COMMONSENSE

BY Mankelklot Haile Selassie (Ph.D.)  

BACKGROUND

Time is the essence of  the struggle in Ethiopia. The longer the time Meles and his regime is left to rule, the stronger the potential for the eroding factors, that were systematically built into the geo-political system, working on Ethiopian Unity, and, the longer the time, even the basic needs, such as, food, shelter and clothing misery that the society will put up with. Therefore, to guaranty,  a) the stopping of  the eroding factors from working on the Unity of the society, and, b) to improve the basic living conditions of the whole society is, to shorten the shelf life of Meles and his regime.  Given the experience, the one and the only means left to do the job is Popular Up-Rise. Not through armed struggle, for it is going to take time, nor through the usual election process, for we have witnessed what have happened to the election result of May 15, 2005. There is no doubt that the next election will also be stolen and end up with the same result of May 2005. Not through the archaic national reconciliation, for there is not pressure on Meles and his regime that is capable of forcing it to negotiate with the opposition forces with no significant power to put pressure on Meles.  

As to the stealing of the election by the regime, the concerned leaders of the United States Congress are well aware of it. Here is what the Honorable Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) clearly stated on Marach 14, 2006, in the House of the Representatives: No pragmatic strategy can justify the United States backing a regime that STOLE  the last election and has brutalized their own people and will, at some point, disintegrate from its own corruption and incompetent ways.

When the Government Elect was jailed with trumped up charges, the back bone of the struggle was hit with a well calculated crushing blow. Therefore, right now, in Ethiopia, the FIELD is open for any political or armed parties. Right now, Meles is the only actor. As a result, the environment is inviting for a new and aggressive strategy, to stop Meles and his regime from ruling the coming  five years. This new and revolutionary strategy calls for: a) The Ethiopian Armed Forces, b) The Patriotic Fronts, those in armed struggle excluding the liberation fronts. And, c) The Opposition Forces in Diaspora, namely, EPRP, Meisone, Hibrehizb, TAND and Medhin. The call is for either individually or in groups, in cooperation. Earlier, I have indicated that the FIELD is open, so, it is anybody’s game.          

There are, at least,  three sources of power that can be  utilized to remove Meles and his regime and empower the society:  a) the Use of Military Power,  b) The Use of Opposition Forces in Diaspora, and c) The Use of Patriotic Fronts. It is incumbent upon these three power sources to be aware of the fact that there is no hard rule to dictate the method of struggle. It is up to these power sources, to use commonsense and creativity to come up with an effective and timely methods of struggle to protect the Unity of Ethiopia and alleviate the misery of the society. The environment to maneuver the struggle is ripe and there. It is crying out loud to be used.  

1. THE USE OF MILITARY POWER.

  This is not to be considered an alternative. It should be taken as a kind of competition that emanates from who is more concerned and more enthusiastic to hold power and change the current destructive system. One of the built-in culture in Ethiopian political struggle is, the lack of a-burning-desire to be in power and implement ones political program. In my view, this lack of gutsy aspiration is literally denying the empowerment of the Ethiopian people. The only route to alleviate the misery of the society is, for one political organization to be in power irrespective of what the intentions of the other political parties are. I argue, that,  if each leader of a political party had this burning desire to change the system, the mode and the spirit of the struggle would have been totally different, and, Meles would have been removed from power long time ago. The Addis Ababa community can become a formidable power, sufficient enough, to remove Meles and his regime from power. What is needed is leadership. 

The Armed Force is one of the sources to be lobbied to come out and remove Meles and his regime to liberate the society from this cruel and totalitarian regime, and, to stop the erosion of the Unity of Ethiopia. Here, if ones concern were the establishment of military dictatorship, so be it. Right now, the concern aught to be the protection of the Unity of Ethiopia. Democratic rights, human rights, civil rights and the rule of law should, for the time being, relegate its primary position to the survival of the country. It is very important to be fully aware of the fact that the regime in Ethiopia is not just a violator of the above mentioned rights.

There are two fundamental characteristics that make the current regime in Ethiopia unique and different from the rest of the sub-Saharan African leaders. The first one is, it is  a government, turned into a full-fledged corporation with the most corrupted system of management. A corporation that has a built-in economic web of its own, into the economic system of the country, that enabled it to suck the blood of the Ethiopian people, openly, with the full knowledge of the Western Democracies.  The second one that distinguishes it from the rest of the sub-Saharan African dictators, perhaps of the world, is, the systematic erosion of the Unity of Ethiopia. A well designed scheme that inseparably linked, a) the constitution, b) the division of the country along ethnic and language lines, c) decentralization of the governance to the regions. A scheme designed not to cultivate the cultures of the ethnic groups and to encourage economic development, but, to facilitate its design of breaking  apart Ethiopia. And, d) instead of cultivating a language, in this case Amaric, (in my opinion it could have been Oromifa, it is a historical and natural coincidence for the Amaric to be the national language) to unite the society and help develop economic and commercial language, Meles and his regime deliberately decreed the local language to be used in all local activities including schools. This was made with shrewd and precise calculation to instill and cultivate contradictions, the sense of separation and independence at the grassroots level.

