Tibebe Samuel Ferenji
If anything, this conflict has taught us that the West is willing to sacrifice 120 million people for its national interest. The West, conspiring with the Human Rights organizations, its mainstream media, and its allies, tried to impose its will on Ethiopia. We stood strong and united in the face of powerful nations and intense propaganda. The West wants the TPLF to have some sort of influential role in the Ethiopian Federal Government despite the people of Ethiopia’s rejection of this criminal group. It is clear the West wants a government that says how high when it is ordered to jump to the West’s tune. Those who think that the West is our ally for the sake of Ethiopia need to ask themselves why the West pressured Turkey and UAE not to sell weapons to Ethiopia, called the United Nations Security Council’s meetings 14 times in its attempt to impose international sanctions on Ethiopia, and why the US ejected Ethiopia from AGOA. In addition, the US and its allies used the IMF and World Bank to put financial pressure on Ethiopia. We can’t forget the West’s attempt to create panic in Ethiopia during the second-round invasion of the TPLF and gave incentives for Ethiopia leaders to leave. It is during this profound challenge that the #nomore movement was established. The #nomore movement played an essential and vital role in Ethiopia’s cyber diplomacy, countering the TPLF, the MainStream Media, the so-called Human Rights organizations, and some EU and US officials’ false narratives. The #nomore movement changed the political landscape in defense of Ethiopia. It became a voice of Ethiopians in Social Media and using street protests against the West’s unfair and unjust interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs. The protest held in front of the White House, the State Department, and in other major cities attracted the national and local media that gave exposure to Ethiopia’s cause, and countered the false narratives. Those who naively debunk the #nomore movement and undermine its contribution have utterly failed to understand the history and effectiveness of the politics of protest. Even in our modern history, we have witnessed when protests erupted across the globe as authoritarian rulers fought to maintain their control over power. As US Senator Marco Rubio stated, “ Protest is part of a struggle whose outcome will define the 21st century”.
We learn from history the significant role the politics of protest played for civil rights, women’s rights, and racial and gender equality. We also know from our recent history that protests in Oromia and Amhara regions brought down the TPLF brutal to its knees and facilitated a conducive atmosphere for the reform. It is in that context the Ethiopian version of the politics of protest, the #nomore movement, made its mark on a global stage. In the absence of a well-organized political voice in defense of Ethiopia, the #nomore movement has accomplished measurable results in its short period of time in the struggle we engaged against the TPLF, the MainStream Media, various institutions, and Western governments. The #nomore movement began at a time when TPLF’s cyber diplomacy and the TPLF narrative in the mainstream and social media were dominant. Particularly Social Media was under the full control of the TPLF propagandists at a time when Ethiopians lacked an articulated, organized, and coordinated response to the TPLF propaganda, the #nomore movement played an essential role in reversing the TPLF Social Media control, the TPLF propagandists’ narratives, and the MainStream Media disinformation campaign. The movement brought Ethiopians’ efforts in Social Media under the #nomore moto and became one of the dominant trends on Twitter. In addition, the #nomore movement gave stern warnings to US congressional members who were threatening Ethiopia’s interest and spewing their hateful messages against Ethiopia. By informing their constituencies where their representatives and Senators are standing on the Ethiopian-Tplf conflict, the #nomore movement threatened congressional members seat and forced some members of congress to switch their positions. Although it is difficult to quantify, this writer dares to say that the #nomore movement has made a significant contribution to changing the landscape of Virginia’s politics. Moreover, the #nomore movements added a new mechanism to Ethiopian politics that we lacked for so many years. It is because of the #nomore movement we started networking with the likes of the Black Alliance for Peace and Answer Coalition, an organization that led one of the largest anti-war demonstrations in Washington DC. Such networking has opened doors to Ethiopian politics to work with other organizations and like-minded people in strengthening Ethiopians’ political stand in US politics. To undermine such a movement is a failure to understand the effective work that grassroots movements have done to shake world politics in general and American politics in particular.
