240 new aliyah from Ethiopia received a warm welcome

A charter flight of some 240 Ethiopian Jews that landed in Israel was described by the Israeli government as the launch of the final stage of mass immigration from Ethiopia

Members of the Israel and Overseas Committee of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto were at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday to greet some 240 new immigrants who had just arrived from Ethiopia.

The flight was organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel, and followed the Israeli government’s decision in July to increase the rate of aliyah from Ethiopia.

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The immigration of the remainder of the eligible Falash Mura is expected to be completed by October 2013. This will bring the historic and miraculous aliyah of the Ethiopian Jewish community to a close.

Members of the committee shared the excitement of the newcomers – half of them children – as they began their lives in their new home. Some of the immigrants were being reunited with relatives who have been living in Israel for years.

UJA Toronto’s Israel and Overseas Committee is in the country for an intensive week of briefings, meetings, decision-making and site visits. It is reviewing the Federation’s extensive investments in the country, especially in Eilat and the Eilot region.

These investments include the establishment of a new emergency room at the Yoseftal Medical Center, expansion of the Ben-Gurion University campus in Eilat, and development of a number of ground-breaking initiatives in the field of renewable energy.

These programs are playing a major role in the creation of additional educational and employment opportunities in the region

The CIA in Africa and Somalia: A Strategic Analysis

The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with,

but whether it is the same problem you had last year.

John Foster Dulles

Contextual Background

In the last decade, the United States Central Intelligence Agency has greatly expanded its core political and military operations in a number of African countries.

Today, the CIA has permanent missions in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Nigeria, Egypt, Libya, Rwanda and Mali. The CIA’s missions are all focused on multiple objectives from combating Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists to capacity building for African military and security forces. Similarly, the Pentagon’s sudden decision to create African Command or AFRICOM is another clear indication that the CIA has made a strategic, long-term organizational imperative to focus its attention on Africa.

Clearly, the CIA growing involvement is not simply just about “regime continuation” and “targeted hits” against America’s enemies, but rather is actively involved in expanding its influence over Africa’s political infrastructure and economic policies. For example, it is no coincidence that a number of African regimes such as Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, and Hassan Sheikh of Somalia are now actively managed by the CIA. The dictatorial regimes or “assets” are totally dependent on the agenda of the CIA in terms of their continued existence as well as the re-structuring of their economies in the face of domestic and geo-political uncertainties.

Yet, an important question that needs to be asked is: Who is the CIA really worried about and why the deep involvement? Without a doubt the growing presence of China and its military-industrial complex in Africa coupled with the global resurgence of an aggressive Russia under Vladimir Putin, India’s interest in creating a “Greater Indian Ocean Economic Zone” have all been cited as underlying causes. Both Russia and China are building up their economic and political influence in Africa to offer an alternative to American hegemony. While there may not be a new Cold War between the West and China, it is also no secret that the Chinese will eventually create an exclusive “African Sphere of Influence” that will greatly limit Western interests. Already Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan have voluntary come under the Chinese umbrella. Interestingly, both the Mugabe and Al-Bashir regimes have avoided direct Western military intervention thanks to Chinese protection.

On the other hand, Western intelligence experts have dismissed Chinese and Russian threats as being prime motivators for the CIA’s growing involvement. These experts like Thomas Friedman and Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times have argued the real reasons for the CIA’s penetration of these weak and ill-governed African countries seems to be neutralizing Al-Qaeda inspired threats, securing potential hydrocarbon and other natural resources for Western firms, eliminating transnational criminal networks, and foster Western-oriented, market-based democracy. The CIA agenda in Islamic majority African countries like Egypt, Somalia, Mali, Libya and Tunisia does seem to be “diluting” the appeal of political Islam and securing natural resources. As well, the CIA has been successful in making sure that China and Russia have not blocked Western intervention which effectively toppled the regimes of Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, Mohamed Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.


In my view, the worrying trend of the CIA’s growing presence in Africa, especially the case of Southern Somalia relates to new model of nation-building. Nation-building and economic development policies in Africa used to be lead exclusively by the US State Department, International Institutions based in Washington such as the World Bank and IMF and the United Nations in New York. Instead, as Somalia shows it is quite clear that the CIA and the Pentagon no longer trust these international institutions or diplomatic players to ensure that African countries will remain pro-West, profitable and not join the Russian, Chinese, and even Indian spheres of influence. Therefore, the CIA has dismissed the United Nations as ineffective and has built a parallel state building model where it controls the structure, personalities, and policies of emerging or weak African governments.

In fact, in the case of Somalia at the moment the CIA has completely taken over all of the country’s operations from political establishment to security policy. The CIA has even silenced the unstable Kenyan and unstable Ethiopian regimes from getting involved its current re-structuring of Somalia. The Kenyans are now utterly hapless in Kismayo since the CIA who first sent them has apparently now opposed the creation of any “buffer zone”.

However, the CIA is also constrained in Africa due to endemic corruption and weak institutions. In Somalia, it now faces the same peril that confounded the KGB in assisting the dictatorship of Siyad Barre. The KGB could not convince the clannish dictator Barre to reform or even re-structure the Somali national institution other than safeguarding a clannish dictatorship. While the CIA is better equipped and financed than the KGB to control the Hassan Sheikh faction, the CIA does not enjoy much flexibility to ensure its nation building policies will be implemented. The KGB failed to control Dictator Siyad Barre, who had the propensity to run to the CIA for help and vice versa in times of crisis. Hassan Sheikh does not have anyone to run to from the CIA!


As it stands, the CIA maintains comprehensive control over all surrogate regimes in Africa. Since the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet Union there is no possible rival power active in Africa that would risk offering alternative protection from CIA control to African countries. Chinese economic involvement is a growing influence but it does not have the flexibility or desire to confront American power everywhere. China is having a hard time protecting Omar Al-Bashir and Robert Mugabe, it would not allow itself to be over-stretched fighting American hegemony from South Africa to the Sahara Desert.

Moreover, the current state of affairs in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda serve as case studies of the CIA’s new focus on re-structuring African regimes in the long-term. The effective use of Hassan Sheikh’s government in Somalia in 2012 will be an interesting case study on whether the CIA is really an effective nation-builder.

That being said, the current re-orientation of the CIA in Africa greatly harkens back to the famous words of John Foster Dulles, former US Secretary of State in the 1950s. Foster Dulles, one of the key architects of the CIA’s strategic policy in the Cold War stated that: “The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”. In his case, dictators and countries that were a problem for the CIA in one year such as Iran, Guatemala, Iraq, and Egypt were actively neutralized the following year.

