Sptember 2012 | By Jawar Mohammed
(NB: This essay was drafted before Meles Zenawi fell ill and was put on hold until things clear up. Attempt has been made to update it with the new developments)
Following the popular uprisings throughout North Africa and the Middle East, both democracy activists as well as those working to preserve the status quo are closely watching this incredible moment. While Tunisia and Egypt experienced a quick and orderly downfall of dictatorships, the uprisings in Libya and Syria turned bloody. Yemen falls somewhere in between. One of the factors that differentiate the orderly fall of a strongman from the bloody and protracted civil war is the level of sectarian concentration of power.
Three themes will be addressed in this essay. Why do certain authoritarian regimes exercise blatant discrimination when distributing rent – i.e. political power and wealth? How could such regimes concentrate power and wealth in the hands of small sectarian groups and remain in power for so long? Finally, what kind of transition is likely to take place in such situations?
Let us start with a brief look at how each of the three regimes evolved.In Syria and Libya, the status quo is characterized by extensive concentration of economic privilege and political power in the hands of a single ethnic/religious group, with the vast majority excluded. Under such conditions, transitions could only be achieved after the old regime is completely obliterated, including its support base and institutions. A cursory look at how these two countries got into their respective situations shows a remarkable similarity to the developments in Ethiopia in the last two decades.
Libya: The tragedy of the Qadhadhfa tribe; from have it all to lose it all
When 27-year-old Moammar Gaddafi staged a coup d’etat in 1969, his small Qadhadhfa tribe was a little known marginal group located in the northwestern Libyan desert. By the time the popular uprising against his rule erupted in 2011, his once insignificant tribe became so powerful that Gaddafi offered their once nonexistent village of Sirte as a seat for the the African Union.
Under the cover of Nasserist Pan-Arab rhetoric, the core of Gaddafi’s coup coconspirators were officers of the Qadhadhfa. Hence although initially he promised a collective leadership made up of mid-rank officers, Gadaffi eventually resorted to clan loyalty. Writing for Think Africa Press, Jan De Haansta
“despite Gaddafi’s rhetoric of Arab socialism and a post-tribal Libya, he always remained strongly aware of the potential threat to his power posed by other tribes and, in the process, ending up exacerbating tribal tensions.”
Having survived the first coup attempt a few months after taking power, he began surrounding himself by officers from his tribe. When these aroused opposition from officers who belonged to other tribes, he purged them and filled their place by recruiting more soldiers from Qadhadhfa. Gaddafi faced multiple coups, the most serious ones in 1975 and 1979 by officers and bureaucrats that despised his increasingly dictatorial and discriminatory policies. Once he “cleansed” the military of troublemakers and replaced them with his tribal kinsmen, the opposition took on the form of Islamic insurgency – which, thanks to the open desert, he was able to easily quash.
The more threats he faced the more blatant his favoritism towards his tribe became. Cognizant of the fact that in such an open desert country conditions are unfavorable for insurgency, therefore the only internal threat would come from the military, he gradually and systematically weakened the army through purges and defunding. Gaddafi understood his tiny tribe was numerically too small to fill up a real army. So, he disabled the army and strengthened the revolutionary guard of a few brigades filled with soldiers from his tribe and mercenaries from neighboring countries, and commanded either by his sons or close relatives. In this way he neutralized the army while increasing his own security.
Besides concentration of power, the Qadhadhfa tribesmen accumulated enormous wealth and dominated the economy. In addition to disproportionate distribution of oil revenue to his tribe and the region, Gaddafi ensured Qadhadhfa business elites benefited from skewed competition and government subsidy. Gaddafi’s immediate family sat at the top of the business class owning or running most of the major corporations.
In explaining why the Libyan revolution was not as quick as that of Tunisia and Egypt, John Hamilton wrote:
“[Gaddafi] stuffed the lists of regional military governors, Republican Guard leaders and Revolutionary Committee members with members of his own tribe, the Qadhadhfa. Because of its relatively lowly status in the hierarchy, it is unlikely that the majority of the population would accept another of its members wielding power in Gaddafi’s place: that means the entire regime has its back to the wall, not just its leader.”
Inevitably, the struggle against Gaddafi practically became a struggle against the interest and security of Qadhadhfa tribe, who owed their power and privilege to Gaddafi, and stood to lose it all if he was toppled. They fought to the last minute, and went from having it all to losing it all when Sirte fell on the death of Gaddafi. Having suffered debilitating casualties during the war, and guilt-stricken for the mass atrocities they committed, the Qadhadhfa have little if any role in the power politics of the new Libya.
Syria: The Making and unmaking of the Alawite Monopoly
In an article published in 1989 Daniel Pipes, an expert on Middle Eastern politics, wrote
“For many centuries, the ‘Alawis[ who make up 13% of the population] were the weakest, poorest, most rural, most despised, and most backward people of Syria. In recent years, however, they have transformed themselves into the ruling elite of Damascus. Today, ‘Alawis dominate the government, hold key military positions, enjoy a disproportionate share of the educational resources, and are becoming wealthy.”
Four decades after Alawites took state power, and twenty three years since Pipes penned this observation, what is the consequence of such Alawite domination for the contemporary politics of Syria?
During the first two decades of its independence, Syria experienced extreme political instability, marked by numerous coups and counter-coups. Stability was restored only after Hafez al-Assad took power in 1970. Having watched that neither military rank nor ideological support insulated his numerous predecessors from coups, Assad believed that only a patronage system based on primordial identity could help him create a reliable and loyal support base. Thus, as a politically ambitious young military officer, he created a clandestine group of Alawites within the military and the Ba’th party. A prominent member of the military committee that staged the 1963 and 1966 coups, by the time he officially took power in 1970 through another coup, Assad had already built a strong Alawite block within the Baath party, and this block immediately dominated his government. Assad also forged alliances with the Alawite and Druze business classes. The two minority groups who long complained about discrimination by the Sunni majority have had strong reasons to help him consolidate power.
Although Syrian and foreign observers alike were alarmed by such concentration of power in the hands of the minority, they rationalized it as an acceptable price for ending the immediate political crisis. Basically, if Alawites could usher a new era of stability in the country, went their thinking, let them do it. However, the increasing domination began to stir resentment among the Sunni majority. The regime responded by purging Sunnis from the military and security. Alawites were recruited to the military en masse to replace the purged Sunnis. In a recent essay on the roots of the Alawite-Sunni rivalry, AyseTekdalFildis notes that
“after the [November 1970] coup, the gaps in the army resulting from purges of political opponents were filled by Alawites…the representation of Alawites among the newly appointed officers was as high as 90 percent.”
This was followed by development of a skewed economic scheme in which Sunni businesses considered to be disloyal were systematically pushed out, giving Alawites economic control.
In the 1980s, the tension rose to armed confrontation, as Sunni rebels targeted Alawite elites for assassination. In return, Assad responded by ordering the bombing of Hama – resulting in a massacre of 40,000 civilians. Having soaked its hand in blood, the regime had lost any chance of reconciling with the Sunnis; its only option for remaining in power was to strengthen and further secure the loyalty of the Alawites. In addition to continuous favouritism, fear-mongering propaganda was employed in which, theSunnis were portrayed as savages who will turn back the clock to the old days of domination and destroy the Alawites if Assad was to lose power. Four decades later, the regime and Alawites have become two sides of the same coin welded together with blood and privilege. For the Alawites, defending the regime became a necessity for defending the future existence of their people. For the opposition, fighting dictatorship meant fighting the Alawites who are at defensive line.