Many scholars wrongly believe that America’s current policy towards Ethiopia is shaped because Ethiopia does not have qualified diplomats capable of dealing with the US government. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is simply to use Ethiopia’s diplomatic weaknesses as a scapegoat to defend US’s ill-conceived policy towards Ethiopia. There is no question that Ethiopia has not deployed qualified diplomats in various countries. However, that would not have changed the US’s policy towards Ethiopia. The recent Saudi-US controversy clearly indicates what matters in the US foreign policy; obviously, it is not the quality of diplomats that matters, what matters is how low one is willing to bend to protect the US’s interest. Everyone knows how strong the US-Saudi relationship has been. As the recent events show, the strength of the relationship is determined only when the US’ interest is protected. When the Saudis said they will protect their interests first instead of the US’ interest, all hell broke down and the US began threatening the Saudis with sanctions and holding military sales. Does this sound familiar? This is the type of ally the US is when it comes to protecting its national interest. We have seen this happen in many countries. Thus, to assert US’s policy on Ethiopia is Ethiopia’s diplomats’ fault is a rubbish and futile attempt to defend the US.
As this writer has said on many occasions, America’s foreign policy is influenced by American national interest only. America’s foreign policy goes through multiple agencies, advisors, and enormous scrutiny before it becomes a policy. US’ current policy is shaped by the US’s desire to control the Horn Of Africa, nothing less nothing more. The Horn of Africa is an essential part of the US’s geopolitical strategy. The US intended to control the Horn of Africa because it did not want the trade route of the Red Sea to be under the control of Russia, China, or other anti-West elements. In addition, the US does not want the Horn of Africa to be a hub for terrorist organizations. It is for that reason, the US and its allies have been providing aid for Ethiopia. It is when Ethiopia said it will protect its national interest first as its interest became contrary to the US and its allies’ interest, the West began demonizing Ethiopia and used its “aid policy” hoping to suffocate Ethiopia into submission. The #nomore movement exposed and challenged such ill-conceived and dangerous policies using Social media platforms, protests, letter writings, and some of the MainStream Media. It is because of the #nomore movement that the Ethiopian case was made in various media outlets. The protest held under the #nomore banner in front of the White House, the State Department, in all regions of Ethiopia, and Europe got more media attention than any diplomatic efforts made by the government of Ethiopia. It is hard to miss the enormous impact the #nomore movement has on the hearts and minds of Ethiopians. Anyone visiting any part of Ethiopia including Addis Ababa can’t walk two feet without seeing the #nomore banner. The big sign put at Mesqel Square is a symbol of Ethiopian resistance and how the #nomore movement became a uniting force. Many mini buses and other public transportation vehicles in Addis Ababa have posted the #nomore banner on their vehicles. Seeing #nomore Grocery and #nomore Teji Bet (traditional wine house) in Addis Ababa tells the impact the #nomore movement has on the Ethiopian psyche. To undermine such an impactful movement is a failure to clearly understand the contribution of the grassroots movements and the politics of protest in shaping not only a nation’s politics but in changing the political landscape of the world.
Some gullible Ethiopians have publicly said the #nomore movement is dangerous because the message is anti-West. They believe these messages have angered Western government officials. It is bizarre to be concerned about the feelings of Western government officials when the Western governments are supporting a terrorist organization that has massacred Ethiopians, raped women and children in front of their loved ones, burned our citizens alive, and destroyed homes, hospitals, schools, and other infrastructures. Why should we care about their feelings when they don’t care about the sufferings of our people? Some of our naïve scholars believe educating the Western governments may help the West change its position and its anti-Ethiopia rhetoric. As the former US ambassador to Ethiopia, Mr. David Shinn, stated in one of his interviews with Aljazeera, there is nothing the US and its allies don’t know. The purpose of their intelligence service in Ethiopia is to gather information and provide it to policymakers. The policy makers use the information to form their policies to protect the US’ interest. To protect its national interest, the West is standing against the national interest of Ethiopia not because they don’t know it is because their interest is contrary to ours.
The West has gone the extra mile to undermine Ethiopia and support TPLF terroirsts. In violation of the United Nations Charter, the West used the UN as its tool to put undue pressure and interfere in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. Article 2 (7) of the UN Charter states that “the United Nations has no authority to intervene in matters which are within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, while this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII of the Charter.” It further states “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter.” It is worth noting the preamble to UNSCR 1973 declared a threat to international peace and security gave legal authority for Chapter VII action, but without explanation of what that threat is. Chapter VII does not give authorization for any nation to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries unless international peace is threatened.
