Friday, May 17, 2013

The role of Qatar in mediating Ethiopia and EritreaBy ABEL ABATE DEMISSIE

Isolated: Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki  
Last month the International Crisis Group (ICG) presented a report on future scenarios for Eritrea, whose repressive government has shown recent signs of instability. According to this report, the Ethiopian army incursions in 2012 revealed Eritrea's capacity to defend itself is at its weakest since its independence in 1993.
ICG said several defections - from ordinary citizens to elite pilots, and Information minister Ali Abdu, a close ally of President Isaias Afeworki - and a mutiny by soldiers who took control of the Information Ministry, are just some of the incidents in one year alone that show how the regime in Asmara is becoming fragile.
The report urged the international community to pay more attention to Eritrea, which has remained mobilised for war since a ceasefire ended its conflict with Ethiopia in 2000, and to plan to help avert internal chaos and wider regional conflict in the event of a further breakdown of order in Asmara.
However, Ethiopia, which remains in conflict with Asmara, does not seem interested in confronting the Eritrean government at this critical time where it is becoming evident that a regime change in Asmara is fast approaching, either with a natural death of the 67-year-old ailing President or in a more violent way such as coup d’état.
On December 5, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told Qatar's Al Jazeera network that he is willing to negotiate with his counterpart, President Isaias, without any precondition, even if it takes him to Asmara. Hailemariam also noted that his predecessor had made the same offer to Eritrean regime several times to no avail.
According to reports, President Isaias asked Qatar to negotiate between the two arch rivals shortly after Hailemariam’s statement. If true, this is a surprise because all previous requests made by Ethiopia for dialogue had been rejected by Asmara in protest at Ethiopia’s refusal to implement the United Nations ruling that puts the flashpoint town of Badme in Eritrea.
Not ignored
Notably, in April this year, a week after President Isaias visited Qatar and held talks with Sheikh Hamed Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir, the Emir paid a two-day official visit to Ethiopia. Although officially the visit was to boost bilateral relations, the issue of Ethiopia and Eritrea was unlikely to be ignored in such a high-level meeting, especially as Qatar is striving to become an internationally-recognised peacemaker.
The 2011 Arab uprising that toppled a number of dictators across the Middle East and North Africa has impacted Eritrea enormously. Before the revolution, Eritrea had three important friends even if the regime was isolated by most of the countries in the region and beyond. These countries were Libya, Egypt and Qatar.
To win the race to become an influential figure in the region and the African Union with Ethiopia and the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the former Libyan ruler, Muammar Gaddafi provided Eritrea all round support. Between the years 1998-2010 Libya has given hundreds of millions of dollars to Eritrea to help to improve its ailing economy.
Libya under Gaddafi has also showed its support to Eritrea in being the only security council member state in voting against the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1907, adopted on December 23, 2009, which imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea, travel bans on its leaders, and froze the assets of some of the country's political and military officials.
This was after the Eritrean government was accused of aiding Al-Shabaab in Somalia and reportedly refusing to withdraw troops from its disputed border with Djibouti, following a conflict in 2008 even if the African Union, the IGAD and other organisations which Libya itself is a member had been calling in favour of the resolution.
In return Eritrea had been supporting Gaddafi in all the time and denouncing the revolution against him labelling it as a Western plot against the will of the Libyan people and this in the long run has also negatively affected its relation with the new Libyan government established after the downfall of Gaddafi.
As unacceptable
Egypt under Hosni Mubarak had also been supporting Eritrea for the mere reason of avoiding the perceived threat on the river Nile. Eritrea has also reiterated its support for the Egyptian claim of its rights over the river emanating mainly from the controversial 1929 and 1959 agreements which Ethiopia regards as unacceptable on the ground that the 1929 pact is colonial and the 1959 one is unilateral Egyptian and Sudanese ploy which had been rejected by Ethiopia outright.
However the new Egyptian administration seems more interested in negotiation and cooperation with Ethiopia than trying to threaten Ethiopia using Eritrea. The previous relationship between President Mubarak and President Isaias also negatively affected the current Egypt-Eritrean relationship significantly as the later reiterated its support to the former even at the midst of Egyptian revolution at 2011.
The last friend Eritrea now has is therefore Qatar. Eritrea and Qatar have long standing relations since decades ago since Eritrea attained its independence in 1993. However, Qatar-Ethiopia relations were not so good. On April 21, 2008, Ethiopia announced it was severing ties with Qatar, accusing Qatar of supporting armed opposition groups within Ethiopia and others such as Islamist insurgents in Somalia.
This also created a conducive environment to Eritrea to enjoy the friendship with Qatar as the latter has been becoming one of the most influential countries in the region especially in the last couple of years.
However, during the Arab uprising their commendable relationship started to show fracture as Qatar was a main advocate of a regime change in Libya, Eritrea remained loyal to Gaddafi. For many analysts this was the first, perhaps also the most contentious issue that started to make a rift between the two countries.
In addition to this the ever increasing influential role of Ethiopia in the region and the African Union also pushed Qatar to seek an amicable solution for the diplomatic row between the two states. The two countries have expressed their wish to conduct diplomatic relations and work together in regional issues with mutual consent and cooperation during the Qatari emir visit to Addis Ababa on April 10, 2013.
Only country
In considering the above facts it is clear that Qatar has a big role in resolving the problem between the two countries once and for all. The Eritrean regime may make some retreats from its preconditions and push forward to settle its dispute with Ethiopia if Qatar insisted as it is now the only country in the world to have amicable relations with Asmara.
Qatar can also influence Ethiopia as Ethiopia is very aware of the increasing role and influence of Qatar in regional and international affairs.
The normalisation of relations with Ethiopia would definitely help Asmara in improving its relationship with important regional and international organizations in which Ethiopia’s influence is seen quite crucial, like IGAD and the AU. It will also give Eritrea the chance to exploit the big market inside Ethiopia.
Peace with Eritrea would also bring some important benefits to Ethiopia mainly in providing access to well established ports of Assab and Massawa. Due to the high cost of trade, Ethiopia has been looking for alternative port services to Djibouti.
Peace between the two countries would also help to improve the security situation of the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region.
But most importantly, peace between the two countries would benefit the citizens who share the same culture, religion and identity. Other peace dividends would be redirecting military spending in both states towards critical areas such as health and education.
Abel Abate Demissie is a Researcher and Political Analyst. He can be reached through


