Saturday, May 25, 2024
HomeOpinionExploring Contentious Issues, Oversimplifications, and Common Errors

Exploring Contentious Issues, Oversimplifications, and Common Errors

“Men are only clever at shifting blame from their own shoulders to those of others.” – Titus Livius (59 BC–17 AD)

Fano fighters ( Photo : from the web)

By Mekuria 

After initially praising Abiy Ahmed and dismissing critics as either extreme Amharas or anti-Oromos, some newly emerged political commentators on Ethiopia have now shifted their stance to criticize him harshly. Previously, these pundits viewed Fano as having radical ideas on par with Qeerro. These critics are now pointing out mistakes made by Abiy Ahmed, whether they genuinely believe in them or are simply trying to align themselves with the Fano movement for relevance.  I have no problem with that. People shift positions when they see things not going the right way. What is astonishing is that they still harshly condemn those who were initially correct about Abiy. They have not achieved even 1% of what Shaleqa Dawit and Eskinder Nega have accomplished, whether in politically defining the evil Abiy Ahmed or in supporting the Fano and Amhara movement. Amharas should be aware of this. Individuals are evaluated based on their records. A rational intellectual who supports the Amhara cause should refrain from criticizing those who are working hard for the Amhara cause, and instead concentrate on offering constructive ideas, uplifting them, and providing assistance.

Despite their noisy stance, let’s examine their recent concerns about the Fano movement and analyze the “obstacles” that may have hindered its ‘assumed’ progress by considering various perspectives and realities. It is also essential to address common misconceptions about Fano and some aspects of contentious issues in Ethiopia.

Amharas should have a monolithic view

There is a misconception that all Amharas should have the same perspective on the Ethiopian state and engage in a blame game regarding why certain goals have not been achieved. Some critics fault the Amhara community for lacking strong leadership while simultaneously discouraging them from uniting and consolidating by promoting a national identity over their Amhara heritage. The inflammatory rhetoric of ethno-fascists, along with the actions of TPLF and Oromo extremists over the past 27 years and the ruling OPDO-PP party for 6 years, have led to divergent viewpoints among the Amhara community compared to what is traditionally known.
There are three prevailing thoughts among the Amhara community currently. The Amhara in this definition encompasses those who come from tribal lands or have moved from their original settlement areas, or those who, by virtue of interaction, have preferred the thinking lines of the Amharas and have mastered the Amharic language or have totally accepted Amhara values.

1) There are those who advocate for a return to the old provincial model in Ethiopia. Supporters of this approach believe that it is based on geography and could help alleviate tensions between different ethnic groups. The establishment of large states such as Oromia and Amhara has led to power struggles and increased tensions. They argue that Ethiopia has never experienced the level of ethnic violence seen today because the previous constitution did not promote ethnic rivalry. This viewpoint is predominantly held by individuals over the age of 60.

2) The second group of Amharas argues that although there is merit in this concept, others fear that Ethiopian politics have been poisoned and the way out is to accept ethnic federalism but Amhara becomes in firm control of its region without direct interference from the center. Within this second group of proponents, there are two ways of thinking: some believe that leaders at the highest position should be Amhara and no outsiders, while others say bloodline does not matter as long as the state structure functions in the interest of an Amhara state, and more than blood, what is important is how the bureaucracy is established to safeguard Amhara state interests, which dictates any leader coming to abide by. Proponents of the second generation are the younger ones in the 20th and 30th year’s old gap.

3) A third group calls for an independent Amhara who is friendly with neighboring Eritrea, Djibouti, Afar, and Somalia. These proponents believe Amhara has enough resources and manpower to rely on. Restoring the lost territories in Gojam, Gonder, Wello, and Shewa puts Amhara in the driver’s seat to build a strong nation and economy. Proponents of the last alternative are the middle-aged group, 40 to 60 years. These people urge Amhara professionals from all walks of life to prepare a working document for the birth of a new country in East Africa that is governed by the principles of non-aligned nations in the footsteps of His Imperial Majesty Haileselassie’s principles of foreign relationships.

One common denominator among all these groups of thinkers is their full support for the Fano movement and their agreement that Abiy Ahmed is a genocidal leader with the intent to wipe out Amharas or Amhara interests. They all concur that the Amhara people have not received proper representation in the Ethiopian state and assert that Amharas should play a central role in governance and should not be manipulated by others.

