Ethiopia: What Do We Do Now? (Part 1)

THEY know what they want, and do NOW!

The T-TPLF has declared a “state of emergency” and unleashed a reign of terror on Ethiopia. But what do they want, and do now?

What the T-TPLF wants to do NOW is use every trick in the book to remain in power for another 25 years and do business as usual!

What the T-TPLF wants to do NOW is find a way to maintain for the next 25 years total and complete control of the political system and structures, the economy and the military/security forces.

What the T-TPLF wants to do NOW is reinvent the T-TPLF as a gentler and kinder organization that is all embracing and inclusive. The T-TPLF wants to convince the Ethiopian people and its foreign bankrollers that the fox guarding the hen house has suddenly been transformed into a fun-loving, affectionate and obedient Golden Retriever.

What the T-TPLF wants to do NOW is divide and destroy once and for all time the opposition, particularly the leaderless youth movement and create its own puppet opposition groups and pretend it is practicing democracy.

What the T-TPLF wants to do NOW is secure the total and unconditional surrender of the Ethiopian people who are now in full uprising mode and force them to return to T-TPLF enslavement swiftly.

What the T-TPLF wants to do NOW is project a sense of “peace” and “stability” (which simply means shackle the hands and feet of the Ethiopian people, plug their ears so they hear nothing from the outside, poke their eyes out so they cannot see T-TPLF massacres and muzzle their mouths so they cannot speak) and play nice so that the loaners, donors, international poverty pimps and “investors” will keep pumping more money to prop up T-TPLF rule. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told PPM Hailemariam to “open talks with people who have problems [opposition]” and that in a “democracy there always needs to be an opposition that has a voice.” The PPM said, “Yeah, yeah… whatever.” Barack Obama said the T-TPLF is democratic and does not need to give the opposition a voice to be a democracy. PPM Hailemariam yelped, “Right on Bro-bama!”

What the T-TPLF wants to do NOW is infiltrate, penetrate and completely destroy the leaderless youth movement that has been organizing the national resistance, protests and civil disobedience against T-TPLF rule. (I use the phrase “leaderless youth movement” to indicate the widespread use of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience by loosely organized and coordinated independent groups who broadly share the same objectives without an identifiable command and control structure).

What the T-TPLF wants to do NOW is achieve a “negotiated” settlement to the current massive uprising (by force, trickery, bribery, persecution, prosecution, etc.) so that it can buy more time to plan a ruthless crackdown. The T-TPLF wants to use “negotiations” to keep itself in power with total and complete domination of the politics, economy and military structures of Ethiopia. Anyone who believes the T-TPLF will give one millimeter, one milligram of power through negotiation, is a damned fool. The T-TPLF will NEVER, NEVER give one millimeter or one milligram of power to anyone by negotiation or other civilized means. The reason is simple: Those who seized power straight out of the bush know only the law of the jungle; they are clueless about the rule of law. As I like to say, you can take the thug out of the bush (jungle) but you can never take the bush (jungle) out of the thug. There is as much chance of teaching the T-TPLF about the rule of law as there is domesticating a hyena.

What the T-TPLF wants to do NOW is defeat the nonviolent resistance and movement in Ethiopia by waging a war of attrition by strategically using its velvet-gloved iron fist.

What the T-TPLF wants to do NOW is hoodwink and bamboozle Ethiopians into giving it one more chance to remain in power for another 25 years.

The T-TPLF puppet prime minister in his televised declaration of a “state of emergency” (for the T-TPLF, that is) spent nearly one-half of his 20-minute statement pleading, groveling and begging for one more chance to get it right. The PPM said:

In this regard, as set forth in the constitution, our aim is to continue the work started by the people and the government. Our government’s system of governance needs to be renewed (rehabilitated). We have started a competent mobilization process. We will reshape our (administration) from top to bottom and address the questions raised by the people and their complaints about the services the government should give them. This is one of our biggest goals. Second, the governance process must be rehabilitated. We have to do deep reforms. In so doing, we will extract those things that are democratic deficits and correct them. Reforming our democratic structure is another one of the big jobs we have to do. That means increasing executive accountability to the legislature. It is also necessary to engage civic and professional organizations in discussion with the government and widen our democracy. Also to broaden and deepen our democracy, it is very necessary to engage the legal parties in discussion with the government on various agendas…

To reinforce the PPM’s message, for the past week the T-TPLF has been setting up shotgun “conferences” (forced) to engage in dialogue with local academics, researchers, community, religious, opposition, civic and traditional leaders.

