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Blameless, Pugnacious, and Foolhardy Ethiopians
July 27, 2022

Ghelawdewos Araia, PhD

This brief essay will critically examine the current tragic Ethiopian situation in the context of the ongoing skirmishes, wars, and chaotic social disorder; above all, it will candidly address the contribution of Ethiopians to the demise of their own country.

Ethiopia is one of the few countries in the world that is known for its ancient and medieval civilizations; for surviving the onslaught of European imperialist colonial hegemony and consequently for preserving its sovereignty and independence; and for being the only black nation that defeated a European power, first at Dogali in 1887 and later at Adwa in 1896.

The blameless Ethiopians, of course, was a Greek depiction of ancient Ethiopians, the ancestors of present-day Ethiopians, but also of other black Africans, south of Egypt; the latter was black as well; in fact, the name of ancient Egypt was Kemet, literally meaning black land or land of black people. However, the ancient Greeks wanted to make distinction between the black Egyptians and the other blacks, geographically residing south and/or west of them, i.e., the Ethiopians.

Ethiopia in Greek mythology was a remote land of gods and fairies, where Zeus and Poseidon feasted each year among the blameless Ethiopians, and Black Memnon, king of Ethiopia, one of the great heroes.

However, apart from the above-mentioned mythology, ancient Greek historians, namely Herodotus (484-425 BCE) and Diodorus Siculus (90 to 20 BCE), wrote specifically in admiration of the ancestors of present-day Ethiopians. For instance, Herodotus, describing Ethiopia with geographic precision said, Ethiopia, west of Arabia, produces great quantities of gold, has an abundance of elephants and all the woodland trees, and ebony; and its men are the tallest, the most handsome, and the longest-lived.

Likewise, Diodorus talked about the Ethiopians, and said, The Ethiopians conceive themselves to be of greater antiquity than any other nation; and it is probable that born under the Suns path, its warmth may have ripened them earlier than other men. On top of this, Diodorus, commenting on the resilience of Ethiopia, said, a good number of powers attempted to attack Ethiopia but none of them was successful. Diodorus perhaps would not utter these words had he lived to witness the current turbulent crisis that has engulfed the entire nation-state of Ethiopia; he would probably have said, the foolhardy Ethiopians have defeated themselves and destroyed their own nation out of their arrogance and pugnacious nature.

It is unfortunate that historic Ethiopia is torn apart and disintegrating, but who is to be blamed for eradicating the good image of the blameless Ethiopians? Not too many Ethiopians have detected the real cause of the present conflicts and wars in Ethiopia, let alone decipher the main actors in all the major Ethiopian destructive wars. Ethiopians were unable to figure out the camouflaged elements who burn public property, churches, and mosques, although the pattern is the same in what happened in Gigjiga, Kemise, and Debre Markos. If the patterns are the same, it logically follows that the actors behind the violence and destruction should be the same as well; this simple logic is not occurring to most Ethiopians, and that clearly is a deficit in political consciousness.

Some careful diagnosis and examination of the present internal conflicts is required in order to correctly figure out who is employing the shock doctrine (to borrow Noemi Klein words) in all Ethiopia and what is the purpose of this shock therapy?

There is no doubt that the shock riders in Ethiopia are Abiy Ahmed and his cronies; government officials at the top echelon of state apparatuses (this does not necessarily include rank-and-file bureaucrats); the various elites at federal and regional states levels; top generals in the armed forces; demagogues and ideologues who pretend as philosophers, historians, and educators; and last but not least religious leaders who infiltrated the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC).

All of the above groupings should be held responsible for initiating the shock therapy against innocent Ethiopians, for keeping silent when the infrastructure, industry, agriculture, and educational institutions are destroyed; some of them, in fact, justify the horrifying spectacle as Abiy Ahmed, for instance, told Ethiopians that the burning and destruction of churches and mosques happened in the past and it will happen in the future.

The shock riders have mobilized depraved cadres who could be engaged in the most cruel and unfathomable atrocities against their own people, but of all the cadres the ones that surprised me most are the religious leaders and members of the EOTC, ranking from an ordinary priest to deacons and bishops; of the latter group, one militant bishop by the name Abune Mekarios of Harar preaching chapter of the EOTC is the most committed cadre who campaigned relentlessly against Tigray; this yellow dressing bishop apparently visited the Ginbot 7 of Berhanu Nega in Eritrea and gave them his blessings. Mekarios holds the cross by his right hand, but some of his disciples, the ordinary priests, had begun holding the gun. I was stunned to witness for the first time priests bearing guns and preaching violence; to the best of my knowledge and given the Ethiopian ethos and culture that molded me during my childhood, religious leaders in all Ethiopia preached and brokered peace and condemned pugnacious criminals.

But the grand plan to destroy Ethiopia was not declared in 2018 with the advent of Abiy Ahmed, as some foolhardy Ethiopians think; it started slightly over a decade ago, that is, long before Abiy assumed state power, although Abiy eventually became the chief architect of the shock movement.

