Is a ‘hidden hand’ at work in Ethiopia?
By Leeloo Biyaa, January 13, 202
The suffering of the majority of the rural people became unbearable and they started protesting the loss of their lands. The Tigryan rich, who were the major part of a ruling elite group joined by some individuals from other ethnic groups who have associated with them (20% at the most), began playing with vast amounts of money while the rest of the population was struggling even to put food on the table (80% at the least). The TPLF and their supports robbed and exploited the country’s resource in every way possible. The last frontier of their adventure was removing Oromo farmers from their ancestral land and claiming it as their own. This process happened on the same way that their predecessors snatched land during the last century. At that time, every inch of the Sothern Lands was divided as their “erist gulte” intended for the emperor’s family and their servants the Ras, Dejazemach, Fitawrari’s (feudal titles) … and the “Betekehint” (the clergy).
From the perspective of southern populations in Ethiopia, TPLF ruling class behaved no differently from the conquerors. Their claim to confiscate the Sothern land is the same. Their forceful takeover of farmland triggered harsh memories of past atrocities as people lost everything when land and livelihood was taken. What is surprising of this outrageous action of the ruling group was carried out in the open.
The land grab and associated dehumanization of the population was nowhere worse than it was in Oromia. The last straw for many Oromo is the removal of the farmers in and around Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) from their ancestral land. Although this had been done in many parts of the south, the fact that it was carried out brazenly in and around Finfinnee allowed the people to see, unfiltered, the dehumanizing consequence of the action of TPLE’s ruling group. News about the deplorable condition of the displaced farmers started impacting the cities and reaching Oromo communities in diaspora.
The resentment of TPLF’s act started showing up even in some circles of the OPDO and other parties. Some within the ranks started talking publicly and letting the lid off so that the people can protest in the open. As we have learned since, there was much struggle within OPDO between those who felt the act of removing the farmer from their land is not acceptable and those who partnered and benefited from the removal with the TPLF leaders, even assisting their construction companies, the banks and the foreign investors who were plundering the resources of the country.
Oromo in diaspora started rallying in many cities in support of the people’s protest. The calls for “Oromo First!” and the hashtag “#OromoProtests” stated gaining traction. The advocacy groups started walking the hallways of Congress, lobbying for sanctions against the government, putting their fear of impending civil war on record.
The political groups started to create coalitions, realizing the advantages of a united front. The meetings and conference call with many of the groups created a momentum and was instrumental for many to join the protest to expand beyond the Oromo and Oromia. We saw protests in Gonder, BahirDar, Sidama, Ogaden, Gurage, etc., and other areas, with varying degrees of intensity.
The kingmakers of the world could not ignore the peoples’ uprising while continuing to support the TPLF regime, so they started asking themselves, “What is the alternative?” The policy advisers and lobbyists of Sixteen and K Streets, and others, had been working feverishly right under the noses of diaspora groups, but we didn’t pay attention to what they were doing. They sent “advisers” to the country to create an alternative, they met with the leaders of EPDRF and continued to wait until an alternative that would serve them emerged. The TPLF was promised a safe retreat to Tigray, just like Mengistu was given a “safe passage” to Zimbabwe. Similar transportation arrangement was made to many TPLF leaders and family via their playground in Dubai. They were promised that they will not be touched, their property will be waiting for them, their companies will continue to operate and they will continue to have the upper hand in military materials. In a nutshell, the TPLF was promised that their financial and strategic interests will be protected.
The hand that has worked before with its many forms of expertise, advisers and endless “white papers” started crafting an “alternative” for Ethiopia. They reached deep into the different political groups, added to their recruits and many more to gain support for their vision. They introduced a do-gooder and appeaser in the OPDO, “Lemma Megersa”, who passed on the mantle to Abiy to be elected as leader of OPDO, qualifying him to be elected as a next Prime Minister. His assigned task was to fulfil the master’s mission. In the meantime, they concocted the poison and gave to Oromo and others who sought change. We all drank from it and started shouting that the problem of Ethiopia can be solved “peacefully”. Thus, our prediction of ‘civil war’ is averted. O, by God, an Oromo with a Muslim name is elected as a Prime Minister!! This transformation of power and the changing of the guard intoxicated us. We started shouting “Team Lemma”! What an architect! We did not see the invisible hand or didn’t care; all we were looking for was the dream.
We started believing that all the problems that had accumulated for over a hundred years and the fight and sacrifices our people made, especially in the last fifty years could be solved peacefully. It shows how much we craved for this to happen, and how blind and naïve we have been.
The hidden hand blessed its road map and handed it to the newly anointed Prime Minster to implement. The recruits of the hidden hand were sent quickly from every corner to support the Prime Minister.