In one videotaped “conference” on T-TPLF TV, T-TPLF invited “leaders” are seen and heard talking about the need “for urgent dialogue with other stakeholders”, “better governance”, “opening of political space”, institutionalizing the “rule of law”, “taking responsibility for past mistakes”, “civility and tolerance”, “reconnecting the (T-TPLF) with the people”, “peace and harmony” and a whole bunch of other stuff.

At the “conference”, the T-TPLF leaders also got an opportunity and a forum to absolve themselves of any responsibility and engage in their usual incantations and litanies about all the work they have done and are “doing everything to develop the country and bring democracy”, admitted to “not living up to the constitutional standards” and failing to “employ constitutional techniques”, the need for creating “more political space” and being “more inclusive”, all of the great economic progress that has been achieved over the past two decades, and so on. (They no longer talk about “10 percent growth over the past 10 years”. Could it be because someone proved beyond a shadow of doubt that the claim of 10 percent annual growth was a lie damned lie and a statislie?)

There are three things I found incredible in the T-TPLF make-believe “conference”.

First, there was not a single young person (under 30) present at that “conference”. (I did not say those who attended the “conference” were a horde of grumpy old geezers.)

Second, I found it mind-boggling that the people talking about the problems of the country at the “conference” were among those who are directly or indirectly responsible for the problems. The voices of the young people who are doing the heavy lifting, the dying, the going to jail, suffering the T-TPLF torture chambers were not being heard at the “conference”.

“Where are the young people at the ‘conference’?”, I asked myself.

“Why weren’t they invited to attend?”, I declared out loud indignantly.

“Obviously, someone forgot to invite them!”

Then it occurred to me, they are all in jail, in hiding, in exile, in fear, in despair, in doubt, in terror and on the run from one place to another as they are hunted down by T-TPLF goons.

What a travesty!!!

Hyenas and lions were having a “conference” over what do with the problems and challenges created by zebras.

Third, while those present at the “conference” pontificated about good governance, “constitutional process” and the rest of it, not a single one of them talked about the absolute urgency of now to release political prisoners, prosecute human rights violators, launch investigations into the Irreecha Massacres and other human rights violations and so on. Not a single person challenged the need or justification for the so-called state of emergency decree and the arbitrary arrests and detentions of citizens without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Not a single one demanded the immediate removal of all restraints on the media including the internet and a stop to implementation of the so-called “state of emergency”. Lifting restrictions on the internet is important. Just like the T-TPLF shut down the international media from investigating the famine in Ethiopia, it is now shutting down all media and the internet to conceal its campaign of massacres and mass arrests and detentions throughout the country. It is incredible how the Western donors, loaners and international poverty pimps have remained silent as the T-TPLF pulls a black curtain over Ethiopia.

A “Mexican standoff” between the T-TPLF and the leaderless popular uprising?

When PPM Hailemariam declared a state of emergency, most people thought there was a state of emergency in Ethiopia.

The fact of the matter is that it is the T-TPLF that is in a state of emergency. The people of Ethiopia have lived in a state of emergency for the past 25 years. It is not possible to be in a state of emergency when one has been in a state of emergency for 25 years.

The current situation between the T-TPLF and the leaderless mass resistance movement may best be described as a “Mexican standoff” (“a confrontation between two or more parties in which no participant can proceed or retreat without being exposed to danger. As a result, all participants need to maintain the strategic tension, which remains unresolved until some outside event makes it possible to resolve it.”)

In the current situation, neither the T-TPLF nor the resistance movement has a “safe” way to withdraw because both sides have arrived at a juncture where the outcome can only be a zero-sum game (that is, one side must lose completely and the other side must win completely).

To the T-TPLF, the leaderless mass youth movement must be destroyed at all costs because the T-TPLF knows the young people united can NEVER be defeated.

