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.

 

Refusal to graduate Tigrayan transfers from Ethiopian university continues ethnic genocide

The Ethiopian Ministry of Education says Tigrayan transfers to other Ethiopian universities will not receive degrees upon graduation.

The policy of willful neglect by the Ethiopian Ministry of Education for the status of thousands of university students who were previously enrolled in Tigray including  Mekelle University  furthers the false narrative of a limited law enforcement operation being carried out in Tigray by the Ethiopian government for the “benefit” of Tigrayans. This week the Ministry announced that degrees will not be awarded to students who transferred to other Ethiopian universities because of incomplete records.

Since the occupation of Mekelle the Ethiopian government imposed a blockade of internet, mail, power, and transport. I and others witnessed the bizarre communications done by satellite telephone with the Ministry which repeatedly told us to continue our educational duties but offered no budget, no salary, or any effort to relieve the communication blockade. Any lack of records is not due to any action by Mekelle University or other universities in Tigray. Instead this just confirms the intent of the Ethiopian government leadership to carry out a cultural and education social genocide to completely punish the Tigray people.

Rob and torment Tigray: Abiy Ahmed’s New Version of the “Good Samaritan”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has twisted the Jesus story of the Good Samaritan from giving charity to one of deprivation and torment

Many school children in Christian settings often learn the story told in the Gospel of Luke about a Samaritan who helps a Jew he finds on the road who was robbed and injured even though he is an enemy. Instead Abiy Ahmed and his allies who claim Christian mandates as justification for evil have twisted the classic story of charity to a new narrative. They now practice the idea that in such an encounter one should give just a drop of water and a grain of rice to the starving while robbing them of all their possessions. Faith has been replaced by blasphemy they celebrate the holiday with violation and deprivation.

During the Easter season while millions of Christians around the world recognize the message of hope Jesus gave to mankind the leadership in Ethiopia has built a golden calf in a cruel mockery.  Many Ethiopians used to celebrate the holiday by buying a chicken to prepare the traditional doro wat but now that Abiy Ahmed’s reckless military spending has caused the price of a single chicken to soar to one thousand birr, three times the normal price, but now this time honored family tradition is not possible. Even the palm oil which used to cost about 300 birr for a month’s supply now cost over a thousand birr. While Abiy Ahmed feasts like a king Tigrayans are dying of starvation, Oromians are being killed, and about two thirds of the rest of Ethiopia is facing increasing food shortages.

Whilst videos of wealthy Ethiopian government supporters practicing their holiday hypocrisy emerge on social media prideful presentations celebrating this new “ethos” of torment showing truckloads of looted family possessions from the poor Tigrayan farmers in Western Tigray deliver their booty to Gondar. All the while the United Nations and many Western civilizations who also learned the story of the Good Samaritan  as children now as adults seem to have forgotten it. During this holiday season one thousand a day continue to die in Tigray from starvation and lack of health services.

 

Reflection on the Easter story and the perseverance of Tigray women

Mosaic of the Three Marys who discovered the resurrection of Jesus from the Nea Moni Monastery in Chios, Greece dated 1100AD

Over the past year I have been repeatedly struck by the sacrifices and endurance of Tigray women in the Ethiopian Tigray conflict. I used to live a block from the Mekelle University Business School campus where there was a statue of young teenage female fighter who died fighting the Derg and I am deeply sorry I cannot recall her name but the symbolism and message that sculpture carried I do understand so clearly now.

During the Easter season we mostly think about the sacrifice of Jesus on cross who was resurrected on the third day after his crucifixion. What we often do not focus on is the courageous and caring role women played in Jesus’s human life as role models and care givers who themselves suffered for the benefit of others. Mary known as Mariam in Tigray whose love and care for her son whom she had to watch suffer on the cross. God choose the “three Marys” to be the first witnesses to Jesus resurrection and tell the Apostles. More then once God has chosen women to be messengers of faith, hope, and truth. The women of Tigray have repeated that role. They often bear the greatest burdens of sorrow while showing the most courage.

Even though terrible atrocities were suffered by hundreds of thousands of Tigray women including rape, mutilation, watching their loved ones killed or starved, displacement, and isolation from family they as a group have shown a superhuman resilience to survive. Young women joined the Tigray Defense Force, other women while trying to keep their children alive still cooperated with community efforts to gather food and water. They willingly gave up their sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, and even grandfathers to join the armed struggle for freedom at their own personal peril.

When I review who is on social media writing in support of humanitarian aid and the suffering of Tigray I see many young diaspora women, often highly educated with advanced degrees and successful professional careers in developed countries, who mobilized to save lives and spread truth to the world. Most of them identify themselves openly risking not only ad hominem personal internet harassment but even physical attacks at demonstrations by agents of the Eritrean and Ethiopian governments.

Many times these virile attackers on Tigray women are anonymous making one wonder if they are really ashamed of what they do. The others who I will not name attack the womanhood of Tigray diaspora which only degrades the speaker by demonstrating her ignorance. They never talk about relieving suffering but instead are filled with hate and a unending pre-occupation with vengeance. I pray they will let the God into their hearts because mercy and peace are needed now more then ever.

I further pray the world will accept the Tigray women as messengers of truth and act without haste to relieve the suffering.