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Ethiopian Diaspora Constitutional Conference (Updated with part 2 and Part 3)

Image : aoc.gov

U.S. Senate Russel Building, Kennedy Caucus Room

Washington, DC 
November 6, 2023 

Ethiopia’s Quest for Peace, Stability, Human and National Security—why ethnic federalism is a barrier? 

Presentation by Aklog Birara (Dr)

Part 1 of 4

I am privileged to attend this forum on Ethiopia at this iconic place that I love and admire. To the best of my knowledge this is the first time that a Black Africa Diaspora community convened a major conference at Capitol Hill. 

I thank my good friend Mr. Mesfin Mekonnen, all ten sponsoring diaspora organizations as well as members of Congress who made this first of its kind happen here. 

The setting is befitting for three reasons: a) The US Constitution with its preamble “We the people” represents the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of hundreds of millions of young people throughout Africa and the rest of the world b) Ethio-US diplomatic relations span 120 years. The foundational principles of bilateral relations between the US and Ethiopia revolve around the promotion of peace, stability, and economic development. Ethiopian soldiers served shoulder to shoulder with Americans during the Korean war, and c) The US is the most preferred destination for Ethiopians. Nearly one million people of Ethiopian origin are members of the American big tent. 

The US is Ethiopia’s largest bilateral donor. I estimate that between 1950 and the end of 2022, Ethiopia received one hundred-billion- dollars in private, NGO sponsored, bilateral and multilateral aid.  Between 1991 and 2018 alone USAID amounted to $30 billon. Tens of billons of aid money has been taken out of Ethiopia illicitly.  

Missed opportunity.  

Had Ethiopia used aid to build bridges, roads, rails, irrigation and power dams, factories and schools, this investment would have lifted Ethiopia out of endemic poverty and created favorable conditions for a resilient economy

Sadly, Aid a) has not transformed the structure of the Ethiopian economy b) has not enabled Ethiopia to achieve food self-sufficiency and food security c) has not increased Ethiopia’s middle-class d) has not generated two million jobs per year to accommodate the needs of young people who enter the work force each year. 

During my 30 years with the World Bank, especially when I served as a Senior Advisor, I used to ask task managers if they monitored and evaluated the use of aid funds. I must say they did their best. But the ultimate responsibility for aid effectiveness, they told me, resides in the hands of government entities and not donors. 

This is where Ethiopia failed. Tens of billions of dollars of aid money has taken out of Ethiopia illicitly. Pilferage has increased. 

Based on human development indices, Ethiopia is still one of the poorest and aid dependent countries on this planet. In 2022, Ethiopia ranked 175th out of 191 countries

The government of Ethiopia is alleged to squander $15 billion dollars investing in luxury projects—palaces and luxury resorts while an estimated twenty-eight (OCHA) to thirty-one million Ethiopians (Ethiopian experts) suffer from hunger and 5.1 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance

Last month, Ethiopia held a military parade showcasing Russian made Krasukha -4 electronic warfare system. 

On November 2, 2023, Fitch “downgraded Ethiopia deeper into junk territory citing gaps in the country’s external financing.” This is likely to lead to default

This backdrop leads me to the topic I intend to address—why is peace, stability, human and national security illusive in Ethiopia?

What threats does Ethiopia face today? 

The answer is multiple. 

  • The possibility of war with Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River?
  • Growing tensions with Eritrea concerning Ethiopia’s assertive claim of a port or ports on the Red Sea?
  • A terrorist attack by ISIS? 
  • Possible collapse of the Ethiopian economy, the country’s debt crisis and possible default? 

These are worrisome for sure. But these are not as critical as human security. 

I contend today that the most imminent threat in Ethiopia is ethnic genocide of Amhara. This is not hyperbole. It is real. Amhara genocide has been in the making for 50 years. 

In 1991, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) formed the anti-Amhara and anti-individual human rights Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front dominated state and government. The regime adopted and imposed the current ethnicity and language-based Constitution on the Ethiopian people without their consent. 

Ethiopia went through a horrific two-year war and is going through a second one as we hold this conference. The sources are systemic and structural. 

In addition to the human toll, the threat has geopolitical, national security and strategic implications for the United States and the entire African continent. 

Allow me to elaborate. 

Evidence shows there has not been peace, stability, human and national security under the watch of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over the past 5 years. Amhara bear the scars of what I call Ethiopia’s tragedy of ethnicity based recurring demonization, killings, incarcerations of tens of thousands and displacements of more than one million. These occurrences show no sign of relief. They are tearing Ethiopian society apart. 

In addition to posing a national security risk for the United States; it has a ripple effect on the rest of the Horn and Eastern Africa as well as the Red Sea Corridor. If not contained now, it will lead to an all-out ethnicity-based civil war and the disintegration of Ethiopia. 

Genocide and War are the last things Ethiopia needs.

Ethiopia went through a catastrophic two-year war (2020-2022). Considered by experts as the worst war since the Second World War, more than one million Afar, Amhara, Tigrean and other Ethiopians perished. Hundreds of thousands are wounded.  The cost of this devastating war is $28 billion. No one has been held accountable for atrocities. 

The untold story of Amhara genocide in Ethiopia. 

The Ethiopian census is a practical joke. It is heavily politicized and ethnicized. Authorities are determined to show that Amhara numbers are on the decline. Six million Amhara are unaccounted for. The strategic intent of Amhara ethnic cleansing, displacement, dispossession, and the like are to demonstrate to the world that Amhara is a minority. 

My assessment is different. Over the past half century, the Amhara population, an Indigenous people of Semitic origin representing more than 50 million Ethiopians—36 million in the Amhara region, 11 to 15 million in Oromia, an estimated 3 million in Addis Ababa, 700,000 in Beni Shangul Gumuz (65 percent of the population) and hundreds of thousands more in many parts of Ethiopia— has been vilified, targeted for ethnic cleansing, genocide, disempowerment, displacement

I would like to urge you to listen to an interview Ato Mesfin Mekonnen and I had with the Zewdu TV show today and a compelling analysis by a Westerner, Jeff Pearce, who has given a great deal of time and attention to the ongoing Amhara genocide that corporate media ignores to his day. 

Part 2 of 4 will follow shortly. 

Watch 

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com ›

(Jeff Pearce on Amhara genocide, September 21, 2023)

Ethiopian Diaspora Constitutional ConferencePart 2
Ethiopian Diaspora Constitutional Conference
Part 3

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

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