The T-TPLF will spare nothing and will use its security and military forces to the maximum to kill, incapacitate and neutralize the youth movement. The leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party once said, “He owns the future who own the youth.” Since the T-TPLF cannot own the youth, they will do everything to destroy the youth movement by massacres and mass arrests and detentions. But by doing so, the T-TPLF will be grooming the next generation of die-hard revolutionaries against its rule.

In the standoff, the T-TPLF is not offering anything of value to the resistance movement. The T-TPLF’s gestures about replacing one gang of thugs for another at the local level is non-starter. The T-TPLF promising “reforms”, giving lip service to making available more political space to opposition groups, integrating civic society groups in “expanding and deepening our democracy” as the puppet T-TPLF prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn said in his “state of emergency declaration” amount to nothing more than “whistling Dixie”, to use an American idiom. The T-TPLF’s plea for one last chance to do it right so that they can stay in power for another 25 years in power will fall on deaf ears.

I shall predict the “standoff” between the T-TPLF and leaderless youth movement will likely remain a permanent feature as the T-TPLF uses increasing violence to suppress the movement and the young people become more radicalized and radicalize those coming behind them.

I have explained my views on the restless Ethiopian Cheetahs (young people) in my recent commentary “Disinformation in T-TPLF Land of Living Lies: Pinocchio Preaches Truth Against Perception in Ethiopia?”. To summarize my points, there is a national awakening in Ethiopia in the same sense Zbigniew Brzezinski talked about a “global awakening” in 2008. Brzezinski argued that the “worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening… That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing.” Brzezinski warned:

The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well… Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious “tertiary level” educational institutions of developing countries….

The young people of Ethiopia who constitute 70 percent of the population are leading the uprising and revolution, NOT the opposition political parties, leaders and the rest. They are demanding human dignity and human rights. That is non-negotiable. The young people of Ethiopia are restless and resentful. They are sick and tired of being sick and tired of living as third-class citizens under T-TPLF tyranny. The young people of Ethiopia are far more radicalized than anything the T-TPLF leaders can think of in their wildest imagination. The lethality of the military might of the T-TPLF is greater than ever, but in the face of Ethiopia’s Youth Power it is like a feather in a tornadic storm.

The leaderless popular resistance is not offering much to the T-TPLF either. Proposing to the T-TPLF that 25 years of daylight robbery, 25 years of massacres and genocide and 25 years of one-party dictatorship must end is not going to enrapture the T-TPLF. One question over which there is no question is that the T-TPLF wants to continue with business as usual (daylight robbery, corruption, human rights violation, abuse of power, etc. for the next 25 plus years).

T-TPLF’s Million dollar question: How can the T-TPLF completely destroy the leaderless youth nonviolent movement? Answer: War of attrition!

The most important lesson the T-TPLF has learned over the past several months is that it cannot massacre itself back into business as usual.

The T-TPLF tried shock and awe and it did not work. At least it did not get them back to business as usual. It rattled them a bit but in the main they remain convinced that they can remain in power through brutality, savagery and barbarism. They know they cannot win by simply massacring tens of thousands of people. The legal, political and diplomatic costs are too high. Beside the more people they kill, the more people who will rise and take up the fight. People will fight to the end when they have nothing to lose. It is a paradox. People who have lost their land, their self-dignity, their identity, their pride and their humanity will fight to the end because they have nothing left for them to fight for. The T-TPLF believes, when push comes to shove, they can ultimately fight their way out by killing as many people as they can.

The fact of the matter is that the T-TPLF relentlessly pursued both preemptive and retaliatory action against the leaderless youth movement; but that has only made things worse. It forced the people to show their true grit.

Therefore, the only and last option the T-TPLF has to defeat and subdue the leaderless youth movement engaged in nonviolent struggle and go back to business as usual is to wage a war of attrition.

I don’t mean the old style war of attrition of WW I where waves after waves of soldiers are ordered to cross the line and attack the enemy to wear him down.

The T-TPLF does not have the soldier-power to kill one hundred million Ethiopians or to engage in military action for a decisive military victory. They do not have enough jails or jail keepers to put millions of people behind bars. Even if they could secure decisive military victories, it would only be temporary because the resistance will continue by other means. The T-TPLF must have psychological victory over the people.