Therefore, close observers of the country’s politics were not surprised when the popular uprising that began in March 2011 quickly turned into a sectarian civil war. A recent report by the Associated Press notes that
“Sectarian slayings between Syria’s Sunni majority and the Alawite minority have been a brutal reality of Syria’s 17-month-old conflict, and they have only accelerated as the country falls into outright civil war. Sunnis have largely backed the uprising against Assad’s rule, while the Alawites — members of an offshoot of Shiism — have firmly stood behind the regime, where they fill the leadership ranks.”
The regime’s brutal attack on civilian protesters during the early stages of the conflict resulted in a defection of low-ranking Sunni members of the military, followed by the purging and execution of officers suspected of being disloyal. Assad’s paranoia reached its peak when the most senior security personnel of the regime were blown up at the intelligence headquarters. Soon after, the highest-ranking Sunni member of the cabinet, the Prime Minister, had to defect in order to save himself from the anger, fear and suspicion that gripped the Alawite elites.
As the above-mentioned report by the AP indicates, as “tit-for-tat killings have increased, so has the segregation of the two communities”. Yet such segregation does not seem to be a result of communal violence alone, but part of an exit strategy by a regime whose hold on much of the country is rapidly depleting. As Franck Salameh argues,
” The grisly massacres running riot through the Syrian countryside are not mere sectarian outbursts or bouts of senseless killings and retaliatory counter killings… what they entail in terms of displacements, deportations and population movements—are nothing if not the groundwork of a future Alawite entity; the grafting of new facts on the ground and the drafting of new frontiers. No longer able to rule in the name of Arab unity (and in the process preserve their own ethnic and sectarian autonomy), the Alawites may retreat into the Levantine highlands overlooking the Mediterranean.”
Therefore, just like Gaddafi, Assad seems to be preparing to flee to his home and try to form a separate state that he can rule and protect his and his group’s interests. Only time will tell whether this strategy will help avoid Gaddafi’s fate – because by the time Assad gives up on Damascus, the military and security apparatus tirelessly built by his father would be severely damaged and unlikely to provide him a safe-haven in a new breakaway state.
In that 1989 piece quoted above, Daniel Pipes prophesied:
“It appears inevitable that the ‘Alawis – still a small and despised minority, for all their present power – will eventually lose their control over Syria. When this happens, it is likely that conflicts along communal lines will bring them down, with the critical battle taking place between the ‘Alawi rulers and the Sunni majority. In this sense, the ‘Alawis’ fall – be it through assassinations of top figures, a palace coup, or a regional revolt – is likely to resemble their rise.”
Sadly, this prediction has been realized with the ongoing popular armed uprising. Not only the hegemony of the Alawite elites is rapidly crumbling, but also the social fabric, economic and military foundation of the Syrian state and society is being destroyed. Whether to protect themselves from internal threat or to justify their domination by earning nationalist credentials, the Alawite elites built strong military, intelligence institution that had made Syria one of the most powerful regional players. Unfortunately by excluding the rest of the population from genuinely taking part in such national project and denying them equitable share, they made the current civil war inevitable. The elites’ quest for eternal domination resulted in more marginalization of their Alawite community and left the Syrian state weaker than ever before.
When we look at what has been happening in Ethiopia in the last two decades, we observe frighteningly similar developments to those of Libya and Syria. In assessing Meles’ 21 years rule, a recent report by the International Crisis Group asserted
“Meles engineered one-party rule in effect for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and his Tigrayan inner circle, with the complicity of other ethnic elites that were co-opted into the ruling alliance, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The Front promised freedom, democracy and ethnic devolution but is highly centralised, tightly controls the economy and suppresses political, social, ethnic and religious liberties.”
Meles came to power riding on Tigrean grievances. In order to consolidate power, he needed to maintain the loyalty of his Tigrean base and the movement’s organizational cohesiveness so that he could effectively neutralize the previous power-holders, the Amhara, as well as emerging contenders, the Oromos. In addition to completely demobilizing the previous military and replacing it with his own ethnic rebel army, he gradually filled the bureaucracy at the federal level with individuals from his ethnic group. Systematic acquisition of wealth – through establishing endowments explicitly meant to serve his ethnic group, and domination of the market by Tigrean businessmen through displacement of others – has been heavily and systematically undertaken.
In an article written three years ago, I discussed the strategic logic behind Meles’ transformation of Tigrean nationalism from a fuel for peasant revolution to a weapon for consolidation and sustenance of his political power.
“Meles [the ruling elites under his leadership] have been using the Tigrean people to insulate themselves against their opponents. Thus, disproportionately favoring the Tigray region is a calculated move not only to increase Meles’ nationalist credentials, but also to agitate the rest of the Ethiopian people, and create a sense of insecurity among the Tigreans so that they remain loyal supporters of the regime. Similarly, Tigrean elites have been made to monopolize the center in order to propagate tension and hostility from the elites of other ethnic groups. As a result, in order to retain their economic privilege, power and sense of security, the Tigrean elites have to defend the regime at any cost.”
Although some moderation was observed after the ruling elites split in 2001, this policy of building the Tigrean monopoly of business, military and security has been re-intensified after the 2005 election, an episode that posed a serious threat to the status quo. The parties that competed in the election made an issue out of the emerging Tigrean domination, which alarmed the Tigrean politico-military and business elites, motivating them to close ranks around Meles. The post-election violence and the reversal of the democratic opening observed from 2004 onward dashed hope for “change in Ethiopia to bring about peace and for the peoples to live in equality,” as stated by General Kemal Gelchu, who was among many non-Tigrean elites who defected from the regime.
Then, using conspiracy of coup d’etat as pretext, most of the high-ranking military officers from the two main ethnic groups that posed a threat, Oromo and Amhara, along with tens of thousands of soldiers, have been purged from the military – imprisoned, demoted and then replaced by Tigreans. Currently all but one of the generals commanding Ethiopia’s armed forces are Tigrean, and even in the lower ranks many officers decry the sectarian nature of the military organization.
Once the immediate external threats were neutralized, transfer of wealth to Tigrean elites has been intensified – with the aim of further consolidating power. In addition to the fledgling party-owned conglomerate, the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray, which owns over 85 companies operating “banks, insurance forms, manufacturing and construction giants, hotel chains and media outlets,” a new class of Tigrean private millionaires have sprung up. Looking at businesses (agriculture, industry and service sector alike) that have started in the last five years shows us how blatant this scheme of establishing Tigrean economic domination has become. For instance, in the case of the ongoing land grab, field research by the Oakland Institute found out that
” All but one of the domestic investors that we visited were from the Tigray region, and several spoke of the ease of acquiring land and of securing credit. One regional government official in Gambella estimated that 75 percent of the domestic investors in Gambella were from Tigray. Many of these Tigray investors seem to have limited, if any, farming experience.”
