Al Mariam’s Commentaries
August 14, 2022
Who is minding the Africa section of the store at the U.S. State Department?
Two months ago, Samantha Power, USAID boss, was threatening to unleash a “revolution of dignity” on the world, with Africa squarely in her crosshairs.
On August 4, 2022, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on a visit to Uganda warned she will be kicking ass and taking down names if Africans don’t do what they are told:
African countries can buy Russian agricultural products, including fertilizer and wheat. If a country decides to engage with Russia, where there are sanctions, then they are breaking those sanctions. We caution countries not to break those sanctions because then … they stand the chance of having actions taken against them.
Talk about reading the riot act to African countries!
The United States will not dictate Africa’s choices. Neither should anyone else. The right to make these choices belongs to Africans, and Africans alone.
Dictate rhymes with annihilate.
It is bewildering for Africans: Is it going to be revolution, sanctions or partnership?!
Can Africa make the “choice” and buy oil and gas from Russia without being sanctioned?
Well, European countries sure as hell can!
Duh! Africa is not in Europe! (Silly me!)
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor gave Blinken the dress down.
She told him in the proverbial “present-company-excepted” idiom that Africa will not tolerate bullying by the West:
Because when we believe in freedom – as I’m saying, it’s freedom for everybody – you can’t say because Africa is doing this, you will then be punished by the United States…. One thing I definitely dislike is being told `either you choose this or else.’ When a minister speaks to me like that … I definitely will not be bullied in that way, nor would I expect any other African country worth its salt to agree to be [so] treated.
Biden/Blinken administration’s “new Africa strategy/policy” is a travesty of foreign policy, a JOKE!
Donald Trump is a man with many flaws, but he speaks his mind.
In December 2017, Trump made it clear he did not care about Africans and African/black immigrants in the US.
At one point, he complained why 40 thousand Nigerians who have come to the U.S. would never “go back to their huts”.
For Trump, Africa is a collection of “s**t hole” countries, and he never set foot in the continent.
I don’t have a problem with that as Trump only verbalized what the vast majority of bleeding-heart liberal whites feel but dare not articulate.
Africans can deal with a man who means what he says and says what he means.
Truth be told, I have no problems with Republicans “who believe that foreign aid is the equivalent of welfare for nations, and therefore disagree strongly with the concept of providing this money unless there is a direct benefit to the United States.”
But I have a VERY BIG PROBLEM with those in white face wearing black masks.
White face, black mask
First, it is a misnomer to say Blinken articulated a “new Africa strategy.”
The “new strategy” has little to do with Africa and everything with countering perceived expansion of Chinese and Russian influence in Africa.
But for China and Russia in Africa, the Blinken/Biden administration would not give a rat’s ass if Africa went to hell in a handbasket. Admittedly, they may oblige with a bowl of aid handouts on Africa’s way to hell.
The first African American president whose father was African did little to help Africa become self-sufficient and detoxified from African Aid Addiction (AAA).
In 2011, then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on her African tour dismissively observed,
We don’t want to see a new colonialism in Africa. When people come to Africa to make investments, we want them to do well but also want them to do good. We don’t want them to undermine good governance in Africa.
The Obama administration did nothing to protect Africa from “Chinese colonialism.”
That was black face with white mask.
Blinken’s “new Africa strategy” is about Africa as pawn in the Biden administration’s chess game with China and Russia in Africa.
The Biden administration (a/k/a Obama II) is essentially making the same Clinton argument with one exception.
It is no longer about Chinese colonialism of Africa and exploitation of its resources but protecting American economic and national interests in Africa against ongoing threats by China and Russia.
That is a case of white face, black mask.
So, it is not really a “new Africa strategy” but a “new strategy against China/Russia” in Africa
Over the past three decades, China has made masterful moves in Africa right under the noses of US administrations.
They have played systematic economic and political games to win the hearts and minds of Africans. They are building roads and bridges, railroads and telecommunication towers.
Over the same period, the US has been talking, talking talking. Talking “human rights,” “humanitarian aid,” “counterterrorism”, etc.
Today China exports $100B to Africa and dominates the construction and infrastructure sectors with annual contracts of $40B.
US exports to Africa in 2021 was a paltry $26B!
US exports aid which keeps Africa addicted to handouts, alms and charity keeping Africa a continent of beggars.
Where are the US built roads, bridges, railroads, telecommunication structures in Africa?
All along, US administrations have been moving military “knights” on the African chessboard propping up two-bit African dictators, playing counterterrorism drone games, setting up military bases and mouthing off human rights platitudes and spiels which they don’t believe and apply on a selective double-standard basis.
The “new Africa strategy” is also about countering Russian geopolitical clout across the continent.
Blinken wants to neutralize the “Kremlin-backed Wagner Group, which exploits instability to pillage resources and commit abuses with impunity, as we’ve seen in Mali and the Central African Republic.”
There is no question Blinken is stung by the refusal of many African countries to back US sanctions against Russia in the UN.
In a stunning and unprecedented rebuff of the US, 17 African countries abstained from voting against Russia at the UN General Assembly in March 2022.
Abstaining on such an important issue for the US is the equivalent of a polite, “No, thank you.” You can replace “thank” with another word of your choice.
So much for the power of US aid to buy votes in the UN!
On July 12, 2022, the indicted-criminal and US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez told the Biden administration straight up:
For two decades, the United States and our partners have spent billions of dollars to aid stability efforts by supporting military operations against terrorist actors and by strengthening the military capacity of countries in the Sahel to counter the threat of violent extremists. Despite all of our efforts, we have very little positive to show.
Cotton candy Africa policy
Blinken’s “new Africa strategy” is too little, too late catchup game.
Blinken in his “new strategy for the partnership between sub-Saharan Africa and the United States” speech identified four pillars (“priorities”):
1) foster openness;
2) fulfill the promise of democracy in Africa
3) recovery from the COVID-19 devastation, and
4) energy transition for the continent.
Blinken’s speech began with the usual patronizing, condescending and platitudinous litany.
“And, as you’ve heard, by 2050, one in four people on the planet we share will be African. They will shape the destiny not only of this continent but of the world.”
I. Foster openness
By fostering openness, Blinken
means the capacity of individuals, communities, and nations to choose their own path and shape the world we live in… That means Africans will be masters of their own destinies, authors of their own progress and choose their own allies freely… Openness also means creating pathways for the free flow of ideas, information, investment, which in the 21st century requires digital connectivity… The United States will not dictate Africa’s choices. Neither should anyone else. The right to make these choices belongs to Africans, and Africans alone.
But Blinken speaks in forked tongue.
Blinken expects “African nations to defend the rules of the international system and stand up for the right of every country to have its independence, its sovereignty, its territorial integrity respected, a principle at stake now in Ukraine.”
In other words, the US is disappointed African countries did not support its misadventures in Ukraine, abide by the terms of US sanctions and failure to vigorously condemn Russia and cutting off relations.
Blinken is willfully ignorant.
Abstaining African countries have made it clear they have no dog in a cesspool fight between two elephants as it is always the grass that gets trampled in such fights.
Africans are tired of beings pawns in the global struggle between the superpowers.
The US can dictate its terms and conditions by sanctioning the hell out of Africa, but Africans are sick and tired of being kicked/sanctioned around. And if kick comes to shove and shove to push, they will kick back.
That is what the South African foreign minister told Blinken. Paraphrasing the lyrics of Grandmaster Flash, “Don’t bully us, we’re close to the edge…”
What Blinken should have said but deliberately omitted is the simple principle Africans have been shouting out loud and clear for the past couple of years: AFRICAN SOLUTIONS TO AFRICAN PROBLEMS.
Blinken is willfully ignorant of the true meaning of Africa being the “master of its destiny” is the principle: AFRICAN SOLUTIONS TO AFRICAN PROBLEMS.
Of course, it does not give much confidence to African governments to hear Biden say he will let Ukraine hang out to dry if push comes to shove:
If Mr. Zelensky does not have the weapons with which to evict Russian forces, he will have to give up territory.
When Blinken puts where his money where his mouth is, the price the US is willing to “foster openness” in Africa is $900 million worth of crumbs for “infrastructure that enables that connectivity – an open, reliable, interoperable, secure internet; data centers; cloud computing.”
A drop in the bucket!
II. Fulfill the promise of democracy.
A. Imposing liberal democracy on Africa
Blinken declared, “The overwhelming majority of people across Africa prefer democracy to any other form of government.”
The question he said “is whether African governments can make democracy deliver by improving the lives of their citizens in tangible ways.”
The answer he said is working to “build more effective, accountable African security forces, and diplomacy that’s increasingly being led by African leaders, regional organizations, and citizens.”
Blinken assured Africans,
We won’t treat democracy as an area where Africa has problems and the United States has solutions and we recognize that our democracies face common challenges, which we need to tackle together, as equals, alongside other governments, civil society, and citizens.
Poor governance, exclusion, and corruption inherent in weak (African) democracies makes them more vulnerable to extremist movements as well as to foreign interference. That includes the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group, which exploits instability to pillage resources and commit abuses with impunity, as we’ve seen in Mali and the Central African Republic.
He said the US will drop $200M to “launch a novel approach to good governance, which will make a decade-long investment in promoting more peaceful and resilient societies in parts of Africa.”
The fact of the matter is that Obama/Biden have already demonstrated their vision of democracy in Africa.
In 2015, when the TPLF declared it had won 100 percent of the seats in parliament, Susan Rice, currently Biden’s Director Domestic Policy Council and Blinken’s brain gigglingly declared that it “was democratic 100 percent.”
When Ethiopia had its first free and fair election certified by the African Union, neither Blinken nor Biden issued a statement congratulating Ethiopians.
That is the true measure of the Biden administration’s commitment to genuine democracy in Africa.
B. Peaceful transitions of power, through free and fair elections.
African leaders must not fiddle with their constitutions to remain in power, admonished Blinken.
African governments are the enemies of the African people. Because they are corrupt and incompetent, they cannot deliver economically for their peoples.
African poverty is a function of the bankruptcy of corrupt African governments.
Liberal democracy is still the way out for Africa even though it is undergoing unprecedented challenges in America.
The anchoring principles of liberal democracy including rule of law, individual rights, free and fair elections, right to vote, right to privacy, constitutionalism, separation of powers, market economy, etc. are under extreme challenge in the US.
In 2021, 14 American states enacted 22 laws that restrict voting access, making it more difficult for Americans to vote.
The House of Representatives is currently investigating the January 6, 2021 storming of the Capitol by a mob under the direction and approval of former President Donald Trump.
In the US, the citadel of global liberal democracy, we have monumental human rights problems.
Blinken said nothing about Trump’s attempts to scrap the US Constitution with his “stop the steal” campaign and damn near succeeded as his mob stormed the citadel of democracy.
That would have been a powerful object lesson for Africans in how not to change your government or steal elections.
Is the US fulfilling the promise of democracy for itself?
Practice before you preach.
III. Recovery from the devastation wrought by COVID-19
Blinken said COVID-19 “has dealt a devastating blow to Africa… 55 million Africans have been driven into poverty by the pandemic.”
He said Africa’s economy is in shambles mainly because of “Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine.”
The solution: International institutions will offer debt relief. There will be more than $6.6 billion in humanitarian and food assistance to Africa in the pipeline.
The US will “build on African-led initiatives, such as the Africa Continental Free Trade Area and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.”
The US will “train hundreds of thousands of young African leaders which now has more than 700,000 members. There will be more health clinics and, laboratories and health workers under the PEPFAR (U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program).”
Africa is hungry because of Putin who is weaponizing wheat in his struggle with NATO powers. (African saying: In a fight between elephants, it is the grass that get trampled.)
The US will bail out Africa by arranging debt relief and more IMF/World Bank loans but only if Africa abandons Russia and comes to the US/West.
There will be the usual handouts for Africa to keep Africa on the dole permanently; poor and forever dependent.
Africa will always be a source of disease and pandemics and help will be sent to keep disease and pandemics stay put in Africa.
IV. Clean energy transition
Blinken said, “Africa is the most vulnerable region in the world to the effects of climate change.”
He said in Ghana, the US is building we’re working with partners to build West Africa’s first hybrid solar-hydro plant.
In Kenya, “where 90 percent of the energy comes from renewable sources, U.S. firms have invested $570 million into off-grid energy markets, creating 40,000 green jobs.”
Forget about the much-ballyhooed Obama’s Power Africa program.
In 2013, Obama launched his Power Africa program promising to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa where more than 600 million people currently lack access.
During the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in 2014, Obama reaffirmed that Power Africa’s reach extends across all of sub-Saharan Africa and tripled Power Africa’s goals to work towards adding 30,000 megawatts (MW) of new, cleaner electricity generation capacity and increasing electricity access by at least 60 million new connections.
How much power does Africa have because of Obama’s Power Africa?
It is so ludicrous, one can read the Power Africa 2021 report and find out.
A June 2022 report from Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) concludes “Africa is getting just 12 per cent of the finance it needs to manage the impact of climate change.”
Clean energy transition? That was what Obama’s Power Africa was supposed to do.
What a joke?!
Cotton candy African policy
On March 3, 2021, Blinken said,
In my first major speech as Secretary – I’m going to walk through – walk you through how American diplomacy will carry out the President’s strategy. If we do our jobs right, you’ll be able to check our work – to see the links between what we’re doing around the world and the goals and values I’ll lay out today.
Blinken said “we’ve set the foreign policy priorities for the Biden administration by asking a few simple questions: What will our foreign policy mean for American workers and their families? What do we need to do around the world to make us stronger here at home? And what do we need to do at home to make us stronger in the world?
Blinken’s “new Africa strategy” is like cotton candy.
At first sight/read, it looks substantial, consequential and meaningful.
But when you sink your critical teeth into it, there is nothing but air, hot diplomatic air.
Blinken is all hat and no cattle.
Or in the lyrics of the late great James Brown, Blinken “is like a dull knife/ Just ain’t cutting/ He’s just talking loud/ And saying nothing.” And doing nothing too.
The fact that Blinken is unfit for the job of Secretary of State was presciently foretold by the late Senator John McCain:
A year ago to the month, I made my legal case for the impeachment and conviction of Antony Blinken.
Mismanagement of US foreign policy over the past year and half under Blinken, with Susan Rice, the Princess of Darkness, in the shadows, is the new norm.
Blinken’s freight train of foreign policy failures are mindboggling:
humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, scamming France on an Indo-Pacific submarine deal:
botching response to Haitian refugees at the southern border;
incompetence in managing the America’s Summit 2022;
exclusion of certain African countries from attending the African Summit 2021;
inability to get African countries to support the US position on Russia at the UN;
suffering humiliation in his first meeting with Chinese diplomats;
lack of effective diplomatic response to Russian military action in Ukraine; inability to bring Iran to the negotiating table;
inability to persuade/push for North Korea to denuclearize and on and on.
Blinken talks in forked tongue.
This is Blinken’s second visit to Africa (first visit November 2021), but he has not learned much.
Blinken visited the Democratic Republic of Congo presumably to discuss concerns over tensions with neighboring Rwanda and prevent broader instability in the region.
The real concern was how to keep the paws of China and Russia from accessing rare earth minerals used in many hi-tech devices.
Blinken traveled to Rwanda and lectured President Paul Kagame on democracy, demanded Kagame withdraw from DRC and release from “wrongful detention U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident Paul Rusesabagina.”
Blinken glossed over the complicated situation as the DRC-Rwanda conflict involves not only war refugees, but also the military incursions of many armed génocidaires who fled to the DRC.
So much for countering China’s influence in Africa, at least in Rwanda.
Blinken traveled to South Africa and was read the riot act by that country’s foreign minister who told him, “We will not be bullied.”
The South African foreign minister was particularly miffed at HR 7311, “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act” sponsored by the African American congressman Gregory Meeks, one of the most corrupt and laziest members of the US Congress.
HR 7311 is a slap on Africa’s continental face. The bill
directs the Secretary of State to develop and submit to Congress a strategy and implementation plan outlining United States efforts to counter the malign influence and activities of the Russian Federation and its proxies in Africa, and for other purposes.
The bill further requires reporting on efforts to
manipulate African governments and their policies, as well as the public opinions and voting preferences of African populations and diaspora groups, including those in the United States.
And Blinken pontificates, “Africans will be masters of their own destinies, authors of their own progress and choose their own allies freely.”
Black face, white mask
I can’t tell if Blinken is doing a con job on Africa or downright ignorant and incapable of getting a firm grasp of the failures of US Africa policy over the past decade.
What Blinken is talking about TODAY is exactly what Barack Obama talked about in 2009 and 2014!
During his Ghana visit, Obama announcing his Africa policy said:
I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world – as partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect. We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.
During that speech, Obama noted:
I will focus on four areas that are critical to the future of Africa and the entire developing world: democracy, opportunity, health, and the peaceful resolution of conflict.
Obama identified five U.S. policy priorities in Africa which included 1) strengthening democratic institutions; 2) fostering broad-based and sustainable economic growth; 3) combatting disease and improving public health; 4) preventing, mitigating, and resolving armed conflict; and 5) helping address transnational threats and challenges.
In June 2012, Obama issued his “U.S. STR ATEGY TOWARD SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA”.
Obama repackaged his 2009 speech and declared his strategy toward Africa will be
1) strengthening democratic institutions and boosting broad-based economic growth, including through trade and investment;
2) helping strengthen accountable, and democratic institutions, sustained by a deep commitment to the rule of law;
3) generating greater prosperity and stability, and
4) mitigating conflict and ensure security.
Today, Blinken is pouring old wine in new bottles and handing it over to Africans with cotton candy to sweeten it up.
