Political chameleon morally bereft Abiy Ahmed cannot bring Ethiopia peace

Misplaced trust by many Western democratic leaders that political chameleons will ultimately bring good has cost Myanmar and now Ethiopia.

Is Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking a cue from previous Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ang San Suu Kyi, who herself became immersed in controversy when she appeared to have compromised with military generals in Myanmar rather then stand up against the oppression of the Rohingya? The history of Abiy Ahmed since he took power in 2018 has been one of statements and actions which can turn 180 degrees from the previous one.  Domestic and international stakeholders holding on to fantastical confidence that somehow under Abiy Ahmed Ethiopia will find peace and prosperity is doing the opposite. The gift of charisma does not guarantee devotion to democratic values or good leadership.

The once heralded leader has seen his image degenerate to what can be best described as another self-centered African despot willing to sacrifice both the blood and treasure of Ethiopia to retain power. The standard of living for the average Ethiopian is plummeting with state security and economy in a nose dive. At this moment he is ordering military action against the Amhara militia group, FANO, who was key to securing the Prime Minister’s influence in Ethiopia. The Eritrean Ethiopian alliance is crumbling because Ahmed no longer sees it as key to his political survival.  

Even though he was once elected to Parliament as a representative of the Oromo people and often championed the rights of Oromos to housing near Addis Ababa most of his actions have been seen to be favoring Amhara over Oromo interests since 2018. 

Now however as he comes under heavy scrutiny of international leaders in the Western democracies with many being unabashedly critical of his actions.  Yet even in criticism they are reluctant to give up on his leadership. He seems to creating a new strawman on whom to blame his woes. Whereas before he claimed the Tigray were the bogeyman causing all Ethiopia’s lack of potential achievement that has been replaced his previous allies, the Amhara expansionists.

This reversal of amity to enemy happened with the Oromo leader, Jawar Mohammed, whose followers, the Querroo, were primarily responsible for deposing the previous regime making way for Abiy Ahmed to come to power. Abiy Ahmed had Mohammed accompany him for his USA tour but jettisoned him later in favor of the Amhara expansionist whom he thought offered him substantially more political security.

No doubt he knows a reckoning is happening within the international community that a blow to the potential for Ethiopian democracy has happened under his tenure. One can easily imagine that he is creating scape goats of the Eritrean and Amhara leadership now. Likely he is telling the international community that these influences whom he trusted to act righteously in the “law enforcement operation” turned it into a wrongful act against the people of Tigray. This he will claim was not his intent.

What allows this possibility is the fact that even in the face of incontrovertible evidence of cruelty and genocide many Western leaders cannot accept two realities. One is the nefarious conception there is still potential benefit in having Abiy Ahmed as leader. Naively they must feel by that his inexperience or trust of his deceptive advisors accounted for the evil that has happened in Ethiopia. The other falsehood is reminiscent of the Yugoslavia experience where the global community thought for sometime that preserving the state against division was more important then protecting human rights. This cost the former Yugoslavia years of death and destruction. Similarly I fear the same is true for Ethiopia until Ethiopians, Africans, and the world at large wake up to the reality that it is time for change in leadership. These false assumptions are costing Ethiopia its future.

Wounded fighters for Ethiopia were ill treated by their own government

Fighters for the Ethiopian government against Tigray were denied healthcare for their injuries and even that they existed. They suffered vocal abuse and rock pelting when they return to the border area with Amhara after release from Tigray. Photo source TGHAT

The treatment of war injured Ethiopian National Defense Force soldiers and their allies speaks volumes about Abiy Ahmed’s philosophy regarding the value of the common person. As much as possible Ethiopia wanted to portray the military action taken in Tigray as having few causalities or blood shed. They wanted to hide the fact that many soldiers in the Ethiopian National Defense Force as well as their mercenary allies, Eritreans and Somalis, were even present. When we recognized them as foreign fighters in Mekelle they were whisked away to the stadium as I describe below. This report is based upon my own experience in Mekelle as well as discussion with various persons in many regions of Tigray and Amhara. 

