Friday, February 3, 2023
HomeOpinionAn Open Letter to PM Abiy

An Open Letter to PM Abiy

You Said, “We are Ready to Listen to Intellectuals” Here You Have It

Yonas Biru ( source : Yonas Biru LinkedIn page)

Yonas Biru, PhD

The geo-political space is going through a dizzying transformation with rapid changes of sign along its contour. Its center of gravity is also experiencing a tremor, if not a shift. Nations who are best prepared for it are those who are focused on limiting down-side risks and exploring opportunities for upside gains. This requires strategy based on knowledge, not guess work.

During the US-Africa Leaders Summit, you were given a red-carpet treatment despite your Administration’s adversarial diplomatic posturing supported by the Diaspora’s preposterous #NoMore street diplomacy. This shows the US sees Ethiopia as a nation of vital strategic importance. Ethiopia lacks strategic direction, focus and clarity to leverage its geo-economic and geo-political advantage. 

We can learn a lot from South Asian nations. The Strait, which runs between Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, is arguably the most important trade route in the world. Approximately 40 percent of the world’s trade and 25 percent of all oil go through the strait. Nations around the strait have made themselves critical players in the geopolitical game because they are artfully hedging their geopolitical policies with strategic ambiguity and flexibility.

The Red Sea, though less busy, is also an important passageway for global trade, accounting for 10 percent of the world trade and nearly 9 percent of all oil. According to UNCTAD, global trade for 2021 was estimated at $28.5 trillion. This means nearly $3 trillion worth of goods pass through the Red Sea. This makes Ethiopia (the anchor of the Horn of Africa region) a critical geopolitical land. Only if we understand the driving interests of geopolitical forces will we be able to develop strategic policies, enlighten our emissaries and sharpen our diplomatic tools.

Sadly, the Ethiopian intellectual class is shackled with አሮጌ ባህል mixed with a mythological national identity anchored in holly books and Greek mythology. This is the source of our poverty and ignorance. This is nowhere clearer than in the weekly commentaries of Professor Al Mariam (one of the leading Ethiopian contemporary political scientists).

In one of his commentaries, he accused a US Senator of “a hidden aim” to “Dismantle Ethiopia by orchestrating ethnic and religious warfare, making Ethiopia the Libya/Syria of Northeast Africa.” This was not enough. In another commentary he wrote about another US Senator who is “doggedly committed to destroying Ethiopia because he wants to avenge the humiliating and devastating double loss of a white army in Africa in recorded history.”

To believe the Professor, we must be willing to assume that US’s disdain toward Ethiopia is so much so that it will deliberately jeopardize the stability of the Horn of Africa by dismantling the anchor of stability for the region. Professor Al is not an exception. His writings reflect a large part of the Diaspora intellectual class. This is how the Ethiopian intellectual class has undermined the geopolitical advantage of our nation with the #NoMore cacophony devoid of insight and substance, much less a coherent strategy.

The US’s disdain for Ethiopia must be worth more than the smooth transportation of $3 trillion worth of international trade. This is how utterly nonsensical our intellectuals are.

The Sub-Saharan Africa region needs to learn from South Asia. It needs to develop a geopolitical agenda and strategy. Ethiopia is the host of the Africa Union. As the head of the government of Ethiopia, you can play a leading role to build a robust knowledge center in Africa.

Africa needs to establish the Equivalent of Princeton School of Public and International Affairs or Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The two schools are considered to be among the world’s leading international affairs schools. Asia has schools that can come close to rivaling these schools.

One of the most intractable problems constraining Africa’s development is the absence of established research universities and independent think-tanks that are able to articulate and promote the architecture of their continent’s strategy. Compounding this problem is that Africa’s leading researchers are outside of Africa attracted by more rewarding career opportunities in Europe and the United States.

Building strong local research institutes and think-tanks takes time and resources. Meanwhile, there is a pressing need for a viable strategy in the short-to-medium term that will concurrently lay a strong foundation for a long-term solution for the knowledge drought in Africa. I have a 20-page proposal that directly responds to this challenge.

The proposal was written in 2014 but remains just as relevant today. If you are open to the idea, I will be happy to send you the draft and bring it up to date. The following are remarks from leading African and Africanist Scholars who read the proposal in 2014. 

“This is an excellent project that fills a gap in Africa.”

Professor Mthuli Ncumbe, Former Chief Economist African Development Bank and former Professor at London School of Economics. Currently the Minister of Finance of Zimbabwe

“It is a great idea, and I would be happy to be involved.”

Professor Makau Mutua, Dean & SUNY Distinguished Professor and Floyd H. & Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar, New York University:

“I certainly endorse and embrace its purposes and recognize the need to which it responds. Your highlighting the exit [of research] from universities to consultancies, and the low quality of the research most consultancies produce, is spot on. I will be honored to be a part of it. I hope that I can help make this work.”

