"I sought an open society, personal freedom, and economic and political pluralism. I yearned for the power of the law, not the law of power." - Milovan Djilas - Tito
Ethiopian News and Views
prev   No. 14: Sep-Oct, 2009  

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Looming Famine Threat - 10.23.09 - Many Severely Malnourished Children in Ethiopia at Risk Of Death - VOA, Oct 23, 2009 -

Et-recyler reviews the previous statements of Meles on famine "There is more than enough food in government warehouses to feed the people" - Meles on August 13, 2009, talking to the Economist and accusing aid agencies of lying about an impending food crisis.

Corruption - Supreme court, ZTE Company sign grant agreement - ENA, Oct 16, 2009 -

Comment: The Chinese don't give aid other than token amounts. This grant is not aid to Ethiopia. It is a high-interest loan to Ethiopia that will be repaid many times over. The Chinese know exactly where to put their money. They will not be funding generic programs like the Safety Net, or pooling their money with the other donors in the aid harmonization program. No. They dont do aid. They do bribes. This $220,000 grant sounds like a bribe. ZTE is a low-rated company that has ruined Ethiopia's telecom potential through its corrupt partnership with the TPLF. ZTE is well-known not thanks to its products, but rather its shocking degree of corruption.

"Migrating from the Saudi Peninsula to Somalia" - "Not even half an hour passed that I shot an apostate in his head." - NEFA Foundation, 7-page pdf - Oct 20, 2009 - In a posting on an Al-Qaida web forum, a jihadist recounted his journey from Saudi Arabia to join the Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement in Somalia, in the process providing valuable insight into the radicalization process and the logistics involved in waging jihad in a foreign land."
    In one of the battles with the Ethiopians, the brothers ran out of bullets, and it was a group comprised of about seven mujahideen…the enemy was monitoring their moves... and the brothers entered an open deserted region except of some trees, and the brothers lost hope in survival... so their Amir said 'let's sit next to this tree and pray to Allah the enemy does not see us.' So the brothers said 'how could they not see us while we are in an open area?' The Amir replied 'we'll depend on Allah.' The enemy neared the brothers, and they prepared for martyrdom…and suddenly the Ethiopians screamed: lions, lions... and the enemy ran away frightened. The Amir stood up and looked around 'where are these lions?' He said 'it is a blessing from Allah, as the enemy presumed we were lions, became scared and ran away.'

Looming Famine Threat - 10.23.09 - The news that Ethiopia is finally making an official request for "emergency" food aid for over six million people is not a surprise. This "emergency" is for the little (belg) rains that failed back in March and April. International relief agencies were well aware that food aid would be needed. But the Meles Regime tried to deny the obvious and keep the problem hidden. We should be grateful to Save the Children, Oxfam, the WFP etc. for sounding the alarm and mobilizing their resources early without waiting for the official Ethiopian appeal which was delayed by more than two months for unknown reasons.

Ethiopia has (or rather had) a well-developed early warning system and a practiced method for estimating food aid needs. But Meles "repeatedly clashed" with the Ethiopian DPPC staff and abruptly decided to dismantle the DPPC last year.

Humanitarian needs for those affected by the Belg failure were supposed to be quantified and released by the government back in August. It takes time to respond to food aid needs - it can't be delivered by pressing a button from the Menelik Palace in Addis Abeba. Money is tight. The big donor countries all have budget problems - (there is a severe recession affecting the world). Then there is the logistics headache at Djibouti and the trucking oligopoly controlled by the TPLF. Its a big challenge.

This is why so many knowledgeable people were worried. But the Meles regime took a careless or politicized approach that will result in many children dying this year because the food aid can;t arrive in time.

But it could get much worse.The main rainy season has been below average. Not a total failure like in 1984, but still worrisome. These rains account for most of Ethiopia's harvest. What will happen if the harvest is poor and millions additional people need food aid?

On top of all this are the 7.5 million food-aid dependent people in the Productive Safety Net Program. Meles gets incensed when it is mentioned that these people need food aid. But it is a fact. Someone has to go out and buy the food and transport it to Djibouti and in to Ethiopia. Every year.

There is one very easy solution to all these problems: REQUIRE THE CHILDREN OF MELES AND OTHER TPLF OFFICIALS TO EAT THE DAILY AVERAGE CALORIC INTAKE FOR ETHIOPIA. Such a policy would get immediate results. There would be no "sacred cows" anymore. Would you watch your children starve to death because of a "sacred cow"? Why should any child in Ethiopia starve to death because the Meles regime refuses to implement simple policies that have worked to bring prosperity to the rest of the world?

Meles and Isayas agree - there is no serious emergency food shortage in Ethiopia or Eritrea - its all lies made up by the UN World Food Program, Oxfam, the Red Cross, and others - 10.21.09 - Eritrean president says West against him - Reuters, Oct 21, 2009 -
    The Food and Agriculture Organisation said in a report last week that Eritrea was dangerously underfed. The U.N. agency said as many as two in every three Eritreans were malnourished, something Isaias denied.

    "It's not true, it's all lies. It's a fabrication," he said, adding that humanitarian organisations were motivated by the business opportunities crises and aid offer in other African countries.

    "It's money-making for them. It's not solving problems. It's a collaboration of domestically corrupt special interest groups with international mafia that have a big interest in publicising hunger and other crises," the 63-year-old leader said.

Comment: These arguments are identical to those of Meles Zenawi. Both dictators have the same interests and respond in the same way to protect their interests. Both are failures. In 20 years of power, both have totally failed to address the major issue (food security) affecting the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea. These rants are the only way for Meles and Isayas to respond when confronted with evidence of their failed policies. What else can they say?

Coffee - 10.21.09 - Ethiopia to trade specialty coffee locally - Reuters, Oct 21, 2009 -
    Eleni Gebre-Madhin, CEO at the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) said up to 30 percent of the country's produce is classified as specialty beans but that higher prices for the fine coffees were not trickling down to farmers.

    "The initiative positions Ethiopia to have perhaps the only domestic marketing system in the world for discovering and trading specialty coffee at the arrival stage, thus benefiting the farmers who produce these coffees, rather than at the export end of the chain," she said.

Comment: First, Ethiopia is one of the only countries in the world that punishes its coffee farmers with artificial govt-fixed exchange rates that reduce the money paid to the farmers. This is the major reason why Ethiopia's farmers are not getting the real value of their produce. The government is indirectly imposing onerous taxes on them via the exchange rate.

Second, back in February the ECX reportedly said that specialty coffee was only two percent of the export volume and hence did not merit special consideration. Now we are told that it is "up to 30%" ? How was this not known by the ECX in February?

Third, specialty coffee marketers were making great strides in developing Ethiopian coffee brands and increasing the prices delivered to farmers. The ECX killed this activity by making it virtually impossible for specialty coffees to be traded.

Fourth, the ECX is being used by the government and TPLF-affiliated trading organizations (GUNA) to establish dominance of the coffee trade. The official purpose of Guna trading is to benefit a single ethnic group. Most of the farmers are not of this ethnic group. Is this not going to increase ethnic conflict and hatred, especially when none of the ethnic groups that farm coffee have managed to obtain the favored status and access to capital of the TPLF's Guna? Was ethnicization and politicization of coffee trading a goal of the ECX or has it been hijacked by the TPLF? (Note - the fact that Guna trading has preferential capital access and is illegally awarded preferences for export licenses is officially documented in a World Bank report).

Fifth, the ECX was set up with western aid money to help Ethiopia avoid famine by developing more efficient agricultural markets. Coffee was never identified as the priority commodity. How is that the ECX now views its mission as being a coffee trading organization? Is this consistent with the aid grant terms?

Al-Amoudi to farm inside Gambella National Park - 10.12.09 - (Ethiopian forest to be chopped down - land will supply rice to the benefactor and patron of Sheikh al-Amoudi - King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia) --- The Derg - which had zero concern for the environment - built the Alwero dam inside the park but it was never used. But at least the Derg put Ethiopia first. The actions of Al-Amoudi and the TPLF however, are incomprehensible. It just makes no sense. Don't destroy our national park. Destroy the national parks of the Arabs. Chop down all the trees of Lebanon and Morocco. Leave us alone. We dont need billionaires. We dont need dictators. We dont need obsolete ideology. All we need is sensible, pragmatic policies that have proven successful elsewhere in the world.

This is the forest to be destroyed. Picture Credit: Ethiopian Institute of Biodiversity

Gov't Institute of Biodiversity Conservation: National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan - 2005 (115-page pdf) - "Even though Abobo-Gog forest is recognised as priority forest for conservation, nothing was done so far to protect the forest from ruthless exploitation... Clearing for road construction/building of the Alwero Dam has enhanced forest destruction." -- Action plan? Prioirty forest? ????

    Sheik’s New Agro Firm Shells Out $80m - Addis Fortune Oct 12, 2009 - The land given to Saudi Star Plc is covered by a medium-dense forest of juniper and other indigenous trees and is land that will be used to grow rice. Saudi Star presented a sample of rice to King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, who liked it enough to give him the order.

    Article from earlier this year: Saudis get first taste of Ethiopian harvest - Saudi Gazette - Saudi Arabia has announced the arrival of the first food crop harvested in Saudi-owned farms abroad .

    The above article sounded so strange that even the UN's World Food Program (WFP), a major supplier of donated food to Ethiopia, remarked on it: Rice, harvested in famine-hit Ethiopia by a group of Saudi investors, was presented to King Abdullah recently ... The Ethiopian origin is likely to raise concerns about the trend to outsource food production to poor African countries, some of which suffer from chronic hunger. In the past year the United Nations World Food Programme has helped to feed 11m people in Ethiopia, which has suffered crop failures and food distribution problem. see: http://www.wfp.org/content/saudis-get-first-taste-foreign-harvest

Hidden Hunger Update - 10.11.09 -

    Meles accuses aid organizations of exaggerating Ethiopia's humanitarian needs to advance their political and economic interests - Reporter (amh), Oct 11, 2009 - Note: The facts contradict Meles . We are currently in an era of tight global food supplies. Grain producers in the US, South America, and Europe can sell their crops at good prices to cattle feed lots to produce beef. The beef is exported to China and other countries. Also grain is being used for ethanol production. The World Food Program has repeatedly warned that it is unable to procure enough food because prices are so high. The cuurent drought in East Africa, and food emergencies elsewhere in the world are a challenge to address. If the Meles Regime persists with its refusal to accurately report Ethiopia's needs, the people of Tigray and of other regions of Ethiopia will pay the price. Already rations have been cut. The Prime Minister should be on the frontlines leading the relief efforts. Instead he appears to most interested in protecting his image and deflecting attention away from the evidence of the failure of his policies.