Ironically, Meles often ranted, both in his writings and verbally, against rent seeking behavior. His major criticism was directed at Amhara and Oromo opponents of the regime, whom he accused of seeking power to enrich themselves. However, in reality he turned Tigrean domination of the Ethiopian state into a grand rent producing enterprise. While Tigreans collect the lion’s share of the rent, cronies with strong political connections to the ruling party are receiving the leftover that trickles down to them through the political patronage system. While Meles attributed Somalia’s collapse to rent seeking behavior by Said Barre family, he failed to take note of the danger presented by his own comrades converting their sole ownership of Ethiopian state into a huge cash making machine.
Simply put, in his relentless drive to protect and prolong his rein, Meles wanted to deny any material sources of power to his opponents and use it to maintain loyalty of his base. Consequently, the more Meles favored his kin, the more threats he faced from the alienated elites of other ethnic groups, including those serving within the system, which resulted in an ever-growing exclusiveness of the power elites. Upon his death, Meles leaves behind a political system characterized by growing segregation between the Tigrean elites and the rest of the country. Unless these discriminatory policies and practices are reversed by opening up the political system to competition and compromise, conflict along sectarian lines is inevitable. Writing on the importance of using nonviolent methods in waging struggle in a fragmented society, I expressed my concern that if and when they lose grip of the capital the ruling elites could flee to Mekele and fortify themselves using Tigray as a shield. Similarly footnote 56 of ICG’s latest states
“If the TPLF is fundamentally threatened and seeks to keep power by any means, it might return to its original ethnic platform, call for Tigrayan independence, move most of the army to Tigray and unilaterally implement the self-determination enshrined in the 1994 constitution.”
Suffice it to say that the risk of the ruling elites attempting to break away a part of the country is higher than of Libya and Egypt, because today Tigray has the administrative apparatus, economic strength and constitutional justification that can be utilized to seek independence, when push comes to shove. Yet by the time, they give up on the center, their military capability and political capital would be so damaged that, they are unlikely to be able to defend the enclave by withstanding the rapidly shifting gravity of power.
Why Do Authoritarian Regimes Establish Sectarian Monopolies?
Why do some dictators promote monopolization of political power and wealth at the hands of a particular ethnic/religious group? The usual and simplistic answer is that such rulers care more about their ethnic kin rather than the country they run. That being as it may, my view is that the real reason for such policy is the ruler’s concern for his own political power rather than the benefit of his kin.
If we look at the three cases briefly discussed above, it’s possible that, before ascending to power, the three leaders shared the grievances of their ethnic or religious group. However, what necessitated the initial acts of sectarian preference was the desire to secure their fragile hold on power from immediate threat. During transition from one ruler to another, state power is vulnerable to subversion, either in the form of coup or popular uprising. Therefore, in order to consolidate the power they have just grabbed and prevent it from being taken away by rival factions, aspiring dictators surround themselves with trusted supporters whose loyalty is not just based on material interest but also emotional and psychological identification with the ruler. And primordial identity, by allowing a clearer delineation of us vs. them, offers a stronger loyalty than other forms of group formation such as profession or class.
The problem is that a ruler that uses primordial identity to help him consolidate power is likely to be stuck with the model for the rest of his rule. For one, by promoting his kinsmen, by the time he has consolidated power, he has alienated and aggrieved others. And since such people holding grievances could pose potential threat, its is difficult to trust them and bring them on board and make peace with them. Furthermore, since positions of power and privileges are often limited, promoting outsiders as way of reconciling with them requires demoting kin. Such action of course amounts to depleting the ruler’s only dependable loyal base and creating potential internal threat.
Therefore, the excessive preferential treatment and the eventual exclusive monopolization of power and wealth at the hand of a single group is a result of, in part, the strategy of the dictatorship and in part its consequence. The strategic objective of the dictator is to appease his particular base in order to secure and maintain their loyalty. Consequently, the major channels of political power and economic privilege will be filled with people from that specific group. Since wealth and power trickles down from top to bottom through these channels, gradually the entire preferred group appears to be more privileged than other groups, while the outside groups become victims of perceived or real exclusion.
Why Minority Monopoly Endures
Despite their narrow support base, minority dominated regimes are among the longest surviving authoritarian systems around the world. In addition to the three cases under discussion, from apartheid South Africa to various Latin American countries minority rule has endured majority opposition for decades. And while minority dictatorships have been able to remain in power by facilitating monopolization of wealth and politics in the hands of their base, it seems that such tactics do not work for dictators who originate from the majority population group. Why might this be so?
The obvious reason is that for dictators coming from a large group, since the group already contributes substantial amount to national output, favouritism would not create the sense of privilege. Let us assume that one dictator originates from a population that makes up 10% of the population, while another dictator comes from a group that makes up 60%. If the former channels just 40% of the national wealth and power to his 10% group, the impact, perception and visibility of the preferential treatment would be significant. While the marginalized 90% will no doubt feel indignant about their relegated status, the preferred minority would have very little to be dissatisfied about. If, on the other hand, a 60% majority channels 80% of the wealth, the impact and perception would be much less significant. Thus, the dictator has to choose a specific segment of the majority (military, region etc), to channel the resources which fragments the larger group, leading to the rise of internal rivalries and alliances with ‘outsiders’. Thus, for an aspiring tyrant emerging from the majority, group-based clientelism is not a very effective way of consolidating and maintaining authoritarian power.
The second reason is that cohesion, one of the necessary tools for effective collective action, is harder for larger groups than smaller ones. Unlike leaders of a minority group, who can use the fear of existential threat to keep their base in a state of permanent insecurity, leaders of large group cannot do so due to the sense of security that comes with large groups.
This does not mean that dictators originating from majority groups would not exercise discriminatory policy or practice fear-mongering – they do. Such dictators also use sectarian tactics to remain in power. They usually practice statist nationalism, which emphasizes unity and often uses minorities as scapegoats for the perceived or real problems of the majority – which are usually created due to failure of the leadership itself.
For instance, the Mubarak dictatorship used propaganda that called into question the loyalty of the minority Copts to the nation in order to pit them against the majority Muslims. In Burma the military junta used the secessionist threat of minority ethnic groups as part of its strategy to justify suspension of civil rights for decades. However, while such exploitation of the majority’s prejudice against the minority does help deflect attention, it does not permanently prevent the emergence of a rival group from within the majority. Rivals can challenge the status quo either brandishing ultra-nationalist rhetoric to steal away a segment from the majority or offer moderate alternatives to win over minority and build a progressive coalition. Therefore, authoritarian regimes that rely on majority as support base are marred by frequent coups by internal saboteurs, which shortens their lifespan.
Transition from Authoritarian Regimes Monopolized by Minority
In his popular book The Third Wave, Samuel Huntington gave three possible ways of transition from dictatorship to democracy. The first is transformation, a process in which the ruling elite willingly take the initiative to facilitate transition to democracy. The second, replacement, is when the opposition takes the lead in bringing about democracy by overthrowing the dictatorship or forcing its downfall. The third, transplacement, occurs due to a combination of reformist actions from within the status quo and pressure exerted by the opposition. As we will see below, in cases where the authoritarian system has facilitated monopolization of political power and economy by a minority group, only one way – replacement – is the most like outcome.
