WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom has an undeniable record of accomplishment

In 2019 when the Ebola crisis in central Africa in a region undergoing civil war Tedros Ahanom was instrumental in helping form an effective international response limiting the spread of the deadly virus as well commencing research efforts. Source Nature

World leaders and analysts have complemented the work of  Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus who was elected for another term as Director-General of the World Health Organization. These complements are not just limited to his recent work but began almost twenty years ago beginning with his appointment to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and continuing during his subsequent office of Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Complaints by malcontents at the current Ethiopian government of covert actions have never been proven. At the same time Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus has fully cooperated with international NGOs and the UN to send aid to Amhara, Afar, and other regions of Ethiopia while the Ethiopian government blocked similar aid to Tigray.  I was fortunate to share a table with him at an African Union summit on health care development about 8 years ago. He is articulate and driven by a higher sense of duty not just to Tigray, Ethiopia, or Africa but to mankind.

The expansion of Ethiopia’s health care system commenced in 2004,  when over 30 000 Health Extension Workers were trained and deployed in Ethiopia and over 2500 health centers and 15 000 village-level health posts were constructed. Some analysts have attributed Ethiopia’s successful reforms a to strong leadership and “political will”. However an academic study of these reforms by Kevin Croke from the Harvard Department of Global Health and Population at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health determined that the reality was there was more to the story then will. This analysis was published in December 2020 in Health Policy and Planning. The focus on rural development and stressing the primacy of development as well building alliances among different regions as developed by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus is what drove the success in reform. The WHO Director-General has been tested with the Ebola crisis, COVID 19, immunizations, global health inequity, and other issues yet he has stayed on course. 

Today the Ministry of Health has been mostly Addis Ababa centric. The level of spending per capita for health care has gone down from $23 to $18. Even though Tigray is claimed to be a part of Ethiopia no expenditure is currently directed there for any government activity including health care. What aid that comes issues from the World Health Organization, International Red Cross, and other international sources.

After becoming Foreign Minister in 2005 where he served until 2012 he expanded his advocacy for health care development in underdeveloped nations not just in Ethiopia. He joined in international efforts to deal with malaria, tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS setting in motion movements to control these maladies with good results. To some extent this  has followed a general trend in public health among academics to place health care front and center in political considerations for funding and priority.

Dr. Tedros as he is known in Tigray where use of first names is matter of custom was unanimously elected again because of his history of accomplishments recognized by health authorities and elected leaders except for Ethiopia who judges him wrongly because he is Tigrayan.

Time for Ethiopian leadership to stop living in a fantasy

The wrongful association of self centered Amharic expansionism combined with fantastical expectations of greatness by subjugation has cost Ethiopia many precious lives and opportunities for development. People confuse fantasy comic characters with reality.

The leadership of Ethiopia continues to function in imagined fantasy of grandeur while its people descend into misery. The current status of Ethiopia compared with just three years ago finds the once growing nation now with three times more debt ($66 billion), a currency which as devalued 50%, millions displaced, waning investor interest, and growing civil unrest. While Abiy Ahmed has instilled a fantastical misdirected sense of destiny similar to comic heroes  unfortunately the saddest thing is that Abiy Ahmed’s disregard for the welfare of his country is now shared by the UN security Council who have tired of thinking about Ethiopia. No doubt they see it as just another expected African tragedy.

This week Tigray as a sign of good faith released over 4,200 Ethiopian National Defense Force prisoners most of which were captured outside Tigray and have not committed atrocities. Many of them were disabled and the group included many pregnant women. Instead of positive response Ethiopian officials denigrated this act. Tigray continues to receive only a trickle of much needed food, medical supplies, and other necessities causing continuing death and suffering. In violation of the Ethiopian constitution Western Tigray remains occupied and with horrors concealed. 

Today most of the population in the capital city of Addis Ababa waits for upwards of several hours to buy diesel or gasoline fuel at three times the normal price. Food, diapers, cooking oil, clothes, housing rents, and other normal items of normal life have doubled in one year. Police and security officials are everywhere looking not just for Tigray or Oromo dissenters but now concentrating on the growing Amhara dissent against Abiy Ahmed.

