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Eritrea: When is a mutiny not a mutiny?
Eritrea: When is a mutiny not a mutiny?
Report 200 / Africa

厄立特里亚:未来转型的方案

执行摘要

过去十二个月中发生的事件表明,在厄立特里亚受到严格控制的政权内部,不满情绪正日益增长,同时,政治和社会分裂也在加深。事件发生的数量不断增多,表明伊萨亚斯总统的政权是很脆弱的,人们越发担忧他是否有能力继续执政。同时,在转型期或者转型后,厄立特里亚会面临许多体制、社会-经济和地缘政治上的障碍。事实证明,暴力性质的权力争夺对非洲之角而言是很危险的,可能对红海国家——因为厄立特里亚是一个濒海国家——也是如此。要想防止在厄立特里亚发生暴力性质的权力争夺,当务之急是要对上述障碍以及邻国和更广泛的国际社会所扮演的角色进行仔细评估。

2012年4月伊萨亚斯总统从公众视野中消失了几个星期,其间有传言称他生病并去世了。这清楚表明他的政权缺乏一个继任计划。2012年3月和5月,埃塞俄比亚军队对厄立特里亚的入侵,揭露了厄立特里亚军队力量极为脆弱的事实。紧接着,一连串的叛变引起了媒体的注意:10月,总统专机的飞行员潜逃;11月,信息部长(总统的亲密盟友)突然消失;12月,国家足球队要求政治庇护。与此同时,每个月都有数以千计的厄立特里亚人——大部分是年轻人——逃走,他们宁愿接受难民营或者非法移民路途的危险和不确定性,也不愿意生活在没有希望的祖国。2013年1月21日,大约100名士兵在首都阿斯马拉叛变,控制信息部达一天时间。

很难预测厄立特里亚在后伊萨亚斯时代会是什么样子:尽管经过了21年强势的国家建设,分裂,尤其是民族之间、地区之间和宗教之间(基督教与穆斯林)的分裂仍然存在,其中一些分裂程度比过去更甚。由于国家缺乏制度性机制来实现权力的和平过渡甚至是明确指定一位继任者,因此可以预计会出现不稳定因素,有可能会由腐败的军队来裁决谁会是这个国家的下一任执政者。但是,就连军队的将军们对总统的忠诚程度也不尽相同。

要想减少厄立特里亚及其周边地区不稳定的风险,由国际社会行为体组成的一个广泛联盟需要采取谨慎的措施,包括展开迅速的和决定性的努力,来推动防止内部权力争斗和调解实现和平过渡的对话。这样做可能会达成如下结果:厄立特里亚开放政治空间,实现国内和国际关系的正常化。阿斯马拉方面应该抓住任何可能的机会来摆脱困境。联合国对厄立特里亚的制裁(原因是厄立特里亚支持索马里青年党以及进行了其它一些危害稳定的活动)应该受到积极的审查。欧盟和美国应该与其他一些国家如卡塔尔和南非等进行合作,这些国家与厄立特里亚统治阶层有着更好的关系,有助于与厄立特里亚进行建设性的接触。地区组织“政府间发展管理局”(Intergovernmental Authority on Development,IGAD)的成员国应该欢迎厄立特里亚的回归,并鼓励与厄实现关系正常化。

许多人相信正式的外交途径会继续受阻,如果确实如此,那么埃塞俄比亚、苏丹和吉布提应该与流亡的反对派(包括民族武装战线)进行接触,以此来鼓励与阿斯马拉异见分子进行的积极接触,推动对话,敦促他们同意不使用武力,从而防止发生旷日持久的冲突并对整个地区造成影响。

本报告探讨了厄立特里亚政权的薄弱之处,为后伊萨亚斯时代的厄立特里亚描绘出六种可能的情景,并明确指出该国和该地区会面临的主要危险和机会。有关的西方伙伴以及与阿斯马拉有特殊关系的邻国和政府能发挥关键作用,阻止一场大规模人道主义危机的发生,甚至是该国的毁灭。

内罗毕⁄布鲁塞尔,2013年3月28日

Commentary / Africa

Eritrea: When is a mutiny not a mutiny?

