Ethiopia and the United States: Can the Crisis be Prevented? – Dawit W  Giorgis

 

Dawit W Giorgis

The simmering crisis in Ethiopia has reached a boiling point. It is extremely  serious and every person who has watched Ethiopia closely knows that. It is not simply about repression and extrajudicial killings, stifling of freedom of expression, but most of all it is about ethnic politics; a minority government, representing in theory  6% of the population, that is in complete control of the state machinery including the economic political and state apparatus. This is the part that the US and other European governments and the mainstream media do not want to discuss when referring to the regime in Ethiopia.  Current Ethiopia is gripped with the Rwandan syndrome before the 1994 genocide. It is Tigray people  (the 6%) versus the rest of the population. It is a situation where most   belonging to the 6% get better treatment than the others. It is a situation where the elites from the 6% own major private enterprises directly and indirectly.  It is a situation where the entre 6% is portrayed as a superior race than the others. It is a case where  disproportionate amount of resources is being directed to the province where the 6%t live. It is a case where the majority of the 6% are led to believe that they will be exterminated unless they have full control of the economic,  political and security apparatus. It is a case where through fear, intimidation and blackmail, the 6% is being brainwashed to hate the rest of the population and prepare itself against a possible genocide. Hence the hate becomes mutual.

 

The violence that is going on now is against the majority Amahra and Oromo population. But the tides of change have arrived.  The people have united against the regime and for the last few years there has been persistent call for change with violent reprisals. It is like the proverbial saying “the chicken has come home to roost.” The Tigreans are under siege and most have not even benefitted from a regime ( TPLF=EPRDF) which it states is there on their behalf.

 

The only way that this regime can stay in power is by putting one ethnic group against the other, by fabricating stories, by dividing them in an even smaller ethnic groups and preaching hate, committing atrocities and blaming other ethnic groups for the incidents.   Those who closely monitor the situation know that this is a recipe for disaster and genocide The dirty tactics that has made it possible for the TPLF regime to stay in power for 28 years has come to a dead end. The next thing that most Ethiopians expect is civil war and unless the regime’s major supporters, EU and the US,  take the necessary steps and force the government to transit to an internationally monitored democratic election, the civil war may be unstoppable. The US’s major ally in the region is Ethiopia because the Ethiopian regime is an important partner in the fight against terror in the region. To make sure that the US continues to support the status quo in Ethiopia, the regime is doing everything possible to ensure that it is seen as an indispensable partner  in  the fight against  terror in the region.

 

Now the major source of terror is becoming Ethiopia itself. By creating the conditions for terrorism to thrive and hostile external elements to comfortably operate in Ethiopia, the regime is preparing the nation to be another Yemen. Ethiopia is  descending to anarchy and possible proxy war. The stakes are high and no neighbor including Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Yemen and some of the Gulf States (certainly Saudi Arabia) would want to be left out in trying to shape the future of Ethiopia.

 

This will serve neither the short term nor long term interest of the US.  The US is acting against reason and allowing this country to implode and create an unprecedented chaos in the region. And this will certainly   reverberate across the Horn and  indeed Africa. Every Ethiopian now realizes that this might not be preventable. The US administration looks at the surface and not what simmers beneath; the periphery not the center of the discontent and rebellion. The US expects that the worst scenario will not happen and if it happens it would prefer fighting the fire rather than preventing it from happening. Ethiopia is 100 minion people, the second largest population in Africa, bordering countries who will be directly affected by the spill over.

 

Successive administrations have lacked wisdom and consistency in building an African policy.  America as a global leader for democracy and human rights cannot afford to sit on the side lines and witness a tragedy unfold.

Contemporary history of successive US administrations  is replete with history of non-willingness to intervene to prevent a disaster in Africa.  US administrations have always opted for the status quoi where America’s interests are not affected.  They allowed grave situations to change to human tragedies and then credit themselves for providing humanitarian assistance when they could have prevented the whole crisis from the beginning.  When situations are clearly   leading to civil war, US   prefers making policy options that are based on assessments that preclude objective analysis from credible sources. It seems State department does not have the expertise nor does the CIA to know what is exactly going on in Ethiopia and what is likely to happen.   They may have adequate and precise information but do not have the willingness to take pro-active measures. Like the Saudi Lobby, the Ethiopian lobby in the US has become one of the most powerful whose agents are paid enormous amount of money.

 

The facts are easy to discover if only we refer to independent sources who have visited many parts of Ethiopia and talked to young and old, in the absence of minders. Then they would realize how serious the situation is.  People will tell you that they are amassing weapons, some of them distributed by the regime to its own allies for ‘self-defense’. It s like the Habyarimana Government  ( Rwanda just before the 1994 genocide) which has been openly distributing weapons to the Hutu militias (Interhamway) in early 1990s.  But America buried it’s head in the sand and as a result over 800,000 people were killed. It refused to acknowledge the early warnings. I was there with the agonizing job to stabilize the situation including organizing mass graves.  What happened in Rwanda could have been prevented or stopped.