    Ethiopia's Meles Accuses Donors of Exaggerating Food Crisis - VOA, Oct 11, 2009 - Note: - Meles says: "The number of beneficiaries at the ground level are evaluated according to the needs of these actors of the food aid industry." That is a pretty outrageous statement that will generate a response from the donors. The fact is that food aid needs are determined through a joint Donor-Gov't survey program that has been developed over the years. Meles has suppressed the latest Humanitarian Needs Document. Meles is not only targeting the foreign aid donors, but also the remaining Ethiopian staff of the former Ethiopian Gov't Disaster Prevention Agency. He is targeting Tigrayan aid workers. Most importantly, he is condemning the rural Tigrayan and other Ethiopian citizens who have been deeply affected by the current drought.

    The Safety Net Program was created in 2003. It simply reclassified people who needed food aid every year under a new name. Thus technically these people did not need "emergency" food aid becuase they are known in advance to be incapable of surviving through the year without food aid. This helped the Meles Regime propaganda. The fact is that whatever word game we play, this is what needs to be done for 13.7 million Ethiopians: (a) find money, (b) buy food (c) ship it to Djibouti (d) find a way to break through the logistical problems and get the food from Djibouti to Ethiopia. Urgent leadership is required. Already rations have been cut. But Meles continues playing word games.

    A country you can never stop worrying about - CBC, Oct 10, 2009 -

      There are, of course, worst-case scenarios that would see up to 13 million people needing food relief in the coming months — a shocking almost 17 per cent of Ethiopia's population.

      This is where my head begins to hurt. For this may be the largest call on food aid Ethiopia has ever had to make and yet no one in authority can figure out, so far as I've been able to learn, when or how enough help will arrive in time.

      So far, the response of donor nations to UN calls for help are running at barely half normal requirements.

      In the capital Addis Ababa, officials of the UN's World Food Program are profoundly worried.

      They do not, I want to note, predict we are facing something as severe as the '84 famine, when a whole litany of disasters — war, government abuse, inadequate relief infrastructure, poor communication — overwhelmed everyone involved.

      ... In private, aid officials also speak of another concern — that Ethiopia's own government may itself try to play down the emergency because, well, next year there's a national election to be held and governments here are traditionally very reluctant to admit to harvest disasters in the countryside.

Comment: State media in Ethiopia is currently engaged in a campaign to tout alleged double-digit growth and the prominence of genius Meles Zenawi on the international stage. There is absolutely no coverage of the severe drought and hunger affecting millions of Ethiopians. The TPLF regime has apparently suppressed the humanitarian needs requirement document that was supposed to guide planning for the Sep-Dec period. Its too late now. This clearly indicates the priorities of the Meles Regime. It is a concrete demonstration of the fact the TPLF does not represent the people of Tigray. It represents itself, and the corrupt "10 bathroom" elite who are currently fluorishing in the country.

Somalia Update - 10.09.09 -

Somalia/Eritrea - Britain calls for sanctions against Eritrea - Reuters, Oct 8, 2009 - "Targeted sanctions can be one effective way to deal with the spoilers," he said.

HIV/AIDS UNAIDS Second Independent Evaluation: 2002-2008. Country Visit to Ethiopia Summary Report -- paper written in 2008 to be discussed at upcoming Dec 2009 UNAIDS conference in Switzerland. The main focus of this report is on the efficiency of the UN operation and integration of donor resources, not the Ethiopian govt activities. Nevertheless, there is revealing information here:

  • The epidemic stabilised in urban areas in the mid 1990s and started to decline from 2000

  • Overall HIV prevalence is estimated at 2.1% but ranges from 7.7% in urban areas to 0.9% in rural areas.

  • Life expectancy in Ethiopia is falling as a result of the epidemic and is expected to drop from 59 to 50 years by 2010.

  • The country also has one of the largest populations of children orphaned by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, currently estimated at 886,820.

  • AIDS has become the leading cause of mortality in 15-49 year olds, accounting for an estimated 43% of all adult deaths.

  • Ethiopia receives over $630 million dollars for HIV-AIDS programs every year. (Note - due to the over-valued exchange rate, the TPLF reaps a hidden tax when translating this into Birr. A market-determined rate would result in more Birr available to the people of Ethiopia and less for the TPLF).

  • key informants interviewed, including civil society networks, were unable to provide examples of specific policy or programming outcomes resulting from civil society representation and participation and noted that civil society influence remains limited.

  • Ethiopia has one strategic plan. The extent to which UNAIDS was able to influence the current SPM (Strategic Plan) is debatable. The GOE (Gov of Ethiopia) was criticised by donors and civil society for lack of consultation during the development of the plan.

Anti-Democratization Process Continues - Last weeks Capital newspaper had a frontpage story about a chaotic election for president of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations. Now what is this phrase "Sectoral Association"? In no other country in the world has the business sector organized itself this way. Why is Ethiopia so different?

The answer is that prior to 2003, Ethiopian businesses organized themselves into normal chambers of commerce - like anywhere in the world. This is a critical part of the democratization process - the spontaneous organization of people into various associations based on their own free will.

The TPLF clearly recognized this threat. It promulgated a new law forcing the Chambers of Commerce to reorganize themselves according to TPLF specifications. Numerous sectoral associations were packed into the chambers of commerce. Most of these are dominated by TPLF/EFFORT or by state-owned enterprises. (The TPLF law directs the Ministry of Industry to interfere in the Chambers of Commerce and determine their membership). Also business is now ethnicized according to TPLF specifications.

If you look at the webpages of chambers of commerce in Ethiopia, they call themselves "independent, non-political organization dedicated to protect and develop the interest of the business community." This is not true. They are not-independent and they are politically controlled by the ruling party.

This is anti-democratization. A continuing process of preventing Ethiopians from organizing themselves. When the TPLF dictatorship is overthrown, this law will be repealed and we will have normal, independent business organizations.

The Mystery of Midroc Gold - 9.30.09 -
Ten questions concerning the Lega Dembi mine privatization and subsequent events -- Reporter, Sep 30, 2009 -- bid documents stolen and taken to someone's home for copying? thief rewarded with a supermarket/gas station in Atlanta? Only 2% government stake left in this world-class resource discovered and developed by state geologists and state funds? Why? (Even Eritrea has a minimum of 10% and in the case of the Bisha mine they increased the gov't stake to 40%. Bisha is a resource discovered by a foreign company using foreign funds).

Somalia Update - 9.30.09 -

Hidden Hunger Update - 9.29.09 -

Although a belg season assessment was conducted in the belg-crop producing parts of the country and in the pastoral regions of Afar and Somali, results have not been released yet by the Government.

- Famine Early Warning System (FEWS), Ethiopia Situation Update - Sep 29, 2009

It seems incredulous, but the Meles regime is attempting to cover up the impending famine conditions in parts of the country. They know full well that there is no time to waste. Even after the updated assessment is released, and the food aid needs are quantified, a lot of work remains. The food must be procured, then transported to Djibouti or Berbera or Port Sudan. Then comes the torturous negotiations with the TPLF to transport the food into Ethiopia. Finally the aid agencies need to negotiate permission to distribute the food in the affected localities - the TPLF exerts pressure to put the food distribution under its own political control.

Meanwhile people starve. Children suffer malnutrition so severe that they need emergency intervention. This is already happening in Ethiopia.

In the absence of an official appeal from the Meles Regime, individual aid organziations such as Save the Children, Oxfam, and ActionAid are conducting urgent fundraising campaigns on their own initiative to help millions of starving Ethiopians.

How about the Ethiopian agency that is responsible for dealing with such emergencies, the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency (DPPA) ? What is it doing?

Apparently nothing. The website hasn't been updated since May 2009. Meles had disagreements with DPPA staff so he decided to get rid of most of the staff and totally reorganize the relief agency.

Food aid requirements for the second half of 2009 were supposed to be compiled in a document and released publicly - by the end of August at the latest. But the Ethiopian New Year celebrations had to be considered. Then there was the Meles trip to the G-20 summit. Issuing a document asking for emergency food aid while the Prime Minister was sitting at a banquet in the United States would not look good. It would be embarrassing to his excellency, the PM of Ethiopia, and his wife, the deputy head of the largest business conglomerate in the country.

Furthermore, the Ethiopian government has apparently prohibited state media from reporting on this emergency. Thus Ethiopian citizen's are not well-informed about the situation, and unable to donate and help their fellow citizens.

Tigray is not spared from this suffering. Look at the areas marked "highly food insecure" in the map in the FEWS bulletin. Is Meles serving these people by hiding the extent of the drought? Is he serving these people by dismantling the DPPA and firing half the staff? Is he serving these people by travelling to the USA while severe logistical problems cry out for leadership?

Birtukan Nomination for Cato Institute: Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty -

Birtukan is in an Ethiopian prison. She is in prison for writing a document entitled "My Word" in which she explained her principles and her devotion to constitutionalism. She honestly explained the process which led to her release from her first imprisonment after the 2005 elections in Ethiopia. Those elections were marred by fraud and violence by the governing Ethiopian regime.

That process was stage-managed by the Ethiopian regime in a manner reminiscent of the show trials of 1930s USSR. It culminated in "pardons" given in exchange for the political prisoners (including Birtukan) apologizing and accepting responsibility for trying to overthrow the government.

In fact, as amply documented by human rights organization, international scholars writing in peer-reviewed journals, international newspapers, and former members of the government's investigation commission, it was the Ethiopian government itself that used excessive force to maintain its hold on power.

Shrewdly, the Ethiopian Regime required this to be done on a group basis. All had to admit guilt or none would be released.

What Birtukan did, was speak honestly about this and explain the real story behind the "pardon." In fact it was a long negotiation mediated by elders and foreign diplomats.

After she spoke honestly, she was threatened with life imprisonment. It was then that she wrote the tract "My Word" where she explained the principles that she stood for and declared worthy of imprisonment.

It should be emphasized at this point that Birtukan is a noted advocate of peace and reconciliation. While others have chosen armed struggle, while ethnic hatred is on the rise, she has shined brightly as a voice of reason, hope, and understanding.

The importance of this example for Ethiopia (and the wider world as well) should not be underestimated.

This is a Ghandi-like "Satyagraha" that deserves recognition.

See article by Abebe Gellew: The prisoner worthy of a liberty award - Abugidainfo, Sep 28, 2009

Banking Crisis? - The business newspapers Fortune and Capital are running many stories related to problems in the private banks. Capital goes so far as to running an editorial: Saving the national banking system is an urgent task calling for a deposit insurance fund and international audits. A related comment by Kebbour Ghenna is eye-opening:

    When a young boy of barely legal age proclaims to invest ten million birr in a new bank under formation while building a ten bathrooms residence, we can't help but cry foul!

    The dominant owners-cum-operators of Bank of Abyssinia, (particularly those with suspect monies) had difficulty understanding the very concept of credit.

    Most of the loans that are going sour now were advanced to the dominant shareholders and their affiliates during the go-go days. When the going was good, the few dominant shareholders of the Bank of Abyssinia were going around telling everyone, who cared to listen, that they own the bank.

