Home | Comment & Analysis    Friday 29 December 2006

Somalia’s War: Zenawi’s Quest for a new self-image in the West


“When a lion kills a goat in Ethiopia it is reported on the news. But when Ethiopian soldiers are killing Anuaks it is not reported.”

“People are scared into silence – if you say something against the government they find a way to arrest you – even now.”
Anuak Survivors, September 2004

By Qeerransoo Biyyaa

Dec 28, 2006 — The Independent Inquiry Commission (IIC) was established by Zenawi’s parliament to investigate into the use of excessive power in 2005 general elections. IIC investigators have to say this about the damages done to human beings: “Seventy one (71) were injured by explosives, bullets, Gejeras (machetes), bottles, knives, rocks, and clubs as per the evidences. Among the civilians 193 lost their lives and 763 sustained light and serious injuries, mostly caused by bullets as per the evidence”(http://www.ethiopar.net).

This moderated report shows a very recent genocide that has been committed by Prime Minster Zenawi. These figures were reduced and the descriptions of the damages done by the government security forces are toned down. These is shown by the fact that other defected members and non-members of the IIC like lawyers and members of parliaments tell us that the figure for the deaths could be many times as big. For instance, the x-opposition MP, Dr. Getachew Jigi, has said that the deaths alone could reach 600 countrywide in his personal testimony after defection (Jigi, November 11,2005). The death of 193 people itself would suffice to charge Zenawi with crimes of genocide but there are more stunning figures. Judge Aberra who has defected from Oromia High Court after 12 years of service has exposed that the regime has massacred in Oromia alone over the years between 15,000 to 20,000 Oromos. Briefly in another genocide in Gambellla regional state from 13-16 December 2003, Zenawi’s regime had carefully planned and implemented the killings of as many as 400 people in the town of Gambella, mainly Annuak (http://anuakjustice.org.

It is against the backdrops of these ugly and bloody state sponsored terror on the oppressed peoples of Ethiopia that is still going on that Zenawi has spoken in October 2006 that Ethiopia is ‘technically’ at war with Somalia because he alleged that the UIC has declared a jihad on Finfinnee, Ethiopia (Cf. BBC timeline Somalia). When he met his backers in the west Zenawi shook hands with them with his bloody hands, who knows whose hands are not?

Did the Ethiopian dictator really worry about the Jihadists or even the terrorists? To me, my likes as well as to the oppressed people of Ethiopia, this is not the genuine quest for Zenawi. But he left countries like the USA and Britain duped by pretending to fight terrorism for them. Nonetheless, Zenawi’s primary goal in joining the anti terrorism camp, however, is to achieve or regain the glory that he has lost in the eyes of the west because of the revelation of genocide his regime has committed. His hands are dirty with human blood and tears. The whole Ethiopian military adventure in Somalia is to reconstruct the suitable image of Zenawi in the eye of the west. Or Zenawi uses it to paint his image in a good light. Because they are fooled, I don not think USA and Britain understand Zenawi’s strategies for his true quest.

Now after intensive wars with Somalia after December 25, Ethiopia and the Somalia governments have regained some towns and cities from the Islmamists. Based on this temporary Ethiopian success, it is difficult to say what would happen. That is, whether or not the predicted expansion of the war into regional religious conflict is left for us to wait and see. But it is naïve not to expect that Blair and Bush will not be attracted and re-attracted to Zenawi who is doing his very best in their proxy war. Could that be love? Maybe. Whatever that is, surely this new image of Zenawi as a ‘good guy’ and the prospective partner of the west in the Horn of Africa would leave an indelible mark of continued government barrage and suppression in the minds of the oppressed majority in Ethiopia internally under Zenawi’s hated iron rule in Ethiopia. I do not think that the west, mainly the USA and Britain, are unaware that people are languishing under the absence of free and democratic rule in Ethiopia. The only reason that may refrain them from solving the political standoff in Ethiopia would be their priority in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere- the war on terror. So, Zenawi, the murderer, has now gotten or near to get a new identity as a lap dog of the west once again. By being in the laps of the west, Zenawi, in addition, too boosting his new identity and making the west to forget his crimes against humanity, he will be empowered. He [Zenawi] will be cuddle and stroked no matter what his offences are.

The source of the new empowerment for Zenawi will be the hard currency that would flow in from the USA for fighting terrorism in the Horn of Africa. So, Zenawi as usual will be legitimising his lack of political support from population at home by the backing of the USA and possibly Britain.

Then what will be the consequences of these on the upcoming 2010 Ethiopian General Elections? Will it be different from the preceding ones? Based on the previous massacre experiences of the EPRDF regime in Finfinne, and the continued west backing of Zenawi’s rule, I can make an informed guess that oppositions supporters will be killed in large numbers as usual and some leaders will go to jail and then the shameful Zenawi regime would assume an illegitimate office for the fourth time after election frauds. This is what troubles the minds of the oppressed majority of Ethiopians now. People are troubled about the continued absence of freedom and democracy. That is how the war in Somalia would help build a new attractive image of Zenawi in the eyes of the West and empower him to carry out his iron rule further.

* The author is based in ethiopia. He can be reached at meettaa@gmail.com

Note 1: “Finfinne” throughout this text refers to the original Oromo name for ‘Addis Ababa’ before colonisation in 1887. It still called Finfinne by the Oromo population.

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