His excellency President Isaias Afwerki conducted an extensive interview with the local media from 27 to 30 of December, 2011, regarding global, regional as well as local issues. Excerpts of the second part of the interview follows:
Mr. President, popular uprising welled up as a reaction to the erroneous strategies they have been mentioning. There are some claims that “such uprisings were only a result of the peoples’ frustration and are destined to fade down because they lack organization and strategy. Their future is uncertain.” Were the uprisings really a matter of economic philosophies or are they determined to bring ever lasting solution? In brief, what will these uprisings lead to in the end?
As I mentioned this earlier, the world order has been characterized by adventurous policies for not only the last 20 years but way before that as well. We might talk about two blocs when we talk about the Cold War, but in reality it was but a coalition actually led by the US and with several European powers as constituents. “The West” is nothing but a way of saying; there’s no such thing as East and West, it’s just a matter of vested interests. There are those who refer to these interests as ‘Capitalism’ but I don’t agree.
What capitalism is or where it emanates from is another philosophical question. But if we are talking about interests, then it is the interests of the west or in other words the US, who had, and still does, extended its tentacles to Africa, Asia, Europe, South America or Australia. If you are to collect interests today, when the world has become closely interlinked and is shifting into a rollercoaster ride, one has to have its arms well extended everywhere. I am not saying this is true only in America; it happened everywhere at different times in history.
If we look at every country, there are quarters that oppress their fellow citizens by exploiting their people’s resources and of course receiving large bonuses from their patrons. The network of agents doesn’t belong to one or few billionaires the branches are many in number. And that’s the world system we‘ve had within these 20 years.
Those who set out early on to dominate the world had their own monitoring networks all over the world. If we were to ask how the regimes in every country came to power, the answer is simple: the interest groups put them there so they could advance their interests. And the regimes become cover up machines for the external powers to exploit the countries natural resources. Similarly, the citizens become indirect victims of the interest groups ruling the country behind the curtains.
The regimes have become mercenaries. The officials get richer. But if all citizens are equal and all resources belong equally to every citizen, then how could these leaders amass such colossal wealth? The people are of course silenced. You buy their votes; you stay in power and do whatever it is you want to do. And the citizens become slaves in their own country. We have witnessed this, we are still witnessing it and we will probably keep witnessing it for some time.
In the developing as well as the developed world any power that sets out with monopolistic and dominating altitude, needs to have agents all over, so it can exploit all the resources. It needs to put the desired regime in power in a way that doesn’t question its legitimacy.
After all is taken, the agents might receive bonuses and have bank accounts opened elsewhere. That’s why these uprisings came about. The people became frustrated. While those subservient to the interest groups boast a variety of dishes per day, the general population hardly finds a decent meal in two days. And in the end, the society tends to be polarized, between the wealthy and the destitute.
And as the exploitation gets out of way with time, people get frustrated and start to organize themselves and go out to the streets. Sometimes that doesn’t work as the regimes might use force to crush the protests, and the people resort to armed struggles or get organized in clandestine movements. Subsequently, it takes them longer time to achieve their goals.
In conventional politics, you need to organize yourself and set a plan to achieve your political goal. You take time, make sacrifices and in the end, you succeed. But what we are witnessing today is the result of years of suppression. It might have been there even before the past 20 years. The revolts are not prominent only in the North African countries. The political slogan “We are the 99%” is being used in the streets in many countries in Europe as well as the US. Why is that phrase being used now? Because 99% or even 99.9% are not benefitting; they are instead being coerced and made to pay the price for the mistakes of a tiny minority. Regardless of how the millionaires and billionaires made their wealth, the gap between their number and that of the rest of the populations is blowing out of proportion. This polarization then erupts into uprisings.
During the Cold War, there were workers’ unions and other social organizations that people used to uphold their rights and justice. These no longer exist nowadays. It was said to be non-functional and ineffective. Why do you thing people turn to their God? It’s only because they don’t have any political power that represents them. Any political, social or cultural movement today solely represents the interests of the powers, ruling behind the curtains. National or progressive attitudes, if any, have been dismissed as taboo and replaced by more fundamentalist philosophies.
The main thing is that the polarization of societies leads in an unorganized manner to eruption, just like a volcano. It’s not controlled through buttons. It’s not an easy task for a society to organize, identify its core objectives and achieve the desired goals. Unorganized outbursts (call it tsunami or volcano) are harder to control not only for the leaders but also for those sponsoring them from behind.