Fano manifesto

The idea of Fano preparing a manifesto has been a hot topic in certain sections of the Ethiopian Diaspora. Some argue that the West wants to help Fano but requires a roadmap and a manifesto. Others say a manifesto is not necessary, contending that Fano is a freedom fighter aimed at emancipating the Amhara from the genocidal Abiy, similar to how the Russians freed themselves from fascist Germany, the Vietnamese liberated themselves from US imperialism, Cambodia won its independence from France, and the Chinese liberated themselves from Japan. Ethiopia also liberated itself from fascist Italy without the need for a manifesto. Some even argue that the TPLF, with the full intent to destroy the Ethiopian Federation, received full support from the international community, including the USA, Europe, and the UN. While having a Fano manifesto is not necessarily a negative thing, it is not a crucial document to rely on as the international community shows limited interest in the Amhara cause. Amharas can only assert their rights through their strength, similar to the Taliban. Whichever idea gains momentum, the so-called manifesto must reconcile the three views of the Amhara stated above. It must have room to accommodate these opinions and be addressed democratically.

Unified Fano leadership

The call for unified leadership of Fano has been on the horizon since the strongest Fano movement occurred in August 2023. Encouraged by the breakup of the Amhara PP bureaucracy, some in the Diaspora relentlessly campaigned for unified leadership. However, this call has moderately damaged the working relations of Fanos. The pressured Fano had to compete for power to realize this. The once coordinated attack on the PP army slowed down because of this toxic approach. Leadership must come through battle gains on the ground. As one Fanon group amasses more troops and gains fighting strength leaders start to emerge.  The strongest army and the army with the greatest fighting force should, by default, assume power as the fight gains momentum reaching the gates of Addis Ababa. These are the rules of battles. That is how Emperor Theodros, Yohannes, and Menilik gained power in Ethiopia. You do not create army leaders through Shengo-like elections. Ethiopian Diaspora intellectuals are writing in a field they do not know. At this point, what we should aspire to is a single leadership in each of the four provinces of Amhara. This needs its own process and has to be done by the Fanos on the ground free from our pressure. Once this is achieved, the four Fano leaders will work in consultation as they move their army to attack Abiy’s army. It should continue like that until a unified leadership appears by itself. The process will create it. Our role should be limited to assisting them financially and diplomatically.

Non-violence movement works

Proponents of this idea claim to have extensive experience in Ethiopian politics and believe they possess the wisdom to teach and lead the ideals of peaceful protest, yet they are nowhere to be found on the ground. In reality, they have fled for their lives citing many excuses. These proponents are known in Ethiopia for their “third way” approach to politics, which involves criticizing the government when it errs and supporting it when it does well, a concept they refer to as constructive criticism. Despite their long-standing presence in Ethiopian politics, they have been overshadowed by ethnonationalists and have hindered the Amhara people from organizing effectively as they compete for support from the Amhara community.

What exactly is this “third way” of politics? Is it similar to saying Trump should be praising Biden when he performs well and criticizing him when he falters? This notion seems absurd and suggests a loss of moral and political opposition compass. In reality, there is no “third way” in politics; you are either a member of the ruling party or an opposition figure aiming to challenge the governing party’s ideology and methods of operation. In Ethiopia, there is no progress to be made through nonviolent movements alone. Without armed resistance, freedom and democratic rights cannot be achieved in Ethiopia. When the going gets tough, proponents of peaceful struggle hide. When they see an opportunity opening up like the one due to the Fano movement, they raise side issues, insert themselves, and preach about the importance of peaceful movements. Some in this camp cite South Africa, India, and the USA as examples of how nonviolence struggle helped bring about liberation and civil rights respect. However, what these people do not tell you is the prevailing conditions in each of those countries. In the first place, laws and regulations held high value in colonial Britain and the USA. The nonviolent movements used these legal openings to advance their cause. It was difficult to justify indiscriminate killing as it was not morally acceptable. Therefore, these respective countries were partly influenced by the laws alongside the movements. In the case of Ethiopia, the nonviolent movement should be compared to a police state like North Korea and not with India or South Africa or the revolutions in Eastern Europe. You cannot equate them.