 

On a 1998 state visit to Kigali, the Rwandan capital, Clinton formally apologized for US inaction  “It may seem strange to you here, especially the many of you who lost members of your family, but all over the world there were people like me sitting in offices, day after day after day, who did not fully appreciate the depth and speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror,” he said.

 

In a 2013, interview he was more frank: “If we’d gone in sooner, I believe we could have saved at least a third of the lives that were lost,” he admitted. “It had an enduring impact on me.” He estimated that if the US had provided as few as 10,000 troops, more than 300,000 Rwandan lives could have been spared.

 

In one of my previous articles entitled Lessons Learnt from Rwanda, I wrote  this:

“   We might think that such kind of scenario will never happen in Ethiopia. But just think about it: who thought that a country called Somalia with one language, one ethnic group and one religion would so rapidly fall apart and be a failed state for two decades? Who would have thought that the former Yugoslavia would disintegrate and result in the kind of genocide and ethnic cleaning we have seen in the heart of Europe, sending many leaders to the international criminal court? Who would have thought that South Sudan, which had its independence in 2011, after decades of war, would descend to a civil war that is causing the death and displacement of hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese? Who would have thought that Muammar Gadhafi would be overthrown in such a swift and brutal way and the country plunging into civil war and becoming the breeding ground of terrorists like ISIS, an evil that slaughtered many innocent young Ethiopian migrants?  And the list can go on.”

 

Washington’s continued support for the Egyptian dictatorship in the face of massive pro-democracy protests was a  sign that both Congress and the Obama administration remained out of touch with the growing demands for freedom in the Arab world. There was coup d’etat and General el Sisi imposed a military rule. Many lives were lost to attain freedom. In the end the sacrifices did not mean anything. America allied with a system that was worse than Mubarak. Egypt of today  looks worse than  it’s past. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s crackdown on dissidents continues. ISIS and other radical elements are now freely operating in Sinai and many parts across the country.

The Horn of Africa is the most complex security zone in the world.  Ambassador David Shinn writing for the international policy Digest says,  “When you add the fact that the Horn is located on a religious fault line, you have a recipe for frequent conflict. It has arguably been the most conflicted corner of the world since the end of World War II. The Horn has constantly posed a serious challenge for U.S. policy.”

 

As the only super power, America must exercise it’s weight judiciously, cautiously and fairly. That is the only way it can maintain a credible image and in the process protect it’s strategic, economic and security interest.

In one of my favorite books ‘The March of Folly,’ the author, Barbara Tuchman,  assessing the Vietnam War shows how America had accurate intelligence from independent reportage and special investigative units that the goal of the war was not achievable.  She states that the folly consisted not in pursuit of a goal in ignorance of the obstacles but in persistence in the pursuit despite accumulating evidence that the goal was unattainable and damaging to the society and national interest of the USA.

 

“The question raised is why did the policy makers close their minds to the evidence and the implications? This is the classic symptom of folly: refusal to draw occlusions from the evidence, addiction to the counterproductive.”

 

The least the US can do is to stop what is perceived as collusion with a state sponsored terrorism.

Dawit W Giorgis

7 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Patriot Dawit,
    I for one don’t think we can inform, teach or persuade the US or for that matter the EU about the problems of the current situation in Ethiopia that they already don’t know. So my honorable brother, spare your breath. I do also believe we need to learn from their stunning indifference to EPRDF’s war on the people of Ethiopia. Begging (US ,EU) for fair mediation will have no outcome that is different from their position on the outcome of the Ethiopian 2005 elections. Fair mediation ain’t gonna happen!!! US relationship with Ethiopia is over 100 yrs….and like grandma, she has grown deaf.

  2. This is not Dawit W Giorgis’ first apocalyptic prophecy about Ethiopia. He has been writing in similar tone for the last two decades. Ethiopia is still there and his propecy has fallen by the sideline. What’s strange about this one is it clearly shows his desperateness because no one is listening to him. People do not listen to him because he’s the worst type agitator who wants to see Oromo and Amara stand against another Tigre.

    If you read and re-read the note he published above, you would understand that he wants the entire Tigre wiped out. To be angry with TPLF and some Tigres who benefited from TPLF rule is one thing, but to portray Tigres as TPLF and call for their extermination another. Even if Tigres support TPLF, their support should be rationally explained and understood and efforts made to bring them to the fold rather than threaten them by genocide. Dawit W Giorgis’ threat rhetoric only strengthens TPLF’s position by reinforcing the fear of Tigres that they might be attacked if TPLF does not protect them. It is time to bring Tigres to their senses but not by threatening them with genocide.

    Not long ago, prof. Mesfin also talked in similar prophetic tone, but nobody took him seriously because so many people are working hard to understand ethnic relations in the country and mitigate conflicts. His warning to Tigres under the pretext that they’re beneficiaries of TPLF rule and tied their future with the demise of the organization was noted and let to pass. Nobody wanted to criticise him about his flagrant misstep because he is a senior fellow who deserved respect.