It is in violation of the UN charter that the Western governments interfere in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. In fact, the UN Resolution clearly stated other countries could not use economic, diplomatic or military threats in violation of the sovereignty of a member nation. Unfortunately, the Western governments that lecture us day and night about the rule of law violate the rule of law when it fits their agenda. Their hypocrisy is beyond imagination. The problem is the Western governments have not cleansed themselves from the colonialist mindset. There are those who tell us colonialism and neo-colonialism are a thing of the past. I beg to differ; such a mindset is alive and well. It is with that mindset; the US Congress passed H.R.7311 492 to 9. This legislation is intended to threaten the entire African continent with punitive measures if they do business with Russia. It is while this legislation was voted on, Secretary Blinken told Africans “The United States will not dictate Africa’s choices.” This is what speaking in “fork tongues” looks like. It is because of the colonialist mindset that the EU Parliament voted on a motion for a resolution to stop the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
Some of our scholars accept such interference in violation of our sovereignty. Some in fact preach to us to submit to the West’s will without understanding the impact of such submission. These scholars believe because the US and EU provide aid, we should not oppose their interference in our sovereignty. How useful are the Western governments to Africa? This question has been debated among economists for years. However, the fact clearly shows despite more than a trillion dollars in aid Africa’s poverty has gotten worse. The Zambian-born economist, Dambisa Moyo, in her book titled “Dead Aid,” stated $1 trillion in development aid that rich countries have sent to Africa over the past half-century has made the continent much worse, styling the notion that aid from rich countries has fought poverty and accelerated development as a myth. Moyo also argues that a direct consequence of aid-driven interventions has been a dramatic descent into poverty – citing Zambia as an example, and the fact that when aid flows were at their peak between 1970 and 1998 – poverty in Africa rose to a staggering 66%. Other economists say “Foreign aid to Africa is taking money from poor people from rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries”. Sadly, one of the most ardent opponents of the #nomore movement, Dr. Yonas Biru, stated that Ethiopia would collapse within weeks if thiopia don’t receive Western foreign aid. Such a baseless prediction is contrary to our history. Ethiopia has survived without foreign aid while the West attacked Ethiopia from every direction using a proxy war to destabilize Ethiopia during the military regime. Such a bizarre statement is an indication of how much the West’s propaganda has put some of our scholars in a box. Such scholars’ inability to think out of the box and lack of imagination is not a reason to be submissive to Western powers. As many economists state, foreign aid doesn’t directly reach the people. More Than 80% of the fund is used for administrative expenses. Most of the expenses are paid to the citizens of the West; some of the money is used to corrupt officials. Even if we benefit from Western foreign aid, should we surrender our sovereignty? Without our sovereignty, what would we have? If we have submitted to the West’s demand, the TPLF would have a significant role in our nation and 120 million people would be subjected to enormous suffering.
The choice we have is to work hard to be self-sufficient, resilient, resist all aspects of intervention, and unite to defeat aggression, intervention, and Western propaganda. We must also send a clear message to the so-called Human Rights organizations who have sold their integrity to the highest bidders that we are more than capable of monitoring any human rights violations and our institutions will cooperate with any legitimate and credible global institutions to make sure our citizens’ human rights are protected and violators are held accountable for any violations. Neither Ethiopia nor any nation in Africa needs a White Savior nanny. My message to the #nomore movement is please continue your struggle, your country and the rest of Africa needs you. Even after the peace agreement, you can witness when the West and its hired guns are continuing their interference, threats, and pressure on Ethiopia while they say nothing when the TPLF is violating the peace agreement and designing a road map to renege from the Pretoria agreement. Our struggle is not over yet. We must unite and stand in defense of our nation. Please expand your network with other organizations to say #nomore to tyranny, White Supremacy, and neo-colonialist notion.
May God Bless Ethiopia and the Rest of Africa; may God give wisdom to Western government leaders who are causing enormous pain and suffering in the world for the benefit of a few greedy corporations.
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Dear Tibebe, I always get amazed how you describe my mind in a fantastic way. Please keep advocating for Ethiopia, Africa.
I am pretty sure both you and I are not 19th Century people who don’t understand the so called modern global world and only live by the adventure of our forefathers and mothers. I remember once Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam said that Meles/Woyane doesn’t have the spirit of what is Ethiopian. He further said Ethiopian spirit is currently remain with Isayas who no more claim to be Ethiopian. I guess what he was saying was ‘It is better to live poor with dignity than begging for monetary riches’. I concur.