HARGEISA, 12 November 2009 (Somalilandpress) – I have just read Sophia Tesfamariam’s diatribe of character assassination and vilification against Professor Peter Pham on American Chronicle entitled “ETHIOPIA-Meles Zenawi’s latest ´Intellectual for Hire´ Exposes Himself” and dated 23 October 2009.
Ms Tesfamariam’s rant does not merit discussion here and Professor Pham’s credentials, objectivity and work are well known to those with an interest in the Horn of Africa, hence he needs no defense against this type of intemperate, personal attack. However, the piece did make me reflect upon the history of Somali-Eritrean relations and the current status of this relationship.
Historically, the Somali people have had warm, neighborly relations with the people of Eritrea residing as they do in the same locale. During the 1960s this relationship became one of close political allies as both peoples were victims of the collusion between the European colonialists and the Haile Selassie regime in Ethiopia to deny them their national aspirations for self determination.
Indeed, when the Somali Republic was formed in July 1960 by the union of the ex-British Somaliland Protectorate and the Italian-administered UN Trust Territory of Somalia to the south, support for the aspirations of the Eritrean people for self-determination and statehood became an integral cornerstone of the new Republic’s foreign policy.
To this end, the Eritrean liberation movements were supported politically and materially, and political offices for them were established in Mogadishu before any other African country. In fact, such was Somalia’s backing of the Eritrean quest for statehood that Eritrean refugees were routinely issued Somali passports to enable them to travel internationally, and many Eritrean refugees were awarded government scholarships alongside Somali students.
Thus, the Somali people were the first supporters of Eritrean independence and the Somali Republic was the first country to provide the Eritrean liberation movement with financial, material and moral support, in its cause for freedom. In one of those ironies that defy a deterministic and mechanical view of history, the Republic of Somalia began to collapse in 1991 just as Eritrea began to achieve its nationhood.
Since the achievement of independence in 1993, Eritrea has shown its appreciation for Somalia’s long and unstinting support of their struggle for self determination, by providing refuge and support for those members of Siyad Barre’s dictatorial regime that chose (or were compelled) to request same, e.g. Ahmed Suleiman Abdullah (“Dhafleh”).
It is indeed ironic, and rather bizarre, that the architects of Somalia’s collapse and erstwhile oppressors of the Somali people are now the beneficiaries of the support and largess these people extended to the Eritrean liberation movements.
While it might be understandable for the Afewerki regime to provide a safe haven for the members of the Siyad Barre dictatorship that assisted them in their liberation struggle, what is beyond the pale is their support for the murderers of Al-Shabaab and for the megalomaniacal dreams of Hassan Dahir Aweys.
Of course, it is self evident that Afewerki’s decision to support these terrorists was made as part of his strategy to confront Ethiopia at every possible turn pursuant to the unresolved conflict over Badme. Clearly, he is pursuing the time-honored tenet of realpolitik which holds that ´my enemy’s enemy is my friend´, and he saw an opportunity to bloody Ethiopia’s nose when it invaded Somalia in 2007.
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However, it is also true that ´if you lay down with dogs, you will get fleas´, and the maniacs that Afewerki has chosen to lie with are not only reviled in Somalia and Somaliland, but throughout the region and further afield. Further, Ethiopia’s ill advised invasion of Somalia has failed ignominiously and Ethiopia withdrew its troops over a year ago, yet Afewerki continues to arm and bankroll the jihadists, even as they behead, dismember, oppress and blow up their own brethren in a doomed, nihilistic quest to reverse the course of human progress and development.
Perhaps Afewerki should ponder that these ´friends´ of his perceive him as an infidel and that he would suffer death should he ever find himself in their version of the Caliphate. What is undeniable, however, is that the families, relatives and countrymen and women of the many thousands of victims of his ´friends´ in Somaliland, Somalia and Puntland will neither forget nor forgive the Afewerki regime for arming and succoring these murderers.
In modern parlance, it is considered smart humor to quip “no good deed goes unpunished”, but nothing could be a more apropos summation of the long and sustained support the Somali people extended to their Eritrean brothers and sisters and the evil with which the Afewerki regime has repaid them.
In fairness to them, it must be said that this regime is an equal opportunity evil-dispenser; after all it has managed to find a reason to fight a war against every single one of its neighbors. Thus, perhaps the people of Somalia should not feel too bad about the fraternity extended to them by the Afewerki regime; they share this gift of evil with the Sudanese, the Ethiopians, the Djiboutians and the Yemenis, not to mention, of course, the Eritreans themselves.
Since independence the Afewerki regime has done nothing to promote economic development and social progress for its citizens, but has instead chosen to squander the meager resources of this poor country in endless conflict and war.
After emerging from the agony of the longest armed struggle for freedom and independence on the entire continent of Africa, the Eritrean people had every right to look forward to developing their country and leaving a better future for their children.
Instead, they are the beneficiaries of the Afewerki regime’s policy of permanent war. Where Trotsky promoted the concept of ´permanent revolution´ as the embodiment of true Marxism-Leninism, Afewerki and his cohorts have implemented an actual policy of permanent war.
We can only hope that divine providence deliver the Eritrean people from this stunted cabal that can only trade in the currency of war, death and destruction instead of peace, fraternity and construction. As for the rest of the region, they must isolate and shun this regime of rogues.
By: Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Egal
Source: Somaliland Times