    Now, Dawit W. G. is trailing on prof. Mesfin’s path and is not attracting comments to tell him that he is wrong in presenting Tigres as the enemy. No wonder TPLF is reportedly discussing to invoke article 39 of the constitution if attack on Tigres is imminent. If Tigres back TPLF as Dawit W. G. tries to tell us, it can plunge the country into constitutional crisis by declaring independence of Tigray. Then Dawit will sit to discuss unity with Tigray TPLF still at the top. Rumer has it that they’re able and ready to move all Tigres back to Tigray from all regions in less than a day. There won’t be genocide and the roject’s name is “AADDEEYY”.

    I don’t know if I am from another universe, but I have not seen TPLF involvement in the Oromo -Somali – Afar conflicts. It might be the author and promoter of ethnic politics, but these conflicts – though in small scale – have been going on for generations. Why TPLF authored ethnic politics is because it “represents” only 6% of the population and that does not ensure its fair representaion at the centre. The things TPLF did to strengthen ethnic politics had benefited it and some Tigrea in all respects (economic, political, civil status, etc.), but it does not mean ethnic politics has no support in the country. In fact, we have reached a stage where we cannot govern ourselves without it. Not long ago, Dawit W. G. himself was talking about Amara organizing on ethnic line.

    If TPLF is present in these conflicts, show me the proof. To understand my point, ask what OPDO and the party governing Somali region are doing with respect to the conflicts. The army and security which is disproportionately TPLF is offically banned from operating in the regions. If that is the case, where is TPLF to deploy Oromos and Somalis to kill and displace each other? More importantly, where are the Tigre people (who essentially live in Tigray) that side with the Oromo or Somali in the conflict? Dawit W.G. should prove his case. He cannot simply call for genocide and call it quit. He is responsible for what he is saying.

    EU and U.S. have adequate information about what’s going on in the country. They do not have ears to apocalyptic prediction which has no basis. Dawit W. G. can mention Rwanda with the hope that the name will precipitate their involvement, but it won’t happen because they know the country is not going to implode as he prophesises.

    Dawit W.G is old – maybe in his eighties now. At this age, most get heavy in weight and mature in wisdom, but he’s still light both in weight and wisdom. I wish he does not write anything out of respect for the people and the country.

  3. Dawit W Giorgis;
    How could you generalized “It is Tigray people (the 6%) versus the rest of the population.” You are ignorant. You have no any moral to speak about humanity. You were The Derge general and since then you don’t learn and change? Wow! You are just like TPLF/EPRDF and the Derge. Please don’t fabricate

  4. Mr DAWIT HOW DO YOU BLAME THE WHOLE PEOPLE OF TIGRAY FOR THE COMPLAINTS YOU HAVE ON THE EPRDF? I DID NOT EXPECT THAT FROM YOU KNOWING YOUR REPUTATION DURING DERG TIME.

  5. Dear Dawit
    Weren’t you the collaborator and the saboteur within the derg supporting the so called ethnic wars and divisions. Why seem concerned now your job was done a long time ago. You are just refusing to go away.

    Dear Eprdf apologists, you are the proverbial ostrich burying its head in the sand hoping the lion will not see it, but ends up being dinner. Come on show some very rudimentary intelligence certainly bright you are not and give yourself some respect raise your awareness about the reality on the ground. Denial can only take you so far. Eprdf is just too indefensible because of its sub human nature, I mean sub animal nature.

    To those Tigre’s who want to play the pointing fingers game, you are not fooling anyone but yourselves. You are the enemy by association and by your deafening silence. Stand up and be counted with the rest of Ethiopians, unfortunately this is a case of silence is acceptance no matter how you put it.

  6. This man is nonsense. This man is dusgusting. He only talks about ethnicity and genocide. No substance at all. By the way he was one of the first who betaryed the Ethiopian people and link info to the CIA. No respect to him at all. No respect to his ethnically motivated divisive ahenda of the West. No matter what the Ethiopian people will have the way to manage this threat. I have full confidence on Ethiopian people as a whole to stick togerher and overcome such situational and reoccuring turmoil. The main work to be done is to revise the concept of “ethnic based federalism” and substitute it with progressive ideas and principles. Keep the name, language and culture safe. Keep the good values and interracial merrage and freedom of living and working anywhere in Ethiopia. Just take back this the “division” of the Ethiopian people by their ethnicity / tribe/clan. This is the oldest and outdated form of social division. Ethiopians are above and beyond their individual ethnic language or culture or relegious backgrounds. Diaspora should foucs on ideas / principles / laws and order not on the same ethnici division theory Woyane forced to implement on people. And its a very time that Ethiopian can only do justice to their own brothers and sisters. No foriegn military intervention is needed. D. W G seems interested in inviting western to repeat the mess they did in Libya, Rwanda, Somalia, Iraq and Afganistan. Say No to Western Intervention. No matter what Ethiopian should handle this political crisis and move on. And I am very positive it is Very Possible, because we are Ethiopians! We love each other, we fight each other and we reunit with love again.
    This is our history from past to present. Nothing is new. Ethiopia Lezelalem Tinur !
    (Long Live Ethiopia).

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.