Introduction to the series…
This rather long and somewhat discursive introduction to the ongoing series I have dubbed “The Dilemma of U.S. Policy in Ethiopia: Policy Options” [hereinafter “policy options series”] is necessary to set the stage for what I hope will be a cyber platform for ongoing discussions and exchange of creative and innovative ideas for a more effective U.S. policy in Ethiopia.
In 1991, the U.S. played the role of power broker effectively delivering Ethiopia into the hands of the TPLF. Ethiopia became one of the last pawns in the Cold War.
Over the past quarter of a century, the U.S. has poured tens of billions of American tax dollars to support the regime of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front.
What has the U.S. received in return?
I would argue not even a heartfelt thank you. The Chinese got all of the “thank you’s”.
What do American taxpayers have to show for the billions of dollars in aid they poured into Ethiopia?
I am afraid, not much!
It is unfortunate that a significant portion of U.S. aid in Ethiopia over the past quarter of a century has been looted, stolen, misused and illicitly transferred out of the country by the leaders of the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF).
I do not discuss specific policy options, proposals or recommendations for U.S. policy in Ethiopia in this commentary. That shall follow in subsequent commentaries in the form of “Policy Options” papers, analyses and documents.
In this commentary, I merely set the stage for the ongoing series by pulling together key foundational questions, issues, facts and critical analyses which will help inform my future policy discussions, analyses and recommendations.
In this series, I aim to achieve several broad objectives: 1) Spark informed debate and robust discussion on the likely outcomes of the current situation in Ethiopia in general, and more specifically focus on what the U.S. can and should do (and must not do) in light of emerging developments in Ethiopia. 2) Generate informed policy analysis and recommendations for consideration and use by American policy makers responsible for formulating policy in Ethiopia. 3) Educate the concerned Ethiopian and American publics on available policy options and risks and opportunities associated with particular policy options in Ethiopia. 4) Directly engage American policy makers in the executive and policy forums and help shape U.S. policy in Ethiopia. 5) Generate a body of cogent policy analyses which will serve to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Ethiopia.
There has been a dearth of critical, informed and evidence-based analysis on U.S. policy in Ethiopia over the past decade. Yet, there is a considerable body of publicly available data which cries out for mining by Ethiopian and Ethiopian American scholars and policy analysts. What is available in the Ethiopian blogosphere, in large part, simply does not cut the mustard as policy analysis.
I want to state emphatically that the foremost purpose of the series herein is to invite, indeed to vigorously challenge, Ethiopian and Ethiopian American scholars, academics, researchers, policy analysts and other Ethiopianists to come forward and make a contribution to better inform U.S. policy in Ethiopia. This undertaking should not be regarded as something novel. American scholars of diverse national heritage engage American leaders in the executive and legislative branches in a variety of ways every day, including as “experts”, “specialists”, “consultants”, “analysts” and in other professional capacities.
To clarify, I refer to “Ethiopian” and “Ethiopian American” scholars and others herein to signify the fact that Ethiopian Americans as citizens and taxpayers have the constitutional right to make demands on their government. Ethiopian Americans have the right to petition their government for a redress of grievances, which means among other things, they can demand their government change its domestic or foreign policies. Regrettably, Ethiopians have no such right in their country, or in the U.S., obviously. But they do have a right to express themselves under international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
On a number of occasions over the years, particularly during my days of advocacy for passage of H.R. 2003, I have been asked two critical questions by very influential people in the U.S. government (neither of which I have been unable to answer adequately to this day). 1) “What is the consensus of Ethiopian intellectuals about U.S. policy in Ethiopia?” 2) “Why can’t the Ethiopian opposition come as a unified voice and engage in grassroots advocacy in Congress?”
Passage of H.R. 2003 (“Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act”) in the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2007 is compelling evidence that determined collective action can indeed impact the policy making process.