What we are witnessing, or what I would like to call ‘’scavenging’’, was sudden even for those who had proclaimed to dominate the world two decades ago. After all, they were the ones who had put the deposed leaders in power in the first place, only to sympathize with the populace after the uprisings. It’s something they are forced to do. They assert their support for the people’s rights and justice. But why weren’t they able to foresee that similar uprisings could arise? Only because they were in denial of their vulnerability. How can such pretentious attitudes deceive many? And could they really disrupt these wild outbursts? Can it all be reversed?
The questions are many but since we are in the center of it all, I think it all comes down to what I just said. Regardless of what happens, the fact that only few eat while the larger population starves can’t go on for an indefinite time. And we don’t need preachers to tell us this because it is something we are witnessing with our own eyes.
Mr. President, addressing the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations, you called for the UN to go through basic structural reorganization. What kind of changes and restructuring are needed? How shall the restructuring be achieved? Without a basic change in the world system, can only restructuring in the organization of the UN bring about change and solve world problems? Would you also shed some light in regards to regional and international organizations in view of structural changes? The international court also has come into view these days. How is this organization established? What is its main aim? And what is its legal connection to the UN?
This is a very broad topic. It is good to see developments and incidents in relation to one another. As we have previously mentioned, the power behind ‘dominance over the world’ are such so-called international organizations. The topic that was raised during the 66th general assembly is not something new; it has been discussed over for a long period of time. The UN is an organization from the ‘ancient times’. It might have had some uses and influences during the Cold War. But one can’t help but question its significant, despite the role of mediator it played in cooling down and pacifying the competition between the two parties involved. Was it really an organization that can represent the people of the world and secure peace and stability over the world?
Anyway, its origin was mainly for one purpose – to create stability over the world. It came to be as an unprejudiced organization that creates an equal atmosphere for all nations regardless of their position and size. A lot could be said concerning its basic philosophy; details, articles, charters, but it was announced primordial. From the moment it was announced primeval and voted to be changed to the moment there weren’t any emergence of situations that could bring about the proposed change. It is because the presence of resistance. Currently there is resistance against the change and there will always be. Any form of change in the restructuring of the UN, the Security Council or any international monetary organizations is met with challenges and resistances. International or continental organizations under different naming emerge as tools of this purpose or means to the end. Unrests that have taken place within the past 20 years that have occurred in different forms of manifestations all over the continents have occurred under the pretext of this organization or organizations that might be similar to the UN. It has been long since this message has been disseminated. This organization is outdated and it is about time the world forms an organization that keeps abreast of the paces the 21st century world.
The so-called “permanent members” in the Security Council are five: of these five members those said to have balance are the U.S., Russia, and China. The others are just the backup singers of a performance. In fact they are not on the same category with the other three neither are they comparable with the three. If we see the situation among those three states, for many reasons both in the United Nations and Security Council, the U.S. is the one with the biggest role and dominant veto power. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has been in a stage of paralysis but is surfacing back. In aspect of its industrial base, it hasn’t yet been exploited to the fullest. We can see Russia as a phoenix rising from ashes. But it doesn’t yet have the influence and power similar to the U.S. On the other hand China is a powerful force that chose to stay aloof. China’s present and near future’s interest is closely interlinked to the current economic situation. On one hand it is a challenging power and on the other hand it is a compromising great power. One thing is crystal clear though and that is China is a great power that is continually progressing and strengthening. The ten non-permanent members are selected either by the U.S. or are in good favors of the U.S. For the past 20 years which countries were the non-permanent members of the Security Council? How did they join the council? Aside from the official statement given, if we see what is done behind the closed doors, we can see that they were selected by the U.S. to make a mountain out of a molehill. They might have had a good initiation. When it comes to restructuring of the UN and the Security Council globally the world voice the same word of advocating it, but when it comes to presenting it, so many dramas are staged and covert and overt resistances are faced. In Africa for example, it is not an issue how many representatives we should have in the council but in presenting the proposed changes, this topic is raised anyway. Emotions are displayed and it end up in loud outbursts.
The question now is that why hasn’t yet the UN adopted a new reform when the voice of the world already has opted for a change? Why is it still operating with the same structure it did in the Cold War era? If peace and stability is to prevail in our world, then the change must be adopted. It is no use assembling every year without bringing about a change on the ground. This will not change anything. Some powerful forces aren’t really concerned with the change talk about the organizations. What concerns them more is how they will get a dominant and significant seat in the new changes adopted. Is it really necessary to have permanent and non-permanent members in the Security Council? Why do some of permanent members have whole veto power while others have only partial? How are some members permanent while others are just temporary? Why is it structured in a manner that only five permanent members out of which three and out of three one super power overruling the organization? A world organization should be able to include and accommodate all the nations of the world equally. The organization should work in creating stability, prevailing peace and creating a common ground where the nations of the world work jointly in tackling and dealing global threats and challenges. But since the organization is not serving this purpose and is being dominated by powers that sway the decisions of the organizations to their interests, change would not be accepted. So there will always be a resistance with regard the proposed change in the structuring of the organization. There are parts that advocate the new order in the organization and other parts that oppose it. In the end it is all about securing interests, all the dramas staged in the name of the process of changing the organization boils down into one point; and that is where the conflict arises. Therefore the issue is not to look the present structure of the UN or the Security Council which doesn’t represent the entire world but instead to look for an adjustment with the representation of the different regions and able to lead the world for the next twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years. The organizations such as the African Union have been tools of the international organizations to serve the interest of the small groups. Because most of the citizens are inclined to look into the day to day scenario, the people were not able to notice the real picture. The adventurism we witnessed in the past twenty years only made these organizations to be tools.