The T-TPLF war of attrition is short-term and long-term. In the long-term, the T-TPLF wants to 1) degrade and wear down the popular resistance by systematically eliminating resistance activists, opposition community leaders and the like; and 2) wear down the appeal of the ideas that are driving the resistance by adopting or embracing them as their own.

In the short-term, the T-TPLF is (will be) waging a psychological war of attrition through the systematic and tactical use of force. By selective and targeted killings of youth activists and suspected activists, jailing mobilized youth on an industrial scale and subjecting them to economic pressure, the T-TPLF aims to accomplish several objectives against the leaderless youth movement: 1) destroy their will to fight by non-violent means; 2) sap the collective energy of the movement by a campaign of intimidation, 3) destroy the morale of those engaged in resistance activities to the point where they simply give up; 4) destroy whatever informal structure of resistance exists and 5) inflict sufficient physical damage so that the movement suffers great losses and cost is too high for them to continue the struggle.

In order for the T-TPLF to reestablish its absolute supremacy and go back to business as usual, it must convince all of the people of Ethiopia that they have been defeated collectively. They cannot convince the people of their supremacy by massacring and jailing them. All that will do is harden the resolve of the people and be determined to remove the T-TPLF from power at all costs. The T-TPLF will try t do it by a prolonged campaign of attrition.

As the T-TPLF implements its war of attrition, they will use a carrot-and-stick strategy. In other words, the T-TPLF will speak softly and carry a big stick. So far, the T-TPLF has undertaken the following activities in its war of attrition against the leaderless youth nonviolent movement:

Create bogus national dialogue bodies from among its supporters and cronies;

Trot out old opposition leaders (including some that have been thoroughly discredited) and pretend to give them a meaningful and real role in resolving the current “crises” (state of emergency);

Sound out the opposition to find out who they can payoff and bribe to get back to business as usual;

Use disinformation to create the impression of imminent democratic transition;

Make make-believe concessions that look and sound good but not amount to a hill of beans;

Temporarily relax repressive laws until such time that they feel confident enough to unleash the dogs of hell;

Make empty gestures of reform and democratization while knowing full well they will not give away a milligram of power to anyone under any and all circumstances;

Pretend to take the advice of their Western behind-the-scenes advisors to moderate their actions and to look more reasonable so that their Western supporters will continue to pump in hundreds of millions of dollars to prop them up;

Manufacture bogus emergencies to justify commission of new crimes against humanity;

Refine their divide and rule strategy and find ways to divide Oromos and Amharas;

Pretend to be ready for fundamental change by promising all sorts of reform. After Merkel berated PPM Hailemariam, he said, “We want to reform the electoral system so the voices of those who are not represented can also be heard in the parliament.”

In the end, the T-TPLF will be defeated

We Are all Leaders!

What the T-TPLF is doing today was done with equal brutality by the apartheid white minority government in South Africa.

What the T-TPLF is doing in Ethiopia is nothing new.

Apartheid South Africa tried it and failed. As I demonstrated in my commentary last week, the apartheid white minority regime tried state of emergency declarations, passed all kinds of laws to arbitrarily arrest and imprison and thousands of black South Africans. They tried to suppress the mass nonviolent campaigns by jailing, torturing and killing black South Africans engaged in defiance and civil disobedience to apartheid rule. They implemented laws outlawing organizations and criminalizing any act of individual or mass civil disobedience.

In the end, the apartheid regime failed to stop the popular nonviolent resistance movement. Defiance spread throughout South Africa.

The repressive measures of the apartheid regime created a South African Black Consciousness Movement which gave black South Africans a new consciousness of their own distinctive identity and self-worth, and made them more determined to speak out and defend their human rights. They put everything behind until they gained liberation. The young black South Africans declared, “Liberation before education” and became radicalized.

In my view, the greatest achievement of the South African Black Consciousness Movement was its role in transforming the thinking and perceptions of South Africans away from ethnic and racial identity to one national identity for all South Africans.

My analysis of the situation is that the T-TPLF is hastening its own destruction by creating all the conditions necessary for a national consciousness movement based on the total rejection, contempt, disgust and hatred for what the T-TPLF has done to cling to power and stands for. Just as the people of South Africa committed themselves totally to the struggle against apartheid after all the repressive measures were taken by the white minority regime, Ethiopians will also totally commit themselves to rid their country of the scourge of the T-TPLF.



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