Thursday, June 08, 2006

Alliance Schmalliance: Houston, we have a little warlord situation going on here.

The Alliance for Freedom and Democracy… everybody is talking about the Alliance.

Honestly, I can’t get myself excited about the hullabaloo, and believe me, I am no less than a notorious vendee of hullabaloo. “LF Groupies” are having recurring wet dreams about it, as are the highly excitable EPRDF demagogue addicts who are trying the “CUD is aligning itself with terrorists” line now that no one is buying the “CUD is the Derg” line. Walk it off, drama queens. Then there are the myriad of “Liberation Fronts for the Liberation of Liberation Fronts” who are in the middle of a prim and proper conniption fit… and some ridiculous ‘patriotic front’ is having its 15 minutes of fame.

Meanwhile in the “Are you done tearing them a new asshole?” department, Dagmawi weighs in with withering criticism. Ethiopundit joins the fray. Semminawerq makes astute observations and a case for the Alliance.

Ech! As the Alliance stands right now, it barely registers on my radar. It is neither an earthquake nor a CUD suicide. Until the real CUD leadership is free and IT decides its alliances, we should take with a grain of salt the actions of gently-aged, polyester-wearing political antediluvians who gathered in Norway to sign a document. But listen, more power to anyone who can talk with the OLF what with all the ‘Abyssinian colonialism’ it has burdened itself with fighting. So bottom line for this unofficial wonk is…whatever. Support the Alliance, don’t support Alliance, there’s a lot of reading material out there. But how can anything that gathers together this much Ethiopian testosterone in one room without someone ending up dead be all that bad, is what I am saying. Look at the darling way they are holding hands and hugging each other, ferchrissake! Shit, how close are they to ring-around-the-roseying to a peaceful resolution of the Ethiopian crisis?

Actually, I find the conversation about the Alliance more fascinating than the Alliance itself. Ethiopians are discussing it rationally (for the most part…this blog very much excluded), and people are publicly and intellectually grappling with the idea. (See Ethiomedia for various articles.) Some worthy back and forth has been occurring. That is, of course, unless you go on EPRDF websites where honest intellectual disagreement is feared more than Mariah Carey’s eminent movie career. Remember that line in The Big Lebowski where Bunny tells The Dude that the guy lounging in her pool is a nihilist? “Um, that must be exhausting,” he enjoined in perfect stoner lethargy. That’s what the EPRDF echo machine is: utterly exhausting.

What I do find fascinating is what has been happening in Somalia and the possible implications for Prime Minister Meles and the artery clot that is EPRDF.

So the Islamic Court in Somalia has claimed to have given a collection of “anti terrorism”, “hey, we hate Al-Qaeda” warlords a decisive drubbing. In a rushed panic against anything ‘Islamic’, the U.S. peppered the warlords with cash. And they still lost. You can’t hire decent mercenary help these days.

Well, guess who has been providing the US with information about supposed Al-Qaeda existence in Somalia? u-hum… not Pat Robertson?

Washington Post, May 17

In a report to the U.N. Security Council this month, the world body's monitoring group on Somalia said it was investigating an unnamed country's secret support for an anti-terrorism alliance in apparent violation of a U.N. arms embargo.

Wait for it… wait for it…

Today’s New York Times has a fascinating article about the whole thing. A must read.

Most area experts agree backing these warlords was… ehhhh, how can I put it diplomatically, gynormously fucked up.

Around that time, the State Department's political officer for Somalia, Michael Zorick, who had been based in Nairobi, was reassigned to Chad after he sent a cable to Washington criticizing Washington's policy of paying Somali warlords.

How come Chad gets all the smart people?

In May, the United Nations Security Council issued a report detailing the competing efforts of several nations, including Ethiopia and Eritrea, to provide Somali militias and the transitional Somali government with money and arms — activities the report said violated the international arms embargo on Somalia.

Good night and good luck.

The Newshour had an exceptional roundtable on the issue. Herman Cohen and Professor Abdi Samatar opined. Again, the transcript is a must read if you missed the program. Mr. Cohen attempted an Ethiopian connection to the sordid story:

I think the U.S. government panicked. They saw Islamic group; they said, "Taliban is coming."

Also, there are friends in the region, like the Ethiopians, who probably are feeding false intelligence about terrorists being hidden and that sort of thing, because the Ethiopians are deadly afraid of Moslem control and also they have their own Moslem problem among the Oromo ethnic group in Ethiopia.

Uh, okkkkay.

Actually, Ethiopia has been feeding the US false information on terrorism because the Prime Minister knows what knee jerk reaction it gets from the State Department. Ethiopia has major internal problems (elections that didn’t quite add up, shooting of unarmed protestors, imprisoning of the opposition… y’know regular African stuff), and the only way it has escaped public scrutiny is by cynically playing the Al-Qaeda card. Well, that seems to have lost its luster.