Better late than never! Perhaps this series could help focus the efforts of the Ethiopian democratic opposition in the United States to come together and directly contribute to the policy process.
I believe Ethiopian American intellectuals today have a great opportunity to impact policy in the Trump administration, if only they can compartmentalize their views on Trump as a person and president. I know many of them have disengaged from the policy process over the past couple of years embittered by the monumental betrayal of Barack Obama.
I have previously called on and challenged Ethiopian intellectuals and Ethiopianists to rise to the occasion and engage American policy makers confidently and forthrightly on Ethiopian issues. I have always found it ironic that some non-Ethiopian academics are invited to testify before Congress and provide “expert” analysis to the State Department when able Ethiopians watch from the sidelines. Where some leave a vacuum, others rush to fill it in. Such is the universal law of vacuum.
The fact of the matter is that few Ethiopian scholars and intellectuals have risen to the occasion and stood up and spoken on behalf of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. In June 2010, I wrote a commentary entitled, “Where Have the Ethiopian Intellectuals Gone?”, lamenting this fact.
In 2017, I still feel a little bit like Diogenes the Cynic, the Greek philosopher, who used to walk the streets of ancient Athens carrying a lamp in broad daylight looking for an honest man.
I have “walked” the hallowed grounds of Western academia, searched the cloistered spaces of the arts and scientific professions and traverse the untamed frontiers of cyberspace with torchlight in hand looking for Ethiopian public intellectuals, those willing, able and ready to share their knowledge and expertise with policy makers and the common folk.
I have found very few.
That does not mean they are not “out there”. I personally know of dozens of top flight Ethiopian American scholars, academics and researchers who could play a dynamic role in transforming U.S. policy in Ethiopia in innovative and creative ways. From time to time, a few of them will drop a blog or two and vanish in the fog of the blogosphere. But the vast majority, for reasons known only to them, prefer silence in anonymity. I am hoping my challenge here will encourage them to disavow their vows of silence and join me in the debate and discussions. Indeed, I hope they will accept my challenge now and come out, stand up and be counted on the side of Ethiopia.
I am aware that some of my readers have difficulty comprehending my views expressed in numerous commentaries on my blog and in The Hill supporting Trump’s penetrating questions on U.S. policy in Africa, which has special relevance to Ethiopia. “How could I even mention Trump’s name…?” they ask me.
The answer is simple. Henry Kissinger said, “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”
I could say the same thing about Ethiopia!
Take Barack Obama, for instance. Obama ain’t no friend of Ethiopians. No doubt, he is a bosom friend of the TPLF thugs.
By the same token, Donald Trump who has said and done nothing to harm Ethiopia is no enemy of Ethiopia, or Africa. I believe Trump’s questions about U.S. aid accountability and corruption, use of counterterrorism cooperation as a meal ticket for dictatorial regimes, bogus trade deals and the double standard benefiting Chinese businesses is in any way harmful to Ethiopia or Africa.
Obama’s sins of commission are very different from Trump’s anticipated sins of omission.
Suffice it to say that Ethiopian Americans must “by nature be a fox but a hedgehog by conviction” in dealing with the Trump administration.
The dilemma of U.S. policy in Ethiopia
The dilemma of U.S. policy in Ethiopia is simply this: The T-TPLF is driving the country over the cliff into a cataclysmic civil war at breakneck speed. The Ethiopian opposition is fragmented, splintered, ineffective and disorganized.
The country is in a massive state of quiet riot.
The people of Ethiopia are engaged in mass acts of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance throughout the country. They refuse to pay the T-TPLF’s outrageous taxes and are resisting expropriation of their land. Every day the people are standing up defiantly and proclaiming to the T-TPLF, “Enough is enough! We ain’t gonna take it no more.”
The quiet riot is getting louder and louder by the day.
Two days ago, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa reported that it
is aware of reports that the main road from Addis Ababa to Jijiga has been blocked by security forces between the cities of Babile and Harar due to intense fighting including gunfire. Ethiopian Defense Force troops are arriving in the area, and the road is not passable.
