The Weaponization Of “Dictatorship” Narrative Against Eritrea

A few days ago on Twitter, I saw this tweet from Ayantu Ayana & others commenting on the recent visit of Isaias Afwerki to Ethiopia and meetings with Prime Minister Abiy.

I have tremendous respect for her takes on the Abyssinian system & the Oromo decolonial demands but I have been disturbed by her pro-State Department world views contradicts her usage of leftist theories and analysis. One can observe her missing critique on imperialism & capitalism and that is the reason why I stop following her work or support it because its unprincipled and disingenuous.

Ayantu Ayana is part of the liberal diaspora Oromo community who has been centered as a media personality to speak on #OromoProtests the last few months. She is close with pro-State Department circles like Eritrean activist Vanness Berhe/OneDaySeyom who target the state of Eritrea & tend to echo Human Rights Watch/Amnesty talking points.

So what’s the issue?

  1. The issue is not her criticism of Isaias Afewerki the personality. He has failed to be a revolutionary leader & that failure is up to the Eritrean people to resolve & manage internally. The issue here is the danger in echoing empire rhetoric that has been used to manufacture consent against the state of Eritrea and in how that is employed uniquely compared to other states in the region. This is not about Isias Afewerki but how that type of language & rhetoric is anti-Eritrea & the danger in co-opting the western establishment & media usage which was justified in enforcing inhumane sanctions & aggression against the state that have negatively impacted the Eritrean people all these years. This is about defending the state and the agency of the Eritrean people, not Isias Afewerki.
  2. The second issue is liberalism and the discourse that ignores historical context when convenient. Isn’t it contradictory to have an academic background in decolonization or as stated in her bio line “PhD student Black circle archives & histories of anti-colonial resistance” but have politics that are harmful to third world states? Supporting reactionary liberal elements advocating regime change for targeted states? Should research that pulls in from Black Radical Tradition(Fanon, W.E.B Dubois, Rodney etc) awaken you at some point, or is this just purely an academic fascination?. This whitewashed liberal discourse that tries to lecture on “dictatorship” is not needed as it dismisses the agency of the Eritrean people & collective struggle. For example, hypothetically if Oromia decides to have a socialist revolution tomorrow or put in place a theocracy system that is beyond my expectation I’m not going to dictate they change it or characterize it negatively as it is the Oromo people agency to determine internally.
  3. The third is an issue of inconsistency in echoing Ethiopiainst views against Eritrea one day and upholding oppressed nationalities narrative against the settler state the next day. The Ethiopianist rhetoric on Eritrea historically has been wrapped in a language that delegitimizes the Eritrean people agency, independence, and our right to exist as a state. It is a bit concerning that her being Oromo she would understand it when it targets Oromia’s but she is quick to use it against Eritrea. For example, Abiy has been trained by TPLF and studied Meles Zenawi & learned from them on their “dictatorship” & he looks up to “dictator” like Selassie, Menelik, etc but somehow Abiy power grip is externalized to Eritrea. Why? The Abyssinian system is literally a history of “dictatorships” and one-man rule for decades. This is framing that somehow blames Eritrea for Abiy’s political ambition in following the Abyssinian tradition of dominance and control is intellectually dishonest and shameless.
  4. The issue of urban raised and privilege outlook of the diaspora to speak on behalf of the poor people on the ground. The liberals personalities like Ayantu Ayana are intentionally trying to erase the historical experiences of the Eritrean state for the last 28 years with “Isias Afewerki dictatorship ” discourse that does not engage in the critical examination of the role of western foreign policy & imperialism. The liberal elements of the Oromo community anti-Eritrea views and vitriolic against the state under the guise of criticizing the reactionary Isias Aferiwe went beyond the confines of defending Oromia but traditional Ethiopinaist language and enforcing violent rhetoric that is provocative. The diaspora liberal elements and the gatekeepers won’t matter despite their dominant presence on Twitter as the majority of Oromos are rural and have no ideological alignment with their world views and hostility against the state of Eritrea so we must stand with the poor Oromos not them!

It is important for the Oromo community to examine the 18 years of violent narratives use to demonize & support sanctions, war & aggression against the state of Eritrea with “Isias is a dictatorship ” angle & how it diverts critical evaluation on what happened to the state of Eritrea & people. Isaias Afewerki should be scrutinized by Oromos in a different form for his reactionary takes on multi federalism as an individual but the Eritrean state shouldn’t be targeted because of him. At the same, the peace deal is worth defending beyond personalities and Oromos should support peace with Eritrea regardless of Isias and Abiy. It’s unethical to target Eritrea without considering the history & context. Plus it is dangerous to push empire language & “democratization” via liberal rules & expectations. The region needs a radical shift not liberalism & symbolic elections.

Lastly, the Oromo people being the largest nationalities in the Horn of Africa with unique historical experience with Ethiopian settler colonialism and also having an egalitarian form of governance should see themselves as objective meditators in the Horn of Africa that mend contradiction internally to each state & not be violently partisan like Ayantu Ayana with internal Eritrean political issues. It is preferable Oromia support Eritrea and Horn of Africa and be a progressive unifying entity for the region.

Free Oromia! One Love To My Oromos!