Archive for February, 2011
By Yelfiwos Wondaya
Knowing the fact that the so-called Ethiopian constitution is framed by an ethnocentric dictatorial regime to serve its narrow purpose, one would not expect to see it working for all parties on board, much less to preserve Ethiopia’s unity and territorial integrity intact. Although mentioned in the constitution still the TPLF is not willing to comply with its own rule of law. At its will, though the TPLF undermines the basic substances mentioned in its own fake constitution one of which is a common platform in which both parties [the regime and the oppositions] could be able to build an agreement to settle a difference of opinion in a way that is acceptable to all. Worst of all, its constitution does not promote unity, equality, fraternity and social justice for all to take root in Ethiopia. So in this case, one would conclude that not merely a regime change or reform but a revolution that ought to be played out by the genuine parties and the public at large. Thus in order to turn the popular revolution into a success, one would also conclude that the objective condition at hand needs to acquire the following important continuities, a society that defies all orders from Mele’s tyrant regime, unity, organization, leadership, and outside factors that would influence Ethiopians in a positive and uplifted ways.
Firstly, though Ethiopians openly resisted the regime in the past but the resistances were not conducted in a cohesive manner as a result have been crashed and suppressed by the regime one at a time. After all, “a house divided against itself cannot stand” often times than not, however, students in Addis, Mekele, Gimma and other higher learning institutions were striking but not collectively in a cohesive manner, which is why they did not get anywhere, and also Christian worshipers in Gondar, Muslims in Addis and then, the youths together with the general public came out in thousands to oppose the election result of 2005, during which time over 35 thousands people locked up in prison and are subjected to pain, and suffering from torture and continue to languishing in woyanes’ top-security prisons allover. At the same time, some 200 people were gun down by the regime’s police and secret agents sought after suspects and intimidated them wherever they were. In unison, though there were about three million people came out in Addis to oppose the regime but were dispersed non other than by the so-called opposition leaders in 2005. Potentially though such pattern of events are positive indications for one to confirm that we have indeed a defying society in Ethiopia. With that in mind, Ethiopians have a reason to believe that there is a meeting place both for the public and the genuine political groupings to join forces and carry out a collective form of protest against the regime. And also they are convinced that taking a campaign of brief action in such a manner against enemy can bring about change and enforce their deliberation of thought to fruition.
Next, it is time for the public at large and as well for the genuine political parties to take ownership of their country by taking concrete actions that can set off a chain of events ahead. Eventually though the said chain of events will create more chain reactions and shall lead us to widespread uprisings against enemy. Is there any option left other than changing this situation mentioned above into something promising and certainly make the revolution a success? In brief, it is time to change trend and embark on a new strategy that would take Ethiopians to the point where their struggle is be fruitful. To that end, providing the Ethiopian people with an effective leadership and promoting a pragmatic course of action in a bid to liberate our people from the yoke of tyranny is the burning question of the day.
Secondly, the question of leadership is vital, if once the question of leadership is resolved, the rest is possible to change the no-win situation around and move on to the next level where waging a pragmatic form of action is possible. And then again, move on to the next level in which our superior moral truth is caused to dominate enemy’s position and brings about the downfall of our last few rivals in power. To that end the task of leadership is to coordinate, guide, and direct the revolution and further influence the youths and the elderly to join the protest against their common enemy the TPLF that is.
