Amanuel Biedemariam –Leading up to the fake “demonstration” the TPLF or Meles Zenawi’s supporters conducted, they run an ad detailing the reasons for the event. The sign read, “Come for a peaceful demonstration. A huge turnout Demonstration at the White House and State Dept is planned for August 5, 2010 at… in support of Ethiopia’s effort to make poverty a thing of the past, continuous Economic growth and its right to use the Nile River, and in opposition to the recent terrorist acts against our people in Uganda.”
Where to start; so much to ponder?… But first, let’s look at the statement of “peaceful demonstration.” What would “peaceful” mean to a group that put a nation in shackles, committed major crimes on Ethiopians in the Ogaden, Gambella Oromo and roasted civilians in Somalia like roaches; deported thousands of Eritreans after they stole their hard-earned wealth? What would “peaceful demonstration” mean to Meles Zenawi and his Aigaforum criminal partners that shot direct hundreds of innocent civilians in front of the whole world?
Let’s look at what it would mean to “Demonstrate to support their efforts to make poverty a thing of the past.” How will demonstration at the State Department alleviate poverty? Is it not US that provides the largest financial, material, military and diplomatic support of the defunct Meles Zenawi’s TPLF regime? By all accounts, Ethiopia is and has been the largest recipient of US and Western aid. Meles Zenawi has enjoyed more access to Western and US leaders than any other African leader in history. He attends all the G-8, G-20 and many of the other major international leaders’ gatherings. He has befriended such major proponents of aid for Africa as Geoffrey Sachs and others. They support him on his endeavors to collect major funding for all types aid by applying their theories, methodologies or schemes, if you will. In other words, he never lacked support of those enablers that give him aid willingly. In fact, he remains the poster child of aid handlers. He has been the choice spokesperson for foreign aid and funds generated, supposedly for the “poor” in underdeveloped countries. Then, why did he need to demonstrate outside the doors of the State Department for aid, all of a sudden? It is curious to see Meles, who bombarded the world and Ethiopians with rosy economic growth-figures, which should have placed Ethiopia in the top of developed countries categories by now, begging outside the State Department.
The second stated reason for the demonstration was, “Continuous Economic growth and its right to use the Nile River.” Here again, more questions than answers. Why would a country that claims to have successfully organized Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya and signed an agreement need, the US regarding the right of the Nile river use? Why did Meles need to demonstrate when he has signed an accord with Egypt in July 1993 in Cairo? Article 6 of the accord states:
“The two parties agree on the necessity of the conservation and protection of the Nile Waters. In this regard, they undertake to consult and cooperate in projects that are mutually advantageous, such as projects that would enhance the volume of flow and reduce the loss of Nile Waters through comprehensive and integrated development schemes.”
In addition, Meles Zenawi signed another agreement with Cairo acknowledging Egypt’s quota over Nile River in December of 2009. Therefore, why is he demonstrating after the fact? How is US involvement going to change the agreement? Furthermore, why would the US put itself in a position to have to choose between Egypt and Ethiopia? Why would the US antagonize Egypt who has been a staunch ally and key supporter of Israel and US policies in the Middle East for decades? Is Meles Zenawi giving the US an ultimatum you are either with Ethiopia or with Egypt?
The third reason for the demonstration was “Opposition to the recent terrorist acts against our people in Uganda.” Again, questions, questions and questions yet, no explanation. First, why tie poverty alleviation to anti terror campaign? Secondly, Ethiopia is the number one beneficiary of the billions spent on the war on terror. Then, why did Meles see a need to demonstrate? Is he looking for additional funding? Did the US stop providing him with the funds? Why demonstrate in opposition to a terror act in the US in front of the State Department? Is the US not supportive of Ethiopia’s efforts everywhere? Curiously, is the terrorist Al Shabab, sanctioned by the US? Is the US harboring and providing sanctuaries to Al Shabab?
Furthermore, the demonstration was, “In opposition to the recent terrorist acts against OUR people in Uganda.” How about those Eritreans that died in the blast in the Ethiopian restaurant? It is ironic; of all the people that died in that Ethiopian restaurant that evening, nearly all were Eritreans and yet, there is no mention of them. What is curious is Aigaforum is claiming their Eritrean friends will come and join the demonstrations while they failed to acknowledge Eritreans that died in the blast. The reality however, Meles-ovich or his criminal gangs of Aigaforum do not have Eritrean friends.
