Aklog Birara (Dr)
Part 2 of 3.
I provided the broad setting for this commentary in Part 1. In Part 2, I shall examine in greater detail the intent of the U.S Congressional hearing on Ethiopia held on November 30, 2023, that I was privileged to attend.
In Part 3, I shall offer a set of recommendations and action steps for consideration by the government of the United States as well as by the Ethiopian community in the Diaspora, especially Amhara.
I offered my own salient points Her Excellency Sahlework Zewdie, President of Ethiopia presented last week. By design, Ethiopia’s presidency is titular. Therefore, Sahlework Zewdie’s influence in terms of public policy and program is minimal. Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister, on the other hand wields a monopoly of power over both policy and programs.
By design, the Ethiopian ethnic federal system is void of checks and balances to prevent excesses of any sort. Opposition parties are non-existent. Civil society is weak. Peaceful dissent is banned. Independent media does not exist. This is the reason why Abiy is tyrannical.
I want to add that Sahlework Zewdie’s facial expression spoke volumes concerning the senseless and brutal bloodletting inflicted on the Ethiopian people, especially Tigreans during the two year war and Amhara over the past half century. Her speech may or may not resonate across the globe, especially in the West. But it might. Based on past practices, it is plausible that Abiy Ahmed and his diehard Oromo ethno-nationalists may act against Sahlework Zewdie too.
On December 12, Reuters confirmed the firing and incarceration of Ethiopia’s minister of peace, Taye Dendea. He is accused of plotting to overthrow the regime he has been serving loyally. It is reported that Abiy’s security apparatus planted evidence to buffet its action against Taye Dendea. So, there is more drama that we can expect from this incident.
Taye blamed the government for the failure of a second round of peace talks between Ethiopia and the rebel group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), which took place in Tanzania last month. It is clear Taye supports OLA/Shine.
Taye Dendea blasted Abiy Ahmed Ali calling him “a barbarian who plays with human blood,” a characterization I and millions of Ethiopians share. This “barbaric” man continues to import huge quantities of armaments, especially drones with the intent to “kill, maim and destroy Amhara.”
Evidence on the ground shows that Abiy Ahmed and his generals are among the crudest, most cruel, most blood thirsty, asinine, insane, anti-democratic, anti-Ethiopia, anti-brotherhood, anti diversity, “barbaric” and corrupt folks on this planet. This is why millions say five years of hell is enough!!
Taye Dendea is also quoted saying “I understand that you removed me from power because I stand for the for peace so that the killing of the brothers would stop.” The international community, especially the Biden Administration ought to consider the cataclysmic picture both Sahlework Zewdie and Taye Dendea are echoing.
Members of the Oromo community who believe in justice, the rule of law, genuine equality, fair play, brotherhood among all ethnic groups, democracy and Ethiopia’s continuity as a country have a plethora of evidence to reject and eject Ethiopia’s “barbaric” leadership. Abiy’s regime does not represent ordinary Oromo let alone Ethiopia’s future.
On the other side of the debate, it is clear from ground level evidence that Fano represents Ethiopia’s core values and its future. Fano treats captured soldiers with a high level of respect, demonstrating brotherhood and human decency irrespective of ethnicity and faith affiliation. It treats girls and women with respect. It never ever destroys economic or social infrastructure. Fano commitment to Ethiopia is beyond reproach.
The Ethiopian ex-military officer and current social media phenome, Omer Ejersa is on the mark when he said “Fano is the future of Ethiopia.”
The opposite is true of the “barbaric,” and militarist Oromo elite-led regime Taye Denea critiqued sharply.
I mentioned the official reason why U.S. Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer traveled to Ethiopia. It is to assess implementation of the Pretoria Agreement. But there is more to it than that, I believe. Mike Hammer knows fully that Ethiopia is in trouble. It faces existential threat. So does Amhara.
The government of the United States knows well that the war between the TPLF and the Abiy regime demonstrates the dire effects of war and “Brothers killing brothers.” Close to one million Tigrean perished. Hundreds of thousands of Afar, Amhara and others died. Amhara civilians are being killed each day. Tigrean and Amhara youth face a bleak future because of war and ethnic animosity promoted by ethnic political and social elites.
The financial cost is estimated at $28 billion. Since then, Abiy’s war of state and government terrorism against Amhara has caused the deaths of hundreds, the rape or more than 200 Amhara girls and women, the destruction of an estimated two billion dollars of social and economic infrastructure in the Amhara region alone. This is a low estimate.
Drones: Field Marshall Berhanu Jula’s weapons of choice
Ethiopia is a heavily indebted country. One Ethiopian economist who has done research estimates that Ethiopia’s total foreign debt stands at $50 billion.