Thirdly, the question of unity is vital too. Although the task of leadership falls upon the entire organizations, coalitions and alliances it takes an initiative of individuals to determine whether or not the organizations function effectively, and upon their functioning depends on the determination and the commitment of members of different ranks and beyond. The society on the other hand is the sea in which individuals, organizations and associations are brought to shore. Together, all of whom are parts and parcels of the shore and of the wave of the sea in which more leaders will emerge from within to coordinate further the different functions and resources into a one pathway forward. In such a way, leaders could let numerous citizens involve at will and bring their contributions to the coherent form of action in place. Isn’t that a challenge for us all, and a test of time to preserve the genesis and the progression of our revolution and its success story ahead? After all, “United we stand divided we fall” unity is power! If not right, Might is absolutely essential for us to survive my fellow Ethiopians. In all fairness, might is the answer for an upper hand: as lip service is for an empty technique of rhetoric. “Actions speak louder than words” Taken as a whole, the popular insurrection of Ethiopian people is prone to generate more of pragmatic actions ahead. So, at this critical time, an action oriented political entity capable of providing the public with an effective leadership is highly required to appear into the political arena in order to topple Mele’s regime and rescue the victory on the horizon. Indeed, a leadership envisaging and contemplating a future ahead, a leadership that has a firm hold on the public’s imagination has to come forward to assume a new role of leadership to lead the revolution. In short, a resolute leadership is is need now! Then, the said leadership would share a great deal of experiences with foreign movements that are already successful and what not, would carefully apply it in a ways it would help the movements go forward.
Fourthly, the wind of change blowing from the North and the shock wave it sends toward the south may well have positive impact on Ethiopians’ situation as a whole. If not decisive, it is an encouraging factor for Ethiopians’ situation to get ahead of time and use it before hand to weaken our enemy. It also helps them feel emotionally and intellectually attached to the movement and their comrades in arm in a positive and uplifted ways, it helps leaders utilize their natural talents and to convey optimism and send that down the line with a message that conveys strength and security for all in the ground. It indeed gives them morale boost especially, when they see that the opinions of the world powers are changed in favor of the winning situations in Tunisia, Egypt etc. Be that as it may, the groundbreaking revolution in Ethiopia is imminent although Meles will try his best to appease it by massacring the people indiscriminately or what have you. Despite the pain and injuries his excessive force may will have inflicted, he will not make it this time. Much like those dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, etc, Mele’s will lose grip of power and leave on the backdoor without any traces. The Tunisians and Egyptians have done it so will Ethiopians so long as they are determined in terms of moving forward in a full force to defend their human and constitutional rights in the open. And then, much like Egyptians and others, Ethiopians’ uprising will enjoy the support of democratic countries and international communities across the world. And then, the WOYANES’ deceptive and distorted information that had been systematically spreading to confuse the international community will be silenced at the end. For that to happen, the Mass Medias of all oppositions are expected to convey a coordinated message against Mele’s press and get in the way to frustrate his military and other forces on the ground as well. And then, the friendly press together with general public would make it clear even clearer to that of our defectors and collaborators not to taking side with the dying regime and more. Those false prophets aside, however, the foremost duty of all genuine Ethiopian political and civic organizations is to depose the TPLF/EPRDF and replace its ethnocentric regime with a democratic system of government. Clearly, this is the central theme as is a dividing wall separated us from the enemy. The TPLF/ EPRDF together with those fortified collaborators that are relentlessly reinforcing its political muscle must be condemned permanently to the fire of hell.
Lastly, we are at a time when we need to make our choices not only to condemn the regime but also to have the courage to defy and let the blast blew the dictator off! And of course, winning the war against all odds is the choice and the goal of moral forces as opposed to losers that are in battle for evil deeds. Victors Vs. losers. If there is anything in between of these two forces it should be nothing but belongs to those who are neglected and left in oblivion during the course of this watershed time in our history. History is in the making and the positive aspect of all this is that victory is inevitable so long as we are determined to keep on struggling in spite of obstacles and so long as the movement is led by an experienced and well competent leadership. In the aftermath, however, the said leadership will find itself in a position where the vast majority of the people are awaiting in the wings to cast their vote to it given that friendship is the product of privileged circumstances and authentic victories and hardly ever any enemy thereafter.
In conclusion, a competent leadership together with a defying society, unity, and organization is ultimately needed to make our national struggle a success in terms of changing Meles’ ethnocentric philosophy together with his an ethnic oriented federal system. So much so, such continuities as competent leadership, a defying society, united forces and organizations will also be the resources to found some broadly based transitional government in Addis, which in turn, will frame a constitution that paves a way to broadly representative government, and allows parties of all persuasions to freely participate in the upcoming political system and equally permits different professional and civic associations, to join or choose political organizations of their own choices.