This treasonous act was developed under the phony cover of cultural protection of the ethnic groups. Mind you, this is the regime, that, in early November 1999, tried to merge the language of four ethnic groups, namely, Wolaita, Dawro, Gamo and Gofa  to create a new language called Wogagoda, without any input of the ethnic groups in question. Had this move been successful the four ethnic groups would have been completely erased from the face of Ethiopia, with all their cultural values attached to them.  Amazingly, the United States Government had a hand in this destructive act too. It allotted $13 million assistance, to this and other education related projects. The community of Wolaita withstood this nefarious and menacing move of the ruling party,  a move that was supported by the United States Government. As the result of this resistance four students, one of them a girl, were Killed and seventeen wounded. In addition, 126 to 146 teachers were forcefully transferred to other remote areas as punishment, 500 people were detained, and, the whereabouts of nine of those who protested never known. At the end, with the sacrifices made, the Wolaita people became victorious. Please note, in this kind of cut-throat struggle sacrifice is inevitable. 
I brought this Wolaita example to show the evil intent and the true nature of Meles and his regime.  

2. THE USE OF OPPOSITION FORCES IN DIASPORA.    

The opportunity has come, for the opposition forces in Diaspora, namely,  EPRP, Meisone, Hibrehizb, TAND and Medhin, to be counted and be relevant. A political party, unless and until, its absence or its presence fundamentally affects the literal motion of the struggle, in my humble opinion, it is irrelevant. I don’t think, the amount and the frequency of,  the press releases made and, the political analysis of the struggle, will and can, by itself,  affect the struggle in the field. Unfortunately, it feels and smells the Diasporas turning the political struggle into a profession, that is, if Meles rules for the next twenty years they will be there too. It is very scary. The experience of the last thirty years clearly attest to this fact. So, the opposition forces in Diaspora, girdle up and be involved physically, as well as mentally and be counted.   

Here is what Samuel Adams, the cousin of John Adams, one of the active leaders during the American Revolution said:    

 “When people are oppressed, when their rights are infringed upon, when arbitrary rulers are put upon them, when governments are secret, the people become alarmed, if they have any spirit of freedom, they will fight for their liberties and they are justified in doing so.”      

The argument by Samuel Adams that factored in, 1) when people are oppressed, and, 2) when their rights are infringed upon, they (the people) a) will fight for their liberties, and, b)  they are justified in doing so, will apply, squarely, in the current political situations in Ethiopia. Therefore, it is commonsense, for the people of Ethiopia to RISE UP and remove Meles and his regime.  The question is who is going to provide this sacred leadership, a) a leadership that demands determination and guts. Look, commitment without determination and gut to take action is just a waste of time. b) A leadership that demands sacrifices, and most of all, c) a leadership that reflects the spirit of our heroes and heroines that protected and defended the Unity and territorial integrity of Ethiopia? The answer to the question, “who is going to provide the leadership?“ includes  the opposition forces in Diaspora, namely, EPRP, Meison, Hibrehizb, TAND and Medhin.  

The follow up question is, then, how are they going to execute their responsibility? I don’t think they can handle this historic responsibility by the usual barrages of press releases, and initiating all sorts of Hibrets, and, or Coalitions,  literally devoid of any success so far, from here, particularly, from the United States of America, while the people of Ethiopia is desperately in need of them inside Ethiopia. Therefore, the only result oriented way of executing this responsibility is to enter Ethiopia clandestinely and organize the society, with a targeted-time-limit, say, two years, for the ultimate showdown that would not cease without removing this Mafia regime.  I proposed the preparation time to be two years, because; a) the know how, that is the skill and the political experiences and maturity to do it are there. We are talking about the political organizations with at least 30 years of experience. And, b) the environment is conducive enough that the ground is fertile for a focused and single-tracked-struggle. By focused and single-tracked-struggle meant not to do it step wise, that is, to plan the striking for a given number of days, then followed up by demonstration, etc. This type of struggle is suicidal. KINIJIT is a good example. An up-rise is an up-rise. No more no less. It is to come out to the streets in mass and stay there, until Meles and his regime is removed from power, where sacrifices are inevitable. Of course with meticulously organized up-rise, including what step to take if and when Meles is removed. Here, persistency is very critical to wear down the regime, and, also, in the process, to win over the military establishment. In my opinion, it was the multi-tracked and the step-wise tactic of struggle that put Kinijit to its current situation. And finally,  c) the link, however weak, between those in Diaspora and some elements inside Ethiopia still exists. It is simply to revive and activate it.

Unfortunately, another arm of Meles is newly created in Ethiopia. Hence, it is important to note that the struggle might be also against the two opportunist parties, namely the Union of Ethiopian Democratic Forces,  led by Dr. Beyene Petros and the Oromo Federalist Democratic Mo Bultcha Demekssa. The declared agreements between the two states: “… not to attempt or take part in any plan or conspiracy, to seize power through any means other than that provided in the constitution, and to expose such attempts.”  Addis Ababa, May 24, 2006.