Abiy Ahmed and his ministers ridiculously claim that they will become wheat exporters because of a limited irrigation project. Meanwhile based upon satellite analysis of crops of Ethiopia and other data Ethiopia is expected to import upwards of 25% of food requirements this year. Wheat which is normally imported from Ukraine is no longer an option because of a war by Russia which the Ethiopian government officially supports so wheat imports will cost even more. 

Recent photos from Djibouti show imports of Russian model tanks designed in the late 1950s which Abiy Ahmed purchased at $1 million a piece buying as many as 200 so that he spent $200 million for tanks that reasonably should cost less then $200,000. These tanks have limited ability to be used off road and become easily stuck in muddy conditions making them useless and easily ambushed by the Tigray Defense Forces and the Oromo Liberation Arm. They are useful for military parades however.

The idea that Ethiopia’s action where widely supported as anti-colonial acts by Africans does not hold water.  A few days ago sixteen recognized African civil service organizations wrote a public letter to the UN Security Council asking for their intervention into the conflict in Ethiopia. Citing the lack of timely and effective action in Rwanda twenty eight years ago which resulted in a genocide they are pleading for a different outcome in Ethiopia. Their letter was focused on Tigray without mentioning the current instability in other regions including Amhara, Oromo,  and Benishangul-Gumuz.   They proposed an arms band on all parties, unfettered transport of needed food, medical, and other supplies to Tigray, and serious mediation for peace and stability.

 

Abiy Ahmed plans almost $1 billion new home while giving less to Ethiopian displaced

The Ethiopian news source, the Reporter, discussed plans to build the Prime Minister and his Ministers a new palace.

Abiy Ahmed plans to spend 49 billion birr ($931 million) to build a new official residence for the head of government. While the Ethiopian government has decided to spend  a much lesser amount, 20 billion birr, ($38o million) for “war rehabilitation” which may not include Tigray based upon  a $300 million grant from the World Bank. The new palace project will house the Prime Minister and other high government officials in a special neighborhood with planned lakes and functional buildings for government business. 

Meanwhile the government has decreed that all buildings in the capital of Ethiopia will have to be painted gray. Tinted windows will no longer be allowed. A consideration is being to give exceptions to buildings owned and or occupied by international companies.

The economy of Ethiopia due to the costs of weapons, instability, falling birr value, rising costs of necessary imports including food and fuel is showing no sign of recovery. Millions are displaced without any income. Critical food shortages are occurring not just in Tigray where there is a severe widespread famine but also in many other regions due to poor agricultural production practices.

The cost of food, fuel, medicines, clothing, and other consumer goods has gone up 50% the past year while the birr has is now at an all time low 0.019 to the dollar. The wisdom of undertaking the building of such a monstrosity of a palace for the Prime Minister is hard to justify.

USA growing concern for Red Sea security affects Ethiopian relations

The security of the Red Sea is of vital US interest because of its key role in the world economy. Instability in the Horn of Africa, Middle East, and Ukraine has added to the priority of interest.

The announcement of the Biden administration to send troops to Somalia as well as discussion with Somaliland regarding their offer of air and sea base facilities to the United States is the latest development in the scramble to exert influence over the Red Sea. No doubt the Red Sea is of vital interest to the United States. The ongoing instability in the Middle East, Horn of Africa, and now Ukraine has strategists and diplomats focusing more greatly on this area as vital to American interests.

Ethiopia’s move from being unaligned to that of having military treaties with the Russian state and its denial of Russian immorality in attacking Ukraine expressed in the United Nations cast doubt on what it may offer Russia in terms of offering military bases on its territory to Russia or China which could threaten Red Sea security to Western powers. The massive war debt Ethiopia has incurred now approaching $66 billion renders it easily manipulated by China or Russia. Under Abiy Ahmed Ethiopia has gone from being a major force against radical Islamic terrorism in the Horn of Africa to being embroiled in increasing domestic instability with unresolved conflicts with Oromo and Tigray opposition. The tripartite alliance of leadership between Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia has begun to be dismantled by the election of  Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as President of Somalia. Still Al Shabab continues to survive creating havoc.