Monday, May 6, 2013

The Crisis in South Sudan and its implications for Ethiopia

28 Dec. 2013
By Mehari Taddele Maru and Abel Abate
Since 15 December 2013, soldiers loyal to the deposed Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, have fought against President Salva Kiir’s loyalists in Juba in the vicinity of the Presidential palace.
Emboldened by the rebels’ success in controlling Bor, the capital of Jonglei State under General Peter Gatdet, Dr. Riek Machar announced his wish to be the next leader of South Sudan after deposing the incumbent President; a move that further increased tensions in the country. As the conflict continued between the warring forces, it was reported that thousands of civilians had been killed and that hundreds of thousands had been displaced. 
The international community and regional organizations, including the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and other concerned authorities, have been calling on the warring factions to show restraint and come to the negotiation table. Shortly after the conflict broke out on 19 December 2013, an IGAD ministerial delegation led by Ethiopia visited South Sudan to seek an end to the fighting. Signifying the grave nature of the crisis and possibly due to the challenges the ministerial mediation effort has faced, on December 26, 2013, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and the President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta traveled to Juba. The delegation of the ministers and heads of states met President Salva Kiir and urged both sides to engage in a dialogue. On 24 December 2013, Reuters reported that Dr Machar had requested President Kiir to release his ‘comrades’ who were under detention so that they could be evacuated to Addis Ababa as a precondition. Dr. Machar added that if the President met his demand they could begin their dialogue straight away. Rejecting the proposal for a meeting in Addis Ababa, the Juba government immediately insisted that dialogue needed to take place in Juba. 
President Kiir has been encouraging and sometimes demanding the Republic Sudan to hold dialogue in Addis Ababa with the rebels fighting Khartoum. It is not clear why President Kiir would reject the same process being commenced in Addis Ababa. This seems to be the first challenge for IGAD and Ethiopia as chair of IGAD. The request by Dr Macher for the transfer of detainees in order to commence dialogue in Addis Ababa and the precondition by President Kiir for the renunciation of revolt by his opposition should serve as a basis to defuse the tension. Despite Entebbe's initiative; Addis Ababa should be the most acceptable venue for the dialogue as Ethiopia is the current chair of IGAD and AU. But to avoid unnecessary tension and perceptions, Nairobi could also become an alternative venue. IGAD heads of state and government summit is scheduled on 27 December 2013. 
Ethiopia’s active mediation role in the current crisis is commendable and justified. While IGAD under the leadership of Ethiopia provides the best vehicle for dialogue, Ethiopia has a very high stake in this crisis due to a number of factors. A peaceful region, the two Sudans at peace with each other and at peace within themselves would benefit Ethiopia’s peace and development efforts enormously. 
First there is the issue related to the refugee flow from South Sudan to the bordering Ethiopian regions of Gambella and Benshangul-Gumuz. Currently close to 40,000 refugees are registered in Ethiopia while there are more than 50,000 internally displaced persons. Apart from Ethiopia’s humanitarian responsibility to grant asylum to so many refugees, insurgent rebel groups may use the resultant instability to destabilize the border regions. The spillover effect of the crisis may also extend beyond refugee flows to the destabilization of Ethiopia’s peripheral areas where kin communities such as the Nuer reside. With the vulnerability of porous borders, and the natural mobility of the Nuer in gaining access to the neighboring regions of Ethiopia, the consequences the crisis will not be limited to South Sudan. The long-term effect on Ethiopia’s federal structures that rely on a delicate balance between numbers and power could be significant given previous historical experiences. In 2003, refugee camps in Ethiopia were at the centre of violent conflict due to the impact of large-scale migration on the regional state of Gambella with a population of about 160, 000.  