Editor’s note : Views expressed in article reflect that of the writer’s, not the views of borkena.com
Koki Abesolome, PhD
Updated on December 24, 12:55 A.M. Toronto Time
There are three different views about Oromo politics driven by: (1) An Anti-Oromo Orthodoxy Group that often manifests itself in the form of unitary-Ethiopian or pro-Amhara dogma; (2) An Anti-Finfinnee Group that sees PP-Oromo as OLF-Shene lite; and (3) Pro-Abiy, but Anti PP Oromo Group. The difference between these three is not only in nuances, but also in political beliefs and the very conception of Ethiopia.
The Anti-Oromo Orthodoxy Group
This group sees no difference between PP-Oromo and OLF-Shene. They believe any conflict between the two is caused by differences in how to carry out the Oromummaa plan to establish Greater Oromia or a calculated political trickery to confuse non-Oromo Ethiopians. This group consists of dogmatic unitary-Ethiopianist and extremist-Amhara forces who see organized Oromo politics as an existential threat to Ethiopia’s existence. For them, PP-Oromo is a united force with a monolithic political view that mirrors OLF-Shene’s anti-Ethiopia agenda.
During the Ethiopia-TPLF war, OLF-Shene was fighting alongside TPLF because it sees PP-Oromo as its primary enemy that undermines the Greater Oromia theology and wants to resurrect Menilik’s Ethiopia. Nonetheless, dogmatic unitary-Ethiopianist and extremist-Amhara forces still insist that PP-Oromo and OLF-Shene are the same. Their agenda revolves around two issues.
First is the Greater Oromia doctrine that represents an existential threat to the integrity and survival of Ethiopia as a nation. Their second concern emanates from the old Oromo tradition of moggaasa – an Oromo term for “forced Oromoization of non-Oromo tribes”. The tradition represented brutally annexing non-Oromo lands through an expansionary war and forcing the conquered people to abandon their names, languages, traditions, cultures and even ancestorial heritages and adopt an Oromo identity.
When it comes to a ruthless assimilation practice, Oromo has no parallel in Ethiopia, perhaps not even in the world. The moggaasa tradition involved a special blood mixing ceremony called meedhicca that is akin to modern day blood transfusion or cloning. Sacrificial bulls were used as part of this ceremony to symbolize the rebirth of concurred tribes. The process did not end there. The concurred tribes were forced to severe all previous ties with their original identity, tradition, culture, and history, including their genealogical memory. Those who refused to become Oromo and willfully erase their original tribe’s memory and glory were savagely dealt with.
Some of today’s Oromo people are originally people of Hadiya and Sidama heritage who were converted by the moggaasa sword. Judged by today’s standard, what the Oromo did to other tribes is considered genocide. But we cannot judge what happened centuries back by today’s standard.
The unitary Ethiopianist and extremist Amhara group are rallying against what they call an Oromummaa (Oromoization) policies of PP-Oromo and OLF-Shene. But they lack strategy to advance their agenda be it mitigating the existential threat the supposedly united PP-Oromo and OLF-Shene poses to Ethiopia or creating a democratic and peaceful nation.
Over two years ago, a group led by Shaleka Dawit collected $405,000 to file an Orthodox Amhara genocide lawsuit against PP-Oromo and OLF-Shene. One of their members, revealed just recently in public that $396,000 of the money (98%) is still in the bank two years and two months after it was raised through the Go-Fund-Me platform.
What explains their failure to use the money to bring their claims to the international public, hiring international lawyers and/or public relations firms? Peddling grievance against Oromo politics is their trademark, without political direction or strategy. Even worse their moronic desire to lump up Ethiopianist, moderate and extremist Oromo forces serves the most extremist Oromo agenda. To put it in the vernacular, if the likes of Shaleka Dawit, Meskerem Aberra and the hermitized souls running Vision Ethiopia did not exist OLF-Shene would have created them.
The Anti-Finfinnee Group
This group sees PP-Oromo and OLF-Shene as adversarial forces, if not arch enemies, with different political agendas. They believe OLF-Shene is anti-Ethiopia with a long-standing agenda to build Greater Oromia on the ashes of Ethiopia. They see PP-Oromo as an OLF-Shene lite anchored in Finfinnee politics – a whitewashed version of the “greater Oromia” doctrine.
Finfinnee politics was embraced by the likes of Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba to differentiate themselves from OLF-Shene’s extremist agenda. It is to be remembered that Jawar was publicly calling not only for the arrest of Jaal Marroo, OLF-Shene’s strong man, but also for the arrest of Dawud Ibsaa, the head of OLF.
The Anti-Finfinnee Group sees the likes of Shimeles Abdissa and Adanech Abebe as leaders of Finfinnee politics. The two may not be fully in tune in views and allegiances to the tenets of PP Oromo. They may even be rivalry forces locked in power struggle within PP-Oromo, but they share similar political outlooks. They see Abiy’s reforms as the antithesis of the hegemonic Oromo
tribal federation. Simply put, they have more common political interests that tie them than power conflicts that rival them. Adanech has areas she aligns with Abiy and areas where she winks with Shimeles.
It is, therefore, in the best interest of the Shimeles-Adanech due to position itself between Abiy and OLF-Shene. That is why they see it fit to throw a red meat to their tribal base to prove they have not fully abandoned the 50-year struggle of the Oromo. The Oromo flag and anthem fiasco in Addis Ababa reflects this.
The Anti-Finfinnee Group has both legal and political standing to fight against Finfinnee politics. The question is: How can they scale up their struggle against Finfinnee politics without being sucked into the useful idiocy of Dawit-Meskerem-Vision Ethiopia blackhole that produces noise and heat, without power or light.