Blinken’s “new Africa policy” at best is a cut and paste job of Obama’s Africa policy.
It is shockingly unimaginative, visionless, full of clichés and platitudes and demonstrates both depraved indifference and empty-headedness in formulating a realistic policy for Africa that takes into consideration African views and realities.
It ignores and conveniently overlooks inconvenient facts.
One ought not to expect much creativity from a cadre of Obama retreads.
No one should be surprised by Obama/Biden duplicity either when it comes to Africa policy.
Exhibit A: Biden administration’s support for terrorist TPLF in Ethiopia.
There is no better example of Blinken’s lack of imagination and vison than his (Susan Rice’s) policy in Ethiopia.
Since November 2020, Blinken could come up with no more creative idea than to repeat himself like a broken record mindlessly invoking a litany of half-baked proposals:
Immediate end to hostilities and the withdrawal of outside forces from Tigray, including Amhara regional security forces and Eritrean troops;
Full and unhindered humanitarian access in Tigray;
Independent, international, and credible investigations of human rights abuses and accountability;
Condemn the killings, forced removals and displacements, sexual assaults, and other extremely serious human rights violations by Ethiopian government:
Allow immediate return of UN personnel barred from Ethiopia (for covertly working with the terrorist TPLF);
US will rally its allies in the European Union for more sanctions against Ethiopia…
Blinken speaks in forked tongue when he says the US will not “dictate to Africa” and that “Africans will be masters of their own destinies, authors of their own progress and choose their own allies freely.”
Yet, the Biden administration has dictated to the Ethiopian government to the point of conducting state terrorism on Ethiopia to secure regime change and restoration of terrorist TPLF to power as I have amply documented in my legal case.
Biden Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa spent his first trip taking selfies with terrorist TPLF leaders, individuals for whom arrest warrants have been issued.
On May 27, 2021, Biden demanded Eritrean and Amhara forces withdraw from Tigray region.
In doing so, Biden told the Ethiopian government that it cannot have Ethiopian troops in its own sovereign territory of Tigray and that the US will dictate Ethiopia’s foreign policy by exercising veto power on the Ethiopian government decision to deal with neighboring countries,
Africans understand that such arrogance emanates from the white supremacist impulses of the Biden administration. But no African country will tolerate such neocolonial hegemony.
Blinken also talks in forked tongue when he says the US will “build on African-led initiatives, such as the Africa Continental Free Trade Area and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.”
Yet, in September 2021, Biden imposed sanctions on Ethiopia on the pretext of “preventing atrocities” when its real motive was to provide diplomatic, propaganda and tactical support to the terrorist TPLF in its military actions to take over power.
For the past year, the Biden administration has waged a relentless hybrid warfare and grey warfare on Ethiopia.
The list of hybrid warfare activities boggles the mind: official sanctions and condemnations, coordinated Western press-titute media disinformation campaigns, blocking access to World Bank and IMF loans, covert operations using terrorist TPLF and providing satellite intelligence.
The “grey war” operations are even more glaring: coordinated psychological warfare (psyops) to undermine public confidence in the Ethiopian government and create a sense of chaos and anxiety throughout the country, disseminating propaganda to scare American citizens to leave Ethiopia by creating a false sense of war emergency. It has coordinated with the Western press-titute media to slander and defame Ethiopian leaders and foment ethnic tensions in Ethiopia.
To add insult to injury, Biden removed Ethiopia from participation in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) effective January 1, 2022.
Biden thought Ethiopia would be down for the count by being kicked out of AGOA, but Mean Joe’s actions made Ethiopians stronger and more creative. Their attitude now is Biden can take AGOA and shove it.
Time for an African policy towards the Biden administration
What is good sauce for the goose is good sauce for the gander.
It is regrettable Blinken/Biden should underestimate the intelligence of African leaders and peoples.
In his recent visit, Blinken has learned old wine in new bottle and cotton candy ain’t gonna cut it in Africa. Neither will bullying and sanctions.
Another important lesson Blinken should learn is a modification of an old African saying, “Speak softly and don’t carry a big stick.”
The days of big sticks and gunboats are gone. So are the days of sanctions as big sticks.
Once you use your big sticks, the magic is gone and the victims revert into fierce resistance and defiance mode. After that, no amount of soft or hard talking will make things right.
For Blinken to present his “new Africa strategy” as new is not just dishonest but also an insult to the intelligence of African peoples and leaders.
The fact of the matter is that neither Obama nor Biden care much about Africa. Let their records show!
They will do lip service and sing the right songs to make the African natives happy, but fundamentally neither Obama nor Biden (Obama II) has any respect for Africa or Africans.
To them, Africa is a collection of “s**t hole” countries, just like Trump, except Trump has the guts to say it.
Biden will not say it, but he will show it in action– imposing sanctions, trashing the sovereignty of African countries and meddling in their internal affairs.
Be that as it may, Africans are sick and tired of being sick and tired of Biden’s sanctions, threats, harassment and utter disrespect to their sovereignty and dignity.
The writing on the African wall reads defiance, avoidance, hypervigilance, nonacceptance, noncompliance, indifference, independence, perseverance, irreverence and no more deference,
Perhaps it is time to formulate an African policy towards the Biden administration?
Jarring to think outside the box?
To be continued…
Addis Abeba: The Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (EZEMA) Party said that the decision to delimit the administrative boundaries between Addis Abeba city and the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finnfine is a “big mistake” and also called it an “attempt to forcefully impose” whereby the disadvantage would outweigh the advantages.
Following the emergency meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee today, it issued a statement denouncing the administrative boundary work and said it is an untimely decision. In the same meeting, the Executive Committee stated that it understood that the Addis Ababa City Administration and the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finnfine had reached an agreement to demarcate the administrative boundaries.
“Bottom-up” approach should have been implemented to delineate the administrative boundary boundaries between Addis Abeba city and Oromia region, a confidential, high-ranking official working at the Ministry of Justice told Addis Standard.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, he stated that the administrative boundary decision has been set by top governmental bodies and was delivered to the bottom instead of what was supposed to be the inverse. According to him, the public should have been the prime target of the decision, and discussion should have commenced from them. “It is absolutely wrong to pass such a grand decision while neglecting the residents who are directly affected by it,” adding, “discussions have been held among Addis Abeba City Administration, Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finnfine, and higher officials at the federal level,” he said.
Indicating the importance of demarcating administrative boundaries to handle the problems on the ground, EZEMA underlined that the residents in the said areas should get involved and be the owners of the process. The people living in the areas affected by the decisions are “obliged to accept the government’s decisions; as a citizen, it should be known that the right to know and participate in the process should be respected,” the party stressed.
Reinforcing this, the unnamed government official, who spoke with Addis Standard stated that despite some consensus, even among the said officials, the full agreement has not arrived yet. “There should be divisions of wealth and property, including condominiums built by both the city administration and the Oromia region surrounding Addis Abeba have been, among others, the major issues we, the leaders, had heated debate on the how part of the implementation.” He added.
He further expressed that the government officials from the said areas of Addis Abeba and Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finnfine will hold discussions with the residents that will be affected by the decisions. “Taking into account that Addis Abeba is the capital and the seat for the African Union, I am afraid residents of the city who will be delineated under the Special Zone will not be happy. The same holds true for residents of the Special Zone who have built their own unique lifestyle and who are forced to be administered under the city administration,” he speculated the tension.
In this regard, a state-sponsored local broadcasting media interviewed some residents affected by the decision. Zewdu Megera, a resident of Lemi Kura Sub-City told this media outlet that they have consistently been asking both the city administration and the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finnfine to clearly delimit the administrative boundaries, either by using bridges or such signs.
” They both have been giving us controversial replies when it comes to the boundaries and we would have been able to know who to ask had they delimited the boundaries clearly,” he added. Another interviewee, raising the same concerns, stated that when she was seeking services, the city administration and the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finnfine had discrepancies.
Hordofa Demissie, another resident in Lemi Kura, has expressed his concern regarding the matter. “I have neither been accepted by Bole Sub-city nor by Oromia region when I demanded services, including fertilizers, both said I don’t belong in any of the domains,” he complained.
EZEMA’s announcement comes in the backdrop of the decision made that the boundary delimitation will be executed between all the districts around Addis Abeba and the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finnfine. Quoting some unspecified ‘trusted sources’ from Addis Abeba City Administration, local radio reported that on Tuesday, August 9, detailed instructions have been sent to the ruling party [Prosperity Party] member organizations, and respective woreda and sub-city officials regarding the how part of the implementations. Government pundits of the woredas and sub-cities have been instructed to hold talks with residents who will be affected by the decision.
Reports are resurfacing that a designated team that conducted a study using natural and man-made signs to separate the two administrations held discussions with the said area leaders from Oromia and the city’s administration on the matter.
EZEMA party, however, sees the matter cautiously. It pointed out that among others, one of the issues it expected to be resolved under the auspices of the National Dialogue in Ethiopia, is “administrative demarcation”. It, however, criticized the said administrative boundary work and the recent “cluster” organization decisions in the SNNP region. “Such decisions do not take into account the serious problems the country is currently facing,” the statement read.
Recently the residents in Wolkite city, the capital of Gurage zone in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional state, staged protests by boycotting routine activities including civil service works and business activities in opposition to the ongoing cluster restructuring of new regional states in SNNP.
This follows in the footsteps of the submission on 04 August by Kiflu Wanna, Deputy Speaker of the SNNP regional state Council, to the House of Federation (HoF) a cluster of ten zones and six woredas in the region requesting to be restructured in two additional regional states out of the existing SNNP region. The respective Councils of zones and Special Woredas approved the request over the weekend of 31 July.
The new restructuring will merge a total of 16 zones and special woredas in the SNNP region into two additional regional states. Accordingly, the six zones: Gamo, Gedeo, Gofa, Konso, South Omo, and Wolayta zones, as well as the five Special Woredas: Ale, Amaro, Burji, Basketo, Derashe Special Woredas will form one regional state after the HoF approved the request. Similarly, four zones: Hadiya, Halaba, Kembata Tembaro and Silte zones, and Yem Special Woreda will be organized in one regional state. Kiflu has asked the HoF to respond to the requests “immediately based on the constitution.”
The party said that it did not gauge the issue in a subtle manner as ‘Who got what? Who lost what? Stating its assessment of the decision as “highly flawed in terms of relevance and timeliness,” it called on the government to reconsider the matter quickly.
The party announced that the details of the boundary demarcation agreement that was reached between the Addis Ababa city administration and the Oromia regional government will be “thoroughly checked” in the future. Neither the Addis Abeba city administration nor the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finnfine has released any official information regarding the demarcation agreement.
Today I heard from PM Abiy of Ethiopia about the completion of the 3rd filling of the GERD with unimaginable jubilation. I am cognizant that Ethiopia is being challenged by a multitude of political ups and downs. The massacre of thousands of Amhara civilians in Tole, Wolega, the displacement of thousands of Amharas, Oromos, Sidamas, Guarges, and the Tigray war remain lingering challenges thus far.
I am saddened and fermented by the massacres and displacements of innocent civilians. Such acts of fanatical violence and extremism are egregiously out of the Ethiopian normative. Without a doubt, these political pitfalls not only challenge the Ethiopian psyche but also demoralize the spirit of Ethiopianism, something that Ethiopians cherish at heart. Coincidentally, Ethiopians remain bemused by the ill-advised foreign policy of the so-called Western superpowers, particularly the United States and Great Britain.
Nonetheless, during such an unhealthy political environment, the spirit of Ethiopians gets invigorated and lifted sky high by the successes of the Ethiopian athletes in the World Athletics Championships-Oregon22 and World Athletics U20 Championships-Cali 22, Columbia. There is nothing onerous and uplifting than seeing the Ethiopian flag hoisted above others in a highly publicized international sports venue watched by 14 billion eyes on the planet. Ethiopians shone on every television screen in the millions of homes across the five continents of the globe. A world that knew us with the infamous song “WE ARE THE WORLD” has come to know Ethiopia with “WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD”.
The world that once knew us as the poor of the poor has come to understand our determination and resolve to fight poverty. Today, it has been exemplified at the heart of a poor nation by the 3rd filling and the operationalization of the 2nd turbine of Africa’s biggest hydro dam of Ethiopia. Egypt that frustrated Ethiopia’s ability to access international funding has forced Ethiopians to depend on ““crowdfunding” for the completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam estimated at $5 billion-plus US.
As Ethiopia is a symbol of African independence, the GERD has indeed become a symbol of African development and economic self-reliance. The GERD glorified the hopes and spirits of Ethiopians for a brighter future brightened by a light illuminated by the mighty Abbay (Nile) River. Ethiopians including the diaspora are energized by the energy generated from the 2nd turbine of the mega dam project.
As a diaspora Ethiopian, I am mesmerized by the magnanimity of the indomitable spirit of the Ethiopian people (young/ old, literate/illiterate, farmers/workers, politicians/ traders, religious/ community leaders, police & armed forces, diaspora/ migrants, children/youth, students, small vendors, friends/ foes).
I would like to take this opportunity to indiscriminately congratulate the Ethiopian people and the Government of Ethiopia for achieving an important milestone on their road to economic self-reliance. From here on Ethiopia does not need to look back because the Greeks refer to Ancient Ethiopians as ‘blameless’ and ‘ favoured people of GOD.
In conclusion, I humbly advise the Ethiopian government, politicians and people to work towards national unity by scraping ethnic politics. PM Dr. Abiy you have made history with the GERD. If you want to save Ethiopia, please make the 2nd glorious history by correcting TPLF’s ill-advised constitution. The time to do it is now, tomorrow is too late. Congratulations!
GOD BLESS ETHIOPIA!
Semaneh T. Jemere
Ottawa, Canada; August 11, 2022
Ethiopia kickstarted electricity production from the second turbine at its controversial mega-dam on the Blue Nile on Thursday, despite continuing objections by Egypt and Sudan over the project.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also confirmed that a third filling of the multi-billion-dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) was under way, a development that led Egypt last month to protest to the UN Security Council.
Thursday’s move came even though there is still no agreement between Ethiopia and its downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan about the GERD’s operations.
“ይህ ትልቁ ግድባችን:- ፆታ የለዉም | ሀይማኖት የለውም | የተለየ ዘር የለውም | የተለየ ቀለም የለዉም | ይህ ኢትዮጵያዊ ግድብ ነው። ኢትዮጵያዊያን ከተባበርን ምን ላይ መድረስ እንደምንችል ያሳየን ነው።” 💚💛❤️
— Mohammed Aman🇪🇹 (@Mohammedaman44) August 13, 2022
But Abiy sought to reassure the two countries over the impact of the $4.2 billion project and called for negotiations to reach an understanding.
“Any other option will not stop what we have started and will be futile,” he said.
Abiy insisted that the third filling of what is set to be the largest hydroelectric scheme in Africa was not causing any water shortages downstream.
“We have repeatedly told downstream countries, especially Egypt and Sudan, that by generating power we’re developing our economy, as well as (our desire) to see our citizens who live in the dark see light,” he said.
There was “no aim to sideline and harm” those countries, he said.
During a ceremony broadcast on Ethiopian television, Abiy was seen pressing a button to launch the second turbine.
Ethiopia first began generating electricity at the dam in February. Currently, the two turbines, out of a total of 13 at the dam, have a capacity to generate 750 megawatts of electricity.
The GERD is ultimately expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts, more than doubling Ethiopia’s current output.
Project manager Kifle Horo said that overall the dam was now more than 83 percent complete and that the goal was for it to be finished in the next two and a half years.
Last month, Cairo wrote to the Security Council voicing its objections to Ethiopia’s plans to fill the dam for a third year without a three-way agreement.
Egypt depends on the Nile for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water and sees the dam as an existential threat.
Sudan hopes the project will regulate annual flooding, but fears its own dams could be harmed without agreement on the GERD’s operation.
Both have long been pushing for a binding deal over the filling and operation of the massive dam, but African Union-sponsored talks have failed to achieve a breakthrough.
The process of filling the GERD’s vast reservoir, which has a total capacity of 74 billion cubic metres, began in 2020.
The new US envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, discussed the project during visits to both Ethiopia and Egypt last month.
“We are actively engaged in supporting a diplomatic way forward under the African Union’s auspices that arrives at an agreement that provides for the long-term needs of every citizen along the Nile,” he said in Egypt.
The 145-metre (475-foot) high structure straddles the Blue Nile in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of western Ethiopia, near the border with Sudan.
The project was initiated under former prime minister Meles Zenawi, the Tigrayan leader who ruled Ethiopia for more than two decades until his death in 2012.
Professor of Political Science
In order to understand the trajectory of transition from authoritarianism to democracy, we need to look at the roots of the two contradictory world views. The most noted right wing philosopher of authoritarianism is the English thinker, Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) who unflinchingly promoted tyranny by contending in his seminal work, Leviathan that humans are by their very nature selfish and cannot live together in peace and harmony and that they need an authoritarian government for their own good. Hobbes castigated man without authoritarian government as a creature that is condemned to live a short ‘solitary, poor, nasty and brutish, life.’2 The solution for him is constructing a form of government powerful enough to hold a person’s brutal yearnings in check. This, he argued calls for an absolute control where a ruler wields unlimited power over his subjects. Hobbes leaves no space for people to exercise special rights and freedoms because he was afraid it would lead to revolt which would be disastrous for everybody. He envisages the exchange of natural freedom for absolute rule as a social compact, requiring an abandonment of all claims on individual rights that humans possess by nature *Paulos Milkias, Ph.D. McGill (Dean’s Honor List) is currently professor of Political Science at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. His most recent book on Ethiopia has been adopted into the Special Collection of Culture by the Smithsonian Institution: https://siris-libraries.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?&profile=liball&source=~!silibraries&uri=full=3100001~!1033564~!0#focus and voluntary capitulation to any decree enacted by the sovereign.3 It should not be surprising that Emperor Haile Selassie embraced this philosophy wholeheartedly though in later years he was forced by circumstances to cede some power but not enough which triggered a revolution of rising expectations and the fall of his modernizing autocracy in 1974.4 Right-wing authoritarianism is an ideological stand identified by three correlated attitudinal and behavioral attributes.
