Seye Abraha and the Ethio-Eritrean war.

August 27th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

By Eskinder Nega | August 27, 2010

“I never thought that the war (the Ethio-Eritrean war) would lead me to permanent fallout with my lifelong friends,” ponders Seye Abraha of his lost camaraderie with Meles Zenawi and his allies in a book that was released in Addis on Tuesday. “But so apprehensive was I to become of the ideas they promoted, I lost hope in them in due course.”

“Liberty and the dispensation of justice in Ethiopia” is a 440-page book that Seye wrote after his release from seven years of imprisonment, accused of corruption during his four years stint as Defense Minister in the ’90s. This is his shot at absolution, the silver bullet that is meant to clear his name once and for all. He has magnanimously donated the proceeds from the book to his party, UDJ. Mercifully, the book has been skillfully edited for syntax, punctuation and clarity, a norm in most parts of the world, but which is mysteriously (and annoyingly) absent from most Amharic books. At least the copies that I and friends bought are US prints, the quality of the cover and inside pages, much to our delight, far superior to the local norm. We gladly paid the asking price: 70 birr.

As Seye tells it, the crack in the fêted harmony that long prevailed between TPLF leaders first occurred immediately after the outbreak of the Ethio-Eritrean war. “But it was strictly between Meles and the rest of us,” recounts Seye. Two months after the Eritreans occupied Badme, the unlikely epicenter of the dispute, leaders of the TPLF sulkily acknowledged the inevitability of war the nation was ill-prepared for. The Eritreans were clearly the dominant military power in the horn. “They were vying for political, economic and diplomatic concessions from their neighbors,” observes Seye. The imperative to regain Ethiopia’s military preeminence, a dominant heritage of the region, was quickly agreed upon by all the leaders of the TPLF—save one. “Only Meles took exception to defining our (the nation’s) purpose as that of totally crushing Shabiya’s (the ruling party in Eritrea) military prowess,” writes Seye. The plan, in other words, was for regime change. (Some had even grandeur ambitions in private.) But Meles worried about Eritrea’s independence, then only five years old, and the diplomatic fallout from occupying a sovereign nation partially or fully. “We went to great length to convince him, and he finally relented,’ narrates Seye. The hard part being over, the next step was merely routine: rubber-stamping the decision by the broader EPRDF leadership.

A Central Command was set up—-ostensibly entrusted with the responsibility of co-ordinating the war effort but in reality to monitor Meles. Seye Abraha, Tewelde Welde-Mariam (both form the party), Tefera Walewa (Defense Minister), Tsadkan Welde-Tensay (Chief of Staff), Abadula Gemeda (Chief of the Army), Abebe Tekle-Haymanot(Chief of the Air force) and Meles Zenawi became members of the Command. In time, the Command was to become more prestigious and powerful than Meles; who, as PM,was the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
But Meles was not really convinced. As Seye sees it, he had only chosen to play the part of saboteur from inside. And he details how the purchase of Suk-27 planes, which were to play a crucial part in the war, was almost derailed by a stonewalling Meles. “ First, he said there was no money (to buy the planes.) When it was ascertained otherwise, it was untouchable because the IMF said so,” writes Seye with apparent exasperation. The relationship that was once strained, but which improved markedly when Meles gave in, was now visibly poisoned. “It undermined our trust in each other,” maintains Seye. But a showdown was not in the cards. “We slowly swayed Meles in favor of the purchase. Tewelde did most of the convincing,’ says Seye. ( Tewelde was Meles’ deputy in the TPLF.)

The war went splendidly. What the Americans said was impossible, the dislodging of the well dug-in Eritreans by military means form Badme, was accomplished with lightening speed and limited casualty to the Ethiopian side. The army was on a roll, highly motivated for more success on the Central and Eastern fronts.

And this is where, for Seye, the straw that was to break the camel’s back surfaced: the Algiers Technical Arrangement.