Today. will the CIA have the same problem in Somalia that it had since 1960? In my view, the CIA has shown that it has a lot of work to do to safeguard its assets and risk management in the 21st century. Today, Somalia is the beginning of dealing with its long-term problems in Africa

Ethiopia: an African lion?

Returns of thirty per cent a year sound too good to be true, but that’s what it is claimed you can earn by investing in this rising nation. Local businesses say they are booming, meanwhile foreign investors are jostling for opportunities.

So where can these incredible profits be made? The answer is Ethiopia.

In a Business Daily Special, Justin Rowlatt reports from the country that was once a byword for poverty and famine but which has been tranforming itself, not into a tiger, but into an African “lion” economy.Read here on BBC

Legacy of Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia (1991-2012)

Legacy of Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia (1991-2012)

By Dula Abdu

Deservedly or not, Meles has received accolades from various sources, especially from western intellectuals and politicians. On the other hand, many Ethiopian observers see nothing redeeming, but malaise, destruction of Ethiopian nationalism, high inflation, ethnic tension, disfranchised people, and a nation lagging the world in all development benchmark.

The accusations by Ethiopians are numerous. He left a country more destitute and desperate than ever, primarily due to his control of every aspect of the economy, nepotism, and denial of access to technology.
He carved a false image abroad, but remained highly detested at home. He created a unique power based on one party dictatorship or Tigrean monopoly of power primarily by pitting one ethnic group against another. Meles era was a lost and miserable two decades for Ethiopia in all aspects not forgetting absence of economic development, absence of national unity that Meles deliberately promoted.

He might appear brilliant for his supporters and some in the West, but he was perceived as an evil dictator and deeply resentful of the Ethiopian state. Meles used brute force at home and a massive PR machine abroad to crowd out the opposition and to hide his evil designs.

Internationally, far too many individuals have become unintentional victim and a party to the Ethiopian untold tragedy. Meles has on his side notables like, Susan Rice, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Donald Levine, Dick Army, Nancy Polesi (via Richard Gephardt), Senator James Inhofe and more.

He has hired who is who in America to parlay non-existing achievement. He has become a modern alchemist, who invents something out of nothing, higher GDP in land of abject poverty and starvation, democracy in land of oppression.
Meles sounded great on many fronts on prima facie; however, further scrutiny turns out that he has been a disaster for Ethiopia in many areas: economy, national unity, social cohesion, and hope for the new generation.
Unraveling his economic system shows it is built on wrong statistics and baked to show an illusion of progress, by showcasing big projects such as the construction of the Nile Dam, which is a gigantic misuse of resource that will unravel sooner or later.

Meles’ era will leave a huge cleavage of cicatrize of a scar that will never heal from the wedges he promoted, from making Ethiopia landlocked, denial of access to technology, and from driving the economy into the shades in his attempt to enrich his clan, with little empathy for the rest of Ethiopia.
Despite Meles’ rhetoric about transforming Ethiopia, Ethiopia was found to be one of the failed states following countries like Somalia, Chad, and others.

Meles besides putting or wasting Ethiopia’s meager resources in projects with no investment merits such as the Nile Dam, a Wind Turbine ($220 million Euro) in Tigre, the Tekeze hydroelectric dam ($360 million dollars) in Tigre, and planned Rails from Djibouti to Mekele, failed to articulate or deploy the most important economic tool, efficient allocation of scare resources, such as capital. This also vindicates those of us who stated that he is leading Ethiopia not only to a failed estate, but close to an economic Armageddon (see Voodoo economics…) at ethiodemocat.com.

The Index published by Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace found that Ethiopia is critically in danger of becoming a failed estate based on demographic pressure, refugee flows, group grievances, human rights violations, uneven development, economic decline, and the continued deligitimization of Ethiopian nationalism. The most vulnerable states next to Ethiopia are Somalia, Chad, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti.
None of these countries had such a flamboyant and arrogant leader like Meles, who brags about a fabricated GDP growth data to keep his wretched rule and continued economic decline of the wretched country.
Though Ethiopia is the birth place of humanity and one of the cradles of civilizations, but for the last four decades, it has been one of the most wretched places on earth with little hope of reversing worst case scenario given the current leadership of the country.

With the arrival of Meles, secessionist and anti-Ethiopian force mushroomed supported by his ethnic federalism disrupting commerce and the natural flow of trade, destroying institutions and promoting ethnic and religious division once in a very cohesive nation.

To stifle further the country’s economic growth, Meles created ethnic blocks like in Apartheid South Africa, thus creating tensions and making commerce almost impossible among some Ethiopians, cutting existing trades’ relations, while Europe was forming the European Union and the U.S. was pushing the North American Free Trade Agreement. In Ethiopia traders or business people, primarily Gurages were massacred and their possession ransacked by ethnic groups aligned with Meles and by his own cronies. In some cases, TPLF cadres used their access to import duty free thus driving the competition out of business or outright denial of licenses or charging exorbitant taxes to put mostly Gurages out of business. To his own credit, Meles clearly stated that the Amharas in politics and the Gurages in commerce as his primary enemies that he has to eliminate to take full control of the economy and the country.
To add insult to injury, he confiscated land and denied access to technology for the majority, except in Tigre where Mekele, Adwa University and Mekele Institute of Technology (MIT) are provided unfettered access and grants.
The advent of Internet and technology as a whole was heralded by some as a panacea to ending not only the economic divide between the have and the have-nots, but also between the developing countries and the developed world. Unfortunately, Ethiopia was left out by design by Meles because Meles was afraid that technology will be used to organize against him by the majority of Ethiopians that he knew detested his dictatorship.

Ethiopia land locked, void of access to technology, void of free market and good leadership was toiling on the brink of economic disaster that will lead to further starvation and famine beyond the current millions being fed by World Food Program.

Government ownership of major resources including land, Internet, denial of access to technology, and being landlocked remain as a major road block to rapid economic growth.
Ethiopia needs an industrial policy that will move it from an agrarian society to a technology driven society. The normal course was from Agriculture, to manufacturing, and industrialization, but with the right leadership, technology makes it possible to move to technological society by skipping all the other steps and create a higher standard of living.

