Yonas Biru, PhD
March 30, 2022
A Prologue to Post HR-6600
HR-6600 is a US bill that the US Congress is pushing through the Congressional legislative process to sanction Ethiopia in a bid to end the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray tribal land. Words cannot fully explain the humanitarian crisis. I think pictures may help. The pictures you see above are not the worst pictures. I picked those who make the point without offending human decency.
We need to address two critical points before we consider a strategic approach to defeat or diffuse HR-600. First, a glance cast to the root causes of the humanitarian crisis is essential. Second, we need to understand the strategies that the government and the diaspora are relying on, namely the #NoMore movement and Pan Africanism, reflect uncircumcised stupidity. Using a softer and politically correct language to explain it will do a disservice to the English language itself.
The Root Causes of the Crisis
Prime Minister Abiy’s utterly appalling performance in managing his brilliant, if not genius, reform agenda; his disappointing mismanagement of the war during and after the unilateral ceasefire; his inexcusable record in destroying Ethiopia’s century old diplomatic achievements; his saddening loss in the public relations tug of war to a terrorist organization; and his inexplicable anti-intellectual and anti-subject matter experts attitude, have contributed to, if nor created the environment, for the humanitarian crisis depicted in the picture you see above. There is nothing more disheartening than seeing a supremely gifted visionary and
a brilliant strategist wasting his God given talent and, in the process, risking the destruction of a nation. Visionary leaders are rare. Good managers are a dime a dozen. He could have surrounded himself with capable managers, but he chose to run the entire government by himself. He proved to be a poor manager. A very poor one.
The Psychopaths of TPLF Whose Energy is Generated from Their Sociopathic Animal Instinct
Psychologists tell us that psychopaths make up about 1 percent of a nation’s general population, while their sociopath brethren account for about 4 percent of the general population. Over the years, be it by what social scientists call an adverse selection process or by a moral hazard problem, diabolical psychopaths bubbled up to the top of TPLF hierarchy. Research as far back as 13th century has linked the lack of empathy for human sufferings in sociopaths to a genetic predisposition to animal instinct. In layman language, this spells TPLF. Who else would condemn to death over 300,000 teenage girls and boys, serving as human waves in a futile war? To say that TPLF sociopaths are the primary authors and painters of the image you see above is an understatement. But that does not absolve the Prime Minister of responsibility. Ultimately, he is the leader of the nation, including Tigray.
The Stillborn and Dumbified Ethiopian Intellectual Clan
This clan’s primitive culture of ግፋ በለው; its lack of intellectual backbone; and its defective social DNA that has robbed it of morality have brought to the fore unholy groups, constituting of ሸኔ ኦሮሞ፣ ሸኔ አማራ & ሸኔ ትግሬ . Sadly, the three ሸኔs are sucked into the black hole of tribal hate politics that is spiraling down to the bottom of the abyss. The phenomenon can only be explained by the Second Law of Thermodynamics – one of the most fundamental laws of nature. Put in a layman’s language, it means a natural tendency to degenerate into a self-destructive state of disorder. This happens as the systemic social order splinters into decomposing components of chaotic disorder. In Physics they call it “the Law of Entropy”.
The goons and the loons in the ranks of the ሸኔ universe have made themselves intellectually diminutive souls. There is nothing disheartening than seeing 60 plus years old goofballs behaving like a teenage “true believer” as narrated by Eric Hoffer (1898-1983). The Oromo, Amhara, and Tigray ሸኔ clans may not know Eric Hoffer, but he knew them alright. It is a waste of time to try to rehabilitate them. The only solution is to create energy outside of their universe with more powerful energy than they possess. Sadly, the silent majority in Ethiopia is silently sitting on its enormous energy that can dissipate the three ሸኔs. Therefore, we see the
solution for ending the humanitarian disaster coming from outside of our political universe: The international community.
The International Community’s Intervention
All Ethiopians, including the silent majority, are collectively responsible for the images we see above. Left to our own devise, the next six months would have brought unimaginable humanitarian crisis that could have ultimately condemned a million Tigrayans to a slow, dehumanizing, and horrifying death. We should be happy that the international community is forcing us to come to the negotiation table. Now the problem resides in some of the components of HR-6600.
Ethiopians must come together to defeat it. But it takes a judicial and nuanced PR not the uselss #NoMore crap. It is time that we understand wrapping ourselves with ልሙጡ ባንዲራ or የዘውዱ ባንዲራ, screaming our heart out with አቱቶ ቡቱቶ slogans, and/or blocking traffic will get us nothing.
Ending the #NoMore Movement and Shelving Pan-Africanism
The first thing to know is the international community wants a stable and prosperous Ethiopia. Nothing else explains the unprecedented level of financial aid we have been receiving over the last four years. The international community did not fail us. We failed ourselves.
The second most important thing to know is we have no other alternative to develop our country outside of the financial aid that the West provides us.
The Pan Africanism infatuation as an alternative source of development is nothing short of an unadulterated stupidity. In our current situation, Pan-Africanism is at best a mirage. The physical and institutional architectures are not in place to make it an effective policy in the short to medium term.
There is nothing wrong in trying to set up foundational ጡብ for a future Pan Africanism. However, for now, no matter how much we wish, Ethiopia cannot overcome its current economic structural problems without hundreds of billions of foreign investment and concessional loans that come with generous terms from the West. For that matter NONE of the African countries that are dancing with the wind with the rhythm and rhyme of Pan Africanism drumbeat and ቱልቱላ can finance their development without international aid from the West.