In Ethiopia’s federal system, regional administrative power is allocated in direct proportion to the population of the country’s ethno-cultural communities. The relative numerical superiority of a certain ethno-cultural community would therefore entitle it to more seats than the other. With a region that is known for cross-border migration (of the pastoral Nuer as well as refugees fleeing the conflict in South Sudan) where the national identity of the inhabitants of bordering areas is very fluid, the balance in terms of power sharing between ethno-linguistic communities in neighboring regions could easily become destabilized. Prior to 2003 changes in Gambella, an outcome of such demographic change due to influx from South Sudan has been the creation of what has been termed by one of the writers the ‘minority in power but majority in number’ situation. An influx of tens of thousands of refugees could create similar imbalance in the regional states bordering South Sudan again. 
Composed of entirely Ethiopian troops numbering slightly more than 4000, the mission of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) could be easily affected by the spread of the current conflict in Unity and Warap and the encirclement of Abyei. Facilitated by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, chief of the AU-High-level Implementation Panel (HIP), the Addis Ababa Agreement on Abyei was signed by the SPLM forces and the Government of Sudan (GoS) on 20 June, 2011. The main objective of the Addis Agreement on Abyei is to ensure that this border area remains demilitarized until proper demarcation is undertaken. The same agreement provided for the deployment of the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission from Ethiopia. The UN Security Council Resolution 1990 authorized a UNISFA under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. In response to the current crisis, the UNSC has approved the appropriate transfer of troops, force enables and multipliers from other UN Mission including those in the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Nevertheless, Ethiopia may need be wary of any redeployment of UNISFA troops inside South Sudan as that could lead to a dreadful confrontational situation that requires siding with one of the factions. This will certainly affect its relations with both South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan, seriously undermining the mediation efforts between the two. 
Another diplomatic burden for Ethiopia is to keep UNISFA from implicating in the South Sudanese internal crisis. Deployed to help the mediation and prevent a border war between the Khartoum and Juba, UNISFA needs to enjoy the full support of the two states. If implicated in the internal crisis of South Sudan, the negative impact of a civil war between within South Sudan will not be limited to the Ethiopia but also to the mediation effort by President Mbeki. Thus, Ethiopia has to tread carefully to ensure its fair-handed role of peacemaker and mediator. 
Moreover, Ethiopia as the current chair of IGAD and the AU has to discharge its mandate effectively on behalf of the region and Africa. Thus, an additional diplomatic burden for Ethiopia remains the usual balancing role it plays within IGAD and the divergent interests of its member states, particularly Sudan and Uganda, who might lend support to different factions in this crisis. Here close assistance by the AU and the UN will be critical to ensure unison of messages to the warring factions, and their external supporters. 
The long-term interest of Ethiopia in the region will only be ensured through democratic states that are peaceful within themselves and with their region. Support and encouragement for internal democratic reform of SPLM and SPLA is the best place to start with.  
But above all, IGAD, AU and the UN need to note that at the heart of the current crisis lays SPLM; the current ruling body of South Sudan, which was formed as a liberation movement, is unfit to offer an effective leadership to transform a new war-torn country into a democratic state that could make use its resources for the wellbeing of its population. Thus, solving the current crisis in South Sudan requires resources, a concerted effort and sustained pressure on the political leadership of SPLM and the military leadership of SPLA to kick-start a genuine transformation from a liberation movement and fighters to a Democratic Party and state army respectively. 
Ed.’s Note: Dr. Mehari Taddele Maru is an international consultant and Senior Fellow at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Defense College. He can be reached at Abel Abate Demissie is a Senior Researcher at the Ethiopian International Institute for Peace and Development (EIIPD). He can be reached at 

