Ethiopia: The Zenawi-Shawel Handshake – the Anti-Thesis of Liberty & Democracy (Analysis)
By Fayyis Oromia*
Few days back, surprising and “shocking” news came out of the Ethiopian empire, i.e. the handshake of the Weyane Tigrai hegemonist Mr. Meles Zenawi with the Amhara conservative unitarist Mr. Hailu Shawel. What do these two persons have in common? Why did the handshake happen? Why was it surprising to most Ethiopians, in general, and “shocking” to Amharas, in particular? Did the “Oromo factor” play a certain role for the handshake to happen? What is the relation of this handshake to the hitherto attempts made to achieve the necessary compromise between Amhara democratic forces and Oromo federalist movements in the formation of the recent alliance aka Medrek?
Looking back at the history of the empire in the last about 150 years, Amhara and Tigrai elites used to compete on the issue of who should be the empire’s dominating force. Till 1991, Amhara elites were the dominating force whereas Tigrai elites had the junior role of cooperating for the common benefit. Both used to oppress and exploit Oromo people, in particular, and all oppressed nations in the empire, in general. Since 1991, they exchanged their roles so that Tigrai elites became the dominating force, and Amhara elites adapted to play the junior role, and yet both elite groups are prospering at the cost of the oppressed nations.
Now, the struggle of the oppressed nations is slowly getting a momentum, and all nations, including the currently-subjugated Amhara poor, are now trying to come together to challenge the ruling Tigrean elites, and also struggle against the few cooperating Amhara and Oromo elites, who are still benefiting from the system. The main goal of the Oromo nation’s struggle, being led by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), and that of the struggle of other oppressed nations is to get rid of the Nefxenya system of domination (domination by using Nefx or gun). For the oppressed nations, the 21st-century Tigrean Nefxenya is not different from the 20th-century Amhara Nefxenya.
The 21st-century and modern Nefxenyas have ruled over Ethiopian peoples in the last 18 years, specially by using the divide-and-rule method. They have managed to sow a discord among Amhara democratic forces, which are pro Ethiopian unity, and Oromo freedom fighters, which are pro liberty of nations. These two pro-unity and pro-liberty forces have been fighting each other, thus Weyane has managed to rule without facing any cooperated and coordinated challenge from the two BIG nations.
Thanks to the farsighted OLF leaders and some representatives of Amhara democrats, certain discussions have been going on for the last few years on the issue of how to find a common denominator to forge an alliance and fight against the fascist Weyane. They tried to look at the two virtues (“democracy” and “liberty”) as the strong sides of the two nations. Being pro-unity is the strong side of Amhara democratic forces, and being pro-liberty is the strong side of Oromo liberation fronts. Both tried to reconcile these two important virtues so that it might be possible to achieve both national liberty and regional (Ethiopian) unity. This effort showed good results by forging AFD (the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy) in 2006, and now by forming Medrek (the Forum for Democratic Dialogue – FDD.) The coming together of Amhara democratic forces and Oromo freedom fronts in these alliances has been very shocking news for Weyane fascists.
Now pro-democracy and pro-freedom forces, both at home and in Diaspora, are coming together for a common denominator of struggling for freedom and democracy in the region called Ethiopia. Amhara democrats have started to recognize the God-given right of Oromo nation to self-administration and autonomy; Oromo freedom fighters have started to say: “if there will be no Abesha domination, there will be no necessity of Oromo liberation in a sense of secession.” That is why Medrek was forged as a compromise and good “midpoint” solution based on a predetermination by elites to fix the conflict between Abyssinia and Oromo. Of course, the “endpoint” solution will be the confirmation of Medrek’s position by the self-determination of each concerned nation, which seems to be the position of AFD.
Both the above mentioned solutions (that of Medrek and that of AFD) are the anti-dotes against the 20th-century Nefxenya, for which Ato Hailu Shawel and co. are nostalgically longing for; the Medrek and AFD solutions are also anti-dotes against the 21st-century Nefxenya led by Aite Meles Zenawi. So, the common view of the two Nefxenyas is their anti-democracy and anti-freedom position. Now, we can see that the “shocking” handshake of the two men is a symbol of cooperation of two dictators against the emergence of the very constructive pro-democracy and pro-freedom alliance aka Medrek.