Ethiopia’s status as a war on terror ally will finally come under close inquiry by the MSM press, and hopefully by the State Department. Prime Minister Meles’ government has been given several passes for egregious human rights violations because it was erroneously perceived as a stabilizing entity in the Horn. But now, not only is the UN is looking into violations of arms embargo, but the EPRDF has proven to be a destabilizing, Humvee hoarding, false-information providing, opportunist ally to the United States. Ato Meles’ government can get away with shooting unarmed civilians, but not embarrassing the US on matters concerning the war on terror.

The US has capitulated to working with the Islamic Court, and that might prove disastrous for the Meles regime. There also appears to be a reassessment of blind support to every AK-47 wielding warlord who claims to be rooting out Al Qaeda. If the US is serious about marginalizing Al Qadea in the Horn of Africa, it needs to seriously re-evaluate its relationship with the current Ethiopian government. But the US, unfortunately, doesn’t learn these lessons easily. After all, the warlords we are supporting in Somalia were the same ones who dragged the bodies of our boys through the streets of Mogadishu in 1994.

The Alliance for Freedom and Democracy might just provide the US with an alternative in Ethiopia. But even in this case, a careful assessment of the AFD’s strengths and weaknesses might be useful homework. Maybe Vicki Huddleston can tear herself away from target practice… ah, heck, transfer the good woman to Belize. She’s done her time trying to negotiate with Ato Meles.

Ted Koppel’s commentary, “Somalia: Decades of Unintended Consequences” hammers home the point.


Today is June 8, the first anniversary of the June uprising.


Blogger CHEREKA said...

Typing as fast as I can to be the first one to reply to your post... :) anywhoo, I kind of agree with your take on the alliance in that many have already rendered verdict on it before any kind of agenda or anything resembling it. All I read was that the leaders of each group were going to go back and talk to their constituents, and next thing I know, Ethiomedia is flooded with pro's and con's and Dagmawi, is it?, started selling tickets to the local zoo and gave a class on the near sapiens and their role in politics. Like you said, whatever.

Now, to that too close for comfort 4matter in Somalia. I get a feeling from your comment that you actually believe in this so called 'war on terror' by this US administration. I have to say I am mildly surprised, given your political savvy and your ability to stay on top of issues. This administration went to war with a fixed intelligence and is preparing for another one in the same manner! What makes you think their alliance with the warlords is a holly one? In fact, I say Meles is the perfect type of ally/infromant for them to advacne their neo-con agenda and wage their false war.

1:21 AM, June 08, 2006  
Anonymous not genet zewdie said...

iffffoyeee. AFD summarized in 'gently used' testosterone package. this is why i read you.

chereqa dmbuloqa, whatever your view on the war on terror (and there is one) the point is meles is proving useless to the ferenjieoch. and once you are useless to ferenjoch, m'Ts. might as well look for a Harare address.

7:38 AM, June 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I was waiting for this and am not disappointed. This is not a scathing verdict for/against AFD and I will just have to live with this. A wonderful job on the myopic US department and the Somali/Ethio warlords. In my opinion, and that ain’t saying much, you are the best. Keep up the good job.

11:59 AM, June 08, 2006  
Anonymous jiraf said...

i think the results of the 'retarded trial' combined with this latest fiasco in somalia will be very interesting times for meles and co. tplf continues to paint itsef into a corner. it has played its last card although "more people will die if you don't give me money" is always the Joker card.

what a disgrace tplf has been to all the people who died for a better ETHIOPIA.

8:04 AM, June 09, 2006  
Anonymous arba dereja said...

the final blow will probably come from *within* the eprdf. as resources become scarce, the infighting will escallate. and we can't dismiss the fact that there might just be decent people within the ruling party who can't take this $hit anymore. defections-- mengistu style, maybe?

11:34 AM, June 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your commentary on the formation of the ADF is appropriate. However, your commentary on the situation in Somalia is totally off the mark and betrays the naivete showed by many Ethiopian commentators in the diaspora.

The dangers posed by Somalia -- including irredentist claims on Ethiopian territory -- is not something new. It precded the EPDRF/Woyane's ascendance to power.
In fact, if Somalia was not in a mess when the Derg was pushed out of power in 1991, Somalia would have fulfilled its dream of dismembering Ethiopia's east and south. Harar, Diredawa, the Ogaden and many parts of the south would have been snatched follwing the power vaccum created before the current dictators consolidated their reach in those regions.