In 2010, for instance, a certain Gregory Stanton, addressing an Ethiopian audience in Washington DC, said that the massacre that took place in Gambella could also happen in Tigray and a huge applause followed from the foolhardy elements of the Ethiopian audience, who could not see beyond their nose; they never realized that an attack on Tigray could also drastically and negatively impacted their own communities.

On top of the Stanton-like commentators, who could careless about violence and disturbances in Ethiopia, there were also the most pugnacious mercenary-type elements in and around ESAT (the Ethiopian Satellite TV), who campaigned against Tigray for a whole decade, not realizing that their man in Addis Ababa actually was engaged in destabilizing Ethiopia, a shock that was mild and incremental initially but intensified later.

There were, of course, the ex-Derg Red Terror soldiers, responsible for the murder of thousands upon thousands Ethiopian youth, intellectuals, progressive citizens, industrial workers etc; it is estimated that the Red Terror (Key Shibir in Amharic) consumed three-quarter of a million Ethiopians. Most of these ex-Derg terrorists who lived in the United States before they returned to Ethiopia to join Abiy Ahmed, held a conference in Washington DC on October 2015; the conference was organized by Vision Ethiopia in collaboration with ESAT; panelists of the conference included ex-Derg officials like Kassa Kebede, former Meisone individuals, former EPRP members like Getachew Begashaw, and retired professor Mesfin Woldemariam etc.

I made a reflection of this conference in my article entitled The Paradox of History: When Chauvinists Shift Positions and Forge Unholy Alliances. This is what I said, in part, in this article: Some of these charlatans are extremely naive and they suffer from paradox of mental vision. Their presentations are full of incongruous and infantile texts, for I can see their limited scope in understanding the complex Horn of Africa politics. Some of them, who just yesteryear use to tell us that Isaias Afeworki was the number one enemy of Ethiopia, are now telling us that he is the best friend of Ethiopia. Yet, some of them have gone further against all powers of reason and history and explicitly stated that Ethiopia is dependent on foreign (Western) powers while Eritrea remained independent and for her stance it is paying a price. 1 Eritrea or Isaias Afeworki as the best friend in favor of Ethiopian unity was said by Kassa Kebede, and the independent Eritrea attribute was naively uttered by the late professor Mesfin Woldemariam.

On top of their conspiracy and ill-motivated agenda for Ethiopia, the panelists of the Washington DC conference also suffer from nostalgia to an old imperial unitary Ethiopian state ; in the light of psychology, however, these chauvinist elements suffer from what we call nostalgic depression, a state of mind in which the patient (the chauvinists in this case) is deprived from obtaining his wish or fulfilling his dream.

The Fano and Amhara Militia, unlike the ex-Derg refugees who returned to Ethiopia upon the invitation of Abiy Ahmed, are home-grown forces but in many ways they are similar in their outlook to the Derg elements; they too are nostalgic for the old imperial Ethiopian state that celebrates one language (Amharic), one religion (Orthodox Christian), one nation (unitary state). However, because the reestablishment of old Ethiopian state is rejected by the Ethiopian nationalities that have enjoyed relative self-determination under the EPRDF regime and is unlikely to reappear on the Ethiopian political landscape, the Fano/Militia forces also suffer from nostalgic depression.

These home-grown forces, before they became full-fledged fighting regiments (Fanos), had staged a huge demonstration at Bahir Dar in 2018, in which they unilaterally dismissed the prevailing Ethiopian constitution and the federal Ethiopian flag; instead they were holding and waving the old imperial Ethiopian flag, accompanied by Eritrean flag, and some were holding placards that bear the picture of Mengistu Haile-Mariam.

The Bahir Dar demonstration was presided over by Gedu Andargachew, former president of the Amhara Regional State and Demeke Mekonnen, the current deputy prime minister and foreign minister. This demonstration, full of flag waving charlatans, was a dress rehearsal for the major war that they would be conducting against Tigray beginning November 2020. By the war they have conducted, in collaboration with the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, and Eritrean mercenaries, they have indeed destroyed most of Tigray, but what these pugnacious foolhardy elements did not realize is that by destroying Tigray they have also destroyed Ethiopia; more specifically, they have lost thousands of their militia members and ENDF soldiers; six thousand of them, in fact, became prisoners of war (POW) and the world has seen them being taken care of by the people of Tigray.

Where the people of Tigray foolhardy when they treated their own tormentors who savagely raped their women and indiscriminately murdered their children? The answer, of course, is no! On the contrary, the people of Tigray have preserved their humanity by taking care of the captured enemy soldiers; had they acted in vengeance and destroyed the prisoners of war, humanity would have been lost in Tigray for ever.