Technology or reengineering has been the most important productivity tools for economic growth, however, like land it is controlled by the government. In Ethiopia technology is primarily used for spying on Ethiopians and blocking websites.

Access to technology is correlated to a higher standard of living for current and future generation. Government ownership of major resources including land, denial of access to technology, being landlocked remains as a major road block to rapid economic growth.

Land ownership of the state is not for any altruistic reason, it is primarily to manipulate the political currents and to keep the majority of Ethiopians who rely on agriculture a hostage.
Despite creating these roadblocks, Meles has stated that the Ethiopian economy will grow 11-14.5 % in the next five years. No landlocked country or no country in Africa, especially a country estranged within by lack of free market, lack of access to technology, respect for property rights and human rights or forced into tribal polarization can enjoy such phenomenal economic growth.

According to data provided by Meles to the CIA and World Bank, Ethiopia’s GDP per capita was close $100 in 1991 when Meles starting ruling the country. Now, it is reported to be $1000, a tenfold increase which is much better than what China enjoyed in those periods. China’s growth is driven by manufacturing, technology and education, but in Ethiopia access o technology or manufacturing has not changed much for the last 20 years. Education has lost ground with the introduction of ethnic education, where the majority of ethnic groups are encouraged or forced to use their own ethnic language without requiring them to learn the official language or English; a recipe for disintegration of the country.

How did Meles got away with such statistical absurdity. My guess that he was adept in charming world leaders from Tony Blair to Jimmy Carter, and built a PR machine at home and abroad using the meager funds the country ill afford. Like other dictators he will fall from grace and his true achievement will be dissected and he will be castigated as one of the worst and strange dictators that ever ruled Ethiopia.

It will be easy to compare Meles with another evil genius, Leopold II of Belgium who committed murder and looting of the Congo from 1865-1909. Leopold II was the most brutal ruler of Congo; he controlled a country many times the size of Belgium as his personal domain through his private army, like Meles. Unlike Meles, he was eventually forced to end his evil rule after the conscience of the Western world could not bear it any more. Meles passed away still charming and fooling the Western world.

Despite Meles or TPLF rhetoric about transforming Ethiopia, the country remains one of the failed states, as demonstrated by its ranking of 174 among 180 countries in terms of human development index.
In the end – Meles may be called just a dictator par excellence with extraordinary charm, and wit, but with a terrible legacy for Ethiopia to deserve an accolade accorded to him by his western allies.

Dula Abdu writes on economics, technology and real estate and he can be reached at dula06@gmail.com. He was a former JPMorgan Chase banker and currently an Adjunct Professor of Economics at Texas Southern University. The article was an adaption of from an original piece entitled ”Evil Genius…”

Ethiopia: In search of a better life

Ethiopia: The search for a better life.

Students may have been holed up in dorms and apartments as Hurricane Sandy made landfall, but it wasn’t enough to stop Dining Services employees from coming to work.

To ensure students had food even after classes were canceled Monday and Tuesday, the department had its workers stay in local hotels and in the dining halls. About 75 staff members stayed in 30 rooms in two Route 1 hotels, said Joe Mullineaux, Dining Services senior associate director. Additionally, the Department of Resident Life provided the dining rooms with mattresses so another 25 or 30 workers could sleep there.

Typically, Dining Services employees receive overtime pay if they work when the university is closed; the university determines whether staff members receive overtime pay on a case-by-case basis, Mullineaux said. However, staff members who stay overnight are not paid for the hours they are not working.

Staff members decide whether they want to work through weather emergencies, Mullineaux said, and the department ensures they are taken care of. While the university was closed this week, Dining Services hired four drivers to transport the employees to and from the campus every day, either from hotels or homes if employees live close to the university.

job, it’s good life,” Medhen said. “Better than my country because my country, it’s too much war. … It’s much better here.”

It’s a hard job, sometimes an invisible and humble one — housekeeper Rachael Jordan said she used to harbor a negative perception of the work. But for many members of the university community, it’s a foothold that allows them to take one more step toward their aspirations.

“Coming into housekeeping, I have learned this is not a degrading job,” Jordan said. “It has opened doors for you to go higher.”

Medhen now lives in an apartment around Takoma Park, working to raise Ende, now 18, and a 4-year-old son. She wakes up at about 5 a.m. to start the day, and each morning comes as a race to feed and dress herself and her son, who can be a little picky.

“Sometime you cook something, he tells you, ‘I want hot dog,’ ” Medhen said with a smile, “You know? Too much problem.”

By 7 a.m., the pair are sitting in her car outside Sligo Adventist School, waiting for one of the day care employees to come in for work. Because day care and Medhen’s job both start at 7:30 a.m., she has to drop her son off as early as possible. Then, hoping traffic isn’t too bad, Medhen sets off for the campus.

While several co-workers said Medhen is quiet compared to other members of the department, they value her as a helpful resource and someone to turn to. Yanci Umana, a university housekeeper, said Medhen helped train her when she first started the job in April.

“She’s really nice,” Umana said. “She told me how to do everything and what to do first.”

And Veronica Stubbs, a zone supervisor, said it’s hard not to get along with someone who calls everyone “my friend,” as Medhen does.

When Medhen leaves work at about 4 p.m., her day is far from over. She picks her son up from day care and returns home to make dinner for her family. Her husband is usually on homework duty, but his hours are sporadic because he works for an air conditioning company.

“Sometimes he come midnight, 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock,” Medhen said. “When work’s finished, he comes.”

She looks forward to having enough spare time to dedicate to one of her favorite activities — decorating around her home and for special occasions such as birthdays, weddings and other celebrations. Though she could have pursued a career as a decorator in Ethiopia, she said that route became complicated when she had to balance school, work and family in a country she barely knew. Medhen attended language school for about three years to learn English, and though someone suggested she get a degree, Medhen instead opted to focus on her job.

“Everybody tell me, you must have master’s degree or doctorate degree — I don’t have one,” Medhen said. With a sober laugh, she added, “I can’t because you need too much money.”

Eventually, she hopes to decorate her house the way she envisions. But for now that remains another dream, and she has a more pressing one — getting her children a college education. With a college degree, Medhen hopes, Ende will be able to work wherever she wants.

“If you quit your job, you got another job,” Medhen adds.

Though she hopes to give her children more opportunities, Medhen worries the move from Ethiopia has been hard on her daughter. Back home, neighbors and friends would often help people take care of their children if they were busy during the day — the “teenager problems” parents experience with adolescent kids don’t exist there, she said.