Professor Robert Bates, Eaton Professor in the Department of Government, Harvard:

“This proposal is imaginative and timely. You can count on me to join the advisory group.”

Professor Lemma W. Senbet, William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance and Director of Center for Financial Policy, Univ. Of Maryland:

“This is a tremendous project which is innovative, timely and likely to have high impact. I would feel honored to serve on the proposed Technical Advisory Panel.”

Professor Prasada Rao, ARC Professor and Professorial Fellow

“This is a great initiative, and I would indeed be honored to be part of it.”

Dr. Ibrahim Elbadawi, Former Minister of Finance of Sudan, Currently, Managing Director of the Economic Research Forum, Economic Policy and Research Center, Dubai Economic Council:

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Q: What makes you think that you know better for Ethiopians? Where have you been?

    Ethiopia & Abiy: Abiy refused to sell Ethiopia to Egypt & Egypt’s White Supremacist West [WSW] masters via Trump-Pompeo. That Sale could have made him their Hero!

    Ethiopia & America: Should Ethiopia accept America as an ally at the cost of short-changing the future of 115 million Ethiopians 75% of whom are just under age 45?

    Ethiopia & Horn Geopolitics: Ethiopia will never have any value in the Horn as the “West’s Poster Child of Poverty”! Ethiopia should be strong economically, militarily, etc.

    Ethiopia & World Geopolitics: Ethiopia should speed-up Mechanization, Electrification, Industrialization, Trans-Ethiopia Railways, Trans-Ethiopia Highways, Air Transport…

    Ethiopia & Educational Institutions: What do you make of the tons of opportunists whom Ethiopia sent abroad for higher education but never returned to impart their expertise?

    • Sorry, who are you?
      He said he wants to be part of the improvment Ethiopia needs. Are you saying Ethiopia is already good?

      Thank you Dr. Biru, please keep pushing. Don’t let this U-tuber intimidate you

      Thanks, Belta Mengistu

      • Belta,

        Am I not open book enough from what I wrote above? Ethiopia is not for sale! He can take his PhD and his 20-page crap to the nearest Habesha/Ethiopia ‘ሬስቶራ’ and brag about his WB career!

        It is WB’s loan denial that kept Ethiopia in Stone Age! I don’t want to see opportunists like Dr. Yonas anywhere near Ethiopia? Why did Ethiopia matter to him this late in his career? Why not before?

  2. Dr. Yonas is jumping from Marshall Plan to whatever. From reading his several articles he is resenting the fact that he was thrown out of the PM’s Econ Advisory Council. The reason? He started acting a tyrant, attacking any who disagreed with him! He has constantly accused Prof. Al Mariam. Today, he has added the late-Prof Mesfin to his roster. Yonas is delusional; he thinks he is right, and the rest are not. Now you can see who is unprofessional and arrogant.

    • How about give him a chance to lead the way? Nothing to lose. I don’t what is wrong with our people? In stead of helping each others, it has become a norm to push away those who are willing to make better changes.
      Let’s all do some soul-searching.

  3. I’ll be damned if Dr. Abiy, or any other principal will give credence to ideas presented in this shameful manner. In his incessant mission, and it looks like he has a mission, to reduce individuals and movements to absurdity, he ended up throwing himself from ድጡ to ማጡ. Intellectualism comes with responsibility. One has to meet standards of behavior, display some decorum.

  4. Please stop name calling and start discussing the ideas. We have not seen his proposal and connot assume this and that . We have to challenge ideas not individual personalities.

  5. In Ethiopia, including around the world we are witnessing emotionally super-charged camps, where each side thinks and speaks in an echo chamber- detached from what is true & sensible. For me, I find Dr. Yonas Biru to be an exception. At least from his works, he comes across as a sensible guy with practical ideas & no agenda to please any camp. He has never shy away from commending the Ethiopian government (Dr. Abiy) when their action warrants it and criticizes when he deems it deserving.

    I prefer an intellectual whose outlooks are balanced & grounded than those steeped in a bygone era who use a bogeyman, like the west (US) as a punch bag to expand their echo chamber & have people emotionally riled up.

  6. I agree with Dr. Manaye.Why don’t you debate on the ideas instead of the person.This shows how undemocrat we are in our attitude.You the so called intellectuals should have been models for us.

  7. Ethiopians need practical ideas that support them to be out of their current and potential crisis. We all know the sociopoltical conditions of the country. But what is the way out? This must influence the leaders, economists . policy makers and above all its people.

  8. I don’t think that PM Abiy will respond to Dr. Yonas’s proposals because of his super-ego and the ethnic tinge in it. He is more comfortable with dullards like shimellis and yilekal who swallow anything he says and never questions its worth. Sadly, we have to wait some other time for Dr. Yonas” ideas to be tabled (even though there may be some hidden agenda of the Bilderberg group in it!)

