BY ANDUALEM SISAY GESSESSE – On November 10, 2021 I read an interesting article on the Foreign Policy website with the title, ‘Why Ethiopia should trust the West’.
The article inspired me to reflect on as I am among the over 110 million Ethiopians who experienced three decades of ethnic federalism of Ethiopia sponsored by the West.
In his article Seifudein Adem, a professor of global studies at Doshisha University wrote: “…The West is a friend of Ethiopia when its policies help to empower Ethiopians as a whole, not a particular ethnic group. At a minimum this means, under present circumstances, that the following three conditions must be met: the West is responsive to Ethiopia’s humanitarian needs in case of natural or human-caused emergency, the West shows the determination to hold accountable those who have violated internationally recognized human rights, and the West invests its resources in facilitating the resolution of conflicts. It is fair to assume that Ethiopians will eventually (preferably sooner rather than later) realize that the West is their ally, despite restrictions in the free flow of information. The fact that the West is a friend of Ethiopia by the above objective measures should please Ethiopians…”
Meanwhile Professor Seifudein didn’t mention the danger of falling under the influence of the West for uncolonized proud and wealthy country like Ethiopia. When I say wealthy, I meant to say rich in natural resources, cultural heritages, tradition and maintained its independence for thousands of years. Unfortunately, Ethiopia today is foreign food aid dependent of the West, especially after the 1980s deadly drought and famine.
The famine has forced the uncolonized and only independent nation in Africa to open its gate for the West to come with humanitarian aid and found selfish elites to neo-colonize the country. In their dictionaries the West associated the name Ethiopia with drought and famine. Since then, the Western aid has become common in Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, the aid has made the people of the wealthy nation beggars and poor. Instead of teaching the poor how to catch a fish, the aid of the West was designed to create dependency syndrome. Countries like the United States, which has been major wheat donors, today are upset when the country began growing wheat using irrigation. A few weeks ago, when Prime Minister Abiy said his government will soon make history food aid, it was a major headline for the West media.
In fact, some of these biased media of the West misquoted his statement as part of their misinformation campaign. This is because aid is the major strategy of the West to interfere in the internal affairs of Ethiopia.
The West want this aid to continue for ever because they know that one can’t be independent and beggar at the same time. He/she is either beggar or an independent. If they have to create artificial humanitarian crisis or famine, they will do it as long us it serves their national interest in that specific country.
As loan is being used by China to capture Africa, humanitarian aid, fighting terrorism, combating costal illegal fishing are the strategy for the West to neo-colonize African nations.
The West did this by design to humiliate Ethiopians, who were proud of their independence and were symbols of black struggle against colonialism, especially after their 1896 first black victory over the Western invasion – namely the Italians – at the Battle of Adwa.
Planning a revenge, after four decades Mussolini of Italy has invaded Ethiopia during the WWII and was forced to leave the country after five years of fighting with brave Ethiopian patriots. After that I think the West realized that it is impossible to colonize Ethiopians and came with a new tactic of neo-colonization by introducing British divide and rule technique where a minority group leads Ethiopia.
After the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie’s feudal regime, the West, mainly the American CIA and the British intelligence began supporting ethnonationalist rebel groups.
The Tigray peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) were among those who enjoyed the support of the West to remove the Marxist Derg Regime in 1991.
The preferred ally of the West in the region – Egypt, which has tried many times to control the source of the Nile, as well as Sudan have also provided vital support to these groups including training camps, related logistics and financing for the rebel fighters.
Today Ethiopians know that they are indirectly at war with Egypt and Sudan, whose army invaded part of Ethiopia when the Ethiopian army left the border to counter last November’s TPLF attack on its northern command.
TPLF and the West
After taking power in 1991 the extremist group, which was established to create an independent state of Tigray changed its course and decided to lead Ethiopia – the country it hates and promised for the west to disintegrate cutting into pieces.
For that it has formed a fake coalition of four parties – Ethiopian Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). EPRDF is established involving TPLF which claimed to represent Tigray ethnic people representing about 5% of the total population of Ethiopia, a party representing Oromo ethnic group (34 percent of the total population of Ethiopia, an Amhara party (representing 27 percent), and Southern party putting in one basket about 45 ethnic groups found in Southern Ethiopia.
As part of the mission, it has taken from its financiers (the West), TPLF-dominated regime has introduced ethnic federalism and constitution that divided the country in nine different regions and two administrative cities – Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. In an attempt to link Tigray region with Sudan, the regime has taken areas the neighboring towns now known as Amhara region.
Between 1991 to its removal from power in April 2018, TPLF has managed to bring tens of thousands of ethnic Tigray people to its new settlement, while allegedly evicting, killing and arresting those former settlers who opposed the new settlement.
One of the many problems of this ethnic federalism and division is it ignored the intermarriage happening for centuries between different tribes such as, the millions born from an Amhara mother and an Oromo mother or from a Tigray mother and an Amhara father, etc. TPLF has forced these Ethiopians to be identified by one of the two tribes.
The toxic part of TPLF ethnic federalism is that the Amhara are the enemy of other Ethiopians as stated in its manifesto. That means TPLF is telling someone who has an Amhara mother and an Oromo father to hate his mother. And it has written tribe of all Ethiopians on their national ID.
In fact, recently the spokesperson of TPLF Getachew Reda has publicly said, “if that is what it takes, we can go to hell to dismantle Ethiopia”. In what seems to seems to help TPLF achieve its wishes, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians joined the Ethiopian national army over the past few months alone.