“The Technical Arrangement did not only fail to meet our demand for a return to status-quo-ante, but accorded partial recognition to the Ertirean’s claim over Badme, the very area we had just liberated by force of arms,” relates Seye. But Meles, much to the fury of Seye, was in favor of accepting it. He warned of devastating sanctions contemplated by the international community. When that failed to make an impression, “he brought up Lenin, Tewedros and Menelik.”
The socialist revolution was possible in Russia because Lenin had the foresight to accept the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, argued Meles. (Russia had to surrender land to the Germans.) Eritrea is no Germany, nor is Ethiopia Russia, retorted his opponents. But citing Ethiopia’s past, he persisted. “Tewedros blundered when he fought the super power of his time, the British, and he paid with his life. Menelik, on the other hand, had the wisdom to concede part of his country ( Eritrea) to save the far larger part(what is Ethiopia minus Eritrea),” argued Meles. We should learn from history, he insisted.

But none in his party, the TPLF, and only one from the coalition, Kassu Ilala, an MD turned politician, was to be swayed by the power of his argument. It was a devastating blow for him, the clear low point of his political career. He was ready to leave, but his opponents opted(fatefully) to wait for the end of the war. On a personal level, Seye and Meles could barely tolerate each other anymore. “This is when we stopped greeting each other,” discloses Seye. It was open war in all but name. “The climax of our differences had to await the finality of the war. In context of a nation mobilized for war, publicizing our disagreements would have been disastrous,” writes Seye. “But while we were fully engaged in the war effort, he (Meles)was plotting our downfall,” concludes Seye bitterly.

And there is no better way to neutralize your opponents than to accuse them of corruption, asserts Seye. “ This is the genesis of the corruption charges against me,” says Seye.

Rumors of corruption exasperate the division within the TPLF leadership. Absurdly, and perhaps as a sign of its politicization, it abruptly dominates the internal debate only within the TPLF. The other EPRDF organizations remain totally immune to the allegations and counter-allegations of corruption that wreaks the TPLF. Upping the challenge, Meles’ opponents propose the establishment of a committee to investigate. “ We proposed that our personal assets and that of our immediate relatives be registered and their origins investigated,” says Seye. The response of Meles is bizarre: “We reject your proposal because we believe in fighting corruption not by trivializing it to police work and investigations but at the level of the perception that enables it.”

The preposterousness and obvious implication of this response will haunt not only Meles’ legacy but also all those who had sided with him.

  1. annanymouse
    | #1

    The Ethio-Eritrean people were breathing the climax of the derg blood shed that took nearly half million lives; however, the quarrel of TPLF leadership toward their old professors (shaebia)led to another unnecessary blood shed- an estimated of 170,000 lives lost between both sides, nearly 2 billion dollars for unnecessary armaments, and an endless hatred between Ethiopians. In my honest opinion the primary enemies of the Ethio-Eritrean people are povery and some of the extrimists that are trying to colonize the horn of Africa. Seye, Abebe/Legesse/Mathza/Melese and his partner/boss Bereke are equally responsible for all the horn of Africa blood shed of the 90′s and they will all face jutice in due time.

  2. Observer
    | #2

    Siye went to such a great detail of making all these points to exonerate himself from the corruption that landed him in jail. He would say ‘look this is the reason I went to jail’. Too bad for him, it is over! Too late!

  3. tell me something new
    | #3

    I don’t understand this guy when they let Eritrea be sovereign country he was part of meles’s TPLF leadership.
    so if he can speak a thousand times to convince us he is trying his best to be a true Ethiopian is a little too late.he is a typical woyane like that of Abraham yayeh remember that guy folks !!! they all are the same including meles

  4. Abebe
    | #4

    Seye Abreha had been fighting Ethiopian Army for the last 17 years along side his R’teran friends, he had been supporting the R’teran “freedom” from Ethiopia, he had been supporiting the granting of Afars teritory including Assab and Massawa to his friends.
    How come he is Ethiopian friend now?
    Death to tribalists.
    Death to Dictators.
    Dimocracy and freedon for all.