By Noam Chomsky
A common refrain among pundits is that fear of radical Islam requires opposition to democracy on pragmatic grounds. That formulation is misleading.
“The Arab world is on fire,” al-Jazeera reported on January 27, while throughout the region, Western allies “are quickly losing their influence.”
The shock wave was set in motion by the dramatic uprising in Tunisia that drove out a Western-backed dictator, with reverberations especially in Egypt, where demonstrators overwhelmed a dictator’s brutal police.
Observers compared the events to the toppling of Russian domains in 1989, but there are important differences.
Crucially, no Mikhail Gorbachev exists among the great powers that support the Arab dictators. Rather, Washington and its allies keep to the well-established principle that democracy is acceptable only insofar as it conforms to strategic and economic objectives: fine in enemy territory (up to a point), but not in our backyard, please, unless it is properly tamed.
One 1989 comparison has some validity: Romania, where Washington maintained its support for Nicolae Ceausescu, the most vicious of the East European dictators, until the allegiance became untenable. Then Washington hailed his overthrow while the past was erased.
That is a standard pattern: Ferdinand Marcos, Jean-Claude Duvalier, Chun Doo Hwan, Suharto and many other useful gangsters. It may be under way in the case of Hosni Mubarak, along with routine efforts to try to ensure that a successor regime will not veer far from the approved path.
The current hope appears to be Mubarak loyalist Gen. Omar Suleiman, just named Egypt’s vice president. Suleiman, the longtime head of the intelligence services, is despised by the rebelling public almost as much as the dictator himself.
A common refrain among pundits is that fear of radical Islam requires (reluctant) opposition to democracy on pragmatic grounds. While not without some merit, the formulation is misleading. The general threat has always been independence. In the Arab world, the United States and its allies have regularly supported radical Islamists, sometimes to prevent the threat of secular nationalism.
A familiar example is Saudi Arabia, the ideological center of radical Islam (and of Islamic terror). Another in a long list is Zia ul-Haq, the most brutal of Pakistan’s dictators and President Reagan’s favorite, who carried out a program of radical Islamization (with Saudi funding).
“The traditional argument put forward in and out of the Arab world is that there is nothing wrong, everything is under control,” says Marwan Muasher, former Jordanian official and now director of Middle East research for the Carnegie Endowment. “With this line of thinking, entrenched forces argue that opponents and outsiders calling for reform are exaggerating the conditions on the ground.”
Therefore the public can be dismissed. The doctrine traces far back and generalizes worldwide, to U.S. home territory as well. In the event of unrest, tactical shifts may be necessary, but always with an eye to reasserting control.
The vibrant democracy movement in Tunisia was directed against “a police state, with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems,” ruled by a dictator whose family was hated for their venality. This was the assessment by U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec in a July 2009 cable released by WikiLeaks.
Therefore to some observers the WikiLeaks “documents should create a comforting feeling among the American public that officials aren’t asleep at the switch”—indeed, that the cables are so supportive of U.S. policies that it is almost as if Obama is leaking them himself (or so Jacob Heilbrunn writes in The National Interest.)
“America should give Assange a medal,” says a headline in the Financial Times. Chief foreign-policy analyst Gideon Rachman writes that “America’s foreign policy comes across as principled, intelligent and pragmatic—the public position taken by the U.S. on any given issue is usually the private position as well.”
In this view, WikiLeaks undermines the “conspiracy theorists” who question the noble motives that Washington regularly proclaims.
Godec’s cable supports these judgments—at least if we look no further. If we do, as foreign policy analyst Stephen Zunes reports in Foreign Policy in Focus, we find that, with Godec’s information in hand, Washington provided $12 million in military aid to Tunisia. As it happens, Tunisia was one of only five foreign beneficiaries: Israel (routinely); the two Middle East dictatorships Egypt and Jordan; and Colombia, which has long had the worst human-rights record and the most U.S. military aid in the hemisphere.
Heilbrunn’s Exhibit A is Arab support for U.S. policies targeting Iran, revealed by leaked cables. Rachman too seizes on this example, as did the media generally, hailing these encouraging revelations. The reactions illustrate how profound is the contempt for democracy in the educated culture.