The Voice of America, Amharic program also reported a few days ago that massive boycotts and strikes against the T-TPLF are taking place in the Amhara region.
The quiet riot is morphing into a creeping civil war slowly enveloping Ethiopia.
Is Ethiopia doomed to share the fate of Rwanda, as Meles Zenawi, the late thugmaster of the T-TPLF, once predicted?
Could the U.S. play a role to avert a civil war in Ethiopia?
The U.S. has always played a decisive role in Ethiopia.
Over the past eight years, the Obama administration has been the best friend for life of African dictators.
The U.S. poured billions of American tax dollars to keep the T-TPLF afloat despite its horrendous corruption and human rights record. Obama even declared the T-TPLF is democratically elected after the T-TPLF claimed one hundred percent control of the “parliament”, and a police state which pretty much every other aspect of the society.
In 1997, President Bill Clinton imposed a comprehensive trade embargo against Sudan and blocked the assets of the Sudanese government for the genocide in Darfur and sponsorship of terrorism.
On January 13, 2017, a week before the end of his term, signed an executive order removing Clinton’s trade embargo on the government of Omar al-Bashir, a dictatorship that has been in power since seizing power in a military coup in 1989. Bashir is today an indicted fugitive from justice at the International Criminal Court and listed on the Red Notice of Interpol for directing genocide in Darfur and other places in the Sudan.
Barack Obama never met an dictator or thugtator he did not love.
Trump has manifested very little interest in Africa.
For his apparent lack of expressed interest, he has been criticized for ignoring (and being ignorant) and neglecting Africa.
Indeed, the positions of National Security Council Africa director, assistant secretary and principal deputy assistant secretary for African affairs at the State Department remain vacant.
Trump has only spoken to the presidents of Nigeria and South Africa. Trump completely ignored Obama’s darlings and the biggest mooches of American tax dollars in Ethiopia. This past May, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited the Middle East and Africa to “reaffirm key U.S. military alliances” and engage with strategic partners.” Mattis only visited the tiny nation of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa where the U.S. maintains its largest military base.
Ethiopia was conspicuously absent from the “strategic partner” lineup. Does that signal a basic shift in U.S. policy in Ethiopia?
Trump’s critics argue that he simply fails “to realize the importance of Africa to U.S. national security interests, and America’s indispensable role in continuing to shape the democratic evolution of the continent.” They say he is callously turning his back on “more than 20 million people facing starvation and famine” in Africa. Their preferred solution is for Trump to appoint “moderate and experienced Africa experts” and old hands who perambulate through the revolving door of government, think tanks and consultancies and continue with business as usual.
I am not concerned about, and give little credit to, allegations that Trump is “ignoring” Africa.
I believe Obama has done much greater damage to the people of Africa by pouring billions of American tax dollars to support their oppressive dictators.
Perhaps Trump is “ignoring” Africa because he believes Africa’s dictators are not worth a damn. Not a dime of American tax dollars should be used to support their corruption and lavish life styles.
Perhaps Trump thinks Africa under the rule of thugtators and dictators is a rabbit hole for American tax dollars with no accountability. Maybe he does not want to throw good money after bad. I do not know.
But after examining Trump’s transitions team’s questions on Africa, all I can say is that they asked the same exact questions I have been asking for the past eleven years.
What more can I say!?
Where Trump’s critics see danger in “ignoring” Africa, I see great opportunity to engage and influence the Trump administration in its emerging Africa policy.
Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it…
There are tens of thousands of Ethiopian American taxpayers who shelled out their hard-earned money and sacrificed their time and energy to get Barack Obama elected.
They put all their eggs in Obama’s basket, and Obama crushed them all in eight years.
Obama betrayed the vast majority of his Ethiopian American supporters when he got in bed with the TPLF thugs. To use an Ethiopian metaphor, “In return for the gold Ethiopian Americans gave Obama, he returned to them pebbles.”