  5. Abe
    | #5

    Wow, even Seye Abraha’s own version of events clearly allows us to thank God Meles, the wiser one, is still in charge.

  6. ewnetem yetamena
    | #6

    i don’t understand seye become hero whille our heros left in jall or never found by his own dicision. abougida this shame trying to tell us big news ; his hand full of blood we ethiopian never forgot ever.he selling (blood books)

  7. Kes bekes enkilal Be’egru yihedal
    | #7

    It is nice to hear such kinds of details about the past if it could contribute to the future wellbeing of the country. Any way Siye told us his own one side history. I realy want Meles give us the detailed history of the matter next. not only him we want the other sides too from Ato Tewolde.


  8. Another observer
    | #8

    Siye is one of the criminals who instigated, orchestrated and executed the Ethio-Eritrea border war. He must be held accountable for being the architect of the devastating human wave tactic that the Ethiopian army employed against the Eritreans and which was responsible for the annihilation of hundred thousands of poor Ethiopian foot soldiers. For Siye and co the poor Oromo, Amhara and other ethnic groups were expendable and they knowingly and purposely sent them to a raging inferno. He is also at the center the group that perpetrated the inhuman deportation of Ethiopians of Eritrean decent uprooting their lives and subjecting them to misery that have lasted to this day. He is a genocidal sadistic war criminal and Ethiopia and Ethiopians shouldn’t allow themselves to be manipulated by this unsavory character.

  9. one of the thieves
    | #9

    I personally don’t think, Seye Abraha is a trustworthy individual. He has done too much damage to Ethiopia to be trusted ever again. I believe, Seye is just mad as hell at his cousins for not sharing with him–the money they have looted. Esayas, Meles and Seye are three branches from the same ancestral tree. The three of them have the same deep-rooted hate towards Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Every time, I look at Seye‘s pictures, Esayas and Meles come to mind, and gives me uneasy feeling. I have no desire to read his book, from what I know about him so far, Seye seems another weswasa negrejna, like his former best buddies in crime, Dictator Esayas and Meles.

  10. Peace maker
    | #10

    Thanks to who ever wrote the last comment. i am Eritrean and my uncle was deported from Ethiopia during the war. He eventually died of diabetes and grief from not seeing his family who had been sent to another region in Eritrea. This war was a grave mistake and i just hope both governments, especially Eritrea are someday held responsible and that GOD will help our people finally live peace and be free.

  11. መቅደላዊ
    | #11

    Seye should have acted. How many ethiopian patriots are murdered by Meles and his eritrean clique in EPRDF? When Hayelom was murdered, seye and the others should have prepared to kill Meles. Seye and others who stood for Ethiopia were too tolerant towards the eritreans in TPLF. What was needed was to make sure only ethiopins were leading TPLF. Eritreans like Meles, Bereket, Sibhat etc should have been purged.

    It is hard to say how history will judge Siye and his comrades. For sure Siye was not corrupt. But the fact he supported the secession of Eritrea and the fact that Ethiopia is landlocked makes Siye partly responsible. We are happy if he has corrected thes wrong political positions and would continue to struggle for a united Ethiopia.

    Death to Meles Zenawi and Sibhat Nega!

  12. absheru
    | #12

    seye abreha is one of the future hope of ethiopia weather we like it or not….even the meles government knows this by heart….

  13. menor melkam
    | #13

    observer or another observer or million observers,when u r hammering seye with ur blind hatred why u forget ur own lord at asmara?the losers leave our causes to us,if u embracing the arch devil the lesser devils r ur camouflages,we know u.

  14. Mulu
    | #14

    Seye Abraha with a 440-page book laments how Meles outsmarted him many times.His way of paying back is by more lament. Seye does have the not support of the conscientious Tigri elite. He is alone and Meles knows. Meles as a result is not afraid of him and in fact wants him around. Seye, a great advice for you is to ask the Ethiopian people to forgive you and retire from politics. To be fair we should all thank you for the book for it shows how evil Meles really is. I just want to see him in court defending himself like Sadam Hussien did. If you ask for forgiveness today, you may take the stand to testify with clear conscious. Ethiopians are peaceful and forgiving people. Go in public, have symbolic piece of rock on your shoulder and say “People of Ethiopia forgive me in the name of God” This is where you should start. You never know when Meles will throw you back in jail again. There is no change. The law of the land is still Meles’s word.