    - Banksters grow up or ship out Capital, Sep 27 2009

Banks create money using a system known as "fractional reserve banking" . Thus although the government is the only soverign power allowed to actually print paper money, banks can create money too. Thats why owning a bank comes with such heavy responsibility.

With the TPLF regime, one can never know the truth about legal actions, but a young banker boasting about his 10-bathroom house doesn't inspire sympathy.

    The suspects are under investigation following criminal complaints lodged by the bank’s management to the Federal Police over loans it was unable to recover, police sources told Fortune.

    Aselefech is under investigation in connection with a loan advance when she was in office to Ethio-Investment Group (EIG), according to her lawyer, Nekatibebe Beyene.

    EIG, sole importer to Ethiopia of automobile brands such as BMW, Land Rover, SCANIA, and Ford, has been going through rough times. Established in March 1999 by 19 companies and six businessmen, the company suffered losses of over 255.2 million Br when its accounts were closed in June 2007. Its losses eclipsed the 31.9 million Br paid up capital the shareholders raised when they acquired the company from the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE).

    - Nine Suspects under Police Custody in Abyssinia Bank Probe Fortune, Sep 27 2009

    Accordingly, at the end of June 2008 the ratio of non performing loans to total loans has reached 14.76 percent, much higher than the national industry average of six percent, the report states.

    It has been suggested by other sources that some of the non performing loans were made to privileged shareholders, without appropriate collateral.

    According to the study, 40 percent of the outstanding loans were allocated to 20 major shareholders. Even more concentration is observed as 30 percent of the loans are allocated to seven to eight major shareholders of the bank. The report further revealed the bank has been advancing loans to a single borrower to the extent of up to 50 percent of its capital to recipients of term loan and overdraft facilities; though this was done before the single borrowing limit policy of the NBE directive was released.

    - Report: BoA has 'serious problem' Capital, Sep 21 2009

An obvious question that comes to mind is why is Aselefech in jail while Azeb (wife of Meles) is free. Azeb should be in jail until the loans taken by the TPLF-affiliated companies are paid back. We know from the KPMG audit of the state-owned CBE that the TPLF-affiliated companies had billions of birr in non-performing loans while they were being advanced additional funds. Azeb was part of this. The law should be applied equally.

Foreign Exchange Crisis - what happened in 2005? - The IMF staff report released on Sep 23 (see below) has the following graph. It shows Etiopia's foreign exchange reserves trending down starting in 2005. (The IMF report states that the slight uptick in 2009 is due to IMF and foreign aid, and that the situation is expected to be worse than ever in the second half of 2009).

The Meles Regime is on a spending spree, directing EEPCO and ETC (the state-owned electricity and telecom monopolies), to rapidly implement projects that consume huge amounts of foreign exchange.

Most of these projects are with corrupt third-rate Chinese companies such as ZTE that have virtually no international experience and are using Ethiopia to break into world markets. This is apparently coordinated by the Chinese government, which assigns more prestigious markets to the higher rated Huawei (which stole its technology from a joint-venture it had with the American firm Motorola).

Ethiopia ends up with inferior, overpriced products, while the Chinese get handsome profits. Meanwhile private-sector Ethiopian businesses are deprived of desperately-needed foreign exchange. And the entire country needlessly suffers from the failure of the Meles Regime's telecom and power sector policies when private investment can do the job (as proven in almost every other country in the world).

As if the above is not enough, Ethiopia is still crippled by the greatest achievement of Meles Zenawi - the independence of Eritrea with absolutely no action by Ethiopia to ensure access to the sea. Consequently Ethiopia pays upwards of $700 million dollars in foreign currency every year just to use the port of Djibouti. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian port of Assab lies dormant and unclaimed, with top TPLF officials vowing to defend Eritrea's right to control Assab.

The TPLF was defeated in the 2005 elections. Had the policies advocated by the opposition been followed, Ethiopia today would be in a completely different situation.

The telecom sector would be privatized and open to competition. Reputable international companies would be competing against each other and investing their own money (bringing foreign currency into the country). These deals would be public and scrutinized by the free press, limiting corruption. The unqualified, incompetent, useless, TPLF-connected bureaucrats, and their corruption-soaked system would be swept away.

Instead we have a foreign exchange crisis. While every other country in African and the world is enjoying advanced communication technology, we are pitied and used as an example of "backward, primitive Africans."

The IMF had previously issued a report on inflation showing a similar graph, with government borrowing increasing sharply in 2005.

Meles, without any consultation or planning, responded to the 2005 election defeat with a program of huge government spending. The spending was totally out of balance with government revenue, as tax revenue did not increase commensurate with the spending.

In fact, the IMF staff report released on Sep 23 states that the tax revenue/GDP ratio has been declining steadily; from 10.8% in 2005/06 to 8.1% in 2008/09. This is even admitted by the National Bank which writes that it is time for a new tax strategy. (Part of the problem is surely that the GDP numbers are inflated.)

In the absence of sufficient tax revenue, Meles simply borrowed money from the National Bank - created money out of thin air. This led to crippling inflation in 2006-08 that especially punished the poor. The IMF states: "A surge in public sector borrowing levels was an important factor in contributing to widening macroeconomic imbalances during 2005-08."

Ethiopia implicitly admits this by committing to severe restrictions on government borrowing and on the money supply.

But the Prime Minister of Ethiopia has never accepted responsibility for his inflationary policies, and has advanced a variety of excuses, blaming others instead.

Somalia: -

UN News Center Publicizes Danger of Famine in Ethiopia: - Urgent resources needed to feed Ethiopians stricken by drought, warns UN -- UN News Center, Sep 23, 2009 -- "All food aid pipelines to groups of needy people in the country could break in September,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update on the situation in the Horn of Africa nation."

Comment: Where is the leader of this country where over 10 million people face famine due to a break in the food aid pipeline? How many thousands of malnourished little children are going to suffer and die while Meles enjoys playing head-of-state in New York? Any other leader would immediately return home upon hearing this news. Perhaps this is why the UN News Center prominently featured this story. Delegates from the entire world at the on-going UN General Assembly meeting in New York will have seen this bulletin. Maybe some of them will tell Meles to go home.

IMF Documents Regarding the $246 million dollar loan to the Meles Regime Released: - IMF Staff Report and related documents -- IMF, Sep 23, 2009 -- 70-page pdf. These documents include an IMF staff report, a summary of the views of the IMF Executive Board, a letter from Ethiopia to the IMF, a memorandum by Ethiopia outlining committments, and a technical memorandum of understanding.

Staff report excerpts:

Page 5: "Staff believe that underlying growth was on the order of 7-8 percent, with the recorded growth in tertiary output likely overstating the true expansion of such activity."

"The authorities expext GDP to grow by at least 9 percent in 2009/10. Staff believe the underlying expansion in GDP is more likely to be around 7 percent."

"The balance of payments outlook for 2009/10 is troubling."

Page 6: "A surge in public sector borrowing levels was an important factor in contributing to widening macroeconomic imbalances during 2005-08."

Page 9: "Ethiopia's external debt levels are rising signifcantly - the stock of debt (in NPV terms) is set to rise from $1.3 billion at end-June 2008 to $6.0 billion by end-June 2011, with almost 70 percent of the increase accounted for by the state-owned electric power (EEPCO) and telecom (ETC) companies... the sizeable and rapid buildup of debt underscores the need to ensure that borrowed funds are put to effective use..."

Page 11: "Donor aid flows jumped to $2.4 billion in 2008/09 as donors provided exceptional assistance to Ethiopia in responding to commodity price shocks. Aid flows are set to rise slightly in 2009/10."

Page 12: "Any significant erosion of donor support would undermine both the exernal payments and budgetary positions."

Page 13: "The authorities recognize the need to limit domestic borrowing by the public sector if inflation is to be contained and private sector growth fostered."

"Existing infrastructure is inadequate to sustain current levels of growth."

Page 14: "Addressing Ethiopia's sizeable medium-term challenges will require the fleshing out of a comprehensive reform agenda..."

Page 16: "The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has faced significant challenges in maintaining effective control over the stock of reserve money, which has fluctuated significantly as a result of surges in NBE financing of the government and the foreign exchange operations of the bank."

Page 17: "The trajectory for foreign reserves is now substantially weaker than envisaged at the time of Board approval of the RAC-ESF drawing in January 2009."

Debt sustainability analysis excerpts:

"... External debt ratios are much closer to indicative thresholds following a rapid rise in the external borrowing of public enterprises and weaker exports in 2008/09. This underscores the need to... undertake much-needed structural reforms to attract large FDI and stimulate growth of exports."

"The share of non-Paris Club creditors (mostly from China and India) as increased from 10 to 35 percent"

"Detailed information is not yet available to Bank staff to establish whether all the loans/credits undertaken or guaranteed by the government meet the non-concessional borrowing limit set by the Bank."

"Given the size of borrowing by public enterprises, it is imperative to expand the current debt strategy and monitoring exercise to include the largest public enterprises and assess potential contingent liabilities."

EEPCO Signs More (apparent) No-bid Contracts with Chinese Firms: - EEPCO, 3 Chinese companies sign accord for constructing power projects -- ENA, Sep 22, 2009 (EEPCO = Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, a state-owned monopoly)

Comment: There is a desperate lack of transparency here. EEPCO is out of money. That is typical for badly-run state monopolies (They should be flush with cash). Thanks to Ethiopia's on-going foreign-exchange crisis, EEPCO cannot obtain foreign currency from the government. Thanks to the Meles Regime's financial sector policy, Ethiopia is closed to foreign banks, thus it is extremely difficult for EEPCO (and all Ethiopian firms) to access foreign capital markets.

The alternative for poor countries like Ethiopia is the World Bank. But the World Bank does not fund no-bid contracts for huge construction projects that have not had a proper feasibility study done. The World Bank also has transparency requirements.

This was the problem with the Tekeze dam, a Meles pet project that was rushed into construction ahead of other, more developed projects. This dam drained the resources of EEPCO and the Ethiopian government, which financed the project itself. Apparently the contract placed all the engineering risk on the Ethiopian government, not the Chinese. Hence Ethiopia had to pay for an unexpected $35 million dollar wall to protect against landslides. Ethiopia had to swallow all the expenses caused by the project delays.

    Cutting corners in the design and preparation stage can be costly and disastrous. Proper studies are the least expensive way to identify project risks and protect development investments. Had Tekeze and Gilgel Gibe II been better studied during their design stage, and had both contracts been better reviewed to ensure that EEPCo’s financial risks would be minimized, Ethiopia would likely not be facing load shedding today.

    - Did Ethiopia’s Hydro-Rush Cause its Power Crisis? -- Intl Rivers, Apr 2009

The no-bid Gilgel Gibe II contract with the Italian firm Salini has raised deep concerns in Europe and launched a criminal investigation. The contract was awarded following direct negotiation between the two companies; no international tender was called. This is reportedly contrary to Ethiopian and Italian law and contrary to international best practices on procurement.

