By Yilma Bekele, 29 July 2009 — Siege is a strong term. It is normally used to describe a war situation. The invading army resorts to siege when it encounters a fortress or robust defense it cannot overcome easily. When a siege occurs the enemy surrounds the city or fortification and does not allow reinforcements to come in or permit those inside to escape.
The most famous modern day siege is that of the ‘Siege of Leningrad’ by Nazi troops during World War II. It lasted twenty-nine months. The Soviet Union lost over a million and half people. We are witnessing ‘Gaza under siege’ by Israel as you are reading this article. Human history is full of atrocities as such.
Our country Ethiopia is under siege. We are not under invasion by a foreign force. Who needs enemies when you have friends so they say. We are under siege by a homegrown enemy. We find ourselves in the most unenviable situation of crying wolf but the wolf is us. We are in a strange predicament and it is very confusing to outsiders and ourselves.
You can rally people around a foreign enemy. The enemy is identifiable. The enemy is easy to target. The brain is more willing to accept the definition of ‘enemy’. What we got in Ethiopia is blurred vision. The enemy has watered down the definition. The enemy is also relentless. The whole country is one battleground. No one is immune from being incorporated or made into a subsidiary.
Why would anybody want to destroy Ethiopia is a good question. What a diabolical thing to say or think is a rational reaction. Are you sure Ethiopia is the target is a common response. On the other hand we could be victims of what is known as the ‘law of unintended consequences’. This is how Wikipedia defines the law.
The “law of unintended consequences” (also called the “law of unforeseen consequences“) states that any purposeful action will produce some unintended consequences…
Stated in other words, each cause more than one effect and these effects will invariably include at least one unforeseen side effect. The unintended side effect can potentially be more significant than any of the intended effects.1
This is a good point as any trying to understand our current crisis. What exactly was Ato Meles fighting for? How did he go about to attain that goal?
He started as an ethnic study group and formed an ethnic liberation organization. Although all those before him and around him were organized as a multi-national he choose the ethnic road.
There lies the fork on the road. His organization took the easy path. They choose to fight injustice by rallying around primitive ethnicity rather than nationality. It was a short cut.
Our current dilemma has been brewing for eighteen years or so but the seeds were planted over forty years ago. The late sixties and seventies were a time of turmoil. There were two super powers and two contending ideologies. The West was vilified due to its history of colonialism and the then war in Vietnam. Marxism was getting acceptance in the new emerging nations. Our country’s intellectuals were drawn into this philosophy to solve the many problems facing our country. The two questions of land ownership and good governance were the main issues.
We gave birth to the military junta. It was a miscarriage. Despite the Derge lasting seventeen years it was an utter failure in bringing about a positive change. We were caught between the East and the West and we were not ready or able to play that game. Everything our forefathers taught us was turned upside down. All that we learned in thousands of years were discarded in a matter of days. All that which made us Ethiopian was declared old, backward, reactionary and other not favorable adjectives. We know for a fact that most of our core beliefs were challenged and ruled unfit for the new Ethiopia.
Our current leaders are the children of that era. Meles and company built their new psudo ideology on that premise. They also took the then ascending theory of socialism as a dogma instead of a scientific philosophy to be interpreted and reinterpreted as situations change. As Lenin bastardized scientific Marxism to suit his notion of the petty bourgeois seizing power in the name of the proletariat, as Mao Tse Tung reinterpreted Lenin and substituted the peasantry for the petty bourgeois our own TPLF came up with the notion of ethnic based organization to seize and hold power.
We are all products of our environment despite what some US Senators tried to claim otherwise during the recent hearing during Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation. Ato Meles and his mentor Aboy Sebhat are perfect specimens of this assertion. Ato Meles and his comrade’s tunnel vision came from their insular upbringing in the little Village of Adwa. For Meles and company someone born in Hawzen down street from Adwa is an outsider. The rest of Ethiopia is a foreign land. It will not be farfetched to claim that it was during his trip to Addis to attend high school that Ato Meles even met an Oromo, a Gurage or a Sidama.
The many years they spent fighting the Derge was not spent in devising solutions to bring about change but rather sharpening the skills necessary to control and subjugate others. The many writings by ex TPLF members show that disproportionate amount of resources were allocated to eliminating internal dissent rather than building a democratic institution. It is not far fetched to assert that TPLF killed or exiled more Tigrean than the Derge.
What exactly did they bring with them when they marched into Addis as victors on that fateful day in 1991? They brought with them the concept of Kilil, a new revised ethnic map and a new flag. All these years fighting and this is all they have to show for it? Unfortunately this is it! No new agenda to improve agriculture, no new program to encourage rebuilding of industries or learning centers or no new idea to return our old nation on the path of reclaiming our eminence place in Africa.