When I was a college student at Texas A&M studying military history in the 1970s and later as young Army officer we studied the strategic importance of the Red Sea mostly stressing the Suez canal which allows movement from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. Historically about ten percent of world trade went through this vital pathway. However today the importance of the Red Sea has been multiplied greatly by growing competition of the major powers, growing influence of the Arab states, Iranian expansion interests, and a late awakening of African states of the concept of naval power to protect their interests.

Analysts such as Alex de Waal  in the The Africa Report  and editorials for the SomiTribune have noted that the growing instability in the Horn of Africa in Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia has progressed due to the weakness of the African Union, United Nations, and ineffectual influence of the Arab states. 

 

 

Western Tigray mass grave exposed to wrongful DNA contamination

At the site of an alleged burial it is essential that workers wear protective suits otherwise DNA from the workers from minute skin dust and hair will contaminate the scene. Photos of the site in Northern Ethiopia show proper procedure was not done. Source Walta

Even though Gondar University and for that matter any university in Ethiopia does not possess advanced anthropological or forensic capabilities to analyze long buried remains they have made claims to the contrary. One cannot judge ethnicity by bone structure. Or even clothing as Tigrayans and Amhara in northern Ethiopia share those items if even some survived. Judging the age of remains is difficult because it is due in part to the soil composition, weather, species of insects, and other things are can be specific to region. There are only a few of these experts world wide. 

Probably one of the most important ways to analyze the remains is to get samples of DNA that can be traced to living relatives. Unfortunately when we examine the photograph submitted of the “discovery and excavation” we see that no one is wearing any protective garments to prevent incidental hair and skin dust from falling from the Amharic workers onto the scene. Contamination of human DNA at burial sites from failure to take these precautions is well recognized as a standard part of proper procedure. 

The photograph of the improper procedures not being followed and the lack of any scientific report discussing the procedures followed or more likely not followed may explain why no “scientist” has made any supporting statement. Any other place in the world would have sealed off the site and called in world renowned experts to get the best evidence of what happened.  Why did Ethiopian authorities not do the obvious?

Ethiopia is like a very sick patient who denies his illness

The country of Ethiopia is in critical condition like a body becomes sick and may die when its organs fail

The condition of Ethiopia now four years into the leadership of Abiy Ahmed and the Prosperity Party may be compared to a sick patient. The body of the country has various organs just as a human body. When these organs are diseased the survival of the body, the country, is in doubt. Everyday these illnesses are getting worse.

There is the leadership which leads and communicates with itself and messages intent to other countries. To many this leaderships seems to suffer schizophrenia. It has hallucinations about what to do from religious leaders. Communications to other nations indicate a wanting of peace but actions domestically are clearly aimed to incite more violence and not to pursue peace.

Instead of encouraging peace and prosperity the government has carried out a program of hatred against many groups not just the Tigray and Oromo. Like what happened in Yugoslavia everyday brings new confrontations between different groups such Muslims, Christians, Amhara vs others, Prosperity Party vs opposition, etcetera.

There is the military which is supposed to protect from outside intrusion like the immune system against viruses and bacteria. Instead of protecting from invaders it invited an invader, Eritrea, to come and into the country. Ransacking, killing, stealing, and raping by this invader weakened the country. What kind of immune system would do that?

The education system is supposed to keep providing new cells to keep the body alive. Because of military spending perhaps in excess of the equivalent $6 billion educators and staff have been often without pay. Many less school days were allowed. The high moral caliber expected of some universities has been compromised by calls to lie about scientific expertise in forensic analysis to hide genocide. Scandals have arisen about cheating in placement exams. Ethiopia’s development quotient, a measure of each new generation’s chance to get an education and be more productive then their parents, is one of the worst in the world.