Some of us started questioning the crisscrossing and the visits of the prime minster; we started asking, “How he is able to tell each group what they wanted to hear? How are his speeches in different languages really different?” But we didn’t care, we wanted to believe only what we heard, filtering and ignoring what was said in this or that meeting. Clearly, we saw that the message does not tie together logically. We saw that it is full of overt contradictions. But we were deafened and persuaded to shut our minds and hear what we wanted to hear by those who are working for the ‘Hidden Hand.’
The Deacon from Atlanta and others were assigned the chaperone duty. Although all the trips and speeches were paid and rewritten by the K Street fat cats, we did not see any of them around the Prime Minister, it was made appear for us by us.
The long-standing conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia vanished by just the gesture of a trip and the “I-love-you”, “you-love-me” speech. Although history will reveal the number of trips and cables sent from Washington, DC to each capital and the bank accounts that worked its miracle, we never questioned or asked, “Who is behind this?”.
We Oromo saw our own friends who were frequent visitors of the State Department, pack their bags very quickly and head home to Finfinnee to implement the road map of the ‘invisible hand’ with other Ethiopians who were given the same task drawn from many cities.
All were invited in the name of the opposition parties; prisons were opened and political prisoners were released. A promise of transparency was issued quickly. We too believed in that promise. In due time, we started complaining about the little things, started doubting our political leaders, started blaming them, when it became clear that they see the events like we did. We exerted our pressure, we withdrew our support, we asked all of them to be in line with the new dream. The Oromo asked the fractured political parties to unite. However, this was not in the cards. This was not part of the road map. The advisers quickly started working between the groups; busing them to day-long meetings; paying for their room and board. They were asked to show gratitude to the new government that brought them back to the county that is paying their hotel room and opened unlimited wallet for their meals. Some were taking advantage of this, even inviting family and friends to join them and signing vouchers without any question. They did not realize that each is being tallied and the more they spend the more they are owned.
But the invisible hand miscalculated the depth of the peoples’ grievance. They did not fathom demands/aspirations that led many to give their precious lives. The question of “Abbaa biyyummaa”, “haqqa ummataa”, “mirga offiin off bulchuu”
The shredding of the hidden hand’s road map did not start only in Oromia, where a “just contain’ strategy was implemented, but it started within the leadership of the Amhara region, who defied the architects and wanted more than they were allowed. The first gunshot was heard and the architects blamed the previous rulers hiding in Tigray. They said, “This, too, will be contained!” They tried to mollify the Amhara demands by bringing back the memory their dead leaders from the grave, honoring and erecting statues to them. Building these statues has not quenched their demands, however; they simply wanted more. They said, “Now that we have these, we can take back the system that was built by our heroes.” They wanted to bring back their ancestors’ rule. To satisfy this demand, the architects promised that the federation would be shelved. EPRDF will morph into one “Emiyee Ethiopia” (mother) party that dreams of prosperity. They are hiding behind this. But it is easy to guess for whom this proclamation of prosperity is, and on whose backs they presume that this will be accomplished.
The ‘hidden hand’ knows that there will be a challenge to their road map if the Oromo are united and organized. To make sure that Oromo will never unite, it uses all means to divide them. Leaders of Oromo political organizations are made to think and believe that only their organization is the sole representative of the people. The OLF/SG is made to walk a boundary line between peaceful and armed struggle; ready to be accused of violation of the rules of peaceful struggle and to be thrown out of the game. They gave all support to OLF/TA, then denied them party registration. This is a strategy to deny both OLFs the party registration. Foolishly OLF/SG considers party registration a victory, while the OLF/TA will petition the court (whose court?) to interfere and suspend the registration of OLF/SG. The courts are told to make sure the infighting over registration will continue. Could Waaqaa give them the wisdom to see what the hidden hand is doing and put the peoples cause before organization/leadership?
The activists that have followers are made to think that they are above political organizations; and they were encouraged to play a role of maanguddo/jaarsaa to reconcile, and bring together the organizations under one umbrella. They are made to think they are engaged in noble assignment; and blinded as that they will not see the ‘hidden hand’ at work dividing and creating hostility between the organizations. Thus, the endless job of maangudummaa is created for the activists to derail them from organizing themselves or joining and transforming one or the other political organization.
The Oromo and the colonized people of the empire should see that old challenges have started rearing their heads. They should realize the road map concocted by the hidden hand does not benefit them. They know well what happened in the past when they trusted their “leaders”. We hope this time they will chart their own road map and their future. For this they need to join hands with their brothers and let go of the hidden hand that is trying to deny them their future. They know well that their future is a democratic multinational federation with national/local self-rule and equitable federal shared-rule for which thousands have given their lives and are ready to give for this cause, if need be.
We are seeing the first phase of the disintegration of the federal state. What is prosperity for those who don’t have freedom and democracy? Who are imprisoned and killed on a daily basis? The puppets of the hidden hands are running around inside the country and abroad to convince us, we should be vigilant by preventing those wolves in sheep’s clothing amongst us from setting the agenda or contributing to the road map. We need to frame our own issues and draw the road map to highlight and express those demands now.
Aluta Continua !!!