Fano abandons towns and cities

Opinion makers of this are largely Amharas. ለተቀማጭ ሰማይ ቅርቡ አማሮች እንላቸዋለን። There is often a complaint that Fano abandons cities and towns, echoing from those who are unfamiliar with guerrilla warfare or military strategy. They are driven by the desire for immediate victory. First and foremost, Fano is a military force, not an administrative organization. The responsibility for managing towns and cities lies with the local people. Fano lacks the manpower to handle administrative duties. What’s the point of Fano controlling a town or city if the government shells down infrastructure like buildings, power lines, and water supply lines in the name of fighting against Fano? Fano does not have tanks, mortars, anti-aircraft equipment, drones, or jets. Fanos are brave fighters armed with AK-47s (the last modern equipment they may have acquired by disarming ENDF) who engage in face-to-face combat and win battles. However, administering towns requires more organization, which cannot be achieved in just 8 months. The TPLF fought for 17 years, even with the necessary resources from neighboring Arab countries and the West. Let’s be realistic and avoid unreasonable demands. Pressuring Fano to hold on towns andcities is a call for disaster. This government has access to resources from 120 million people and possesses a vast military arsenal. The key to defeating it lies in gradual attrition. Presently, the government is weakening as its resources are slowly depleted, rendering it unable to replenish its strength. The task of governing and fighting simultaneously becomes unmanageable. Eventually, it crumbles rapidly.

Abiy is power-hungry and not a genuine Oromo nationalist

In an attempt to influence Abiy or gain political power, Amhara activists have falsely portrayed him as an Ethiopian nationalist without ethnic ties. They have even claimed that he has an Amhara mother, despite his actual Oromo heritage, with his mother being from West Shewa in the Oromia zone and his father from Jima zone of Oromia. This misinformation is misleading and prevents Ethiopians from understanding and addressing his questionable actions. These commentators frequently assert that Abiy is merely power-hungry and not a true Oromo nationalist, which is a dangerous oversimplification. Abiy has strategically placed Oromos in key military and administrative positions, including controlling Addis Ababa with Oromo officials from clerical roles to the mayorship. He also unilaterally transferred a portion of Addis Ababa to Oromia without the consent of the city’s residents. Actions speak louder than words, and Abiy’s policies reflect his true intentions. This deception has persisted for six years, and it is time to see through the facade.

Abiy Ahmed  prevented Amharas from entering Addis Ababa, jailed Amhara journalists and human rights activists, never cared about Amhara people being killed and displaced, never visited affected people, and never once spoke out demanding justice for those who lost their loved ones due to killings and displacement. He released criminals convicted of mass killings and embezzled billions. Yet, disgraceful political activists and analysts still have hope in Abiy. It is worth noting that such leaders would be automatically impeached in the West. Here are Amhara politicians making all kinds of excuses. They claim he does not know; it is extreme Oromo politicians in Oromia responsible for these actions.

Judgment Impairment

Lack of judgment often arises from the failure to gather and document relevant information, neglecting background checks, overlooking on-the-ground realities, relying solely on written or verbal assurances, and being unwilling to follow the logical conclusions of one’s analysis, resulting in impulsive decisions driven by personal biases. In this context, the Ahara-Tigray alliance has received excessive praise on social media. Some detached political commentators and journalists such as those in Anchor media have even suggested that Amhara should refrain from responding to TPLF’s incursion into Amhara territory. While this may seem advantageous, with a slim possibility in Raya, the same cannot be said for Wolkayit. Surrendering Wolkayit would eliminate the possibility of liberating Gondar from Abiy Ahmed, and consequently, there would be no Amhara left to be protected from Abiy Ahmed’s aggression. If TPLF establishes a presence in Wolkayit, it is likely to collaborate with Abiy’s forces and engage in conflict against Amhara to safeguard its own interests. Recognizing Tigray’s mindset, opposing TPLF from entering Wolkayit serves Amhara’s interests. It fosters unity among the people of Gondar, potentially leading to a coalition with a third party from neighboring countries, facilitating Abiy’s defeat in the future, and exerting pressure on Western powers to reassess their perception of TPLF. By shifting blame for the conflict to Abiy Ahmed, efforts can be made to halt the hostilities. 