There is agricultural system which provides the nourishment. The feeding system to keep the country alive has been ignored except for a few projects to grow wheat. While the country this year has import a greater amount then ever. While falsely claiming it produces food in excess the reality is that upwards of 20% of food need will need to be met by imports. The war in Ukraine which the Ethiopian government supports has caused the world prices of wheat to soar at the same time that the birr has dropped by 50% in value.

When Abiy Ahmed came to power 25% of all Ethiopians required food aid. Due to ignoring numerous suggestions by many international authorities, several years of the worst drought in a generation, sieges on Tigray and less so but still present in Oromo, price hikes of 150% on fertilizer, and many farmers being displaced by ongoing conflict the prognosis for famine not just in Tigray but in the whole country is growing by the day.

The healthcare system which is supposed to keep the population healthy lies about creating traditional medicine remedies for COVID, about the incidence of COVID, and resisted giving supplies or even care to Tigrayans now fomenting not only the suffering in Tigray but increasing the risk of the spread of HIV, tuberculosis, childhood disease, and COVID into the rest of Ethiopia.

The transportation system like the blood stream is paralyzed not just in Tigray but even in the rest of the country by rapidly rising fuel prices with people waiting many hours for fuel at 300% or more the normal price. Even rides on the minibus or baja are becoming too expensive.

There can be little doubt that Ethiopia as a patient is in critical condition while its leaders think it is healthy.

Canadian fake policy and silence on Tigray to preserve mining claims alleged

The proposed mining sites in Tigray worth potentially billions were falsely claimed to be foreign policy works to help women. Source Breach

The Canadian government claimed mining projects planned in Tigray were a part of a foreign policy to help women. A leaked investigation reveals there was never such an intent. Further Canadian silence on the humanitarian crisis is seen is facilitating continued Ethiopian atrocity. In the midst of controversy, academics at Canadian universities with close ties to the Canadian Mining Association, have also sought to prop up the Ethiopian government and shed light away from Canada.

To hide growing complaints of exploitation of indigenous peoples by their mining activities in foreign countries the Canadian government created a false cover of mining being a foreign policy to help women in Tigray.  Many have speculated that the ongoing war between Tigray and the Ethiopian government which saw thousands of women suffer violence has been encouraged by the silence of the government of Canada on the humanitarian situation in Tigray.

The Canadian government in cooperation with the powerful lobby of the Canadian Mining Association started a program in 2016 of six smaller mines in Ethiopia mostly in Tigray. The initial $15 million dollar project by the Canada’s Global Affairs department.  The success of Canadian mining in Eritrea offered hope that similar returns could be seen in Ethiopia as it was reported that $1 billion a year was being added to the Eritrean budget. Under Abiy Ahmed the government had wanted to increase mining to be 10% of the Ethiopian gross domestic product.

Wide spread criticism of Canadian exploitation in foreign mining by MiningWatch Canada and other advocates began to develop in the last two decades. MiningWatch Canada is a watchdog organization that has been reporting on abuses of the Canadian mining industry in underdeveloped countries where they see a pattern of exploitation of indigenous peoples by one of Canada’s largest industries. Law suits were filed against Canadian mining interests in Canada against their Nevsun mine in Bisha, Eritrea. The plaintiffs claimed slavery and torture occurred at the site.  Ultimately a large settlement was paid and that 90% of the ownership of the facility was sold to Chinese interests to avoid further litigation.

Subsequently to present mining as a positive foreign policy in 2018 Canadian support to Ethiopia’s mining sector has been guided by Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), developed in 2018 by the Liberal government to integrate gender equity and empowerment of women and girls into its foreign aid. 

A leaked government review of the mining plans and procedures by the Canadian Executive Service as reported by the Canadian website ,The Breach, noted that although the mining project could bring $4 billion in revenue the activity was not benefiting any goals of protecting women. In fact it was alleged that the Canadian government was protecting its own financial interests rather showing concern for the humanitarian situation developing in Tigray.