Transformation Through Reforming the status qo
Rulers emerging from a minority group might embark on consolidating power through the use of kinship loyalty as a temporary tactic, with the aim of using their power to eventually establish a more inclusive government, and even ushering in a democratic transition. They might be able to do so if they undertake such reform within a short period of taking power. But, as we saw in the cases discussed above, once those promoted relatives and kinsmen have entrenched themselves in power and privilege, implementing reform would be near impossible. That is because, over time, having built strong network and accumulated wealth, the political, economic and military elites of the privileged group develop a capacity that can resist and undermine any reform that threatens the status quo – even if it comes from the ruler that paved the way for their enrichment at the first place.
That is what happened in Syria. Upon inheriting power from his father in 2000, Bashar al-Assad, who is known to be very liberal as a person, attempted to introduce some political reform, ushering a period known as the Damascus Spring. He loosened his father’s strict state of emergency and encouraged open discussion and debate on political and social issues. Opposition leaders, intellectuals and reformist Baath party members established discussion forums that immediately became popular. As intellectuals began taking on the sensitive issues of sectarian favouritism and the opposition used the forums to agitate for more reform, Assad came under increased pressure from the establishment to curb the opening. In less than a year, the door was slammed shut again, opposition leaders thrown into jail and charged with inciting sectarian hatred and attempting to change the government through extra-constitutional mechanisms. With that ended the much anticipated Damascus Spring!
It is believed that the establishment did not only resist the pressure but also threatened the newly anointed leader, who already had to watch over his shoulder against his ambitious brother, General Maher, commander of the elite republican guard. Had Bashar insisted on the reform that threatens the privilege of the establishment, they could have toppled and replaced him by his brother, since they have already developed the economic and political capability to do so. When the recent uprising began, it was reported that Assad had to postpone a scheduled speech for several consecutive days and eventually drop an offer for negotiation that was objected by the establishment, and replace it with a much tougher tone of threat.
Therefore, as the Syrian and other similar case demonstrate, once sectarian monopoly of political power and economy is entrenched and institutionalized, transition through internal reform becomes very difficult if not impossible.
Transplacement: Negotiated Transition
Transplacement refers to a negotiated transition between the status quo and the opposition. Basically, the opposition, either nonviolently through public mobilization, or violently wearing out the regime’s repressive capabilities, induces the regime to sit down for negotiation. The status quo, fearing total loss in the eventual collapse, and the opposition, wishing for a quick end to the conflict or being uncertain about victory, reaches a stalemate that allows the conflicting parties to reach a consensus whereby the status quo gives up power in exchange for keeping certain privilege or immunity from persecution.
However, as Acemoglu and Robinson, in the Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (2006), have shown, democratic transition is more difficult when inequality between the ruling group and the mass is very high. The reason is that the ruling elites’ fear of cost of redistribution in case they lose power leads them to stick to power rather than to relinquish. Since power and wealth is totally controlled by the ruling group who are usually a tiny minority, it is also unlikely that the opposition would be satisfied without significant transfer.
A localized version of this theory can be presented as follows. Let’s assume an elderly man namedGuyo, a father of 10 children and owner of 100 cattle suddenly died without leaving a will. By default the cattle fall in the hands of the youngest son Abbaa-irree, who was taking care of the old man. Customarily the property should have been equally divided among the children. But Abbaa-irree has another idea; he offered one cow each of his siblings’ and kept the rest to himself. When they protested the unfairness and insisted on equal share, instead of budging, Abbaa–irree decided to sell the ten cows and hire securities and bandits to chase away his siblings. How could this family feud be solved?
The fairest and logical formula would be to persuade Abbaa-irree to agree on equal sharing. But why should he agree to a deal that stands to reduce his share from 90 to 10, while he could easily reinforce his defense by selling 20 more. He would still be left with 70 cows. The ‘elders’ could try to persuade the victimized siblings to settle for half of what they are normally entitled to. Although each of them gets 5 cows rather than 10, that is still better than 1. Abbaa-irreewould also be left with 50 which is less than what he now owns but still much better off than what he should get under normal conditions.
But neither party is likely to accept this deal. For one, displaced, impoverished and humiliated, the marginalized siblings are so bitter that a just and equal share is the minimum they would settle for. Hence they rather promise half of the cattle to a warlord or a bandit to acquire weapons that can be used to coerce Abbaa-irree into giving up. For Abbaa-rree, fearing that his angry siblings might want to avenge him one day, he rather sell the fifty or even more cows and further reinforce his defensive mechanism rather than give it away and empower his enemy.
Years after Guyo’s death that sparked the family feud, the situation would be more complicated making the probability of resolving the issue an impossible task. The cattle would be multiplied through reproduction, making Abbaa-irree richer and more powerful but also complicating the numbers. Blood could have been shed increasing the drive for vengeance and rising insecurity of Irree’s household. Also as children have grown up and as each side solicited the help of third parties (bandits, warlords, clan leaders, government officials etc), the number of stakeholders in this affair, with competing and conflicting interests would be multiplied. Thus finding acceptable and peaceful solution becomes a nightmare; leaving the conflicted to be settled when grievance and sheer numbers of the victimized siblings overpower and overrun the material strength of Abbaa-irree and his allies.
Similarly in an authoritarian system where sectarian monopoly of power and wealth is institutionalized, the difficulty is even greater because the ruling class faces not just redistribution of its wealth and power – but also frames the conflict as if the very safety of their ethnic/religious group hangs in balance. Consequently as conflict intensifies and the tension rises, cohesion increases among the ruling group that faces the existential threat. As more blood is shed by the regime, organized or protracted retaliatory attacks on the members of the ruling ethnic/religious group will increase. In such a situation, moderates from each of the sides advocating for compromise will run back to their group for protection, which leaves the conflict to be dominated by hardliners from both sides, closing the window of negotiation. Thus, peaceful power transfer becomes impossible and a total defeat of one side or the other becomes the only possible outcome. That is what happened in Libya, and it is happening in Syria.
Replacement: Disintegration of the Authoritarian System
Since the entrenched interests undermine any effort for internal reform and the high cost of redistribution hinders negotiated power transfer, the likely transition in a minority-monopolized dictatorship is a complete overthrow of the system. In his famous book, ‘From Dictatorship to Democracy’, Gene Sharp gives two mechanisms in which an opposition can forcefully bring down a dictator resulting in a replacement transition. Coercion is when the opposition, through effective mobilization, paralyses the ability of the regime to suppress the population. Once they realize that the system’s endurance is running low and the downfall of the dictator is inevitable, the elits (military and bureaucracy), is coerced to withdraw their support for the ruler and/or defect to the opposition – effectively deposing the dictator. In such cases most of the institutions remain intact, and the defected elites play an important role in shaping the transition. This was the case in Egypt and Tunisia.
The second type is disintegration which happens when the opposition totally overruns the regime. This usually results in cases where an armed insurgency wins the war, but could also happen when mass uprising physically takes over the palace as happened to NicolaeCeauşescu of Romania and Gaddafi of Libya.