1.High degree of submissiveness to the authorities by citizens.
2.Boundless aggressiveness directed by rulers against dissidents.
3.Demands for a high degree of adherence to the traditions and social
mores that are perceived to be endorsed by established authorities. One can enumerate four axioms of the authoritarian regime. They are: Upholding: state power as the fundamental force that brings about social integration and appropriate application of authority. For this philosophy, the State is an institution that stands above all other forms of social organization. As such it is expected to exert control and expect obedience to it. Failing that violence may be used if need be. The general society is controlled by a minority group or philosopher kings that as long ago as the 3rd century BC Plato suggested. It also boldly proclaims that the rule of the majority is not real, that it is, in reality, an illusion. The philosophy claims further that Minority Rule is the Best and that the select minority are endowed with Wisdom: That wisdom is what Plato assigned to a small group of selected intellectual elites who through the investigation of nature and society have discovered the right laws governing historical processes. These processes are expected to be endowed with competence, experience in government and talent for leadership. Left Wing Authoritarianism: crafted by Russia’s Vladimir Lenin, and China’s Mao Zedong are on the opposite pole. For Marxist-Leninists and adherents of Mao Zedong Thought, violence with which order is secured is ubiquitous. Politics without violence is so vacuous in their view that Mao boldly stated that power flows from the politically superior to the politically inferior; and that “political power comes out of the barrel of a gun.”5
The two contrasting philosophies of the right and the left evoke continuous debate. What is more important, however, is their implementation in actual political life. It was Karl Marx himself who made an epigamic statement in his thesis on Feuerbach: “Philosophers have …interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”6 But we should not forget that philosophers always have their practitioners waiting in the wings! In this paper, I am more interested in practical implementation than in theoretical debate. Theoretical exposition serves only an analytical purpose: it creates a framework for a historic-sociological analysis of the transformation of a real authoritarian system into a democratic one. Authoritarian regimes have dramatically increased in the world in recent decades. Considered in terms of timeline, following the fall of Fascism and Nazism at the close of the 2nd World War, and later the implosion of Stalinism, authoritarianism did not dissipate. It only appeared in a new form in countries that gained independence from colonialism in the Global South. Meles Zenawi’s TPLF is one of them.
Hobbes nemesis is Jean Jacques Rousseau who, in the opening line of his famous book, The Social Contract, stresses “Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains.”7 In this, Rousseau contradicts the already established Christian doctrine of man as a villain because Christian theology asserts that humans are innately evil on account of inheriting Adam’s original sin. Rousseau clearly rejected Hobbes assertion that humankind at its core is ‘bad’ and instead suggested that humans are born ‘good’ though they are corrupted by society. In his book, Emile, he stated: “Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the author of nature, but everything degenerates in the hands of man.8 He argued, that when they are born, humans are not only free; they are endowed with ‘innate goodness,’ and compassion. Contrary to Hobbe’s suggestion that the sovereign is divinely ordained and omnipotent, Rousseau claimed that “one who thinks himself the master of others, remains a greater slave than they.” 9 10Rousseau was egalitarian par excellence. He believed that because all humans are supposed to be free and equal by reason of their nature, they should remain free and equal under the state. As opposed to giving precedence to the sovereign and his hangers-on, the aristocratic classes, Rousseau argued in his book, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1755): “it is plainly contrary to the law of nature that the privileged few should gorge themselves with superfluities, while the starving multitude are in want of the bare necessities of life”11. For Rousseau, each individual possesses the right to political participation in perfect equality with others such that the state that is established with his participation should enable him to partake in the common good. For him, the right to freedom is the sine qua non of the existing state. It should not be surprising that these bold ideas gave impetus to both the French and the American revolutions. As he might have hoped, both ultimately evolved into a contemporary liberal democracy.
In opposition to the authoritarian axioms, described earlier, the democratic axioms state that the state is socially created, that it represents the will of the society as a result of which the citizen’s main attribute becomes the right to define social mores and to establish the type of governance it believes is just. For the democrat, the state should be created by a constitution. In such an arrangement the competence of state and its powers have to be clearly defined. The competence of the organs also needs delimitation. It should be made clear which aspects of social life are to be controlled by the state and what aspects remain residual and reside with the individual. In peoples’ democracy, the state is linked to the society by intermediary bodies, such as civil societies, political parties, and associations, organized by various groups of citizens wishing to protect their cherished interests and to promote their ideals. Individual citizens must be equipped with inalienable rights belonging to them as persons, both as “human beings” and as “members of society.” The most important among these are freedom of thought and freedom of speech. Citizens should also be allowed to form associations, hence the right to an unencumbered civil society.
The democratic ethos asserts that the self-sustaining propensity of society takes precedence over the organizing activity of the state, such that society is the ultimate source of power. The authoritarian philosophy gives precedence to the supremacy of the state over society and conceives of the existence of a state as an essential variable of any organized social activity. It assumes that state power comes into existence either in the structure of power itself or in a strong commitment to power that can be amassed and when needed used by those in ruling position. It construes state power as a variable that is never a product of social contract but rather one that is imposed.
Transition from Authoritarianism to Democracy
An organic relationship between state and society is identified theoretically and philosophically in two ways: one is authoritarian, and the other is democratic.12 These opposing philosophies advanced by medieval scholars provide answers that are poles apart regarding two questions: The first question is which of the dual entities that are globally ubiquitous: society or the state, that should have an upper hand in power relations; and two what is the source of state power?13In a democratic construct, the self-organizing predisposition of society takes precedence over the power driven organizing pursuit of the state, such that society is the ultimate source of power. The authoritarian hypothesis insists on the supremacy of the state over society which it portrays as a requisite of structured social norms. For the latter philosophy, power is self-sustaining and flows from the configuration of power itself or emanates from the strong will to power which mounts up and manifests itself through the efforts of gifted personalities or well organized social classes and elites. For advocates of authoritarianism, state power is not an outcome of social contract. Rather it is an exclusive special variable that is enforced from above.
Jacques Rousseau greatly contributed to the ideas now enshrined in liberal democracy as long ago as the 1760s. For Rousseau, the general will, which is collectively held by citizens aiming at bringing about what he calls “the common good,” should dictate what is to be done by the state. In his Social Contract (1762), he argued that freedom and authority are not contradictory, as long as laws are promulgated by the will of the citizens who will be obliged to obey it. For Rousseau, as a member of the political community, the individual citizen is only obeying himself.14Democraticphilosophy was also persuasively advanced in the works of a Britain’s academe John Stuart Mill. In his treatise On Liberty (1859) Mill contended on utilitarian grounds that a person’s liberty cannot be legitimately denied by any authority including a government, an organized society, or a group of individuals barring a situation in which the person’s action causes damage to others.15 Mill went on and proposed basic freedoms detrimental to democracy, chief among which are freedom of association freedom of thought and unencumbered exchange of ideas. Mill also vigorously argued against legal restrictions on the expression of individual opinion and the freedom of thought. —- READ MORE—-
By Dr. Suleiman Walhad
August 10th, 2022
The Red Sea, the Gulf of Berbera and the Somali Sea separate the Horn of Africa from the Arabian Peninsula, where the widest water separation between the two regions is about some 355 km. Historically the two regions were always connected through trade and people movement from one region to the other. This was a trade which mostly favored the Horn of Africa States as this region supplied most of the sustenance and food of the Arabian Peninsula. At times it also involved manpower, even. The connection of the two regions still continues but now favors the Arabian Peninsula, which over the past six decades turned out to become one of the wealthiest regions of the world. The labor migration from the Horn of Africa States continues but now the trade between the two regions favors the Arabian Peninsula.
The change has caused an upheaval in the two regions where one still believes in the sanctity of the relations between the two regions and the other needs to demonstrate its stronger hand. Accordingly mistrust between the two regions have crept up into the relations as the Arabian Peninsula confident of its newly found wealth seems to over-exploit it, thus interfering in the rule of law and governance of the Horn of Africa States. The trade and manpower relationship between the two regions is no longer the mainframe of the link between the two regions but the wealth and application of what it can buy, is the main determinant of the relations between the two regions. Gulf Arab inspired piracy, terrorism, clan/tribal competition in the Horn of Africa States all financed by Arab wealth have become major impediments to the rule of law and governance in the Horn of Africa States.
In 2018, Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace treaty between themselves, but this was not done in either Addis Ababa or Asmara. It was signed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with the presence of the Emirates as well, and this was prompted only by the wealth of the Arab Gulf States. Djibouti, another Horn of African State was also invited to the signing ceremony. The latter has a border dispute with Eritrea.
How is it possible that the Horn of Africa States, which have historical, cultural and even ethnic ties, unable to solve problems among themselves and resort to third parties whose interest lies is in the disruption of ties among the Horn of Africa States? This is a major puzzle and a question for the region’s leadership both governing and opposition! Even as we pen these words, we know the relationship between Somalia and Ethiopia, both of the Horn of Africa States is sinking, because of the actions or inactions of Arabs and their newly found wealth with respect to terrorism being exported into Ethiopia.
Many analysts read this as attempts of the Arab Gulf States to project power, but it is far from that. The Horn of Africa States is actually better situated to receive, fuel and service international shipping than Dubai or any other Gulf Arab state for that matter. The Horn of African ports of Massawa, Assab, Djibouti, Berbera and Bossaso are all better placed to serve international shipping than any Arab Gulf port including but not limited to Dubai, Salalah and even Jeddah on the Red Sea. The port of Aden is already out of commission as was designed and executed by the Emiratis. The worsening of relations between the two regions is, indeed, prompted by insecurity on the part of the Arab Gulf States and hence fear of the competition that these Horn of Africa States’ ports may pose to the business of the Arab Gulf ports and mostly to Dubai’ Jebel Ali.
The insecurity is further demonstrated by the fear of the possibility of closure of the Strait of Hormuz, which is a major passage of crude and gas exports from the Arabian Peninsula by the Iranians. The Saudis were building pipelines to bypass the Strait of Hormuz for some 20 years now and they have built export terminals on the Red Sea and hence the need to secure this important seaway from the Somali Sea through the Gulf of Berbera, and Bab El Mandab to the Suez Canal.
Despite being Muslims, the Arab Gulf States have also forgotten that charity is not a way to diplomacy. If one is a donor, it is for Allah, as Islam advises and not for gains. It would seem the Arab Gulf States use their newly found wealth to gain footholds in the Horn of Africa States to control them. They forget that other major powers of the world offer better than mere dollars. They cannot build roads and rail and they cannot build factories or other infrastructures and technologies, even through loans. The claim that they invest in logistics, ports, and trade development remains a lame excuse for fear of losing to other ports and this is a far greater motive. They, indeed, depress-cum-suppress the growth of other ports. Djibouti found out of the ploy long ago and cut off the relations with DP World with great difficulties.
The Horn of Africa States has long historical relations with the Arab Gulf States, but those relations of old is no longer in place because the Horn of Africa States is now poorer of the two and Arabs only respect power. They associate themselves with the more powerful and not with the poor. They believe, because the Horn of Africa States is poor, they can dictate to them their will. It is where the Arab Gulf States are making a major blunder. The Horn of Africa States is a tough region despite being poor. They are a people who can die in hunger and never lose their intrinsic pride, despite the existence of few bad apples, like any other society.
The Horn of Africa States not only lies in a strategic location along the path to the Suez Canal but is also the source of the Nile waters that feed Sudan and Egypt and traditionally these two major factors generally determined its peace. How well they manage these two issues was always a determinant of the fate of the region. Both Sudan and Egypt never entered into the internal affairs and clans and ethnic groups of the region. The entry of the insecurities of the Arab Gulf States into the scene, has mudded and messed it up and truly poses an existential threat to the Horn of Africa States region. Today the whole region is embroiled in clan/tribal civil wars and terrorism and to a large extent, they all emanate from the insecurities of the Arab Gulf States. It is up to the leadership of the region to wake up to this new threat and face them boldly. They do not need the “qualche dollaro” they offer.
The SEED countries of the Horn of Africa States need to strengthen the economic, political, social, cultural, and security cooperation of the region to face off the threats posed by the insecurities of others. Peace and continuing reconciliation among the countries of the region would open new pathways including economic integration to cooperate and would change the landscape of relations in the region. Instead of the tag “Conflict-Ridden Region”, it should carry another tag the “Peaceful Region”. Arab Gulf States should know that the region is not a threat to them but need to survive too!
Ethiopia’s Somali region is mobilizing against al-Shabab militants to prevent further incursions by the group.
The region had been hailed as the most peaceful in Ethiopia since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018. But that was put to the test three weeks ago when al-Shabab fighters forced their way into the region, igniting a deadly confrontation deep in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has now amassed troops along the border for possible military operations against al-Shabab. But the Somali region is also mobilizing community leaders including religious scholars, women and traditional elders. Business leaders have pledged funds and pastoralists have donated livestock to the security forces. The apparent goal is to resist infiltration of al-Shabab’s ideology in a region known for its tolerance and peaceful cohabitation between various faith communities.
Sheikh Mohamed Hassan Burawi is one of the clerics who spoke out against al-Shabab during a recent government-organized gathering in the region’s capital, Jigjiga.
“They want to manipulate people by saying they want to spread religion and jihad,” Burawi told VOA Somali in a phone interview. “We have to give people awareness that what these men are preaching is not jihad, but it’s independent of the religion.”
Burawi said the Somali region does not need al-Shabab’s intervention, and said the scholars are obliged to speak at mosques and inform the public about the militant organization.
“This is the right time to speak out,” he said. “We should not give these men a chance, the government should not give them a chance and the clerics should not give them a chance. We have to stop them here.”
Samira Gaid, a security expert and executive director of the Mogadishu-based Hiraal Institute, said the community appears for now to be ready to reject any al-Shabab incursion.
She said al-Shabab has been struggling to build a support base inside Somali Region.
Although extremist groups in Somalia so far have failed to set up permanent bases in Ethiopia, they have succeeded in recruitment. Ali Diyaar, commander of al-Shabab’s Ethiopia front, and several other commanders who were reportedly involved in the recent incursion are from the region. Al-Shabab has also recruited from other Ethiopian communities, including from the Oromo.
The picture that is emerging from the region indicates the operation against al-Shabab fighters has been lengthy and more complex than previously reported by authorities. It appears security forces have been engaging the militants until at least late last week.
Two Ethiopian officials, one a diplomat and the other a security official who requested not to be named because they are not allowed to speak to the media, admitted that some of the al-Shabab fighters have reached their target — a mountainous area that stretches between the Somali and Oromia regions.
The number of militants who reached there is estimated to be between 50 and 100. But Somali Region officials repeatedly reported that al-Shabab militants who entered Ethiopia have been crushed. They ruled out the possibility that al-Shabab fighters are organized as a fighting force inside the region.
“Operations have officially lasted four to three and a half days,” the region’s deputy security chief Mohamed Ahmed Gurey told VOA Somali last week.
Gurey said al-Shabab’s strategy in Ethiopia has “failed.” Officials said they have seized weapons, walkie-talkies, SIM cards, phones, rice and sugar — indicating the militants planned for a lengthy operation inside Ethiopia.
“Since then, people in the rural areas and villagers have been hunting them, but their remnants have been apprehended yesterday and the day before in different locations,” Gurey said. “They are on the run. Some are trying to return to Somalia. Some are thirsty and don’t know whether they are going. All that remains is clearing up.”
Officials believe al-Shabab wanted to reach the mountainous area near the small town of El Kari located close to the border with Oromia. The region’s officials confirmed the militants have been courting locals in that vicinity for at least a year. El Kari is in an area where locals have some grievances stemming from land disputes, and where some locals may feel their concerns are not being addressed by the local administration, an official said.
The social integration of the locals is more connected to the southern regions of Somalia. The area is also strategic, mountainous and with enough water to support a farming and pastoral community.
Officials believe al-Shabab was building a local cell for at least a year. On July 15, five days before the al-Shabab invasion, regional security forces conducted an operation in the El Kari area that killed a local cleric identified as Sheikh Mohamed Hassan Osman. The region’s security chiefs accused him of being the al-Shabab “worker” in the area.
Osman’s body was displayed by the authorities, who described him as an al-Shabab commander. He allegedly fought against the security forces. Officials said they confiscated weapons during the operation that led to Osman’s killing.
“The information we have is that this man was important to al-Shabab and a pillar for their attempts to destabilize Ethiopia,” Gurey said.
He said al-Shabab’s target in this incursion was the El Kari area, which Gurey argues proves the information they had about Osman was correct.
Authorities alleged Osman possessed extremist views and was known to the authorities for many years.
“The view about him was that he is an extremist who will cause fitnah (trouble) sometime,” Gurey said.
Osman’s relatives could not be reached for comment.
Al-Shabab vowed to fight the Ethiopian forces and also has been conducting its own mobilization along the border.
BELEDWEYNE [SMN] – Ethiopian warplanes have bombed parts of the Hiran region in central Somalia today.
The shelling took place in the areas of Bagda, Qabno, and Cowmaad located between the districts of Mataban and Mahaas in the Hiran region.
According to local residents, the airstrike targeted areas where Al-Shabaab militants were present.