I doubt there is any Ethiopian American who has felt Obama’s cruel betrayal more deeply than myself. I made so many excuses to defend him in his policy in Ethiopia against those who said he was no friend of Ethiopia. They told me Obama was a friend of Africa’s thugtators and dictators. His best friends were the TPLF thugs. I dismissed their views out of hand. I self-assuredly proclaimed, “Obama was a constitutional and civil rights lawyer before he was president. He will do the right thing.”
Now, I know I was wrong and those who pegged Obama as African dictators’ best friend were right. (Mea culpa. My belated apologies to all!)
Obama made a parade of fools of his Ethiopian American supporters, and I must painfully confess that I was at the front of that parade twirling a baton.
But I had a cathartic moment when I wrote my September 2014 commentary, “Shame On Me For Being Proud of President Obama!”
Truth be told, shame on Obama for he shamed himself for all eternity when he declared with a straight face that the T-TPLF which claimed to have won one hundred percent of the seats in its “parliament” was democratically elected.
I have nothing to be ashamed! Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on you.
Obama will not fool me the second time wallowing in the dustbin of history! All I have to say to Obama is, “He who laughs last, laughs best!”
It is true that “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”
Thus, the question is, “What are the mutual interests of the U.S. and Ethiopia in their relations?”
For eight years, I have spoken to Obama’s deaf ears about the mutual interests of the two countries. All I got from his administration was, “We are working on it. It takes time.”
It took me a while to find out about the subterfuge of Obama’s “quiet diplomacy”.
How silly of me to believe that there could be quiet diplomacy in the face of massacres, colossal thefts of elections and gross violations of human rights. It is like the fox having quiet diplomacy with the chickens cooped up in the hen house.
Anyway, “quiet diplomacy” was Obama’s reward to all of his Ethiopian American supporters who toiled to get him elected.
In less than six months, I have been “heard” by the Trump administration.
In my December 2016 commentary, “Glimpses of Trump’s Foreign (Human Rights) Policy in Africa”, I confidently declared that President Trump would do nothing but “watch Africa mired in corruption, human rights violations, bad governance, wars, conflicts and violence with indifference and nonchalance.” I further declared, “I do not expect the Trump Administration to pay attention to my analyses or policy recommendations on Africa” and “if I am proven wrong in the slightest, I ‘shall eat crow’, the ultimate blasphemy for a vegan.”
I am happy to report that I now know where to get vegan crow.
I am comparing and contrasting Obama with Trump because I believe there is an opportunity to influence, however modestly or enormously, the Trump administration in the right direction. That is the direction of strict U.S. aid accountability, human rights accountability and democratic accountability.
That is why I am specifically inviting and challenging Ethiopian American intellectuals in this series to engage U.S. policy makers by providing them informed, evidence-based and well-reasoned policy analysis on what the U.S. should and should not do in Ethiopia, and remind them of what the U.S. has done right and wrong in the past.
The less of history is this: Things are not always what they seem to be, and one should never put all of one’s eggs in one basket.
Why policy engagement on U.S. Ethiopia policy today is vital
I am well aware that the vast global network of U.S. intelligence services provide voluminous data and analysis to American policy makers every day. No doubt, the U.S. diplomatic corps and intelligence services in Ethiopia do the same.
But anyone who has taken the time to study the Wikileaks documents on Ethiopia understands the limitations in U.S. intelligence and diplomatic analyses in Ethiopia.
What Churchill said of Russia, perplexed about what Russia may do, is equally applicable to Ethiopia. “It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” There is a “key” to the enigma.
Careful review and analysis of the Wikileaks documents on Ethiopia show that American diplomats and intelligence analysts are sorely lacking in that singularly paradoxical Ethiopian perspective.