Those who committed genocide on Tigray, on the other hand, will suffer from all types of psychological disorders because, despite their goal of wiping out Tigrayans the latter prevailed, and goal failure on the part of the aggressor, almost always, is accompanied by what psychologists call ruminative thought and affective consequences and this means the aggressor suffers from continued distress and anxiety disorders, and in some cases, most of genocide riders who were unable to realize their ultimate goal suffer from what psychologists call dysphoric emotions that is manifested with constant state of discontent, stress, anger, and guilt (the latter symptom may not occur in remorseless individuals).

In 2018, there was another indication that Abiy and Isaias will make a joint operation against Tigray; Abiy, under the cover of making peace with Eritrea, visited Asmara a dozen times and the two leaders concocted a master plan to destroy Tigray, although they also masterfully hoodwinked both Ethiopians and Eritreans by opening the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia. While the drama of the two leaders was staged repeatedly in Asmara and Addis Ababa, a certain Bronwyn Bruton, writing in Foreign Policy in July 12, 2018, argued that Eritrea and Ethiopia have a common enemy; she further argues that Abiy and Isaias faced same threat: hardliners in the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front. Although it might seem shocking to outside observers there is a very clear reason why both leaders are so eager to cooperate. They are united by the presence of a still-potent mutual enemy: the Tigrayan People Liberation Front (TPLF).2

Interestingly, the same Bronwyn Bruton in her tweet of June 25, 2018, writes peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea has nothing to do with demarcating the border; I said this is an interesting remark because it corresponds with the new policy of Eritrea on the eve of the war of Tigray; Isaias, after years of crying on the issue of demarcation and Badme came up with a new language that the border demarcation is not relevant. One other Eritrean who joined the chorus incidentally surprised me by saying it is not the border issue; it is something else when he and I were invited as a guests by the VOA Tigrinya Program.

How about the Tigrayan elite and leadership? Have they exhibited foolhardiness as well? The answer is yes! In many instances, the TPLF leadership has ignored symptomatic warnings such as the war drums of ESAT, the Oro-Mara protestations, the political bickering within the EPRDF, the Gregory Stanton genocide bad omen for Tigray, the killings of Tegaru in all of Ethiopia long before the war, the blocking of highways leading to Tigray, and last but not least the Bronwyn Bruton article on Foreign Policy with a clear message that Abiy and Isaias have a common (TPLF) enemy. All these were more than enough to arouse awareness and compel any organization and/or government to take necessary action before it was too late, but the TPLF failed to take precautionary measures and as a result put itself and the people of Tigray in jeopardy and in an ordeal unparalleled in human history.

So much for the dispassionate examination of foolhardy Ethiopians! What is to be done now to save Ethiopia from the seemingly intractable quagmire of civil strife, instability, and unparalleled social disorder? Will the Blameless Ethiopians appear once again on the world stage?

The current devastating politics in Ethiopia is a manifestation of a counter culture sabotage by the present regime and his wide-ranging associates, and to be sure the regime and its supporters were successful at dismantling all that Ethiopia has achieved during the rule of the EPRDF. One hope for Ethiopia to rise from the ashes is the struggle that is being waged by the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist Forces (UFEFF)3 , an alliance of significant Ethiopian nations and nationalities represented by their parties and/or military wings, including the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front; Agaw Democratic Movement; Benishangul Peoples Liberation Movement; Gambella Peoples Liberation Army; Global Kimant Peoples Right and Justice Movement/ Kimant Democratic Party, Oromo Liberation Army, Sidama National Liberation Front, Somali State Resistance, and Tigray Peoples Liberation Front.

If the UFEFF is successful, it will salvage Ethiopia from total demise and will set up a coalition transitional government; will restore the federal structure and reform it and its attendant constitution to accommodate all nationalities within Ethiopia; will discuss the viability of greater autonomy, federation, and confederation; will conduct an all-Ethiopia national reconciliation to iron out differences among different political parties and movements; and it will lay the ground work for reconstruction, peace, and stability.

Above all, the UFEFF acknowledges that the universal human penchant is living in coexistence and unlike the reactionary forces who brought death and destruction to Ethiopia, it will recuperate Ethiopia from cultural and political fragmentation and find a new federalist democratic and prosperous Ethiopia. That will be the day!

Notes:

  1. 1. Ghelawdewos Araia, The Paradox of History: When Chauvinists Shift Positions and Forge Unholy Alliances, www.africanidea.org/Paradox_history.html October 31, 2015,
  2. 2. See Bronwyn Bruton’s Eritrea and Ethiopia have a common enemy in Foreign Policy, July 12, 2018 and her tweet on the irrelevance of border demarcation on June 25, 2018
  3. 3. The United Front of Ethiopian Federalist Forces (UFEFF) officially declared its existence in Washington DC on November 5, 2021; when the signing ceremony took place, there were nine members of the alliance, but Wolita was expected to join as the number 10 member. The objective of UFEFF is to dismantle the Government of Abiy Ahmed by force or by negotiation and then establish a transitional authority..
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