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Gabcast! Gotoota Oromo Haa Yaadannu. #17 - Wallee.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Warning: Another bloodbath in the coming

Kallacha Dubbi - Serious observers of the Ethiopian political panorama, especially the homegrown who can also do better reading of the Abyssinian psychic, are unanimous in that Prime Minister Meles is concocting ‘good’ reasons to wage another war against Eritrea. Movement of ground troops and political debates in the doomed Ethiopian parliament suggest that this war is very likely to follow the coming winter which also comes conveniently after the Ethiopian millennium, which has captured serious attention of the Prime Minister. It is unlikely Meles will go to war before such a big party although the millennium could be left for honeymoon of the postwar victory, if the victory can be assured. A number of reproach strategies have been adopted by Meles paving the ground for attack and grooming “logical” justifications for the possibility of a war.

Blame 1: Afar

In 2003, a group associated with the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front, (ARDUF) issued a warning to foreigners not to enter the Afar region. In early March of 2007, ARDUF kidnapped a group of five Europeans and 13 Ethiopians in the Danakil depression, a remote region of the Afar people. The ARDUF indubitably admitted that it and no one else is responsible for the kidnapping.

And yet, few days later, Reuter reported that “an Ethiopian administrator accused Eritrean forces of kidnapping” the group. A British newspaper followed quoting Ethiopian sources that the kidnapped tourists were taken “to a military camp near the Eritrean border.” Another reputed newsletter wrote that “five British citizens who were kidnapped in northern Ethiopia have been spotted at a military camp across the border in Eritrea, a senior Ethiopian official said.” By the end of the week it was common to read about “hostages held in Eritrean rebel camp.” In twisted propaganda notch, one newsletter went as far as telling its readers, that the Afars are almost all Sunni Muslims, as if this piece has to matter to rescue the victims. All of a sudden, the Eritreans were more at the center of the kidnapping news than the ARDUF, by design of the official Ethiopian media. Few cared to know the relevant, for example, that the ARDUF had kidnapped some Italian tourists as far back as in 1995, later releasing them, unharmed. Or the fact that it seeks freedom and liberty for the Afar people and that an earlier Afar rebel group, the Afar Liberation Front (ALF), fought against the Derg for 17 years. The thrust of the news ended with accusing Eritrea more than about liberating the Afar.

Blame 2: Ogaden

On December 23, 2006, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, (ONLF) claimed to have attacked an Ethiopian column near Baraajisale heading to Somalia, destroying 4 of 20 vehicles, inflicting casualties and driving the convoy back. It also claimed another attack on Ethiopian soldiers on January 15, 2007 in Qabri-Dahar, Garbo, and Fiiq. Five Ethiopian soldiers and one ONLF rebel were reported killed. Many ONLF attacks have taken place on Ethiopian convoys, but the attack which included Chinese citizens is the only one the Western medias were interested in, inadvertently asking more attacks of worthy news. The attack on the Chinese camp took place in April, about seven weeks after the Danakil kidnap. A shoot-out occurred between Ethiopian soldiers guarding the Chinese exploratory group and the ONLF. Nine Chinese oil workers and 65 Ethiopians were killed. The front claimed full responsibility for the “rescue”, not an attack, but stated that the death of the Chinese or Ethiopians was not intentional.

More of the same complains and charges ensued by the Ethiopian government as in the Danakil case. A serious Europe-based news media reported: “Ethiopia accuses neighbors of supporting an ethnic Somali rebel group that attacked a Chinese-run oil installation this week, killing 74 people.” Then, in a surprising reverse of the vector, the Christian Science Monitor suggested “there is a growing realization that Somalia's increasingly brutal insurgency is starting to seep across the Horn of Africa”. This offered an impression, that the Somali insurgency against Ethiopia gave rise to the Ogaden movement. And yet the ONLF, created in 1984, surely predates the 2006 Ethiopian occupation of Mogadishu.

AFP added the psychological score for Ethiopia reporting “Ethiopia on Wednesday accused arch-foe Eritrea of supporting the rebels behind an attack on a remote Chinese-run oil field that killed 74 people, including nine Chinese workers.” More uninformed commentary followed: “Ethiopian analysts say the unprecedented scale of the attack, claimed by the ONLF, suggested it could only have been carried out with support from Islamists in neighboring Somalia, who were routed by Ethiopian forces in a two-week, Christmas-time invasion. Some analysts see this as an indication that the battle for control of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu is becoming a regional conflict.” One starts getting the impression that the ONLF is a result of Meles’ struggle against terrorism. What sophistication does it require to overwhelm badly trained and poorly armed of Ethiopian guards protecting unarmed Chinese, only the Christian Monitor knows. So again, even though ONLF seemed to have received more attention than the ARDUF, after all the West should not terribly dislike an attack against China, but Ethiopia is still compiling blames against Eritrea.

I just saw a report on the Ogaden online, that the ONLF has captured Qalafe town in the Godey province of Ogaden. I am certain Meles will blame Eritrea once again.

Blame 3: Somalia

On April, 24 2007, Jendayi Frazer, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said that “Eritrea was the largest foreign backer of guerrillas who are fiercely resisting attempts by Ethiopia and the Somali government to pacify Mogadishu.” This paraphrased Ethiopia’s propaganda, that “Eritrea is fuelling the insurgency in Somalia in order to wage a proxy war against Ethiopia”. VOA and AFNEWS also reported that “Addis Ababa quickly accused Eritrea of starting a proxy war by backing both the ONLF and insurgents in Mogadishu. The government of Eritrea angrily denied the Ethiopian and U.S. accusations. By then Prime Minister Meles has transferred the ‘debate’ to the Ethiopian Parliament where a resolution was assured by the EPRDF majority, accusing Eritrea and OTHER groups for supporting Somali insurgents and ‘undermining’ Ethiopia’s peace mission in Somalia.

