Saturday, December 29, 2007

Year in Review 2007

The Good
Opposition free at last – A second chance, so it seemed.
Haile owns world marathon recordAnbessaw, brings home glory.
Lucy exhibit draws record crowdDinkinesh, star in America.
Beyonce & Ludacris perform in Ethiopia – Night on world media map.
Ethiopia’s new coastline in Persian Gulf – Little Ethiopia.

The Bad
Historical items on eBay – Selling away our heritage.
Non-profit, or for-profit? - Human greed has no bounds.
Ethiopia’s rumour mill - aka Confusion Comité.
Ethiopia’s Brain Drain - The rich robbing the poor.

The Ugly
Saving man’s best friend – Four legs good, two legs bad.
Evils of man - When violence goes unchecked.


Ethiopian domestic workers in Iraq

Despite the dangers, countless horror stories, young Ethiopian females continue Mid-East migration in search of a dream.

...Yobdar Abu, 23, arrived in the Kurdish region in October via Dubai, having been told she was headed for Turkey.

Shame of Imported Labor in Kurdish North of Iraq (New York Times) December 29, 2007
Ethiopia bans citizens from seeking work in Lebanon (Daily Star) May 5, 2008

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Washington sponsors the moderate opposition

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1228 17/12/2007
Speaking in an interview in the Amharic language on Dinq TV, a television channel in Calgary (Canada) owned by Ethiopian nationals, Debebe Eshetu, the head of public relations for the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP, opposition), gave some details about the aid the US government has promised to the moderate opposition in Ethiopia. According to him, Washington has offered the CUDP $20 million provided it accepts to participate in elections in 2010. For Debebe Eshetu, there is no doubt that the CUDP, which he represents, will indeed accept the deal.

Debebe Eshetu, a professional actor, had in the past been a member of the party led by former President Haile Mariam Mengistu. He is now a member of the CUDP central committee and is loyal to the faction of this party formed around Berhanu Nega and Ms Birtukan Mediksa.

However, this faction is not getting everything its own way in Addis Ababa. Last week the partisans of their rival Hailu Shawel prevented Birtukan Mediksa and her friends from entering the CUDP premises. Then on 14 December, the police prevented them from holding a press conference; it considered that their group was not legally recognised.

Hence, while Washington holds the “financial carrot” under the opposition’s nose, the Ethiopian government is still wielding the stick.

To stay or not to stay in Somalia

Indian Ocean Newletter N° 1228 21/12/2007
When he speaks in public on the subject, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi denies that his country’s troops are having a hard time bringing the Islamic rebels in Somalia to heel. He even accuses United Nations agencies of not having been "positive" enough on the role played by the Ethiopian forces there. However, the internal discussions within the Ethiopian military executive are far less optimistic.

On 11 December 2007, from 11 in the morning until well after nightfall, Meles Zenawi held a meeting with his generals behind closed doors to evaluate the situation in Somalia. Those present included the army chief of staff Samora Yunis. According to information obtained by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, several participants in this conclave reached the conclusion that the Ethiopian army is faltering through the poor quality of its intelligence sources on the situation in Somalia. The morale of Ethiopian troops on the ground is at a low ebb in the face of repeated attacks by insurgents and the Somalian Transitional Federal Government’s inability to cope.

A few generals went as far as to suggest withdrawing the Ethiopian troops, at least from certain neighbourhoods in Mogadishu. One of the participants even said that in the event of a full retreat, the Ethiopian servicemen should be disarmed, in order to avert a possible mutiny. But the majority of the generals present in the meeting rejected this proposal. They pointed out that disarming an elite force would have a detrimental effect on the morale of the rest of the army and so cause even more problems. In the end, nothing was decided and no date set for a further meeting on this subject.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Private" radio stations hit airwaves

There was a communist era joke about a private TV station in Soviet Union with permit to broadcast on separate channel. But when excited viewers switched to Channel 2, all they saw was a man pointing a Kalashnikov telling them to listen to the man on Channel 1.

...Some critics say Meaza [Birru] and Mimi Sebihatu, a veteran of Voice of America who is setting up the other private radio station, were selected over 10 other applicants because of pro-government sympathies. Both have had shows on government radio.

Ethiopia cracks open airwaves to commercial radio (Christian Science Monitor) December 19, 2007
Mimi Sebhatu wins all the stakes in Ethiopia (Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1169) February 18, 2006

Friday, December 14, 2007

Seye Abraha, and Berhanu Nega?

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1228 15/12/2007
The Ethiopian former minister of defence and TPLF dissident has been keeping a low profile since he was freed from prison. He did not join the new party launched by the other TPLF dissident formed around Grebru Asrat, the former President of the Tigray Regional State. At the beginning of December in Denver (Colorado) Seye Abraha met one of the leaders of the moderate opposition, Berhanu Nega, to discuss possible political cooperation.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mexico in Addis, 'Etiopia' in Mexico

Food for thought as you bite into your next Carne asada.

According to Berhane Deressa, City Mayor of Addis Ababa, the Mexico Square found in Addis got its name to acknowledge the efforts of the Mexican government to restore Ethiopian administration that was out of place during the fascist Italy occupation. Capital learned that Mexico too has a place named after Ethiopia. Andy Goldman (Photo) told Capital that there is a place called "Etiopia" in Mexico City with its own subway stop, which is four stations away from Balderas Station.

