Oromo's Magnanimous Politics Led by Dr. Abiy Ahmed: Keep Triangular Balance
It is very interesting to observe how Oromo politician having power in Tullu Daallatti palace trying to balance the hitherto triangular conflict and attempting to convert it to triangular trialogue among the three traditional competitors in Ethiopia (Great Oromia). The struggle for centuries was between the Amhara, Tegaru and Oromo elites. Now, both Amhara and Tegaru elites seem to have been failed and Oromo elites are starting a new approach. Even though the Oromo elites came out victorious in the freedom struggle, they prefer to be magnanimous and try to accomodate elites in the two loser camps. Unlike the Amhara elites, who dominated till 1991 and Tegaru elites, who tyrranized the country in the last 27 years, Oromo elites are choosing to be inclusive and especially Dr. Abiy seems to balance the interest of the three angles (that of Amhara, Tegaru and Oromo peoples). How magnanimous the children of Abbaa Gadaa are! Can the two Habesha elites use this magnanimity and play a positive role in the democratization process or will they opt to their known ye sera poletika (mischieveous politics)? Time will show us if Dr. Abiy's magnanimity shall prevail or dooms Oromo politics to failure! To comprehend what the triangular struggle looks like, just enjoy the following.Oromo's Magnanimous Politics Led by Dr. Abiy Ahmed: Keep Triangular Balance!
There was a very troubling question in minds of many people from Ethiopi, which is now getting adequate answer: why was it easy for the TPLF to rule over Ethiopians since 1991? Why even may it be easier for this group to dominate all nations in Ethiopia for further many decades, if they get a chance again? I think, it was mainly because of misguided elites of the two big nations – Oromo and Amhara. TPLF managed to corner both Amhara elites, who are majority in the so-called multinational organizations, and the Oromo, most of whom are proponents of nations’ right to self-determination, because of their struggle for unconditional integration of Ethiopia and unconditional independence of Gadaa Oromia, respectively. TPLF could reserve the ideological middle ground, i.e. union of free peoples or ethnic federalism, as its own position, and accused Amharas as centralists and Oromos as separatists. I did appreciate position of the visionary leaders from these two big nations, who repeatedly tried to foster an alliance against TPLF; especially in 2006 they tried to take necessary step to tackle TPLF’s tactic of divide and rule. The historical face-off between the Habeshanized and the non-Habeshanized Cushites (i.e Amhara and Oromo) was a unique historical advantage for TPLF to perpetuate its rule limitlessly. That is why the hitherto dialogue between Amhara forces and Oromo fronts was a good start, even though it was described by TPLF leaders as fire and straw (isat ina chid). Unfortunately, the hitherto forged alliances didn’t last long, and elites of these two big nations are now trying to be in a position to cooperate. It is really pity that these elites lived in a conflict against each other. The effect of their inability to solve the conflict was, of course, the subjugation of all nations in Ethiopia by TPLF.
Disregarding the past and present criminal ruling class in Ethiopia, actually both Amhara and Oromo peoples were victims of the European colonizers. The main conflict and imbalance of power between the Habeshanized Cushites and the non-Habeshanized ones started at the end of 19th century, at which time the Europeans had their program of Scramble for Africa. It was said that the French colonizers used to move horizontal between Dakar and Djibouti, whereas the British colonizers’ move was vertical between Cape Town and Cairo. The two forces were about to confront each other in the Horn of Africa. To avoid confrontation, the colonizers had to do their usual manipulation in Africa: choose one ethnic group as “superior,” and use it to suppress the others which they consider as “inferior.” They told the "superior" Christian Amharas to "civilize" the "inferior animist” Oromo and other nations. They provided weapons and helped the Amhara by giving military advice; thus, they controlled indirectly the area without confronting each other. With such manipulation, both Amhara and Oromo nations became victims. Even though rulers of the country were servants of European colonizers, both Amhara and Oromo peoples always lacked freedom since then.
