By Yilma Bekele
Hopefully you have all heard or read about WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization that publishes documents from anonymous news sources and leaks. It has been doing that since 2006. These past few days it has been publishing leaked US State Department diplomatic cables. The US is not amused. It is ironic to see the “Western Democracies” crying foul, hacking and forcing Amazon, Pay Pal, Visa and eBay from offering service to WikiLeaks. On the other hand those that abhor government secrecy are overjoyed.
Naturally I was curious to read what the US has to say about our country. I was eager to find out what our Ferenji ‘enablers’ think of their little ‘Kebele’ administrators. The Ethiopian people do not need WikiLeaks to know the ruthless nature of the ethnic based regime in power. They live the nightmare. I was more focused to see if the US Embassy assessment of Meles and company reflects reality on the ground.
I was not disappointed. Actually I was rather impressed by the richness, detail and frank reporting by the diplomats. They actually get it! Their analysis of Zimbabwe and Mugabe is brilliant to say the least:
To give the devil his due, he is a brilliant tactician and has long thrived on his ability to abruptly change the rules of the game, radicalize the political dynamic and force everyone else to react to his agenda. However, he is fundamentally hampered by several factors: his ego and belief in his own infallibility; his obsessive focus on the past as a justification for everything in the present and future; his deep ignorance on economic issues (coupled with the belief that his 18 doctorates give him
the authority to suspend the laws of economics, including supply and demand); and his essentially short-term, tactical style.
One can actually substitute Meles for Mugabe and the description will be right on target. The Embassy cables from Mr. Putin’s Russia is downright scary. Today’s Russia is described as ‘highly centralized, occasionally brutal and all but irretrievably cynical and corrupt. The Kremlin, by this description, lies at the center of a constellation of official and quasi-official rackets.’ Again the similarity with the Meles regime is eerie to say the least. The regime doesn’t seem to discriminate where it gets its arsenal of coercive ideas.
Well the cables from Addis Abeba are beginning to come out. I am not disappointed. We have seen two and they seem to bring everything we know about the banana republic into sharp focus. It gives us a clear picture of the nature of Meles and his relationship with his ‘enablers’. One can stretch the analogy and describe it as ‘mutually beneficial.’ The tricky part is answering exactly beneficial to whom? Yes my friend that is the gist of the matter.
I am going to concentrate on the meeting between Meles Zenawi accompanied by his advisor Gebretensae Gebremichael and US Assistant Secretary Maria Otero, Assistant Secretary Johnny Carson and NSC Senior Director Michelle Gavin in January of 2020. One thing the cables shows us is the fuzzy nature of ‘diplomatic speak.’ The language is very anemic leaving it open to various interpretations, the sentences are short and ideas are thrown in as suggestions to nudge the listener to a desired outcome.
This particular meeting was to get Meles, who represented Africa at the Copenhagen climate summit, to sign the Copenhagen accord. Although the summit was felt to be a failure due to the absence of a binding agreement, the US was convinced it serves its interest and was focused on forcing its friends and client states to sign on the doted line.
Mrs. Otero’s mission was to get the signature, Mr. Carson’s role was to point out President Obama’s ‘commitment’ to democracy and the rule of law while the NSC’s (National Security Council) representative was there to assure Meles to take Carson’s pronouncements with a grain of salt. As usual, language played a central role in the discussion. Please note that the US diplomats, in order not to be seen as clueless idiots, informed the regime their concern regarding the forthcoming elections, the so called charities law enacted by the regime and the situation regarding opposition leader Birtukan, and the Diaspora that is a constant headache. It was all done in a low-key manner.
There is no such thing as subtlety and finesse when it comes to Meles Zenawi. The description ‘a bull in china store’ is a perfect fit. He must have been in a euphoric mood. His words were very forceful and crude. His logic was clear only to himself. It requires cojones to lecture Assistant Secretary Carson regarding the true meaning of fighting for democracy. Assistant Secretary Carson was born when a Black American was a second-class citizen in his own country. He was part of the Civil Right struggle. He knows what it means to be denied freedom. I will quote the cable so you can feel the anger:
Meles said his country’s inability to develop a strong democracy was not due to insufficient understanding of democratic principles, but rather because Ethiopians had not internalized those principles. Ethiopia should follow the example of the U.S. and European countries, he said, where democracy developed organically and citizens had a stake in its establishment. When people are committed to democracy and forced to make sacrifices for it, Meles said, “they won’t let any leader take it away from them.” But “when they are spoon-fed democracy, they will give it up when their source of funding and encouragement is removed.” Referencing his own struggle against the Derg regime, Meles said he and his compatriots received no foreign funding, but were willing to sacrifice and die for their cause, and Ethiopians today must take ownership of their democratic development, be willing to sacrifice for it, and defend their own rights.
Please read it again. The statement does not make sense. The statement is full of holes and is based on lies and made-up facts. It is a product of a deranged mind. The Ethiopian people have internalized the true meaning of democracy. Based on the principle of one-person one vote the Ethiopian people stood all day to cast their ballot in May 2005. When Ato Meles tried to nullify their vote they came out and protested. They were met with an overwhelming force. Like any rational human being they retreated. Weakness should not be looked at as ignorance. No one has ‘spoon-fed democracy’ to our people; rather our rulers have shoved the bayonet down our throat. As for the struggle Ato Meles and his party waged, it is not a license to further abuse and ill govern. I thought Ato Meles and his party fought for our collective freedom then what is this talk about further struggle after they liberated us. Do we have to pick up arms to get rid of them too? It is doable but is it necessary?
I said Assistant Secretary Maria Otero came to collect a signature. The cables are a good example of big power using big stick diplomacy cushioned in diplomatic language:
U/S Otero urged Meles to sign the Copenhagen accord on climate change and explained that it is a point of departure for further discussion and movement forward on the topic.
You know what that means in simple everyday English? Unless you sign on the doted line there is no need to speak anymore. The record shows Meles protested that he has ‘personal’ assurance from Obama for releasing the money and it has not happened yet and Secretary Gavin assured him she ‘would look into it.’ It looks like Meles does not understand that Mr. Obama does not have the authority to make personal assurance. He has to talk to his experts, consult his allies and inform Congress. Only despots make personal decisions in the name of their subjects.
You know what came to mind when I read that? My son when he was a baby always wants to eat the desert before the meal and I tell him eat your dinner and then you can have your dessert. Here we are as a government and Meles wants his dessert before he delivers Africa. How pathetic.
You notice the title says orphan Ethiopia. I read Prof. Alemayehu’s analysis regarding our conflict with Somalia. I felt depressed. I read WikiLeaks cable regarding elections and climate change and I felt more depressed. We have President Obama, Secretary Otero, Secretary Carson and Secretary Gavin systematically advancing the national interest of their country. Sitting across the table from them we have a despot fighting for his family and friends communal interest. The US strategy is to fight the terrorist menace far away from American shores and they are willing to make friends with the devil as long as it keeps the battle far from the homeland. We have Meles and company using every trick to stay in power even if it means betraying their people, their country and their flag to stay in power one more day.
We ventured into Somalia to deflect attention from election theft; we support climate change accord for a fistful of dollars and may be a future job for Meles. In the mean time our country and people are on a forced march backwards into the past. The revelations from WikiLeaks are not done yet. What would tomorrow bring?