There is no statement from the Ethiopian government or Al-Shabaab regarding the air raid and the official losses that resulted.
It was recently when the fighters of Al-Shabaab launched an attack on the border areas of Ethiopia.
Published by Permission from the Journal of defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis
Founded in 1972. Formerly Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily
Volume XL, No. 38 August 9, 2022
Analysis. By Gregory Copley, Editor, GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs.
How is it possible to find hope for Ethiopia in the wake of hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and millions of people displaced and impoverished by power-seeking militants over recent years?
Those searching for positive developments in Ethiopia in mid-2022 could point to the fact that the massacre, on June 19, 2022, of at least 200 ethnic Amhara civilians by Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) militia in Tole — a village in Oromia region — may not have been just one more futile loss of innocent lives.
This latest OLF genocidal atrocity may have finally forced Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali to go hard against the OLF and its associates. The deaths — on top of the tens of thousands of deaths, injuries, and displacements of the past two years — may finally been enough to have stirred Ethiopia and the world into action.
Dr Abiy was quoted on July 8, 2022, as saying that, as a result of the June 19, 2022, OLF “massacre”, as Dr Abiy described it, and the June 27, 2022, mass killings in Hawa Gelan district of Qellem Wolega area of Oromia, the Government would now “eliminate” the organization. This would be difficult, given the extensive foreign support to the OLF, particularly from Egypt.
Until now, Dr Abiy has held off dealing as harshly with the OLF secessionist, marxist rebels as he did with the Tigré (Tigray) Popular Liberation Front (TPLF) — another extreme marxist group which controlled Ethiopia from 1991 to 2018 — largely because the Prime Minister is himself half-Oromo (and half-Amhara) and is the Oromo’s political leader within the Federation. The OLF is, in essence, an enemy inside Dr Abiy’s own tent, and is committed to the secession from Ethiopia of Oromia, the most populous region, and to breaking up the Ethiopian Federation.
The Tole mass killing event, which the OLF blamed on “retreating Government forces”, was just one of hundreds of OLF rampages, often conducted in concert with the now-quiescent TPLF which rampaged outside Tigré Region. Dr Abiy had been reluctant to prosecute a major suppression of the OLF — despite the fact that it was declared an illegal terrorist organization — for fear of being labeled “pro-Amhara”. The Amhara have suffered sufficiently in recent years to believe that Dr Abiy has proven his loyalty to the Oromo wing of the ruling Prosperity coalition.
Even the US journal, Foreign Policy, has allowed itself to be used as a tool of the OLF, claiming that Abiy’s attempts to hold together the Ethiopian Federation were merely attempts to use “Christian nationalism”. The OLF is a radical marxist organization and the Oromo population is mixed between Muslim and Christian. Dr Abiy’s father was Muslim, although he is a protestant Christian, not Ethiopian Orthodox, and the OLF — and Foreign Policy — attempted to paint him as trying to restore the primacy of the Orthodox Church which has been dominant in Ethiopia since the Fifth Century CE.
Dr Abiy has had enough, and was expected to use the National Defense Force to suppress both the OLF and any remnants of the TPLF (and several other terrorist and guerilla groups associated with both movements). The TPLF itself has not given up hope of pulling Tigré out of the Federation, and, despite the fact that Dr Abiy’s Government had, in June 2022, created a new reconciliation body to resolve the dispute with the TPLF, it was now attempting to control the reconciliation agenda. The TPLF rejected the African Union (AU) moderator in the peace talks, former Nigerian Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo, and has demanded that Kenyan Pres. Uhuru Kenyatta moderate, instead.
The TPLF is militarily exhausted, but not yet defeated. The US Government has been seen as the discreet supporter of the body, and had attempted to persuade European Union states and the UK to support the TPLF against the Ethiopian Government. Most European states, however, have rejected that pressure from Washington, and the EU Commission itself had earmarked 1-billion euros in aid for Ethiopia until 2027.
Many Ethiopians look to the Ethiopian Crown and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as overarching entities which could help restore harmony.
Reacting on June 28, 2022, to “the senseless massacre of innocent Ethiopians in Wolega and Gambela”, the President of the Ethiopian Crown Council, Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, the grandson of the late Emperor, noted: “Nearly two decades ago, the Crown Council under my leadership announced its aim to be a strictly non-political institution. We stand by that goal. But it is not political to ask all Ethiopians to rise above party and ethnicity. It is not political to demand that our government and its leaders act quickly and decisively to protect the lives of all Ethiopians. And it is not political to remind Ethiopia that its Crown can help to unify and heal our country today, as it has at many moments in our past.”
In July 2022, the Ethiopian Government began talks with foreign creditors to restructure its debt. And despite the widespread drought in the Horn of Africa due to the El Niño phenomenon, Ethiopian wheat production had now begun to surge.
Inflation, which had surged immediately after the Tigré war began in November 2020, was, by May 2022, beginning to reduce (from 37.2 percent to 34 percent). A shortage of foreign currency, however, was limiting Ethiopia’s ability to import food and fertilizers, but some of the food shortage was also a result of the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
According to World-Grain.com, Ethiopia’s wheat production in the 2021-22 marketing year was expected to be a record 5.18-million tonnes. Wheat production in Ethiopia has traditionally been limited to smallholder farmers who rely on rainfall, but the Government recently allocated $6-million to create better irrigation and provide access to farm machinery. Ethiopia remains a net importer of wheat, importing about 25 percent of domestic demand. Ethiopian barley production in the 2021-22 year was 2.36-million tonnes, a slight increase over the previous year. But Prime Minister Abiy has committed to making Ethiopia grain independent within the coming decade and, despite the vagaries of El Niño and La Niña climate cycles, that is now a visibly close achievement.
Meanwhile, skirmishes between Sudanese and Ethiopian forces continue in the disputed border region of al-Fashaga, close to the Ethiopia-Sudan- Eritrea border conjunction, and this has as much to do with internal Sudanese politics and Egyptian support as it does to new territorial claims.
US State Dept. attempts to isolate Ethiopia, and support the TPLF separatists, have clearly not succeeded, and US allies — along with Russia, the PRC, and even Iran — have been anxious to support the unity of the ancient Empire which is critical to the stability of the Suez-Red Sea trade route. Key to making the breakthrough into stability and a return to economic growth would be finding a creative solution to the Egypt-Ethiopia dispute over Nile waters, given that this dispute has fueled Egyptian attempts to destabilize Ethiopia.
In the short term, it is up to Prime Minister Abiy to eradicate the terrorist movements, and make the reforms he promised before the 2021 elections to the communist-based Constitution.
Al Mariam’s Commentaries
August 8, 2022
Is three a charm? (Behold, the charming Gang of Four.)
By January 2022, TPLFeltman, a bloviating blowhard, had crashed and burned after he was outed as a TPLF agent.
He earned the title of “Ethiopia’s Grinch and Ebeneezer Scrooge”.
Mean Joe (Susan Rice) then tapped David Satterfield in January 2022 as a replacement for TPLFeltman.
Satterfield bailed out in April 2022, apparently because he was not willing to be puppet mastered and given marching orders by Susan Rice.
On June 1, 2022, Michael Hammer was appointed as the third special envoy to the Horn of Africa.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement explained: “Hammer’s appointment underscores our abiding commitment to diplomatic efforts in the region, most urgently in support of an inclusive political process towards peace.”
Hammer tweeted back:
I knew right off the bat Hammer was a Susan Rice gofer and stooge.
On June 1, 2022, I tweeted back with prophetic certainty Hammer would crash and burn because “Susan Rice sent ya to be a terrorist TPLF negotiator.”
Blinken’s statement about Hammer supporting an “inclusive political process towards peace in Ethiopia” meant only one thing: Pressure and threaten Ethiopian government officials with crippling sanctions unless they agree to a power-sharing arrangement with the terrorist TPLF and ultimately hand over power to them.
The fact of the matter is that Hammer does not “work for the American people”, as he tweeted.
Hammer works for Susan Rice, the “American Woyane,” who masterminds and manages the gang of TPLF terrorists in Ethiopia from the US.
Truth be told, Hammer should be re-designated as “US Special Envoy on Behalf of the TPLF.”
Hammer is Susan Rice’s gofer, lackey and stooge.
From 2009-2011, in the Obama administration, Hammer served as Special Assistant to the President, Senior Director for Press and Communications, and Spokesman at the National Security Council at the White House.
From 1999-2000, Hammer served in the Clinton administration as Deputy Spokesman for the National Security Council.
As a Foreign Service Officer, Hammer served in Bolivia, Norway, Iceland, and Denmark.
Hammer’s only experience in Africa is his ambassadorial assignment in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2018-2022).
Hammer was the Obama administration’s spinmeister defending the 2010 Ethiopian election allegedly won by the TPLF by 99.6 percent.
Human Rights Watch commented, “The 99.6 percent result was the culmination of the government’s five-year strategy of systematically closing down space for political dissent and independent criticism…”
On May 25, 2010, in its Preliminary Statement and Final Report the European Union observer mission stated: “the electoral process fell short of certain international commitments, notably regarding the transparency of the process and the lack of a level playing field for all contesting parties.”
On May 25, 2010, White House National Security Spokesman Mike Hammer said:
We are concerned that international observers found that the elections fell short of international commitments. We are disappointed that U.S. Embassy officials were denied accreditation and the opportunity to travel outside of the capital on Election Day to observe the voting. The limitation of independent observation and the harassment of independent media representatives are deeply troubling. An environment conducive to free and fair elections was not in place even before Election Day…
After visiting Mekele, the terrorist TPLF stronghold and taking selfies to his heart’s content, Hammer (and his sidekick) issued a joint press statement.
In that statement, Hammer proved beyond a shadow of doubt that he is a terrorist TPLF negotiator!
Hammer issued three orders in his statement to the Ethiopian government:
1) Undertake “a swift restoration of electricity, telecom, banking and other basic services in Tigray”;
2) “imperatively” provide “unfettered access to Tigray accompanied by the lifting of sanctions on cash fuel and fertilizers;” and
3) provide “access to the International Commission of Human Rights Experts in Ethiopia to investigate a credible investigation.”
No orders for the TPLF!
All they TPLF leaders have to do is watch Ethiopia being screwed as they sip on “chilled screwdrivers”, their favorite cocktail drink, from the balcony at Axum Hotel in Mekele.
The Ethiopian government’s response to Hammer’s statement was direct, forthright and unambiguous.
Redwan Hussien, Ethiopian Minister for National Security tweeted, “The bottom line? The AU (African Union) is the only channel and has been reiterated in no uncertain terms once again.”
Translated into street language, “Hammer can take his statement and shove it up!”
Hammer as Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo
In 2018, Hammer made all sorts of promises and pledges if confirmed as ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC):
If confirmed, I intend to continue our efforts to combat corruption and increase transparency, advance credible elections and a peaceful democratic transfer of power, continue this important humanitarian effort while seeking to address the underlying drivers of this urgent crisis and help set the DRC on a path to sustainable development and self-reliance, prevent future epidemics and potential pandemics.
Hammer’s record in the DRC has been a total failure.
Hammer pledged to combat corruption in the DRC at his confirmation hearing.
In 2018, DRC ranked 161/180 on the Corruption Index.
In 2021, DRC ranked 169/180 on the Corruption Index.
In 2021, 85% of Congolese thought corruption increased in the previous 12 months and 80% of public service users reported paying a bribe in the previous 12 months.
Hammer made no effort to alleviate corruption in the DRC.
Hammer pledged to improve the electoral process in the DRC at his confirmation hearing.
General elections were held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in December 2018.
In August 2021, a 44-page USAID-commissioned White Paper entitled “Recommendations for Electoral Reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo” was issued in anticipation of the 2023 DRC election.
The White Paper made dozens of recommendation for electoral reform including constitutional and legal reform, amendments to the Constitution, organic law and other related laws, reforms of electoral and election dispute resolution mechanisms, consultations with political parties, observer groups and so on.
Hammer sat on his duff and did nothing to help implement any of the White Paper recommendations to help the Congolese.
Now, DRC is facing the real prospect of civil war over the 2023 election.
In March 2022, former DRC President Joe Kabila “declared war” stating, “it is impossible to organise the (2023) election in the current context.”
To complicate matters, there is widespread opposition to the electoral commission, the Constitutional Court and the proposed electoral law as the 2023 election looms.
Hammer gave new meaning to the old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Mike, “The Hammer”, slipped outta DRC to become special envoy as DRC slowly descends into civil war.
To add insult to injury, instead of helping out the DRC, Hammer was meddling and destabilizing the DRC.
Hammer was widely criticized for interfering in DRC’s domestic politics.
In 2020, the speakers of the two houses of the DRC parliament protested Hammer’s “meddling” and “activism”.
Hammer, in arrogant audacity, responded saying the Congolese people love him and “constantly ask for America’s support and express appreciation for our contributions.”
Hammer hammered the “old (DRC) political establishment that is determined to cling on to power for personal financial gain and try to hide behind arguments of nationalism or make accusations of foreign interference.”
Hammer pledged to “help set the DRC on a path to sustainable development and self-reliance.”
According to a June 30, 2022 World Bank report the DRC ranked the DRC 164/174 countries on the 2020 Human Capital Index:
DRC’s Human Capital Index is 0.37 which is below the SSA average of 0.4. This means that a Congolese child born today can expect to achieve only 37% of their potential, compared to what would have been possible if they had benefited from a full, quality schooling experience and optimal health conditions.
Hammer did absolutely nothing “help set the DRC on a path to sustainable development and self-reliance.”
Hammer pledged to help “prevent future epidemics and potential pandemics” in the DRC.
The only thing Hammer has done to prevent epidemics in the DRC, particularly ebola, was to deliver a self-congratulatory speech and post an op-ed on a State Department website.
As of July 2022, under Hammer’s watch, the total amount of assistance for ebola prevention in DRC and Guinea is $3.5 million, a paltry sum considering the rapid spread and deadly nature of ebola outbreaks.
It appears Hammer spent most of his time in the DRC binging on gourmet food.
Hammer’s first trip as “Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa”: Special grey war operations?
Hammer’s service with the State Department mainly involved Scandinavia and Latin America.
Peter Pham, formerly a special envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa from 2018 to 2020 and a TPLF fellow traveler, commented Hammer’s inexperience in African affairs is a blessing because unlike Feltman and Satterfield he comes to the Horn with connections to key African leaders and without baggage.
Pham noted Hammer is
different from others. He’s very active publicly, Twitter, etc. so it’s a different type of diplomacy. In these types of settings you have to go with your sense of the native intelligence, experience, and good judgement of the person you put in there; and on all three of those, I would score Michael highly.
I believe Hammer was selected to become special envoy because he was the only one Susan Rice could find to send on a fool’s errand.
Rice wanted a “yes man” who would respond, “how high?” when told to jump.
Rice appointed Hammer because she is so obsessed and possessed with the passion to save the terrorist TPLF and Hammer — naïve, ignorant, callow — fit the bill.
Which self-respecting American diplomat would agree to become special envoy having watched his predecessors crash and burn after serving in the position for just months?
Hammer was selected because he is a fool who will rush in where angels (and even devils) fear to tread.
On July 23, 2022, the State Department announced
Hammer will travel to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Ethiopia between July 24-August 1 to provide U.S. support for Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations and review progress on delivery of humanitarian assistance, and accountability for human rights violations and abuses as well as efforts to advance peace talks between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan authorities.
But before travelling to Ethiopia, Susan Rice had made arrangements for Hammer to do a dog and pony show for the “Ethiopian diaspora.”
It was a Zoom meeting with individuals described as “Ethiopian diasporans.”
The person who coordinated the diaspora Zoom meeting is a woman named Nora Dempsey.
On her Linked In page, Dempsey describes herself as follows:
I am currently leading Ethiopian diaspora outreach for the State Department during a particularly challenging time for Ethiopia.
It boggles the mind the US government should hire someone at an annual salary of $157,709 to do “outreach” in the “Ethiopian diaspora”.
What is so special about the “Ethiopian diaspora” that the US government has to hire a highly paid bureaucrat to look after them?
Or is Dempsey running a special psyops and surveillance on “Ethiopian diasporans”?
Out of which State Department office is Dempsey operating in her “outreach” to the “Ethiopian diaspora”?
Or does Dempsey operate out of a secret covert special psyops office for “Ethiopian diasporans”?
Who appointed Dempsey to become “Ethiopian Diaspora Outreach Officer” and with what specific duties?
How was the special office created for Dempsey? Under what legal authority?
We shall leave these question for another day.
More fundamentally, I am not sure what Dempsey means by “Ethiopian diaspora.”
I know there are Ethiopian Americans just like any other group of immigrants in American society.
Just like there are Nigerian Americans, German Americans, Italian Americans and so on.
The fact of the matter is that there is no other diaspora group for which the US government has assigned a “diaspora relations” officer?
So, why are Ethiopians singled out for such special treatment?
The fact of the matter is that Dempsey is an old Susan Rice & Gail Smith gofer.
Between 1999-2000, Dempsey was Director of African Affairs at the National Security Council.
During that time, Dempsey worked closely with Gail Smith (USAID Administrator 2015-2017) and Jendayi Frazer, Bush II’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (2005-2009).
During 1999-2000, Smith was the National Security Council’s African Affairs “Office Head” tasked as follows:
The African Affairs Directorate advised and assisted the President and National Security Advisor on all aspects of U.S. foreign policy with respect to Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy, politics, security and humanitarian concerns. (See pp. 40-41 at link above.)
Incredibly, at that time Dempsey and Smith plotted to subvert Voice of America for State Department propaganda purposes in violation of Sec. 206, Title V of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 as amended.