Mederek, with its potential, is the good challenge against Weyane fascists, if the next election becomes really free and fair. It is crystal-clear that Weyane will never allow it to be as such, so that the other option would be the struggle by all means as G-7 and OLF are trying to do. Now, there is a probability for Amhara democrats in Diaspora rallying behind G-7, EPPF and EPRP to forge a new alliance similar to AFD with freedom fighters like OLF, ONLF and SLF — all to be helped by Eritrea against the fascist regime in Finfinne.
Weyane is now under immense pressure from Medrek at home, from pro-democracy forces in Diaspora, from famine in Ethiopia, from the international community and, of course, from the Eritrean government. Being under such dire situation, the hegemonist Meles now got a saving handshake from the unitarist Hailu Shawel, who seems to have obsolete mentality. It is a fact that Hailu Shawel does have a support of a lot of Amharas, who are emotionally attached to him, not based on reason, but just based on the false Ethiopian patriotism. I hope they will slowly and surely get the true color of this dictator, and that they will opt for the genuine and lasting solution as pro-democracy Amharas in UDJ and G-7 are trying to do. The only lasting solution is union of all nations in the empire based on self-determination.
To answer the questions I raised at the beginning:
What do these two persons have in common?
- The two dictators have in common the purpose of opposing any movement for freedom and democracy for they know that the realization of these two virtues means an end to both Nefxenya systems.
Why did the handshake happen?
- The handshake happened now in order to save the Abyssinian system of domination, in which both Amhara Nefxenya elites and Tigrai Nefxenya elites used to prey on the oppressed nations, like Oromo. They are on their last attempt of saving the system not to be destroyed by all pro-democracy and pro-freedom forces (including Amhara and Tigrai democrats).
Why was it surprising to most Ethiopians, in general, and “shocking” to Amharas, in particular?
- The handshake was surprising to all Ethiopians because of Mr. Hailu’s and his friends, like Dr. Taye’s, hitherto arrogance and their show not to have any relation with Weyane; it was “shocking” to Amharas for it made them to be seen as boot lickers of Weyane. The picture of Ato Hailu bowing so low to the feet of Aite Meles is very humiliating for the supporters of Ato Hailu, to say the least.
Did the “Oromo factor” play a certain role for the handshake to happen?
- Of course, the “Oromo factor” played an immense role for the handshake. Conservative Amharas like Ato Hailu used to believe and they still believe that “it is better to be ruled by Tigreans for 100 years than to be ruled by Oromo for 1 day.” They know that true democracy and freedom means appropriate share of power for the Oromo people. This group does have more fear from Oromo in power than from Tigrean in power. So, the handshake can be perceived as that of two Nefxenyas taking vows not to leave Oromia free from their exploitation and oppression. It is a symbolical agreement to continue their system of domination, be it Amhara Nefxenya or Tigrai Nefxenya, in the Finfinne palace.
What is the relation of this handshake to the hitherto attempts made to achieve the necessary compromise between Amhara democratic forces and Oromo federalist movements in the formation of the recent alliance aka Medrek?
- The handshake is simply put the anti-thesis of the cooperation of Abesha democratic forces and Oromo freedom fighters in Medrek and in AFD in order to forge a common home in that region based on democracy, equality, freedom and justice. It seems Weyane is trying to lure certain Amhara forces away from forging such an alliance with Oromo fronts. If the handshake succeeds, then Weyane’s divide-and-rule tactics between Amhara forces and Oromo fronts will revive again.
Now, the division of the political camps in the empire is slowly becoming clear: dictators and fascist Nefxenyas on one side, whereas democrats and freedom fighters on the other side. Weyane with its moles, like Lidetu, Ayele and Hailu, being in the first group, while Medrek, with its pro-democracy supporters at home and in Diaspora, in the second group.
What is the implication of the handshake on the Oromo liberation movement. It depends on the definition we do give for the word liberation. If it is “liberation” in the sense of the status quo as OPDO people try to convince us, then the handshake is good to keep it. If “liberation” means self-determination in the form of Oromian autonomy in Ethiopian context, like what Oromo federalists in Medrek want to realize, then the handshake is against it. If we mean “liberation” is self-determination leading to Oromian independence, be it within a union or without a union of nations in the empire/region, the handshake is almost similar to the handshake of Hitler with Mussolini to subjugate the free world. Simply put, the handshake is the anti-thesis of the alliances like Medrek, and it helps Weyane to secure its power further for at least the next 5 years based on its method of divide-and-rule. The only question to be answered is: did Ato Hailu do this intentionally being the “smart Weyane supporter” or did he do the job unintentionally being the “stu*pid anti-Weyane”, who is just naively instrumentalized by the canning fox!
* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at email@example.com.