  15. ጎርፉ
    | #15

    ሰየ ሰየ ዪሄ ሰውለምን እንደሚቅላምድ አልገቡኝም ትግራይ ሜዳ በነበሩበት ጊዜ ትግራይ በኢትዮጵያ ስለተጨቆነች ትግራዪን ከኢትዮጵያ ነጣ ማውጣት ነው እያለ ሽንጡን ገትሮ ሲከራከ የነበረ ሰው ለኢትዮጵያ አስቤ እንድህ እንዲህ አደረግሁ ሲል ታሪክ ደግሞ የሚያስታዉሰ በሌላ መልክ ነው እነሰየ ዬኤርትራው ሻቢያ አስከሮች ከዚያም አልፈው ተርፈው የቤት አገልጋዮቹ ነበሩ በዝህ ዉጡ በዚህ ዉረዱ የታዘዙትን አድራጊዎች ነበሩ ትግራይ በነብርኩበት እንዴት አድርጋን ነው ለምሆኑ ኤርትራን ኢትዮጵያ ቅኝ ግዛት ያደረገችው ተብሎ ሲጥየቅ “ምን አባህ አገባህ የወያኔ አቅዋም የናንተ ረዮተአለ መፈትሻአይደለም ነበር ያለው” ሁለት መላጥዎች በሚዶ ዪጥላሉ እንዲሉ” ከነመለስ ጋር ያላችው ልዩነው እኔ ብቻየን ልጋጠው ከሚለው የሌቦች ስግብግብነት የመነጨ ነበር አሁን ከፈለግ ያነን የለማኝ አገሩንና ያን ለማኝ የትግራይንን ህዝብ ዪቅርታ ለምኖ ይግባ እዚህ ተጎልቶ አያቅርቀን ሰውየ ለማያውቅሽ ታጥኝ”

  16. s
    | #16

    siye is my hero but now…

  17. Asamenew
    | #17

    I can distinguish woyane and Shbiya as soon as I read a paragraph? Their hand is socked with blood they are asking for more.

    Speaking of Siye and Ethio media love with him, I can not help notice TPLF/Woyane still think they are Ethiopians or want to make her in their image. Siye’s defense of not being corrupt reminds me the saying ልጁ ሌባ አባቱ ዳኛ።. If TPLF/Woyane was corrupt and still is why is seye defending himself? They want to change the meaning of corrupt too.

    Something have to give in sooner or later with Woyanes, frankly I do not want to see it

  18. aha!
    | #18

    Neither nor Meles have to do with struggling for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, neither under socialism or liberal democracy. TPLF reach to the point where it has eliminated its opposing factions and left with disgruntled elements, with out much difference in the main frame of ideology of dismantling Ethiopia into ethnic enclaves at least in terms of the major ethnic groups. The case between Meles and Isayas Afewoerki and Meles and Seye is that of rivalery not ideology in terms of the above mentioned goals. Despite the attrocities of human lives within the country against its opponents caused by Dergue, and the prevalent atmosphere of fear, extra judicial killings and incarcerations, it fares much better in terms of fulfiling the major goals stated above, in retrospective. Nevertheless, it calls for indepth analysis and historical facts how the two facitions in terms of human right violations with of them sharing the socialistic ideology with a different twist, the TPLF and its cohots with the ideology of the oppression of nations and nationalities and the Dergue leaning towards the class struggle of the individual from the royalists, the landlords, and the manufacturers, etc., which I presume, has something in common with EPRP, its deadly enemy, in the quest peoples rule, rather than Military Dictatorship, which, I presume debilitated the Dergue regime, while it is fighting the liberation movements and the Somalia incursion from the soth and southeast. What transpired since after the fall of the Dergue, is adichotomy of two forces: the negative forces of disintegration and the positive forces of integration. To me, any body’s article and seye’s book should be looked within the above frame work of natinal vs ethnic agenda. There is a subset of goals to the framework of the national agenda, which is democracy, human rights
    and the rule of law, while at the same time accommodating ethnic agenda of ethnic and seccionist rights of divide and rule, with ethnic dictatorship.