Sec. 206 mandates
VOA will serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news, represent America, not any single segment of American society, and present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively and present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies.
In email exchanges, Dempsey and Smith were plotting to use VOA to “perform an important role” and sought to meet with VOA officials and underscore to them the “role” they can play and prevent them from “hurting our peacemaking efforts and our shared hopes for the people of the region. We need to make contact with VOA, get them on the team and start working on their scripts.”
Indeed, start working on propaganda scripts purposes in violation of Sec. 206, Title V of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 as amended.
The fact of the matter is that Susan Rice, Gail Smith, Samantha Power and Nora Dempsey and others have been working together for decades advancing a foreign policy within US foreign policy!
It was this Nora Dempsey who arranged the so-called “Ethiopian diaspora” meeting for Hammer.
Following the meeting, the Bureau of African Affairs tweeted:
There was no explanation how Dempsey selected the diaspora Ethiopians for inclusion or exclusion in the Zoom meeting.
In response, Neamin Zeleke, a well-known and highly respected Ethiopian American human rights activist in the US tweeted:
A diplomatic fool on a fool’s errand
Mike Hammer is a disgrace to American diplomacy and brings shame to the American people pledged to serve at his confirmation hearing.
Hammer is clueless!
About Ethiopian and Horn politics.
Clueless about the position of “Special Envoy.”
Clueless about diplomatic decorum, professionalism and ethics.
Admittedly, neither Ethiopia nor Africa in general are top priority for the Biden administration to send the best and brightest diplomats.
But is a downright insult to Ethiopia and Africa in general to appoint such a buffoon as special envoy.
Hammer is so enamored with the TPLF terrorist leaders he forgot he was a high-level special envoy tasked with addressing extremely complicated situations in the Horn region.
It is crystal clear Hammer has not done his homework when he waddled his way into Addis Ababa.
Hammer was taking selfies with terrorist leaders like a teenage groupie taking selfies with rock stars.
The TPLF leaders with whom Hammer is “selfi-ing” are genocidal warlords and war criminals.
The TPLF leaders and their organization has been designated “terrorist” by the Ethiopian government.
Hammer is proud to take selfies with leaders of an organization classified as terrorist by the US government until that designation was lifted in 2014.
Hammer taking selfies with terrorist TPLF leaders is the equivalent of Thomas West, the Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation taking selfies with Taliban terrorist Sirajuddin Haqqani who remains on the FBI’s most wanted list.
The two terrorist leaders with whom Hammer was taking selfies are on the Ethiopian Government’s Most Wanted Terrorists List with a warrant issued for their arrest.
The TPLF is to Ethiopia as Al Shabab is to Somalia.
Hammer’s selfie with the terrorist leaders proved to the Ethiopian people and Africa that the US can never play the role of honest broker in the conflict in Ethiopia.
What was Hammer thinking (assuming he can think, of course)?
The selfie with the terrorist leaders will forever define him in the eyes and minds of the Ethiopian people. Mike, the TPLF hammer!
Could Hammer be conducting “Selfie Diplomacy”?
The fact of the matter is that Hammer is not only ignorant of the history and customs, he is also clueless about diplomatic decorum.
A 17th century English diplomat is credited with the observation, “A diplomat is “an honest man sent to lie abroad for his country.”
Hammer is a US diplomat sent to Ethiopia to take selfies with terrorist leaders.
Hammer is clueless there are at least two types of “diplomacy.”
There is the usual “government diplomacy” which involves conducting business between and among governments conducted through bureaucratic institutions and processes. Such diplomacy is the staple of foreign policy.
Then there is “public diplomacy” in which governments aim to communicate directly with foreign publics to establish a dialogue designed to inform and influence with the aim that this foreign public supports or tolerates a government’s strategic objectives.
The US Department State, for instance, has an Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs which “leads Department efforts to expand and strengthen the relationships between the people of the United States and citizens of other countries by engaging, informing and understanding the perspectives of foreign audiences.”
Hammer’s selfie and openly cozy lovey-dovey relationship with the TPLF terrorist leaders has completely destroyed the government and public diplomacy of the US in Ethiopia.
Today, the Biden administration is widely seen by the Ethiopian public as an incorrigible and unrepentant supporter of the terrorist TPLF and an implacable enemy of the Ethiopian people.
In November 2021, I made the legal case against the Biden administration for state terrorism in Ethiopia.
In Ethiopia today, the Biden administration is viewed with great suspicion.
Thanks to the Biden administration, American diplomats have a reputation for duplicity, immorality, mendacity, lack of veracity, opacity and stupidity.
They are viewed as arrogant allies of the terrorist TPLF and will leave no stone unturned to destroy the democratically elected government of Ethiopia and replace it with the terrorist TPLF.
But over the past year and half, American diplomats in Ethiopia have shown arrogance, ignorance, stupidity, unabashed partiality towards the terrorist TPLF and mindboggling incompetence in their government and public diplomacy in Ethiopia.
Elihu Root, Teddy Roosevelt’s Secretary of State and 2012 Nobel Peace Laureate wrote,
More fights between natural persons come from insult than from injury. …. Nations are even more sensitive to insult than individuals. One of the most useful and imperative lessons learned by all civilized governments in the practice of international intercourse has been the necessity of politeness and restraint in expression.
The business of diplomacy requires great care.
While this may come as a complete surprise to Hammer, it is true that one of the principal functions of a diplomat, especially a special envoy, is to transmit official messages and report responses as well as objectively describe and interpret the diplomatic environment.
Much diplomatic reporting is about “informing and shaping policy through prophetic reporting and analytical writing.”
What kind of report will Hammer prepare for Blinken, or more accurately to Princess of Darkness Susan Rice?
Hammer has failed as he has lost all credibility with the Ethiopian government and the Ethiopian people!
As I predicted the day Hammer was appointed, Hammer has crashed and burned as a special envoy in Ethiopia.
Hammer’s second failure is that he has trapped himself in a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Hammer will now report to Rice and Blinken the Ethiopian government is just as they described them.
He will report Ethiopian leaders are intransigent, unreasonable, stubborn, inflexible, cantankerous, recalcitrant… blah blah blah…
So, Hammer’s report will only serve to justify decisions Rice and her underling Blinken have made.
HAMMER ETHIOPIA WITH CRIPPLING SANCTIONS THE WORLD HAS NEVER SEEN!
Hammer would have best served the American people (instead of Princess of Darkness Susan Rice) he has claimed to serve when appointed special envoy if he were in a position to objectively present the Ethiopian government’s position instead of inevitably slanting his report to fit the perceptions and predeterminations of Rice and Blinken.
A diplomat without any credibility is a “dumbplomat.”
Mike Hammer is a “dumbplomat”!
A 17th century English statesman and diplomat observed, “Nothing is so fatal to a nation as an extreme of self-partiality, and the total want of consideration of what others will naturally hope or fear.”
Hammer’s extreme partiality to the terrorist TPLF has made him a laughingstock among the Ethiopian people.
I pity him for his abysmal lack of diplomatic professionalism and ethical awareness in his ebullient and extreme partiality to the terrorist TPLF.
In my view, in any other country, Hammer would have been declared persona no grata and kicked out forthwith.
Minimally, any other government would refuse to do business with him as an official diplomatic agent of the US government openly working on behalf of a terrorist group.
The “classic function of diplomacy is to effect the communication between one’s own government and other governments or individuals abroad, and to do this with maximum accuracy, imagination, tact, and good sense.”
Hammer has as much imagination, tact, and good sense as Mr. Magoo.
Mr. Magoo is a bumbling cartoon character who runs around putting himself in comical situations because of his extreme near-sightedness and inability to acknowledge a problem he is facing.
Hammer is the Mr. Magoo of American foreign policy putting himself in comical situations with terrorists.
Unlike Hammer, Mr. Magoo rescues himself from the sticky situations he puts himself in.
I wonder if Mike Magoo. before taking the job, asked himself or others why Feltman crashed and burned, and Satterfield bailed out in just a few months.
I pity Chargé d’affaires Tracey Jacobsen!
(BTW, a chargé is appointed when the level of relations between two states is lowered to below the ambassadorial level. The chargé is accredited to the Minister of Foreign Affairs instead of the head of state. Ambassador Geeta Pasi “retired” after serving less than a year. Word on the street is that she would not take marching orders from Susan Rice.)
Jacobsen has been on the job since February 2022.
She has been on a charm offensive for months travelling all over Ethiopia.
While I have reservations about her, outwardly she appears to be working to improve US-Ethiopia bilateral relations.
As the Hammer fiasco unfold, I can imagine Jacobsen pacing the embassy grounds grinding her teeth and talking to herself, “This damned fool has messed up the work I have done rebuilding frayed relationships. In one fell swoop, he wiped it out all.”
In 2008, during the presidential campaign, Samantha Power promoting her book in Britain said of Hilary Clinton:
We fucked up in Ohio. In Ohio, they are obsessed, and Hillary is going to town on it, because she knows Ohio’s the only place they can win. She is a monster, too – that is off the record – she is stooping to anything.
Well, the same can be said of Hammer in Ethiopia.
Hammer will stoop to anything to carry out Susan Rice’s commands. She is a monster too.
Hammer has messed up in Ethiopia, big time!
African solutions to African problems
I do not know why the Biden administration insists on playing a “mediator,” “broker” role in Ethiopia.
Correction, I do.
The Biden administration, that is Susan Rice, will not rest until she restores the terrorist TPLF to power in Ethiopia. Period!
All I can say is, “No rest for the wicked!”
What is the bottom line?
Ethiopian Minister for National Security has answered the question with crystal clarity.
Hammer is a clown and a disgrace to American diplomacy and MUST resign
It is an insult to appoint someone like Hammer special envoy to any part of Africa, let alone the Horn with so many problems.
In the end, Mike Hammer is widely seen in Ethiopia as clown.
As in Bozo the Clown.
As in Bozo Mike, “America’s Most Famous Special Envoy Clown” in Ethiopia.
In Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” the melancholy traveler Jaques protests:
A fool, a fool, I met a fool i’ th’ forest,
A motley fool. A miserable world!
As I do live by food, I met a fool,|
“Good morrow, fool,” quoth I. “No, sir,” quoth he,
“Call me not ‘fool’ till heaven hath sent me fortune.
“Goodbye Hammer,” quoth I.
Indeed, a motley fool. A miserable world!
As I do live by food, I met a fool.
What more can I say?
Turning from the sublime to the ridiculous, it is about Porky Pig Diplomacy.
And in the memorable words of Porky Pig,
“T-T-T-That’s all folks!”
On Tuesday 9th August, Kenyan voters will be heading to the polls for the 2022 General Elections, where they will vote to elect a new President, as well as voting to elect members of the National Assembly, and members of the Kenyan Senate. In addition to this, local county governors and candidates for the country’s 47 county assemblies will also be on the ballot this year for voters’ consideration.
Elections on Twitter
During any election, Twitter serves as a centralised hub for real-time political conversation and commentary, electoral resources, journalistic reports live from the campaign trail as well as a tool for people to hear directly from political representatives themselves.
Our work to make Twitter an engaging and healthy platform for political discourse is long-standing; in 2019 we banned political ads as we believe political messaging should be earned, not bought; we’ve expanded our policies around election misinformation and continue to add context and notices to Tweets with manipulated media, to ensure people have the context they need.
2022 Kenyan Elections
Today, we wanted to share the steps we’ve taken and the trusted local partnerships we have, ahead of the 2022 Kenyan elections, ensuring the debate on Twitter is healthy, open and safe. Our work also ensures that Twitter continues to serve as the go-to place for people to see what’s happening, participate in the conversation, track campaign trails and consume verified information, so voters can make informed choices about what’s most important to them in this election.
As we work to improve the health of the public conversation – particularly during civic events like elections – we are committed to reaching beyond Twitter to integrate diverse perspectives that make our service better for everyone. As part of that, we have partnered with a number of organisations to further amplify credible information during the Kenyan election.
Elevate Credible Information: One such partner is Africa Check; established in 2012 as the continent’s first independent, nonpartisan fact-checking organisation that debunks dangerous statements, and empowers people to engage with information critically, while also building a culture of fact-checking across Africa. In the build-up to the Kenyan elections, Africa Check – which is part of the Fumbua collective, continues to combat false narratives, amplify accurate information and lead the activation of critical media literacy work across the region.
“We are pleased to collaborate with Twitter as part of our election work in Kenya. The collaboration will allow us to address dis- and misinformation by fact-checking claims and identifying potential misinformation. We will also highlight accurate, verified information ahead of the election on the platform so that voters can make informed decisions. Media literacy programmes are a proactive strategy to fight misinformation and allow us to use our fact-checking work to inoculate people against false information proactively and empower them to critically understand, analyse, and evaluate information instead of simply consuming and sharing it. We believe this enables them to make evidence-based decisions vital ahead of elections. Notably, the partnership with Twitter will deepen the impact of our media literacy project as it will allow us to reach a broader audience.” – Africa Check
This work is key to the protection of the election conversation and we look forward to continued partnerships and collaboration with Africa Check and all our other partner organisations, up to and after the Kenyan elections.
Ahead of the elections, Twitter worked with Kenyan partner organisations on verifying accounts of Government Agencies, Candidates, Political Parties, Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), News Organisations and content creators. The blue Verified badge on Twitter lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic and notable – giving people on Twitter more context about who they’re having conversations with so they can determine the way in which they engage with a certain account.
Our teams are working to ensure that voters in Kenya are directed to credible information while they spend time on our platform. In line with our efforts to amplify credible information, we have been able to launch the following features:
Today we launched a custom Kenyan elections Emoji that will be activated by the hashtags #KenyaDecides, #KenyaDecides2022, #electionske #electionske2022. The bespoke Emoji, which pictures a ballot box with the Kenyan flag draped around it, aims to promote the discoverability of the election conversation and encourage active citizenship and a peaceful election process.
We have launched an election prompt in collaboration with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in both English and Swahili. The search prompt is a notification service that directs people in Kenya to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC’s) website where Kenyans will be able to access credible information about the elections when searching for keywords on Twitter, associated with the Kenyan General Election.
Our Twitter Curation team is supporting the 2022 Kenyan Elections with the creation of election Moments which are curated stories designed to address misleading and false information around the presidential elections.
These Twitter Moments, will include key dates, and general guidelines for participating in the electoral process from credible sources, including Kenya’s electoral regulator IEBC, media outlets, and fact-checking organisations.
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Dr. Suleiman Walhad
August 6th, 2022
The SEED countries i.e., the Horn of Africa States own and straddle a complex but fortunately centrally located strategic region in the world. It owns a significant youthful population on a large geographical space of some nearly 1.9 million square km involving mountains, plains, plateaus and coasts and it enjoys sunshine around the year and plenty of rain that feed the Great Nile River, but it is also paradoxically exposed to irregular rains, dry weather, and droughts in large parts of its vast lands. Many are awed and fascinated by the immense potential of this region and try to disrupt it and exploit every conceivable slight differentiation in its historical context, current infrastructure, and peoples and countries of the region, both politically and economically, fearing that an economically integrated Horn of Africa States would be difficult to manipulate for their own nefarious ends.
Historically, throughout human history, the Horn of Africa States region was always at the crossroads of trade and people movement among the African, Asian, and European continents. Empires and sultanates have grown and subsided in the region throughout history and both Christianity and Islam have entered and embedded themselves in the region almost from the beginning of each religion, but despite few short-lived struggles between the two religions, adherents of both have been largely tolerant of each other for millennia. The region is the source of the lifeline of countries to the north of the region i.e., it is the source of the Blue Nile, the Sobhat and the Atbara rivers, which provide most water to Sudan and Egypt. It also owns and straddles the main shipping seaway that feeds the Suez Canal and hence trade between the three old continents of Africa, Asia and Europe through the Red Sea, Gulf of Berbera and the Somali Sea.
The region is so important that it always draws the attention of the great powers of the world. At one time it was the Greeks and the Persians, which was replaced by the struggles between the Romans and the Persians, and this was followed by colonial Europe which dug and operated the Suez Canal for nearly a century. This was followed by the competition between the Ex-Warsaw Pact led by the Ex-Soviet Union and NATO led by the United States. Today, the same struggles and competition continues over the control of the region between the superpowers of China and Russia on one side and the United States and Europe on the other, although there are also some intermediate powers struggling to have some footing in the region. All of these competitions only cause headaches for the region’s leadership and protract the miseries of the people of the region who are already suffering from the effects of climatic changes affecting the entire planet. The region of the Horn of Africa States remains one of the most affected areas in the world, where droughts and famines are ever more becoming a regular occurrence.
And because of the mess and chaos in the region, forces of evil, terrorism and all kinds of unwelcome actors have found themselves a safe place to breed and cause havoc not only to the local populations of the region but also to the world and most importantly to neighboring regions as well. The region is now exposed to increased arms trafficking activities which imperils not only the population of the region but also any chances of reconciliation. The illegal trade in arms appears to be a lucrative and profitable business and some of the big boys of the region perhaps play a part. It is one of the sad news of the region, which connects it to all kinds of nefarious activities including transnational terrorist groups, drug smuggling, and other conflicts.
Despite these negative tags, the Horn of Africa states, poses another poster picture. There is the possibility of both individual country and regional peace and the possibility of enhanced co-operation among all the members of the SEED countries. Relations among these countries after passing through the problems and difficulties of the past century and half are bound to have hiccups on the path to common addressing and common understanding of regional issues, but the main goal remains shining and could be achieved. It is often said that one cannot change the past, but changes start always somewhere, and a new page is always better to start from where one stands. No one can change the past, but one can change what is coming and determine where the end would be, and the Horn of Africa States region is presently on the start line. The future is wide open, and possibilities at its door are vast. Would the leadership of the region (both ruling and opposition groups) seize the opportunity? But the Horn of African States citizen has also a choice and he/she should persuade the leaders to work towards lifting up the region and not sinking it further.
