By Meyisaw kassa
FANO’s struggle for freedom, equality, and justice should overcome the paradox many stakeholders create in the country’s current context. Merriam-Webster definition of the word paradox is given as “one (such as a person, situation, or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases; a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true; a self-contradictory statement that at first seems true; an argument that derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises; a tenet contrary to received opinion.” In line with this definition, there are different opinions, propaganda, and claims against FANO’s struggle. On one side, some voices want to minimize the significance of the current resistance or fight of the FANO forces. On the other side, some exaggerate the momentum and the dynamics of the struggle out of proportion and context, creating a paradox, which in turn can, in the long run, contribute to increasing the number of deniers, minimizers, and skeptics about the cause of the fight. This piece points out the sources of such paradoxes and addresses each so that FANO comes out victorious for the sake of the Amhara People and the whole country.
Paradox created by the Government Propagandist
FANO had and is enjoying a significant victory over the government forces across the Amhara region within a short period. This gave them a vast recognition not just within the region and the country but beyond the nation’s borders, across the African continent and international stage. Their discipline, strategy, and effectiveness in neutralizing the highly equipped government forces within a short time and toppling out the regional government that aligned with the central government are historical and monumental. Due to that, the government’s posture to lead a country of hundreds and millions of people has been diminished to the lowest level. This has been noticed by the people within the nation, in the region, and even on the global stage. This forced the government people and its allies to devise paradoxes that could diminish FANO and its momentum.
Many claim that a good part of war strategy is propaganda quality. Sometimes, propaganda can even be everything you need to win a war. After ordering many rounds of military operations with full force in the region, the military’s top commanders reported to the prime minister that they could not win over the FANO people-based struggle. The young, inexperienced, and stubborn leader resisted to accept defeat. Instead, he started to escalate the propaganda war in different ways: creating a grand narrative, inaugurating Ethiopia’s modern army, using the perception of drone power to dominate the fight, claiming port and the Red Sea presence, even aspiring to go to war with neighbors like Eritrea by calming to utilize the ten billion dollar economy of the country to fight. All these engagements have one thing in common: to stay above in the propaganda war and diminish the cause of FANO by creating a perception that FANOs are nothing compared to the government that controls the tank, the bank and the diplomacy in the country and beyond.
Many think tankers, cadres, and activists aligned with the Ethiopian government have tried to amplify the Prime minister’s strategy to diminish FANO. To provide one good example, the role model of the prime minister and many Oromo elites, Mr. Lencho Leta, came out on Bettey’s show to systematically undermine and discredit the purpose of FANO’s war and why they are fighting for it. He undermined the momentum created by FANO’s war strategy. He questioned their unity. He even said that their fighting can not help them gain the central government, “የደፈጣ ውግያ እስከዛሬ መንግስት ጥሎ አላየንም.” He also called for negotiations, which is the current strategy of the government to come out of the mess it created by sending its military into the peaceful region six months ago by listening to this same man’s advice.
Paradox created by doubters and skeptical people
Some people are expressing genuine doubt about FANO’s current momentum, especially among the diaspora and intellectuals in the country. Some doubt if their struggle matches the government forces, which have vast military power, budget, hardware, and infrastructure. They genuinely think the FANO’s struggle is a localized activity that can not affect the whole country. Others are skeptical about the victory claims of these fighters over the government-aligned forces. Fano’s core military strategy is a lightning hit-and-run guerrilla tactic. They can capture big towns and cities briefly for different purposes: release political prisoners, storm arms depots, and attack key enemy targets, which include the local militia and law enforcement people and military personnel.
These people do not understand, “How did FANO achieve in only six months what TPLF achieved in more than 30 years of organization and fighting?” The Oromo elites like Lencho Leta have struggled for over a decade but have never succeeded. Only in the past five years, as part of the TPLF-led government, did they manage to take power since they were in the proximity of power, not just since they were strong enough to topple a government. TPLF took 15 years to free the Tigray region from the DERG military and its enablers within the Tigray community. Fano took a few months to overthrow Abiy’s regional government wing, the Amhara Prosperity Party. The existing “administration” in the Amhara region is just a symbolic one. To save the leader and his party from the shame of the defeat by FANO.
Paradox created by fainthearted people and those who like the statuesque
There are those who are weary and fainthearted, not confident or brave, and dislike taking unnecessary risks. They see the sacrifice of the people in the region. The drone attacks harm many civilians. The military forces usually take revenge on civilians whenever they lose a fight with FANO or when FANO fighters attack and annihilate the government forces using lightning hit-and-run guerrilla tactics. They see or hear about how people suffer due to the abuse of the military forces and the lack of peace and order in towns across the Amhara region. They think such a struggle should not continue for long. When the people’s suffering is prolonged, what might come in the future may not be worth all the misery. This happened to the Tigray people, who suffered the most by following TLFites to fight with many enemies. They might have a point; however, the struggle for survival and existence with dignity is not for the fainthearted. ድሮም የፈራ ይመለስ ይባል ነበር.
Some want the statuesque to continue. It could be that they are benefiting from it, or they are allergic to change. It is obvious that few people benefit from the system due to their network and connections, while the majority suffer in the region and across the country. So, the privileged and the ones who usually hate or fear change, in general, engage in rumors against the FANO’s struggle. Even some of the most famous scholars and religious leaders are among these groups. In the past few days, the Archbishop of North Wollo and Kemise Diocese and member of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, His Grace Abune Ermias, has become unpopular after he criticized the FANO forces for executing 11 forces who were positioned at the S. Lalibela Church. The Archbishop has claimed a balanced view, but his critics have said he stands with the government doubting and undermining FANO’s strategy.
The government has devised a strategy of infighting with the Amhara people with each other after it lost a good proportion of its military personnel and military hardware in the six-month many-round war. Due to that, the FANO fighters have claimed that they have advised and sent messages to anyone in the Amhara region who is assisting and helping the government to cease any cooperation with the government. Otherwise, they will act swiftly. That has become part of their grand strategy. This has become painful for many families in the region. That is what the Archbishop claims in part when he expresses his skepticism about FANO’s strategy.
Advice for FANO: Overcome the Paradox
FANOs should understand that propaganda is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view. They should focus on the prize of their struggle: justice, equality, and freedom for the Amhara people and all Ethiopians. They should not entertain such deceptive force claims against them and their cause for struggle. For the most part, they are doing it. However, a deliberate and conscious engagement to minimize the paradox that the enemies of the struggle, the doubters and the skeptics, and even the fainthearted create continually to build momentum even beyond the region.
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