The first condition, where the opposition brings down the dictatorship by coercing elite defection, is very difficult to achieve, in a situation where single group monopoly exists, unless the opposition is capable of maintaining strict nonviolent discipline. In a two-way violence, by the time the opposition has been able to mount such coercive pressure, sectarian violence has reached a level where the ruling elites have so drenched its hand in blood, that defection at that stage does not guarantee personal safety or protection of their group. The only possible defection is likely to come from elites who do not have kinship ties with the ruler. Since such elites are unlikely to hold a position of real power, their defection is unlikely to be of immediate consequence. In fact, their defection is likely to strengthen cohesion within the elites of the privileged group because it confirms their long-held suspicion of the “others’” disloyalty. Thus, such regimes are likely to fight until the opposition completely liquidates their fighting force and disintegrates the system. When it is finally defeated after insisting to the last minute, then the ethnic/religious group that has monopolized power and economy for so long risks losing everything completely.
First, the conflict physically wears out most of the economic and political institutions they have built. Second, having secured absolute victory, the new rulers have no reason to share power with the losers, but rather have full capability to expropriate the resources that remain at the hand of the defeated. Third, having disproportionately and illegitimately benefited from the old regime, and having supported it to the last minute, the defeated group is left with little legitimacy to demand benefit from the new rulers. That is what happened in Libya and is the likely conclusion of the Syrian conflict.
For transition to democracy, regime change through such complete disintegration and liquidation of the old system is least desirable of all. First, since the conflict produces absolute winners and absolute losers, the emerging regime is unlikely to be representative, and neither would distribution of resources be equitable. Such a situation hinders reconciliation and building of an inclusive society, and rather leads to a renewed conflict. Second, during the conflict, in an effort to gain the upper hand, both the opposition and the regime are likely to seek support from foreign powers, who have their own interest on the outcome of the conflict. Usually lacking immediately available resources, the opposition is likely to purchase support by promising access to the country’s strategic and natural resources. Such deals make the new leaders vulnerable to external pressure, and force them to compromise their priority and national interest.
Third, restoring security and stability is the primary task of any transitional government. Unfortunately, in cases where the old regime is completely disintegrated, since key institutions of the state, particularly the military and security apparatus, are entirely destroyed, and since rebuilding them is a costly and lengthy process, the country might face a prolonged instability. This of course poses serious danger such as breakup of the country and/or emergence of a new dictatorship in the name of restoring security. In summary, all of the above-mentioned situations are serious obstacles to democratic transition. That is why the prospect of a democratic, stable and inclusive society is brighter in Tunisia and Egypt, but not for Libya and Syria.
Which Way for Ethiopia?
Currently Ethiopia is undoubtedly following the path travelled by Libya and Syria over the last four decades. But it doesn’t necessarily have to end up at the same place. The opportunity for averting such disaster is slipping away fast, but there is still a slim chance to make a detour, particularly using the windows opened for new leadership of the ruling party. Both the ruling group, the international community and those seeking change can undertake measures to do so.
While the existing concentration of political power, rapid accumulation of wealth at the hands of the Tigreans, and blatant exclusion of other groups is an increasing obstacle for reform, it has yet to reach a level where it can block it completely. The Tigrean military and economic elites are still in the process of institutionalizing and entrenching their privileges, and therefore lack the capacity to threaten the ability of senior leadership to engage in reform. A cohesive interest group that can effectively resist, undermine and reverse changes coming from the top has not emerged yet. In other words, Melesused to hold a level of control that could have enabled him to introduce the necessary reforms that would pave the door for orderly transition. Such reform could have been a win-win for all stakeholders; Melescould have been able to negotiate safe and secure departure, his Tigreans colleagues would be in a strong position to negotiate and maintain fair share of power and wealth, the people of Ethiopia could have avoided the cost of fighting and would be in more advantageous position to build a democratic, stable and inclusive society.
But such transition is becoming increasingly unlikely, in large part due to Meles’ choices. He had been implementing policies that further increase inequality between Tigreans and the rest, and this has been helping further entrench the interest groups, and raise the cost of redistribution. As discussed above, the greater the inequality and more entrenched the monopolizing elites, the lesser his ability to introduce reform, even if he wants to.
Now Meles is no more, which leaves the door wide open. Whether this change in leadership averts the looming disaster or not depends on who succeeds Meles and what Tigrean politico-military elites choose to do. In order to make a detour and open up the system dominated by a minority group, the top leader has to have strong command over his subordinates, particularly the security apparatus. It is a foregone conclusion that, the prospective nominee, HailemariamDessalegn, who lacks a solid political as well as social base of his own, will be a subordinate of rather than exercise command over the Tigrean power elites. He will be at their mercy, even for his own personal security. Hence we cannot expect him to initiate and implement political reforms that entail redistribution of power and privilege. This leaves us to contemplate the collective choice of TPLF leaders.
What matters is whether they want to reform the political system or remain on the same exclusivist path, and whether they can reach consensus on either of the two choices. The absence of a dominant figure that can either succeed Meles or broker a successor might make the issue of reforming the system a valuable commodity in a factional power struggle. Factions are likely to emerge along reformist and conservative fault lines. Since reform with potentially redistributive effect would be more costly to the Tigrean elites, at the end, it’s likely that those in favor of maintaining the status quo would emerge victorious, killing the prospect for peaceful transition. However, if TPLF leaders avoid factional crack in the immediate post Meles period by finding a unifying leader, and if that leader can initiate reform and withstand conservative reaction, then repeating the Libyan and Syrian tragedy can be averted.
Alternatively, the opposition can also induce the detour. If the opposition can narrow its ideological and sectarian difference, devise realistic strategy, build organizational capacity and engage in practical resistance on the ground, it would be able to wear out the regime’s endurance, which would fracture the ruling elite. And such fracture is possible at this stage because the Tigrean elites still reflect signs of factional competition, and a strong interest-based cohesion has not been achieved yet.
I have suggested elsewhere that the opposition should adopt a strategy that isolates the ruling elite from their ethnic base. This includes sticking to nonviolent forms of resistance, aiming to isolate the ruling elites by avoiding generalized propaganda on the Tigrean population and by utilizing tactics that target the dictatorship’s Achilles Hills. However, sustainability and efficiency of such a strategy will be rapidly reduced if the rate of economic monopolization continues at its current rate. Because such rapid growth of inequality will make the disparity between Tigreans and non-Tigreans highly visible even at lower social strata , an appeal by the opposition leadership to differentiate between ordinary Tigreans and the ruling elite is likely to be dismissed by the population.
The other group that can prevent Ethiopia from going the Libya/Syria way is the Tigrean intellectuals and community leaders. While the emergence of Tigrean opposition to the status quo and its alliance with other opposition is a positive development, I have yet to see a single Tigrean intellectual or political leader who acknowledges, let alone denounces, the increasing monopoly of power and wealth at the hand of their ethnic group. And this undercuts their role in helping peaceful transition. Acknowledgement of injustice by members of the privileged group has strong calming impact on the aggrieved. Denial and excusing injustice adds insult to injury. If Tigreans continue on their current path of denial and ignorance, their presence among the opposition serves no transitional purpose and only legitimizes the status quo.