However things are getting complicated, since the potential is there to come out victorious, it would be up to the political organizations in Diaspora to take the matter very seriously and organize and coordinate, a) the Students, b) the Labor Union and c) the Ethiopian Teachers Association. The most important and possibly the decisive element in the make-up is the Student body. To establish a strong bond with the Students from the get go will have significant influence on the society to come out and join the up-rise. It is incumbent upon the opposition forces in Diaspora to take this charge. However, if and when consensus could not be reached within the opposition forces in Diaspora, one of them, the strongest, which could possibly be EPRP, should step out from the circle and lead the people to its ultimate empowerment. It is absolutely unfair, perhaps tantamount to crime against the people of Ethiopia, to go with the majority, particularly when knowing it would be unproductive.

3. THE USE OF PATRIOTIC FRONTS

The Patriotic Front refers to those in armed struggle excluding the liberation fronts. It is another independently competing source of power to remove Meles and his regime. There are a number of groups that are undertaking armed struggle. Whether these groups have really factored in, the need of the removal of Meles and his regime, within a given period of time is not clear.

I think, it does not require to be a rocket scientist to figure out the minimum requirement of those in the field of armed struggle whether one to be in a threatening position. That is, a formidable position to force the regime, at lease, to come to a negotiating table. It appears that the existing fronts have not reached that level of strength yet.  Now the question is then, how long would it take them, a) to be strong enough in skilled military man-power and, b) to be with a reasonably matching weaponry, to be a formidable threat to the regime? Unless they have taken the armed struggle as a profession and continue, irrespective of what happens to the society, the argument in line of what I stated for the Diaspora political forces, it is incumbent upon them to think very critically and find out where they are. For example, if it is to go all the way and remove the regime from power by military force, they have to be on equal footing with that of the regime’s military power in every sense. Most definitely that would take, perhaps, at least, fifteen to twenty years. Here, what is to be noted is that, the longer the regime stays in power, the more the damage is done to the country and the society. To repeat what I stated in the beginning, time is the essence of the struggle in Ethiopia.

The question is then, is there a way out of this self-perpetuating cycle, for the Patriotic Fronts? The answer is unequivocally yes. There is an alternative for the Patriotic Fronts to easily and effectively shift to. It is simply to modify its current tactic to that of combining the armed struggle with that of “POPULAR UP-RISE.”  The group is in a more advantageous position than that of the opposition forces in Diaspora. They are functioning inside Ethiopia. They can construct a network within the community in Addis Ababa, for that matter anywhere in the provinces clandestinely, and organize a POPULAR UP-RISE. I am quite sure, if they were determined to take this route, they are capable of coming up with the specifics.

The point is, it is commonsense for the Patriotic Fronts, the Armed Forces and the Opposition Forces in Diaspora to be creative and be of use to the society of Ethiopia. I don’t think they are of much use to the society in their current position of doing things. They are  simply wasting their time, energy and their money, as well as, of their constituencies. It is time, in fact it is long overdue to be creative and change strategy, and be counted.               

4. WHAT SHOULD BE THE ROLE OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT  

As it is obvious to everybody, the major and the defining interest of the United States government is to preempt the foot-holding of the terrorists in the Horn of Africa, to which Ethiopia is a part. To that effect, it has military presence at that corner of Ethiopia. In my opinion, this interest of the United States Government, hence, the interest of the people of the United States of America, if and when implemented, would, directly or indirectly benefit the people of Ethiopia too. Wahabism of Saudi Arabia hovering over Ethiopia, it would be to Ethiopia’s advantage that this equation be kept intact.  Wahabism is a movement founded 250 years ago by Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahab, whose Saudi’s instruction textbooks teaches, “The apes are Jews….while the Swine are the Christians. Jihad is the path of God…is the summit of Islam.” Washington Post, May 21, 2006.

But, unfortunately, the Bush Administration, perhaps intentionally, has ignored the major role player to make the equation strong and long lasting. That is, the people of Ethiopia. The Bush Administration has to realize that the source of stability and, therefore, the long lasting denial of the terrorists to have a foothold, particularly in Ethiopia, is the people, not the leader of the regime, particularly when the regime is openly corrupt and the enemy of the Unity of Ethiopia. Here is what State Department‘s spokesman Sean McCormack said:   “State Department would work with responsible individuals…..in fighting terror. It is a real concern of ours–terror taking root in the Horn of Africa. We don’t want to see another safe haven for terrorists created. Our interest is purely in seeing Somalia achieve a better day.”  (Washington Post, May 17, 2006). This was a response to the question whether the US Government is supporting the Warlords of Somalia.  

Here, I am not questioning the interest of the United States Government. The question is how it is handling this suppose to be mutual interest in relation to the well-being of the Ethiopian people and its Unity. The individual based working relationship, possibly applicable in Somalia, should not, and cannot, be used in Ethiopia. To do so is short sightedness and against the people of Ethiopia. That is what the Bush Administration is doing in Ethiopia today, at the expense of the Ethiopian Unity and the people’s democratic and economic interests. That was why Meles Zenawi arrogantly rejected and denied the election result of May 2005. That is why the Government Elect is in jail and the rejected regime is in power.  

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Published in: on August 14, 2006 at 7:05 am  Comments (9)