    The DGCS internal Technical Evaluation Unit in its assessment pointed out that:

    • The contract was secured through direct negotiation, contrary to existing DGCS procedures, Italian law (law 109/94), and the current procedures undertaken by International Organisations and the European Union in this regard;
    • No feasibility study had been carried out;
    • No costs relating to environmental impact mitigation measures were contemplated;
    • Contract management and control procedures were given inadequate attention;
    • The concessionality rate of 42.29 percent was completely inappropriate, taking into account the critical debt situation of the country.

    In March 2006 the Prosecutors’ Office in Rome instigated criminal proceedings concerning Gilgel Gibe II hydroelectric project. At the moment, it is still not possible to know the nature of the charges filed because of the investigation’s secrecy, though it is plausible to think that they are likely to concern alleged corruption in the DGCS

    Under the EPC (Engineering Procurement Construction) contract, the contractor is responsible for virtually all extra costs and can be sanctioned for delays. However the delay in question is due to geological reasons and as the construction started without accurate geological studies, the project contract included an exception of contractor responsibility for geological risk. This was agreed by EEPCo and Salini to be an exception. Therefore, Salini has received an extension and is not subjected to the sanction’s payment.

    - The Gilgel Gibe II hyrdoelectrical poject, a case of super-tied aid -- Campagna per la Riforna della Banco Mondiale, 6-page Word doc

At least with the Italians, we are dealing with a democratic country that is subject to citizen oversight. There is also review by multilateral European agencies.

With the Chinese we are in a totally different universe. How will we know if these deals will ever be profitable for Ethiopia? The Chinese will make their money back. That is guaranteed. [ Read: China Spreads Aid in Africa, With a Catch for Recipients ]

But who knows what the real cost of those dams is? There is no market price because there was no bid process.

It can be worse. There are a thousand ways that the TPLF and its associated elite can benefit handsomely from these contracts. The TPLF's ethnic construction firm was involved with the Tekeze dam. It will certainly be involved in these new ones as well. Then there are various local subcontracts (transport, supplies etc...) that need to be arranged. In a normal country you require these to be competitively bid. But since the money is coming from China, this cannot be required. Of course ultimately every single penny is coming from the Ethiopian people, who will be repaying these loans, and possibly paying the TPLF for a long time to come...

Shabab again declares for al-Qaeda : - Video: Somali crowds vow allegiance to bin Laden -- AP, Sep 21, 2009
    The video showed the Shabab militia in training, leaping over piles of sandbags, crawling on the ground and shooting at targets. White-skinned bearded trainers could be seen moving among the Somalis. The video also showed crowds chanting: "At your service Osama!"

ALSO: Aweys declares support for Shabab suicide attacks : - Islamist calls for more suicide attacks in Somalia -- AFP, Sep 20, 2009

    I... call upon the people to carry out more attacks against the African forces; they came to Somalia to assist our enemy, kill them (...) in any way possible and use suicide attacks to kill them," he said.

AND: Ogaden rebels (ONLF) team up with Shabab : - At Least 19 Killed In Violence Across Somalia -- Reuters, Sep 21, 2009

    Residents said militiamen of the Ethiopian rebel group the Ogaden Liberation Front (OLF) helped al Shaabab drive out government forces from Yeed town in the Bakool region. "Al Shabaab and OLF militias took Yeed town from us," Abdi Mohamed, Bakool region's governor, told Reuters by phone.

    "They also crossed the border and looted property from an Ethiopian mining company. At least seven soldiers died on our side and 11 were wounded. We also killed many al Shabaab fighters."

Why does the TPLF love China? : -

Sudan and Zimbabwe have benefited immensely from China's support at the UN. In return, the two countries have sung praises to China with President Robert Mugabe describing the eastern friend as; "pro-Africa, pro-Third World, anti-imperialist and anti-hegemonic". Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi also repeated Mugabe's words saying; "the inflow of investment from China is a concrete demonstration that the Western model of development has failed."

- China-Africa deal lose-lose situation -- Namibian Informante, Jul 29, 2009

Namibian officials decided to draw on the credit line to finance most of the cost of the scanners. Mr. Schlettwein, who negotiated the scanner contract, said he wanted to seek competitive bids from scanner suppliers around the world, but Chinese negotiators refused. "They said 'that is not our system,'" he said. "'We tell you from whom you buy the equipment.'"

- China Spreads Aid in Africa, With a Catch for Recipients -- NY Times, Sep 21, 2009

Have you wondered how the Chinese firm ZTE keeps winning huge telecom contracts in Ethiopia despite its unsatisfactory record?

The World Bank barred four state-controlled Chinese companies from competing for its work after an investigation showed that they tried to rig bids for bank projects in the Philippines.

It [Phillippines] also canceled a $329 million contract awarded to ZTE Corporation, a state-controlled Chinese communications company, after allegations of enormous kickbacks. ZTE denied bribing anyone, but the controversy has lingered. Last month an antigraft panel recommended filing criminal charges against two Philippines officials in connection with the contract.

"China is using this financing to buy the loyalty of the political elite," said Harry Roque, a University of the Philippines law professor who is challenging the legality of Chinese-financed projects in the Philippines. "It is a very effective tool of soft diplomacy. But it is bad for the citizens who have to repay these loans for graft-ridden contracts."

In a part of the world prone to corruption and poor governance, it also raises questions about who actually benefits from China's projects. The answers, international development specialists say, are hidden from public view.

- China Spreads Aid in Africa, With a Catch for Recipients -- NY Times, Sep 21, 2009

Are Governance Indicators Improving in Ethiopia? : - Ethiopia Governance Indicators 1996-2008 - World Bank, June, 2009 - pdf file at Ethiopia Donors Assistance Group (DAG) website. The data are described in the World Bank Policy Research working paper no. WPS 4978

Comment: We are at the bottom as usual. Getting worse. The standard response of autocratic regimes like the TPLF is to assert that they are the sovereign power in Ethiopia, and no one has any business commenting on the state of their governance.

This is despite the TPLF becoming highly dependent on foreign aid to survive. The posting of the governance indicators on the DAG website could be a signal to the TPLF.

Regarding sovereignty, read the following:

    Around the world people are far more apt to be harmed by their own rather than other governments. Harm results from numerous forms of misgovernment - political and military repression, graft, judicial corruption, economic discrimination against minorities and so on.

    Such behavior clearly offends against the norm of sovereignty. The norm nevertheless protects abusive governments and corrupt elites who can appeal to sovereignty and insist on non-interference in their internal affairs whenever they face international pressure to reform. For this reason, some have called sovereignty "a refuge for scoundrels."

    -- Intl. Council on Human Rights Policy, Duties Sans Frontieres: Human Rights and Global Social Justice (2003) p. 48.

Mogadishu Bombing : - AU urges more weapons for Somalia -- BBC, Sep 18, 2009; Envoy to Somalia pleads for help after attack -- AP, Sep 18, 2009;

Somali government says rebels have more car bombs ready -- Reuters, Sep 18, 2009

Comment: Unbelievably, the TFG minister of defense is the old "white eyes" - a member of the Hawiye/Habr Gidr/ Ayr subclan that the radical Islamists draw their strength from. Inda Hadde ravaged huge areas of southern Somalia - subjugating the weaker clans, looting their resources, and reportedly enslaving some people on plantations.

He was a close ally of Sheikh Aweys until May 2009. It would be no surprise to find out that "white eyes" was paid by Shabab for inside information on the AU meeting that was bombed.

    The state minister for defense, Sheikh Yusuf Mohamed Siad, a former warlord also known as "Inda'ade" or "white eyes," said the insurgents had seized more U.N. vehicles in recent months. "We were all aware of their suicidal preparations but we never thought they would penetrate the AMISOM compound," he said. "We knew they were masterminding eight cars ... they are left with six more cars. That is cowardice."

Isayas Afeworki: - He sounds like Meles Zenawi but at a more advanced stage of degradation --- Interview with Eritrea�s Isaias Afewerki -- Financial Times, Sep 18, 2009 --

IMF : - IMF Reforms: Mere Tinkering or Change We Can Live With? -- S Ambrose, FPIF, Sep 17, 2009

CONTEMPTIBLE: - Discussing Ethnic Federalism is Contemptible? - Ethiopia PM: ethnic violence claim is contemptible -- Reuters, Sep 17, 2009

Comment: Well, the Meles Regime itself has just sentenced six people from Benishangul-Gumuz to death for ethnic violence. How many Borana were displaced during the Oromo-Somali border conflict? 50,000? 100,000? The Meles Regime censored this news, but the aid agencies had to report it because they were called upon to feed the displaced. Same with the Oromo-Amhara clash in Wellega. The Gambella crisis of 2003 was first reported by UN refugee agency staff - the government was strictly censoring the news.

How about the Afar-Somali conflict? And the multiple ethnic crises in the Southern Region. Most (or all) of these conflicts have been driven by the need to demarcate ethnic boundaries in order to receive ethnically-defined resources from the central government. This is an outcome of the flawed Ethiopian constitution.

Scholars have studied this topic and published research articles on this. But no one can tell Meles anything...

Somalia: - Does this interview inspire confidence? Sharif Ahmed sounds weak, vacillating, and without a clear plan of action --- Interview with Somalia President -- NY Times, Sep 17, 2009 -- note: J. Gettleman was the reporter who was arrested and beaten in the Ogaden

Article: In Somalia, a Leader Is Raising Hopes for Stability -- NY Times, Sep 17, 2009 ---

  • ...his armed forces are like sieves. Many of his commanders still have ties to the Shabab... several government officers here conceded that a large share of the American weapons quickly slipped into Shabab hands.

  • According to United Nations and Somali officials, the Ugandan military plans to invade Kismayo, a port town in southern Somalia controlled by a Shabab-allied group, as soon as more peacekeeping funds arrive.

  • Somali officials say the C.I.A. will open a base in the old officer quarters near Mogadishu�s airport

  • Two young men who recently quit said the Shabab�s pipeline of money, which used to flow from rich Somalis outside the country, was drying up as more Somalis backed Sheik Sharif

New Gold Mine on the Horizon: - Tulu Kapi Maiden Inferred Resource of 690 000 oz Gold -- - Dwyka Resources Limited, (pdf) Sep 14, 2009

Comment: After the 1997 Bre-X scandal - the largest-ever mining fraud - new rules were established to protect investors and the public. Periodic, PUBLIC, detailed reports are now expected on every mining prospect, and the names of the responsible professionals are listed. MIDROC Gold is an exception. You will hear nothing from them. Al-amoudi supposedly finances all his investments. But the public still has a right-to-know. Lega Dembi was discovered by state geologists on state land. Al-amoudi should be forced to provide as much information as the normal mining companies do.

Food emergency gets worse while Meles Regime delays release of updated humanitarian needs document --- The document was supposed to be released at the end of August. It is a critical step in planning relief efforts for the next six months. But it has been delayed (or at least not made public). Why?