There is a reason why Pan Africanism has not worked since the mid 19th century when W.E.B. Du Bois promoted it. In the early part of the 20th century, Marcus Garvey of Jamaica picked up the Banner. Since then, many Africans from Kwame Nkrumah to Thomas Sankara have flirted with Pan Africanism but not one of them had a success story to write home about. Pan Africanism is what failed African communists are clinging to as a soft landing from a freefall after the collapse of communism. አሁን ደሞ አባት አግር ሩሲያም እየወደቀች ነው, leaving the soul of Pan Africanism without a communist ነብስ አባት ::
How to Address the Humanitarian Crisis & Defeat HR-6600
The HR-6600 bill has gathered inertia and built momentum both in the US House and Senate. Our energy must be focused on the White House. The amendments that Senator Van Hollen introduced, and the Senate accepted have weakened the bill and shifted the decision to the President with a power to waive key components of the bill.
The amendment is designed to: “ensure the bill takes a more balanced approach and provides needed flexibility for the Biden Administration to respond to this complex and rapidly changing crisis.” The Senator made the case that “The bill, as introduced, would have unwisely tied the hands of the Biden Administration and denied them the flexibility they need to address the very challenging and changing situation in Ethiopia.”
The following two amendments are critical: (1) waiver for the sanctions in the bill to ensure that they can tailor efforts to the situation on the ground; and (2) waiver to the international financial institutions lending restrictions and remove the associated Sense of Congress.
It is in the US’ national security interest to keep financing Ethiopia’s development. That is why Ethiopia was the number one US aid recipient in 2021, despite the tiresome and repetitive sanction threat. They will not sanction us unless we leave them no choice by exposing millions of Tigrayans to starvation and slow death.
Considering the above, the Prime Minister must claim the authorship and ownership of the rehabilitation and peace process. He needs to be the driver of the peace agenda and get ahead of the HR-600 conditions for the rehabilitation, stabilization, and peace process.
This will give us three possible outcomes: (1) Congress can shelve the bill if it is convinced that our plan of actions are reassuring; (2) Congress or Biden may defuse
the potency of the bill; or (3) Biden will use his waiver power and not implement the key components of the bill.
The following are what Prime Minister Abiy needs to do.
•Assemble a team of experts chaired by a civil society leader, and consisting reputable members, and consisting of reputable members, including representatives of international agencies, international and independent national media, national civic organizations both from Tigray region and outside of it, as well as representatives of the US, the EU, Canada, China, south Africa, and Kenya.
•Establish an independent monitoring team Chaired by the African Union, and consisting of reputable members, including representatives of international agencies, international and independent national media, national civic organizations both from Tigray region and outside of it, as well as representatives of the US, the EU, Canada, China, south Africa, and Kenya.
•Organize a daily briefing session and progress report, including the number of humanitarian trucks and flights going into Tigray that is verified by members of the above proposed independent observers.
•Provide a weekly report, highlighting what has been accomplished and challenges encountered during the weekly review period. This can be achieved by: (1) creating a factsheet or Ethiopian Information Update Hub to serve as a go-to source for the international media and the global public; and (2) establishing social media outlets to increase Ethiopia’s communication bandwidth.
•Call an emergency session of the House of the People’s Representatives to remove TPLF’s terrorist designation. Ultimately, the government will end up doing it. It is better to do it than to do it under international pressure. It is also smart politics. It is peace, not war that hurts TPLF.
•Extend gesture towards TPLF by accepting the 2020 election and extending public invitation to Tigrayan elected members of the House of the People’s Representative to take their seats in the national Parliament. This is a critical element of the proposal that will defuse the most damaging component of the HR-6600 bill.
•Underscore that the peace and reconciliation process must be within the tenets of the Ethiopian Constitution and the African Union’s Constitutive Act and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance charter of the Lomé Declaration. (The Lomé Declaration outlaws all unconstitutional changes or unconstitutional formation of government through armed dissident.) The international community cannot push TPLF’s agenda that wants national reconciliation to be conducted outside of the proper constitutional channel.
•Avoid the all too familiar nonsense of accusing the international community of violation of Ethiopia’s sovereign rights. A nation’s sovereign rights do not include allowing man-made humanitarian crisis to consume hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives.
•Hire high powered lobbying firms. A report by Open Secrets, Center for Responsive Politics shows, foreign governments have spent over $530 million influencing US policy, between January 2017 and August 2018. Nations who influence US international policies to reflect their interests are those that are spending millions of dollars on high-power lobbying firms. This can be discerned from titles of such newspaper articles as: “Egypt assembles bipartisan powerhouse lobbying team for post-Trump era.” Nations that exist outside of the lobbying orbit fail to protect and advance their nation’s interests. Ethiopia, a recipient of billions in international aid must find the necessary resources to hire not one but two lobbying powerhouses in Washington and at least one each in London and Brussels.
•Understand that it is the Prime Minister’s refusal to spend $5 million on high powered lobbyists that ultimately cost us hundreds of billions of dollars.
The proposal described above will help Ethiopia achieve numerous goals. First and foremost, it will help address the humanitarian crisis. Second, it will restore peace and allow Ethiopia to return to its economic building endeavor. Third, it will start salvaging and rebuilding the PM’s image and stature in the international community, which is critical to rebuild the image of the nation. The looming economic and social crisis demands we return to our senses.