The UN and western democracies hypocrisy in dealing with Abiy Ahmed

The awarding of the Nobel Prize to Abiy Ahmed was a diplomatic con game

How Abiy Ahmed fooled the world and caused it to do nothing in the face of genocide.

Abiy Ahmed was just an ordinary politician with nothing outstanding in his background or education. He was not the first choice for an Oromo Prime Minister but because he was a member of Parliament where others with more seniority and experience were not and could not legally be Prime Minister Abiy was chosen as a compromise.  His flamboyant speeches about equality and modernization of Ethiopia caught world attention but not examination. They sounded good so the Western democracies accepted them as authentic.

Little notice was made of his turn from being “Oromo” to  “Amhara” after his United States tour. He started the tour with Jawar Mohammed the American Oromo diaspora whose Qeerroo movement created the civil unrest that brought government change which facilitated Abiy Ahmed’s rise to power. Yet sometime during the tour and continuing after Abiy Ahmed decided to dump his Oromo identity and throw his lot in with Amhara expansionists. Where once he denied his mother’s heritage it then become a a badge he wore proudly. It would be soon after the tour that Jawar Mohammed would go to jail as a terrorist.

Soon after his appointment Abiy Ahmed began to spend more and more time in private and in public with extremist Christian groups both Protestant and Ethiopian Orthodox. Much of the Orthodox influence was from unauthorized diaspora Synods in the West while those in Ethiopia including the head of the church faced house arrest .  They planted the concept that Ethiopia was once again in the Era of Princes, Zemene Mesafint, when the country was foundering without a strong king in the 18th century. The switch from Tigray kings to Amhara kings happened at the end of this period. Under the Amhara monarchy the greatest expansion of Ethiopia began in the last 2 centuries. Abyssinia changed to Ethiopia capturing land and enslaving Oromos, Somali, Afar, and the Southern Nations to Amhara rule.

Abiy and his conspirators dreamed up that God had ordained him to be the next Amharic king to rule Ethiopia. They wanted to reverse this trend of confederation to return to Amharic domination. This clerico-fascism interestingly mimicked the conditions in Italy that produced the Mussolini lead invasion of Ethiopia in the 1930s.

The world wanted to believe that Africa finally had a democratic leader that would lead reform intent on creating a Western style democracy in Africa. Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for making “peace” with Eritrea which the world failed to realize was really a defense pact to carry out genocide. It was all a part of great of great diplomatic con game to convince the world a better Africa was coming to fruition.  Instead the gullible Abiy made Ethiopia the pawn to the crafty tyrant of Eritrea, Isaias Afeworki. 

Even as it become clear that the Ethiopian Tigray conflict was not a “law enforcement operation” but a carefully well planned military operation of civilian slaughter, rape, deprivation, theft, and destruction with the goal of wiping the Tigray from existence the United Nations and western democracies made only weak statements of disapproval but did nothing. 

The Tigray Defense Force has not carried out a perfect war. Such a thing does not exist. At its own expense, however,  it has shown sympathy for civilians and combatant prisoners in how it administers conquered areas. The towns of Woldia, Alamat, Sekota, Dessie, and Kombalcha were taken with very little artillery barrage. Compare this with Ethiopia’s carpet barrages of many Tigray cities including Mekelle and more recently bombing of Amhara towns where more civilians were killed then Tigray fighters. Today many Amharic supporters in the name of religion are calling for Ethiopian civilians to sacrifice themselves for Abiy Ahmed.

At this moment there is no doubt that except for the exceptional heroism and perseverance of the Tigray and Oromo resistance, Abiy Ahmed would have secured himself in perpetual barbarism.  As has been the case since its inception, the United Nations failed to take any meaningful action to stop genocide. Current statements from the UN and other western democracies for the Tigray to stop their advance to self-determination which is guaranteed in the UN charter which also bars genocide are an insult to humanity.

The world support for Abiy Ahmed makes it a partner in death and destruction

Abiy Ahmed’s most notable political act is the killing of thousands of Ethiopian citizens

Thousands are dead yet still the world will do nothing significant about the Ethiopian crisis. Diaspora influence and foreign government hesitance to see the real Abiy Ahmed greatly empowered Ethiopia’s descent into hell. The world cannot escape its responsibility in fomenting disaster. The world has to learn to not just to listen to words but also to measure the man who speaks them.  To hold leaders accountable when they stray from their promises.

The impetus to finally fulfill the Ethiopian dream of a democratic state promoting ethnic unity and escape from poverty obscured the world’s view of the real Abiy Ahmed. Medemer, a promise of the blending of Ethiopia’s many cultures into a new national unity with equality for all, quickly deteriorated following the Prime Minister’s victory tour in the United States.  During this visit and subsequently Abiy Ahmed progressively became influenced by the Amharic clerico-fascist movement that believed the greatness of the Ethiopian state lied in returning to the time of Amharic expansion and dominance of the 19th century. This metamorphosis of Abiy Ahmed was mostly sparked by the influence of diaspora Amhara who greatly also influenced domestic supporters.  