You have mentioned about International Court of Justice; that is a show. This is not established to bring peace and justice to the world. You can run away without being questioned after mugging and if you want to silence them you bring court. If the International Court of Justice is genuine it would have fair perspective towards those powers that are the main reason to poverty, famine and instability in the world. It would have brought those powers to court, however, they are playing old games now and then, and nothing is new. International Court of Justice is established, International Criminal Court is also formed, yet we can say that all these are part and parcel of the hegemonies power. Hence, it is unnecessary to talk about why, where and who established it? There might be some organizations established in good intention like IMF (International Monitory Fund), World Bank and also there are different financial organizations in the world. These same organizations are instruments in giving primacy to such interests.
Let me cite from what you have said when the popular uprising in the Northern Africa and Middle East erupted. You said, “If the case and purpose of the people is not clear enough and there is no organization to realize, the aim could be shifted or manipulated.” What is your analysis now after a year of the uprising? How can the current stage be defined following the Arab spring? What is the gain and losse?
If you are unable to evaluate the causes by going back it is very difficult to know where it leads you. Yet, if you can assess the cause once again by minutes, indeed you might not be able to talk by hours of measurement. For example, let’s take Tunisia, what would have happened if the young man had not put himself on fire? The situation exists as it is. However, the situation broke out suddenly just the way a balloon filled with air is bursting. This is not only an individual problem maybe he was at the edge to commit this scene but we can say there were more like him. Maybe the majorities were not exactly at his level of being pessimistic yet there were pent-up anger. Putting himself on fire could bring a change to his life but not to the basic needs of the majority. You can’t ignore the pint-up anger of the majority, however, you can either delay or give an immediate response to it. Before reaching to this stage he might have been talking over various issues with others like him and they would had been saying, “this regime is oppressing and harassing us, and not allowing us to sell anything on the streets.” if a policemen slaps and spits on your face without any concrete reason this is a humiliation and violation of rights. Hence, this incident explodes the pent-up frustration of the people. So, if you ask me now, if there is any change as per the need of the people so as to calm down the incident? My answer is it’s better to wait and witness the changes. It is not because of lack of judgment. Is the status quo really satisfies the pine-up frustration of the respective societies? Does the current government actually represent the needs of its people? Or it is just established with the flow of the event? What about the people, “even though we created the circumstance but we are now relaxed and pleased with the changes.” are they saying that? And who is asking them this question? How is it proved without knowing it? Is the cause that created the incident or disagreement among the society changed? Is the economic and social justice going to be ensured? We can watch the different media that are telling us stories about the circumstances in the respective countries but in my opinion better to wait at least for a year. I have my own imagination, the main cause of the incident should be removed, and this is my wish. Nationals should live in pride. They don’t need anyone preying on their life. However, currently is there an incident to confirm that?
It is similar in case of Egypt too. Even those foreign powers that have been interfering are not at ease with the incident for there are many things that couldn’t relax them. There are some games but it doesn’t address to the real issues as such it failed to bring justices to genuine problems thus such incidents are created. It is enough to see the crisis that is going on every day in Egypt. “Tomorrow after election it will be peace”, we heard them say, yet that is not the cause. Would there be a situation that represents the people after 10 years of unexpressed disappointment? Are the foreign powers that have been interfering be benefited or not from the change? They are not going to be sited silently. Let’s observe a little and wait.
It is all the same situation in other countries too. We have to focus on the contents rather than the forms. You can say there is change if there is basic change on the contents. The changes on forms and colors should not create misunderstanding on anyone. The aims and purposes have to be crystal clear as to bring change in the world. Those who have been suppressed of their benefit have to be organized in order to work for their benefits. After confirming their benefits they also have to secure it for there could be rivals. The characters are different some of them have power thus there is no change that come to weaken them as such they can use different methods to delay or destroy people’s uprising. Therefore, it is difficult to say it’s going good. You can talk issue by issue but finally you have to patiently wait and see situations unfolding.