    One has to put this int perspective, when one tries assess ones opinion in a book form or in an article, as to why the Ethiopian economic and political crises is resolved. It is not a matter of just getting along of the posive forces of integration prevaing over the negative forces of disintegration, through and non-violent peaceful struggle for liberty, and freedom of individual as an Ethiopian.

  19. aha!
    | #19

    Corrigendum and addendum: The last paragraph needs fine tuning. It should read: One has to put into perspective,when one tries to assess somebody eleses presentation in a book or article form, whether it contributes to the negative forces of disintegrat or the positive forces of inegration, from the existing political models of TPLF/eprdf, Tigrai Harena/fdd/efdr, consisting of loyalist opposition parties and UDJP,embracing the subset of of the national agenda and accommodating ethnic agenda in the form of Medrek, on one side with predominately ethnic agenda along with subset of national agenda,with implcit sustenance of the current regime along with the the teletafi parties are the causes for the resolved economic and political crises in Ethiopia not a matter getting along, a scramble for power within each faction or rivalery btween TPLF and EPLF leaders, nor rivalery between Seye and Meles, does amont to ideological differences to bring change with
    respect to individual freedom and liberty together with unity and territorial integrity of Ethiopia. When that is resolved through a genuine peaceful struggle and/or armed struggle for the national agenda, then all the various parties will freely compete to serve the Ethiopian Nationalism and Ethiopian Interests.

  20. annon
    | #20

    personally, I will give a chance for a person to have been wrong once provided the person made jenuine repentance -this simply means ,for me, accepting the human sinful condition.However,I don’t believe people who are accustomed commiting repeated blunder deserves absolution of any wrong doing.He can publish this book as a means to suplement his scares resourses,but I dont belive it will garner warm reception because of what he said in it.First,Seye is one of the tplf core member who went along the decision to land lock Ethiopia.Does it avail any thing to Ethiopians to speak of the ,then,existing sharp differences between his group and Melese.This is hardly new.The half cast Melese and The Eritrian extract Bereket are placed at the ceter of power in Ethiopia to promote Shabian interest.Therefore Melese’s sabotage-does not come as surprise.Knowing this fullwell, why is Seye and his comrads fail to take correct approach to solve the problem at hand?Why dose his group kept this important question in guarded secracy from Ethiopian public?
    It all comes to this he has been insincere about the whole thing from the beginig.If he want to convince Ethioipians he shares their values and aspirations,he could have shared his plan with our people to come up with workable solution.

    The truth is Seye and his comreds had once their chance;it is unlikely that opportunity will repeat itself.He and his group faied to exploit the,then, prevailing situation-it is a disgrace for military comander to be over taken by political savey Melese.Now he need to take back sit and see when the younger generation of Ethiopians cary the banner.

  21. K.G
    | #21

    I do not have a a doubt that Seye like all his friends Melese,Tamrat Layne ,Azeb….and so on abused his power by taking public money .I also believe that Melese has sabotaged and played a major role in Eritreans independence,making Ethiopia a landlocked nation ,as well as Badama’s loss. Seyes book has to be given historical gravity because what he said was the truth, if you talk corruption Meles is more corrupted than Seye.

  22. K.G
    | #22

    I see more Erireans view who are supporting Meles by bashing Seye.Eritreans hate him because they lost the war and want to vendict him.Ethiopians know it like black and white who Melese is ,for fact everyone new that he is Eritrean cover up dobuble agent.YE ERSHAW BABEBET ERSAHAWEN YAWEKEWAL.

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