But why do the West now targeted Ethiopia?
Many reasons can be mentioned. But the major ones in my opinion are geopolitics and slowing the pace of China’s economic growth and advance in Africa. Ethiopia is located in the strategic location of Red Sea and Bal bel Mandeb, close to one of the busiest global trade routes.
Major global powers including America, Japan, China, France, among others have been expanding their military bases in the Bab el Mandab area. In addition, Ethiopia – the water tower of east Africa is the source of the Blue Nile on which Egypt and the neighboring Sudan have been relying for centuries.
Over 55 billion cubic liters of water on average flows from Ethiopian rivers to these countries. Egypt is more strategic ally to the United States than Ethiopia for its role as facilitator of Arabs and the U.S relations.
That is why the former U.S. President publicly said Egypt will blow the controversial Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is under-construction. That is why we have been witnessing the U.S. led Western pressure on the administration Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia.
For instance, the U.S. and its allies have tabled the issue of GERD, which at the UN Security Council (UNSC) couple of times to deny Ethiopia’s right to utilize its natural resources for its development without causing harm to the downstream countries.
In addition, over the past few months the humanitarian issue in Ethiopian in relation to the war between TPLF and the government of Ethiopia was also brought to the UN a dozen times by the U.S. and its allies. Thanks to China and Russia, which are among the permanent representatives of UNSC, the Council wasn’t able to impose any sanctions on Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has been imposing sanctions after sanctions on the democratically elected government of Ethiopia claiming that the regime has blocked aid to Tigray. In an effort to save its former ally (TPLF), the U.S. led West didn’t say a word when the rebel group refused to return 428 trucks, which delivered food to Tigray.
Likewise, their propaganda machines, which have been reporting that Addis Ababa is encircled within 25 kilometers radius by TPLF fighters, also rarely report without bias. In fact, at times their reports seem produced by one PR agency and published favoring TPLF and its recruiters.
Under such circumstance, how come the West will be a trusted ally for the people of Ethiopia, while it has already shown its support to TPLF, which was deposed from power through popular resistance in 2018?
From a farmer to a layman on the streets of Ethiopia, it has now become clear that the agenda of the West when it comes to Ethiopia at the moment is regime change. For someone who read the recently leaked U.S. special force field manual, indeed U.S has been working to bring back TPLF back to power or orchestrate coup in Ethiopia.
Ethiopian selfish elites
My response to the article of the professor is simple, let’s not complicate issues and avoid the facts. Without reading about federalism system, Ethiopians were governing themselves for thousands of years.
Hijacking the protests of university students against the feudal regime of Emperor Haile Selassie, ethnic nationalists like TPLF and OLF among others have led to the death of thousands of innocent Ethiopians and displacement of millions over the last half a century.
Now it is time to say #NoMore! It is time to fix those errors intentionally or unintentionally made.
If the ethnic federalism TPLF has introduced is the cause for mistrust among Ethiopians of different ethnic background, we have to say #NoMore! Perhaps trying other form of federalism such as, geographical or economical might be a good way of governance.
Let’s not complicate things here…We are talking here about an ancient country, which has its own system of governances that embraces diversity and coexistence with respect to one another and resistance to foreign interference. Ethiopians are also blessed enough to sense what goes around them and behind the curtain when it comes to external relations.
After all, be it the pastoralist in Somali region or a farmer in Tigray, Ethiopians need to be led by the individuals they elected freely from their own neighborhood.
They want to select an Ethiopian they trust and someone who can help their community to properly utilize its natural resources, who can provide them efficient public services, and someone who can help them to live a better life in general.
I believe the days where some elites get together and claim that they represent this and that ethnic group of Ethiopia has to go for good. It only benefited nation robbers like corrupt TPLF leaders, but not the poor farmer in Tigray, whose children the rebels have been snatching and feeding to their own personal cause.
These elites have their children and family members in safe heavens in the West teaching at expensive schools. But they tell the poor farmer to kill his neighbor just because his ethnicity is different from his neighbor; and telling him that the ancestor tribe X have killed, ancestor of tribe Y. I wonder how one (so called elite) think like this in 21st century of globalized world.
Now allow me to get back to my topic, why Ethiopians shouldn’t trust the West. Ethiopians have lived together in harmony for millennia by managing their own internal affairs and differences on their own by using their traditions.
They have also been managing properly their external relations. With all due respect Professor Seifudein’s article that implies Ethiopia needs to trust the West because it gets humanitarian aid, is I think an insult for many us. We Ethiopians can’t trade our sovereignty and independence for humanitarian aid.
Yes, when TPLF was on power from 1991 to 2018, it has kept several millions of Ethiopians to be dependent on food aid of the West. That was done by design. After all growing wheat is not complicated like nuclear physics, especially in Ethiopia where huge arable land, water and labor is abundant.
If Ethiopia is given policy freedom, which is now under the influence of the West (neoliberalism promoters such as IMF and the World Bank), we all know that the country can feed the people of East Africa altogether.
In conclusion, I don’t believe that Ethiopians should trust the U.S led West at the moment because their latest actions suggest that they are biased.
They are working against the democratically elected government and are supporting their old friend- TPLF – that vowed to dismantle Ethiopia at any cost and build The Great Tigray Republic on the graves of 110 million plus Ethiopians from other ethnic group.
This is the fact! So, Ethiopians should be cautious about every move and efforts of the U.S. led Western countries to mediate Ethiopian government with the TPLF or OLF Shene.