Ethiopia: Zenawi is Ruling from the Grave

Academic Analysis paper  By. Prof. Nour Kaafi, The founder/chair of the Somali Institute of Security, Strategy and Diplomacy known as “The SIRAD Institute.” October 14th, 2016.

IGAD2020 Regional Security Watch Briefing:

In May 2010, Ethiopia announced the provisional result of a national election led by TPLF leaders which was designed the general expectation, the return of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to power and set him on the road to nearly 25 years in power.

Ethiopia’s Provisional election results were  expected to return Meles to power amid accusations of fraud and intimidation. He tells Reuters and Horn of Africa Newsline that “he never expected to be in power for so long. “It’s happened,” he said. “I don’t regret it but I just hope that, at the end of it all, it will have been worth it.”

The EPRDF’s stealthy ever-expanding influences on the Horn of African grounds (South
Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti) are in reality, both militarily and politically through IGAD’s
systems and led by Somali ethnic groups in Kenya and Ethiopia. Here, the general insights
view of the current Socio-economic and internal security conditions of Ethiopia through the
eyes of Somali lenses.

Strategically located and hosting the seat of the African Union, Ethiopia is considered the
“capital of Africa“. However, the country on the Horn of African is facing huge challenges.
The population, Nile Water Issues, South Sudan Crisis and Chinese project loans at high
interest rates, are higher than that of multilateral agencies for the country’s infrastructure
development and other mega projects, under strict conditions laid down by Chinese lending
institutions was the only option available to Ethiopia, with the repayment period running up
to 20 to 30 years.

The economy, though booming with double-digit growth, is only benefiting a small urban
middle class. And finally, Ethiopia is a front line state in the international fight against Al-
Shabaab militants in neighboring Somalia and Kenya. These are all challenges that the
Ethiopian Deputy Prime Ministers (Amhara, Tigray and Oromo) must address urgently with
their new role as the true leaders of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s Political future is clouded with uncertainties: The Socio-Economic future is foggy
The political view of the ruling party (EPRDF) tries to accommodate the basic interests of
both views, Cessation Group and Unity Ethiopian Group. EPRDF lets all nation &
nationalities of the country to exercise their identity (Amhara, Somali, Afar, Oromo, Tigray,
Guraga, Walo, Wolayta, etc…) while it also try to bring the unity in diversity by realizing one economic and political society.
 The results of Zenawi vision: The country’s infrastructure development is the first
in Africa including the roads, the hydro electric power dams, and more than eleven
sugar factories, etc.

 Zenawi built a totalitarian state, guided by Marxist-Leninism, complete with acult of
personality and zero tolerance for dissent- an iron fisted ruler.

 Zenawi was loyal servant of the USA for at least 20 years. For such a loyal
partnership servant, the USA has been providing an economic, political and
diplomatic support and cover up for the proxy war against the people of Somalia.
 Ethiopia's future is, Cleared with 100% certainties to be Middle Income through
EPRDF policies & dreams only (engineered by Zenawi doctrine).
 The growth and development of Ethiopia is also creating unrealistic threat to the
future farming economy of Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and Eritrea.
 Zenawi legacy: build a strong military power in the region with discipline. As
president and then prime minister he turned Ethiopia into a key player in regional
security affairs.

Ethiopian Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn attends a signing ceremony for the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project in Khartoum March 23, 2015. REUTERS/ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