With all their data and number crunching (and their silly hubris about what they know), the diplomats and intelligence services can only penetrate the “sem” (wax) but rarely the “worq” (gold) of the Ethiopian condition, to use an Ethiopian metaphor.
The fact of the matter is that Ethiopia is just a job for them. They don’t have a dog in the race. They are just temporary spectators of a deadly game of dictatorship in Ethiopia. It’s all in a day’s work for them. They don’t have skin in the game. Just another day at the office. They write up their “objective” boilerplate reports garnished with the usual buzzwords and platitudes, call it a day and go home.
They care about what is happening in Ethiopia as much as the guy sitting in the park watching the clouds drifting across the sky. It may be amusing to pass the time, but who cares? They will move to another assignment in two or three years and Ethiopia will be nothing more than a blurred memory for them as they take up another assignment.
Those of us who have our roots, families, relatives and friends in Ethiopia have a lot of skin in the game. We have horses in the race. If human rights are trampled, our people suffer. If the rule of law is absent, our people suffer under the rule of thugs.
That is why Ethiopian American intellectuals must now rise to the occasion and take a leading role in shaping the destiny of their homeland and people.
Let me say in passing that I am aware some may consider my views about the current T-TPLF regime single-mindedly severe and uncompromising.
I don’t know but I’ve been told that “they” say I am part of the “extremist Diaspora.”
“They” claim that I say and write things about them out of malice and animus.
Frankly, I don’t give a damn what they think or say about what I say or think.
I take Barry Goldwater’s position about what I do. “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
The 800-pound gorilla in the room nobody wants to talk about
The “dilemma” for U.S. policy in Ethiopia revolves around difficult choices the U.S. will have to make given that country’s political trajectory towards civil war.
The prospect of civil war in Ethiopia is something few would dare to talk about in public. Privately, that is what most Ethiopians murmur about in one form or another.
I talked about it in my August 2016 commentary, “The Volcano, the Beast and the Tiger”. Things have gotten far worse in August 2017.
In October 2016, the T-TPLF declared a state of emergency and jailed tens of thousandsof innocent citizens fearing the breakout of civil war.
The T-TPLF puppet prime minister Desalegn invoked the constitution (Art. 93(1)(a)) to declare “state of emergency” fearing a “breakdown of law and order which endangers the Constitutional order and which cannot be controlled by the regular law enforcement agencies and personnel”.
In my May 2017 commentary, “The Good Kops/Bad Kops T-TPLF Con Game (Over)”, I pointed out the irrefutable fact that the T-TPLF today barely clings to dear political life sitting on a powder keg and holding by a thread it calls a “state of emergency” decree. Remove the “state of emergency” lid on the people’s anger, frustration and resentment against T-TPLF rule and boom goes the powder keg.
Last week, the T-TPLF declared it had lifted the “state of emergency”. BFD!
Of course, the T-TPLF did not have to lift diddly. The people did it on their own. They refused to pay taxes in the form of daylight robbery. They refused to give up their land. In short, they told the T-TPLF to go to hell, hell, hell!
Just a minor clarification. The T-TPLF’s “state of emergency” was, in fact, martial law.
The T-TPLF called it “command post law.” The T-TPLF thought it could cleverly disguise its martial law by using a kinder, gentler and dumber phrase like “command post”.
But martial law by any other name is still martial law. The “command post” was empowered to massacre, jail and terrorize the civilian population at will.
It did not work. The people rose up in massive disobedience two weeks ago and ended the “state of emergency” by themselves. That happened when the T-TPLF immediately backed down after the anti-tax uprising. The T-TPLF now claims it had ended the “state of emergency”. Ha!
The T-TPLF could no longer massacre and jail hundreds of thousands to secure compliance with its dictatorial orders.
The T-TPLF knew all too well that its “state of emergency” could keep a lid on the powder keg for only a very short time.
The pressure in the powder keg is building up by the second, minute and hour. There is no safety valve to release the pressure, only increasing compression and oppression.