In the last three decades, TPLF gangs were neo-servants of the neo-colonizers, who were instrumentalized to suppress the Oromo, Amhara and other oppressed nations. For they were in almost the same situation, there is nothing which could hinder an alliance of Amhara democratic forces and Oromo liberation fronts to fight in unison for our common freedom, but still there are practical problems, which have to be addressed. The elites from both sides yet need to learn how to tone down their respective striving for mere “unconditional integration of Ethiopia” and mere “unconditional independence of Gadaa Oromia.” Amhara forces pushing for unconditional integration make the Oromo to be skeptical for we know what Amhara elites want to achieve with this pretext. At the same time, an attempt of some Oromo elites to achieve independence of Gadaa Oromia – without giving any chance for a union and without valuing its benefit – makes Amhara forces to panic for they fear a sort of discrimination in the future free Oromia. Such move of both camps was counter-productive in the struggle for freedom. TPLF manipulates this difference between elites of the two big nations in order to create more discord and take advantage of their conflict. To deal with such mischief of TPLF, very important for elites of the two nations was to concentrate on the common agenda: freedom and democracy. If both sides come to their sense and continue to rally behind these two ideals, free Oromia and free Amhara states in Ethiopian union as a compromise solution, the common goal can be fulfilled. This was possible for all nations in the country could be free from tyranny, killing, and looting under TPLF rule and now may decide to foster a union named Ethiopia or Oromia. Above all, victims from the two big nations needed to wake up and say in unison – NO to the rule of the fascist regime!
For a durable alliance of the two forces against TPLF, by default or by design, to be realized, I endorsed the common goal – union of free peoples as a result of self-determination exercised by each nation. Till now, it was very difficult to get such common purpose, hence unity of purpose was impossible. Oromo elites argue that the Oromo must get first our national independence by any means, and then build union based on free will. Some forces argue that “the so called Habesha are simply the converted and assimilated Cushites, who are speaking Amharinya and Tigrinya; so the Oromo don’t have to separate from their own people, but should bring these Habeshanized Cushites back to their lost root, and, of course, then have a leading role in politics of the country.” The mistrust between Amhara and Oromo elites was a God-given opportunity that the TPLFites were enjoying to rule over the country as long as they could. Unless elites of these two big nations come to terms and cooperate, all nations in the country had to settle for rule of TPLF, not only for few years, but possibly for many decades. For the necessary cooperation, union of free peoples as a result of their respective self-determination and even a union including others in the Horn (based on free will), can be taken as the noble cause for which we all can fight together. Not accepting this model means unconditional separation of independent nations as an alternative.
Till now, certain steps have been taken by Oromo elites to forge common ground with Amhara forces just to discredit TPLF in Ethiopian political history. The short sighted TPLFites, who are good at winning battles, but could never win the war, thought that they can control the Oromo struggle. Actually the oppressive actions of TPLF boosted the struggle, for liberation movement was getting even more Oromo support. Further interesting was the fact that Oromo elites in a long run could take away the card, which TPLF needed for further existence in Oromia. They did this through two very important steps: 1. in 1992 they denied the TPLF a sort of legitimacy it desperately needed in Oromia; thus the TPLF became an eternal enemy of Oromo people; TPLF could have made the OLF its partner and would have enjoyed support of all Oromo, but it formed OPDO and made itself alien to the Oromo; 2. in 2006 the formation of an alliance with “multinational” Amhara parties dismissed (at least temporarily) the very important instrument TPLF used to rule over Ethiopians – i.e. antagonizing Amhara forces as “centeralist chauvinists” and Oromo fighters as “narrow separatists.” Unfortunately, being in polarizing trap of the TPLF, these two groups couldn’t persistently struggle in unison against the tyrants. Now, the time came, when this instrument started to die slowly, but surely, and TPLF became under attack from both Amhara and Oromo nations. Take it only 1 year or as long as 10 years, TPLF should pass away like Derg. After losing power, TPLF will be remembered in Ethiopia as the German Naizi is now; the future Tigrean generation will definitely distance itself from TPLF and be ashamed of its history just like the people of Germany are doing.