 The Real Power Politics  Decision making: TPLF group shadowing PM
Hailemariam Desalegn (Ethiopia’s new Prime minister HAILEMARIA DESSALEGN, who
studied in Tampere Technical Institute (Univ) earning his Diploma Engineer degree in
1992-his thesis water/sewerage cleanup since he worked as a student at the
Tampere Water /Sewerage disposal/cleanup plant. After graduating he moved back
to Ethiopia becoming a Dean at Ethiopia’s Arba Michnin University. He joined the
federal government in 2010.
 Hailemariam—in Ethiopian tradition, known by his first name, meaning “the
power of Saint Mary”—is a Protestant, the first to lead Ethiopia, where the majority
of Christians follow Orthodox traditions (from the minority Wolayta people in the
Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region).
 Opposite of the death-strongman Meles Zenawi: TPLF elites govern on
autopilot, following the vision and templates Zenawi left behind. In August 2012 –
Meles' death, Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga told the BBC he feared for the stability of Ethiopia following Meles death, citing the continued threat of ethnic
 Reality: The stability of Ethiopia's regime is anchored on the strength of its military, support from the U.S., and the individual intelligence and charisma of Zenawi
doctrine led by TPLF cadres, according to David Shinn, former U.S. Ambassador to
Ethiopia. For internal security reasons, there will be a continuing focus on Somalia
and I do not foresee any significant change towards Eritrea; David Shinn said.
 Ethiopian ethnic rivalry: TPLF Leaders regularly suggest Oromos within the
EPRDF coalition Premiership, rather to give legitimacy to lead the regime by
 Without Zenawi Doctrine: Ethiopia would be less willing to devote a lot of time and
resources to problems further afield. According to Sources: PM Desalegn ate and
slept too much – seven hours a night, compared four in the case of Zenawi.
 Desalagn as the best compromise candidate in the midst of political infighting
between the dominant Amhara, Oromos and Tigree ethnic groups.
 Hailemariam’s appointment is unprecedented in the history of Ethiopia, because
he was not part of the armed struggle (TPLF, EPLF, WSLF or OLF)

 TPLF thinks the boundary between Sudan and Ethiopia is a political liability and
dangerous gateway next to Eritrea. The opposition groups may use to wage wars
against it and therefore a political strategy to save them, giving it to Sudan simply
gives the needed protection by Sudanese and takes away that fear.
 Without exaggeration, the current political view in Ethiopia is only initiated by TPLF
cadres. TPLF elite members are rich, including their families and friends.
 TPLF elites are lack of historically perspective on the political issues of Abyssinia
and Ethiopia (divide and conquer is still the plan in the Horn of Africa).
Perception: Oromo uprising limits of ruling from the grave
 Deer caught in the headlights: The confusion of Law & Order and the real authority
of Governance system (EPRDFs 3 Deputy PMs). Different EPRDF officials (TPLF,
EPDM, and OPDO) say different things and contradict each other.
 Lack of Food Security & Factors: EPRDF government-provided seeds and
fertilizer is denied to farmers who are not party members.
 The EPRDF political bureau is an opaque body – its members are not known
precisely – but is all – powerful. Its members consist mainly of Tigrayans in the
Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), whereas the President is from the minority
Wolayta ethnic group.
 The EPRDF/TPLF military Rule and the future of Ethiopia: The Ethiopian military
as an institution have acquired unprecedented power. The TPLF military officials
(heavily dominated by Tigreans) continue to be a key and decisive player (power).
 The Tigrinya clan considers, in fact, that its dominance on the State apparatus. Mr.
Debretsion G/Michael (Tigray) Deputy Prime Minister and Dr. Tewodross Adehanom
(Tigary) Foreign Minister.
 Emotions are very challenging: People think the Tigray people are the only
beneficiaries of both the power and Wealth.
 There is deep grievance within the army resulting in high profile desertions from
the Air Force and other branches to Eritrea, Sudan and Kenya.
 Internal Resistance to EPRDF Rule: The security apparatus is ever vigilant against
Rioting Muslims, Oromo and Amhara zones.
 The View of the EPRDF government: Ongoing Muslim and Oromo protest are
infiltration from Saudi Arabia's Wahabi doctrine, Eritrea and the opposition Ginbot 7
movement (Amara). The current issues can manipulate the emotional groups,
the chauvinist (Amhara) and the narrow cessation groups (Oromo, Somali and Afar),
to weaken Zenawi visions.
 Reality: Ethiopian Muslims, who number anywhere from 40% to 80% of the
population, and the Oromo has historically been marginalized, and the protest is very
much homegrown and rooted in a long list of grievances.