Many fighters for Ethiopia were scooped off the street while working as shoe shine boys or from the homes of their families with promises of bonus payments, land, and other rewards none of which never came true. Even worse when they were injured in battle they were often cursed as cowards and frequently assassinated by FANO militia behind the lines. This was part of a cover-up to minimize the portrayal of war vs a law enforcement operation. 

We know that prior to the onset of conflict between Tigray and Ethiopia on November 4, 2020 there were plans made with prominent Amhara members of the academic medical community in Addis Ababa and other Amhara centers to recruit medical staff for the upcoming expected conflict. The Ethiopian military itself normally has almost no doctors. The few military hospitals such as the largest Torhayloch in Addis Ababa relies upon many civilian full time generalists and part-time specialists usually recruited from medical school staff. In fact several years ago I was consulted by Ethiopian military leaders to discuss how we might train “military physicians” as they knew about my experience in the USA.

A part of this Tigray conflict plan was to avoid the public seeing that there were causalities of Ethiopian military personnel. This would match the concept that the operation was a “law enforcement” operation with little impact on civilians and with little sacrifice of life. In fact it was planned that a triage site and receiving center would be in the town of Woldia in Amhara near the southwestern Tigray border where trusted politically loyal doctors recruited would be established early on the fighting. Remember Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s boasting that there were few military casualties and not even one civilian killed early during the fighting.

When the Tigray Defense Force retreated and the ENDF forces advanced eventually through Tigray and finally into Mekelle they destroyed medical facilities in their path. Within their ranks were ENDF fighters mostly from Amhara and Oromo regions but also Eritrea and Somalia. For the first few weeks of occupation all these  combatants were treated initially at Ayder but not in great numbers. for long. The story we were told is that there many Tigray dead and almost no ENDF injuries. 

However the invading ENDF began to set up a sort of field hospital at the new soccer stadium in Mekelle. They began to transfer all ENDF, Eritrean, and Somali fighters to that facility. They also took almost all Tigray fighters in Ayder  to parts unknown. There was a recently built new military hospital in Tigray which was staffed with part time Mekelle University medical staff but this was closed within a few weeks.

Following the retreat of the ENDF from Ayder we learned that hospitals in Gondar, Dessie, and Bahir Dar were overwhelmed with so many medical causalities that regular civilians services were stopped or at least severally curtailed. Very few Tigrayan prisoners were seen at these facilities leading many to believe that the invading forces most likely executed immediately any potential prisoners.

Of the tens of thousands of prisoners held in Mekelle in the rehabilitation camp many were given adequate food and what health care was available. Many government employed medical personnel as well as Mekelle University faculty volunteered to care for both their own soldiers and captured prisoners in the field in makeshift facilities.

Interviews of ENDF and their allied prisoners have revealed that some were shot were retreating from the battlefield to seek treatment by FANO militia. Additionally it is now well established that commanders in ENDF attempted to hide causalities by blocking when possible their access to medical facilities. Some prisoners in Mekelle have related that many wounded were shot and placed in mass burial site.

Now we are hearing that of the 4,000 prisoners of war released who were screened and found to not have committed war crimes, many of these were captured outside Tigray, were heckled and suffered pelting from thrown rocks when they reached the Amhara borders. Subsequently they were quickly collected in buses by local representatives of the federal government and taken to parts unknown.

Growing opposition against Abiy Ahmed predicts likely country collapse

Over the past few months over 4,000 Amhara including members of militia group FANO, Ethiopian Defense Forces, and others have been arrested reports Reuters. Just a few months ago many Amhara cities like Dessie pictured above supported Abiy Ahmed but now that loyalty seems to have evaporated.