Despite these difficulties, Medhen recently gained another piece of home. After a visit to Ethiopia in August, she brought her parents back with her to the U.S. so they could live nearby in eastern Takoma Park. But the transition from a busy, bustling life visiting friends across different neighborhoods has been no easier on her father than it was on her.

“He don’t like it here, but he has green card,” Medhen said. “He tell me, ‘All day at home, I watch TV, that’s it. No friend, no working.’”

“Here, nothing. Nobody talk to you because this language is different,” she added. “In this country, you’re just by yourself. It’s hard for him.”

But Medhen can now take care of her parents, a responsibility she welcomes.

“My home is a big family  — I am happy,” she said with a smile.

And, Medhen remembers, when her father first came to the country, he shared his memory of her desires as a young girl to travel far away from Ethiopia.

“Your dream is true,” he said.

by Teddy Amenabar, newsumdbk@gmail.com

Ethiopian, Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali refugees – What do you think they go through?

Ethiopian, Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali refugees. What do you think they go through?

Refugees in Egypt face regular threat of arrest, torture, and deportation to their countries of origin. The revolution has not changed that reality. On the life of one Darfuri refugee in search of protection.

By Amir Heinitz

“No one cares about what happens to refugees anyhow. Last week 300 Egyptians were detained without cause,” expressed an employee at a Cairo-based refugee organization in response to the arrest of Monim Atron Soliman, a Darfuri refugee activist, just weeks before Egypt’s first democratic presidential elections. Fear runs deep. Publicly expression of political views constitutes a gamble. Unencrypted phone calls, emails or Facebook risk being intercepted. According to journalist and activist Hossam el-Hamalawy, the dreaded Egyptian intelligence services continue to work as usual. Security agents monitor, intimidate, and shut down NGOs, and detain troublemakers and political opponents suspected of collaborating with the enemy — an enemy that is everywhere and nowhere. In early October 2012, Amnesty International observed that “endemic abuses by police have continued since the uprising.”

For a decade, Monim Atron Soliman lived in a world where secrecy and safeguards against infiltration by government spies were the basics of everyday life. Born and raised in Darfur, a student of political science at the University of Khartoum, he fled in 2002 during what turned into the first genocide of the 21st century. Monim’s route first took him and his family to a refugee camp near Nyala, in South Darfur. Due to his studies and his open opposition to the regime of Omar al-Bashir, Monim quickly fell on the radar of the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). After continued threats to his life, he tried in vain to escape to South Africa, and eventually landed in Gaddafi’s Libya in 2004.

Upon his arrival in Tripoli, Monim became one of many Africans in the land of the self-proclaimed “King of Kings of Africa,” and one of nearly 2,000 Darfuri refugees. Throughout his regime, Gaddafi invited Africans of various nationalities to Libya to work in Libyan hospitals and ministries or serve as mercenaries in the army. Just as Gaddafi supported outfits like the IRA, British trade unions, or Austrian right-wing populists, his regime also allowed Sudanese opposition groups, like the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SLM), the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and the Sudanese Liberation Army to operate on Libyan territory. Monim established the “Sudan Contemporary Center for Studies and Development” (SCC) and the “Swadna Organization for Sudanese Youth,” which concentrated on teaching and community activities.

For the Sudanese, like for most Libyans, open organization remained impossible, but Gaddafi saw the opportunity for greater influence in Sudan by tolerating the activities of Darfuris. In the spring of 2005, he invited Sudanese rebels to a series of peace conferences at the Grand Hotel in Tripoli. Monim also received an invitation. A few days before the start of negotiations in September 2005, friends warned him that agents of the Sudanese Embassy were following him. On the way back from the Grand Hotel, three Libyans chased him down the road, as Sudanese agents lay in wait to beat him with an iron pole. Darfuri residents of a nearby neighborhood drove away the attackers and discovered Monim, his face so smashed and bloodied that he was identified only through his clothes. It took twelve hours to find a doctor who would treat Monim, for a fee of $1,200. He was comatose for 25 days and lost sight in his right eye.

The position of the Sudanese and other Africans in Libya began to change fundamentally in 2004, after the international community began to reengage with Gaddafi. Italy and other European countries saw an opportunity for gas concessions in Libya, and to stop African migrants traversing the Mediterranean. From then on, Gaddafi prevented African refugees from crossing the sea to Lampedusa and other European gateways. The EU invested 60 million euros into strengthening the Libyan borders, including the country’s detention and deportation capacity. As a result, Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali refugees who arrived in Libya after 2005 would often disappear in prisons indefinitely, undergo torture, and as surviving refugees in Cairo recount, be finally pushed over the closest Libyan border or left to die in remote desert areas.

After 2004, the popular refugee route that once ran from the Horn of Africa via Egypt to Libya, came to a stop in Egypt. Refugees and migrants began gather in the slums of Cairo. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) registered around 50,000 refugees and asylum seekers in 2010, and 95,000 in 2011. But taking into account non-registered migrants asylum seekers brings the unofficial numbers in Egypt to anywhere from 500,000 to 4 million.

The route to Israel

Starting in roughly 2005, refugees began taking the route through the Sinai to Israel. The Egyptian military enacted a shoot-to-kill policy for refugees who attempted to cross into Israel through the peninsula. At least 70 refugees, but possibly many more, have been shot dead by the Egyptian army since 2007. In 2010, Israel began the construction of a border wall along the western Negev frontier to keep out “infiltrators.” The allocated budget of $337 million is expected to be vastly exceeded.

The Egyptian government has struggled to re-establish authority in the Sinai. In addition to the terrorist cells that have made headlines in recent months, some Bedouin – mostly members of the Bedouin tribe Tarabin, and to a lesser extent Tayaha – have used the historic power vacuum to deepen their exploitation of migrants on their way to Israel. In 2009, reports began to emerge of refugees being tortured by Bedouins in camps in the Sinai to extort ransoms from relatives living abroad. Demands range from $2000 to $ 40,000. Refugees and Bedouins opposed to the practice have reported the removal of organs from refugees whose relatives are unwilling or unable to pay, often resulting in death.