The Horn of Africa States owns potentially undeveloped but exploitable resources such as crude oil, gas, gold, copper, silver, platinum, iron ore and even coal and more. The region also owns vast tracts of fertile soil, wildlife, and not so small tracts of forest cover. One should not forget that the region owns some 4700 km of coastal belt and even longer coasts surrounding its many Islands and this represents an economic world of its own – a blue economy which could include not only fishing and shipping but also trade, tourism, manufacture, and mineral extraction and even marine sports. However, its main importance comes from its strategic location, which the region has yet to exploit to its fullest.
This is a region which links the East and the West, the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. It is where a substantial portion of world oil and gas (some 11%) and a significant part of world’s other goods passes through. Note it connects the Red Sea, the Bab El Mandab, and most importantly one of the most important chokepoints of sea transport, and the Indian Ocean and is a gateway for the Suez Canal, without which this man-made water channel would end up to naught. It owns major ports needed for international trade and mostly for the African continent, for which they are major entry points. One must note that the African continent is a source of some 40% of world’s raw materials, and it owns plenty of both water and energy sources, which makes the world tick, signifying its essentiality for global economic growth.
The region is the origin of coffee and exporter of one its best qualities, generally and wrongly referred to as Coffee Arabica. It should be Horn Africanus or Ethiopian to be more precise. It is also home to indigenous grains like the teff and other food plants like the ensette and its own barley, wheat, sorghum and millet native grains. Despite the mostly man-induced shortage of foods in the region, it owns great farmlands which can feed not only its population but many others and especially those in the dry Arabian and Egyptian lands. It is where the latter two regions have failed, for they do own financial resources, which could have enabled them to cooperate with the Horn of Africa States which owns the lands and the water to grow food to feed both populations, instead of disrupting the lives of the people of the Horn of Africa States through unnecessary conflicts, arms supplies and endless political maneuverings.
The Horn of Africa States region further owns a large youthful population, which is a hidden asset. They can be easily trained and adoptable to modern mechanisms of production when such opportunities are made available. The leaders of the region need to pay attention to this important asset, which should not be wasted in senseless clan/tribal conflicts and regional disturbances. This would be a major defense wall against uninvited foreign intruders like terrorists and mercenaries and other evil forces that today mark the region. As people move from the rural areas to urban settings, the region would need to prepare for this mobility of people, preparing the old urban centres and the new ones that would come up to accommodate reasonable living conditions in terms of roads, streets, drainage, sports and culture, schools and healthcare facilities and many other aspects of life. This would require, of course careful planning and resources and minimizing internal conflicts and using the resources of the region for development would be the correct path.
The region is generally agricultural and manufacturing plays only a minor role. Services are also limited, while transportation is hampered by the underdeveloped road and rail infrastructures of the region. Ethiopia remains the largest economy with Somalia, after decades of civil chaos, barely recovering. Djibouti’s economy is generally based on services while Eritrea remains a small agricultural economy. Generally, the region would need to co-ordinate and plan together for the future, where complementarity would play a major role. Ethiopia, for example would be the main source of energy and in fact labor. It does own the largest population. Somalia and Eritrea and Djibouti would offer the long coast for development of ports and other infrastructures that would employ many of the unemployed youth of the region. Should the negativity surrounding the region be reduced, there would the intrepid investors who would come to invest in the land and seas of the region to make money. The region’s governance should be able to change the stiff and unfriendly legal systems currently in place in most countries to accommodate those investors and others. No one would be taking the land. Let the investors make money and make money for the region as well. It is when you scratch the back of others, that they would scratch yours too, but nothing is free. Preparing oneself for foreign investors is not an easy process, but one must know that investors would only come to make money and not for other ulterior motives. As long as they make money, they would stay. It is on the onus of the leadership to bring them in and keep them in. Mostly this is related to the legal infrastructures, for like all business, there are always contracts and legal agreements whose clauses and articles must be protected and maintained. The rest depends on efficiency and ease of governmental services, skills and costs. The region should work on all fronts for minimal costs and efficient services to attract investors who would attract more investors, all intending to make money.
Skills are assured through good education and the region should educate its populations to enable them work in the new technologically advanced world we live in today. Poor education, outdated curricula and poor management would need to be addressed and updated to handle 21st century skills. Another important aspect which most countries overlook is that investors from outside would also bring in skilled personnel from beyond the region not only to train the local staff but also to manage the projects they are investing in. They would also bring in their families and sometimes their friends. What is important for them, as is also important for the local populations, is the availability of a good healthcare and reliable system, including but not limited to hospitals, but doctors, nurses and healthcare personnel and good health insurance companies. Many countries overlook this and find themselves disappointed when most foreigners leave or advise potential investors not consider investing in the region.
The Horn of Africa States is potentially rich but poor currently. To unlock its prosperity, the region would need:
It is always better for the SEED countries to swim together and not sink divided.
By: Merhatsidk Mekonnen Abayneh
The Origin of Peace
The genesis of peace is rooted in the evolution and normal functioning of the human race. In that case, The very survival of the human society is attributable to the collaboration and positive interaction between and among its various groupings. For a Genuine Peace to flourish and last long, therefore, there Needs to abound or prevail a Healthy Political Discourse between and among the belligerents in any given context.
What Explains or elucidates Peace In the first Place?
The familiar definition of peace is the absence of war or the silence of gun fire. But its actual content is broader and deeper than that.
Peace may be posited as an essential condition in which things keep going and functioning to the extent they are bound or prescribed to happen by nature. It is an indispensable and core bedrock for the origination and sustenance of both for human and nonhuman beings altogether.
The Public Nature of Peace
When universally approached, peace is comprehended more as a unique public treasure than a simple private possession. If perceived from a macro-level standpoint, it turns out to be a key prerequisite for the very existence of a society and state.
Galtung and his Conceptualization of Peace
Yohan galtung is a distinguished Norwegian sociologist well noted for his seniority as the ‘ father of modern peace and conflict studies’. Following his rigorous inquiry, he has unveiled the two classic dimensions of peace as a notion: ‘negative peace’ and ‘positive peace’.
According to him, negative peace simply denotes the absence of war and violence in a given situation. Positive peace, however, presupposes the elimination of contradictory and unjust relations between and among different communities and other groups such as national oppression, domination, exploitation and social inequality prevailing in a given context.
The Position of Government Authorities in Relation to Peace
Worldwide, governments may temporarily pacify and securitize their jurisdictions by primarily using a brute force at any cost. If peace is to hold firm and long-lasting on the ground, though, it must be driven at and achieved by peaceful or nonviolent means and methods.
Peace vs. Other Essentials
In terms of Relations, peace is inextricably linked with sustainable development, without which the latter would be impracticable, to say the least . Likewise, it is aligned with the administration of criminal justice and the reign of public security when it comes to the national system of governance.
The Right of the Peoples to Live in Peace
The right of the peoples to live in peace is a fundamental right to be collectively enjoyed as a whole. It was recognized and pronounced by the UN Declaration on the Right of People to Live in Peace.
This historic declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly Resolution No. 39/11 on November 12 1984.
The Declaration does, among others, recognize that “the maintenance of a peaceful life for peoples is the sacred duty of each State”. Its initial provision contained in Art. 1. Solemnly proclaims that “the peoples of our planet have a sacred right to live in peace”.
Art. 2. Of this soft instrument equally and correspondingly provides that “the preservation of the right of peoples to peace and the promotion of its implementation constitute a fundamental obligation of each and every state”.
In Ethiopia, we have introduced the Ministry of Peace little known elsewhere while revising our principal government structures in 2018. Paradoxically, though, the general status of our peace and security has been deteriorating by the day since we have opted for this mechanical reform in place.
As it stands now, the named ministry does not appear to diligently promote and strive for peace to the expectation of the general public or citizenry.
What a ridiculous burden added to the country’s already swelling bureaucratic constellation!
The Leadership in Charge
The present political leadership in Ethiopia vows to transform the country by bringing about prosperity in all its manifestations. But that very desire remains elusive and is a wishful rhetoric in a rather hostile and toxic atmosphere due to the conspicuous absence of peace and stability.
Obviously, where durable peace and harmony are fraught with a huge deficit, there won’t be an ideal platform for an overall national progress and prosperity no matter what effort might be exerted under the circumstances.
What Price to Pay?
Ethiopia finds itself amid adverse and volatile political terrain at the moment.
What price should the poor country pay and for whom in order to regain genuine peace and reliable security it has been deprived of and normalize itself in the wake of the senseless war and devastation it had to suffer for no legitimate cause?
Unilateral Cessation of hostility?
humanitarian-induced trucelike the one agreed upon between the Federal Government and the terrorist TPLF Rebels on the initiation of external brokers?
Territorial concession or adjustments which the TPLF wants occur between the Amhara and Tigray Regions as per the persistent demand of the terrorist group?
Constitutional overhauling and the courageous alteration of its ethnic-based federal system?
Politics as a Mode of narrowing Differences
In its contemporary understanding, politics is an orderly mode of settling differences by gentle means other than war and military confrontation. But what we do observe in Ethiopia today on a routine basis is poisonous hatred and rife animosity sadly expressed on ethno-linguistic and religious lines.
To begin with, the nature and operation of the mainstream Ethiopian politics is not that dynamic to serve the purpose of peace. What largely characterizes or symbolizes the essence of our politics since the 1960’s and 1970’s is bitter hatred and authoritarianism usually expressed in the form of internecine warfare and mutually assured destruction.
Internecine hatred is, on its part, detrimental for an intergroup harmony in a peaceful co-existence.
The Heavy Cost of False Imagination
Ordinary Ethiopians are currently tired of being manipulated and persuaded for unrealistic heaven of peace and prosperity in a relentless leadership address.
Nevertheless, peace is not something to be preached out of false imagination of what is to come about in the future, but to be experienced in real life at the present.
Working for peace is not as easy as warming up for war.
It is not sufficient to pretentiously and repeatedly bark in the air that Ethiopia shall not be dismantled for good. Such an empty rhetoric has to be backed up by a healthy and meaningful political action.
This may best be explained by the following verse from Artist Getish Mammo’s fresh Amharic hit recently released to our appeal and formidable taste.
The song is entitled ‘ወደኋላ’-
እሳት ይዞ መጥቶ እያቃጠለኝ፤
ሠላም ነው ይለኛል ሠላም ሳይሰጠኝ፡፡
To our reluctance, we are witnessing the country’s accelerated disintegration as a unified nation with its sovereignty intact. There is no question that an already politically volatile nation with scores of rather hostile and polarized elites is as good as a dismantled one.
Under no circumstances could you manage to pacify a nation staggering amid internal strife while instinctually working toward its friction and gradual disintegration at the same time.
The Mixture of my fear and Hope
Had it been for the misguided appetite of our irresponsible and maddened elites, Ethiopia would have turned into a vanity to date. I have to emphasize here that it is the strong social fabric and inter-communal bondage which have existed for ages that still maintain the country in its present state.
Let me hope and only hope that Ethiopia may stand as firm and unified as ever. If it is to fall apart as some reactionaries Covet or strongly desire, however, Amhara may not be the first to either initiate the process of or join in the course of its demise.
By Aklog Birara. Dr.
[ Part 3 of 8}
The Horn of Africa is one of the most coveted geopolitical spaces on earth. Today, the Horn that con- sists of Ethiopia as its primary hub, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Somalia is the epicenter of the “new Cold War.” Egypt exploits this “war” to maintain its hegemony over the Nile in general and the Abbay River (the Blue Nile) in particular. Ethiopia challenges Egypt’s outdated and colonial orthodoxy. The two countries have been competitors since time immemorial.
Egypt intends to continue its hegemony over the Nile River through alliances and proxy wars. On July 25, 2022, Egypt Daily News reported that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and newly elected Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud “discussed GERD dispute and the Red Sea security.” At about the same time and for the first time in years, the terrorist group Al-Shabab attacked Ethiopia.
It is critical to remember as a background that Somalia is a worn-torn, broken, and fractured country that still suffers from constant atrocities by Al-Shaba. So, the question I pose is “How in the world does the President of Somalia justify siding with Egypt at a time when his own country faces constant terrorist threats from Al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda and other extremist forces?”
The club of deaths and mayhem
Terrorists TPLF in the North, Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in the South and northern Shoa, the Gambella Liberation Front and the Benishangul Peoples Liberation Movement in the North-west of Ethiopia, newly minted ethnic movements like Kimant and Agew groups in the Amhara region–all in concert and separately continue — to inflict pain and suffering on innocent Ethiopian civilians, especially babies, the unborn, girls, women, and the elderly.
Egypt’s ultimate strategic objective is to keep Ethiopia lawless, insecure, fractured, and poor. The need for water is not the sole objective. Egypt has numerous alternatives such as desalination, recycling, water conservation and exploitation of its immense and untapped aquifers. Keeping Ethiopia poor and conflict-ridden assures Egypt “hegemon” over the region.
Why is Benishangul-Gumuz a focal
Wikipedia describes the strategic importance of this regional state. “It shares a border with Sudan. It was previously known as region six.” The TPLF and its allies determined that it was imperative to alienate the huge and lucrative land mass called Metekel from the Amhara region and incorporate it into the newly formed Benishangul-Gumuz regional state. The TPLF regime left Amhara Indigenous people who constitute most residents exposed and vulnerable.
“Following the adoption of the 1995 constitution, the region was created from the westernmost portion of the Gojjam province (the part north of the Abay River), and the northwestern portion of the Wellega Province (the part south of the Abay). The name of the region comes from two peoples – Berta (also called Benishangul) and Gumuz.”
Metekel is strategic in two ways a) it sits on the most fertile land masses in Ethiopia and b) it is the heart of the Blue Nile River (Abbay). “The region is home to Africa’s largest hydroelectric power project (GERD). The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) started generating electricity last month. It is situated in Metekel zone of the regional state.” The district called Dangur envelopes the former Metekel district. The TPLF, OLF and other ethnic parties alienated it from Gojjam/Amhara with the intent of a) depriving Amhara of fertile and irrigable lands and b) incapacitating Amhara from controlling the Abbay River (Blue Nile) that has enormous potential for hydroelectric generation and irrigation dams.
Intolerable killing fields and proxy
The killing fields of Ethiopia do not just happen because Ethiopians hate one another. Domestically ethnic elites and their foreign allies trigger, encourage and support these killings and displacements to
2 | THE ART OF DOMINANCE: CONSPIRACIES AND PLOTS AGAINST ETHIOPIA redress the past and re-write history. Externally, Egypt, the European Union and the United States operate with domestic operatives to exercise dominance over Ethiopia; and shape its political future. The killing fields in Benishangul-Gumuz, Oromia, northern Shoa, the Amhara region and around Addis Ababa are normalized and given legitimacy for a reason. The implicit moral arguments and justifications are that “revengeful acts” of Amhara and their likes are justified because they are intended to redress past oppression, subjugation, exploitation and “colonialism.” The most recent atrocities in Benishangul-Gumuz and Oromia attest to this.
More than a hundred people have been killed by terrorists in Benishangul Gumuz. In June alone, more than 1,500 innocent civilians, most of them Amhara were slaughtered like chickens in Oromia. More than one hundred young people, most of them Amhara students were abducted by the OLA.
Behind recurrent killings and massive displacements of innocent civilians, most of them Amhara in Benishangul-Gumuz is also the intense contest for the Abbay River (the Blue Nile). Egypt contends wrongly that the GERD will deprive Egyptians and Sudanese (downstream peoples) of “Nile waters upon which they depend,” argues.” Andrew Korybko in an OPED posted on August 1, 2022. Like me, he opines that Egypt wishes to influence international public policy and pressure the UN Security Council again to justify military intervention by “weaponizing water” as a national security threat.
The late Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi initiated the dam in 2011. It is important to go back and trace the genesis of the dam though. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD’s) conceptual roots and preliminary designs are traceable to Emperor Haile Selassie’s valiant efforts in the 1950s and 1960s. The US Bureau of Reclamation was instrumental in surveying the Abbay River and offering a blueprint for future development. It took several decades for Ethiopia to initiate a mammoth project that is now near completion. Although not officially confirmed, Ethiopian sources report that the third filling of the GERD has occurred. Ethiopia notified Egypt and Sudan that the third filling in process.
3 | THE ART OF DOMINANCE: CONSPIRACIES AND PLOTS AGAINST ETHIOPIA I showed in Parts one and two of this commentary that Egypt leaves no stone unturned to abort the completion of the GERD on time and to prevent Ethiopia from harnessing and utilizing its transboundary rivers and improve the livelihoods of its increasing population and accelerate the modernization of its national economy.
Therefore, President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud’s visit to Egypt is deliberate and well planned. He is part and parcel of Egypt’s proxy war, albeit on the diplomatic front. Al- Sisi’s target is to entice Mahmoud and show the international community that a key Horn of African state that is not even a member of the Nile Basin supports Egypt’s case for “a binding agreement.”
Egypt’s Daily News said “During their meeting, Presidents Al-Sisi and Mahmoud affirmed their mutual interest in advancing bilateral cooperation and working together to consolidate security and stability in the Horn of Africa. During a joint press conference, Al-Sisi said that the discussions also touched on the developments of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue, and the two sides agreed on the danger of unilateral policies when undertaking projects on transboundary rivers.”
