Was it possible for Eritrea to be free in the 1970s?

Curiousity based question at awate.com by Fnote Selam

Eritrean revolution had almost succeeded in 1975-6-7 (not sure of exact year) before the Russian intervention, so I was just contemplating, if EPLF or ELF didn’t get any support from TPLF before that time, does that invalidate the hypothesis that Eritreans could not have achieved their independence without support from rebel groups in Ethiopia?


Amanuel Hidrat

Yes indeed we lost our independence which was almost in our grasp in 1977. The Ethiopian army was encircled by the two fronts specifically in the four towns/city (Asmara, Massaw, Asseb, and Barentu). I could say 99% of Eritrean land was liberated. The leadership of both organizations couldn’t cooperate to defend jointly the liberated areas from the last attempt of Ethiopian push from the southern border. They were sabotaging to each other as they were looking who will have the upper hand in the liberated Eritrea. If both organizations have had good cooperation like that of the TPLF/EPLF in the last push in 1977 (a) we could have avoided the sacrifices we have paid in the following 13 years (b) Probably we could have solved our internal politics that prevalent in these days. I am absolutely sure we could have gotten our independence without the interference of foreign forces such TPLF, way before 1991 and specifically in 1977. We just lost from our hand in 1977 because of the stupidity of our leaderships.

Dear FS,

Brother Amanuel H., has given you a response and I am here to concur and above all he was there personally and he knows primarily on what went wrong at that time. Mahmud looks relatively young in the politics of 1970s compared to SGJ and Amanuel Hidrat. We are  lucky to have them among us all anyway.

Neverthless, I want to  underline that independence is a multi-dimentional phenomenon, military, economy, political as well as socially. Militarily and socially,  Eritrea could be freed without allying with foreign forces.

Lets break-them


Internal politics: We could have been at a much safer position regarding grievances and stakeholders participation than today

External politics: Recognition of Eritrea as a sovereign country could have  demanded much energy and time as compared with that of 1993. Many  nations and especially the western world could have left the Eritrean issue as an open-ended  scenario. Recognition of free and sovereign country called Eritrea  probabily could have changed its course.Eritrea today could have remained as autonomous, semi or  economically federated Eritrea. And we all know that this was against  the main objective of the Eritrean freedom struggle.

Socially:  Social grievances could have stopped and justice could be much  prevalent. People could have freedom of thought and open minddness. The social chaos registered within this 23 years could not have emerged.

Economically: Of course as a country we could have prospered as the possibility of  using free market economy was much prevalent because of the existence of two powers in Eritrean decision making process. But the issue of sea  ports could have created another conflict of interest. Ethiopia could  have continued to hammer the supposedly by then independent Eritrea and  possible war was on table as compared today. The badme issue could not  be a subject but the sea port acess.

Presence of TPLF has  almost removed such short coming of the walk towards independent Eritrea. TPLF was a tool designed and manufactured in Eritrea but its  initial conception was mistreated.

In short, increasing  involvement of TPLF politics hightened after the strategic withdrawal of 1978 and reached its peak in the early years of 1980s. EPLF used  TPLF in his game theory on of his political hegemony. On the contrary, ELF exhausted  valuable energy which finally let them disintegrate from the military  game and international politics though they continued to exert pressure on internal issues which has survived and became magnificient after 1991.

EPLF played a double minded game theory in nurturing TPLF and later paid a huge  political revenue. EPLF was strong enough to produce a parasitic guerrilla foreign fighters. Had TPLF was militarily and economically independent, EPLF could not have the manufacturing center and 1991 independence could have taken a different course.

To conclude, TPLF presence has only consolidated the international dimension of Eritrean politics and in  diverting the issue of access to the sea paradox. Else, militarily,  economically and socially, Eritrea could have been freed in the 1970s.

Tesfabirhan REDIE



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