Since 1991, Islamist elements (particulrly Al Itahad) had committed a number of terrorist acts in Ethiopia proper (e.g. bombings of Ghion Hotel, Dire Dawa Ras Hotel, Harar Ras Hotel). Until the EPRDF government sent its forces and routed them, they were operating openly in Mogaddishu. The Eritrean government had continued to arm the OLF and ONLF and send their combatants in the south.

Hence, Ethiopia (even governed by a dictator) has an interest in what is happening in Somalia. To that extent their involvement is understandable. Until pan-Ethiopian democratic forces assume power, we should not wish the strengthening of anti-Ethiopia elements in Somalai. So the tacit or explicit taking of sides with the Islamits in Somalia or the jubilation over their victory over some of the warlords is misguided.

The campaign to expose the EPRDF/Woyane for nwaht it is doing to Ethiopians should continue. But that should not translate into support for forces bent on Ethiopia's destruction (even if they are enemies of the Woyane). The EMF article on the situation in Somalia is juvenile politics.

Besides, Somalis are responsible for the mess the are in. It is not Ethiopia's fault. It is not the U.S. fault.

The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend, stupid.

12:18 AM, June 10, 2006  
Anonymous etw said...

Teacher! Teacher! Me! Me! Let meeee!

Ehem. Has anyone else noticed a flurry of anonymous’ (anonymousi?) making hit and run comments on this board only to be intellectually decimated by the Weichegud cabal?

Weichegud. Dear Anonymous:

Your argument about my arguments about Somalia would have made perfect sense... if we were all nitwits with single digit IQs. Alas....

Fact: Ethiopia has been supplying the warlords with arms. (Against UN embargo, but I’ll give you this: the UN is so marginalized these days it might not mean a thing. The EPRDF could practically FedEx the arms with a return address full of smiley faces and the UN would just go into committee to discuss 'this grave matter.' Then Annan would take a nap.... zzzzz)

Fact/Question: Do all Somalis have designs on Ethiopia or did the EPRDF just happen to find the ones who don't want to gobble Harer before it decided to arm them?

Fact: You say “Ethiopia has a lot of interest in Somalia…” as if it just occurred to you. Ethiopia should have a lot of interest in a stable Somalia. Just that in this case the EPRDF chose to back the wrong horse. It better hope the Islamic Courts do not want to exact revenge on Ethiopia because that would mean another war EPRDF would have gotten Ethiopia into. The last time the Ethiopian government went to war and sacrificed 70,000 Ethiopians, it, um, negotiated away its winning. So… not exactly a stellar record on keeping Ethiopia’s territorial integrity intact, this EPRDF.


Fact: Even the US has conceded the IC might be a stabilizing element in Somalia. (Is Anonymous saying this is a mistake?) The Transitional government is negotiating with them, and the Somali people seem to like them. Popular support… hmm, not quite a concept the EPRDF has grasped. ‘Zallite.

Fact: The enemy of your enemy is NOT your friend… which is exactly why the EPRDF should not have armed the warlords in the first place. Or does that concept only apply when the EPRDF loses? IS Anonymous saying that the IC is Ethiopia’s enemy?

Fact: “But that should not translate into support for forces bent on Ethiopia's destruction”… That line sure sounds very familiar. Was it practiced when the TPLF and EPLF were BFF and landlocked Ethiopia? Or was that a time when the EPLF “was not bent on Ethiopia’s destruction?”

This whole argument by Anonymous is like when Stephen Colbert asks us to “feel” the news and not bother with the facts. A lot of facts are hidden under flag waving (the right kind of flag, btw, lest we are charged with genocide) and lame attempts to tug at our nationalism.

Fact: EPRDF has a vested interest in seeing an unstable Somalia. It is good propaganda for being “the only stable nation in the Horn” which translates into more money as a war on terror ally. Well, if the US concedes to working with the IC, and if there is any more embarrassing press about how we backed the wrong guys, guess who the US is going to tacitly drop like a hot potato?

Hm. YOu see what being a football widow does to one?

8:04 AM, June 10, 2006  
Anonymous kezira said...


i resent the implication that those of us with single digit IQs would not have seen through anonymous' arguments.

u shall be hearing from our lawyers, dewy, cheatam and howe.

9:01 AM, June 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Weichegud:
I am afraid you may have taken my advice and dissent on the situation in Somalia as the anonymous sniping of a Woyane sympathizer.

All I am saying is that the state of chaos in Somalia was not the making of the U.S. government or the current Ethiopian government. It preceded the American War on terror. It started following the downfall of the Ziad Barre regime in 1991. Ever since then there has been alliances and counter alliances vying for the control of the capital and other major cities.

In all these years foreign powers have followed and exploited the turn of events in Somalia. These include Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti and the United States.

