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Ethiopia’s Blunder of the Century—war and human atrocities must stop

March 24, 2023

Aklog Birara (Dr)

“I am worried that the system may fail, and if the country fails, it will be a shame for all blacks.”

Lencho Leta, Founding member of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and trusted advisor of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali

I agree with Mr. Leta. Tragically for the people of Oromia and the rest of Ethiopians, the projected collapse of the Ethiopian state and government on which I have written a great deal has a lot to do with the Oromuma project to which he, his party and the Oromo Prosperity Party have contributed. Ethiopia is collapsing under the watch of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The Oromo national question is no longer a valid argument. The Oromo Prosperity Party dominates party, state, and government. It exercises absolute power and influence over key Ethiopian institutions: Banks, foreign exchange and federal budget, huge infrastructural projects such as the GERD, jobs, lands, national defense, tanks and bullets, air force jets, diplomatic missions, and the like.

Over the past twelve months alone, champions of the Oromuma project that bar fair play and inclusivity have done the following damages:

  1. Desecrated the Ethiopian national flag and substituted the OLF regional flag; discouraged the Ethiopian national anthem and pushed for recognition of the Oromuma anthem in the city of Addis Ababa, the seat of government, the hub of the African Union and home to more than 5 million Ethiopians.

 

  1. Plotted and divided the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) that Prime Minister Abiy had at one time depicted as country.

 

  1. Degraded the internationally recognized and annually celebrated Adwa victory that occurs close to the statue of brilliant leader Emperor Menelik II; tried to depict an alternative narrative elevating the Prime Minister; deployed Oromo Special Forces, security, and police to subjugate and harass; flogged innocent civilians and killed one person and jailed several; defiled EOTC prayers and celebration of the event.

 

  1. Targeted specific individuals and families based on ethnic and bulldozed thousands of homes in the city of Addis Ababa with the sole intent of making the city “irrelevant” and with the further intent of changing the demographics of the city and constructing a parallel Oromo populated city called Sheger.

 

  1. Targeted and restricted the free movement of Amhara into the city of Addis Ababa that proponents of Oromuma believe does not represent them; instead houses anti-Oromo residents committed to “the past.”

This exclusionary and discriminatory policy aggravates mistrust, uneasiness; emboldens Oromo extremists to commit genocide of Amhara; and contributes to inevitable state and government collapse if not addressed boldly and forthrightly.

Instead of easing tensions, I recall the Prime Minister suggesting to members of the Ethiopian single party dominated parliament that there are “Oromo haters” in Addis Ababa

Compounding these corrosive and reckless acts, Ethiopia’s timid and subservient parliament just lifted the designation of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) as terrorist. I presume this did not occur by chance. It happened following Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Ethiopia and the conditions he may have imposed on the government of Ethiopia in general and on Abiy Ahmed in particular.

Blunder of the century

On March 22, 2023, Ethiopia’s parliament removed TPLF from terror list. I will not be surprised if it does not remove OLF/Oromo Liberation Army (OLA-Shane from the list too.

I was stunned and also pleased to witness when Ethiopia’s armed forces Chief of Staff, Field Marshall Berhanu Jula met and shook hands with Commander-in-chief of Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) General Tadesse Worede in Nairobi, Kenya as former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta applauded during the signing ceremony of the permanent cessation of hostilities agreement between the government of Ethiopia and the TPLF, in Nairobi, November 12, 2022. “The dawn of a new day,” someone remarked.

Formal war has stopped. But, TDF forces have not disarmed. Getachew Reda, new President of Tigray with the endorsement of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has vowed to reannex Amhara lands either through peaceful means or via a new war. In effect, TPLF is restored.

I believe behind Getachew Reda’s appointment and the ability of TPLF forces to maintain their military hardware almost intact are a sequence of two important variables: American pressure and influence and Abiy’ Ahmed’s decision that Amhara must abandon Wolkait, Tegede, Telemt and Raya to Tigray. This explains the withdrawal of Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) from the region. The Amhara region is left to defend itself. So is the Afar region.

Mind you, more than one million lives perished; and $22 billion in investment capital was lost. No one knows who will be accountable, when and by whom?

If you ask me Who is driving Ethiopia’s domestic policy? My answer is the United Stares. If you ask me who wins in the process?  My answer is the TPLF, OLA/OLF-Shane, the Oromo Prosperity Party, Egypt, Sudan, and the US national security machine.

If you ask me who loses in this strategic political game? It is Ethiopia as a county, the Afar, Amhara regions as well as Eritrea—the latter identified as targets of this opaque deal.

I am certain that members of Ethiopia’s single party dominated parliament discussed the pros and cons of their decision.

Parliament is negligent and has failed to:

  1. Consider unintended consequences, such as the possibility that the government of the United States may have determined that the Oromo ethnic-elite Oromuma project Prime Minster Abiy and his Prosperity Party either support of condone may strengthen extremism, more sectarianism, outright genocide of non-Oromo throughout Oromia and the rest, jihadism, and total state and government collapse.

 

  1. Reflect on the notion the US may prefer restoring TPLF because a) It does not have confidence in the Prime Minister; and b) It believes TPLF is a more reliable and trusted ally. When in power, TPLF had demonstrated capacity to subdue OLF-induced terrorism and to go after other terrorists within and outside Ethiopia on behest of the United States.

 

  1. Assess the adverse geopolitics and national security implications for Ethiopia, including the completion and sustainability of the GERD, if TPLF re-takes Wolkait, Tegede, Telemt.

 

  1. Evaluate the far-reaching implications of the US led and UN facilitated deliberations on accountability for crimes of war, crimes against humanity and other crimes that includes top leaders of the Ethiopian federal government of Ethiopia and the TPLF.

 

  1. Apply an even handed, fair and just approach in its decision when it ignored completely and arrogantly that the Amhara population that was wronged by both the TPLF and the Oromo led Prosperity Party Government have the legal and moral right to preserve their lands and their identity in a similar way as other ethnic groups; and the right to defend  their lands— Wolkait, Tegede, Telemt and Raya.

By succumbing to US pressure and pressure from federal Ethiopian top officials, parliament: a) sanctioned another possible civil war, this time even more devastating than the last three; and b) subordinated and undermined Ethiopia’s sovereignty and national security; absolved TPLF from crimes of war, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and economic crimes.

Parliament’s restoration of TPLF to legitimacy will persist in Ethiopian history as a dark and monumental day.

Given the flawed arguments parliament used, I reject the decision.  This is the reason why I agree with Lencho Leta that the entire current “system may fall” and with-it Ethiopia.

March 24, 2023

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