Mexico in Addis, 'Etiopia' in Mexico (Capital) December 10, 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ethiopian school girls segregated in Israel

Good enough to die serving Israeli Defence Force, but too dark to be considered real Jews.

...It was recently discovered that four Ethiopian girls enrolled in Lamerchav Elementary School are learning in complete isolation from their peers. They study in separate classrooms, have their own recess time and are even reportedly given daily cab fare so as not to ride home on the bus with other students. TV: Segregation at Petah Tikva religious school ( December 6, 2007
Interview with Avraham Neguise, Chairman of the Ethiopian Coalition

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Services held for slain father and daughter

There was mass turnout by Ethiopian community in Los Angeles today for church service in remembrance of a father and daughter slain by their own family member earlier this week. Mulushewa Tebedge brutally murdered his father and sister earlier this week in what police are calling a fit of rage brought on by history of mental illness. Church services were held at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for 75-year-old Getahun T. Reta, while a separate service was conducted for his daughter, 33-year-old Zerfie Tebeje Getahun, at a Pentecostal Church. Some members from both congregations united following church services for meal and prayers at the Orthodox Church, recognizing the need to eulogize father and daughter under one roof. Nice to see there are those in our community who still believe transcending all else is being principled.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Asmara, the magnet for opponents

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1227 01/12/2007
A small country with big ambitions, Eritrea has become the headquarters of opponents from all over the Horn of Africa. Asmara uses them against Ethiopia or as bargaining counters to make its presence felt on the regional diplomatic scene. But its aid is not without obligations, as many of its “guests” have found out to their cost.

Full steam ahead for Ethiopia. While Eritrea is subsidising the Islamist leaders of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), founded in Asmara in September, it is putting the overwhelming bulk of its support into backing Ethiopian rebels. Some leaders of these Ethiopian rebel groups have lived for many years in Asmara, such as Daoud Ibsa of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), along with his staff and other of this organisation’s officials. Hundreds of OLF recruits have been stationed and trained in a camp near Teseney. The head of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), “Admiral” Mohamed Omar Osman, is frequently in Asmara where the leader of the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), Musse Tegene, moved after leaving his residence in Geneva. Mussa Ibrahim of the ARDUF (Afar rebel movement) is also one of Asmara’s new residents, where Gelfato Feka of the Sidama Liberation Front and Meazo Make of Southern Ethiopia People’s for Justice and Equality are also “guests” of the Eritrean government. The movements of these Ethiopian opponents are monitored by the security services and the Eritrean government party and they are under the control of Colonels Teame and Mussa. The ONLF, which can take pride in an extensive action against a Chinese mining company in Ethiopia, carried off the lion’s share of funds given by Libya to Eritrea to finance the Ethiopian opposition. The other Ethiopian rebel groups had to be content with the strict minimum.

Manipulation over Darfur. A great many Darfur militants have had Eritrean support, ever since Sharif Harir, a Zaghawa who joined the AND in 1995, and the former governor Ahmed Ibrahim Diraige. Khalil Ibrahim and his JEM movement were for a while strongly present in Asmara, whereas Abdel Wahid Mohamed an-Nour on the other hand came there in 2004 but was very soon irritated by the Eritrean interference. Today, the splits between the Darfur factions are so wide that no rebel movement stays in Asmara for any length of time. However, the band of frequent “visitors” includes Sharif Harir (who acts as an intermediary with Chad), Ahmed Tugod Lissan who still has his old habits, Ahmed Abd-el-Shafie (a Fur, the head of the “traditional” wing of the SLM), Diraige of course and Souleiman Marjan (a Meidob who is at the head of Unity, one of the splinter groups of the SLM). Khamis Abdullah Abakar of the United Front for Liberation and Developement and Abdullaziz Daffalh of the Darfur Revolution Democratic Front have arrived there recently. The two assistants of a leader of one of the SLM factions, Mustafa Eisa Mustafa and Elhadi Idris live there too. But the Eritrean leaders do not hesitate to go to Darfur themselves. Yemane Gebreab, the political advisor to President Issayas Afeworki, spent several weeks in Abéché at the beginning of 2007 to try to coordinate the various Darfur rebel factions.

Strong arm tactics. These rebels are quickly brought to heel when they are no longer part of Eritrean diplomatic strategy or if they turn out to be too independent. So, the Sudanese rebels of the Eastern Front were used for military actions against Sudan and later for peace negotiations with Khartoum but were later sent back home. In 2005, the Darfur rebels present in Asmara were briefly “sequestrated” to make them adopt the strategy determined by Eritrea. Certain disgraced rebels were suddenly handed hefty bills for their stay in Asmara, a tab hitherto picked up by the Eritrean authorities. The fate of others was much less enviable. One EPPF leader, Tesfaye Getachew, died under torture in Eritrea, while his rival, Colonel Tadesse is under house arrest. The same happened to the former general secretary of the OLF turned dissident, Galasso Dilbo. As for the former Somalian warlord Hussein Aideed, who has been living in Asmara for several months, he is believed to be under high surveillance because Eritrea sees this former GI as a US agent.