The T-TPLF house of cards is coming apart, brick-by-brick and nail-by-nail.
The T-TPLF knows for certain that when the powder keg goes off, only two questions will remain unanswered: Whether it will go off with a bang or a whimper, and whether it will happen in daylight or come like a thief in the night.
Let the record show…
Let the record show that I am not the first person to talk about the possibility of the powder keg going off with the T-TPLF perched on top.
Let the record show that the chief prophet of gloom and doom of civil war in Ethiopia was none other than Meles Zenawi, the late T-TPLF thugmaster.
Let the record show that Meles’ minions and disciples have been preaching about the coming ethnic Armageddon if they were no longer in power for over two decades.
Let the record show that on May 6, 2005, nine days before the election, Meles warned that a victory for the opposition in May 15 elections could lead to Rwanda-style bloodshed and accused the opposition of conspiring to foment ethnic hatred.” Meles pleaded:
I call on the people of Ethiopia to punish opposition parties who are promoting an ideology of hatred and divisiveness by denying them their votes at election on May 15… Their policies are geared toward creating hatred and rifts between ethnic groups similar to the policies of the Interahamwe when Hutu militia massacred Tutsis in Rwanda. It is a dangerous policy that leads the nation to violence and bloodshed. (Emphasis added.)
Meles’ was crystal clear about his message: 1) If he and his gang are removed from power there will be civil war. 2) If the opposition takes power, they will conduct genocide on a scale similar to Rwanda’s.
The only thing that was not clear in Meles’ statement was the identity of the genociders and the victims of the genocide.
Meles must have been crazy as a loon or crazy like a fox when he said that.
Maybe he was high on khat, but he predicted a Rwanda-style Interahamwe in Ethiopia.
Let the record show that was not the first time Meles warned of the specter of civil war in Ethiopia if he and his gang are no longer in charge.
Let the record show that Meles has been preaching the coming ethnic Armageddon since the late 1990s to justify the necessity for him and his gang to remain at the helm of power. Meles would pull out the “Yugoslav boogeyman” to scare the Ethiopian people. Meles would rant about Ethiopia going the way of Yugoslavia but for his leadership and his T-TPLF gang. The former Yugoslavia is today seven nations, Meles used to harangue.
Let the record show that Meles repeated the same eschatological warning in a videotaped interview in 2009.
Balkanization was Meles’ and the T-TPLF’s dream for Ethiopia. It is still their dream today.
Over the past 26 years, Meles and his T-TPLF gang have toiled day and night to carve up, chop up and put on fire sale Ethiopia to facilitate and prolong their rule; and when it’s time for them to go, to make sure Ethiopia goes up in smoke. It is like the wish of the proverbial Ethiopian donkey: “After I die, I could not care less if the grass grows.” In other words, apres T-TPLF, le deluge. (After the T-TPLF, the flood in Ethiopia.)
The former Yugoslavia splintered into 7 states after their civil war.
The T-TPLF did not need a civil war to break up Ethiopia into 9 apartheid-style Bantustans called kilils to make it easier for them to divide and rule. Indeed, they have achieved their dream of balkanizing Ethiopia with a stroke of the pen in their constitution.
Today, the T-TPLF gangsters are trying to convince Ethiopians and the world that without their steady hands at the helm, Ethiopia will go the way of Yugoslavia.
What a fantastic con job!
Everyone who has examined the evidence I have presented in the past to prove the T-TPLF is a reincarnation of the minority apartheid regime in Ethiopia knows that its kililistans are patterned after the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa.
Recently, David Steinman, the American economist and expert in civil resistance, gave an interview in which he said,
In South Africa, apartheid was used to justify the exploitation of the majority by minority whites. I don’t think it is a coincidence that you see in Ethiopia the exact same dynamic. You have a small ethnic minority that is pushing on other people this ethnic tribalism.”