It was the Derge dressed up in civilian uniform. They were happy to inherit all Derge institutions that were set up for coercion. They took ‘Kebele’ organizations and replaced the heads not the function, they appropriated internal security intact and installed their trained killers and psychos as people in charge. They inherited all land and property as state asset. They transferred state owned industries to EFFORT and called it privatization. They changed the name of their ideology from Marxism-Leninism and Enver Hoxha thought to Revolutionary Democracy.
The last eighteen years they went about looting everything that is of any value. In the words of Aboy Sebhat they built EFFORT as the premier corporation in the country. That claim is incorrect. They robed from Ethiopia. To think TPLF leaders who have never worked for a living, never paid bills from their hard earned income, never even have a simple bank account in their name but were able to build such an enterprise is absurd. It is not an exaggeration to claim EFFORT is bigger than Ethiopia. TPLF is one gigantic wealth sucking vacuum devise with tentacles in all aspect of the life of our people.
Transportation is owned by the Foreign Minister, Sugar is owned by the Military Generals, Brewery is owned by advisors, building and engineering is owned by party hacks, telecommunications and media is owned by the first lady, banking is owned by the party, coffee and other commodities are under the new exchange (TPLF subsidiary) and so on so forth. There isn’t a single aspect of movement of capital in the country without the involvement of TPLF or its subsidiaries.
This is where the ‘law of unintended consequences come in.’ Ato Meles and company organized this huge machine to loot and pillage. Think of TPLF as the parasite and Ethiopia the host. The parasite has been feeding wantonly for the last eighteen years. The host is dying. The well being of the parasite has the exact opposite effect on the host. The parasite is fat and flabby. The host is just skin and bones. The natural outcome is for both host and parasite to perish. It is possible the parasite can move on and find another host. But the host is too weak to survive. Other parasites are hovering to devour what is left of it.
On the other hand the host can wake up from its long slumber and develop an anti biotic to save it self. In this scenario the host did develop a vaccine to protect itself. Kinijit was the vaccine. It was not a fully developed vaccine. The parasite was able to adapt. It was mimicking the HIV virus. It became a moving target. What is required is what is known as a ‘cocktail’ drug. Scientists found out that HIV develops resistance to every antiviral drug and once one drug fails the whole combination is not effective anymore. The trick was finding the right combination of drugs. Kinijit was stuck on the concept of working within the system. A single drug solution. But TPLF was like our HIV lentivirus. One drug alone is not enough. Like the HIV scientists we have to come up with a ‘cocktail’ of resistance combinations. Some call it ‘hulegeb tigil’.
Now TPLF have come to another crossroads. This unquenchable thirst they have to amass wealth is creating its own contradictions. The well is in the process of drying up. What to do? Of course there is always the option of skipping town in the cover of darkness. But that will be admitting guilt thus hunting them down becomes a simple process. There is always the possibility of fanning civil war. But the ensuing chaos might consume them too. Except for a few million stashed away in foreign banks most of the wealth is still sitting in Ethiopia. With modern forensic accounting every penny deposited outside can be traced and any way what is the point of having it if you can’t enjoy it. Their unabashed greed is becoming their undoing.
In an attempt to understand their destructive polices we ascribe such explanations as their hate towards our country, being Eritrean (good old Eritrea always there) their vow to destroy our old kingdom or their grand plan to liberate Tigre as a nation. I have never been comfortable looking into people’s motives. I am more interested in their action. The action of the TPLF mafia group is that of a petty thief but on a national scale.
The issue in front of us is that the cadres are in the process of destroying our homeland. The question put to each and every one of us is what are you going to do about it? Yes, you what is your next move. You can sit in a coffee house or a family gathering and recount the many horror stories of TPLF and company. You can even blame the opposition for not uniting or for splitting into factions at a drop of a hat. Unfortunately that would not absolve you of your responsibilities. Why you want to shift responsibility unto others is strange. You still have not answered the question what are you doing about it? Fighting injustice takes many forms. We all are not cut out to be solders. What is asked of us is to contribute positively to liberate our homeland so we have some place to go at the end of the day.
What is universally clear is no masters have voluntarily let his slaves go, no colonialist have granted freedom without a fight, no dictator have vacated power without struggle. Ato Meles and his inner group have to be forced to see the dead end road they are traveling. It is not about rational discussion with irrational people. Their greed is their Achilles heel. Their perceived economic strength is their vulnerability. That is where we should concentrate our fire. We don’t have to bring them down. We just have to make them stagger and they will fall.
As Henry Thoreau said ‘there are thousands hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the roots…’ don’t tell me you are still hacking at the branches!