In order to understand what the Amhara elites do advocate, let’s look at the difference between unity as empire and as union. Putting the difference in short, an empire is always established “per force” and a union results “per free will.” If Amhara forces are believers of the second premise, they, of course, risk that free will of people can lead to an independence of nations without union, not to their wished unconditional integration. Concerning the difference between unity and union, the first is pre-modern, whereas the second is post-modern. Certain British scholar classified countries in the world in to three: 1- pre-modern chaotic states like the artificial constructs/countries of Africa; 2- modern nation-states like some mono-national-states in Asia and Latine America; 3- post-modern union of free peoples like those in the European Union. Amhara elites need to see that African nations, including those in the Empire, are kept as pre-modern due to an arrangement made by European colonizers, and this situation is now perpetuated by AU [African Union] dictators. Africans need to leave these artificial nations behind and forge natural nation-states, if we want to be transformed from our present pre-modern position, passing through the stage of modern status to the post-modern condition like an independent Oromia and an independent Amhara state in Ethiopian union – the most beneficial status which the Europeans themselves are enjoying.
Some Amhara elites, at least theoretically, do believe that destiny of the Oromo should be decided only by Oromo people. The question to be asked is: what will happen if the Oromo decide against unity which Amhara elited want and opt to build an independent Oromia without union? Do they accept and move on, or will they fight against the decision? They also should have a clear position on the type of unity they want to forge: union based on free will, or unity based on forcing wish? Those who do advocate unity by force have their own argument; especially, it is interesting to hear them trying to instrumentalize the present American politics. They narrate “just as American union was saved by force, we will struggle to save our union.” Can’t they grasp the difference between the two “unions”? America is the land of immigrants melted together to accept American identity and speak only English. Do they want all native nationalities in Ethiopia be melted to have such uniformity and speak only Amharinya? Why do they forget that even they are the worst victims of such assimilative melting, so they lost their Agaw identity and chose to hide behind the mask of Ethiopiawinet with the content of Amharanet/Habeshawinet. As far as I know, even the most liberal Amhara movements advocate unconditional unity, which is not the goal of Oromo nationalists and not the wish of other oppressed peoples. If Amhara elites want unity of purpose with Oromo fighters and keep TPLF under check, I would like to repeat that they accept union based on self-determination of nations as a common denominator, instead of pushing for unconditional unity.
As I understood till now, Ethiopian politics is kept in balance due to the struggle between the following three blocs: 1- bloc of the TPLF force; 2- bloc of the so called unity forces dominated by Amhara elites; 3- bloc of all oppressed nations, which do first want to be liberated from the system of domination before fostering a union. When Amhara elites talk about alliance against TPLF, do they mean alliance of only political and civic organizations in second bloc, or do they also want to include those in third block? I think, they already put precondition for an alliance to be forged: accept unity unconditionally! With this precondition, they seem to exclude those in third bloc. If they want to include third bloc in to the alliance against TPLF, they need to change this precondition and try to find common denominator with third bloc: nations have to decide on their own destiny based on free will, be it for self-rule within union or for self-rule without union. Does their rhetoric about democracy include such demand of peoples to decide on their destiny? I hope, at least the democratic Amhara elites will start to think and act independently from the chauvinist conservatives. Now, Dr. Abiy's magnanimity can even help democratic elites in the three angles cooperate and struggle for an inclusive democratization of the union, in which free Amhara, Tigrai and Oromia can survive and thrive together.
The two positions, i.e. position of Amhara forces (unconditional unity) vs. position of Oromo fronts (union based on free will), should be discussed and debated further. Even when nations give their vote to self-rule within a union, yet it is mandatory to decide secondly on which type of federal arrangement. Amhara forces are advocators of geography-based federalism in contrast to ethnic federalism, which is preferred by most freedom fighters. As “democrats,” all of them have to live by accepting the winner per public verdict. But, can they extend this principle of referendum to the argument: self-rule within a union vs. self-rule without a union? As I heard and read till now, some Amhara elites didn’t even decide on the issue regarding which type of federation to support. Concerning the benefit-cost discussion in cmparing the two types of sovereignty, all the stakeholders, of course, can try to convince the public before voting. Regarding Oromo people, both types of federations are not bad, as long as all nations agree to name the union – ‘Oromia'; otherwise, ethnic federation is the minimal acceptable solution. Optimally, Amhara elites can advertise for the advantage of unity and Oromo fronts preach about the importance of independence, then live according to public verdict. Alternatively, of course, the compromise and the common ground for both groups can only be national freedom within a regional union, which may be supported by both sides. The alliance of both forces together can try to convince the public about the importance and benefit of this common goal – union of free people.
