Saturday, March 31, 2007

Islamists mutilate dead Ethiopians

In barbaric scenes reminiscent of U.S. ordeal in Mogadishu chronicled in Black Hawk Down, Somali Islamists yesterday ambushed an Ethiopian troop convoy and dragged bodies of dead Ethiopian soldiers through the streets. Jihadist networks instantly posted videos on the Internet. Missiles also struck an Ethiopian helicopter gunship (click image to enlarge), which managed to struggle back to its airbase but crashed on landing. Two crewmen are reported killed.

Video: Somali Islamists drag bodies of dead Ethiopian soldiers (Warning, scenes are graphic!)

... Analysts said Addis Ababa seemed bent on an all-out push against the insurgents, who have been emboldened by recent strikes including the downing of an airplane serving an African peacekeeping mission, and ambushes killing soldiers.

Helicopter downed in worst Somali fighting in years (Reuters) 31 Mar 2007

A confidential TPLF document

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1211 31/03/2007
According to information obtained in Addis Ababa by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has written a 22 page document entitled Tigray in the new Millenium calling for a strengthening of the construction of a Tigray Regional State which is in a position to “survive on its own means if necessary”. This text was approved by Seyoum Mesfin, Abay Tsehaye and Sebhat Nega and is now circulating in the executive circles of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, hard core of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front in power in Addis Ababa) as a confidential document. According to our sources, it lists the various infrastructure projects already completed in Tigray, laying special emphasis on the Tekezie hydro-electric dam for its role in the electrification of the country, calls for the expansion of other sectors of activity in this region in the North of Ethiopia and praises the close relations between the Tigray Regional State and China. This text also considers that the Tigrayan Diaspora abroad should be “educated and mobilised to invest” in this regional state. Finally, it stresses the need to establish close relations with certain Eritrean opponents. This theoretical assemblage is similar to the thesis in favour of creating an independent state, coupling Ethiopian Tigrayans and Christian Eritreans from the high plateaux. The idea of such a Tigray-Tigrigni State was favoured two decades ago by certain Ethiopian Tigrayan and Eritrean nationalists.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Evils of man

Why is the monster who committed this brutal crime not already prosecuted and punished? What's the point of an authoritarian regime, if such hideous crimes are not met with swift justice?

Kamilat Mehdi, 21, had a bright future ahead of her. She dreamt about doing a degree and becoming an air hostess.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Eritreans risk death in the Sahara

Just when you think we've got it bad...

Every day, in the barren lands along the Sudanese border, young Eritreans risk their lives to flee from their country.

...According to opposition sources, between 400 and 600 Eritreans a month make this dangerous journey.

Eritreans risk death in the Sahara (BBC) 25 March 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

Meles on Al Jazeera

...You've been in power a long time, how would you like to be remembered in history?

Zenawi: I would like to be remembered as someone who got Ethiopia off to a good track, a democratic one, one ... where Ethiopia's proverbial poverty begins to be tackled in an effective way. I'd like to be remembered as someone who started the process.
Interview: Meles Zenawi (Al Jazeera) March 19, 2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

"En route" for Asmara?

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1210 17/03/2007
According to a source close to the Ethiopian ministry of defence, the Ethiopian army has obtained satellite photos from the American intelligence services, showing the northern border of Ethiopia and providing useful information on Eritrean troop concentration. Moreover, the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, hard core of the EPRDF in power in Addis Ababa) are currently waging a propaganda campaign based on the slogan “repeat in the North the victorious military operation in Somalia”. This aggressive orientation towards Eritrea, which has been in a still unresolved border dispute with Ethiopia for many years, is not to the liking of the leaders of the other factions making up the Ethiopian governing coalition. Furthermore, it has caused diplomats on post in Addis Ababa to wonder whether the United States military cooperation with Ethiopia to prepare their joint offensive into Somalia could now be repeated in Eritrea. All the more so since the relations between the USA and the government of Asmara are at their lowest point and Addis Ababa suspects Somalian Islamists have transited through Eritrea or have found refuge there.

The fallout of a kidnapping

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1210 17/03/2007
The release of Western tourists kidnapped in East Ethiopia has led to words between Meles Zenawi and Seyoum Mesfin.

Following the release in Asmara of the British diplomats who had been kidnapped in East Ethiopia by a group of Afar rebels, the Ethiopian Prime Minister criticised the way this crisis had been managed by his minister for foreign affairs. According to information obtained in Addis Ababa, Meles Zenawi is said to reproach Seyoum Mesfin and his ministry of staying rooted to the spot and being content to merely reiterate accusations against Eritrea, which had been initially held responsible for the kidnapping. Conversely, he considers that they should have tried to use their contacts with the former leaders of the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (Arduf) who have now rallied behind the government of Addis Ababa, such as Mahamooda Gass to try and obtain the release of the hostages in Ethiopia. Instead, it was Eritrea that gained the credit for obtaining the liberation of the British diplomats held hostage.