Pro-Abiy, but Anti PP-Oromo Group
In a broad sense, PP-Oromo consists of three groups. The first is the Abiy group that aspires to build a unified Ethiopia, tilting the political scale away from tribal politics. The second group consists of the Shimeles-Adanech duo with one foot in Jaal Marroo land and another in Abiy’s Menilik Palace. As I have noted in an earlier article, their trademark is their unpredictable tribalist sentiment that appears and disappears like herpes. The third group consists of OLF Shene moles who are officially part of PP-Oromo but work for OLF-Shene.
Which group emerges as the ultimate winner of the three determines not only the path Oromo politics will take but also the fate, the failure, or the possibility for Ethiopia’s rise. Unfortunately, in the short-term, the current momentum favors the Shimeles-Adanech duo clan. If this materializes, it will be a short-term victory. The power of tribal entropy will stifle the best and the brightest and bring to the fore the primitive and degenerative tribal forces. This dynamic favors OLF-Shene.
As I have said many a time, the PM is a visionary and a strategic thinker. Sadly, he is his own worst enemy. Because of his utterly poor management his reign is increasingly weakened. True, he is building many high-profile projects that are essential for Ethiopia. In the meantime, he is killing the bureaucracy with subpar appointees who lack competence to run critical institutions. He is increasingly losing support outside of Oromia and undermined by high-level PP-Oromo officials.
Months ago, he characterized the Shimeles-Adanech duo’s effort to institutionalize the Oromo flag and anthem in Addis as “የብሽሽቅ ፖለቲካ” and instructed them to stop it. The duo ignored him and continued to push the Oromo flag and anthem shenanigan. It does not stop there. His lack of control of PP-Oromo officials has allowed independent power center to emerge with impunity. Mafia-type kleptocracy units have become part of the PP-Oromo shadow government. Abiy was strong enough to win against Lemma Megers and create ODP. Today, he is a weakened soul seeing the Shimeles-Adanech duo helplessly as they defy him in a major political issue.
Whether we like him or not, Abiy is a better deal for Ethiopia than the Shimeles-Adanech duo and/or OLF-Shene. But Ethiopia is cursed with useful idiots who insist on weakening the PM and thereby strengthen the Shimeles-Adanech duo and OLF-Shene all in the name of saving Ethiopia from Oromo extremism. Hate, like love, makes you blind and dumb like a utility pole.
The Struggle Between Abiy, Shimeles-Adanech and OLF-Shene
The Oromo political dynamics raises many questions. The first question is what led to the rise of OLF-Shene? The second question is: Will the Shimeles-Adanech duo close ranks with Abiy to defeat OLF-Shene or continue to facilitate its rise and for how long?
There are three factors that allowed OLF-Shene to emerge as a formidable force.
First is the PM who failed it to nip it in the bud. He had the opportunity and power to eradicate it before it took traction and inertia. The PM’s utterly poor management can be explained by a firefighting management strategy. Rather than keeping his radar up to detect crisis signals and avert them before they happen or deal with them as soon as they materialize, the PM waits until political problems grow to a full-blown crisis. He is running the country like his pet project, making decisions from parking lots and parks to leading the military at the warfront. All problems must be solved by him to make himself the sole savior of Ethiopia, while the nation is burning waiting for his attention. This is nowhere clearer than in the way he handled OLF-Shene. He is killing the action in a slow motion.
Second, the PM failure to act in time allowed OLF-Shene reach a critical mass and become an insurance policy for the Shimeles-Adanech anti-reform clan to keep PM Abiy’s reform on a leash. Part of PP-Oromo became a fifth column that supports and protects OLF-Shene.
Third, the unexpected collapse of Team Jawar released part of the extremist Qerro establishment to join OLF-Shene. Similarly, the collapse of TPLF meant a new urgency to find a powerbase for federalist forces to counter PM Abiy’s Ethiopianist reform. Once again, the beneficiary is OLF Shene.
Jawar who has been calling for the arrest of Jaal Marroo is now calling for a negotiated settlement. At bottom, OLF-Shene has become the last hope for all tribalist forces, including the Shimeles-Adanech fifth column establishment, to put a break on Abiy’s planned reforms. Their hope is to find a negotiated settlement outside of the 11-member National Dialogue Commission whom they see as an anti- Ethnic Federalist Commission. Poor Abiy, the Oromo tribalists accuse him of being Menilik’s protégé and the anti-Oromo orthodoxy clowns call him the custodian of OLF-Shene’s agenda. Ingenuity has limits. Stupidity knows no boundary.
Will the Continued Rise of OLF-Shene Threaten the Shimeles-Adanech Duo?
Abiy may militarily defeat OLF-Shene, but he will not eradicate it from Oromo politics until he deals with the tribalist fifth column within PP-Oromo. The conundrum resides in the Shimeles-Adanech duo. Two matters complicate the problem. From the political perspective, the duo clan sees both utility and threat in OLF-Shene. From an economic point of view the shadow Oromo government that the Shimeles-Adanech run is a deep-rooted corruption network that percolates from Shimeles’
Oromo Palace and Adanech’s posh Municipal Office to Oromo political cadres the two have put in different layers of government offices.
The question is how far will the duo continue to facilitate the rise of OLF-Shene? Put differently, when will they close ranks with Abiy to defeat OLF-Shene? For an in-depth answer read my articles titled: “Who is More Stupid: Amhara or Oromo Tribal Intellectuals” (January 2021); “The Solution to Ethiopia’s Crisis Resides in PM Abiy and the Amhara Tribal Land” (April 2022); and “The Oromo Land of Blood and Gore Only PM Abiy and the Silent Majority Amhara Can Stop It” (June 2022).