Trust Played Role for the Historic Isaias-Abiy Meeting in Asmara

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“We can imagine the decisions the prime minister of Ethiopia took was not a simple one. But we can assure you we will face the future together. We will work as one.” – President Isaias


That is why “Leadership makes or breaks” is so true! The two formerly archenemies left the animosity aside since the election of Dr. Abiy Ahmed, broke walls, and built bridges within a short period of time. What was the decisive factor? Leadership!

Otherwise, Meles Zenawi and Hailemariam Dessalegn both wanted to visit Asmara and meet with Isaias Afwerki desperately for years. They appealed (rather begged) themselves and also used third parties without any luck. Eritreans leader refused.

What changed now for him to go the extra mile organizing a heroic welcome to PM Abiy in his own backyard? Leadership!

Mind you, throughout the years, especially in recent years, Isaias personally showed interest to rebuild the people to people relations between the two sisterly people but showed no interest at all to resume the government-to-government relationship. Why then he extended an official visit to Abiy, came out himself and met Abiy in person at the airport, and smiled as I never saw him before? Leadership!

It doesn’t matter the educational background, age, or look of a leader. If the leader is caring, genuine, respectful, and trustworthy, he can win not just his own people but also the hearts of people who aren’t from his/her own tribe/ethnic group, religion, and nationality.

Think of Nelson Mandela, for instance. Blacks, whites, South Africans, Africans, and people outside of Africa loved him! Why? He was a loving, caring, genuine, respectful, and trustworthy leader.

Likewise, Abiy is an Oromo Christian, but people from all ethnic groups and religions love him. As you can see from the pics [above], Isaias and the people of Eritrea also love him!

I’m thankful to God who made this day possible during our lifetime! What just happened in Asmara cannot be attributed to men and women alone. This historic happening is a little short of a miracle!

A quick lesson I want you to learn just by looking at some of the pics released this morning. Do you see how close the two leaders were as they walked together? Have you noticed both having genuine and unpretentious smile on their face? Do you see both leaning forward as they sat down to chat? These are some non-verbal cues that show you that they like and trust each other!

Trust is the glue in any relationship whether in romance, business, or politics. Politicians cannot work together to benefit their respective countries and people if they don’t trust one another.

Trust was missing during Meles and Hailemariam (HMD) years. Isaias didn’t want to gamble with these guys.

Now, when he found a trustworthy leader, he didn’t hesitate a bit. I’m glad that the two trusted each other. When trust is present, leaders can quickly pass past transgressions, forget previous bad experiences fast, break thick walls, build enduring bridges, and make lasting deals,etc…

With these two leaders trusting each other, the future of the two countries and their people, and the Horn is very bright!

Dr. Assegid Habtewold is the author of “The Highest Level of Greatness” and he can be reached at