Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Ethiopia’s Port City of Assab and the Book
Ethiopia’s Port City of Assab and the Book
By Tedla Asfaw
The eve of the Ethiopian New Year 2004 was celebrated in music and prayer in New York City and its surroundings. The new book, “Who owns Asab, the question of the sea outlet of Ethiopia ” by Dr. Yacob Hailemariam printed in Addis Ababa few months ago is a good start for new year, Meskerem/September 1, 2004. The DVD of Bishop Mekarios interview with Journalist Sisaye Agena in April this year on ESAT was distributed to our community with no charge to answer his call for justice similar to Desmond Tutu’s call in Apartheid South Africa.
I encourage all who have not read and see the DVD I mentioned above to start their new year like I did. The book by Dr. Yacob is a crush course for “Aseb 101″. Since all of us played a part in the battle for Aseb in one way or another it is not hard to read less than 240 pages book in one day like I did.
I started the book on a train after I got it from a friend last Saturday night and I finished it within 24 hours. I went back in time when I first visited Aseb for a work trip from Dubti/Tendaho about 200 km drive in heat three decades ago. Logya, Serdo an earthquake prone area, near Aseb there was a contraband place called Manda. I was not aware of a place called “Buri” where thousands gave their lives on the Badme war in 1998-2000 between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
For fist and “last” time I saw Red Sea, by far Aden a light flickering in distance. I smell and test the Red Sea, it was sweet. Since then Aseb has been in my DNA. The course “Aseb 101′ did boost my immune system to fight again for Aseb until it returns back to its home, Afar Ethiopia.
True Aseb is not lucky like many rivers and lakes in Ethiopia which had songs of their own that is embedded in Ethiopian psyche but Aseb is more than all of them when it comes to the national security and economic well being of mother Ethiopia. I have been loyal to the Afar people of Ethiopia since 1980s by living and working with them. They are patriotic people who defended our sea and land for generations. Today however they are separated from their family members after TPLF and Shabya torpedoed to power two decades ago.
It was the Afar people that was attacked by joint forces of TPLF and Shabya before the Eritrean referendum. Afar was and is the biggest threat for both regimes because Afar never participated in any kind of referendum that put ten percent of its population on present day Eritrea and the rest in Ethiopia.
Before the Eritrean referendum, Ethiopian activists in New York area organized a meeting supported by facts and maps to address the issue Dr. Yacob tackled in his book. ARDUF representative from Toronto, Mr. Mohamed, brought his experience and shared it with the audience. Mr. Mohamed was known in North America as a fluent speaker of Afar, Tigrenga and Amharic defending the people of Afar and advocating for the self determination of the Afar people to decide their future before the imposed Eritrean referendum.
We informed the foreign observers of the Eritrean referendum the situation in Afar and the ongoing attack by joint forces of TPLF and Shabya. This was the time before the Internet boom and many of the writings were not available for Dr. Yacob to incorporate on his book. Many photos of our rally in support of the people of Afar to remain Ethiopian in New York are still with me.
During the Badme war we went to the Ethiopian Embassy and met Dr. Duri the Ambassador to give our support to eject Shabya from our soil and capture Aseb to bring justice to the Ethiopian people. We will not forget also Meles Zenawi after the end of the war carrying the slogan, “Aseb is Eritrean” and did a public relation job for Isaias Afeworki in North America. That was the day Meles Zenawi should have been removed.
Meles Zenawi who told the late Paul Henze that Tigray needs a sea outlet, Dr. Yacob quoted accurately, before he took power shamefully was rallying for Aseb as Eritrean and sabotaged the Ethiopian army from taking it over once and for all. We now know that Aseb will not be Ethiopian as long as Meles is in power. No surprise many Eritreans are pro Meles and denounce Isaias Afeworki for not being friendly to him.
As Dr Yacob argues correctly on his book, a country of 90 million people should not be landlocked in a dangerous area. Ethiopia’s economic and physical survival depends on Aseb which is Afar and Ethiopian. The theory that we do need port does not hold water for Meles himself who confess to Paul Henze more than two decades ago that Tigray needs a sea outlet. We have not seen any project so far to realize such dream.
Meles Zenawi and his supporters only card remain is to topple Isaias Afeworki and put friendly Eritrean regime that will “lease Aseb” to Ethiopia. There was a rumor in the past that Western countries will pay for such lease on behalf of Ethiopia. To cover up for the land lease scam which is rampant in Ethiopia now I will not be surprised if Meles Zenawi is asking our people to rally in support of “the return of Aseb” like Seyum Mesfin ordered our people for rally in support of the “return of Badme”.
I commend Dr. Yacob for writing this informative book for Ethiopians and Eritreans. The talk have already started, we Ethiopians and Eritreans are one people, we will not fight any more war, No more Badme !!! Let us fight for the right of our people back home. It is only free people who can debate, argue and reach settlement that will make all of us winners. Twenty years of tyranny only brought us poverty in our land. Say no to Meles Zenawi and Isaias Afeworki !!!!!