Perception: Zenaw’s Doctrine and Image

 Ethiopia is seen as a bulwark against extremism and the chaos of Somalia
 From the U.S. point of view, Ethiopia is a military bridgehead to contain Al-
Shabaab, Al-Qaida and ASIS infiltration in Somalia and across the Red Sea.
 The Israel and Saudi Arabia views Ethiopia, the masters of the Horn region.
 The International aid subsidizes (50 % of Ethiopia’s national budget): Ethiopia
receives the largest aid in Africa — an average $3.3 billion per year. United
Kingdom funding of $4.9billion. Germany continues to aid Ethiopia for “strategic”
reasons. The EPRDF regime has deepened its economic relationship with China’s
high rate of return in loans (IRR).
 TPLF elites interested only in making money and investing it in Addis or abroad.
 Ethiopia remains a favourite of key international donors, despite concerns over
human rights, as a bastion of stability in an otherwise troubled Horn region.
 Zenawi engineered Ethiopia’s Economic success Stories in securing aid from
the European Union and the U.S.
 Zenawin Strategy: Attracting & corrupting Western lobbyist, reporters, former
officials and Journalist (Money, Women, Free Tourism with their families…etc)
 Investing Official Guest Visits: admirer’s big names such as Professor Jeffrey
Sachs of Harvard as well as Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University and a
recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics.
 Malez Economic doctrine engages in the business of leasing fertile land to foreign
investors who export everything they grow (Impact – Now appealing for a $1.4 billion
to feed the 10.2 million drought victims).

Strategic Management: The reality of Ethiopian Development Growth rate

 EPRDF, it aspired to oversee the development of roads, rail, electricity and
telecommunications, boasting double-digit growth although the IMF disputes those
figures and puts the growth rate at 7.5 per cent.
 Good: succeed in Addis Ababa getting sub-Saharan Africa’s first light-rail network.
 The project, known as the Horn of Africa Pipeline, includes an import facility and
950,000 barrels of storage capacity in Damerjog, Djibouti, linked to a storage
terminal in Awash, Ethiopia. The 20-inch (51-centimetre) line is capable of
transporting 240,000 barrels a day of fuel. The concession period after commercial
operations start is for as many as 30 years.

Power of One: Copycat – The Power of Zenawi Image
 Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has sustained economic progress in Ethiopia.
Prime Minister Hailemariam – key diplomatic player is strengthened due to its
chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
 Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia received the South-South Award
2015 for achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty.
 The Ethiopian Telecom is working to unveil a 4G mobile phone network in Addis.

 The Sugar Corporation is building 10 new factories by the end of the GTP, with an
eye to becoming a high-flyer in the global sugar trade.
 The Hailemariam government planned to join the World Trade Organisation in 2015
but delayed, due to the decision to liberalize its telecoms and banking sectors.
 The Hailemariam government welcomed its first sovereign credit ratings from global
agencies in 2014 – a B1 from Moody's and B ratings from both Fitch and Standard &
Poor’s, which opened the door to international capital markets and foreign direct
 The foreign investment capital comes from China, which has committed hundreds of
millions of dollars in HIR loans and assisted the Ethiopian-owned corporations'
ambitious initiatives, as well as projects like roads, bridges and railways.

Power of Two: Djibouti is not affected by Somalia and South Sudan

 Ethiopia and Djibouti are looking to create an African infrastructure hegemony that
reaches into West Africa.
 Ethiopia and Djibouti signed an economic integration agreement: Djibouti, the
smallest state in the Horn of Africa (the gateway to Ethiopia), is embarking on large
infrastructure projects, building six new ports and two airports in the hope of
becoming the commercial hub of East Africa for Ethiopian.
 Landlocked Ethiopia has purchased nine vessels worth over $300 million from
China. These commercial vessels are based in the overcrowded Djibouti port.
 LAPSSET is the Kenyan government’s biggest infrastructure project (Lapsset project
will cost $26 billion). It envisages the construction of a port, power plant, railway and
other facilities from the Lamu port, through Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport.
 Bad: the primary beneficiaries are the political elite and that the gap between the
elites and the poor is ever wider.
 Set back: LAPSSET has been hit by delay and security problems. The deadly new
war in South Sudan and Lamu borders Somalia, where the Al-Shabaab militants
have waged an insurgency since 2006. Kenya’s LAPSSET project has reason to
 Impact: The Oromo uprising is partially resentment over displacement and over
environmental damage in the name of development. Corruption is rampant in the
 Corruption: Theft from state enterprises and participation in the black market
(Coffee, USD, Import Taxation and oil prices), including widespread graft is all too
common at the highest level.