The opposition in the doomed parliament debated long to remove the word “other” from the resolution, a reference to the banned Ethiopian opposition groups with connections to Eritrea. This is the first test of Meles to the Ethiopian parliament gauging the reaction to his war plan, and one can bet, that the vote in the parliament to declare open war against Eritrea would follow the same vote ratios – those who opposed the inclusion of “others” will also oppose the war, those who supported will also support the war, so a majority is guaranteed by the very birth of EPRDF. The test of the parliament was completed successfully, but then it was sham to start with.

Blame 4: Oromia

During a series of debates in the parliament preceding the Ethiopian army attack of Somalia, Prime Minister Meles listed his justifications for the attack. One of these justifications was the famous “third point”, the presence of “other” unfriendly forces in Somalia, a term used to refer to opposition forces including the OLF. Meles’ has repeatedly proven his willingness to cross a border hunting for opposition forces, the OLF in particular. He has crossed to Kenya, to Somalia, and - Eritrea as his next plan.

On Tuesday this week, the Voice of Oromo Liberation announced that the OLF army entered and controlled for 3 hrs a small town of Bati in north eastern Ethiopia. This suggests that there is a growing pressure on the Tigrean domination of Oromia, a pressure that is sure to culminate on the shoulders of Meles. Indeed the report also said the OLF chased the regime’s representatives out of town and gave warnings to corrupted administrators. I have little doubt that Meles will once again blame Eritrea for the success of the OLF, even though the OLF’s official media has taken full credit of the small town mutiny. Alternately, Meles could simply keep quiet about it, it will not be the business of the international media after all - no foreigner is involved.

Blame 5: Eritrea

It is to be recalled that the Boundary Commission delivered a final report on 21 March 2003 reaffirming its previous decisions, that “the delimitation decision was final and binding,” and that having made its determination it “could not receive further representations from the parties, that demarcation could only proceed on the basis of that decision”. This was precisely in line with Eritrea’s position and places the fault for the continued border tension on Ethiopia’s side. And yet the Ethiopian army still occupies the territory it lost by the Algier’s mediation which it went in to agreement willfully, signing to abide by the outcome. About 14 years later, the border is not demarcated, and Ethiopia continues to blame Eritrea for its own failure to abide by the international law. The Eritrean border is held hostage to submit Eritrea to Tigrean supremacy, and this alone provides Meles with his rational for a war against Eritrea, a war that is in the making.

Prime ally for the war: USA

In a recent Foreign Affairs article, John Prendergast and Colin Thomas-Jensen of the International Crisis Group argue that “Washington’s obsession with counterterrorism in Africa’s Horn is undermining efforts to bring stability to the region.” And Meles, a man with one of the worst human rights records, is now America’s ally in fighting terrorism. Ethiopia is investing heavily to swing on the “unti-terror” pendulum.

On March 26, 2002, O'Dwyer's PR Daily reported that "Ethiopia spent a whopping $5.6 million in lobbying fees/expenses at Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand during the firm's recent six-month reporting period". Just recently, Dick Armey, the Texas Republican and former House majority leader now works for a lobbying firm DLA Piper. Armey and DLA Piper registered with the Justice Department in June 2006 as lobbyists for the government of Ethiopia, at a price tag of $50,000 a month. In a sudden rise to African politics, a little known university professor named Peter Pham surprises Africanists and Ethiopiansts with a bold testimony in support of the Ethiopian regime as an expert, arguing in favor of Meles, on the grounds that the alternative would awash the Horn with terrorism. Alas, the extravagant reward for lobbyists paid off in a fashion paid on behalf of corporate America, scores a point for Ethiopia on the new DC front. The O'Dwyer's PR Daily report specifically mentions that the group’s area of lobbying includes the conflict with Eritrea.

Gathering diplomacy for the war: Middle East and the Sudan

In the middle of May, 2007 Prime Minister Meles visited Kuwait. Durig his visit, he and his Kuwaiti counterparts, Amir Sheikh Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah and the Prime Minister Sheikh Naser Mohammed Al Sabah “called for the unity and independence of Somalia and an end to violence.” The two leaders also “emphasized the need to resolve disputes between African nations through peaceful means.” The must be a calculated effort to neutralize the Arab support for Eritrea. Meles knows full well, that the same countries that supported and sustained the Eritrean struggle for over 3 decades may not allow it to fall under Ethiopia’s arms after independence. Sudan’s full or tacit support, a country that hosted the head-quarters of the Eritrean movements and transited all supports for the liberation struggle for those decades, must be critical. So, upon return, Prime Minister Meles also met with Sudanese Defense Minister, Lieutenant General Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, and jointly declared that “multifarious cooperation between the governments of Ethiopia and Sudan has been growing.” I have a sense that the above complains were presented to the Sudan who has its own Darfur ax to grind, and need not be pressed much to submit.


The writing on the wall is clear and in bold. A war is in the making in the Horn, and it will be a brutal one, a vicious one, in which more than the previous 70,000 are to be killed. This war in the making in front of the worlds eyes, including the United States, a country that for now seems to stand by Ethiopia. US and Ethiopian relationships, especially when such relationship is sure to cause pain for the millions, should be revisted for the sake of innocent lives, if not sincere politics. This would be consistent with the humaniterean obligations of this great country. US has no business in interrogating “terror suspects in secret Ethiopian prisons”, when its own country reports reveal gross human rights abuses of Meles. As the New York Times objectively stated, the US should not look the other way when Ethiopia violats UN sanctions by purchasing arms from North Korea in prepartion for agression. Meles must be stopped from making another stupid and sadistic war.

May 17, 2007

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