Finally friends of Ethiopia, the international community and African governments, could contribute greatly in averting the Libyan and Syrian scenario from developing in Ethiopia. Rather than being blinded by the facade of stability, calm, and order, the international community needs to be cognizant that the Ethiopian system is inherently unsustainable. Tigrean domination of Ethiopia is untenable in the long-run. Meles was able to postpone the danger through ruthlessness and lately by anchoring his legitimacy to the economy’s performance. However, while some are happy about the country’s economic performance, it has also fueled resentment among the country’s diverse groups due to rising inequality along ethnic lines. This is a time-bomb. To overlook these sectarian resentments for the sake of maintaining short-term stability is to condemn Ethiopia to an inevitable chaos with obvious consequence of a nightmarish regional instability.
Jawar Mohammed is political analysts and Executive Director of Oromia Media Network (OMN). He can be reached at email@example.com.
በኦስሎ ዳይመንድ ሊግ የ5000ሜ ፉክክር ኢትዮጵያውያን አትሌቶች በሁለቱም ፆታዎች በአሸናፊነት አጠናቀዋል
ትላንት ምሽት በኖርዌይ ኦስሎ በተከናወነው የዳይመንድ ሊግ 5000 ሜ. ውድድር ኢትዮጵያውያን አትሌቶች በወንዶችም በሴቶችም ከአንደኛ እስከ ሶስተኛ ያሉትን ደረጃዎች በመቆጣጠር አሸንፈዋል፡፡ በዝናባማ የአየር ሁኔታ ውስጥ በተካሄደው የሴቶች 5000 ሜትር ፉክክር ዳዊት ስዩም በመጨረሻዎቹ መቶ ሜትሮች ውስጥ ፍጥነቷን በመጨመር ጉዳፍ እና ለተሰንበትን ቀድማ አንደኛ ወጥታለች፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽን ለኦሪገን 2022 የአለም ሻምፒዮና ከመረጣቸው ዕጩ አትሌቶች ዝርዝር ውስጥ ያልተካተተችው ዳዊት በኦስሎ ያሸነፈችበት 14፡25.84 የሆነ ሰአት የራሷ ምርጥ ሲሆን እጅጋየሁ ታዬ (14.12.98) እና ለተሰንበት (14፡24.59) ባለፈው ወር በዩጂን ካስመዘገቧቸው በመቀጠልም የዘንድሮ የአለም ሶስተኛው ፈጣን ነው፡፡ በውድድሩ ላይ ከነበሩት ሌሎች ኢትዮጵያውያን መካከል በዘንድሮው የውድድር ዓመት በርቀቱ የመጀመሪያ ተሳትፎዋን ያደረገችው አልማዝ አያና በ14:32.17 ስድስተኛ ሆና አጠናቃለች፡፡ ሀዊ ፈይሳ በ14:33.66፣ ፅጌ ገብረሰላማ በ14:43.90፣ እና አበራሽ ምንሴዎ በ14:47.98 በቅደም ተከተል ሰባተኛ፣ አስረኛ እና አስራ አንደኛ ሆነው ሲያጠናቅቁ ሶስቱም ያስመዘገቡት ሰዓት የራሳቸውን ምርጥ ያሻሻሉበት ሆኗል፡፡ ጥሩነሽ ዲባባ እ.ኤ.አ. በጁን 2008 ዓ.ም. ያስመዘገበችውና 14:11.15 የሆነው የኦስሎ ዳይመንድ ሊግ የሴቶች 5000 ሜትር የውድድር ስፍራ ሪከርድ ይሰበራል ተብሎ ተጠብቆ የነበረ ቢሆንም ሳይሳካ ቀርቷል፡፡
ዳዊት ስዩም ውድድሩን በድል ካጠናቀቀች በኋላ ለውድድሩ አዘጋጆች በሰጠችው አስተያየት ‹‹ዛሬ ለእኔ ደስታን ስላመጣልኝ በውድድሩ ሰዓት የነበረውን ዝናብ ወድጄዋለሁ ማለት እችላለሁ፡፡ ጠንካራ ተፎካካሪዎች የነበሩበት ከባድ ውድድር ነበር እናም ሁሉንም ለማሸነፍ በቅቻለሁ። በርቀቱ የራሴን ምርጥ ሰዓት ማሻሻል መቻሌም አስፈላጊ ነበር፡፡ በስታድየሙ ውስጥ በከፍተኛ ስሜት ድጋፍ ይሰጡን የነበሩ ወገኖቻችን ነበሩ። ለሰጡን ድጋፍ እናመሰግናለን።›› ብላለች፡፡ በኦስሎ የወንዶች 5000 ሜትር የመጨረሻ ፉክክሩ በኢትዮጵያውያኑ ጥላሁን ሀይሌ እና ሳሙኤል ተፈራ መካከል የነበረ ሲሆን ጥላሁን የ1500 ሜትር ስፔሻሊስቱ ሳሙኤልን በአጨራረስ ፍጥነት ቀድሞ በ13:03.51 በአንደኛነት አጠናቋል፡፡ ሳሙኤል ተፈራ የራሱ ምርጥ በሆነ 13:04.35 ሁለተኛ ሲወጣ ጌትነት ዋለ የግሉ የዓመቱ ምርጥ በሆነ 13:04.48 ሶስተኛ ደረጃን ይዞ ጨርሷል። በውድድሩ ላይ የነበሩት ሌሎች ኢትዮጵያውያን ሚልኬሳ መንገሻ በ13:05.94 አምስተኛ እንዲሁም አሊ አብዱልመናን የራሱ ምርጥ በሆነ 13:16.97 አስረኛ ወጥተዋል፡፡
ጥላሁን ሀይሌ ውድድሩን በአሸናፊነት ካጠናቀቀ በኋላ ለውድድሩ አዘጋጆች በሰጠው አስተያየት ‹‹ሶስት ኢትዮጵያውያን የመጀመሪያዎቹን ሶስት ደረጃዎች ይዘን መጨረስ መቻላችን ጥሩ አፈጻጸም ነበር። እየጠነከርኩ እንደሆነ የተሰማኝ ሲሆን በውድድሩ እና ባስመዘገብኩት ሰዓትም ተደስቻለሁ። ለረጅም ጊዜ ጉዳት ላይ ስለነበኩ ወደ አሸናፊነቱ መመለስ መቻሌ በጣም ጥሩ ነው።›› ብሏል፡፡