The coalition Abiy Ahmed hastily constructed to consolidate power in Ethiopia seems to be collapsing at a rapid rate. In a not unexpected paradox diaspora supporters of Abiy Ahmed’s military actions and civil rights violations against Tigray and Oromo peoples actions against are now complaining that such actions are illegal when applied to the Amhara. The Ethiopian American Development Council in an Open Letter to Abiy Ahmed complained

We are compelled to write this letter in light of the recent developments in Ethiopia where, based on published reports, over 4,000 citizens, journalists, and patriots in the Amhara region alone, are being kidnapped and detained by the Ethiopian security forces…..
Even more perplexing is the government’s use of unconstitutional and illegal tactics of kidnapping and dramatic abductions of citizens, with no regard to the rule of law or the need to maintain public trust. Maintaining public trust and securing peace is the hallmark of a responsible government. The current actions of the Ethiopian government are counterproductive and are effectively making a bad situation even worse.

After his rise to power in 2018 Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed built an alliance of Eritrean supporters of Isaias Afwerki, Amhara expansionists, former Derg supporter diaspora especially in the USA, and former diaspora monarchists by creating a unified front against a strawman represented by ethnic Tigrayans. This targeting was simplified by the strong unity of the Tegaru for their ruling Tigray Peoples Liberation Front which won an election handily just before the Ethiopian Tigray conflict began in November 2020 in defiance of declaration of the TPLF as terrorists and the Tigrayan election as illegal.

Studies of Ethiopian immigration to the United States and Europe showed that the vast majority came between the mid 1970s to the 1990s as former monarchists and then Derg supporters who fled following the Derg’s defeat.  These groups dreamed of a return of a strong political leader to overcome the Zemene Mesafint (referring to a period where Ethiopia had no central leader in the 19th century which lead to the Amharic dominance and expansion of Ethiopia) they saw again prior to Abiy Ahmed.

This coalition supported the brutal invasion of Tigray, confiscation of assets and property, imprisonment without due process, and minimized any violation of human rights against the Tigray saying they were justified. Now that the Abiy Ahmed government has developed concerns that these Amharic expansionist elements are plotting against him possibly in cooperation with Eritrea the tide seems to be turning former allies into threats. Academic studies of despotic regimes in Africa and other regions done by the Rand Corporation, a frequent advisor to the United States intelligence services, has shown that such reversals are not uncommon. The direction of chaos in which Ethiopia seems to be following have a high chance that the current government will not sustain itself base upon historical factors seen in successful insurgencies.

Ethiopian economy cannot pay debt, beat inflation, or find new loans

The Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency continues to report unrelenting inflation making it difficult to afford the necessities of life such as food for most Ethiopians. Source New Business Ethiopia

While commitment to continue government loans is being drastically cut by foreign lenders Ethiopian inflation continues to grow monthly  reaching 34.7% in March 2022.  The major lender of 2021, World Bank International Development Association, gave $3 billion in 2019-2020 pre-war then $1.4 billion 2020-2021, and now drastically reduced the amount this year to $774 million. Ethiopia can barely keep up with the almost $2 billion in debt payments of just interest to the foreign lenders which just about equals what used to be its overall government budget.

The unresolved Ethiopian Tigray conflict, Oromo rebellion, news actions against previous supporters such as in the Amhara region, poor crop yields requiring more than 25% of food needs be imported, and  falling birr value against international currencies are among the many things adding to an uncertain future for the Ethiopian economy. This contrasts greatly with the decade of 10% annual growth that preceded Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, coming to power in 2018 and pursing conflict with Tigray, Oromo, and others.

Although the Ethiopian government gives a false explanation that loans are being decreased because “projects are nearing completion” the reality is that the failure to find peace and stability is driving lenders and investors away from Ethiopia. Loans payments were temporarily reduced by $116 million by the Group of 20 countries when the Ethiopian government promised timely resolution of the conflict and disunity. Currently there exists no progress for a new loan agreement on the Ethiopian government’s official debt which does not include government guarantees of private loans from foreign entities which may increase the total debt upwards of $60 billion or more by the end of this year.

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.