Recovered from the attack, Monim moved to Cairo, where he and other Darfuris rebuilt the SCC and reported on human rights violations in both Egypt and Sudan. The SCC is one of a number of associations representing the Sudanese population in Cairo. Incidents of the Sudanese embassy tracking and persecuting Sudanese refugees in Egypt are widespread. “If you leave your house, we’ll get you,” is a familiar threat in late-night phone calls. A number of refugees from Sudan and Ethiopia reported that they have been pursued by gangs, who they have reason to suspect were hired by the Sudanese or Ethiopian embassies. The children of Sudanese refugees are kidnapped and identification papers stolen. Others have been assaulted by motorcyclists, who reportedly speak Arabic with a Sudanese accent.

The Egyptian police remain inactive at best. Victims usually have to find and deliver the culprit to the police station, and police often do not recognize UNHCR identification cards, which they sometimes even destroy. Racial discrimination against Sudanese leads to frequent mistreatment or abuse by the police. It is UNHCR Egypt, not the Egyptian government, that registers and recognizes Sudanese, Eritreans, Iraqis, Somalis and Ethiopians seeking asylum. While this recognition grants the refugees limited legal status in Egypt, and gives them access to small amounts of financial and medical assistance, the absence of the Egyptian state from the process has resulted in the growth of unchecked parallel structures, leading Michael Kagan in a 2011 paper to pronounce a “Country of UNHCR.” Refugees have complained that their cases are not always treated confidentially by UNHCR, who they fear cooperate with Egyptian authorities.

Sudan remains a significant grain supplier for Egypt’s ever growing population. Egypt’s dependency on Sudan’s support in the conflict over Nile water rights with Ethiopia is a major element in Sudanese-Egyptian relations. Since the ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is ideologically close to the ruling National Congress Party in Sudan, Sudanese activists believe that Sudanese-Egyptian security cooperation may intensify – to the detriment of the Sudanese refugee population in Egypt.

The SCC researches human rights violations in Sudan, and intimidation and violence against refugees in Egypt. Fighting the removal of organs of African refugees in Egypt and organ trafficking in the Sinai increasingly comprise the SCC’s other activities. In January 2009, the Egyptian state security stormed Monim’s apartment and arrested him alongside two other members of the SCC. He was accused of being financed by Israel and smuggling Sudanese migrants through the Sinai. After a representative of the South Sudanese SPLA in Cairo advocated heavily with the Egyptian government, Monim was released on condition of shutting down the SCC and stopping all public discussion of the Darfur issue. Monim reported several times by phone to the security agencies and was finally left alone until the outbreak of the Egyptian revolution.

Life after the revolution

With the political upheavals in Egypt, insecurity for refugees increased. Police presence has been scant in shanty towns. UNHCR and Caritas, the only official health provider for refugees in Cairo, remained closed for months. Two Sudanese women set themselves ablaze in front of the UNHCR office in early 2011. As frustration rose, up to 2,000 refugees demonstrated in front the UNHCR office in Egypt for week. UNHCR staff was beaten with shoes by enraged refugees.

Some refugee activists saw new opportunities to further their political aspirations after the political changes in Egypt in 2011. On July 9, 2011, South Sudan declared independence after 20 years of war against the North. A couple of weeks later, about a hundred Sudanese of all ethnic groups demonstrated in front Sudanese Embassy in downtown Cairo against the Bashir regime. One year later, in June and July 2012, students, lawyers, religious figures, and laborers demonstrated in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities, calling for lower food prices and the fall of the regime. Bashir cracked down on the protests with force. Activists have since been disappearing without charge.

The Egyptian revolution has been progressing in twists and turns. Offices of human rights organizations, like the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, were stormed and ransacked by the military at the beginning of the Revolution. A string of U.S. and German organizations were raided by government officials in December 2011. On October 15, 2012, the el-Nadim Center issued a report detailing 34 deaths, 88 cases of torture and seven of rape committed by the police during the first 100 days of Morsi’s presidency. Harsh criticism has been voiced by academics, opposition figures, and women activists against the constituent assembly, charged with drafting a new constitution to replace the one Anwar al-Sadat had tailored for himself in 1971, as merely replicating the protection of those in power, rather than establishing a legal system guaranteeing rights and freedoms as called for in the January 25 revolution. Refugee rights have not surfaced in the constitutional debate.

Disturbing the peace

In January 2012, the SCC and Monim were again targeted by Egyptian national security. He was again accused of illegally receiving funds from abroad to disturb Egyptian peace and order. The web portal Sudan Online reported that the Sudanese ambassador in Cairo, Kamal Hassan Aly, had demanded the Egyptian security authorities arrest and deport [Arabic] 30 members of the SCC to the Sudan. Monim and his newly wedded wife went into hiding for four months.

While the media is focused on the border conflict between South Sudan and Sudan, the conflict in Darfur has intensified. In January 2012, a paper circulated at the UN in New York and Geneva suggested the UNAMID mission in Darfur was too intimidated by the regime in Khartoum to fully research and report on battles and human rights violations. After meeting with Darfur rebel leaders from various groups in Uganda in September 2012, Ambassador Dean Smith, US Special envoy for Darfur, noted in an interview with Radio Dabanga that the security situation in Darfur had deteriorated since 2011. Smith sharply criticized the Sudanese army for bombing civilian areas in Darfur. The total of IDPs and refugees of the Sudanese conflicts in Darfur, Abiyei, the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State since 2011 alone stands at upwards of 500,000.

On May 6, 2012, Monim was arrested by the police and brought to Qanater prison, north of Cairo. Friends were not able to establish contact. Refugee relief organizations were informed, but prevented further information from surfacing to avoid jeopardizing negotiations for his release. SCC members feared that Monim would be secretly shipped to Sudan. Bashir Suleiman of the SCC recounted to me the story of a former SCC member who was murdered upon his return to Sudan, assuming that two other returnees he knew of were similarly threatened by the Sudanese intelligence services. According to the UN Refugee Convention, signed and ratified by Egypt, deportation of a recognized refugee to his country of origin is illegal, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that persecution will continue upon arrival.

With Monim in prison, his wife received threatening phone calls from the Egyptian secret service. Nothing further was known about her husband’s condition. Modeled after the online advocacy for Egyptian activist Khaled Said, who was kidnapped in Alexandria from an internet cafe by the Egyptian security forces and tortured to death in 2010, Sudanese refugees spread a picture of a demonstration in front of UNHCR on Facebook, entitled “We are all Monim Soliman.” In June 2012 it emerged that Monim Soliman Atrun had been resettled to Norway. At the time of his release, Monim reported that thirteen other recognized refugees – from Sudan (from Darfur and the Nuba Mountains) Somalia, the Congo, Somalia and Sri Lanka – had been languishing, some for more than two years, in Qanater with unclear charges. In early September an Ethiopian refugee activist reported that she had been in touch with three Eritrean refugees, who met the same fate.