South African apartheid leaders used to justify their minority white rule by claiming that if they were removed from power South Africa will disintegrate in “a two-phase process of revolution which has as its objective the establishment of a Communist state” and accelerate the spread of communism throughout Africa.
The T-TPLF is making essentially the same argument. Without them in power, Ethiopia will disintegrate into a 9-way ethnic implosion drawing the entire Horn of Africa. They must, under any and all circumstances, remain in power.
The irony of history is that the TPLF organized itself and waged an armed “liberation” war to create the “Republic of Tigrai” in a “two-step process: 1) re-demarcating Tigray’s borders to expand the region’s borders within Ethiopia, and 2) acquiring coastal lands within Eritrea and seceding as an independent nation.”
The TPLF did not wage a liberation struggle to save Ethiopia from civil war or territorial disintegration. They waged a civil war to disintegrate Tigray from the rest of Ethiopia. Now, they claim to be defenders of Ethiopian unity through ethnic federalism, an oxymoron.
What the T-TPLF is saying today is similar to a ludicrous statement made by An American military official in Vietnam in 1968. “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”
The T-TPLF says it is necessary to destroy Ethiopia by breaking it up into apartheid-style
kililistans (by dividing the people by ethnicity, religion, region, language and class) to save it.
The destroyers of Ethiopia are the only saviors of Ethiopia!
The second irony of history is that the T-TPLF seized power hell-bent to eliminate “Amhara domination”. They made that declaration clear in their Manifesto.
In 1991, as he was grasping power, Meles changed his tune. “We expect that Ethiopia will be a really democratic country, united not by force of arms but by the freely expressed will of the people involved. I suppose we won’t need the Kalashnikov anymore.”
Today, the T-TPLF clings to power by the straps of Kalashnikovs comfortably cushioned by a bed of American taxpayer dollars.
Let the record show that in June 2005, a month after the 2005 election, Bereket Simon, Meles Zenawi’s step-and-fetch and one-time T-TPLF communication minister justifying the massacre of unarmed protesters that year repeated his boss’ accusations and predicted: “Strife between different nationalities of Ethiopia might have made the Rwandan genocide look like child’s play.” (Emphasis added.)
Let the record show that in 2015, in a secretly recorded conversation which I discussed in my commentary, “The “End of the Story” for the T-TPLF in Ethiopia?”, Berket Simon and his comrade “deputy prime minister” Addisu Legesse, plainly talked about the end of times — the final days, the last days — for the T-TPLF to a group of their supporters. They lamented “the end of their story” in a civil war!
Let the record show that in August 2016, Aboy Sibhat, T-TPLF thugmaster-behind-the-scenes, foretold the coming civil war in Ethiopia with crystal clarity:
No people will stay under conditions of sweltering oppression for [unlimited number of] years. That is [a] universal [principle]. A people to the extent they are people, in world history, they will not stay in a [one] place as those put them there want. When the people become bitter, [the situation] explodes. This universal truth. There are no people who will not rise up when they become bitter [have had enough]; [that is a fact] historically, now or in the future.”
The Ethiopian people have become “bitter” and are “rising up” as Sebhat predicted.
Let the record show that in July 2016, T-TPLF general Tsadkan Gebretensaye, offered an extensive analysis (in Amharic) of T-TPLF rule and concluded with what clearly appeared to be a “proposal” to pull Ethiopia back from the brink of civil war.
Gebretensaye explored three “scenarios”. The very first one was what he called the possibility of things “getting out of the control of the government as a result of the questions and issues raised by the people. This could result in the total collapse of the government.” (Emphasis added.)
Gebretensaye did not explicitly say what could follow the complete “collapse of the government”, but “total collapse” sounds like civil war!
Meles and his T-TPLF have always used the Amhara boogeyman to cling to power.
The T-TPLF has always sought to legitimize itself by claiming that it has freed Ethiopia’s multicultural society from “Amhara domination” built on the foundation of a unitary state.