Ethiopia's concern about developments in Somalia did not srat with EPDRF/WOYANE government. It preceded it. In fact, the current governmnet's first intervention in Somalia was in August 1996, when it sent its forces into Luuk and Buulo Hawaa region of Somalia and destroyed islamist bases run by al Itihaad. The attck was in response to a series of terrorist attacks in Addis, Dire Dawa and Harar. Somalia was also the staging ground for the OLF and ONLF.

The second major incursion happened in 1998 when the Eritrean government trained thousands of OLF fighters transported them to Somalia and were ready to be deployed in southern Ethiopia. The EPDRF government has maintained ties with various Somali warlords (many of them dubious) to create a buffer zone in the Gedo region. It has also threatened to send its army deep into the Somali territory if the incursions from Somalia do not stop.

According to many observers, the Ethiopian incursions have caused outrage among Somalis. But they also succeeded in destroying the military capacity of Al Itihaad which later blended with/metamorphosed into the Islamic Courts.

Yes, helping the creation of a stable (and ideally democratic) Somalia is in Ethiopia's interest. Various armed factions, civic society and elders from various clans have set up the Transitional Federal Government. It could not even take its seat in the capital due to the chronic violence. It is backed by all the neighboring countries (including Ethiopia), the UN and the AU. However, that effort may hit a snag with the victry of the Islamic Courts.

America's interest in Somalia was rekindled following intelligence reports that the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks on the United States embassies in Nairobi and Dareselam in 1998 fled to Somalia and were given refuge by the some of Islamic Courts.
The horror of September 11 made them appreciate their ties with various governments the region.

The EPDRF/Woyane government may used this alliance with U.S. to cover domestic atrocities.

To sum, the victory of the Islamic Courts should be a source of concern by any one with a basic knowledge of the murky politics of the Horn of Africa. We should not rejoice because America's or Ethiopia's interest faced a set back.

1:36 AM, June 11, 2006  
Anonymous tothfullest said...


I must say you have held your own and more defending your position. You have accomplished this without the usual condescending and snobbery required in order to belong to this circle of elitists. If the premise to any argument starts with anything the current government has done doesn’t serve the interest of the country, how intellectually honest is that. When (not a matter of if) a party led by an opposition takes control of the government, must any and all infrastructures built in the last 15 yrs such as roads, schools, hospitals, hydro dams, irrigation system, etc…have to be dismantled because they were implemented by the current government? The problem facing Ethiopia is much bigger than the result of management (or mismanagement) by the EPRDF led government. It is a result of thousands of years of backwardness, isolation, ignorance, narrow mindedeness that it is going to take a very long time and enormous effort to overcome.

4:29 PM, June 11, 2006  
Anonymous chiraq said...

ere benatachiu,

here is a diaspora rejectionist and now elitist repsonse......

the point is: people rejected the warlords in somalia, much like they did in ethiopia. tplf/eprdf is able to stay in power only because it has the will and ability to keep the citizens in the crosshairs of machine guns. that's the only way eprdf can stay in power because it played its last trump card- a bastion of stability! inday. what part of that is not clear? but sooner or later even that will not work...... the ruling party cannot win politically because it is unable. it has no popular support. get it? why did the islamic courts win in somalia.... yeah, say it with us....

I don't mean to be elitist but what does this mean: When (not a matter of if) a party led by an opposition takes control of the government, must any and all infrastructures built in the last 15 yrs such as roads, schools, hospitals, hydro dams, irrigation system, etc…have to be dismantled because they were implemented by the current government?

yeah. that's what the CUD is all about. we are moving to make fireworks out of every road, school, shopping mall, hotel, restaurant, hospital and music shop built in the past 15 years. that's the whole point. (uuuf!)

i take that back. i *was* trying to be elitist.

try to hang with us, anon and troof.

7:09 AM, June 12, 2006  
Anonymous ye mankussaw welafen said...

Esti innem wegu yidreseN:

And I quote: Yes, helping the creation of a stable (and ideally democratic) Somalia is in Ethiopia's interest.

shouldn't the ethiopian government be interested in helping create a democratic government in ethiopia?

ay minnew.

9:13 AM, June 12, 2006  
Anonymous melabelu said...

Tothefullest and Co.,

I usally don't agree with the snark on the comments section of Weichegud, but you guys MAKE IT SO DAMN EASY for them! Abo! You know how belligerant it makes me to defend snark?

10:29 AM, June 12, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...

What does 'tothfullest' mean?

Naive elitist that I am, I believe the Ethiopian and US intervention in Somalia has been disastrous, and even many in the US are now re-evaluating this policy.

"This has blown up in our face, frankly," says John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group.

While the US can afford such mistakes, Ethiopia cannot.

No matter what it does, Ethiopia must be seen to be on the side of the Somali people. As resentment against Ethiopia increases, danger to Ethiopia increases.

5:28 PM, June 12, 2006  

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