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HomeOpinionA Shot in the Dark: A Tale of Know-It-All Political Pundits

A Shot in the Dark: A Tale of Know-It-All Political Pundits

By Mekuria

In today’s digital age, social media platforms are inundated with self-proclaimed political experts who confidently share their opinions on various political issues, believing they have all the answers. While everyone is entitled to their opinions, it is crucial to approach political discussions with an open mind and a willingness to consider different perspectives instead of resorting to name-calling and dismissive attitudes.

The danger of Know-It-All political punditry lies in the dissemination of misinformation and the reinforcement of echo chambers. When individuals only seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs, they hinder their ability to engage in meaningful dialogue and critical thinking. This can result in a polarized society where individuals prioritize proving their point over seeking common ground.

To address the negative impacts of armchair political punditry, it is vital to promote civil discourse and fact-based discussions. Instead of resorting to personal attacks or spreading false information, individuals should aim to participate in respectful debates and consider multiple viewpoints. By fostering a culture of intellectual humility and open-mindedness, we can cultivate a more informed and inclusive society where diverse opinions are respected.

This commentary addresses the misleading arguments often presented by certain guest propagandists on YouTube channels and e-media, as well as the continuous blame placed on the Amhara people by self-proclaimed political pundits. The flawed political arguments are highlighted to remind Amharas of the deceptive tactics used by individuals spreading disinformation under the guise of sharing good ideas. The following points are discussed: “The USA does not have a special preference for the TPLF; America’s interest is regional stability. The USA has condemned the TPLF’s entry into Raya; Amhara has been a passive recipient of the TPLF’s agenda. Ethiopians’ የጃጀ ባህል impeded development; If Abiy falls, who will take over, Ethiopia will be in chaos and civil war”.

America has denounced TPLF’s entry to Raya

Know-it-all political pundits argue that American influence is evident in the joint press release of the PP and Tigray administration acknowledging that the recent events in Raya were regrettable. Let’s acknowledge this partial truth. Whatsoever the case, the TPLF/Tigray administration has achieved three objectives through its actions in Raya: 1) It has gained control over all parts of Raya except the town of Alamata, 2) it has established its administrative presence in Raya and 3) It has displaced 75,000 Amharas. What steps have the PP and America taken to reverse this situation beyond mere lip service? TPLF has achieved its goals, and Abiy has achieved his plans – disenfranchising and suppressing Amharas. What have the Amhara people gained? Nothing! The initial plan was that the federal government of Ethiopia would disarm both the Amhara militias and Tigray militias and demolish existing local administrations. Displaced individuals would return, a local administration would be elected, and a referendum would take place. However, with the TPLF administration in Raya, a free and fair referendum cannot be conducted. The primary aim of TPLF’s forced entry into Raya is to undermine free and fair elections.

The USA’s role in the Pretoria agreement is solely for peace

The USA pushed for negotiations between the PP party and TPLF out of fear of regional destabilization, not to assist TPLF, speak the pundits. This is a twisted interpretation. TPLF was confined within a 40 km radius in Mekelle, with its leaders fearing for their lives. It could be argued that TPLF had strong lobbying efforts around the Biden administration, but it was clear that Mike Hammer intervened to save TPLF. We are aware of the influence of private lobbying in US politics. Ahmed Chalabi was given a strong voice in the White House to advocate for the invasion of Iraq. The analysis that PP will not win the war because TPLF will return to the bush to continue fighting, thus denying victory for PP, is a speculative assessment. On one hand, these political pundits claim that the TPLF is weak, 90% of Tigrayans are in distress, and Tigrayan youth are unwilling to fight. On the other hand, they suggest that the TPLF cannot be defeated, which is why the USA pushed for peace negotiations. This analysis is self -contradictory and flawed and denies the facts on the ground at the time of the war. Abiy kept the TPLF intact for two main reasons: pressure from the US and advice from Oromo elites. The Oromo elites advised Abiy against eliminating the TPLF, as they believed it could foster a positive relationship between the Amhara and Tigray people, which would pose a significant challenge to his government. If the TPLF had surrendered or been eliminated, cooperation between Amhara and Tigray would have become a reality.