Hidden Hunger: A search of Ethiopian state-media websites and affiliates reveals no mention of the suffering of millions of Ethiopians. This is in line with the Meles dictator's recent declaration to the Economist Magazine that there was no food emergency. Meles is once again contradicted by the following report:

Ethiopia: Humanitarian Bulletin - 14 Sep 2009 -- Reliefweb "The shortage of emergency food resources persists and has forced the Government and WFP to commence fifth round allocation of cereals with reduced rations of 12.5 kg and full ration of non-cereals for the projected caseload of 6.2 million emergency beneficiaries in the country. Full rations could not be met by the current WFP stocks..."

CRITIQUE (at Wardheer News): SOMALI NATIONAL STATE OF ETHIOPIA: Excluded and Marginalized -- By Mohamed Ugas; Sep 15 , 2009

Sep 14, 2009: Game over for another Qaeda/Shabab "boy scout": - After building a truck bomb, killing and wounding dozens, trying to kill more... his turn came. Here is the original report from ABC News - Saleh Ali Nabhan, one of the FBI "most wanted", al-Qaeda terrorist in Somalia killed by US commandos

From a videotape made by Nabhan at a Shabab training ground in 2008:

    My greetings to the courageous commander and my honorable leader: Sheikh Osama bin Laden... Allah knows how much we long for your meeting and the delight of your gentle voice... My sheikh! My salutation is nostalgia and my love is permanent..."

    Nabhan Message to Africans: "What are you waiting for if you do not wage Jihad now? When will you wage Jihad? Oh Muslim youth! Free your brothers from the nightmare of oppression and the hammer of punishment. Seek death so that you will be offered life, come forward to Jihad so that you will be granted dignity in this life and in the next... I say, people of Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda and Chad! Will you not take your share of the Jihad? Will you nut rush to the help of your brothers in the army of difficulty? We are waiting for reinforcement from Sudan and Yemen, of wisdom and faith. Rise up from your seats in the house of your mothers and join in the caravan of the protectors of Tawheed in the forests of glory and dignity and be among those who raise the black banner in Somalia, the first time after the invasion of the Abyssinian rabble."

{Note: in this video Nabhan announced the death of fellow wanted terrorist Abu Talha al Sudani "more than a year ago". Time magazine reports: "al-Qaeda bombmaker Tariq Abdullah, a.k.a. Abu Taha al-Sudani, was killed in a hit carried out by an Ethiopian military helicopter.}

But maybe it wasn't the Abyssinian rabble that was the problem. Maybe Nabhan and Shabab should have taken more notice of the wishes of the Somali people.

Nabhan was killed in Brava. This is the area where Shabab started its grave-desecration campaign and greatly anatagonized the population. Perhaps this is why the Americans finally were able to find him.

Somali rage at grave desecration --- BBC Jun 8, 2009

    Since they began to capture large swathes of southern Somalia, radical Islamists have been undertaking a programme of destroying mosques and the graves of revered religious leaders from the Sufi branch of Islam.

    Graves are being desecrated wherever al-Shabab is in control. The town of Brave is home to a number of minority groups. Among them are the Sufi Bravenese, a Bantu group who speak a language unique to their town called Chimbalazi, similar to Swahili. Many of the graves of their religious leaders have been attacked.

ALSO READ: Al-Shabaab Is Number-One Enemy of Islam and Menace to the Somali People --- Apr 7, 2009 Waagacusub Media

OR: For almost two decades politically polarized warmongers, acting like spoiled children who refused to share a sandbox, held Somalia hostage. But never before have Somalis seen a terrifying group like Alshabaab cult --- Mj. Dalmar Kaahin, Aug 7, 2009 Somaliland Patriots

CONCLUSION: Somali group lauds U.S. killing of al Qaeda suspect --- Sep 15, 2009 Reuters

TPLF CHAUVINISTS DEMAND EXPULSION OF NON-TPLF TIGRAYAN PARTY FROM MAICHEW --- Maichew demonstrators demand expulsion of ARENA TIGRAY opposition party -- Reporter, Sep 13, 2009 (amh)

Comment: According to Arena, the demonstrators were organized by the local TPLF party. Obviously it is unconstitutional. These TPLF chauvinists are also reported to have imprisoned Arena members and carried out various acts of vandalism against Arena Tigray. This episode clearly shows that the TPLF stands for the TPLF not for Tigray and certainly not for democracy. The TPLF aristocracy originates from Tigray and will do anything to protect its base.

Another Misinformed Opinion on Somalia --- Daniel Howden: If we brand this country the next Afghanistan, we invite it to live up to its name -- Independent, Sep 13, 2009

Comment: This opinion article represents the "conventional wisdom" in much of the media about Somalia. The narrative goes something like this:

    1. After the collapse of the Somali state in 1991, the US intervened again and made things worse.
    2. The world abandoned Somalia after the Blackhawk down incident.
    3. The Islamic Courts Union (ICU) finally brought peace to Somalia.
    4. The brief peace was destroyed when the USA "engineered" an invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia.
    5. Shabab and Hizbul Islam are widely popular in part because of backlash against the Ethiopian invasion.
    6. Shabab and Hizbul Islam are not part of the radical Islamic terror network but are instead "nationalists."
    7. Shabab and Hizbul Islam control most of the country.
    8. IMPLICATION (unstated) - the world should accept Shabab and Hizbul Islam as the legitimate rulers of Somalia.

The above narrative is driven in large part by anti-US sentiment. It places US actions at the center of all critical events in Somali history. But its complete nonsense.

Warlord Aideed led Habr Gidr armies to conquer new lands in southern Somalia. One of these was the Rahanwein capital of Baidoa. Aideed's looting and destruction led to the Baidoa famine of 1992.

That awful famine was finally alleviated when Bush I, was embarrased when people asked why the US could intervene in Kuwait and drive Saddam's army out, but couldnt chase away a few warlords. US troops arrived and opened relief routes to Baidoa.

UN peacekeeping troops arrived and took over from the Americans who withdrew most of their forces. Aideed felt that the UN was favoring his rivals and decided to drive the UN out. He slaughtered 35 Pakistani peacekeepers.

In response the UN asked the Americans for help. This is what led to the Black Hawk down incident. After that the US washed its hands of Somalia, and the UN also withdrew.

But the UN continued to sponsor conferences to try reform a Somali government. Notably, Somaliland and Puntland created their own administrations by themselves.

Meanwhile al-Ittihad became active in guerrila warfare and terrorism under the banner of international jihad. The leader of al-Ittihad - Sheikh Aweys - is now the leader of Hizbul Islam.

In 1998 the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were bombed by al-qaeda with support from affiliates in Somalia. These affiliates included former Shabab leader Hashi Ayro and Hassan Turki (al-Ittihad alumnus, currently affiliated with Hizbul Islam).

In 2004 the endless Somali peace conferences (sponsored by the UN) finally reached agreement and selected a president and parliament. The transitional government (TFG) moved to Baidoa.

It could not move to Mogadishu because of warlord conflicts. The recently formed ICU ejected the warlords and took over the capital. For an approximately six month period, the US had been financing the warlords to fight the ICU because the ICU contained known terrorists like Ayro, Turki, and Aweys.

The ICU rejected all negotiation with the TFG and insisted that it would not only control all Somalia (including the peaceful Puntland and Somaliland), but also would invade Ethiopia too.

Having previously dealt with al-Ittihad, and captured and killed Arab jihadis in the Ogaden, Ethiopia obviously had a security interest in Somalia. Also Meles Zenawi, after being weakened and shunned by the west during the 2005 post-election period, had great incentive to show how he could be an ally in the war on terror. Thus it is nonsense to say that "the US engineered the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia" as if there were no local interest at stake.

The Ethiopian invasion rescued Puntland and Somaliland from certain invasion by the radical Islamists. It also allowed the TFG to move to Mogadishu and for the African peacekeeping force to be established.

Another effect of the invasion is the split of the ICU into hardline jihadi;s and moderates. Sharif was never viewed by Ethiopia, the US or anyone as a hardline radical Islamist. That is why he was released after being captured in Kenya. He has now been elected president of the TFG.

Shabab and Hizb-ul-Islam were radical Islamists before the invasion and they continue to be so now. Shabab has openly and repeatedly declared its allegiance to al-Qaeda. Al-qaeda support - training, fighters, money - is flowing to Shabab. Al-qaeda propaganda celebrates Shabab. Its a mystery why some in the international media discount this.

Shabab is not a nationalist Somali organization. They have burned the Somali flag. They have little respect for Somali culture and have enraged the population by digging up graves of venerated, local Somali Sheiks. They favor Arab dress and Arab language - something the Somali people rejected in the 1970s when they were selecting a language for school instruction. They have issued papers that clearly express their radical aims. They have openly and repeatedly declared their implacable opposition to democracy, which they believe is anti-Islam. How on earth is anyone supposed to negotiate with this group?

Hizb-ul-Islam is slightly less radical but it is of the same nature and closely aligned with Shabab. In fact Shabab seems to be the much stronger of the two factions.

To ascribe the radical nature of Shabab and Hizb-ul-Islam to a US-engineered Ethiopian invasion is plain wrong on so many levels.

There is no other option but to support and expand the AMISOM mission, continue working to help rebuild Somali national institutions, and be vigilant to keep al-Qaeda from having a free hand in Somalia.

Somaliland Crisis - President engages in various tactics to remain in power

Three killed in Somaliland opposition protest -- Reuters, Sep 12, 2009 --- "You have ruled enough and it would be good if you resign before more blood is shed."

Comment: Typical. Once a person tastes the addicting power, the adulation, the flattery etc... of being a head-of-state, then it becomes more and more difficult for the person to leave power.

The synapses of his brain are flooded with pleasurable neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. With every passing year his brain requires higher and higher doses to maintain the sense of pleasure that the exercise of power brings. His brain begins to change physically. It is reconfigured to adapt to (and need) the high-concentrations of neurotransmitters.

The brain also develops defense mechanisms to ensure the continued supply of these neurotransmitters. These include the breakdown of moral barriers against deceiving and killing others, and a very heightened ability to selectively interpret facts to support one truth: i.e. He, the great leader is indispensable. The nation cannot survive without him. Anyone who disagrees is a criminal. He must stay in power for the sake of the people.

This is the story of Mengistu, Meles, Isaias Afeworki, Mugabe, and now sadly Somaliland's Dahir Rayale Kahin. Kahin has unilaterally suspended an independently-developed voter-registration list that was supposed to be used for the next election. By Ethiopian standards this is nothing. Meles has the election apparatus totally in his pocket. But Somaliland was an encouraging example of democracy in the Horn of Africa.

The sham resignation of Meles is a symptom of his power addiction. Meles has never needed party approval to implement any policy. Ask him any policy question and he will give a decisive answer - land, telecoms, Birtukan Mideksa... He never refers to the need for party approval before he proclaims what the policy is. And he has formulated new policies/actions at lightning speed - new parliamentary rules, moving the Oromia capital, putting Birtukan in jail. But suddenly he becomes powerless to resign from his job! It is out of his control. Negaso Gidada resigned easily. But Meles has become so weak he can't even do what Negaso did (??).