This foreign diaspora influence is important to realize because it very much goes against the idea that what was happening in Ethiopia was all the result of beliefs and actions of  domestic “Ethiopians”. Promises of aversion to war, new economic development, freedom of the press, release of political prisoners, and open dialogue about the future of the state were quickly retracted. Instead, references to the troubled time of “princes without a king” of the 18th century Ethiopia from which Amharic leadership provided “rescue” in the 19th century became the dominant theme of government forward looking policy. Medemer was a camouflage for the return of Amharic dominance, expansion, and repression of other Ethnic groups. 

In the period of a year Ethiopia went from a booming economy with high levels of economic growth, foreign investment, improving educational and health care services to a devastating war that has killed thousands, displaced millions, genocidally declared Tigrayans (Tegaru) as needing extermination, bankrupting the economy, and the world view of Ethiopia as a pariah of the likes of Iran, Eritrea, and North Korea.

As I and others have written before, the function and the will of the United Nations and the African Union to to reduce the harm from this crisis is almost nil. Part of it is the disbelief that the Abiy Ahmed the world wished to see is not the evil man that ultimately emerged who kills, starves, and destroys. Now his victims are not just the Tigray but include all Ethiopians whose dream is now became a nightmare. The only recourse is to hope that the opposition forces of Tigray, Oromia, and others will be able to topple the evil. 

Church dictatorial paternalism to social issues is contrary to Jesus faith in his followers

Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mont where he explains how Christians should live

The Christian Church wielding overpowering paternalism denying Christ’s followers the ability to freely make decisions denies the faith God has in human ability to find truth through faith. This goes beyond teaching their followers to make moral judgement. It demonstrates a condescending view of their flock as incapable of full development to make moral decisions as intended by God in their creation. A term for this was coined clerico-fascism referring to Mussolini support by the Catholic Church in the 1930s. The writers of the Constitution of the United States wisely foresaw this dilemma when a solid division between church and state was legislated. Yet this division is under attack and not only in the United States.

Now today while many Protestant and Jewish leaders are joining the call for protecting voting rights in the United States the Catholic leaders and especially the American Bishops are absolutely silent. Not a single word. Do they fear that a mob of peasants will endanger their political goals? In Ethiopia many clergy are calling for a Christian fatwa in a civil war between ethnic groups which they are saying allows who they see as the righteous to commit inhuman atrocities. 

There are many times when I have looked with awe at the many things the Catholic Church does for the poor throughout the world. Helping school children to learn basic skills, giving orphans a chance to grow up, helping poor families in third world countries.  Similarly I have traveled widely in Ethiopia and seen the Ethiopian Orthodox Church be a beacon of hope for poor souls starving, abandoned, or needing some social support. In earlier times and even today church grounds provided the only well for water for rural populations. Many school children learned to read Amharic because there was no public school system.

However, going back to the middle ages the  church has always had a problem with wielding overbearing paternalism. Although it cared deeply for the people the leaders of the church had a prevailing attitude that their sheep were totally inept to make their own decisions. In World War II the Catholic Church forestalled American’s recognition of the dangers of the Nazi movement because it feared communism more. During the struggle for civil rights of minorities in the United States the argument that “now is not the time” was a common theme so counsel was given not to pursue “too aggressive measures to combat” prejudice and racism. In Ethiopia the Orthodox church saw Kushitic peoples as less human then the Semitic peoples of the north allowing slavery.

We remember when attempts were made to translate the Bible to the lingua franca, common language of the people, instead of Latin these were seen as evil heretical acts. The Word of God was for the clergy to give the people not for them to discover. Since the Middle Ages it has been well documented that the organized church has always struggled with what its role should be versus government. What should be the role of clergy to government leaders and what should be the role of clergy toward the public? Should they be advisors on general moral issues and abstain from specific political questions?

The Bible in the Book of Samuel warns the nature of man is contaminated when power is given. That society must always be on guard because power corrupts. The great German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his writing the Cost of Discipleship went so far as to say that Christians should avoid political office because it was inconsistent with being a good disciple of Christ.

The Catholic Church today in the United States has been diminished greatly and has hoped to invigorate itself by tying itself tightly to the cause of abortion. I respect their point of view that life begins at conception and also see it as a reasonable goal to eliminate abortion.

However, in his mandate for Christians to build the Corpus Christi, the body of Christ, on earth Jesus did not intend for Christians to be political zombies with no respect for their free will. The creation of man with free will is a key tenant to God’s purpose that man freely chooses to love God and follow Jesus teaching. That this devotion comes out of using all his gifts of the spirit including his intellect. Christ’s love leads and inspires the body not the paternal dictatorship of church leaders.

When Jesus was incarnated of two natures, one human and one divine, he was made by God with the idea that his humanness had the capability to reach a state that appreciated God’s grace. Man has this dual nature. Saint Paul said becoming a Christian involved man overcoming his beastly nature to find his connection with God. His creation by God made this possible even for the gentiles who had no history of knowing God there was an inherent chance. Some theologians have in fact called this the deification of humanity.  When the Church shows no faith in human ability to follow God it is denying God’s intent in how man was created. God has faith in man because he created man in his image. The church should be a guide but like parents to a child eventually the child will grow up to make his own decisions. This facilitates how we can be true members of the Corpus Christi.

The Rise of Ethiopian Clerico-Fascism supporting Abiy Ahmed

The term clerical or clerico-facism was first used relative to Ethiopia by Italian opponents of Mussolini invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Almost a century later  clerico-fascism returns to describe Christian clergy in Ethiopia as well as diaspora in the United States and Europe who support completely the brutal invasion of Tigray by Abiy Ahmed.

Initial enthusiasm for religious unity under Abiy Ahmed leadership has faded to an Abiy Ahmed centric view

Currently in Ethiopia, the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, son of a Christian mother and Muslim father, but now a Pentacostal Christian is being criticized as being a clerico-fascist by opponents to his regime. They see this clerico-facism as really Amharic elitism by another name.

In 1920s Italy, the rise of Benito Mussolini found support with the Partido Poplare Italiano who advocated a joining of fascism and Catholicism. At the time the Catholic Church world wide was deeply concerned with the threat of communism and socialism which advocated loyalty to state above all else. That religion was an antiquated system contrary to the state. The marriage of Catholicism to facism offered a clear path of survival to the church all though opponents saw it as heresy.

After being elevated to Prime Minister from being the head of the Oromo Regional political party he went on a tour of the United States in 2018. He was accompanied by Jawar Mohammed, a Muslim diaspora leader, who both advocated a national identity overriding regional nationality as well as cooperation between all religions including Orthodoxy, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, and others.

Now three years later radical Christian voices have become not only the main defenders of his policy of oppression and non-negotiation with political opponents and Tigray but appear to be even writing his policies. To understand this further we have to back in time to review the religious history of Ethiopia. The Prime Ministers promise of medemer, mixing for the benefit of all Ethiopians, has been changed to the old theme of Amharic elitism.

Legend has it that the Saban Queen of Sheba met King Solomon of Israel producing a son, Menelik, who began what is known as the Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia. The Axumite Empire based in what is now the Tigray Regional State and Eritrea of initially ruled by the ancestors to the Tigrayans but gradually the Amhara region who are also descended somewhat from this empire took over. For centuries there was a close relationship of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) and the monarchy such that Ethiopian identity was tied to this religion for both Tigray and Amhara. Muslims came to Ethiopia to seek refuge during the Prophet Mohammed’s struggles with the pagan Saudi Arabian leaders and were welcomed. Today they make up a sizeable minority in the country as a whole but traditionally were marginalized by not be allowed to own land. There ability to construct mosques in areas of Ethiopia were always restricted.

The ancient EOC began in the Semitic Tigray and Amhara region but over the past approximately 200 years its dominance spread with conquering of Cushitic kingdoms in the western and southern regions of Ethiopia. The religion, Amharic language, and many cultural practices of the Northern regions were exported to the new conquests. In fact just before the beginning of the 20th century, the monarchal capital was shifted from Northern Ethiopia to Addis Ababa in the center of the country in what was Oromo territory. This was done to allow for the Amhara rulers to better defend and govern their larger territorial gains.

The EOC promoted the idea that the Semitic kings were chosen by God to rule over all of what we know call Ethiopia. The Bible they use was written in Geez a precursor to the current Amhara language and the official language of trade and government become Amhara. Additionally the EOC promoted the idea that the Oromo and Southern peoples were of an inferior nature to the Semitics of the North. This resulted in the EOC approving of land seizure, capture,  and use of Southern and Western non-Semitic Cushitic’s to be used as slaves.

The Protestant conversions began in the Southern and Western regions by Western missionaries in the late 19th century and continuing today who told the people that they had equal status under God. Today the Protestant churches, mostly Pentecostal, are growing fast and have moved up from the Southern regions to central Ethiopia including the capital city of Addis Ababa. They have little presence in Tigray which has small groups of Catholics and Muslims.

When Abiy Ahmed toured the United States it excited both Amharic diaspora who were EOC and also the newer evangelical protestant. Pentecostals believe in the concept of Arminianism which clearly proclaims that salvation is rigidly defined by their specific definition and all others deserve suffering and hell completely. Other types of evangelical Christians believe in the Calvinistic idea that only a few are pre-chose by God even before birth for salvation and leading society. A tri-partite alliance of Pentecostals, evangelical Christians, and significant elements of the Amharic EOC has formed as stalwart advisors and defenders of the policy of aggression to only the Tigray but other minority groups in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia and other countries with large numbers of diaspora major divisions have arisen within the EOC.

Abiy Ahmed’s opponents say that he has under gone a transformation from calling for equality to one that really promotes Amhara elitism. As noted by many historians such as Professor Christopher Clapham who writes: “Although Ethiopia has continuously formed a multi-ethnic political system, participation in national political life normally required assimilation to the cultural value of the Amhara core: the Amharic language, orthodox Christianity and a capacity to operate within the structure and assumptions of a court administration.”