Egypt: inclusive transitional government is Must to overcome its problem 2012

One of my friends recently retweeted "So Mubarak (is) out, Morsi (is) in jail, ElBaradei (is) in Vienna, hello 2010 Egypt". Yes, many things seem are going back to a time before the 2011 popular revolution in Egypt. State power that seemed to be departed from its traditional hands for one year during Muslim Brotherhood leadership is now returned back with the military, where it used to reside for the last several decades. Yes, Muslim Brotherhood has once again become the most prosecuted party in the country. There is an ongoing widespread oppression and repression against Muslim Brotherhood, even sometimes, with a larger scale of cruelty more than the previous regimes. 
However, one thing that would not be same hereafter in Egypt is the longstanding faith and conviction of Brotherhood for peaceful and democratic political engagement in the country.
The vast majority of Muslim Brotherhood leaders including former President Mohammed Morsi and Mohamed Badie, the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood are now in jail. Hundreds if not thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been killed and several others injured after the army moved to disperse Brotherhood supporters from their sit-ins in the Cairo suburbs, in mid August. State Medias have been also tirelessly trying to portray Muslim Brotherhood as the enemy of the state.
More unfortunately the international community and dominant powers that are perceived as the guardians of world’s democracy failed to put pressure on the Egyptian military which has been breaching every major principles of democracy from ousting the first democratically elected leader in Egyptian history to the killing of several hundred innocent civilians in a broad day light because the world has deep suspicion for political Islam.
The silence of the international community amidst of these atrocities has been leading the country to the brink of sectarian violence & national strife. The ouster of President Mohammed Morsi and the ongoing crackdown on Muslim Brothers ultimately will neither serve seculars nor the moderate Islamists, rather extremely radical groups including Alqaeda that got pissed off by the Islamists decision to engage in peaceful and democratic election mainly after the popular Arab Spring.
Soon we may witness an increasing reprisal attacks on the military posts as we are witnessing along Sinai and on other government institutions as many Islamist groups have been losing total hope from powers that are coming out of ballot boxes. 
Ironically some analysts tried to justify the measures taken by the army claiming Mr. Mossi & his party was utterly incompetent & inefficient, from handing the economy to foreign policy and fighting the rampant corruption across the country, for this the party lost legitimacy among nationals. Therefore, according to them, if not endorsed the move should not be condemned.
However I would argue that these people often miss the point that Muslim Brotherhood was in power for a chaotic one year alone. One definitely needs to aspire to have a magic stick rather than effective policies to get rid all the messes erupted during the several predecessors in single year. Either by hook or crook, these people also often misses the role of the military and the remnants of the Mubarak regime that had been tirelessly working to discredit Brotherhood in the face of its people & the international community by sabotaging its effort.  
When we take a look the bigger picture, whether Mr. Mohammed Morsi and his party were competent or not they definitely had a legitimate right to finish their term, not only to execute their policies and programs, but also because that is the only way to establish a vibrant and stable democracy.
If we take a look a seemingly far example, President George W. Bush and President Nicolas Sarkozy had been widely criticized for being totally incompetent and undemocratic during their rule. However, removing them from office prior to their term expired was not an option at all. Imagine what would have happened if they were removed by force and got imprisoned. And imagine what course the democracies of the two countries would take after that.
At this specific period of time, emotionalism seems exceeding rationalism across Egypt. That is why most of the people seem to embrace street politics than focusing on how to establish a stable and efficient post-totalitarian democracy.
The interim government led by the former supreme constitutional court, Adli Mansour announced to follow the exact same step that had been applied after the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak: prepare a draft constitution, hold national election and hand over power to the party that will get the most votes. However, such process that achieved neither peace nor democracy two years ago is yet still mysterious how it will bring the most objectives at this time.
In a country like Egypt, where suspicion is widely surfaced and anger reached at boiling point, one should seek an amicable solution that would make every ones voices to be heard and satisfied, at least in relative terms.
However, election by its nature has the tendency of making one a winner and the other the loser. This is the major point Egypt needs to avoid at this critical time. It is very easy to predict that the supporters of the losing candidates will go out once more to the streets after the next election, as street politics is becoming a fashion in these days. We might then see another round of revolution for the third time.
Therefore, Egyptians need to have an inclusive transitional government with the representations of all major political parties and religious institutions at least until the dust will be settled, if they are serious enough for the peace and security of the nation. Powers need to be dispersed among the member parties, and the Brotherhood needs to get the most power and some important key posts as it was the one that got the most votes in the previous national election and as it is the most organized party in Egypt.
Most importantly the military should be sidelined from the country’s politics and should be deprived from considering itself as the guardian of the Egyptian nation once and for all. The state shall also concentrate to nurture and empower the constitution and institutions side by side.  Unless and otherwise it would be a vicious circle where Egypt will keep trying the same method while expecting different result in the near future as well.


