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Present System in Ethiopia – The reign of “የጎበዝ አለቃ”

OLF shane army on training (Photo credit : Ethiopia Insight)

By Gobena Tulema
Updated on May 31, 2023

What can best describe the present system in Ethiopia? Looking at the outskirts, institutions like the executive, legislative, judicial branches, the media, like Arat-kilo,  cabinet, parliament, courts,  military, foreign affairs, and so on are working as they should be.  However, if one looks carefully and thoroughly, one can easily identify that the system is controlled and led by “የጎበዝ አለቆች” ( translated as warlords). 

The reign of warlords is not a new thing. It has been in many places worldwide and still affects many countries. For example, Ethiopia had it in the past; the Republic of China had a period in which the country was divided and ruled by various military groups and warlords following the death of Yuan Shikai, a Chinese military and government official (1859 – 1916).  Warlords and militias plague the Central African Republic (CAR). One can read the following text about CAR on the pages of  ACCORD: “The country experienced violent conflict as a result of armed competitors attempting to usurp or maintain political leadership and power and plagued by a persistent weakening of state institutions; democratic, social, and political structures; a faltering economy that fails to benefit the population; and militias, armed youths, bandits and widespread civilian criminality. The state remains synonymous with violence, extrajudicial executions, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, and rampant corruption. Within this context, the 2013–2015 conflict continues to be reported as dichotomous religious violence, perpetrated by government troops and militias, culminating in civil and communal conflict… .” It seems to be a text about Ethiopia right now. 

The civil war in Syria has the same pattern too. On one side, there is a government with military hardware, and on the other side, there are many warlords and militias that are highly supported and financed by many external actors. The present conflict in Sudan can also be viewed from the perspective of warlords. There are two main groups: the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which also involve many other actors. One article suggests that to solve the problem in Sudan, just cutting off finance to these warlords can pressure them to stop the fighting. Maybe!  There is no shortage of examples of the reign of  “የጎበዝ አለቃ.” It is all over the world. It seems it is happening by design across the globe by those who want to control the world; economically, politically, ideologically, and socially.  

 What is happening in Ethiopia is not exceptional. The reign of “የጎበዝ አለቃ” is functioning in full display. When we see the TPLF/TDF regional forces attacking the Northern command of the national army, breaking out the start of a two-year-long war and killing about one million people; when the two neighboring regions defend themselves from the rage of the TPLF/TDF forces in the two-year war conflict by strengthening or building their regional special forces and militia; when we see OLA forces, the government calls them ONEG SHENE,  that are disintegrated and scattered but controlling the vast majority of the Oromia region advancing to the capital in alarming speed; when we see the people resistance movement in Amhara region growing to the maximum, the government calls them FANO; and when we see the government military forces engagement in attacking selectively the forces that are perceived to take power by force then we can officially say that we are in the age of Warlords! 

Most of all, beyond the conflicts and wars happening in the country, how the people in the government function look like warlords. The Prime minister controls the central government’s power, the PM office. He uses that office power to build parks, lodges, and recreation places. The Mayor of Addis controls the housing market and buildings in Addis;  the president of the Oromia region controls the office where he works and uses the power of the office to advance his and his family and friends’ financial interests;  the Mayor of Sheger City controls the demolishing of the houses in the name of building ‘new city’; the field marshal and his colleagues controls the formal military forces and use their position to empower themselves financially; the lady with expensive colorful dresses bought by her ambassadors across the globe in the Ministry of foreign affairs controls that office, and uses it to empower her network and so on. Mind you, we say, they all control their respective offices like warlords, exactly the same as the OLA leader in Shashemene villages, the OLA leader in Sululta, the OLA leader in Kiremu, … and so on. By the way, the main force controlling the Oromia region is not the central government but the unorganized OLA forces across the region. Just go out a few kilometers outside of each city across the region, and you get their camps.  The majority, if not all the rural area of the Oromia region is under these forces. 

All those involved did not yet manage to build a system that was well crafted and had a coherent structure. They are all functioning like warlords. They seem to act in unity. But they do not have such innate nature. At least the previous system, the TPLF-led EPRDF government, had a strong ideological and philosophical foundation, like “the principle of democratic centralization.” One may say ‘Medemer’ is a philosophy or ideology. It is not! It has no organic nature. It is a fake one. It worked at the beginning. Actually, the founder, the current PM,  has applied the saying  ‘fake it until you make it’ principle and galvanized support across the political, ethnic, and religious spectrums at the start. But failed miserably when real issues surfaced since it had no real substance. 

He tries to please the new ‘friends,’ TPLFites,  and their enablers, foreigners. But he is alienated from the source of his real power, the support of most country-loving Ethiopians. His prominent enemies are primarily the TPLFites, who now act like his ‘friends’ after the Pretoria agreement. But they are waiting for their revenge against him. They have got a chance to build momentum to destroy him due to the favorable situations existing in the system, which they have invested highly in the past but did not materialize since he had huge support at the beginning of his reign that resisted and dismantled their schemes.  

Such a weak and fable governing can crumble at any moment. The noise that is building against it is increasing. He is in a panic mood now.  Since he claims control over the formal military, central intelligence, and artificial intelligence,  he attacks those who deem undermining his government inside the country. Around 30 thousand prominent journalists, scholars, investors, religious figures, and so on are kidnapped and taken to undisclosed locations, and they are being tortured right now as we speak. Like the city of Jericho, which is crumbled by the marching and shouting of the people, this government can fall to its knees soon as the people rise in unity. Who knows, even these different warlords may fight each other, as seen in many places worldwide. If his warlords think he is liable for their existence, they may even think the unthinkable. 

Abiy Ahmed Ali has lost all credibility, but he may try to sustain his power like Bashar Al Assad without governing the rest of the country. But he needs a strong ally like Russia who sustained the weak Syrian government. He needs resources to fund the area he and his warlords’ control. But it seems his days are numbered unless he repents and changes his course. Even that might be too late for many since his flip-flops were too many. 

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. The emergence of warlords in present Ethiopia is a good thing. We should aspire for the creation of many other warlords to come into the political scene. With that scenario, Abiy Ahmed will lose control of more territories, his brutal army will be demoralized and we the people get our freedom. Of course there may be skirmish competing for power here and there, but that is insignificant compared to our ultimater liberty. The continuation of Abiy in power is very dangerous for our safety than the threat warlords could inflict up on us. We should start from zero to get our freedom.

    viva warlords!!!

  2. Subject:” Present System in Ethiopia – The reign of “የጎበዝ አለቃ” “, By Gobena Tulema, May 30, 2023

    Humble Reaction
    a) “የጎበዝ አለቃ” >>>> Has it not been like that in Ethiopian History for seemingly time immemorial???
    b) If we are puzzled by the present upheaval in Ethiopia, it is because the people refuse to face the reality in Ethiopia.
    c) What is happening in Ethiopia is glaring enough for the world to see.
    d) Ethiopia is digging its own grave by the usual ugly and dangerous squabbling among RACES.
    e) It is a question of time before the ancient, renowned country ETHIOPIA is –at last– disintegrated into pieces.
    f) ) WHY? Because the 20th Century various Ethiopian individual tribes adamantly wish to be so, thus leading themselves
    to reality i.e. TOTAL SELF-DESTRUCTION. THE END

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