On Monday 21 January, a number of unofficial sources reported that 100 or so soldiers had invaded Eritrea’s Ministry of Information and taken over state-owned Eri-TV. During their occupation, the soldiers began broadcasting a statement demanding the implementation of the constitution — never enacted by Parliament — and the release of thousands of political prisoners, including a number of high-profile journalists, and former ministers, senior military officers and officials known as the “G15”, before the station went off air. The rest of the armed forces were described as “quiet”, as was the city, and no shots were fired either in the taking or surrender of the Ministry.

It is hard to tell what exactly happened, or why. News from Asmara is opaque at the best of times, and this apparent military-led protest — or “small incident” as the Eritrean government is terming it — is the latest in a number of informally reported developments, only a few substantiated, suggesting cracks in the unusually regimented state. Since there are no accredited independent journalists in Eritrea, the only alternative to government media is diaspora-driven opposition news websites. These can be illuminating, because Eritrea is a curiously intimate place, with members of the same family occupying top government positions while their close relatives are vocal anti-government activists abroad.

What has emerged was that 2012 was a remarkably newsworthy year for the usually unnoticed county. It began with Ethiopia and Eritrea trading accusations after foreign tourists were attacked and five killed by Ethiopian rebel groups in the Afar region, which is close to the border between the two states. Addis claimed the rebels were under Eritrean direction, justifying Ethiopian reprisals in March against rebel camps across the border. Further incursions were reported in late May — just after Eritrean Independence day — with Ethiopian troops apparently occupying new positions inside Asmara’s territory. Eritrean forces, surprisingly and perhaps ominously for their government, put up little resistance.

From late March until late April, the normally omnipresent Eritrean President Isaias Afkwerki was absent from public life, prompting speculation he was sick, even dead. When he reappeared, little explanation was given, and he looked in good health at Independence Day celebrations. Coincidentally a few months after Isaias resurfaced, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi disappeared from public life; his death was announced on 21 August.

Meles’s death was studiously underplayed by the Eritrean government, though it was a topic of anxious speculation among the population at large, who were concerned about a change in Ethiopian policy — Meles was popularly perceived as less hawkish towards Eritrea.  At that time information emerged that the Eritrean government was arming civilians — many of whom have basic military training — apparently unconcerned that weapons might be later turned against the government.

By the latter half of 2012, more rumours were circulating of discord in the government about the state and direction of the country and the ups and downs of high-profile ministers and military commanders, variously perceived as pro-reform or rivals to the president. Indicative of declining morale, in early October, two air force pilots absconded with the presidential plane toSaudi Arabia, claimed asylum, and made a statement critical of their head of state. But this was just one, albeit dramatic example, of the tens of thousands of other Eritreans who fled during the year. The last unconfirmed rumour in November was that the stalwart Minister of Information, Ali Abdu, had also disappeared.

What does the latest incident signify?

It ended peacefully, at least so it seemed. The protesting soldiers were transported to the outskirts of Asmara, their fate so far unknown. Web-based reports claim that the government is talking to the protest leader, Colonel Saleh Osman, a veteran of the liberation war and respected serving officer reputed to have refused orders to withdraw from the city of Assab during the 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia– a last stand that, many Eritreans believe, pushed Ethiopia to agree to a peace deal.

Some sources claim that with the TV protest, Saleh was simply demanding political reform. But others suggest that this is a well-orchestrated warning by senior military figures who stand to lose from political and economic reform that the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) has been mooting for the past year. Either way, partisan analysis dominates.

While not a coup, or even a mutiny, this highly unusual behaviour by Eritrea’s troops, is still significant. The last major protest by “veteran” fighters was in 1993, and this incident comes in the 20th anniversary year of Eritrea’s formal independence. Of course, the Eritrean calendar starts in September, so we are already well into what seems to be a momentous though uncertain year for Eritrea.