This embarrassing and childish drama is caused by the Meles power addiction being challenged by international journalists. This article traces how Meles developed his resignation hoax after being put on the spot, initially on the BBC's Hard Talk, in 2005: Rejecting the tyrannical hoax, enjoy the New Year! .

ALSO: - a Scotsman gives his take on principles of self-determination -- Southern neighbour puts Somaliland on Horn of a dilemma -- Scotsman, Sep 12, 2009

Does any self-selected group anywhere have the right to declare independence? If so, the richest parts of any country could decide to go it alone, thus impoverishing their fellow citizens. Even if greed is ruled out as an acceptable motive, in favour of traditional ethno-cultural nationalism, a profusion of tiny tribal states might make the world far more unstable.

Thus clear principles are needed, as neither self-determination nor the inviolability of national borders can be treated as sacrosanct in every case.

So let me attempt to outline some basic principles: no outside forces should either encourage or discourage secession, and the barriers for recognising secession should be set high. Secession is in itself neither good nor bad: like divorce, it may make people more or less content.

A declaration of independence should be recognised only if a clear majority (well over 50 per cent-plus-one of the voters) have freely chosen it.

The new state must guarantee that any minorities it drags along � say, Russians in the Baltic states, or Serbs in Kosovo � will be decently treated. Secessionists should have a reasonable claim to being a national group that, preferably, enjoyed stable self-government in the past on the territory they claim. Nations need not be ethnically based; few are entirely. But most nations are unified by language, a shared history of oppression, or some other force of history.

Comment: It would be interesting to hear the opinions of Oromo nationalists on this topic. Do large ethnic nations (such as the Somali, Oromo, and Amhara) contain regional identities? What is the role of history in defining a nation? How about the clearly expressed wishes of a subset of an ethnic nation? Do Arabs in Egypt or Syria or Saudi Arabia have the right to form their own states based on historical factors and regional identities? Or must all Arabs be required to join a single state?

These questions also apply internally. Internally, the current Ethiopian constitution does not recognize peoples or nations (such as Somaliland or Eritrea) that are regional parts of a larger linguistic group. It gives no weight to historical, geographical and regional factors. It completely excludes the possibility of a multi-ethnic region of Ethiopia having a distinct shared identity (e.g. Harar region, Jimma region, Shewa, Wello etc...). All these areas have been strictly segregated by ethnicity either at the state level or at the zone level.

People sharing the same language, but having other identities - such as the Ogadeni and Dir Somalis - have been lumped together in one state. The result is a non-stop conflict over who will control the state. The state capital has bounced between Gode (Ogaden) and Jijiga (Dir). There is now a very deep animosity between the two clan families - much worse than existed before 1991. Would it not be more practical to assign one state to the Ogaden and another to the Dir, (and perhaps a third to the area bordering Kenya)?

This possibility cannot even be considered because it is against the TPLF religion. The TPLF has adopted Soviet nationality theory as if it were a divine revelation.

No other country in the world has so blindly reorganized itself. No other country has given so little consideration to the many factors that go into determining a peoples identity and its expression in government.

AWD and Cholera (based on UN test results obtained by Reuters) ravages all parts of Addis Abeba --
Article: Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) cases have been reported from all ten sub-cities in Addis Ababa -- UN OCHA, Sep 08, 2009

See Cholera/diarrhoea outbreak hits 18,000 in Ethiopia -- Reuters, Sep 07, 2009 ---

    Cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases have infected 18,000 people in Ethiopia over the last three weeks in many parts of the country, including the capital Addis Ababa, according to a document seen by Reuters.

    The document -- minutes of a meeting attended by international health charities and U.N. agencies last Tuesday -- said half of moderate-to-severe cases of the 18,000 infections were cholera. It did not say how many were moderate-to-severe.

Note - the Meles Regime is trying to cover-up this cholera epidemic and its shameful lack of preparation after repeated earlier bouts of the disease.

Meles to Continue (as predicted by all observers) -- Zenawi decides to stay in power until 2016 -- Ethiomedia, Sep 8. 2009.

Comment: "I have had enough," said Meles during an interview with the Financial Times on June 22, 2009. But he left himself some wiggle room... Maybe the party would beg him to stay. And so it appears to have been the case. Of course, since the TPLF is a Soviet-style "vanguard" party there is no independent party voice or party opinion. All orders, ideas, and policies originate with the TPLF politbureau and are passed downwards for implementation.

In fact, according to Aigaforum's sources, this was all decided by the top leadership themselves. They have already picked out the future new leaders: "The new leaders will come from the existing long time combatant members of the Front(EPRDF) as well as members that joined after EPRDF took power." These new leaders will be in a "transition period" for five years! Then Meles will move to the background but still wield power in a new as yet undetermined role. Of course if he orders them to beg him, the party could beg him to continue again in 2015.

No need for elections. No need for democracy. The EPRDF claims millions of members. It claims to represent 99% of the population (by the last election of 2008). Yet a tiny handful of long-time ruling elite have handpicked the leaders for the coming decades. Why would anyone join a party that doesn't allow you to participate in choosing the leaders?

Meles has already surpassed Derg/Mengistu (17 years), Nimieri (16 years) and other run-of-the-mill African dictators. If he makes it to 2015 he will join the rare club of dicators who have managed to survive 20 years or more.. These include Siad Barre (22 years), Mugabe (29 yrs and counting), Kamazu Banda (30 yrs), Mobutu (31 yrs), Gadhaffi (40 yrs and counting) and Omar Bongo (42 yrs).

A few more five-year extensions after 2015 and Meles will likely set the record for African dictators. Of course Ethiopia may cease too exist by then.

Denan then and Now -- A youtube video is making the rounds of Somali websites. It is presented as if it were a new item. In fact the video was made nine years ago and is from the non-political website: The Denan Project

In the year 2000, a foreign journalist flew to Gode to cover reports of a famine taking place there. The journalist heard reports of a camp at Denan, 80 miles away. This video: Video: Journey to Hell is the record of what he saw then, and, shocked by what he saw, his efforts to do something about the situation.

It is a deeply disturbing, deeply moving video.

Thus "The Denan Project" was born. Over the past years a hospital has built and various other projects undertaken through donations largely from communities in the state of Connecticut, USA.

The Gode famine of the year 2000 was at its height early in the year, while the Ethio-Eritrea war was still raging. It was also an important year for the TPLF - the 25th anniversary celebrations were held in Addis Abeba and Mekele.

A few gov't officials flew into Gode, stayed for a few hours and then left. The Meles Regime was preoccupied with the TPLF split. (In any case Meles has never been interested in personally taking charge of famine emergencies).

What is happening now? Denan is located on the margins of the ONLF insurgency, although a high-ranking ONLF official, Mohammed Dolaal, was killed near Denan recently. According to an interview, the Denan area has been spared the type of atrocities reported in the rest of the OGaden.

But drought is once again sweeping the land. And the after-effects of the Meles counter-insurgency campaign have depleted the population.

How are the people doing? Is there suffering of the magnitude seen in the 2000 video? Where can we get such information? Does state-owned Ethiopia radio or TV ever go to such places? Are famine victims inconvenient during New Year's celebrations?

Here is the latest news bulletin from the UN, which is the only hope for millions of Ethiopians (the Meles Regime is ignoring them and denying an emergency) - the last paragraph talks about the food emergency in the Somali Region:

    Meanwhile, the lack of food in many areas in eastern Ethiopia has prompted the World Food Programme (WFP) to underscore the need for an immediate and comprehensive contingency plan to feed the vulnerable people, especially given the prospect of poor food production in the coming months.

    - Cases of deadly diarrhoea mount in Ethiopian capital, warns UN Sep 8, 2009

Note: the founder of the Ogaden Welfare and Development Association, which is the local partner of the Denan Project, was killed in July 2007 by a landmine. (Landmines are one of the main weapons of the ONLF).

International War Crimes Investigation Needed [even despite the lies and fraudulent information provided by ONLF supporters] --
Article: Ethiopia shakes down its Minnesota refugees -- By Douglas McGill, Twin Cities Daily Planet (Minnesota), Sep 07, 2009

The article included a faked photograph passed on as if it were from the Ogaden. Lies like this are extremely damaging to Ethiopia's people and the democratization movement. The ONLF is an extremely nasty organization with a human rights record as bad or worse than the TPLF.

This faked photograph casts doubt on the entire article and certainly discredits the sources the reporter used for this article and previous Ogaden refugee stories.

On the other hand, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Medecins Sans Frontieres, and the UN mission of 2007 are credible sources. Consider the following from a UN mission report in September 2007:

    "The mission received reports and direct accounts of serious violations of human rights, including substantive protection concerns for the civilian population. It is the mission's views that these reported human rights concerns require independent investigation. Based on the information gathered during the course of the mission, a separate communication on protection and human rights issues is being prepared by the UN and will be shared and discussed with the government.

The separate report mentioned above was never made public. And there never was any independent investigation. Why not?

Subsequent to the UN report - which was based on a brief visit - Human Rights Watch came out with its very detailed report (Collective Punishment: War Crimes in the Ogaden). The HRW report was backed with satellite evidence.

The Meles regime simply denied everything:

    Bereket Simon: Bereket Simon, an adviser to the Ethiopian prime minister, told the FT: "There is not in any way a humanitarian crisis or anything that resembles it." -- Financial Times, Sep 9, 2007

    Meles: We are supposed to have burned villages. I can tell you, not a single village, and as far as I know not a single hut has been burned. We have been accused of dislocating thousands of people from their villages and keeping them in camps. Nobody has come up with a shred of evidence. -- Time Magazine, Sep 7, 2007

There is a large amount of statements like this... this was widely discussed in the media in 2007 and 2008. Here is an eyewitness report from MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres)

    "I saw burned out villages. I remember passing a number of villages that were empty other than the elderly and sick," Eileen Skinnider, assistant coordinator for Ethiopia, told the news conference via an Internet link from Canada. "We didn't pass one commercial vehicle ... I saw women and children chased away (by soldiers) trying to collect water from wells" -- MSF, cited in Reuters, Sep 4, 2007

Absolutely nothing has been done to hold anyone accountable.

Ethnic Federalism -- Ethiopia: Ethnic Federalism and Its Discontents ICG, Sep 4, 2009

Comment: The ICG article is not really an in-depth exploration of ethnic federalism in Ethiopia, but rather a summary of recent political trends. An in-depth evaluation of ethnic federalism is needed. The TPLF has applied Soviet nationality theory to Ethiopia to create the new federation. Several problems with this are apparent:

The Soviets followed a policy of "nationalist in form, but socialist in substance." In other words, states were to be organized on an ethno-national basis, but the governance of each "nation-state" was to be based on Marxist principles. These principles focused on class struggle and the solidarity of working class people all over the world. The Marxists were expecting all states in the world to disappear within a matter of decades.

