Response of Ethiopian Embassy to the Common Sense Article Entitled “On Neighborly Relations on the Banks of the Red Sea” – Common Sense of Issue 25 [Archives:2000/27/Focus]

July 3 2000

Dear Editor,
We have seen the comment made by Hassan Al-Haifi on Yemen Times 19 June, 2000 with regard to the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, under the title “On Neighborly Relations on the Bank of the Red Sea.”We do not want to go into the details of the observer’s view in each paragraph of his article. Suffice is it to say Mr. Al-Haifi, a regular contributor to Yemen Times used his common sense, as the topic of his article and his logic of argument witnesses, to substantiate his comment.
By using common sense, one can say all the good things but mere common sense can not go beyond wishful thinking and discover the facts on the ground whether the issue at hand is an inter-state conflict or a skirmish between group of individuals. In other words, any reasonable person is expected to go deep into the root cause of the conflict and raise the following points before extending his/her comments: –
-How did the conflict first erupt?
-Who was the aggressor and vice versa?
-What efforts were made to help resolve the conflict and who contributed positively to these efforts?
It is rational to pose at least these and other appealing questions and find out facts and answers to them before one comments on the subject.
Mr. Al-Haifi’s criticism, apart from being self-defeating is aimed at using Yemen Times as a vehicle to convey his weak and disrespectful message to the people and the government of Ethiopia, who were in the agony of war for two solid years after their territories were seized by the state of Eritrea.
Nobody denies that war has a devastating effect both on material and human life. While trying to give advice to avoid war in the incident of conflicts, Mr. Hassan at the same time argues that fighting a war is logical if disputed territory posses significant economic value or if the belligerents own enough resources to finance war. According to him, it is economic return or the existence of abundant natural resources in a given territory that justifies the logic of engagement in war.
Whatever perception he may have, Ethiopia, being the victim of aggression has tirelessly attempted to change the scenario and give peace a chance despite the unprovoked attack and all sorts of intimidations launched by the Eritrean regime in the past two years.
We would like to remind the commentator that Eritrea repeatedly resisted peaceful settlement of the conflict by rejecting the proposals and documents prepared by mediators to bring an end to the conflict peacefully. Efforts by the Organization of African Unity and all other supporters to achieve peace were finally to end at stalemate as far as the rule of law could be applied to change the rigid status of the Eritrean regime. It was at this juncture that the Government of Ethiopia was forced to carry out its constitutional obligation to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In view of this, the Embassy of the Federal Democratic Government of Ethiopia expresses its deep regret and anger at the untenable comment produced by your publication against the Government of Ethiopia which managed to go beyond all levels of tolerance to stop bloodshed as far as the conflict with Eritrea was concerned. And that tolerance is well understood and respected by many except Mr. Hassan Al-Haifi and a few others who may share his view.
We also wish to bring to your attention the commentator’s irresponsible approach which indiscriminately criticizes both leaderships with such a parochial outlook and cheap explanations as “the leaders of the two cousin states of Ethiopia and EritreaÉ.have lost their senses”. This is an insult to our government.
Our Embassy does not deny the constructive views and articles Yemen Times usually brings to its audience. We have great respect for that and we use it. But such comments as made by Mr. Hassan Al-Haifi go far from his common sense and thoughts of imagination, quite apart from being unacceptable contributions to staining healthy relations existing between nations and governments. In conclusion, the Embassy recommends that necessary measures be taken by the editor to deter this sort of baseless comment from appearing in public view and requests that the full text of this letter be published in your next issue to help redirect readers to Ethiopia’s rationale on the issue and her inalienable right of self-defense in cases of unprovoked and naked aggression against territorial integrity.
Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Sana’a, 22-6-2000