As the euphoria of last spring has receded, new political forces have emerged and old ones beaten back. Little has changed for refugees in the region. The battle between repressive regimes, regional rebel groups, and urban opposition movements continues to displace and exile thousands in Sudan and the Horn of Africa. Countries like Egypt or Libya, themselves engaged in conflicts over national and religious identities, tribal or class power structures, economic resources and long-held privileges – are of their own accord unlikely to champion the cause of refugees any time soon.

Rather, despite the European Court for Human Rights’ ruling earlier this year against the expulsion by sea of 24 migrants by the Italian navy back to Libya, Italy has been busy drafting new anti-immigrant agreements with the newly elected Libyan government. Some 1,500 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2011. In Israel, Interior Minister and Shas Chairman Eli Yishai announced that North Sudanese have until October 15 of this year to repatriate voluntarily (though it later emerged that he had done so without government authorization), and that “their lives will be made miserable” until they leave. The Israeli army has been reported to patrol 100 meters into Egyptian territory to keep migrants out. In response to Israeli human rights groups condemning an incident in September where a group of refugees was left in the scorching heat on Israeli territory, the foreign ministry announced it has “no legal obligation to let in anyone beyond the fence” and that “there has been no determination by any international body according to which Sudanese or Eritrean citizens are persecuted or that their lives are in danger in Egypt.”

Monim and his family live to see better days in Norway. (Although a recent diplomatic row between Sudan and Norway revealed that the Sudanese Embassy may be spying on Sudanese refugees in Norway.) Meanwhile, Taha, a Darfuri refugee, invited a few friends over to celebrate on a recent Thursday evening. Bedouins had kidnapped and tortured him with electric shocks for three weeks, after he refused to pay ransom for other refugees stuck in the Sinai. His body weakened from previous assaults and torture in Cairo and Sudan, his captors decided after consulting with a doctor that his organs were worthless. In the middle of the night they dumped him, naked and covered in blood, on a suburban road. After five days in the hospital he returned to his family, with his back and chest covered in long scars. Joyously jumping on their fathers lap, his young ones lift his shirt to peek at his scarred body. As he shakes back and forth, he says “I have seen sad days.”

Amir Heinitz is Cologne born journalist based in Berlin. He  worked with refugees in Egypt between 2010 and 2011, and previously researched migration and intercultural negotiations with the Truman Institute in Jerusalem. He studied international affairs in Brussels and Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the Hebrew University Jerusalem. His main interests are migration, political movements, social mobility, marginalized populations and xenophobia. A version of this piece was originally published in German in Zenithonline

South African Inequality: whites earn 6 times more than blacks

Associated Press/Themba Hadebe – Pedestrians walks on the street in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday Oct. 30, 2012. The results from the 2011 census are released Tuesday Oct. 30, 2012, showing that more

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — White South Africans earn six times more than black South Africans nearly two decades after the end of apartheid and much remains to be done to reduce the disparities between rich and poor, the president said after the release of the country’s census.

“These figures tell us at the bottom of the rung is the black majority who continue to be confronted by deep poverty, unemployment, and inequality, despite the progress that we have made since 1994,” President Jacob Zuma said of the South Africa Census 2011 released on Tuesday.

On the positive side, people’s access to basic services, such as clean water, electricity and garbage removal has more than doubled in the same amount of time, he said. And more South African dwellings have TVs than refrigerators and more cellphones than electric or gas stoves, the census said.

South Africa’s population has increased by 7 million people in the last decade to 51.8 million by October 2011, according to the census. And for the first time in the three censuses conducted since 1994, the number of people identifying themselves as colored — a term used by the government for people of mixed race — is higher, at 4.62 million, than those who describe themselves as white at 4.59 million. More than 41 million describe themselves as black and 1.3 million as Indian or Asian.

A breakdown of the population also shows that close to 60 percent of the population is under 35. There are more children under the age of four, with 5.6 million, than in each of the 5-to-9 or 10-to-14 age brackets.

The average household income in South Africa has more than doubled in the past decade, according to the census, which said that households earned an average of 48,000 rand ($6,000) per year in 2001 compared to 103,204 rand ($12,900) by October 2011.

Planning Minister Trevor Manuel said the income distribution among race and gender groups was the most startling of the figures.

“It confirms our worst fears and I think it presents us with an enormous challenge,” he said.

The average annual income for black households was 60,613 rand ($7,500) in 2011, according to the census, while white households earned an average of 365,134 rand ($45,600) per year.

Meanwhile, households headed by women earned on average 67,330 rand ($8,400) in 2011, compared to 128,329 rand ($16,000) for male counterparts.

The census figures on services said nearly 1.3 million households did not have access to piped water, and the majority of those households are black.

Poverty also remains an issue with more than 1.2 million “informal” dwellings around the nation, including squatter camps, but not including the 712, 956 shacks. And while just over 8.2 million households have flushing toilets that connect to a sewage system, 748,597 households around the country have no toilets at all.

“Much remains to be done to further improve the livelihoods of our people especially in terms of significant disparities that still exist between the rich and poor,” said President Zuma. “Government departments must now use this information wisely in planning for the extension of services.”

He referenced a National Development Plan to eliminate poverty, reduce inequality and address the problem of unemployment. The plan says that the poor should be able to have a toilet, clean water, food, stable housing and heat by the year 2030. It also says that each community will have a school, library, teachers, a police station with “upright” police and a health clinic with nurses.

Charges filed against Rwanda opposition leader were politically motivated

(UPI) — Human Rights Watch said it had concerns that charges filed against an opposition leader in Rwanda were politically motivated.

The High Court in Kigali this week found Victoire Ingabire, leader of the opposition FDU-Inkingi party, guilty of ties to terrorism and for inciting anti-government action. Some of the charges were issued for her alleged downplaying of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Ingabire, a Hutu, was sentenced to eight years in prison for what Human Rights Watch said was a sign of the government’s intolerance of dissent.

“The prosecution of Ingabire … illustrates the Rwandan government’s unwillingness to tolerate criticism and to accept the role of opposition parties in a democratic society,” Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement from Kenya. “The courts should not be used for such political purposes.”