Form - The TPLF copied the definition of a nation from an essay that Stalin wrote in 1913. You can still find it on the Marxists.org website: http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1913/03.htm. Compare it to the definition in the last paragraph of Article 39 of the Ethiopian constitution.

The problem here is that our understanding of ethnicity and ethnic nations has expanded greatly since 1913. Nationalism had only emerged as a force in the mid 1800s. The notion that state boundaries should be congruent with ethnic nations began in Western Europe where populations were comparatively homogenous (though still diverse). Attempts to apply the concept to Eastern Europe foundered as the area was ethnically heterogenous. Large-scale ethnic cleansing resulted (e.g. Greece-Turkey at the turn of the century, World War II, and the Yugoslav conflict). Applying this concept to heterogenous areas of Ethiopia where the moderating influence of cross-cultural civil society groups is repressed by the state, could set the stage for interminable ethnic conflicts.

Early scholars viewed the nation as a fixed, "primordial" group. Today most scholars take the "constructivist" view, stressing that individuals hold multiple identities, and that these identities change over time, and the nation itself changes. Yet in Article 8, the Ehiopian constitution assigns sovereignty not to the individual Ethiopian, but to these assumed ethnic nations. Thus the fate of individual Ethiopians was fixed once the TPLF drew up the list of ethnic nations and their territories in 1994. This inflexible arrangement violates the basic concept of individual sovereignty, is inconsistent with the modern world, and limits the ability of Ethiopians to adapt their society to changing circumstances.

Substance - The Soviet era ended at the same time the TPLF took power. But Meles and his group had no other basis of knowledge. They replicated the Soviet format, but what was to be the governing substance now that Marxism was obsolete? The TPLF has failed to articulate why the nations, nationalities and peoples should stick together. On the contrary, it has stressed the negative history of Ethiopia, and created mechanisms to drive the people apart.

The TPLF applied ethnic federalism in an inconsistent manner. Three of the nine federal states are officially multi-ethnic (although internally they are ethnically divided). Another state - Harar - has a population of less than 200,000 - smaller than most "nations nationalities, and peoples" that were not granted full federal status. The constitution states that every nation (as defined by TPLF/Stalin) has the right to its own state. Thus one can expect a future filled with long battles as each of Ethiopia's approx 80 "nations, nationalities, and peoples" tries to exercise its full rights. This struggle wiil not be peaceful.

The secession of Eritrea blatantly contradicts the spirit of the constitution. Why did the TPLF not assert its right to speak for Tigrinya speakers in Eritrea? Regional identity? If the TPLF recognized a regional identity in the Eritrean case why not in Ethiopia. Similarly in Somalia, the TPLF has supported a regional building blocks approach to reconstructing the Somali state. But within Ethiopia, this approach is not recognized and all Somali's are ethnically - and hence politically - pre-defined as belonging to a single nation. Finally, if regional identities that supercede ethnic identites are found in neighboring countries, presumably they exist in areas of Ethiopia too. Dont these identities have a right to recognition in the Ethiopian constitution?

CONCLUSION - We need a practical federation, not an incoherent ethnic federation. Under a practical federation, some states could be ethnic, some could be regional (multi-ethnic). They could be based on historical entites. But most importantly they should be based on the sovereign will of the individual citizen. Pragmatism should govern the constitution, not outdated grand theories of human social organization.

Can the Man Who Burned the Ogaden Represent Africa at the Climate Change Conference? --

... After the Obole attack [ONLF massacre in April 2007] TPLF politburo memmber and Meles confidant Abay Tsehaye and army chief of staff Samora Younis, met with senior regional officials in Jijiga. They identified one of the main sources of ONLF support as rural villagers. On June 9, 2007, Meles announced the beginning of a large-scale operation to suppress the ONLF (although it had already been on-going). The operation was most intense during June to September 2007, and was characterized by systematic and intensive efforts to relocate, terrorize, and punish communities in areas of ONLF operation.

A small sample: "They evacuated more than a dozen villages in an approx. 60-km radius of Wardheer town alone during this operation, including Daratoole, Lahelow, Neef-Kuceliye, Qamuuda, Dhurwaa-Hararaf, Ubatale, Wa'do, Aado (Caado), Arowela, Yu'ub (Yucub), and Laanjalelo. The majority of these villages were burned after their forced evacuation."

- paraphrased from: Collective Punishment - War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia's Somali Region. HRW, 6.12.2008

Climate change may have negative consequences for Ethiopia, but the negative consequences of the petty, spiteful little dictator ruling the country are already far worse. The industrialized countries can compensate Ethiopia by grabbing Meles while he is in Copenhagen in December, and putting him on trial for war crimes.

Ethiopia Has Suspected Outbreak of Cholera; At Least 34 Dead -- By Jason McLure, Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) --

At least 34 people died in Ethiopia following a suspected cholera outbreak, with more than 4,000 sickened in the capital, Addis Ababa, in the past two weeks.

The disease has infected as many as 1,000 people a day in the past week, Dadi Jima, deputy director of the state-owned Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute, said in an interview today. He declined to say the disease is cholera

The government has not "fully confirmed" the type of illness, Dadi said. "We usually report it as acute watery diarrhea." The spread of the disease has been exacerbated by heavy rains in the Horn of Africa country, he said.

The United Nations humanitarian agency said six cholera- treatment centers capable of treating 180 people a day have been dispatched to the country. The UN has also sent drugs for the treatment of more than 1,500 severe cases and 600 mild cases of acute water diarrhea, as well as water-purification tablets, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in an e-mailed statement.

...Cholera, mainly spread through contaminated water and food and poor sanitation, causes acute diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to death... If untreated, cholera can kill a healthy adult in as little as five hours, .

Comment: The Gov't declared that the word "cholera" was illegal in Ethiopia because no one had checked to confirm the presence of the cholera pathogen. So epidemics of "Acute Watery Diarrohea" were reported instead. The semantic distinction is useless for the victims. And the problem got worse.

Now we are on the verge of a disaster. Rather than playing word games the health ministry should have confronted the problem in a forthright way and prepared the population for the danger.

Now what? Are we going to reject the cholera treatment centers being offered by the UN because TPLF propaganda officially denies the presence of cholera in Ethiopia?

To have a cholera epidemic in a nation's capital is shameful. It is a sign of a badly run administration. Providing at least a minimum level of sanitation and clean water is a basic function expected of a city administration. The TPLF should have focused on maintaining Addis Abeba's water supply and improving the sanitation system. Instead they wasted the budget on real estate adventures (better left to the private sector) and prestige projects like the costly and premature Ring Road. Huge amounts of gov't funds have almost certainly been diverted to TPLF cadre work - recruiting new members and setting up spy cells throughout the city down to the block level.

Capital Newspaper: Aug 30, 2009: "A five stage strategic plan approved six months ago by the Addis Ababa Administration anticipated a possible outbreak of such water related diseases... The most alarming part of the findings indicate that the city's poor sewerage system is bedded close to one of the main fresh water systems that supplies 37 percent of Addis Ababa's water needs."

A strategic plan six months ago? This problem has been known for a long time... Read the following about the Shashamene famine of 2008, and the Meles Regime's denials both of the famine and the cholera:

In an address to parliament on March 18, Meles said that reports of drought-related deaths were "false." It wasn't until last week that a delegation of Ethiopian emergency relief officials toured Shashemene and other parts of the drought-ravaged south. According to humanitarian officials who were briefed on the visit, the Ethiopians were "shocked" by the conditions and pledged to respond.

Earlier in 2007, the government refused to declare a cholera outbreak that killed hundreds of people and infected more than 60,000. Despite U.N. tests showing that the epidemic was indeed cholera, Ethiopian officials insisted on calling it "acute watery diarrhea," which may have slowed the international response, aid officials said.

Ethiopian children go hungry as government response faulted -- By Shashank Bengali, McClatchy Newspapers, May 30, 2008

There is no Cholera Outbreak:Dr Tewodros Adhanom. 680 reportedly dead -- Capital , Feb 2007.

Though reports have been flying around that over 680 people have died in a suspected cholera outbreak in Ethiopia, Minister of Health Dr Thewdros Adhanom has denied the reports.

Foreign aid organizations have been claiming that the deaths were attributed to a new wave of cholera that has also affected neighboring countries such as Somalia.

Some 60,000 people have been infected, but the country’s Health Ministry is resisting pressure to declare an emergency despite a U.N. warning that the disease is an epidemic.

OCHA believes that the disease has been spreading to several places in Ethiopia and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Ethiopia has denied the report, saying that there is no cholera. The fact that the UN hasn’t officially declared the disease as cholera makes it hard to claim that cholera has indeed killed all those people.

Ethiopia 2.0 - A visitor to Eritrean websites will quickly notice two inter-related debates that have been raging in cyberspace for some time now. The first debate concerns a crtical re-evaluation of the Eritrean struggle for independence, while the second concerns the marginalization of non-Tigrean Eritreans.

The first debate was touched off in 2008 by a series of articles by the prolific Eritrean writer Yosief Ghebrehiwet:

These articles have been highly controversial. This is because they represent the first time that the Eritrean independence struggle has been subjected to normal methods of historical analysis and criticism (at least in the mass Eritrean 'media' such as it is). Regardless of the conclusions reached by the author, any such exercise is bound to reveal deep flaws.

Eritreans who object to de-romaniticization of Eritrea's founding myths are often the same ones who were previously busy de-romanticizing Ethiopia's. The past three decades have seen extensive critiques and re-evaluations of the nature of Ethiopia and the assumptions of its existence. The result has been what can perhaps be called "Ethiopia 2.0" - an emerging consensus of what Ethiopia is and what it should mean to its citizens (minus Eritrea).

"Ethiopia 2.0" is still rejected by important segments of society that it needs to embrace. Ethnic federalism remains highly controversial. Many still demand the breakup of the country. And there is no guarantee that it won't break up. But the process of questioning and critiquing is absolutely essential.

In this regard, Yosief Ghebrehiwet's articles have implications for the TPLF and its supporters. If the Eritrean struggle for independence was deeply flawed and perhaps not worth it, what does that say about the TPLF's unstinting support for the EPLF? And shouldn't the TPLF be evaluated - not by its own propaganda - but by normal historical research? Former members of the TPLF have published damaging allegations and credible evidence of the TPLF's abusive methods. Shouldn't these be discussed in the Tigrean mass media? With mounting evidence of a potential new famine after 18 years of TPLF rule, shouldn't Tigreans ask "Was this worth it?" Was there no other way to achieve Tigrean autonomy, decentralization and language freedom? Was it correct for the TPLF to eliminate all other progressive force that were working in Tigray at the time? Was signing off on the EPLF's demand for Eritrean separation from Ethiopia - and belittling Ethiopia's need for a sea port - worth it?

Honest discussions of the above topics and their analysis using normal historical analysis techniques will improve "Ethiopia 2.0" and help the next generation build "Ethiopia 3.0".