Meles Zenawi and his friend Yoweri Museveni believe that they can continue on receiving the financial gains they used to get during the Bush Administration. There are some in Meles’ circles saying, “Why farm when all you need is boots.” Sending troops for peacekeeping missions yields good cash for these despots. In 2007, the average cost per troop for the UN was as follows: $1,028 for pay and allowances, $303 supplementary pay for specialists, $68 for personal clothing gear and equipment and $5 for personal weaponry. These does not include logistical and troop transportation expenses, the further the distance and the rougher the road the more the money. Therefore, there is no incentive for the troop providing countries like Ethiopia to use shorter routs. For example, the distances from Addis Ababa to Port Mombassa is 1804, Addis Ababa to Port Sudan 1696, Addis Ababa Mogadishu 1520, Addis Ababa to Berbera 943 and Addis Ababa Djibouti 910 kilometers.
It is ironic that the bombings in Uganda happened just days before the African Union was to meet in Uganda. Ethiopia and Uganda are the countries that desperately wanted to change the Somalia Mission mandate and escalate the troop numbers to about 20, 000. They heavily relied on the bombings to convince the US and AU into changing the mandate from peace- keeping into active peace-enforcement. Their aim was to try to make the bombings into a 911 type of mandate that propelled the ouster of the Taliban from Afghanistan. That would have given them opportunities to unlimited funds and for extended period to hunt Al Shabab door to door. That failed and failed miserably because the US and AU rejected it outright.
Over the last five years, IGAD essentially replaced the African Union. Meles and Musevini used IGAD to pass their agendas using all kinds of trickery and went crazy thinking that they can keep hijacking African matters but run into a wall during the last AU session in Kampala. The dynamics have changed completely. The AU members have decided to take back the AU. The Community of Sahel-Saharan States CEN-SAD came with one voice and decisions to put a stop to it all and there was nothing any power could do to change that collective advantage..
Most importantly, in pursuing to change the mandate, Ethiopia and Uganda made the miscalculation by thinking that they can take ownership of the so-called “War on terror” from the US and the US rejected it. In other words, these despots let their greed and ill-perceived senses of confidence guide them into their failures. They failed in Somalia miserably. The TFG they tried to screw on to power failed to make a dent let along establish itself. Some analysts have said,” The idea that 8,000 or 10,000 ill equipped African troops are going to be able to defeat the insurgency is utterly delusional.” That is the reality. Meles and Museveni are mercenaries that could only take orders not the other way around. Their aim was to try to make money-using peacekeepers in Somalia not to bring peace or stability there.
As for the Nile, Meles-ovich is using the Nile as a wedge issue in order to change the subject from his domestic issues in the same manner that he used the Eritrean port of Assab for a while! That will not work because Ethiopians have outsmarted him and rejected his devious ploys. In fact, time has come that Ethiopians, Eritreans have started to work together, and it is certain that it will bear fruit.
What the demonstration exposed was that Meles-ovich and his cronies are in the outside looking in. They are about to get layoff notices. It is a sign of a shift in US policies. It was unthinkable for a while for Meles-ovich who enjoyed unfettered access to the State Department to send his cronies in a blues T-shirts (which looked like prisoners shirts) to shout outside the doors of the State Department. It is a true sign of desperation. After he “Won” the landslide victory, 99.6% to be exact, he was trying to show the US he has that type of support in the Diaspora. However, he was not able to bring enough people to fill a small restaurant. Meles-ovich and his Aigaforum cronies conveniently forgot that the US has expressed its disapproval of the election and stated that it did not meet international standards. That is also a reflection of the international community’s views. Meles went as far as the US and their Western allies could take him. However, at this point, Meles has become more of a liability than he is worth. In other words, he is increasingly isolated, loosing grip and sliding downward fast.
Meles-ovich thought that he cleaned house in Ethiopia and it was time to focus in the US by changing the subjects from domestic to terrorism, The Nile and poverty. He figured Ethiopian communities in the Diaspora would play dead and allow him to own their agendas. He was wrong, because they came roaring. They did not give him a chance. They held their own demonstration and took away from the attention he desperately thought to get. In reverse, he actually reinvigorated the Ethiopian communities and all his opposition. In other words, as always he miscalculated.
This was a great opportunity not only for Ethiopians but also for all peace loving people that want to rid this despot. By holding the failed demonstration, he hinted to all that he is not receiving the attention he needs from the US. That means, it is a great opportunity for the people of the region to press the US more into completely dropping him. Because, without US support he cannot survive a month even with China’s support. China will not go to war for him and certainly, China would not want the US to stop supporting Meles because they do not know what the alternative would look like. Therefore, it is time for all the people of the region to join hands and show the world what they feel and urge them to change their failed policies in the Horn of Africa.