The rights group said it can’t comment on the “veracity of the charges” tied to Ingabire’s ties to armed groups but expressed concern that evidence used against her was unreliable.

Conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic communities left roughly 800,000 people dead in a 100-day massacre in 1994.

Ethiopian school bus guard attacked in Israel

A parent in the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Bialik allegedly assaulted an Ethiopian school bus guard yesterday, breaking her nose.

Ziona Mangistu

School Bus Rage: Racist Attack On Ethiopian Bus Guard In Northern Israel
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com

A parent in the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Bialik allegedly assaulted an Ethiopian school bus guard yesterday, breaking her nose, Ynet reported.

Ziona Mangistu was reportedly told by the school’s principal to refuse to allow a particular student to board the bus because he was suspended from school.

After Mangistu stopped the boy for boarding, she received a call from the boy’s father who allegedly shouted racist slurs at her, including, “stinking Ethiopian, we will have you sent back to where you came from!”

The boy’s father then boarded the bus and “in front of some 30 kids punched Ziona in the face, breaking her nose. She is still in bed suffering from pain and might have to return to hospital. More than the pain, she is shocked by the whole incident. This hatred. We do not comprehend the violence and racism; we are like any other citizen of this country,” Mangistu’s husband told Ynet.

After punching Mangistu, the father fled. Mangistu was taken to hospital for medical care. But when she reported the assault to the school’s principal, the principal allegedly told her not to file a police complaint.

The Kiryat Bialik’s Mayor Eli Dukorsky said he “expects the police to convey zero tolerance message to aggression against public employees including this case.” The mayor visited Mangistu and reportedly told her that the city will support and assist her.

Police detained the father for questioning, later releasing him to house arrest for five days.

Beyond Derailment and Canonization: Assessing Meles’s Rule

By Messay Kebede

Scholars loyal to the Woyanne regime, often for the sake of ethnic solidarity, but with some scruples left for the objectivity of scholarly studies engage in a risky project when they undertake the assessment of Meles’s rule of Ethiopia. While their main intention is to bring out and defend what they consider to be undeniable achievements, their scholarly bent prevents them from simply overlooking or painting in rosy terms his obvious shortcomings and failures. So they adopt an approach that presents the good and the bad sides of Meles with the hope that the positive aspect will significantly outweigh the negative one. Unfortunately for them, even their modicum objectivity ends up by sneaking drawbacks so toxic that the general picture becomes that of a colossal fiasco.


A case in point is Medhane Tadesse’s paper titled “Meles Zenawi and the Ethiopian State,” recently posted, to my surprise, on Aiga website. The paper is a commendable attempt at an objective assessment of Meles’s accomplishments. Medhane first explains the rise of Meles through the defeat of all his opponents, which rise he attributes to his personal qualities, such as quick intelligence, communication skills, impressive erudition, and remarkable aptitudes in political maneuvering. In view of these qualities, his rivals, who often had impressive military records, could do little to stop his rise to absolute power, which became effective in 2001 when he defeated an influential splinter group within the TPLF.


Medhane does not hesitate to say that Meles’s victory was a “serious blow to democratic centralism and collective leadership” and that the consolidation of his absolute power was done at the expense of the TPLF as a ruling party. He rightly argues that Meles marginalized the TPLF by centralizing all power, notably by uniting state power and party leadership in his person, thereby creating a power base independent of the TPLF. Clearly, the assessment is moving decisively toward a critical appraisal of Meles’s rule, and so is in line with the view of the splinter group ascribing the numerous problems that Ethiopia faces today to the missteps of a dictatorial deviation.

With great pain, Medhane manages to find the positive side in the alleged economic success of Meles’s policy. Even so, his assessment falls short of being affirmative: he does speak of the theory of developmental state as a promising orientation, but nowhere indicates that it produced notable results. Instead, his skepticism transpires when he writes: Meles “attempted to reorient Ethiopia’s political economy by carrying out far-reaching reforms, and in particular introducing the fundamentals, for what it’s worth, of an Ethiopian version of a developmental state.” Not only do we not feel any enthusiasm for the “far-reaching reforms,” but also the whole economic orientation of the country is greeted with a marked skeptical tone.

By contrast, Medhane underlines the democratic shortcomings of Meles’s regime and its “wholesale offensive against any form of independent centers of power such as free media, free organization, free business, persecution of critical journalists and enactment of repressive laws.” Thus, if on top of stifling democratic changes in the county, Meles did not score any appreciable gains in the economic field, what is left to say except that his 20 years rule was a total failure? Hence my puzzlement as to the reason why the pro-Meles Aiga website posted the article. Is it because Aiga people did not understand the content of the article? Or is it the beginning of a critical look at Meles’s alleged achievements, especially now that it becomes clear that he left the TPLF in disarray?
But no sooner did I hope for such an evolution than I noticed that the article was removed from the website. Instead, a new paper of 20 pages criticizing the analysis of Medhane was posted, as though Aiga was correcting its mistake and forcefully reaffirming its pro-Meles stand. Written by Habtamu Alebachew and titled “Tadese Madhane and his ‘Post-Meles Reform Agenda’: Quest for Logic and Relevance,” the paper reasserts the customary position of Meles’s supporters. The paper rambles through 20 pages about political reforms and the developmental state with the clear purpose of metamorphosing preconceived ideological positions into serious theoretical insights. It denounces contradictions in Medhane’s article and is completely devoid of any critical appraisal of Meles.

It is really not necessary to go into Habtamu’s arguments because they provide nothing more than a smoke screen destined to confuse readers by tired rhetoric and laudatory exaggerations. To give you an idea, we find such laughable statements as “in clearest terms, Meles Zenawi is both a regime breaker and a regime founder as much prominent as Moa and Lenin were.” Habtamu qualifies the post-2010 government of Meles as “a dynamic and functioning regime or the developmental state in action probably as exactly intended and designed.” He defines the government as a “success story” and entirely dismisses its so-called democratic shortcomings.

