused with bringing the long over-due peace. Public perception is on the rise about when, not if, war breaks out between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Regrettably, the potential war between Eritrea and Ethiopia has disaster written all over it. At some point, either the regime in Ethiopia or the International community must take the initiative to achieve the long awaited peace between the two nations on the horn of Africa. Anything short of that is detrimental to the region that desperately yearns for peace. Furthermore, both the regime in Ethiopia and the so-called international community owe the peoples of both Eritrea and Ethiopia their genuine participation in attaining peace in the region in general and between Eritrea and Ethiopia in particular. At this point in time, neither the regime in Ethiopia nor the International community is up to its task.

It is apparent that, with alarming frequency, the regime in Ethiopia has violated the Alger peace agreement and continued to violate it. The most recent violation was the settling of Ethiopians into Badme, the disputed land that is legally awarded to Eritrea. Operating in a climate of untrustworthiness, with the help of the incompetent UNMEE, the regime in Ethiopia is either on the brink of starting another devastating war or inviting Eritrea to start the war. However, the former or the latter are not options both peace loving Eritreans and Ethiopians want to see exercised. At the same time, the "no war no peace" attitude currently adopted by the regime in Ethiopia and accepted by the International community may lead these two nations to another round of bloodshed.

International law: is the body of rules and principles of action, which are binding upon civilized states in their relationships with one another. Unfortunately, the regime in Ethiopia has demonstrated time and time again that it lacks the civility to be in the level where the rest of the civilized nations are. No matter how much a government claims to be peaceful, its conduct would ultimately be the deciding factor. Given the Prime Minister's record, in spite of what his "admirers" think of him, he is at best a leader who conducts his day-to-day political activity with a street-smart approach. A leader with this type of myopic mentality can only go so far. However, the misery that he brought and continues to bring to his fellow citizens and neighboring countries is devastating and all peace loving people ought to be concerned. In April 2002, the "smart" Prime Minister and his cabinet members appealed to the international community to force Eritrea to accept the EEBC's decision. Today, he is rejecting the very same ruling he led us to believe he would respect. No one will be shocked if the "smart" Prime Minister, who is consistently inconsistent, rejects his own unilaterally drawn peace initiative.

The "smart" Prime Minister, who sacrificed more than 150,000 of his fellow citizens for a disputed land, is expecting Eritrea to dialogue for her undisputed and legally won sovereign land. The thought process going through the mind of the "smart" Prime Minister was that one-day Eritrea will dialogue on his term or the government of Eritrea will collapse before that happens. His lack of vision about the strength of Eritrea and his own susceptibility is what will categorize him to be one of those leaders who "come and go". Here is a leader who sacrificed thousands and thousands of precious lives pretty much for a war he ignited with full understanding of the root causes of the problem and certainly without full understanding of the enormous price he was about to ask his country and fellow citizens to pay. If he had an idea that the root causes of the problem could have been solved through dialogue, what and who stopped him from doing so back in 1998, 1999, and 2000?

In December 2004, here is what the "smart" Prime minister says, "The only way forward is through dialogue and by addressing the root causes of the problem. I do not believe unilateral military steps are conducive to peace in our region." Was that a revelation or what? There is no question in the minds of many people that the regime in Ethiopia is on its last leg. However, the question many people would not be able to answer with absolute certainty is that how much do the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia have to pay with their children's blood before that day comes.

Again, the two parties denying the region peace and prosperity are the regime in Ethiopia and the so-called "Guarantors". Peace loving people would hope one of these parties would come through sooner than later. Eritrea will absolutely be victorious!