Egypt’s misrepresentation of the facts in the DOP
The reference “on the danger of unilateral policies when undertaking projects on transboundary rivers” is laughable and indefensible. Ethiopia has consistently adhered to the principles contained in the 2015 Declaration of Principles (DOP) that Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan signed. Article III of the DOP: Principle Not to Cause Significant Harm requires that “The Three Countries shall take all appropriate measures to prevent the causing of significant harm in utilizing the Blue/Main Nile. Where significant harm nevertheless is caused to one of the countries, the state whose use causes such harm shall, in the absence of an agreement to such use, take all appropriate measures in consultations with the affected state to eliminate or mitigate such harm and, where appropriate, to discuss the question of compensation.”
I do not find an iota of evidence that Egypt and Sudan are “harmed or will be harmed” by the filling, operation, or management of the GERD. Independent experts, including high Sudanese officials, offer technical, scientific, and hydrological evidence that the filling and operation of the GERD will “not cause significant harm to Egypt or Sudan.” For example, former Sudanese Minister of Irrigation Osman Atum confirmed in 2021 that the second filling of the GERD “will have no adverse impact on Sudan and Egypt.” The same is true for the third filling in 2022.
Article IX of the DOP : Principle of Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity” stipulates that “The three countries shall cooperate on the basis of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, mutual benefit and good faith in order to attain optimal utilization and adequate protection of the river.”
Egypt has not even once adhered to this principle. It has failed to negotiate in good faith. In December 2020, Egypt’s strategic ally Sudan took advantage of Ethiopia’s preoccupation with the civil war
4 | THE ART OF DOMINANCE: CONSPIRACIES AND PLOTS AGAINST ETHIOPIA triggered by the TPLF and attacked Ethiopia unprovoked. It annexed Ethiopian territory that it still occupies. In my view, this unprovoked attack nullified the principle of “territorial integrity” equally supported by the Charters, covenants and agreements of the UN and African Union.
Egypt constructed the mammoth Aswan High Dam located at the northern border between Egypt and Sudan. The river Nile feeds this dam. More than 86 percent of the waters of the Nile come from Ethiopia. The Abbay River (Blue Nile) is the primary source. The construction of this massive dam that accelerated Egypt’s modernization and improved the lives of Egyptians began in 1960. It was completed in 1968.
Egypt’s strategic partner, Sudan constructed the Sennar Dam on the Blue Nile about 320 kilometers southeast of Khartoum and 270 kilometers downstream of the Roseries Dam. In contrast to Egypt, the British, colonial power at the time started construction of the Sennar Dam in 1922 and completed it in 1935. Sennar was built with two objectives in mind a) to irrigate the land area called Gezira and b) to provide electricity to Khartoum.
In terms of objective a) irrigated lands boosted the production and productivity of cash crops such as cotton, beans, and wheat. Irrigated farming improved and transformed the livelihoods of the region’s population.
In 1952, Sudan constructed the Rosieres dam named after the town with the same name located on the Blue Nile in Blue Nile State, 550 kilometers from the capital Khartoum. The intent of this dam was to store water from the Blue Nile River to use for agricultural irrigation. This dam boosted Sennar Dam’s capacity and expanded winter cash crops for the Sudanese.
Neither Egypt nor Sudan sought advice from or consulted with Ethiopia or other Black African Nile River riparian states when they constructed their dams. This is the reason Egypt’s accusation of Ethiopia that its “unilateral policies when undertaking projects on transboundary rivers” is dangerous and poses a national security threat for Egypt and Sudan is self-serving, unfair, and unjust. Ethiopia has in fact done the exact opposite. It has adhered to the spirit and essence of the DOP. It has supplied more information on the GERD than asked. It has been transparent. It has committed itself not to “cause significant harm” to Egypt and Sudan.
The joint press statement by Presidents Al-Sisi and Mahmoud “stressing the imperative of adhering to the principle of cooperation and prior consultation with the riparian countries, to ensure no harm to any of the parties involved, in line with the relevant rules of international law, and then the need to reach without delay — a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD based on the statement issued by the UN Security Council in September 2021 in order to preserve regional security and stability” is patently opportunistic. It demands that Ethiopia abandons its sovereign rights.
5 | THE ART OF DOMINANCE: CONSPIRACIES AND PLOTS AGAINST ETHIOPIA
Egypt has never ever supported “regional security and stability” about the Horn of Africa for the past one hundred years. On the contrary, it supported Somali aggression against Ethiopia during the Dergue regime. It supported and still supports liberation fronts against Ethiopia. I feel strongly that it may have emboldened Al-Shabab to attack Ethiopia. It encouraged the military government of Sudan to attack Ethiopia unprovoked. There is an allegation that it granted $28 million to President Museveni and his team for “the training of TPLF combatants against Ethiopia.”
If Egypt is committed to anti-terrorism; then it must stop its proxy wars against Ethiopia by financing, equipping, and encouraging terrorist operatives. The government of Somalia must not be charmed by Egypt in its proxy wars against Ethiopia. This will not serve Somalia’s national security interests.
Ethiopia and Somalia share common borders, trade, and security. Ethiopia and not Egypt is home for millions of Somali Ethiopians. The Somali regional state and its people are part of Ethiopia’s rich mosaic of peoples and cultures.
The menu of tools that Egypt deploys
Egypt identifies and deploys all instruments bar none to undermine peace, stability, national unity, territorial integrity, human security, sustainable and equitable development in Ethiopia.
What does Ethiopia possess that makes it a prime target for continuous and debilitating proxy wars?
For this analysis, the answer is the Blue Nile. It is Egypt’s unreasonable demand that it must exercise hegemony over the Nile River in the 21st century. It opts to do this through proxy wars.
Wikipedia defines “A proxy war to be a war fought between groups of smaller countries that each represent the interests of other larger powers and may have help and support from them. In this instance, Egypt and its numerous Ethiopia-based recruits (TPLF, OLA. Al-Shabab), regional strategic or at minimum, close friends such as NBI countries with which Egypt has signed military agreements (Uganda, Rwanda), as well as Western strategic partners (the USA and EU) operate in concert to destabilize Ethiopia through proxy wars.
Why does Egypt revert to proxy wars rather than direct attacks?
Egypt has tried to invade and control Ethiopia in the past. Its efforts failed. Public record on Wikipedia informs us that “Whilst nominally a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire, Egypt had acted as a virtually independent state since Muhammad Ali’s seizure of power in 1805, eventually establishing an empire to its south in Sudan. Muhammad Ali’s grandson, Ismail Pasha, became Khedive in 1863, and sought to expand this burgeoning empire further southwards” into Sudan and sill further into Ethiopia.
6 | THE ART OF DOMINANCE: CONSPIRACIES AND PLOTS AGAINST ETHIOPIA
“After annexing Darfur in 1875, he turned his attention to Ethiopia. It was Ismail’s intention that Egypt forges a contiguous African empire that would both rival the empires of Europe and allow Egypt to escape the territorial ambitions of those same European great powers. In addition to expanding into modern-day Chad, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and Uganda, he wished to absorb within his empire the entirety of the Nile Valley, including Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile. Whilst Ethiopia’s history mirrored that of Egypt in many respects, with both having ancient, continuous civilizations home to both Muslims and Orthodox Christians, the rapid modernization of Egypt under Muhammad Ali, and Ismail’s own enormous modernizing projects, convinced the Khedive that war with Ethiopia would result in certain Egyptian victory. Amongst Egypt’s army were many European, and American officers, whose training and experience further strengthened Ismail’s confidence.
Meanwhile, King Yohannes IV became the King of Tigray in 1872 after defeating Tekle Giyorgis II in batt- le. He worked on modernizing his army, some of whom were trained by the British adventurer John Kirkham.”
In the 19th century, Egypt fought Ethiopia 16 times and lost.
Here I would like to underscore the coalition of “European and American military officers” that Khedive Ismail assembled against Emperor Yohannes’ Ethiopian army. This army routed Egypt’s contingent supported by Europeans and Americans.”
I recall that the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi had said in response to Egyptian threats over the GERD that in the battle for the control of the Blue Nile that led to Egyptian aggression and defeat “No single Egyptian returned alive to tell the story of what happened.” It is virtually impossible for Egypt to invade and occupy Ethiopia.
This historical fact has relevance to the current proxy war. In the past as well as present Egypt conspires, plots, and executes aggression against Ethiopia in partnership with others. I underscore the fact that Egypt has never been a solo player. The two major battles Egypt and its partners fought and lost against Ethiopia illustrate this point.
“The Egyptians under Arakil Bey and Danish Colonel Adolph Ahrendrup invaded from their coastal possessions in Massawa, in what is now Eritrea. Following some skirmishes, the armies of Yohannes and Ismail met at Gundet on the morning of 16 November 1875. Not only were the Egyptians vastly outnumbered, but they were also taken completely by surprise as they were marching through a narrow mountain pass. The mass of Ethiopian warriors sallied forth from their hiding places up the slope and swiftly charged down upon the shocked Egyptian columns, nullifying the latter’s advantage in firepower and causing many of the unenthusiastic fellahin soldiers to rout. This encounter ended in the
7 | THE ART OF DOMINANCE: CONSPIRACIES AND PLOTS AGAINST ETHIOPIA complete annihilation of the Egyptian expeditionary force led by Colonel Arrendrup and in the death of its commander.
Arrendrup’s expedition was hopelessly inadequate for the tasks he set out to do. It amounted to scarcely more than some 4,000 troops and had no cavalry. Its leaders were, apart from the already mentioned Danish artilleryman and Major Dennison, an American, Major Durholtz, a Swiss, late of the Papal army, and Major Rushdi Bey, a Turk. Arakal Bey, the young nephew of Nubar Pasha (the Christian Armenian Premier of the Khedive) joined the expedition and was killed in battle. About two thousand Egyptians perished with him and his two six-gun batteries and six rocket stands fell into the hands of the enemy.”
Despite defeat at Gundet, Egypt did not want to abandon its aggression. “The Egyptians withdrew to Massawa on the coast and then to Keren, garrisoned since 1872 by some 1,200 Egyptians. But Ismail Pasha could not leave the matter there, it was essential to regain the lost prestige. At all costs, his European creditors had to be impressed, and he set out on mobilizing a larger force for a second expedition that would make amends for the devastating and humiliating loss he had suffered at the hands of the Ethiopians at Gundet.”
“Following the botched invasion, the Egyptians again attempted conquest of Ethiopia, this time with an army of about 13,000 men. The forces of Ismail Pasha, now under Ratib Pasha, arrived at Massawa on 14 December 1875. By March, they had reached the plain of Gura and set up two forts, one in the Plains of Gura and the other at the Khaya Khor Mountain pass a few kilometers away. The Ethiopians, with a force of some 50,000 (of whom only about 15,000 could fight at one time due to battlefield layout engaged them on the 7 March 1875, and Ratib ordered just over 5,000 out of 7,700 men stationed at Fort Gura to leave the fort and engage the Ethiopians. This force was quickly surrounded by the Ethiopian advance guard, commanded by Ras Alula, and quickly broke. The Ethiopians then fell back, and, on the 10th of March, mounted a secondary attack on Fort Gura, which was repelled. The Ethiopian force dissolved the next day, and the devastated Egyptians soon withdrew.”
Egypt has since then ceased invading Ethiopia directly. However, it has never stopped conspiring, plotting and inciting proxy wars against Ethiopia. It gave substantial support to the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, the Oromo Liberation Front, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and numerous others. It encouraged and supported the government of Somalia to invade Ethiopia. It invited the newly elected President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a person who favors the TPLF and Egypt over Ethiopia to Cairo.
Former US Ambassador to Ethiopia Tibor Nagy is right. “Militarily, I do not think the Egyptians would be capable of going up into the Ethiopian highlands. Cairo can try! But this will be the end of negotiations
8 | THE ART OF DOMINANCE: CONSPIRACIES AND PLOTS AGAINST ETHIOPIA on the GERD forever.” They have tried and failed. Proxy war will equally prove to be a policy of another Egyptian bravado that will fail. For this, Ethiopians must overcome their ethnic divisions and stand up together as Ethiopians.
It is not hard for me to imagine who will come out victorious if the option of peaceful negotiation among the three Nile riparian nations—Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan end forever. In the long term, it is Ethiopia. It is this lack of foresight and insight for a peaceful resolution of the impasse that Presidents El-Sisi and Mohamud ignored completely in their joint press statement.
On July 25, 2022, Egyptian media reported that “Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi agreed with his Somali counterpart, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the need to reach a binding deal on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) without delay.” They agreed that the “binding deal” on the GERD “should be based on the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) presidential statement in September last year to preserve regional security and stability.”
My take of a “binding agreement” is that Ethiopia would have to abandon its sovereign rights over Blue Nile waters and seek permission from Egypt to construct new hydropower and irrigation dams. Such an agreement will undermine Ethiopia’s national independence, sovereignty, and national security.
An ally of Egypt’s proxy war against Ethiopia, the newly elected President of Somalia, Mohamud, affirmed General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s obsessive and dangerous argument that Ethiopia’s “unilateral policies” undermine UN and international covenants and agreements on transboundary rivers. There was no reference to the Declaration of Principles (DOP) that Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed in 2015 or to the impasse Egypt caused to frustrate peaceful negotiations under the auspices of the African Union or any attribution to Ethiopia’s principled and measured policy stance and or to expert opinions that there will not be “significant harm” to Egypt or Sudan or acknowledgement by the President of Somalia that the Blue Nile and the GERD are domestic and sovereign rights matters for Ethiopia.
Measured against the facts on the ground, Egypt’s bellicose attitude and militaristic approach, it is clear to me that, contrary to his predecessor, the new President of Somalia favors Egypt over Ethiopia. In fact, he favors the Arab world that supports Egypt about the GERD rather than Nile River riparian Sub-Saharan African nations that embrace the Nyerere doctrine.
Egypt’s divide and entice Black African state (s) policy and the covert actions it promotes in Africa in connection with the Nile is alive and kicking.
The third filling does not mean the end of the story.
9 | THE ART OF DOMINANCE: CONSPIRACIES AND PLOTS AGAINST ETHIOPIA
This is the reason for my argument that, despite dramatic changes in Africa and the global community (multipolar world), Egypt is still and will continue to be a mortal enemy of Ethiopia.
In summary, Egypt has a vast array of new tools. For sure Egyptian state tools and instruments of attack of Ethiopia have changed dramatically.
Egypt believes that it can weaken and fragment Ethiopia from within. This Egyptian policy entails the following and more:
These and other Egyptian public policy instruments operate optimally when leveraged by Egypt through military agreements with the Horn of Africa and NBI countries such as Uganda and Sudan.
Part 4 of 8 will analyze the plausibility of the alleged training of thousands of TPLF combattants by Uganda.
With Justice for All and National Unity, Ethiopia Shall
August 5, 2022
110 | THE ART OF DOMINANCE: CONSPIRACIES AND PLOTS AGAINST ETHIOPIA
By Dr. Suleiman Walhad
August 5th, 2022
The citizens of the Horn of Africa States have over the years been divided into fake nationalities and in the process, many died, starved, and migrated and many more are still struggling for senseless causes that only cause more harm to the populations the politicians proclaim to be serving. It is the main reason that the Horn of Africa States is on the rise to replace the old structures that have failed the region, and which are used by intruders from beyond as conduits to enter and exploit the resources of the region.
The Horn of Africa States citizens need to be citizens of a region that has to survive in this harsh world and each citizen is required to contribute to the general wellbeing of the region, much like a member of a relay race team assists his team members by doing his/her part well, so that the next team member adds on to his/her work or running and this eventually determines whether the team wins or not.
The current generation of the Horn of Africa States citizen has inherited only trouble, disunity, hunger, discords in the socio-cultural infrastructure and, indeed, underdevelopment from the generations that preceded it. It was those who supposedly freed the continent from European colonialism, but they had no plans and in fact functioned as if they were children who were given new toys to play with. They messed up the countries they were supposed to build and the societies they were supposed to develop, the educational systems they were supposed to improve and the health systems they were supposed to provide. The generation that followed which includes the writer and his peers ended up catching at straws like drowning persons. Some ran, many dying on the way in the deserts and oceans and in other countries of the world, others participated in the killing fields, and died or were maimed and still others continued to play the wrongly toned music.
Those leaders of the past other than hollow sentiments of fake nationalisms, had no plans and could not provide the necessary environments for the next generation to exploit the resources of the region and, in their turn, prepare greener opportunities for the next generation. Nearly seventy odd years of unnecessary suffering continues, and the Horn of African citizen is still being asked to sacrifice more and die for fake entities that has no meaning for anyone. In fact, the countries of the region are more known for their world wrenching problems of hunger, starvation, civil strives, terrorism, piracy, and political failures than any other thing.
When I was a younger man, I used to dream of what I could contribute to the township I grew up in. A small town with a small population but fortunately for me and many others, it did have schools left over from the old colonials and we thrived in those schools. They were, indeed, the foundation of our life processes throughout our careers. To contribute to this small town, now a bigger town with a much larger population, I initiated the concept of a university to be created there and discussed the matter with friends and colleagues at a time of extreme distress and wars in the region and they were surprised and, in fact, many of them questioned my mental state. But because of arduous work, good planning, focus, resilience, and patience and the noble cause the project represented, the university was eventually born as the first community owned regional university in the world and functions well today, producing young professionals in the fields of medicine and healthcare, engineering, business and administration, law, teaching, agriculture and others. The concept was copied from region to region throughout a large space of the Horn of Africa States and decentralization of education has now taken root in the region. In the past most educational institutions, and at least higher educational facilities were concentrated in the capital cities of the region, which is no longer the case.