Unsurprisingly, in light of the undeniable success of Meles, Habtamu concludes that any talk of reform must assume one direction, which is that it must be “a reform proposal within an undergoing and unfinished reform project.” In other words, reform must deepen and perfect Meles’s project; it cannot be an advocacy of a different path or a return to a previous model of economic and political development. Here the author cannot refrain from sharing his major worry about possible reversals when he writes: “I have every reason to get alarmed about the possible abortion of this reform.”
When one contrasts the two assessments, despite obvious differences, one finds an underlying common belief. Indeed, Medhane’s criticisms presuppose the belief that Meles had a genuine desire to develop Ethiopia but failed. To validate this assumption, Medhane portrays Meles as a leader fascinated by the economic development of East Asian countries and suggests that “the main objective” of his conversion to the ideology of the developmental state “was to secure regional prominence as a stabilizing force, raise the status of the country, and increase its relevance which will in turn would attract international finances.” Thus, to make sense of Medhane’s paper, we have to keep in mind the underlying assumption, to wit, that Meles had the good intention of developing Ethiopia and that his good intention was derailed by a mistaken ideological belief in the phenomenal potential of the developmental state.

For Habtamu, the so-called derailment is actually a prerequisite for the realization of the developmental state so that what is required is not to change course but to relentless pursue the same path until all the fruits materialize, one of which being the progressive democratization of the country. Simply put, Meles had to suspend democratization in order to create the condition of democracy, especially in view of the fact that reactionary forces almost gained political prominence in the 2005 election.
Clearly, the two approaches agree on the good intention of Meles: the one maintains that it was derailed, the other claims that it was unfinished, but both agree in saying that Meles wanted the economic and democratic blossoming of Ethiopia. The fact that they share a basic principle (good intention) and yet end up in conflicting analyses questions nothing less than the feasibility of the basic agreement. Their divergent evaluations indicate that their point of departure is untenable and hence invite a different thesis. Since the truthfulness of the different thesis solely lies in its ability to explain the conflicting interpretations, it distinguishes itself by its coherence, which is the mark of a sound theoretical approach.

Medhane denounces the gap between theory and practice, that is, between the good intention and the actual outcomes. Habtamu retorts by saying that there is no gap; there is simply a misunderstanding of the theory, notably of its requirements. The truth is that, every time that there is a conflict between practice and theory, we should suspect the presence of what Karl Marx diagnosed as false consciousness. Far from theory guiding practice, the reverse works for false conscience in that practice guides theory but in such a way that the gap between the two is legitimized, excused, or masked.

Thus, Medhane posits good intention and interprets the gap of practice as derailment. But what if said derailment is in reality the realization of an intention that was not originally blameless? This means that Meles opted for the developmental state because it enabled him to justify a dictatorial rule, which is then the original intention. Accordingly, Meles was consistent all along: he wanted dictatorship, which he however masked by the discourse on developmental state. In justifying dictatorship as necessary to bring about development, the discourse effected a transmutation, for what serves a good cause can no longer be characterized as evil.

This is exactly how Habtamu argues: he metamorphoses the shortcomings of Meles into prerequisites for the implementation of a good cause. Consequently, there are no shortcomings or deviations since they are necessary steps in the actualization of the project. Above all, there is no dictatorship because it is the progressive actualization of a benevolent cause. The road ahead, it follows, must be the continuation of an unfinished project, and not its criticism in the name of immature concern.

Clearly, only the replacement of the good intention by a malicious one can correct the contradiction between the two approaches. The substitution explains the option for the developmental state and portrays the shortcoming, not as postponed future benefits, but as inherent outcomes of a dictatorial goal. Meles neither missed nor paced an alleged initial good intention: he implemented what he originally wanted, namely, absolute power and control.

In this regard, Meles did not see the 2005 electoral defeat of his party as “a pointless disruption,” as Medhane claims. Nor did he perceive it as a setback caused by “internal failures” and an occasion to deepen “aggressively . . . the reform,” as Habtamu puts it. Rather, he reached the realization that his dictatorial project could not go hand in hand with democratic opening, however small the opening may be. The point is that Meles’s dictatorial project, essentially driven by his narcissistic personality, craved for popular approval, obvious as it is that his hunger for personal grandeur needed popular confirmation through regular democratic elections.

The rise and popularity of Kinijit made him realize that the quest for a democratic approval was no longer achievable. The 2005 election result was therefore an awakening from his illusion about his popularity and underestimation of the opposition. Predictably, profoundly humiliated by the electoral success of the opposition, he reacted violently and since then opted for an attenuated version of the North Korean type of dictatorship in which he would obtain the popularity that he wants by silencing the opposition and subjecting the people to brainwashing and personality cult.

I thus agree with Medhane when he says that the reversal of democratic opening in 2005 was a strategy to “change the national mood and turn the opposition into a fringe movement and the margins of society.” Where I differ is when Medhane assumes that he planned to obtain the change by developing the country economically so that ordinary people will support him as they see improvements in their conditions of life. To say so goes against the general consensus describing Meles as well-read and smart. I do not deny that he had such qualities, but I also raise the question of knowing how a well-read and smart person launches a developmental state while perfectly knowing that he has none of the necessary political conditions, not to mention the fact that he surrounded himself by corrupt and incompetent people (on this issue, see my article Meles Zenawi’s Political Dilemma and the Developmental State: Dead-Ends and Exit,

Again, what Meles liked in the developmental state is not the economic prospects but the dictatorial aspect, that is, the centralization of all power in the name of economic development. Otherwise, he would have tried to create the necessary preconditions which, as indicated in the above cited article, include a turn toward a genuine nationalist policy and the championing of leadership competence and integrity in all decision-making apparatuses. The truth is that Meles’s grandiosity could not be content with a petty dictatorship; it needed the appearance of serving a noble cause. Since the decline of the socialist ideology and the prevalence of liberalism, what else is left of forms of dictatorial rule with some usable prestige but the developmental state?

This is so true that his successors, aware of the hollowness of Mele’s legacy, cannot see any other way of protecting their status and interests than by glorifying to the point of ridicule his person and “achievements” and vowing to continue his policy in the hope of acquiring some legitimacy. This is exactly the message of Habtamu’s article: let us not undermine by critical appraisal the form of dictatorship guaranteeing the protection of our positions and interests. The only way forward for us is to canonize Meles and to present ourselves as the disciples eager to continue the crusade for the developmental state.

To sum up, the only consistent evaluation of Meles’s rule is the one centered on his fundamental goal of absolute power. Nothing of what Meles has done is intelligible unless we relate it to absolute power as his driving ethos. Any other working thesis lands nowhere but in the contradictory idea of derailment or the abuse of mystification. It is high time to call a spade a spade, especially for those who are beginning to wake up from the illusions of