  9. Oh my Lord, this guy is losing it by the day. Somebody has got to tell him to focus on ideas instead. He is definitely showing a sign of desperation for attention. Except marketing himself as “wise” among the rest of diaspora intellectuals, dropping names for their testimonials for his “20 pages proposal” is utterly nonsense and laughable for a person who claim to be taking the high road. An intellectual will not dwell in bashing others who are on the other side of the isle. Oh BTW, establishing SFS is a non starter as the PM has actually a grand scheme of building a Pan African School of Management/Governance, sort of. Anyway, I hate to say that this dude has nothing to show except name calling. He is a bitter person that the PM has kicked him out. Thank God the PM purged him as this insane man can not utter anything positive.

  10. Dr. Yonas Beru on this particular paper failed into the precipice of American interest as self appoint watch tower of Red Sea stream line. “Nearly $3 trillion worth of goods pass through the Red Sea. This makes Ethiopia a critical geopolitical land for ‘USA’. As if all Ethiopian problems accumulated on the Red sea coast Dr. Yonas try to be the second biblical MOSSES to borrow American fleet to cross Ethiopia into the land of milk and honey. Repeatedly he mentions American interest as a solution for the country problems and says USA sees Ethiopia as a nation vital importance. In fact Dr. Yonas must dig into the main problems of his mother country and looks for a solutions in terms of Ethiopian interest. His open letter is more a resume to the USA state department rather than PM Abiy.

    The American scholar Wald Emerson says “all generalizations are wrong”. Dr. Yonas one more time failed to the abysm of generalizations. Here is his temper tantrum. All ” Ethiopian intellectual class is shackled with old culture mixed with a mythological national identity in holly books and Greek mythology”. The web like “fekadubekele.com ” count you wrong 200% and make you a better student on present Ethiopian reality. Dr. Fekadu Bekele trying his best as intellectual for the last 20 years and I don’t read him shackled with ignorance. Where as you as a new liberal cadre, preach highway to development heaven is by accepting America Empire as the only savior. Tsegay Gebre Medhin is another giant intellectual. His works as a classic and has been translated to many languages.

    As a priority our mother land needs peace and security for all its’ citizens. At this moments to have an established research universities could be a luxury.

  11. When the Holy Orthodox Christians have so much adoration and respect for their rich and deep in holiness, knowledge, intelligence, history and holy religion, those who have no religion or who are not Orthodox faithful are throwing cheap talks and blaming religion for their shortcomings, luck of intelligence and luck of governance.

    If it is not the Orthodox religion that holds the vast majority of the population then which one has registered good governance, promoted peace and contributed success in Ethiopians history?

    Ireecha worshipping Lake Hora or Gadda murdering innocents bystander and cutting his genital for purpose of getting lack or a wife or the pagan worshipping trees, water, fire and so on? That has no God in them?

    The disgraced Al Mariam is a hypnotized guddi feechaa product of Abiy Ahmed. He no longer remembers to apply the same principles and found in a comma when OLF/PP and the Crime Minister Abiy Ahmed is committing the worse Crimes against Amhara, and Ethiopia .
    All those accusations against TPLF for violations of humans rights, imprisoning journalist, abusing political prisoners, Genocide, right to protest and so on are gone with TPLF and he now sleeping in cohorts with OLF/ PP while Genocide and land grab is intensified. In other words he has been an implant of OLF/PP.

  12. Dear Obbo Dr. Yonas,

    Please keep writing and do not be discouraged by these loser detractors. They don’t know how to have illustrious careers like you have had for decades. All they know is talk trash on something they are having problems understanding. That is what we are left with after decades long assault on that gem of the colored by the twisted ideology of Marx/Lenin/Mao since the late 1960’s. Staying dignified during a conversation has become a foreign dictionary they don’t and will never understand. Keep plugging away dear countryman!!!!

  13. Fools and Buffons. Opportunist so called intellectuals. Some of you are arguing useless ideas while the Bashasha Arada has already made a deal with the WB and IMF to devaluate the currency by up to 75% and likely sell parts of the Ethiopian Airlines. Others are trying to cover for the thief in 4 Kilo. Either way you all are a waste of time and also wasting your time and ours.
    The solution is to kick all of Oromuma and PP out of power.
    Yonas is a schizophrenic and deflated opportunist.

  14. Thank you Yonas Biru, PhD, keep up with your great work. We need people like you that can bring respectable and actual news and opinions.

    Those who have no knowledge to bring and nothing to lose regarding academic reputations and values jump with weak slurs hoping intellectuals will be intimidated. Let them show who they are. They don’t even dare to show their real names because they are ignorant paid to rumble slurs and insults just like who paid them. .

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