By Lewut Aykerim
In his book The Art of the Deal, Donald J. Trump said, “Good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all.” This principle is what Trump uses daily to dominate the narrative and stay relevant in American politics. Even at times when a strong narrative builds like a wave to destroy his position and relevance, he provides negative news about himself, which has no substantive effect on his political career. Any publicity for Trump is publicity as far as he controls the narrative.
After Fano raised their arms against his government and gained momentum across the political spectrum, Abiy Ahmed created an agenda called the Grand Narrative to stay relevant in the political arena. He devised an ill-intentioned foreign policy that would lead him into confrontation with neighboring countries like Eritrea and Djibouti. He galvanized his government infrastructure to propagate his Red Sea and Port agenda and even claimed that he was going to war with Eritrea, that he would take Aseb Port in a few days, and so on. The media magnified it. His cadres appeared on TV, and social media propagated it until it became an agenda of the international community. However, when he faced massive opposition from regional countries and the international community, that narrative faded since it had no real substance.
Abiy enjoyed a victory for a while by dominating the news cycle. However, he felt diminished when he lost the case regarding the Red Sea presence and Port agenda. Nonetheless, the Fano victory persists, and their appeal to most Ethiopians is growing. Abiy should devise another foreign policy strategy to regain the top spot in the news. This agenda must be significant enough to prompt immediate reactions from even powerful nations. That’s when he came up with the idea of engaging with Somaliland, officially known as the Republic of Somaliland, an unrecognized state in the Horn of Africa. Internationally, it is considered a de jure part of Somalia, and the world does not recognize it as a separate country. The fact that the deal with Somaliland involves the Port adds to its significance. Why not? He signed an MoU with the Somaliland president and announced it as if it were the gift of God. His cadres, media, and social media personalities immediately propagated that narrative as usual. Abiy always needs a compelling narrative to help him dominate the rising force and counter the daily dismantling of his military and government. The fact that everyone is talking about it means his method is working. However, the main challenge of his government, the Fano movement, persists.
These negative foreign policy narratives diminish his image and leadership status daily. In the past, he was highly engaged in creating a wave of positive grand narratives that helped him dominate the political arena locally, regionally, or globally: making peace with Eritrea, which earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, planting trees to receive awards for climate issues, and so on. However, those days are over. The whole world has now recognized his true personality. Therefore, he is resorting to creating dangerous grand narratives that can help him dominate the daily news. The following scenarios could be that he decides to send his army to assist Russia in the conflict against Ukraine, or he may choose Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to become the Ethiopian President. One may argue that these are unrealistic proposals, and he cannot develop such foolish ideas. Exactly, that is the point. While the rest of the world focuses on these nonsensical grand narratives, he is winning by diverting attention from the real issues; that is, Fano will topple his government soon.
Fano has become the beacon of hope for the whole country. It is a people’s movement for justice, equality, and freedom. Every Ethiopian across the regions and zones of the country is eagerly awaiting Fano’s arrival at 4-kilo. Abiy made a huge mistake when he decided to send his military to the Amhara region, solely to subdue the people there by force. Anyone who advised him to act this way has led him to make the biggest mistake of his life. Now, the military is crumbling daily. According to the TPLFites’ closed-door meeting assessment, the whole of the Ethiopian army will collapse if Fano persists only for a few months. The higher officials of the Abiy government are leaving the country in many ways. The country’s economy is crumbling, and the political vision of Abiy and his cohorts is rejected by many people in Oromia, Amhara, and Tigray regions. 70% of the country is outside his administration right now. His administration is only functional in Addis Ababa, media, and social media. As long as he is perceived as a leader, he will continue creating agendas to undermine the Fano movement in the country.
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