Sidney Coles, the administrator of the review, reviewed the sites, government officials, and humanitarian groups. She came to the following conclusions

“This is not only not happening, it felt to me like a bold-faced lie that cost $12 million,” 

Aiding the Ethiopian government in this way has directly benefited Canadian mining interests across the country, but most alarmingly in the Tigray region where the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea have been accused of engaging in genocidal activity,”

War debt and lack of resolve to find resolution damning Ethiopia’s future

The dreams of Ethiopia becoming a middle income country have been dashed by war debt and uncertainty. Photo of Addis Ababa the capital of Addis showing high rises and modest dwellings. Source 

As a result of war debt and chaos of failing to find resolution even in the capital of Ethiopia health care access, food security, and the dream of becoming a middle income nation have been dashed. Imagine for a moment what the Abiy Ahmed led Ethiopian government could have accomplished  with estimated at least $6 billion spent on war since November 2020. This high expenditure has caused literally irreconcilable debt affecting the health and well being of all Ethiopians. Most of us remember in college learning the “guns vs butter” laws of economics but it appears the Ethiopian leadership skipped that class.  Before Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018 Ethiopia had experienced almost a 10% annual economic growth and had hoped to reach a state of at least 25% of the population having a middle income by world standards. Instead by refusing to make progress in peaceful resolution hoping that Tigray will just starve to death the Ethiopian government has drastically reduced the quality of life for all Ethiopians.

The average healthcare expenditure per capita in Ethiopia has likely been reduced from an average $23 per capita per year to $18. While most developed countries spend close to 10% of their gross domestic product providing health care for their citizens as a priority for Ethiopia it is only 4%. Under Abiy Ahmed there have been some developments in private health care in a few of the larger cities for the 10% of the population considered middle class who make more than 4000 birr a month. With current birr value at about 6 cents to the dollar this equals about $240 a month. 

While many assume that Ethiopia has a socialized health care system without any beneficiary payment this is wrong. Except of the first month of life most health care even at government facilities requires co-pays averaging $32 per house hold per year. The high inflation of decreasing availability of jobs is making it hard for poor and middle class families to access healthcare because they cannot afford the out of pocket costs.

If the Ethiopian government had spent another $2 billion on healthcare instead of defense they could have almost doubled the current healthcare budget. More clinics and more outreach could result in better treatment of chronic illness such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and HIV. While only about 20% of pregnant women in Ethiopia have medically assisted delivery this could be dramatically increased reducing maternal complications and improving infant mortality. Millions cannot afford to pay for subscriptions. Increasing the availability of surgical care for treatable conditions now considered essential standard worldwide has severely dampened.

For this first time in a generation circumstances of drought, locusts, poor agricultural support, and a lack of general attention to both fertile farm lands and dryland farming are resulting in combination with war to cause the worst food shortage in a generation. Millions of displaced persons and the war environment have complicated food production and distribution even outside the besieged state of Tigray.  Ethiopia normally needs $260 per capita per year for food. If another $2 billion was spent on food instead of defense an additional 10% of the poor who make up the majority of the population could be feed.

Ethiopia now threatening death penalty for journalists criticizing government

Ethiopian press freedoms have severely deteriorated since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power. Source Economist

Ethiopia is now planning possible executions for reporters who speak out against the government. When Abiy Ahmed first came to power in 2018 he promised new press freedoms as a part of his overall program of democratic reform. Government spokesman stated that  “freedom of expression and the protection of the press are sacred values that are enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution.” To the contrary in February 2021 a new law was passed creating the Ethiopian Media Authority which “accredits journalists”. Without this accreditation news reporting services and their reporters can be seized and detained without cause. New laws were declared that anyone who in the government’s opinion speaks out against the government is threatening the constitution. Many journalists have left the country for fear of imprisonment.