Unmentioned is what the population thinks—easily discovered. According to polls released by the Brookings Institution in August, some Arabs agree with Washington and Western commentators that Iran is a threat: 10 percent. In contrast, they regard the U.S. and Israel as the major threats (77 percent; 88 percent).
Arab opinion is so hostile to Washington’s policies that a majority (57 percent) think regional security would be enhanced if Iran had nuclear weapons. Still, “there is nothing wrong, everything is under control” (as Marwan Muasher describes the prevailing fantasy). The dictators support us. Their subjects can be ignored—unless they break their chains, and then policy must be adjusted.
Other leaks also appear to lend support to the enthusiastic judgments about Washington’s nobility. In July 2009, Hugo Llorens, U.S. ambassador to Honduras, informed Washington of an embassy investigation of “legal and constitutional issues surrounding the June 28 forced removal of President Manuel `Mel’ Zelaya.”
The embassy concluded that “there is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch.” Very admirable, except that President Obama proceeded to break with almost all of Latin America and Europe by supporting the coup regime and dismissing subsequent atrocities.
Perhaps the most remarkable WikiLeaks revelations have to do with Pakistan, reviewed by foreign policy analyst Fred Branfman in Truthdig.
The cables reveal that the U.S. embassy is well aware that Washington’s war in Afghanistan and Pakistan not only intensifies rampant anti-Americanism but also “risks destabilizing the Pakistani state” and even raises a threat of the ultimate nightmare: that nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of Islamic terrorists.
Again, the revelations “should create a comforting feeling—that officials are not asleep at the switch” (Heilbrunn’s words)—while Washington marches stalwartly toward disaster.
© The New York Times Syndicate
The ongoing mass protest and popular change going on in North Africa, the Sudan and the Middle East highlights that the Western powers, for all their strutting, are in most cases paper tigers who cannot prevent a people’s revolutionary uprising. Paper tigers have no teeth and, as a Wiki leak cable revealed vis a vis Egypt, they have no ears either.
Years ago, an Egyptian activist of the April 6 group visited Washington and told the American officials that Mubarak would go before the 2011 general election but they found his information baseless, unrealistic and unsubstantiated by any other intelligence.1 Talk of being warned! The American officials did not listen and when the Egyptian people rose up to shake the regime to its dirty boots Washington had no other program other than to rush El Baradei to Cairo and conduct a media blitz to present him as a credible opposition leader (which he is not by any measure). Hilary Clinton said Egypt “ is stable” right after the Tunisian uprising started, then went on to call reform from Mubarak, changed tune to “ a transition to democracy” and so forth in confusion and all of it very late. The strongly organized Moslem Brotherhood organization may agree that Washington’s man el Baradei represent the opposition in the negotiations with the regime knowing full well that the main enemy is the Mubarak regime and El Baradei, with no organization behind him, would easily be dealt with. If the Brotherhood comes to power as Israel fears then the fault is Washington’s for backing a dictator to the hilt just as it had done in Iran with the Shah. Egypt under Mubarak has for long been the major US ally in the region (annual military aid US$ 1 billion) and one wonders how come Washington and Israel (the famous Mossad) were caught by surprise. For those who imagine these quarters to be all knowing and omnipotent this is a good lesson indeed. The same happened to France in Tunisia which under Ben Ali was for long the backyard of Paris (let alone the spies, more than a million French tourists visit Tunisia every year). The French were caught off guard, following the people’s protest almost just like you and me. Paper Tigers!