Just like that university, many of my colleagues also question the concept of the Horn of Africa States and almost include it in the realm of impossibilities and I always ask, why should the Horn of Africa States region be broken down into parts that cannot work together? Why should the people of the Horn of Africa States region not be able to work together, intermingle with each other, travel to each other, trade with each other, join the many educational facilities available in the region, and why should they remain antagonistic to each other when there is no reason to be so?
In the piece on “The Horn of Africa States: A Geopolitical Case – Analysis” and dated February 5th, 2022, in Eurasia Review, I pointed out the importance of the Horn of Africa States as a major strategic zone, its political stature and historical justification for re-integration. The Article and many others we presented on the matter, highlight the need for the region to re-invigorate and re-invent itself, waking up from the long slumber, it is in. We understand many of the citizens of the region who grew up in the old and fake structures would still be questioning the concept of a new regional block involving countries that were at each other’s throat for some nearly seventy years. However, one should ask oneself, are the people that different, really? What have they benefitted from the old structures other than chaos, hunger, starvation, death and dispersal?
This is repetitive, but one must say it again and again so that it sinks into the skulls of some of my friends. Why shouldn’t a Mogadishu resident be able to move to Addis Ababa and set up shop there and vise versa? The same goes for a Djibouti fellow and an Asmara resident and the region would be the better for ease of travel, knowing each other, trading with each other and working together would be more beneficent for the people of the region. This would create a larger market for each of the citizens of the region and politics would be eased for ethnicity would be removed from the platform. It would be based on who can serve the people and the region better. In the initial stages, it does not have to be a complete fusion. A customs union, ease of travel, a controlled money management system, an organized legal system that oversees the region’s rule of law and justice and freedoms and a staged processed system that eventually paves the way for proper, legal and willing integration, would be the ideal format.
Perhaps it is good time to pick up another of my works on the matter, when I wrote on “The Horn of Africa States – A proposition” (Zehabesha – February 6th, 2022) the following lines: “No success has ever been achieved, throughout the history of mankind, without pains, tribulations, and sufferings, but efforts must be managed well through adroitness and discipline and focus, taking into consideration not only one’s side of the story, but also the environment and all the other forces both near and far, arraigned against one.”
The Horn of Africa States proposition is not easy and would prick up many ears on the mention of it. But raising it, we must for it is the future of the region and much like the university I mentioned earlier, it is a useful proposition that would benefit the society of the region and even the neighbors who are scared of such an eventuality, all for the wrong reasons. No waters would stop from going downstream to Sudan and Egypt and no shipping will be held up in the chokepoint of Bab El Mandab and no piracy would disrupt the shipping and seaways of the region for the Horn of Africa States needs these as much as others do. On the contrary there would cheaper power generation and distribution not only for the region but also beyond, major ports and other infrastructures that not only serve the region but the rest of the African continent and food the people of the dry Arabian Peninsula. There would no hunger and/or starvation in the region anymore.
Relations of the people of the Horn of Africa States are neither complicated nor complex as they make them to be. The people of the Horn of Africa States are the same people ethnically, have been tolerant of each other throughout history, definitely much better than European relations before the Second World War and lived and traded with each other throughout human history. Why would it be different now, if deliberate decisions are made by the leadership of the region to install a new platform of peace, development, and stability?
It would need hard work, focus, resilience and determination to achieve the goal and the goalpost is not far. Many steps have already been taken and the populations know each other better than they were when they were enclosed. Somalis are the most travelled and they are in each of the four countries while Ethiopians are now spreading out from the interior regions to the coastal countries and Eritreans and Djiboutians are no less travelled than others. They travel and reside in each of the member countries. It is only the political wills and political rhetoric of the leaderships that may become blocking mantras, and this would be overcome over time.
Issues such as membership of other regional organizations are also highlighted as possible impediments to the creation of the Horn of Africa States regional block. IGAD, COMESA and others are mentioned. Why would memberships of such organizations be an impediment? The Horn of Africa States (“HAS”) would be a member of each organization that serves the purposes of HAS only and should there be any contradiction in such organizations with its goals, HAS would always take priority and HAS members should leave such organization for it does not serve the interests of the region.
It is perhaps good to conclude this article with another of my previous works on the subject – an Op-ed in Eurasia Review on June 14, 2021, where I noted: “Collective bargaining is the key, and the region should work together instead of working against each other, where those who do not have the interest of the region at heart can deploy their malevolence with ease. Collective bargaining is generally used by the European Union, and it has proved to be a successful tool. “Why shouldn’t the Horn of Africa be able to work together through building the proper organs for such common needs?” (“The Horn Of Africa States – OpEd – Eurasia Review”)
There are many factors that would truly threaten such organs to emerge, and these could be historical antagonisms, religious or even languages, but it takes wise men and women to manage the structural weaknesses that exist within the region. One often compares the benefits of such organs to the disadvantages and surely, it is clear as the sun in the sky that working together is more beneficial for the regional populace as opposed to each country working on its own. Let us welcome the “Horn of Africa States”, which we hope to emerge in the years ahead.” (“The Horn Of Africa States – OpEd – Eurasia Review”)
Dr. Suleiman Walhad writes on the Horn of Africa economies and politics. He can be reached at [email protected].
Tsegaye Tegenu, PhD
On August 3, 2022, The Ethiopian Government held its annual meeting to review the macroeconomic performance of the country. The session led by the Prime Minster assessed the country’s economic journey and performance in terms of GDP growth and other macro-economic variables such as inflation, employment creation, export and investment promotion.
Despite higher inflation, incessant conflicts unfavorable to business, practice of corruption, global recessions, and rapid population growth, which all have negative relationship with economic growth, the Prime Minster declared that the country’s economy grew by 6,6%. That was consider as miracle and gave the credit to the government plan and effort.
Has the Ethiopian economy really grown as claimed by the government? There is a phrase which says, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, that means people can have differing opinions on what is beautiful. Do the criteria and information used by the government reflect the annual progress of the economy? How is the annual progress of the Ethiopian economy reviewed and measured? What does the statistics look like? How is the macroeconomy performance measured and conceptualized?
Questions regarding the statistics include: is the Government cooking up economic growth data? How is the government growth data collected? Is it transparent? Who has collected it? Is the estimation done by an independent body and global experts? Is there an exaggeration or underestimation?
Often Governments are accused of fudging data to fit planned targets. If the economic growth claim of the Government is based on cooked up data to give flavor to the annual plan, it will have a result opposite to what was planned. Under current conditions where the purchasing power shows almost no growth compared to inflation, how can we say that there is economic prosperity? Has the Government considered the existing discrepancy between the claimed growth figure and the purchasing power of the workers and families?
The skills and integrity of the statistics matter particularly in country where there is rapid population growth. In my opinion, in a country like Ethiopia macro-economic progress should be measured in terms of GDP per capita (which focuses on standard of living), not on GDP growth (which shows total economic activity of the country). In a country where there is rapid population growth, increases in GDP do not necessarily result in an improvement in the standard of living. The ministerial meeting did not say anything about the level of goods and services that individual Ethiopians can purchase or gain access to. Why the Government felt discomfort in calculating economic growth in terms of GDP per capita? That is because it has direct relationship to employment creation and inflation rate. In other words, knowingly or not, the Government avoids discussing solutions to chronic problems of the macroeconomy.
The problem is not only on criteria used to measure the annual progress of the economy. The brief made by the Prime Minster also shows the growth conceptualization of the government and strategies used to promote economic growth of the country. The Prime Minster mentioned the contribution of export, foreign direct investment and remittance in the annual progress and appreciated the continued role of these growth factors.
Theory and evidence show that economic growth led by input increase alone is not sustainable in the long run. History of developed economies shows that, continued economic growth is a result of productivity increase and not only input factor growth. On the contrary, the Ethiopian Government thinks to increase economic growth by continued mobilization of resources (increasing inputs of investment, infrastructure, trade and education). The Prime Minister thinks that GDP fluctuates over time (just like the business cycle model of growth) and during the phase of decrease in GDP, the country must use all its potential resources to increase output. The Prime Minster time and again advocates factor input-driven growth (incremental changes) rather than appreciating the need for economic structural transformation (systematic changes) and strategies of productivity increase. Had there been a plan of structural transformation, the discussion would have focused on the number and size of manufacturing industries established in small and medium size towns.
Currently there are 84 towns with a population of 20,000-200,000, and the current internal labor migration trend is towards these towns. In these urban centers the federal/and or regional government must lay the foundation of large-scale chemical and agricultural machinery manufacturing industries, instead of focusing on medium and small-scale enterprises (MSEs). Thereafter, in a second phase of structural transformation, the focus should be on developing of small-scale enterprise in small towns (such as establishment of oil mills, soap manufactures and textile factories). There are 353 small towns with a population 5000-19999, providing mostly non-tradable services to the hinterlands. As I see it the Government economic growth and development plan does not focus on strategies of structural and spatial transformation in the country (see figure one).
The macroeconomic committee of the Government did not discuss policies of promoting manufacturing sector and increasing industry-level productivity. The number and type of manufacturing industries in the country are limited and those that are available are working under capacity. However, there is no discussion of strategies in expanding manufacturing industries in medium and small towns and no declared policy of increasing their productivity level.
For the country, structural transformation and productivity driven economy is not a choice but a necessity. Due to rapid labor force growth, unemployment and under employment, it is time to move the focus to structural transformation and labor productivity growth. In the context of present-day Ethiopia, what must come first is structural transformation and not input factor growth as conceptualized and explained by the incumbent Government.
From my perspective and measurement criteria, I find it hard to accept Government claim of economic growth and prosperity in Ethiopia. The Government must know that there are people who have different criteria of measurement and conceptualization of sustained economic growth in Ethiopia. Because they are silent, it does not mean that they are ignorant and incapable of assessing government’s economic performance. It is not necessary to lecture as if there is only one accepted economic growth idea and path in the country.
The problem with Governments in Ethiopia is that they don’t listen to advice that are contrary to their views, perceptions, and beliefs. They think that they have monopoly on the truth. The Government of Haile Selassie did not listen to the advice of changing absolute monarchy rule. He was later overthrown by radicals. The next government that held the office, Derg regime, was advised by its military generals to negotiate with the rebels (ELF and TPLF) and solve the internal civil war through dialogue. Instead, the leader Mengistu Hailemariam arrested the generals and established a triangular command over the military, which consequently led to its downfall. The following EPRDF government was advised to install good governance, fair and inclusive economic growth. It did not listen and led to its dissolution.
The prosperity party, which aspires to start afresh, should now that Ethiopia is still trapped in underdevelopment and conflict. If you find yourself in a hole, the first law is Stop Digging. The government must stop its old input-growth thinking habit and strategy as the principal way of disentangling from the underdevelopment trap. Using ad hoc, fragmented, and patched up economic policy interventions such as service sector and trade-led growth, digs the hole deeper. It is structural and spatial transformation and rising output per worker (productivity growth) which increases employment and incomes of Ethiopian workers and their families. Not to remain trapped deep into the hole, the government must listen to other’s advice as to where to go next.
By Dr. Suleiman Walhad
August 4th, 2022
It is often said that countries and regions, and in fact empires collapse because of two major factors. The first is external aggression to which currently, the Horn of Africa States, as it presents itself, is vulnerable. It is strategically located and is coveted by many a nation as it straddles one of the main seaways of the world – the Red Sea, Bal El Mandeb, Gulf of Aden and the Somali Sea (northern Indian Ocean) and is the source of the Blue Nile and the Sobhat and Atbara rivers which provide most waters to Egypt and Sudan. The region also owns though not exploited as it should be, a huge hydrocarbon potential and in particular oil and gas both onshore and offshore. In the current world of today under the crisis of Ukraine and Taiwan, external competition and foreign quarrels, as being brought to the region, appear to be an ever more dangerous threat to its already suffering populations.
The other factor is internal chaos and decay. The Horn of Africa States consists of countries which house internally competing tribal and clan concoctions that can easily be exploited by any external aggressor as seems to be the case. The member countries of the region appear to be drifting apart, although in the recent past, there appeared to have been a rapprochement – The Somali/Ethiopian/Eritrean co-operation. This appears to be withering away with the election of a new administration in Somalia. The latter is drifting aimlessly to join another region, the East Africa Community with which it shares little and for the wrong reasons. Somalia argues that this would provide a large market for Somali products, and this has no basis for there is no Somali product that the East Africa region does not have. Somali is far behind every other country in the East Africa country, for at least thirty years when Somalia was trying to find itself. It is barely recovering and alliance with its natural region, the Horn of Africa States with which it shares history and ethnicity would be better idea than joining the Swahili world.
Somalia made erred in the past through its membership of the dysfunctional Arab League and should not be in a hurry to join another similar block with which it shares little – no history, no ethnicity and in fact no religion or culture either, other than being together both in the African continent.
Aggression from both within and from without and from near and afar easily derail peace development and reconciliation in the region. Internal decay both political and economic and this tribal/clan competition for the meagre resources of the region is, in the main, paving the way for external aggression and it also provides hustlers and terrorists safe ground to breed and exploit.
It is where the leadership of the region seem to be failing for if they fail to work together and cooperate to face off both the internal and external aggressions, the region is bound to fall over the abyss. This would bring in, not only political-economic collapse but also socio-cultural erosion that could not be easily reversed by future generations. One setback should not be enough to derail a whole process which started earnestly, and the leadership of the region needs to be resilient and patient to withstand the forces arraigned against it. It is our belief that the region’s future is at stake. Would it be broken into a multitude of quarreling tribal/clan states that cannot be functional as states, but which would be minor vassals for much bigger nations? Would the region’s population be wiped out slowly through hunger, starvation, and disease? Would the region’s resources fall into the wrong hands to be exploited for the benefit of others and not for the population of the region?
The internal and external aggressors, sometimes working alone and sometimes working together seem to be reviving the old antagonisms and unnecessary divisions created over the past two centuries first by European colonialists and continued or kept alive by the pseudo-politicians of the region, who instead of leading their people to economic growth and peace, used them as fodder for the folly of internal and external wars. We are unfortunately now facing stark exploitation of false premises such as Eritrean/Ethiopian discords, Somalia/Ethiopian border clashes, Djibouti/Eritrean border disputes and so on. Who would be benefitting from these discords and troubles? The Horn of African States citizen should note this and not be led astray by false prophets supposedly working for them. It is perhaps time the region’s population, the Horn of African States citizens and leaders, took back the destiny of the region in their own hands. No one else is going to make it for them.
Some of the region’s leaders, perhaps, believe that they can install peace and development in the region through the help and assistance of others and accordingly keep begging others for help. What they are forgetting is that this is the world, the way it was always – the survival of the fittest. Help is often relative when it comes to countries or regions. What comes first is “what is in it for me!” in other words, countries and regions look for their interests first. The Horn of Africa States region is a region that offers many advantages and opportunities – a long coast and hence ports and other infrastructures, plenty of water, a growing young population and hence an extensive market and a strategic location. Why shouldn’t the leadership of the region take note of this and work together instead of competing among themselves and save their populations from a lot of miseries?
Foreign interventions can only help to a certain extent. It is on the onus of the region’s leadership, both governing and opposition groups, learned people and elders, religious people and social activists, to work towards building the initial peace building processes brick by brick within the region. A regional cooperation is the only platform. Each of the member countries of the SEED countries has its own internal problems, that often crosses borders into the others’ territories. It is why it is an absolute necessity to have the Horn of Africa regional block, economically integrated, people travelling and investing within the region with ease and negotiating with others from a strong collective bargaining position. Calling for non-regional external actors to create peace development processes in the region is a recipe for disaster.
We note many special envoys being appointed and sent to the region by many countries. The special envoys are not to create peace development and reconciliation in the region. They are being sent to protect the interests of their countries in this region, which fortunately is endowed with features many others covet. We are aware of the United States Envoy to the Horn of Africa States, Mike Hammar, was recently circulating in the region and countries like Egypt and the UAE were part and parcel of his itinerary. Both are Arab countries who have a lot of stakes in the region and more specifically Ethiopia which is the source of the Blue Nile. Instead of letting Ethiopia face alone whatever machinations the two countries and others would be cooking for Ethiopia, we believe it is on the onus of the total leadership of the Horn of Africa States region to be acting and working together collectively to face off those who may seek to harm the region directly or indirectly. Collective bargaining is better than individual bargaining anyway.
The region’s internal issues, mainly clan/tribal concoctions, would need to be settled by the governments of the region working together sincerely. Settlement of disputes and reconciliation does not mean that governments would be working together to suppress dissent. Human rights including but not limited to right to life should be protected and ingrained in the constitutions of the countries and governments should pioneer the rule of law and justice and enable the populations of the region abide by them. Adherence to justice, rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms are the basics of life and there is where the governments of the region should not fail, to enable peace development and reconciliation take root in the Horn of Africa States.
Helping hands could then be extended when sincerity is first demonstrated by the region itself on how it wants to proceed into the future collectively. Countries work in blocks and there is no better demonstration of this than the European Union, which has over the years overcome many of the problems that face any regional block. The Horn of Africa States does not have to discover all the right processes. They already have been created, agreed upon and applied these process and mechanisms. All that the Horn of Africa States has to do is to borrow them and apply them in its own environment for all those that are possible and modify others for its own purposes.
Peace is a precious commodity, more precious than gold or diamonds and platinum. In fact, it is expensive, and many have paid their lives to achieve it. The governments of the region should know that it is in the best interest of the region and its populace to live in peace together so each subset or grouping can earn a better life than is currently the case where fear of wars and civil strives prevent from using their potential for creativity and innovation and production to expand the economic pie of the region.
“Not to unite is bad, not to want to unite is worse”