Yet, interesting to observe is that some Amhara elites fear “the fact that peoples can be brainwashed and vote against their own interest.” What a concern! It is simply wrong to think that peoples decide against their own interest. If they even mistakenly vote against their own interest like the “Americans elected Mr. Bush,” let it be. That is also part of democracy. During elections, informing the public before coming to a decision is good; taking away such a possibility of decision making process from people is undemocratic. Why should we call it brainwashing, instead of “convincing”? It is, after all, about influencing people. In America, the evangelicals were convinced and were successful with Mr. Bush and the quasi-socialists were successful with Mr. Obama. Where is brainwashing? It is about convincing the majority; the ones who won the hearts and minds of majority were the victors. In the free and fair competition, for the Amhara forces – which struggle for unity, there is same chance to that of Oromo fronts (advocators of a union). Their freedom of choice must be mutually respected. Regarding the dictatorial unifiers, who advocate unconditional unity without an option for public verdict, it should be known that they deny freedom of the Oromo and other nations. For example, when they say “be andinet lay anideraderim” – they send a message: “you either accept this andinet or we will deal with you.” They don’t dare to say, “we advocate for unity and then let the public decide.” Their approach is arrogant, dictatorial and uncompromising. To such people, Oromo fronts also should say: “be arinet lay anideraderim.” Now how can the two groups who do say “anideraderim” deal with each other democratically? The only solution for such dictatorial mentality will be bullet, as it has been. Up to now, dictatorial forces won for the last 150 years and they “united us” by force. Oromo nationals call this as colonization, for it is not a union based on free will. Some with similar dictatorial ideology, like the TPLF, want to bring back their hegemony at gun point. Hopefully, democratic Amhara elites will do the business otherwise.
I think an alliance of all anti-TPLF forces, by default or by design, is still the best way to come to the position of self-determination for Amhara, Oromo and other nations including the Tegaru as well as to promote democratization and integration of future union of all peoples in the region (national freedom within regional union). The result will be free Amhara, Tegaru and Oromo states as well as other nations’ free states within Ethiopian union. But, can the two big nations further cooperate for such a compromising solution or should we allow the TPLF to play their card of divide-and-rule? The win-win solution suggested here is not just fancy, but potential fact, which can be realized. Now we started to see this realization by the effort of Abiy Ahmed from Oromo and Demeke Mekonen from Amhara, but still waiting for equivalent agant of change from Tegaru elites. If Dr. Debretsion come out as a determined voice of change, the Oromo politics of magnanimity can really bear fruit. I appreciate Dr. Abiy's approach, but he should not let himself be fooled by the intrigeous Habesha elites as far as power struggle in Tullu Daalatti palace is concerned. His magnanimity should not be exploited by the Dergist Ethiodictators masked as Ethio-politicians of citizenship (ye zega poletika) and the Woyanist Ethnodictators camouflaged as Ethno-politicians of nationalities (ye biher poletika). Dr. Abiy should wake and pray as well as wake and lead (not with closed eyes, but vigilantly).
In summary, I would like to say: no empire in history has ever changed through reforms. For a democratic Amhara state, Tigrai and Oromia in union of peoples to be realized, the Empire’s system of domination must end and an Ethiopian union be forged. Sovereignty of Ethiopians over their country should be promoted; all peoples – big or small – need to have an equal right to national self-determination. It is only if they are free that they can decide on their destiny. At the end of the day, even many more nations in the Horn can join the union voluntarily. There should be no nation to decide on the fate of others, as Habesha elites (the Habeshanized Cushites) did till today. The same is true for all nations in whole Africa; there is a possibility for the United Sate of Africa to be established in a long run based on free will of its entire nations and peoples. Even the Habesha mass, who have never had a say in their lives, will get the opportunity to exercise their own self-determination and elect leaders of their own choice freely. As long as national domination persists, the struggle for liberation will continue. That is why I would like to say the solution for current problem in whole Ethiopia is cooperation of Amhara pro-democracy forces, Oromo freedom fighters and Tegaru reformists on common denominator of fostering genuine ethnic federalism in form of Ethiopian union or Oromian union as alternative naming. This is Oromo's magninamous politics of Dr. Abiy trying to foster and keep triangular balance and peace. Thanks to Waaqa for helping, especially elites of the two big nations to come to our sense and cooperate to defeat the TPLF!
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