It has been a longstanding confirmed fact that Western powers hobnob with dictators and corrupt officials so much that they lose sight of the reality of the people no matter the number of their spies. Their persistent arrogance also covers their eyes and especially their ears and no matter how often you tell them the storm is brewing they tend to believe it is always a storm in the tea cup. They also rely on their own self declared experts who, more often than not, recycle their own pet conclusions and even prejudices. I remember a week or so into the February 1974 Revolution in Ethiopia, an expert and historian called Edward Ullendorff telling his BBC audience that the Emperor had everything under control. A week before the former prime minister (and now Pentecostal preacher) Tamrat Layne was to be thrown into prison by his former comrade (and now PM), Meles Zenawi, the French ambassador in Addis Ababa sent his government a cable affirming “ Tamrat Layne is on the rise and he is a good friend of France”! In short, they do not know and they do not listen. The more you appeal to the Western powers the more they think you are pathetic, weak, lying, besmirching the name of their favorite tyrant and, as the cable on the Egyptian activist’s warning showed, that you are dreaming and fantasizing of a people’s uprising. In Ethiopia, we have the propagandist Paul Henze and others who categorize every opposition as “remnants of the former regime and Amhara chauvinists” and sing nauseating eulogy of the petty tyrant. And then there are the lobbyists of K Street, down town Washington.
Money can’t buy me love sang the Beatles. The same in politics. The financial power of dictators can’t buy them popular support. Money can’t buy you love but sure can buy you scribes and trumpeters or mouth pieces. In our case, and in Africa as a whole, the tyrants are not so greedy as not to buy lobbyists. Still, America may be a super power but it cannot in the end block the popular revolt of oppressed people be it in Egypt or Ethiopia and beyond. Final decisive power is in the hand of the sovereign people. That this is not a cliché has been once again proven by the events in Tunisia, Egypt, etc and perhaps tomorrow in Ethiopia itself. The 2005 missed change in Ethiopia was sabotaged by America and Britain but the main culprits are the spineless leaders of the Opposition who sold out and brought defeat on the people despite the heavy sacrifice paid. If one imagines the heavy presence of America in Egypt and the massive backing it gave to Mubarak one would be excused to conclude that Mubarak would not be moved by any challenge. This appeared as truth to many so much so that Mubarak himself believed it and was conspiring to name his own son as his successor like in North Korea, Gabon, Togo and Syria. It is safe to conclude now that Washington abandoned Mubarak from the outset and is now trying to salvage the situation in one way or another. Salvage in their vocabulary means sabotaging the people’s struggle in ours. The tyrants who appear invincible are actually paper tigers when confronted by the people’s determined uprising. That is the lesson of Tunisia and Egypt for now and perhaps of Algeria, Yemen and Sudan tomorrow. And who knows of Ethiopia and other countries too. We can say with certainty that Mubarak would go the soft or hard way depending on how the situation, the uprising progresses. The Mubarak attempt to short circuit the people’s revolt through reforms and using the military is bound to fail too. The people are demanding an end to the regime and reform, sincere or otherwise, is not the agenda and would be coming too late. In the broader sense, the time of the tyrants is up. Egyptians gave warning in Mahalla in 2008 and other times too—too bad if Mubarak and his allies slept on their ears as the African tyrants that Washington still defends and supports are doing and failed to listen.
Alas, Ethiopian activists who were not easy dupes in the past –they were actually anti imperialist as they defined themselves—are in a worse situation than the hesitant Egyptian opposition from Wafd to the Nasserites and the Brotherhood. The new animal called politician in Ethiopia is a bizarre creature indeed. It is made up of some, whom we shall politely call naïve though their name is another, who seriously believe that Western troops are in Iraq and Afghanistan to bring democracy to those people and if we beg them hard they will do the same for Ethiopia and others too. The other part of this new animal does not even know who is the enemy and thus accepts the diktat of the local tyrant and the so called advice and “kurkum” of the Western officials. These hope that their patient knocking at the conscience of the West will melt its hard heart and merciless greed in their favor. They know not History. Those who have succeeded to achieve meaningful change or have sent the tyrants packing are usually those who opposed the politics of the Western governments in their countries. The go ahead and green light for a people’s revolution cannot come from Washington, London or Paris. It would be contra nature, a strange occurrence, a sad and never to happen wishful thinking. Won’t happen ever. That is the lesson of all Revolutions and of the events we are witnessing in Tunisia and Egypt. The outcome of the uprising in Egypt is still not settled but the Rubicon has been crossed. One hopes the aspiration of the Egyptian people would not be short circuited or sabotaged as was the dream of Ethiopians for change in May 2005.