Anger in Ethiopia after Eritrea supports Egypt’s “right” to Nile water


Anger is fomenting in Ethiopia following last month’s statements from the Eritrean government over who has a right to Nile River water, which has become a contentious issue in recent years between Ethiopia and Egypt, who claims the lion’s share of water from the world’s largest waterway.
The Eritrean government said in April that it supported Egypt’s position over a controversial colonial-era treaty that grants Egypt a right a majority of the Nile’s water resources.
The Red Sea nation expressed its support in a message sent from the Eritrean president and delivered to Egypt’s president by Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs, Yemane Gebreab.
The Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, has highly welcomed Eritrea’s position towards Egypt’s “historic rights” over the sharing of the water of the Nile River.
Morsi said that he looks forward to meeting his Eritrean counterpart.
Here in Ethiopia, government officials told that the issue has led to increased tensions between the two neighbors, which have fought wars over territory.
“This is just not right and we demand the Eritrean government issue an apology and deliver what is Ethiopia’s to Ethiopia. The Nile River cannot be an issue that leads to violence,” a water official said, hinting that war over water in the region is on the rise.
he dam project has seen widespread concerns from Egypt and Sudan, who have echoed the Saudi official’s sentiments over the project, which they see as an infringement on their historical rights to Nile water.
The dam could threaten the regional stability after the Egyptian government said it remained “concerned” over Ethiopia’s actions along the Nile River.
The anger comes as Ethiopia and Eritrea both attempt to mend relations strained over the years.
Ethiopian government officials this week reaffirmed their commitment to have peace discussions with longtime foe and neighbor Eritrea with the aim of ending decades of tension along the border that has seen war and strife.
During his meeting with the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York, the Ethiopian Minister of foreign Affairs Tedros Adhanom accused the Eritrean government of refusing to engage in peace talks.
Adhanom said his country is ready to sit down for direct negotiations with Eritrea without any preconditions regarding to level, time or venue.
But the Ethiopian top diplomat stressed “the belligerent party opposed to these talks has always been the Eritrean side”.
According to the ministry of foreign Affairs, Tedros expressed solidarity with the people of Eritrea whom he said are continuously suffering due the regime’s “brutality and obstinacy to peace”.
Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border war in 1998-2000 that has killed an estimated 70,000 people.
The two East African adversaries remain at loggerheads since the disputed key town of Badme had been awarded to Eritrea by an international border commission.
Government officials here in the Ethiopia capital told that they are “confident” that the situation will finally be resolved.
One foreign ministry spokesperson, who was not authorized to speak with the media, said that they hoped “the ongoing discussions between government officials would lead to a finality of the situation and help to build and mend the broken ties between the two countries.”
It is still unclear where the people fall in the ongoing negotiations, with many telling that they believe the time is now to end the tension along the border and start to build new economic relations.
Bikya News

