Yonas Biru, PhD
(Unedited Document, for lack of time)
Three things have become clear after the current war.
First, the weakness and incompetence of the Abiy Administration. His refusal to surround himself with subject matter experts and intellectuals has weakened the nation in every area imaginable, PR, military inelegance, defense, international public diplomacy, and geo-politics. Great leaders seek people who have more knowledge than them and leverage on them. The PM sought sub-professionals and second and third tier experts and lectured them with power-point presentations to educate them how to run the government. We have paid dearly because of his mismanagement. See my article titled “Prime Minister Abiy’s Problem is Partly Rooted in Religion” and “Cultural Enigma in Development Dynamics: Ethiopia/Iran Vs. China/Japan.”
Second, Amhara tribalist intellectuals and activists ended up being existential threats to Amhara and Ethiopia at large. They weakened the Amhara, leaving it without a leader. It takes years to build a movement from the ground up. The Amhara should have strengthened whatever it has and create new ones concurrently. Instead, extremist Amhara tribalists weakened all existing parties without building an alternative power base. They propped up clowns like Zemene Kassie who tried to fight TPLF, PP-Amhara and PP-Oromo at the same time. It took him half a day to run and hide and seek the help of the likes of Christian Tadele to get clemency from the government. See my article titled “In the Oromo-Amhara Intellectual Barren Land Resides Ethiopia’s Burial Ground.”
Third, by weakening PP-Amhara, Amhara tribalists weakened the PM in his tug of war with extremist Oromo tribalists. The likes of Shimeles and Adanech Abebe pushed PP-Oromo to extremism. They went as forcing students in Addis Ababa to sing the Oromo tribal anthem and raise the Oromo tribal banner high. This served Amhara extremists as fodder and the race to the bottom continued between Amhara and Oromo. This was happening as TPLF was preparing to invade both. Oromo is in power. Rather than first stabilizing and consolidating the political power, Oromo tribalists went for petty and quite frankly stupid tribal politics. See my article titled: “Taming Polarization and Bridging Divides: The Failure and Redemption of Ethiopian Politics.”
The Silver Lining in Ethiopia’s Darkest Moment
The silver lining in Ethiopia’s darkest moment shows all the stars are aligned in its favor. What is the silver lining in this dark moment? All three parties, the PM, Amhara extremists, and Oromo extremists now realize their paths to date have been self-destructive that strengthened their common enemy.
For the Oromo tribalists such a moment reveals their petty politics was juvenile with no benefit other than weakening the government that they are in charge of.
For the Prime Minister, it is a Come-to-Jesus-Moment (a moment of awakening and revelation) that he cannot expect Jesus to run his bureaucracy and his Prophets who are running around in
the corridor of power should be kept at his church not in his office. Most of the crisis that Ethiopia is in today is a result of a dysfunctional administration run by sub-professionals, evangelical prophets, Orthodox ሙአዝawians and third-tier experts, who have no business being cabinet members. God sometimes operates in mysterious ways. He is telling the PM he cannot fill the competency gap with prayers and self-anointed miracle creating prophets and clownish
For Amhara tribalists, they now understand their opposition to PP-Amhara went too far to a point of exposing the Amhara without a political power base. Rather than creating public pressure to change PP-Amhara, they tried to destroy it without an alternative power base. Today, there is political apathy in the Amhara tribal land to a point that the youth are refusing to defend their land. Since the current war started Amhara extremists are in complete silence. Meskerem Abera, the Queen of Amhara tribalism, is nowhere to be found or heard from. She was supposed to be Amhara opinion leader. One thing the current situation revealed is her political position is self-defeating and her silence at a moment of crisis is cowardice. The same applies to all silent Amhara extremists.
There is a Looming Danger if the Three Groups Do Not Act Now
Many Amhara Youth that have been poisoned by anti PP-Amhara and PP-Oromo Amhara tribalists are now saying: “We do not care if TPLF takes over Addis. We will let them go through Amhara region. They believe Abiy is working with Shene and TPLF. And there is no difference between TPLF and Abiy.” The likes of Ethio-360 extremists are telling the Amhara Youth not to get involved in the war between TPLF and Abiy.
TPLF is being armed by Egypt. If they succeed to take over Welkait, Egypt will arm them and strengthen them. TPLF will forever be indebted to them to undermine GERD and Ethiopia’s development. Their next target will be Asmara and the Amhara Youth will be their wave. Today they are surrounding Tigrayans and forcing them into the war front as a wave. Tomorrow it will be Amhara youth that it will be surrounding from Welkait and Kobo and sending them to the war front to serve as a wave. TPLF is a diabolical evil institution. That is what they did to Oromo Youth during the war with Eritrea. Next time, it is Amhara’s turn.
Now the Question is What Needs to Be Done Urgently
The above-noted three groups need to realize governing a country whose political psychology is marred by scars from the past, inflamed with fresh wounds from the present, and cursed with an elite class that has taken refuge in tribal deity and vowed not to be governed by reason or law is no small task.
They need to revive our nation’s social psychology. Our collective psychology has been battered to the brink and become chronically pessimistic. To reset the tone and tenor of our political discourse we need to heal our hearts and minds. This cannot be done when national psychology is dominated by a deep sense of despair and addiction to anger, feeding the flames of discord, recrimination, and retribution.
Here are three specific critical steps.
The first step must be taken by the PM. Release all political prisoners in the Amhara tribal land. The Zemene Kassie’s have learned their lesson. They will defend their country rather than polarizing their tribal land against the Amhara and the Federal Government. This is a critical step to reset the nation’s social psychology.
The second step is having an emergency meeting between the three groups – Amhara extremists, Oromo extremists (such as Shimles, Adanech) and the PM. This may be symbolic in the short term, but it will help revive the social psychology of the people, most importantly in Amhara and Afar regions. The meeting should be called by the PM. If he does not, Amhara extremists such as Meskerem, Christian Tadele or their likes should make a public call and create a public pressure on the PM. Ethiopia is bigger than us. Our ego and false pride should not intervene. The third step is for Amhara tribalists to call upon the Amhara youth to defend its land. All Fannos must be incorporated within the national and tribal defense forces.
Yes, there is a risk that Oromo tribalists may go back to their old ways after the current situation settles. Whether that materializes or not, Amhara must learn to develop a strategy and build strong parties. Destroying Amhara parties, no matter how different their policies are, is supporting our enemies not helping our people. The current war is making that clear.
The fourth step that needs to be concurrently done is inviting Eritrea to join the war. Both Eritrea and Ethiopia have an existential enemy in TPLF. TPLF’s military power is its cruelty, namely using unlimited number of Tigrayan youth as a wave. The Ethiopian government policy with the West is stupid. It confronts the West where it should not and succumbs to the West’s pressure where it should stand firm.
Ethiopia has every right and interest to invite Eritrea. Eritrea has interest to be involved in the war. No country has moral or legal authority to stop the two nations from joining forces. What they need to avoid is war atrocities against civilians.
The fifth step is geting a team outside of the government