These individuals and media activists should be disregarded as their judgment regarding Abiy Ahmed was flawed from the beginning; therefore, why should their opinions on the Amhara-Tigray alliance be trusted now? I recommend them to listen to Jeff Pearce’s interview with Moges (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kFPn0_2_0Q) regarding TPLF and read Jeff Pearce’s essay (https://zehabesha.com/the-hypocrisy-of-individuals-who-advocate-for-non-violence-in-their-profession-is-apparent/) posted on the Zehabesha website about non-violent means of struggle to gain some wisdom.

Ethio News reported today that Aregawi Berhe called for a Tigrayan meeting in Addis Ababa and informed the participants that there is no future for the TPLF in Tigray, and they must rally around his party. As a sign of protest, the meeting participants walked out of the meeting hall. They had to be instructed by security officers outside the meeting hall to complete the scheduled meeting. This incident sheds light on the prevailing ideology in Tigray, indicating that there is no shift away from TPLF influence. Firstly, calling for an Amhara-Tigray coalition is inappropriate after tens of thousands of Amhara civilians have been killed, thousands of women and girls have been raped, and over a trillion birr worth of property damage and looting. Secondly, I advise Anchor media journalists to conduct research on the Tigrayan elite psyche before advocating for an Amhara-Tigray alliance.

To assist Anchor Media in understanding the fundamentals, I am sharing Stalin’s video link from Friday April 19, 2024 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgX162N_B-M0). I also recommend Anchor Media not to entertain critics who bash Eskindir Nega and Shalaqa Dawit. Instead, have the courage to question these critics about their own accomplishments for the Amhara people. Stalin was praised for promoting the Amhara-Tigray alliance, but the reality of Stalin is different. The rest of the Tigray elites share the same mindset. They only come out to deceive the easily deceived.

Conclusion

The Biden administration may be hopeful for the merger of Tigray and Eritrea into one country, which is why they are advocating for Tigray by urging Abiy to hand over Wolkayits and Raya to Tigray. It should not be surprising if the West shows little concern for the atrocities being committed by Abiy’s army in Amhara. Therefore, delivering a manifesto will not sway the West, except winning the war.

A unified Fano military command leadership should naturally emerge rather than trying to form it through a Shengo-like process. A shortcut and hasty approach to establishing centralized leadership will not be stable and long-lasting. It should be based on battlefield gains. The leader of the powerful army will be the de facto leader. At this time, what is needed is a provincial command structure and operational coordination between the four provinces. We should be more eager to see a unified leader emerge as the fight against Abiy Ahmed progresses, rather than focusing on delivering a manifesto to the State Department.

Fano is often criticized for abandoning towns and cities. However, Fano’s focus is on military operations, not administration. Local communities are responsible for managing towns and cities. Fano lacks the capacity for administrative tasks and is not equipped for urban warfare. Demanding Fano to control towns is unrealistic and could lead to disaster. The key to defeating the government lies in gradual attrition, as its resources are slowly depleted, making it unable to govern effectively. The Fanos have made significant progress in their fight against Abiy Ahmed. They have evolved into a formidable force capable of resisting a heavily armed government with a strong economy to support its military. In just a year, Fanos have transitioned from using 18th-century rifle gun holders to acquiring modern weapons such as AK-47s, DShK guns, snipers, M16 guns, and other modern armaments by capturing them from the enemy. It is uncommon for a group of ragtag fighters with no formal training to achieve such success, effectively neutralizing the capabilities of a well-trained and well-supplied modern army backed by state resources.

Emotion-based political posturing, superficial analysis of events, political happenings, little to no attention on Abiy Ahmed’s background, as well as a lack of critical examination of his administration approach, have had a significant negative impact on the Amhara region and Amhara people.

We have observed some Amhara politicians and media activists frequently discussing conflicting views and ideas, such as the recent proposal for an Amhara-Tigray coalition. This approach could be detrimental to the Amhara region. However, Tigray’s swift invasion of Raya and the subsequent displacement of Amharas have disproved this notion. How much longer will Amhara political commentators offer shallow political analyses? What a disgrace!

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

__

To Publish an Article On borkena , please send submission to info@borkena.com for consideration.

Join our Telegram Channel : t.me/borkena

Like borkena on Facebook

Add your business to Borkena Business Listing/Business Directory 

Join the conversation. Follow us on X (formerly Twitter ) @zborkena to get the latest Ethiopian news updates regularly. Ethiopia  To share information or for  submission, send e-mail to info@borkena.com  

advertisment

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here