Why can’t there be democracy in Ethiopia? The “evil Amhara” will come and take over and make everyone serfs.
Why can’t the rule of law be observed in Ethiopia? The “evil Amhara” will come and take over and make everyone serfs.
Why not privatize land ownership?
Former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Herman Cohen, who facilitated the handover of power to the TPLF from the military junta in 1991 in an interview in January 2012 revealed:
And I questioned him [Meles] about land ownership. I was promoting allowing the farmers to have ownership of the land. He said that was not good because the Amharas would come and take over and buy all the land; and these people [the farmers] would return to be serfs like they were under the Emperor.” (Emphasis added.)
In 2015, Cohen expressed his puzzlement: “I fail to understand why the Ethiopian regime feels it necessary to exercise such extreme control to the point of committing murder periodically against their own citizens.”
Murderer is as murderer murders.
Cohen was outfoxed by Meles, that villainous shapeshifter who smiled as he murdered and murdered as he smiled, to paraphrase Shakespeare.
The third irony of history is that the T-TPLF has today become the “Amhara boogeyman” today.
The old saying is true. In time, unless one is exceedingly careful, one becomes the very thing one hates.
So, the question today is, “Who is dominating the multiethnic federal state of Ethiopia today?”
In other words, who has complete control of the 9 kililistans (“multiethnic federalism”)?
Who controls 100 percent of the “parliament” in Ethiopia today?
Who controls 100 percent of the top military leadership in Ethiopia today?
Who controls 100 percent of the top leadership of the civil service and bureaucracy in Ethiopia today?
Who controls 100 percent of the most profitable sectors of the economy in Ethiopia today?
“Multiethnic federalism” is slowly but surely swallowing the T-TPLF like a Nile crocodile.
The fourth irony of history is that the T-TPLF heroes who stormed into Addis Ababa in May 1991 find themselves to be loathsome villains in August 2017.
Civil war by civil disobedience?
The T-TPLF is now witnessing “civil war” by civil disobedience.
The people of Ethiopia refuse to submit to T-TPLF tyrannical rule. That is an undeniable fact!
To paraphrase a line from Shakespeare in Hamlet, “When ‘civil war’ comes, it comes not in battalions but single acts of civil disobedience.”
The American dilemma in Ethiopia
The dilemma of U.S. policy in Ethiopia is simply this: The Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF) is driving the country over the cliff into a cataclysmic civil war at breakneck speed. The Ethiopian opposition is fragmented, splintered, ineffective and disorganized.
The situation in Ethiopia has reached critical mass, the point of no return.
Meles and his TPLF disciples have been crying wolf (“Rwandan Interahamwe”) all these years to scare people into supporting them.
Well! The wolf has arrived!
No doubt about it!
The wolf has arrived in the sheep’s clothing of civil disobedience, nonviolent resistance and noncooperation.
Whether the wolf has arrived or not is not the question. The question is when the wolf will take off his sheep’s clothing and bare his teeth.
The T-TPLF created its own Frankensteinian monster when it established its kililistans. Now, it stands in the middle of the kililistans surrounded by hungry and angry wolves.
Is Meles Zenawi’s mad prophesy about the big bad wolf coming to devour everyone in Ethiopia about to come true?
What should/can the U.S. do about the hungry and angry wolf roaming the kililistans in Ethiopia?
Has the die been cast?
Has Ethiopia crossed the Rubicon, the point of no return?
To be continued…
Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino. His teaching areas include American constitutional law, civil rights law, judicial process, American and California state governments, and African politics. He has published two volumes on American constitutional law, including American Constitutional Law: Structures and Process (1994) and American Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights (1998). He is the Senior Editor of the International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, a leading scholarly journal on Ethiopia. For the last several years, Prof. Mariam has written weekly web commentaries on Ethiopian human rights and African issues that are widely read online. He blogged on the Huffington post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ and later on open.salon until that blogsite shut down in March 2015.