Unlike the war in Tigray, the West has not put policy tools in place to curtain the war in Amhara. The IMF and the World Bank are preparing to offer financial assistance to the Prosperity Party (PP). The Biden administration is evidently unsupportive of Amhara’s interests, and attempting to influence the State Department is futile. Sanctions for human rights violations in Amhara have never been considered. One potential avenue for the Amhara is to lobby the Senate and House representatives of the USA state organs. Criticizing Amharas for not being receptive to the White House and America’s stance on Ethiopia, which has not addressed the Amhara’s plight, is unreasonable. The Amhara’s demand is straightforward: they reject being governed by colonial-era viceroys and assert their equal rights to Addis Ababa. They seek fair representation in the federal government, including the military, air force, and security forces, as a matter of entitlement rather than at the discretion of Abiy Ahmed. They argue that genuine federalism should not be subject to Abiy Ahmed’s whims, and justice should be served for victimized Amharas through an independent tribunal system.

Amhara has been a passive recipient of TPLF’s agenda

The argument made by pundits claiming that the TPLF’s announcement of an agreement with the Federal Government to transfer Welkait was a strategic move rather than truthful is unconvincing. The pundits’ statement that handing over Welkait would not benefit Abiy and will never happen is a weak generalization for the Amharas who have suffered under Abiy Ahmed’s leadership. The Amhara people have experienced mass displacement from Oromia and the outskirts of Addis Ababa, with many Amharas killed in Oromia, losing land to Sudan, and being denied access to the capital city built by their ancestors. The region of Raya has been invaded by the TPLF without federal intervention to stop it. The ODP-PP has deliberately kept the TPLF relevant in Ethiopian politics to control the Amhara population and prevent a potential Tigray-Amhara alliance. Given these circumstances, there is no valid reason to take the words of these political analysts seriously. Abiy’s actions are motivated by hate towards the Amharas. If Abiy Ahmed were truly a rational leader, why would he incite war in Amhara under the pretext of disarming the Fano while permitting the TPLF to keep their arms? The Amharas, who supported him in gaining power, have not displayed hostility towards Abiy. Abiy is willing to relinquish Welkait, even if it means the TPLF could potentially secede from Ethiopia and take Welqayit with them. Abiy has nothing to lose, despite it being Amhara territory. According to Ethio News, Defence Minister Abrha Belay informed Getachew Reda that Welqayit would be transferred after dismantling Demeke Zewdu’s militia. Amharas must decide whether to trust the facts on the ground and this news or heed the advice of armchair political analysts.

Ethiopians’ የጃጀ ባህል impeded development

Ethiopian peasants engage in farming from dawn to dusk every day during the rainy seasons. On weekends, they participate in activities such as fencing, preparing fodder for their cattle, or going to the market for shopping. Peasants rarely have time to rest in their lives. When they do find time, they attend churches and mosques and express their devotion to God. People in the city are occupied with supporting themselves and their families. This is the Ethiopian culture we are familiar with. Ethiopia’s development was hindered when students in the 1960s became radicalized and protested against the imperial regime. The country was undergoing an agricultural revolution in the early 1970s, but the 1974 revolution led to the destruction of everything that had been built under HIM’s rule. The Derg regime imposed a capital limit of 500,000 birr, hindering industrious individuals from developing their country. When the TPLF came to power, they did not adequately liberalize the economy, and land remained under state ownership, with much of the economic sector controlled by the state. The current government, the PP, has focused more on ethnic cleansing than on economic development. The issue with our development is not related to culture but rather to the emergence of incompetent and self-centered leaders who view others as inferior. The Amhara community had a very positive attitude towards the West until their cause was neglected. The fact that Ethiopians are religious should not also be seen as an obstacle to development. Since the 1974 revolution, instead of development, Ethiopia has experienced a succession of dictators, each exacerbating the country’s problems. To break this cycle, empowering the people is crucial. Legalizing the arming of citizens and establishing power centers are essential steps. This is the mission of Fano.

If Abiy falls there will be a civil war

This argument is oversimplified and lacks depth, seemingly crafted to alarm the West and cast doubt on Fano’s capabilities. If Abiy were to be ousted from power, Fano will take control of Addis Ababa, leveraging their strong support base and proximity to the capital. Their ability to stabilize the city could garner broader support, akin to the rallying effect seen in Mengistu’s downfall in 1991. With Fano stationed just 50 kilometers outside Addis Ababa, they serve as a significant security force in Ethiopia. The West’s inconsistent stance on Ethiopia, particularly evident in their handling of the TPLF-ENDF conflict, underscores their selective attention to certain events. The recurrent neglect of the Amhara caused by the West poses a pressing concern, prompting the Amhara community to actively reshape this narrative. The Amhara’s situation is dire, necessitating decisive action to secure their future as a nation very much the same way the Taliban did.

