Eritrea: Logical Fallacy Reigns

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A frustrated notable world diplomat of the most recent past once concluded that “it is difficult to get along with Afewerki� or “no one gets along with Afewerki�—something to that effect, without elaborating.

Well, there are sound reasons for that remarkable observation. Eritrea’s ruler Esayas Afewerki is afflicted by morbidly perverted understanding of democracy. His philosophy is “my way or the highway.� He operates tyrannical one-man, one-party rule by the barrel of the gun. That’s what has befallen Eritrea for 16 years now. 

“Logical fallacy,� is characterized by defect in reasoning or defective reasoning. In layman’s terms, examples of logical fallacy include such a perverted belief as “Two wrongs add up to one right, two wrongs make a right, two wrongs make one right, or two negations (wrongs) cancel out.� Such a perverted belief defies even our own well-established Eritrean wisdom that reads in Tigrigna as follows: “Nai.kal.ot.him.maQ.nety.nahna(him.maQ).tsi.booQ.Aygeb.ron.yoo.� Roughly translated it means, “The wrong of others is not a justification/excuse for our own wrong.�
Yet, Afewerki is neither bothered by, nor does he care about, this absolutely sane and valid national wisdom. He brazenly goes around it not only because he simply can, but also mainly because it defies his perverted belief to the contrary, logical fallacy—that is an integral part of the misleading tactic that he constantly deploys in his eternal attempts to justify the unjustifiable wrongs of his tyrannical rule.
Much to the delight of dictators and tyrants, fallacious arguments (logical fallacy) are very common because they sound persuasive to the casual or gullible listener/reader. And thanks to his high name-recognition that he perversely understands to mean a Carte Blanc or automatic license to subject the people of Eritrea to his one-man dictatorial rule, Afewerki does not lack gullible audience at all that he again perversely understands as an endorsement of his tyrannical authority to reign over the land.
Basically, logical fallacy involves the attempt to justify a wrong action by pointing to another wrong action or to justify a wrong on grounds that someone else is guilty of another equivalent wrong. It is used in an attempt to distract from the issue at hand, as an argument given in reply that does not address the original issue, or as a deliberate attempt to change the subject or divert the argument. For more, allow me to kindly refer you to the pertinent literature:
Logical fallacy is a tailor-made indispensable tool of survival for all that are engaged in perpetuum in futile exercises to defend the indefensible. This politically vital life-support did not escape Afewerki’s attention. Afewerki has adopted and perfected logical fallacy to the extent of turning it into a robotic auto-response to any and everything that pertains to the countless wrongs of his 16 year long tyrannical grip on Eritrea.
Don’t take it from me; I am going to let the maestro himself, Esayas Afewerki entertain you with his logical fallacy in the following recent exchange with the international media.
In an interview with a Chinese business magazine, under the rubric ‘Human Rights,’ Afewerki was challenged with the issue of detentions and detentions without trial in Eritrea. Afewerki’s prompt and immediate response was “We are not talking about Guantanamo�. Mr. President, you are damn right; we are not talking about Guantanamo; we are talking about Eritrea.

Even though the detainee issue in Eritrea is not necessarily as bad as in Guantanamo, it is bad enough. Afewerki’s attempt to justify a bad action in his own backyard by pointing to another that is even worse is absurdly wrong because two wrongs, regardless of their weight, do not add up to one right or cancel out. It is wrong in Eritrea and it is equally wrong in Guantanamo.
In a joint appearance with EU’s Michel Louis in Brussels recently, a female South African reporter challenged Afewerki with the issue of media freedom in Eritrea. “How much freedom of media is there in the shanty towns of South Africa?� retorted Afewerki promptly and defensively.

Good question. But Afewerki’s attempt to justify the bad at home by pointing to the purportedly equally bad or worse somewhere else, in this case South Africa, is ridiculously wrong. Moreover, the shantytowns in SA are no less shantytowns than Badme and environs, the town that triggered the border war at the cost of not less than 19,000 Eritrean lives. And, the manner in which he referred to the conditions of the economically deprived people in SA is uncalled for and insensitive.

Even the border issue has not been spared from being hit by Afewerki’s insane affliction by logical fallacy. When the sore losers ruling Ethiopia decided not to abide by a legal verdict of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) thereby blatantly flouting the rule of law and brazenly violating a major tenet of a peace agreement (Algiers Agreement) crafted and put in place by the international community, there was hope that this would promptly trigger the wrath of the international community, calling Ethiopia to task.

Global politics kicked in and took over the rule of law. The international community, instead, dragged its feet for three years in a futile attempt to circumvent the decision of the boundary commission by concocting machinations that included secondary mechanisms, re-negotiation and revision of the entire peace agreement. All this, simply because things did not go their protégé, Ethiopia’s way.
Afewerki was understandably incensed and frustrated. He took drastic measures that inarguably violated another tenet of the Algiers Agreement (The Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities) that pertains to the UN peacekeeping force (UNMEE) and a Temporary Buffer Zone (TSZ); such violation doubtless delighted Ethiopia and its patrons. Now both parties find themselves in violation of the Algiers Agreement.
Here, Afewerki does not necessarily deny that his actions are wrong but pulls a morbid logical fallacy to justify his wrongs. He categorizes the wrongs into minor –his—and major –Ethiopia’s--and points to Ethiopia’s cardinal wrongdoing to justify his own minor wrongdoing.

There is no such thing as less wrong, least wrong, or more wrong, or most wrong. If it is wrong, it is wrong, regardless. Afewerki’s constant complaint about the UN focusing on the “less wrong� rather than the “more wrong,� though apparently persuasive, is nonsensical because they are all categorically and by treaty wrong and hence mandate shared focus.

It is, thus, imperative that all transgression, minor and cardinal, be rectified one way or the other for the integrity of the Algiers Agreement to be restored and the border to be demarcated accordingly. That is why the UN is sending the same messages to Eritrea and Ethiopia. This is not a biased message but the right message. The UN is not favoring the “more wrong� over the “less wrong�; it is treating them all as wrong and rightly so.
Referring to the status of the Temporary Security Zone, the president has said, “In the circumstances, no party should expect the Government of Eritrea to watch idly, paralyzed by willfully created uncertainty, while a quarter of its sovereign territory is doomed to dereliction deprived from any development work. To undertake development programs with the requisite security arrangements is the sovereign and legal right of the Government and people of Eritrea . This does not require the permission of any party. And, the Eritrean Defense Forces have the obligation and right to conduct development programs and ensure protection in this part of the country just as they do in other parts of our sovereign territory.�

That is all legit and the services of the Eritrean Defense Forces are indeed laudable. But the end does not justify the means—the means being willful and unilateral abrogation of a binding international treaty that Eritrea entered into voluntarily.

Eritrea has unlimited access to the TSZ including posting our own armed militia and total control of the area. There is nothing at all- especially after the ultimate decision of the Boundary Commission- that would have prevented Eritrea from doing what it is doing now without getting into trouble with the international agreement that this part of our land has become subjected to.
Nature commands that sometimes people have simply to bite the bullet and swallow their pride and their entire ego in order to do what they need to do.

Author can be contacted at


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