Ethnicity and Identity: More complex than recognized by the Ethiopian Constitution - Neither Ethiopian nor Kenyan, just Gabra, Garre or Borana - East African, M Wachira, Aug 31 2009 --- "The issue of citizenship baffled many people living in the north of the country where Kenya shares a border with Ethiopia. Most are nomads from the Borana, Gabra or Garre communities, which are found on both sides of the border."

Comment: The Ethiopian constitution does not recognize the Boran, Gabra or Garre. Nor does it recognize the rights of individuals to choose how to express their national identity themselves. The constitution has taken that power away. It establishes pre-defined Oromo and Somali nations and assigns all Boran, Gabra, or Garre political membership in either of these nations.

The constitution allows creation of separate sub-regional ethnic zones, but denies the existence of multi-ethnic regional identities and hence prohibits the creation of multi-ethnic political entities. "Oromo" and "Somali" are the only identities that are given national political rights. There is no other option. Thus, key issues regarding the livelihoods of these people are now wrapped up in the agenda of ethnic nationalist elites in far-away Jigjiga or Addis Ababa.

The primary objective of these Oromo and Somali ethnic nationalists is to preserve the territorial integrity of their nation. This objective is translated into reality in the mixed ethnic regions inhabited by the Borana, Gabra, and Garre. These ethnic groups have had a long-history of interaction and two-way assimilation. They are now being forced to "purify" themselves and reduce their identity to either Oromo or Somali. There is no middle ground.

The Ethiopian constitution does not recognize regional identities. It does not recognize the existence of mixed communities sharing the same area. Thus ethnic boundaries are being sharpened and the ideals of harmony between ethnic groups and peaceful coexistence are threatened. The cut-and-paste application of Soviet nationality theory to the Ethiopian constitution is having deadly results:

Pastoral conflicts and state-building in the Ethiopian lowlands T Hagmann/A Mulugeta, Afrika Spectrum 43 (2008) 1: 19-37:
"Ethnic federalism incites pastoralists to engage in parochial types of claim-making, to occupy territory on a more permanent basis and to become involved in ‘politics of difference’ with neighbouring groups.

"A major incentive for pastoralists to identify with pre-defined ethnic collectivities and to adopt expansionist political tactics to the detriment of neighbouring groups, was the extension of fiscal and administrative resources from regional capitals to districts."

Also note: "The OLF organized the opposition and even waged guerrilla war in many parts of Ethiopia. They had not, however, established themselves in any significant way among the Boran, and thier pan-Oromo ideology had not made much of an impact in Boranaland. The term "Oromo" was simply unknown to many ordinary people: people regarded themselves as being Boran, or Garre or Gabra." - A. Shongollo. The Poetics of Nationalims, in Being and Becoming Oromo: Historical and Anthropological Enquires. 1996. Book of essays edited by PTW. Baxter, J Hultin, and A Triulzi

Also see: EthnoPolitics and Gabra Origins. G. Schlee, 2008 commenting on: The People of the Five "Drums": Gabra Ethnohistorical Origins

And: Garreonline - a unique "Voice of Garre" newsletter that provides original news about the Garre from correspondents in the region. Recent dispatches:

Dismissing the warning signals: - Millions facing famine in Ethiopia as rains fail - Independent (UK), Aug 30, 2009 - In recent weeks, Time Magazine and the Economist have written articles on this topic. But in Ethiopia, this remains a "hidden hunger" as the state media has completely ignored what would be a headline story in a normal country. Hunger and potential starvation directly affect at least 15% of the population. But the Ethiopian new year party at the Sheraton Hotel is only two weeks away... nothing can spoil the fun for Ethiopia's ruling elite.

Dismissing the warning signals, Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, said earlier this month that there was no danger of famine this year.

...while the scope of the problem can be measured in the number of hungry people, the severity depends on the generosity of those in the rich world. And this year they have been miserly.

...The[World Food Program] Ethiopian operation, which had $500m in 2008, is short $127m this year, equivalent to 167,000 tonnes of food. The Famine Early Warning Network forecast this month that the shortfall would reach 300,000 tonnes by December. Rations for the 6.2 million people receiving emergency food aid have, as a result, been slashed by a third from a meagre 15kg of cereals, beans and oil a month to just 10kg. Even if the shortfall were made up today, it would take three months for supplies to be loaded on to ships bound for Djibouti, then transferred to trucks for the arduous overland journey to land-locked Ethiopia.

...Aid agencies are worried about the main harvest this autumn, arguing that the time for action is now, not when the food runs out in November - usually the driest month - let alone when starving children with distended bellies capture the attention of the West's television viewing public.

...While most other countries with food shortages allow charities to distribute food, Ethiopia's government insists that the bulk of food aid must pass through its hands.

...The irony is that the Zenawi regime has done a reasonable job of boosting food production, achieving self-sufficiency in the late 1990s. One agency described it as the "bread basket" of Africa, harvesting more grain in a good year than South Africa. The government promotes best practices and distributes fertiliser to farmers. It also has an ambitious scheme to relocate 2.2 million people to more fertile areas. But even it can't control the rains.

Comment: Regarding the performance of the Meles Regime, the Independent newspaper should have consulted the 2008 report by the UK Gov't foreign aid department (DFID): Encouraging economic growth in Ethiopia: Perspectives on agricultural input markets, agricultural extension and advisory services, and agricultural education and training - scroll down to read excerpts - .

The Meles agric. policies have been counterproductive. Seed supply, fertilizer distribution, extension services, rural finance - these sectors are all substandard and subject to excessive state control. On top of this we have the damaging land tenure policy and the poor infrastructure constraints that hinder rural investment - particularly telecoms. Road construction is the only bright spot, and the World Bank deserves the credit on that score.

The very fact that a huge famine emergency is developing, should by itself serve as an indictment of the Meles regime, which has had 18 years to implement sensible policies (policies that that been proven to work everywhere eles in the world). As with the Derg however, the TPLF absolutely refuses to implement policies that will weaken its political control. So Ethiopia continues to be a famine-prone country.

The article seems to place responsibility for feeding Ethiopians on rich Westerners. This is wrong. It is insulting and patronizing and demeaning. Ethiopia can and should be able to feed itself.

Although the Derg and the TPLF have together made Ethiopia into a beggar nation, "dependent on the generosity of those in the rich world," this will be fairly easily rectified when Ethiopians are able to demand accountability from their government.

No one could tell Mengistu anything. He wouldn't listen and would kill anyone who tried to hold him accountable. His successor, Meles, doesn't listen either. You can't tell him anything. You cannot tell him that rations have been cut and millions of Ethiopians are in danger of starvation.

If Meles were to pay a severe price for the reduction in rations, if he were to pay severe price for each and every famine death (for example be arrested for criminal negligence), he would quickly change his policies in order to survive.

But in Ethiopia, political leaders do not pay the price for their misrule. Small children pay that price with their lives.

Article Links

Time for Ethiopia to Look East Again - Ken Ohashi, WB Ethiopia director, Fortune, Sep 27 2009

The slow growth of manufacturing production is particularly striking. In relation to gross domestic product (GDP), it has declined over the past several years from about 5.7pc to only 4.8pc.

Is this just a lagged response by the domestic private sector to new opportunities, which will be resolved in a year or two?

It seems unlikely. While some large foreign investment deals have materialized, we see few signs that domestic investors are eagerly investing in new production capacity. If domestic investors do not find Ethiopia a good place to invest, it is hard to imagine foreign investment will thrive (except in some special segments, like enclave farming or mining).

In trying to emulate the ‘Eastern model’ of development, Ethiopia has deviated from a few key tenets of that model.

Addis Abeba University Libraries Electronic Thesis and Dissertations

The Story of Tseganesh Tulicha -- Intl Inst. of Rural Reconstruction (2007) -- Principles: Go to the people... Live among them... Learn from them... Plan with them... Work with them... Start with what they know... Build on what they have... Teach by showing... Learn by doing... Not a showcase but a pattern...

"The Egyptian Hikimdariya of Harar and its Hinterland" – Historical Aspects, 1875-1887 -- Avishai Ben-Dror, Tel Aviv Univ. 8-page pdf, Ph.D dissertation summary, 7/2008 --

Federalism and Ethnic Conflict in Ethiopia: A Comparative Study of the Somali and Benishangul-Gumuz Regions -- Asnake Kefale, 2009 -- In some cases, boundary making led to the generation of violent conflicts among various ethnic groups (e.g. Gumuz and Oromo) that did not have a history of protracted conflict... the same process aggravated pre-existing territorial and resource conflicts between several Somali clans and their Oromo and Afar neighbours.

Third, the ethnic federalisation of the country was accompanied by 'intra-regional' conflicts over resources which were made available at regional and local levels... clans in the Somali region violently compete to have access to the new resources which were made available at local levels. Whereas in the Benishangul Gumuz region, the competition has been between the two major regional groups - the Bertha and the Gumuz.

Somalia's leading export: its civil war -- Globe and Mail, Sep 19, 2009

Introduction to the book of essays: Society, State and Identity in African History -- Prof. Bahru Zewdie, 2009 (10 page pdf) -- at Forum for Social Studies

Ethiopia: Ethnic Federalism and Its Discontents
ICG, Sep 4, 2009

Reaching Out to Diaspora Community from Somali Region of Ethiopia
M Bakayr, Wardheer News, Aug 28 , 2009

Challenges of Productive Safety Net Program Implementation at the Local Level: The Case of Kuyu Woreda - F Nigussa and I Mberengwa. Inst. of Regional and Local Dev. Studies, AAU, Ethiopia.
Study results indicate that poor geographical, administrative, and community targeting are evident. The process of targeting the poor is froth with nepotism, corruption as demonstrated by high inclusion ratio of non-poor households in the program. Other challenges which negatively affect the program include weak institutional linkages and lack of active community participation in the decision making process.

Can the Young Despots in Somali Regional State Reconcile With the Diaspora Communities?
Ibrahim Yusuf, Wardheere News, Aug 18, 2009 --- "As an insider and civil servant I witnessed how horrible and terrified is working with these young tyrant and totalitarian leadership. For example, all civil servants are expected to join and be active members of the region's ruling party Somali People's Democratic Party (SPDP); they must deduct monthly pre-determined percentage from their salary to finance the party; they must also actively engage activities against insurgents including night patrolling, working as informants and hiring militias from respective clans."

Nationhood: Ties that Bind, or Free?
World Policy Journal (MIT), Summer, 2009 (11-page pdf)

...the most violent problems stemmed from old, and previously almost forgotten, "internal" boundaries, drawn up on alleged ethnic principles, which sprang to life with new rigidity...

...a fictional template of a sovereign nation-state was being applied in circumstances for which it was rarely, if ever relevant - and more disastrously revived in circumstances in which it was disastrous.

...people can maintain multiple, parallel identities if they are not forced to choose between one and the other... tensions and prejudices become manageably domestic when disentangled from lines on the map and demands of exclusive loyalty.