This incident has also brought into the open the opposition in certain Afar circles to the Ethiopian government plans to expand the growing of sugar cane over a 200,000 hectare area in the Afar region of Tendaho. The consequence of this agricultural project would be to prevent the movement of Afar herdsmen and to encourage the settlement in their stead of arable farmers, probably Tigrayans like the current main Ethiopian political leaders.

Tadesse Ebba

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1210 17/03/2007
During a recent meeting of its executive committee, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF, Ethiopian opposition) gave the task of heading the workgroup created to invigorate the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD, opposition coalition) to the head of its department of external relations, Hassan Hussein. Meanwhile, Tadesse Ebba was designated to be the representative of the OLF external relations department. Aged about 60 and from the Western Wollega, Ebba had been an executive of the OLF in Sudan in the 1970s. Two decades later he emigrated to Minnesota (United States) where he worked as a teacher. He subsequently again became an active OLF activist and headed the organisation’s North American bureau when Abiyou Geleta left this function to join the OLF faction headed by Gallasa Dilbo. Ebba is considered by those who know him as soft spoken and moderate person.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ethiopian-American artists

A generation of Ethiopian Americans is making its mark on the arts. They are part of a wave of young people whose families fled Ethiopia in the 1970s and who came of age in the United States. Their writing, music and art are adding a new chapter to the epic of American immigration.

Ethiopian-American Artists Make Their Mark (NPR, Morning Edition) March 13, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tough days for EPRDF diplomats

An Ethiopian consulate official in Frankfurt, Germany, is egged by protesters demanding the release of political prisoners in Ethiopia. The consulate office had called a meeting targeting Ethiopians abroad to promote EPRDF's current round of land for lease policy and investment opportunities in Ethiopia. Such days are swaying more diplomats to quit, rather than represent EPRDF among the diaspora.

Shame for Weyane officials ( March 11, 2007

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Woofing it down

Before passing judgment, consider reaction of others to consumption of raw meat ( Tiré Siga).

...Oga Bassey, however, says his cuisine is in high demand although his business is not doing so well because dogs are becoming scarce now in Abuja.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sebhat Nega’s double language

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1209 03/03/2007
Although he does sometimes needle Meles Zenawi, Sebhat Nega is still a steadfast defender of the present government team.

An executive of the Endowment Fund For the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), a consortium of companies supporting the government, and a member of the central committee of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, hard core of the coalition in power in Addis Ababa), even though he did leave this party’s executive committee in September 2006, Sebhat Nega has for a long time been the grey eminence of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. He is currently on a trip to Washington, where he is staying in his late brother’s large house, and has taken advantage of his presence there to meet some members of the Ethiopian Diaspora from Tigray (in the North of Ethiopia). According to information obtained by The Indian Ocean Newsletter in Washington from a well-informed source about these meetings, Sebhat Nega discussed mainly the “dangers which face the TPLF and the Tigrayans”.

He did not always have the same language during his private conversations with various people, blowing sometimes hot, sometimes cold about the opposition. But his overall message was to call the expatriate Tigrayans not to be duped by the “chauvinistic” Amhara, citing the name of the owner of the web site. Justifying Meles Zenawi’s policies, he told his audience that he considered that letting the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUPD, opposition) win the election in 2005 would have come down to letting the partisans of the old regime come back to the surface, which would have led to a massacre of Tigrayans. He reiterated that “enemies like the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Party” should be neutralised “by all possible means” and did not hide that he was personally in favour of condemning Hailu Shawel and the other opposition leaders imprisoned.

Still speaking in informal discussion with members of the Tigrayan Diaspora, Sebhat Nega considered that the military incursion into Somalia had been necessary to keep the support of the United States, but that the Ethiopian forces would leave Mogadishu as soon as possible. He admitted that differences of opinion had appeared with President Hassan Omar el Bashir of Sudan due to this Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia and due to the fact that Meles Zenawi had not supported Bashir’s candidature to the presidency of the African Union (AU). He also pointed out that at the same time the Eritrean President Issayas Afeworki had got closer to Bashir. Nevertheless, for Sebhat Nega, the EPRDF, in power in Addis Ababa, must maintain good relations with Bashir to stop the Ethiopian opposition from having the slightest chance of using Sudan as a base.

Kidnapped tourists sighted in Eritrea

Britain warned Eritrea last night that it expected the prompt release of a group of diplomat tourists after claims that Eritrean soldiers were behind a cross-border raid on a remote region of neighbouring Ethiopia.

...British special forces have been placed on standby to mount a rescue mission if talks fail to achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Warning to Eritrea over seized Britons (Telegraph UK) March 5, 2007

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Foreign tourists missing

...British embassy officials and their relatives are among a number of foreign tourists missing in the north of the country, close to the Eritrean border.

Search for kidnapped UK tourists (BBC) March 3, 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Too little, too late?

New York City symbolically banned use of the word nigger on Wednesday, the latest step in a campaign that hopes to expunge the most vile of racial slurs from hip hop music and television.

New York City bans racial slur (Reuters) February 28, 2007

"Greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the minds of the oppressed." ... Steve Biko