Power of Three: The Status of Ethiopian Federalism

 Current Status: Ethiopia under the EPRDF was officially declared a federal state.
The leadership understood that transforming the coalition EPRDF into a single
united party amounts to deforming the very basis of the ethnic federal structure. For
that reason, TPLF opted for living with legitimacy crisis rather than embarking on a
fundamental change that would bring about turmoil within the ruling coalition (Tigray,
Oromo, Ahmara and PM’s ethnic group-Wolayta).
 Problem: EPRDF administrative requirements from the center. The strong center in
Ethiopia never allowed for the true spirit of federalism to emerge.
 Reality: the lingering grievance of the regional States: not getting their resources
share, misuse of river waters and cheaply leasing of indigenous land to foreign
capitalists, urbanization; Political decision making, etc……the unity without diversity
meaning one nation, one language, even one religion. But none of them (cessation
group & Unity Group) could succeed in the federal sysytem of the current reality of

Power of Four: Ethiopian Trojan horse – Somalia Concerns

 Change of Guard, Not Policies: Hailemariam has repeatedly stressed his intention
to continue with the policies of his predecessor Meles Zenawi
 Ethiopian troops are expanding into various strategic locations within Somalia,
and they are handpicking their delivery men in each of these locations.
 Strategic Tactics: Ethiopian troops paid by the international community as part of
the U.N.-mandated AMISOM.
 President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's regional tour (Baydhaba, Baladweyne and
Kismyo) welcomed by a Ethiopian military official inside Somali regional states with
Ethiopian Flag, not AU flag.
 Ethiopia has masterfully lulled Somali “leaders” into a false sense of security and
tantalized them with mirage of power.
 Ethiopian military mobilization to expand its sphere of influence (Baydhabo,
Kismayo, Baladweyne & others), Ethiopia has launched a successful campaign of
co-option, indoctrination and silencing of key individuals and institutions.
 Somali Regional governors, civil society leaders, Business leaders and security
officials with overt sense of patriotism are systematically removed or permanently
silenced. The Somali officials-carry peaceful public awareness campaigns, are often
attributed to cockamamie political issues; and the latter to Al-shabaab connection
through Black Propaganda.
 Clandestine security arrangement with Kenya: Kenya’s Deputy President has
confirmed that in a recent interview. Kenya’s interest to annex part of Jubbaland for
a “buffer zone” in order to tip the scale on its illegal claim to Somali waters is widely
 FADING HOPE: Somali Diaspora beliefs that camouflaged occupation; it now
controls all of the strategic seaports except Mogadishu and its troops and Intelligence
services are present in almost all regional state capitals.

Finally: Brexit and the Balance of Power

Faced with a rising Somalia, a declining but risk-inclined Ethiopia, and the prospect of prolonged turmoil in the Middle East, close Horn of African cooperation will be crucial to maintaining a regional and international security order over the long term. By weakening both Somalia and Djibouti, the Eritrea’s withdrawal from IGAD would continue threaten such an order.
According to the research reported by the Somali Institute of Security and Diplomacy (SIRAD) which monitors the Statecraft of Somalia and the region, “The policies towards its neighbor Somalia, as well as the Nile water policy towards Sudan and Egypt have not changed.”

Inside Ethiopia and Somalia: Too much reliance on repression is expensive not just politically but also economically. The more the repression machine is stretched; it might not be able to bend. It will rather break. And the basis of legitimacy crisis in the realm of the economy could make it inevitable and very

In conclusion, Somalis are now in a race against time. They face the dilemma of either hanging together or getting hanged separately (regional states). That is why Ethiopia’s role in AMISOM must be resisted in every peaceful aspect, and the Federal Somali government as well as regional state leaders must change course.

Professor Nour Kaafi, MIPIS, IPIS, A Senior National Security & Statecraft Adviser, Regional Maritime Security expert and the Chair of  Somali Institute of Security and Diplomacy (SIRAD),  Promoting Statecraft Concepts, “cooperative security & Diplomacy Initiatives” in Somalia and IGAD region. 



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