9.Jun.2023 About Us | Contact Us | Terms & Conditions

Are you on Facebook? Please join us @ The New Black Magazine

Search Articles


Meet Meles Zenawi, he is Ethiopia's dictatorial leader and Western governments' bitch


By Ethiopundit


On May 28, 1991 the city of Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, was taken by forces which had been engaged in a lengthy and costly civil war against the loathsome dictatorship of the Socialist Haile Mengistu government.

A new era of Ethiopian history began but not one altogether different from the recent past. After the dust had settled, the Revolutionary Democracy of Meles proved to be different from that of Menigistu only for three principal reasons.

1) Meles (and Issias of Eritrea - while their fragile alliance held) enjoyed a degree of military superiority and public acquiescence that Mengistu never enjoyed because there was no one like the two of them, for them to fight with. Put another way - the new rulers entered power without any capable or determined foes of any ideological, regional or ethnic stripe.


Meles was already the last Communist standing and the nation was exhausted by war.

2) Mengistu, to whom every problem could be fixed by slogans and bullets, had so alienated Ethiopians and the West that any change at all was seen as an improvement.


Since the side both Meles and Mengistu represented in the Cold War had lost - Meles was forced into relationships with the 'imperialist camp' based on a new set of slogans about the pretense of democracy and free markets. Bullets had to be used more discreetly but their use was, of course, assumed in extremis and indeed routine.

3) Cleverness and the circumstances of low expectations made all things easier for Meles. Instead of billions of dollars wasted on weapons and ruinous economic policies under Mengistu for 17 years, Ethiopia got far, far more tens of billions in economic aid in exchange for the most transparent pretense of civilized government.

Meles has now been President or Prime Minister of Ethiopia for 15 years. He has also dominated or controlled outright a significant part of the country for 30 years.


By definition and common sense we all know that any individual who controls a country, region or  political organization for that long can be nothing but a dictator and can't be a democrat of any stripe but the revolutionary democratic kind.

At no step during this history has the consent of the governed been an issue in rule beyond propaganda and the liberal use of words like democratic.

Always the sole purpose has been power and because of the natural poverty generated by such government, the attraction of money from Western tax-payers is also a necessity.


Ethiopians are at best peripheral players in the perverse social contract of Ethiopian rule. The World Bank recently announced over a billion dollars in grants and loans to the Ethiopian dictatorship - the former will of course be lost in a cesspool of corruption and the latter will never be paid back.

This is understood by all concerned and clearly shows that the principal constituency of Meles and his Politburo is Western politicians and aid bureaucrats. Make no mistake - 'World' and 'Bank' are two words synonymous with Washington and Brussels. All concerned know that countries run like Ethiopia can not be free or even approach any definition of prosperity so the World Bank money amounts to subsistence welfare payments.

Now the bank and the donors are re-engaging with Ethiopia but providing a much different form of assistance than before, on the theory that they can continue to aid the country's poor while refraining from bolstering the Meles regime.

Instead of lending to the national government as it usually does, the bank will provide $215 million of its new aid to hundreds of local governments, mainly for basic services such as water, health and education.


Stuff and nonsense!

The Ethiopian state, ruling party, the commanding heights and lows of the economy, the frequent violent instruments of coercion and the ensuing levels of corruption are so intertwined and indistinguishable that giving money at a lower level of government is like paying money to the lower levels of an organized crime network without expecting the money to filter up to the bosses.

Everyone concerned knows that Ethiopia is one of the most poorly governed, most corrupt and least favourite places on earth to invest with a stagnant economy apart from handouts from abroad.


But once again, low expectations rule and the West realizes as President Franklin Roosevelt did generations ago about Nicaragua's then dictator that

Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch.


The West is well aware that it is paying Meles protection money because one way or another he will rule Ethiopia and that if the West plays along with him he will make Ethiopians suffer less.

The West is also paying Meles protection money for events beyond Ethiopia as well.


For the past weeks there have been pitched battles in Mogadishu, the erstwhile capital of Somalia, between the familiar warlords and a new Islamist faction, which seems ascendant.

The US is serving the purposes of its own foreign policy - and that of Western Europeans who pretend to be above such petty concerns - by arming some of the warlords.


The Ethiopian government is the agent of choice for such transfers and for such intelligence, with a particular Ethiopian interest in the Somali government that is exiled somewhere out of the former capital.

The US military is seriously present in Djibouti and in Eastern Ethiopia training and no doubt concerned with contingencies where a more active hand might have to be taken in Somali affairs.

At the same time, there is acceleration in the Ethiopian government's terror war; it has been setting off bombs in Addis while its very own 'anti-terror task force' is attacking the political opposition.


The government is blaming it on any one of a dozen handy targets of opportunity to change the subject from the 'election' to vicious human rights violations.

All of a sudden there is the wholly new factors of a Christian-Moslem clash in Ethiopia to join the usual divide and rule tribal ones orchestrated by the government. The recent events in Jijiga of Eastern Ethiopia is totally unlike the character and habits of all Ethiopians over centuries of peaceful co-existence.

However, they also serve to change the subject from human rights, EU Parliament meetings and US Congressional hearings to focus the donor mind on how happy the West should be that Ethiopians at least aren't engaged in canibalism and how little should be expected from or for them.

It matters little if events in Ethioipa or Somalia have been manipulated by the Ethiopian government or who knows it - to focus attention as its whole Potemkin edifice of 'African Rennaisance' has fallen down. The world knows that Meles Inc. will do whatever it has to do to stay in power and that millions of Ethiopian or Somali lives matter little in that equation.

In the Great Game of Horn of Africa ' the West found itself
playing chicken' with Meles and the West blinked first.


Meles gets what he wants - power and money. Long-term Western interests in a vibrant Ethiopia as an ally have taken a distance second place to the damage Meles can do to Western interests these days by not co-operating in Somalia and pushing Ethiopia itself over the edge.

So there you have it - Ethiopia's social contract has nothing to do with 70 million Ethiopians except as victims and at the very best as observers. The relationships that matter are principally financial and all between the West and Meles Inc.

Meles is as much a creature of Western foreign policy as Mengistu was of Soviet foreign policy. The policies of either had vanishingly little to do with the Ethiopian national interest.

The West, albeit in a very short-sighted manner, is looking after the interests of Western Europeans and Americans - just as it should.


The only people looking out for the interests of Ethiopians in all of this is via the peripheral minimal limits on how many Ethiopians their own government is allowed to kill (in public anyway) set by the West.


Ethiopundit is a collection of Ethiopian writers and bloggers.


Please e-mail views about this article to comments@thenewblackmagazine.com

  Send to a friend  |   View/Hide Comments (0)   |     Print

2023 All Rights Reserved: The New Black Magazine | Terms & Conditions
Back to Home Page nb: People and Politics Books & Literature nb: Arts & Media nb: Business & Careers Education