Two Ethiopian journalists from the Oromo region, Dessu Dulla and Bikila Amenu,  who have been jailed without charges since November 2021 have now been told they face a possible death penalty for allegedly speaking against the government. At least another 21 journalists are also said to be in peril of a death penalty. The exact number of journalists currently imprisoned in Ethiopia is unknown but the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters without Borders now say the Ethiopia has emerged as being among the world’s most oppressive regimes against a free press.

Under Abiy Ahmed religious co-existence in Ethiopia is waning fast

Riots between Christians and Muslims with many deaths have broken out in Gondar and the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, as the Islamic holiday of Ramadan comes to an end. Source My View on News

Abiy Ahmed in trying to manipulate and coerce extremist religious leaders of Ethiopia as well as diaspora has created havoc. Although many Ethiopians have for years presented Ethiopia as an example of religious harmony between Muslims, Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, and Jews the reality is there have always been undertones of conflict. For the most part until recently cooler heads prevailed with many religious leaders being united in calling for peaceful co-existence that recognized each group had an appropriate and respected place in Ethiopian society. 

 This stability began to change with the coming to power of Abiy Ahmed. It was hoped with his mixed ethnic and religious ancestry a new era of harmony would come. He claimed a new state of medemer alleging a united national identity. However the largest part of his power base has been Amharic expansionist Orthodox as well as evangelical protestants. To some extent he tried to make the Tigray a “straw man” enemy against which various ethnic groups and religious views could unite. He has often rather falsely claimed the  Tegaru, the people of Tigray, are a godless people forgetting the the Orthodox Church had its origins there. It also has longstanding albeit small but significant populations of Muslims and Catholics.

What he did not predict is how a new struggle would emerge for power in Ethiopia between these groups based upon old wounds. Between Muslims and Christians there are some major differences for example in how important historical events played out. For example Christians believe that Christian King Negas welcomed Muslim refugees fleeing the pagan Saudi rulers. Many Ethiopian Muslims believe that the monarch was converted to Islam.  

The struggle for dominance between Islam and Christianity continued until the nineteenth century when the Tigrayan monarch Yohannes compelled Muslims to convert to Christianity. The Muslim ruler Mohammed is claimed by many to have converted to Christianity changing his name to Mikael. However many in the Wollo region of Amhara belief this was not a true conversion but a temporary act. After Yohannes was killed in battle, the Amharic emperor, Menelik II carried out vicious atrocities against Muslims and pagan worshipers especially the Oromo. 

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church until the twentieth century did not consider Oromos or the people of Southern Ethiopia who were of Cushitic origin unlike the Semitic peoples of the north to be fully human. Slavery of Oromo and southern nationalities was common by Amhara interests in response to the religious determination. This ultimately lead to the introduction evangelical Protestant movements. 

There are major diaspora supporters of Abiy Ahmed especially in the United States who feel strongly that God intended for Ethiopia to be a Christian country. They oppose the pantheist traditional beliefs of many Oromos as well as Islam. Traditionally under the Amharic monarchy, Muslims, Oromo pantheists, and Jews were often not allowed to own land. By aligning himself with those holding extremist views in the exiled synods of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and evangelical protestants Abiy Ahmed has given new voice to their claims that Ethiopia is a “Christian” nation. Yet even among them there is now fighting over who has rights to traditional religious areas such as Meskel square in Addis Ababa. In recent years there have been increasing attacks on mosques and churches throughout Ethiopia. Abiy Ahmed’s ally, Eritrea, has defaced and ransacked both Christian and Muslim places of worship as well as killing innocent worshippers.

Meanwhile although the “official” census states the population divide between Christians and Muslims is about 60% vs 40% there are many areas where Muslims predominate such as in Harar and the traditional regions of the Afar and Somali people. It is well documented that the population growth of Muslims is likely increasing faster then the Christians. Many outspoken Muslims believe they are undercounted.

There is little doubt now that Abiy Ahmed rather then bringing unity is fomenting division and distrust in Ethiopia. Whereas Christianity and Islam preach peaceful co-existence and civil society the regime of Abiy Ahmed has been exactly the opposite.