Transitional Government

Advocates of controversial policies in Ethiopian politics since 2005, such as the “third-way” approach, have proposed the establishment of a transitional government in Ethiopia. This political approach is akin to Trump praising Biden for his successes while criticizing his mistakes. It is improbable that any Amhara or Fano group would seriously consider such a proposal, given their history of appeasing Tigrayan elites, as evidenced by their silence on the TPLF’s actions against the Amharas during the 2020-2022 war. These individuals have been deemed unsuccessful and should step down from the political arena to lead a private life. The current suggestion of forming a transitional government involving the Prime Minister, the legislative body, and the opposition raises questions about which opposition groups would be invited to participate. Would it include EZEMA, NAMA (ABIN), BALDERAS, ENAT Party, EPRP, OFECO, or OLF? In my opinion, this proposal seems overly speculative and idealistic. These parties have already lost credibility by failing to mobilize the people against the PP. Currently, there are three conflicting parties: PP, OLA, and Fano, with a potential future involvement of TPLF. Any scenario for a transitional government would require negotiations among these parties, if feasible at all. The minimum requirements for an agreement would involve the PP withdrawing its forces from Amhara, ceding territories of Oromia to OLA in their strongholds, and allowing TPLF to maintain control in Tigray.

It is unlikely even the warring parties would agree to a transitional government proposal, making it seem more like a distant dream than a practical solution. This is the strong difference in the philosophical approach of the Amharas and the Oromos. The fundamental difference between Oromo elites and Amhara elites lies in their perspectives on modern principles of administration. Amhara elites advocate for individual freedom, local decision-making on matters concerning cities, districts, and zones, emphasizing community involvement. In contrast, Oromo elites assert collective rights, ownership of the land and view others as outsiders. This belief extends to claims that Addis Ababa belongs to them, with a willingness to seize control by any means necessary, as expressed by Jawar Mohammed. A deal between Fano and OLA is possible if these contrasting issues are sorted out and if OLA agrees to leave the future of Addis Ababa to the residents of the city and agrees to a referendum on the Dera question in Northern Shewa. These are immediate sticking points that need to be addressed for the two parties to agree, while all other things remain in the status quo.

Conclusion

The USA has given more credence to violent organizations like the OLF and TPLF while not showing any real sympathy for the Amhara people. In Amhara, over a million people displaced from Oromia; 4.5 million children out of school; thousands of women and underage girls raped; infrastructure destroyed; health centers, hospitals, and schools serving as military garrisons; everyday drone bombings and heavy armament shelling of civilians; thousands of Amhara professionals, including parliamentarians, arrested, America and the West have chosen to remain silent for one solid year. We know America was the cheerleader for the 13 times UN Security Council meetings during the war with TPLF. If America’s interest is regional peace, why is it quiet when it comes to Amhara? Amharas are left alone, much like the Jews of the 1960s. The Jews’ state was not as such recognized until they demonstrated their strength and decisively defeated their enemies. Fano cannot negotiate until the ENDF vacates Amhara. Are you going to fly Fano leaders out of Amhara for peace negotiations or conduct an online meeting? Fano leaders do not have the luxury of flying out and coming back to their base like the OLF.

Ethiopians do not have a regressive culture; in fact, it is the only country where Muslims and Christians coexist peacefully. The hard-working Ethiopian people are not a hindrance to development; rather, poor leadership and policies that impede economic progress are the real obstacles. The emergence of incompetent leaders who claim to know everything and have an attitude of superiority has hindered Ethiopia’s development, not the culture. If these know-it-all political pundits were to become Ethiopia’s leaders, imagine what they could do to us.

Given the positions of the PP, OLA, and Fano, it is unlikely that a transitional government will be established unless Fano achieves a complete victory over Abiy Ahmed. Both the PP and OLA lack a policy that promotes individual freedom, making them incapable of successfully leading a transition in Ethiopia. The legal Ethiopian opposition has failed to mobilize the people and influence public opinion. In this context, only Fano appears capable of bringing about a successful transition and political change. Their approach prioritizes human values and their political vision is progressive.

While armchair political pundits may be a prevalent presence in today’s digital landscape, it is crucial to approach political discussions with a sense of responsibility and respect. By promoting constructive dialogue and a commitment to truth, we can work towards a more united and understanding society. No one has all the answers, and true wisdom comes from a willingness to listen, learn, and grow. So the next time you encounter a know-it-all pundit, take their words with a grain of salt and remember that there is always more to learn.

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

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