Ethiopia does not have foreign exchange to import medicines that save lives. Debt repayments will affect generations to come. Yet, Abiy Ahmed spends millions of dollars and other hard currencies and imports heavy weapons like drone, primarily from his closest ally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is fully aware that the drones and bullets that it continues to avail to Abiy Ahmed, and his generals are used to kill and maim innocent civilians and to destroy economic capacity of the Amhara population. By implication, the UAE is a partner in war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of rape, crimes of genocide and economic crimes.
The use of drones against innocent civilians is costly in human, psychological and economic terms. Abiy and his Chief of Staff figure that fighting Fano on the ground has proven deadly for their army. They are losing thousands of combatants. They therefore figure the most effective way to combat and subdue the Amhara population that supports Fano is to use drones and kill as many Amhara as possible.
I urge all Ethiopians and the international community to recognize the following facts. The operational cost of each drone deployed each day is $50,000. Abiy and his Chief of Staff have so far conducted 100 drone attacks against innocent Amhara civilians since Abiy Ahmed launched his war against Amhara seven months ago. I estimate hundreds of children, women and the elderly have perished.
The estimated operational cost to Ethiopia of these 100 scandalous, irresponsible and “barbaric” drone-based attacks against the Amhara population is 5 million dollars. This is foreign exchange that could have been used to buy medicines and other essentials that save lives.
In the light of this irresponsible and scandalous use of foreign exchange by Abiy Ahmed and his die hard and ethnicized military, it is prudent for bilateral and multilateral donors to cease providing aid until the horror of war, ethnic cleansing and ethnic genocide of Amhara and Ethiopia’s slippery road of no return stop.
Amhara in the Diaspora and all Ethiopians who believe in justice, human rights, the rule of law and democracy have an obligation to challenge the UAE. Among other things, they can write letters and appeal to the United Nations Security Council, and lodge complaints to the ICC.
In this connection, I commend the Diaspora community that sent a well-crafted letter of appeal to UAE Ambassadors in NYC and Washington DC. Protest marches in front of UAE embassies across the globe will raise global awareness and should be considered.
“There is more than one way to skin a cat.”
Abiy Ahmed’s regime is determined to use different tools to diminish the Amhara population.
I urge you to consider that Ethnic cleansing and genocide take different forms—killing, starving displacing, dispossessing, demeaning, and depriving Amhara children the education they need and deserve. If you wish to diminish a specific ethnic group, the best tool is to degrade and incapacitate future generations. This is being done to Amhara children.
All schools in the Amhara region are closed. This intentional scheme to deny access to education will have far reaching consequences on Amhara wellbeing in the decades to come. The same is true in Tigray. Whether they accept or not, Tigreans and Amhara are effectively on the losing side under Abiy Ahmed. If they wish to survive, they must build bridges and improve relations now.
The urgency of now for the U.S. to act.
A reminder that on November 30, 2023, The US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa chaired by Congressman John James (Republican) held a timely hearing on “Ethiopia: Promise or Perils, The State of U.S. Policy.” Witnesses included Mike Hammer, US Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa and Tyler Beckelman, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Africa, U.S Agency for International Development.
I believe the motivating factor behind this hearing is Amhara defiance and Fano insurgency. It is not clear to me that the Biden Administration’s State Department movers and shakers recognize the reasons why Amhara Fano started fighting against Abiy Ahmed’s “barbaric” military establishment. Contrary to the norm, Abiy’s Oromo dominated and commanded military serves on the behest of the Prime Minister, his Oromo dominated Prosperity Party as well as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). They operate in tandem.
The U.S. knows this is the first time in Ethiopia’s long history that Ethiopai’s military has taken sides, attacking, killing, maiming and displacing innocent civilians. The daily use of drones and other heavy weapons financed by Ethiopian taxpayers to go after and kill Amhara civilians, engender fear among children and destroy social and economic infrastructure is unprecedented in the 21st century.
I am confident that in their heart of hearts, American policy and decision-makers understand that Amhara do not have any other option but to defend themselves. The right of self-defense is a core principle of the UN Charter and is routinely espoused by the U. S. The most recent examples include the Russia-Ukraine war and the war between Hamas and Israel. The government of the United States is prominent in both.
Amhara Fano is not doing anything different. Fano is conducting a defensive war with the sole intent of mitigating the existential threat faced by all Amhara regardless of where they live.
One would have therefore thought rightly that the Biden administration would recognize and acknowledge Fano’s resistance as just and legitimate. One would have also thought that state and government sponsored terrorism undermines American values and U. S. national security.
Part 3 of the article is available HERE
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