Friday, March 15, 2013

Eritrea: an oblivious ticking bomb in the Horn of Africa May 2014

Abel Abate Demissie
The Horn of Africa region is one of the most conflict ridden regions in the world. The region has been gripped by several inter and intra state conflicts since long. The ongoing conflict in Sudan, the mass carnage happening in South Sudan, the failure of government in Somalia contributed a lot to the ongoing human tragedy in the region.  While the world is busy of playing a fighter fighter role in those mentioned countries, Eritrea, which seems to be either forgotten or did not get enough attention by the world looks slipping in to deeper political quagmire quicker than any time ever.
In the last two years there were several rumours that President Isaias Afewerki the first and the only President that the young nation knows has been in a very poor health condition.  The most recent speculation was fuelled after his disappearance from the public scene in the late 2013. Even if such kind of speculation is not strange for the 69 years old ailing leader, it appears to be always vague on who is going to succeed the strong man and what would going to happen to the tiny, impoverished and war thorn Horn-Africa nation after 23 years of iron fist rule of President Isaias Afewerki and the only legitimate political party of his, the Peoples’ Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). More unfortunately, Ethiopia, which is going to be the first country to be impacted by any form of political change in Asmara is reluctant to play a proactive role in helping to make the inevitable change to be in favour of the regional peace in general and Eritreans peace and democracy in particular.
Showing a further sign of fragility and desperation, defections have been increasing in Eritrea from time to time among different segments of the society. Aside to the thousands of refugees flowing to Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen; in the last six months alone, a famous pro-PFDJ singer, Yohannes Tikabo (WediTikabo) has been defected to the US and other three Eritrean pilots have been reported to be defected to Saudi Arabia.
Gaining independence from Ethiopia in 1991, Eritrea has been engaged in to a series of conflicts with all its neighbours, most of the time, under the pretext of a border dispute. The country breaks diplomatic ties with Sudan in 1994, waged war against Yemen on 1996, engaged into a bloody war with Ethiopia between 1998 and 2000 and finally engaged in to small skirmishes and diplomatic row with its southern neighbour, Djibouti, between 2007 and 2008.
In addition to the above disputes, the actions of Eritrean government have isolated the country internationally. Eritrea boycotted the AU for more than a decade and only reinstated its ambassador to the AU in January 2011, fiercely protesting what it described as the AU’s ‘failure’ to condemn Ethiopia for its alleged violations of a peace agreement that ended the 1998-2000 border war. Additionally, the Asmara regime withdrew its membership of   IGAD, East Africa’s primary regional body, after a rift with its ‘arch-foe’, Ethiopia, when a meeting on Somalia threatened to divide the region in 2007.and its wish to be reinstated once again have not been accepted by the member states yet.
In addition to this, the imposition of the UN Security Council sanctions on Eritrea, which included arms and travel sanctions for Eritrea's support of insurgents trying to topple the nascent government in Somalia, was a severe blow to Eritrea. It is significant too that for the first time since their establishment, the AU and IGAD called upon the United Nations to introduce sanctions against a member state. Due to the ill-conceived political strategies of the Asmara regime, the country's image has been tarnished. The behaviour of Eritrea has prompted at least one observer and scholar to refer to Eritrea as the 'North Korea of Africa'.
Despite, there is a wide consensus that the war with Ethiopia was a game changer in Eritrea. Following the war, President Isaias Afewerki shortly arrested his senior officials who demanded the constitution to be implemented and to put a limit on the powers of the President. He then ceased private Medias, Civil Society Organizations and any opposition voices one from another. Since then President Isaias Afewerki has been a micro manager and uncontested ‘lifelong’ leader in a country that doesn’t have a parliament, a Prime Minister and even a Vice President.
President Isaias Afewerki, who is well known for his Machiavellian leadership technique since the arm struggle period, has not been hinted who his successor would be and when would he relinquish his power yet. According to sources in Asmara, this is further instigating the power struggle among his loyalists who have already been seeing each other with utter suspicion and deep animosity.
There might be some fundamental explanations on why there is no clue on who is going to succeed President Isaias Afewerki. The first one could be Isaias’s desire to cling on power to the end. However, others argue that living with the same senior government officials and army leaders who attempted the failed coup d’etat against him on January 21, 2013, President Isaias has neither the will nor the ability to transform the country into democracy and peaceful power transition.
Without having any viable state institutions and amidst of deep feud and animosity among leadership circle, Eritrea has the possibility of slipping into deeper political quagmire following the downfall of Isaias Afewerki, either by death or by the army led coup d’etat.
Putting salt in to injury, the Horn of Africa region, the most war ridden and conflict prone region in the world, couldn’t afford another state failure in the region. The possible collapse of the post Isaias Eritrean state may be a safe haven to the international jihadists and terrorists who have been sought another refuge after the successful joint military operation by the African Union forces, the neighbouring states and the Somalia government.
More than any neighbours in the region however, the future of Eritrea will definitely highly impact its southern neighbour Ethiopia, due to the strong people-to-people relations among the two nations. Ethiopia, which has been playing a pivotal role in pacifying the region and helping to revive a strong government in Somalia, may not cope the failure of state in its Northern territory.