በኦስሎ የሴቶች 800ሜ. ውድድር ላይ ተፎካካሪ የነበረችው ኢትዮጵያዊቷ ድሪቤ ወልቴጂ በ1፡58.69 አምስተኛ ሆና አጠናቃለች።
የዘንድሮው የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ብሄራዊ ሻምፒዮና በእኔ እይታ
ከመጋቢት19-24/2014 ዓ.ም በሐዋሳ አለም አቀፍ ስቴድዮም የተደረገው 51ኛዉ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሻምፒዮና ከሞላ ጎደል ስኬታማ በሚባል ሁኔታ ተጠናቋል፡፡ ከአምስት አመት በኋላ በድጋሚ በአካል በመገኘት ስለተከታተልኩት የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሀገር አቀፍ ሻምፒዮና የግል ምልከታዬን እንደሚከተለው አጠናቅሬዋለሁ፡፡ የበለጠ ትኩረትን በሳቡት ውድድሮች ዙሪያ የተመዘገቡ ውጤቶችን በወፍ በረር በመዳሰስ ስጀምር ከፍተኛ ፉክክር በታየበት የመጨረሻ ቀን የወንዶች 5000ሜ. የአለም ከ20 አመት በታች ሻምፒዮና የ3000ሜ የብር ሜዳልያ አሸናፊው አሊ አብዱልመና 13፡45.0 በሆነ ሰዓት ከጥላሁን ሀይሌ፣ ጌትነት ዋለ እና ዮሚፍ ቀጄልቻ ቀድሞ አሸናፊ ሆኗል፡፡ የፉክክሩ አካል የነበረው እና የርቀቱ የወቅቱ የአለም ሻምፒዮን ሙክታር እድሪስ ስድስተኛ ወጥቷል። ከ20 ዓመት በታች የ3000ሜ የአለም ሻምፒዮኑ ታደሰ ወርቁ በ28፡12.0 የወንዶች 10,000ሜ. ሻምፒዮን ሲሆን በ1996 ዓ.ም. በአትሌት ስለሺ ስህን ተመዝግቦ የነበረውን 28፡16.23 የሆነ የሻምፒዮናው ሪኮርድ ለማሻሻልም በቅቷል፡፡ በ10 ሺህ ሜትር የሴቶች ፉክክር ግርማዊት ገብረእግዚአብሔር በቀዳሚነት የጨረሰችበት 31፡21.5 የሆነ ሰዓት አዲስ የሻምፒዮንሺፕ ሪኮርድ ሆኖ ተመዝግቧል፡፡ በርቀቱ የከዚህ ቀደሙ ሪኮርድ ለተሰንበት ግደይ ከሶስት ዓመት በፊት ያስመዘገበችው 32፡10.13 የሆነ ሰዓት ነበር፡፡ ሳሙኤል ፍሬው በዘንድሮ የወንዶች 3000ሜ. መሰናክል አፈፃፀም ከአለም ሁለተኛው ፈጣን በሆነ 8፡22.5 ሰዓት አሸናፊ ሲሆን ጌትነት ዋለ ከአራት ዓመት በፊት አስመዝግቦት የነበረውን 8፡28.98 የነበረ የሻምፒዮናው ሪኮርድም አሻሽሏል፡፡ በሴቶች 3000ሜ. መሰናክል ከ800ሜ ወደ ረጅም ርቀት የተሸጋገረችው ወርቅውሃ ጌታቸው በ9፡41.8 ሰዓት መቅደስ አበበን (9:43.8) በማስከትል በአሸናፊነት አጠናቃለች። አድሃና ካህሳይ (3:51.0) የወንዶች 1500ሜ ፉክክሩን በበላይት ሲያጠናቅቅ በሴቶች 1500 ሜ አያል ዳኛቸው (4:10.0) ተጠባቂዋ ዳዊት ስዩምን (4:11.1) በመቅደም በአንደኛነት አጠናቃለች። በ800ሜ. ወንዶች ቶሌሳ ቦደና (1:47.1) በሴቶች ወርቅነሽ መሰለ (2:02.1) አሸናፊ ሆነዋል። ዮብሰን ብሩ በ400ሜ/400ሜ መሰናክል (45.9/50.5) ድርብ ድል ሲቀዳጅ፣ በወንዶች ጦር ውርወራ ኡታጌ ኡባንግ ብሔራዊ ሪኮርድ በሆነ 73.28ሜ. አሸንፏል፡፡ የኋልዬ በለጠው እና ዮሃንስ አልጋው በእርምጃ ሩጫ የሻምፒዮንነት ክብርን ተቀዳጅተዋል። ጥቂት አስተያየቶች፡- የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ስፖርት አፍቃሪ እንደሆነ እና ለዕድገቱ እንደሚቆረቆር ሰው በብሔራዊ ሻምፒዮናው ላይ ስለተመለከትኳቸው አዎንታዊ እና አሉታዊ ጎኖች ጥቂት አስተያየቶቼን እንደሚከተለው አስቀምጣለሁ፡- አዎንታዊ ጎኖች • ባለው ነባራዊ ሁኔታ ውስጥ ሊገጥሙ የሚችሉትን ተግዳሮቶች በሙሉ በመቋቋም ፌዴሬሽኑ ውድድሩን ከአዲስ አበባ ውጭ አካሂዶ በሰላም ማጠናቀቅ መቻሉ አንደኛው ስኬቱ ነው፡፡ • በሻምፒዮናው ላይ ጥቂት የማይባሉ ታዋቂ አትሌቶች በሀገሪቱ ትልቁ የአትሌቲክስ ፉክክር ላይ ተሳታፊ ሆነው ሲወዳደሩ መመልከት የተቻለ ሲሆን በተለይም በወንዶች 5000 ሜትር ፍፃሜ ላይ የታየው የኮከብ አትሌቶች ፉክክር ልዩ ነበር፡፡ • በውድድሩ ወቅት ለአትሌቲክስ ዳኞች የብቃት ማሻሻያ ስልጠና መሰጠቱም የውድድሩን ጥራት ለማሳደግ የሚረዳ እንደመሆኑ እሰየው የሚባል ነው፡፡ • እንደ ኢትዮ ኤሌክትሪክ ያሉት ክለቦች ለአትሌቲክስ ስፖርት የበለጠ ትኩረት በመስጠትና ተጠናክሮ በመቅረብ ከዚህ ቀደም በጠንካራነታቸው ከሚታወቁት መከላከያ እና ኢትዮጵያ ንግድ ባንክ ጋር የቅርብ ተፎካካሪ ሆነው መታየት፤ የኦሮሚያ ክልል፣ ደቡብ ፖሊስ እና ሲዳማ ቡና ክለብ አትሌቶችም ጠንካራ ተሳትፎ ሳይዘነጋ የሻምፒዮናው ፉክክር ድምቀት ነበሩ፡፡ • የአንዳንዶቹ ተገቢነት አጠያያቂ ቢሆንም ብዛት ያላቸው የሻምፒዮናው ሪኮርዶች የተሻሻሉበት ውድድርም ነበር፡፡ አሉታዊ ጎኖች • የሀገሪቱ ትልቁ የአትሌቲክስ ውድድር ውጤት አሁንም በኤሌክትሮኒክስ የሰዓት መቆጣጠሪያ የማይደገፍ መሆኑ በተለይም በአጭር ርቀት እና በሜዳ ላይ ተግባራት ውድድሮች ላይ የሚሳተፉ አትሌቶች ልፋት ተገቢውን እውቅና እንዳያገኝ እያደረገ ይገኛል፡፡ የሻምፒዮናውን ውጤቶች በዘመናዊ እና ዓለም አቀፉን መለኪያ በሚያሟላ መልኩ አለመያዝ በአህጉራዊ እና አለም አቀፋዊ ውድድሮች ላይ ለተሳትፎ የሚያበቁ ውጤቶችን በማስመዝገቡ ረገድ የሚኖረው አሉታዊ ተፅዕኖ ከፍተኛ መሆኑ ከግምት ውስጥ ገብቶ አሁንም መፍትሄ ያልተበጀለት ጉዳይ ነው፡፡ • የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽን ወደ ሚዲያ/ለአጠቃላዩ ሕዝብ የሚያስተላልፈው የመጀመሪያዎቹን ሶስት ደረጃዎች ይዘው የሚያጠናቅቁ አትሌቶችን ውጤት ብቻ መሆኑ አወዳዳሪው አካል የሚያደርገውን የራሱን ውድድርም ሆነ አትሌቶቹ የለፉበትን ውጤት ከማስተዋወቅ አኳያ በቂ አይደለም፡፡ • በወንዶች የጦር ውርወራ እና የሴቶች ምርኩዝ ዝላይ ብሔራዊ ሪኮርዶች እንደተመዘገቡ ይታመናል፤ በሴቶች 100ሜ መሰናክል እና የወንዶች 400ሜ መሰናክል የተመዘገቡት ሰዓቶችም የምንግዜውም ፈጣን ሊሆኑ ይችላሉ፡፡ ነገር ግን ውድድሩ በኤሌክትሮኒክስ ታይሚንግ ያልተደገፈ እና የንፋስ ንባብ ያልነበረው መሆኑ ውጤቶቹ በዓለም አቀፍ ደረጃ ተቀባይነት እንዳይኖራቸው የሚያደርግ ነው። • በ20 ኪ.ሜ የእርምጃ ውድድር ላይ በሁለቱም ፆታዎች የተመዘገቡት ሰዓቶች ከሚጠበቀው በላይ እጅግ በጣም ፈጣን እና እውነታዊ አለመምሰላቸው በውድድሩ ላይ የተፈጠረ አንዳች ስህተት መኖሩን የሚያመላክቱ መሆኑ፡፡ እንዲህ አይነት ለማመን የሚከብዱ እና ጥርጣሬን የሚፈጥሩ አይነት ውጤቶች ሲመዘገቡም የተፈጠረ ስህተት መኖር አለመኖሩን ለማጣራት አለመሞከሩ፡፡ • የሴቶች 10 ኪሎ ሜትር ውድድር ላይ ለውድድር የማይፈቀድ የጎዳና ላይ መሮጫ ጫማን በመጠቀም የተመዘገበ ውጤት በሪኮርድነት ጭምር ተይዞ መፅደቁ። ብሔራዊ ፌዴሬሽኑ ከተከለከሉ ጫማዎች ጋር የተያያዙ ዓለም አቀፍ ሕገ ደንቦችን ማወቅና መተግበር ቢገባውም በሴቶች 10 ሺህ ሜትር ውድድር ላይ የተከሰተው ነገር የውድድር ሕገ ደንቦቹ መረጃ በፌዴሬሽኑ ውስጥ በትክክል የተሰራጩ እንዳልሆነ የሚያመላከት ነው፡፡ • በሴቶች 1500 ሜትር የግማሽ ፍፃሜ ውድድር ላይ አትሌት ዳዊት ስዩም የሻምፒዮናውን ሪኮርድ ያሻሻለችበት ውጤት እንደተመዘገበ በውድድሩ ወቅት በተደጋጋሚ ሲነገር ከተደመጠ በኋላ ግልፅ ባልተደረገ ምክንያት ውጤቱ በሐዋሳው ውድድር ላይ ተሻሻሉ ከተባሉት የሻምፒዮናው አዲስ ሪኮርዶች ዝርዝር ውስጥ ሳይካተት መቅረቱም የፌዴሬሽኑን ግልፀኝነት ጥያቄ ምልክት ውስጥ የሚከት ነው፡፡ ከላይ የተዘረዘሩት አዎንታዊ እና አሉታዊ ጎኖች ለረጅም ግዜ የኢትዮጵያን አትሌቲክስ ስፖርት እንቅስቃሴዎች በቅርበት ከመከታተሌ አንፃር በራሴ እይታ ያስቀመጥኳቸው እንደመሆናቸው አንዳንዶቹ ሀሳቦች አከራካሪ ሊሆኑ ይችላሉ፡፡ ሆኖም የውድድር ደንቦችን በአግባቡ ከማስፈፀም አኳያ በታዩት ክፍተቶች ዙሪያ ምንም የሚያከራክር ጉዳይ ስለሌለ በወቅታዊ የውድድር ደንቦች ዙሪያ የግንዛቤ እጥረት ላለባቸው የስፖርቱ ባለድርሻ አካላት በሙሉ አስፈላጊውን ገለፃ እና ትምህርት መስጠት የፌዴሬሽኑ ኃላፊነት ነው፡፡ ከውድድር ጋር የተያያዙ ደንቦችን ከመጣስ አኳያ በሀገር ውስጥ በሚደረጉ ውድድሮች እንደቀላል ነገር የሚታለፉ ጉዳዮች በዓለም አቀፍ ውድድሮች ላይም ተደግመው እንደግል አትሌቶችን እንደቡድን ሀገርን ትልቅ ዋጋ ሊያስከፍሉ ይችላሉና አስፈላጊው ጥንቃቄ ቢደረግ መልካም ነው፡፡ ባለፈው መስከረም ወር በቪየና ሲቲ ማራቶን ውድድሩን በአሸናፊነት ጨርሶ የነበረው ኢትዮጵያዊው ደራራ ሁሪሳ የገጠመውን አንዘንጋው! ሀገራችን ኢትዮጵያን በመልካም ጎኑ ስሟ እንዲነሳ በሚያደርገው እና በትልልቅ ዓለም አቀፍ የውድድር መድረኮች ላይ የኩራታችን ምንጭ በሆነው የአትሌቲክስ ስፖርት እንደጎረቤታችን ኬንያ ዓለም አቀፍ ውድድሮችን የማስተናገድ የብቃት ደረጃ ላይ ደርሰን ማየት የዘወትር ምኞቴ ነው፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌደሬሽንም የውድድሮቹን ጥራት ለማሻሻል በትኩረት እንደሚሰራ ተስፋ አደርጋለሁ።
በመጨረሻም በሀዋሳ በተካሄደው 51ኛዉ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሻምፒዮና ከመሮጫ ጫማ ጋር የተያያዙ ደንቦችን በማስከበሩ ረገድ የተፈጠረውን ክፍተት እንደማስተማሪያ ብንጠቀምበት በሚል የሚከተለውን ለማለት ወደድኩ፡-
የመሮጫ ጫማ ደንቦች ለትራክ ውድድር
64 ደቂቃ ከ14 ሰከንድ በሆነ ሰዓት የዘንድሮ የራስ አል ካይማህ የግማሽ ማራቶን ውድድር አሸናፊ የሆነችው ግርማዊት ገብረእግዚአብሔር በሐዋሳ በተከናወነው 51ኛው የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሻምፒዮና ላይ 31 ደቂቃ ከ21.5 ሰከንድ በመግባት የ10,000ሜ. አሸናፊ ሆናለች፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽንም ዓለም አቀፉን ደንብ ከግምት ባላስገባ ሁኔታ ውጤቱን በአዲስ የሻምፒዮንሺፕ ሪኮርድነት ጭምር አፅድቆት አልፏል፡፡ ይሁን እንጂ መጋቢት 20/2014 በተደረገው የሴቶች የፍፃሜ ፉክክር ላይ በኢትዮጵያ ምድር የተመዘገበ የምንግዜውም ፈጣን የሴቶች 10 ሺህ ሜትር ሰዓት የሆነው ውጤት በአለም አትሌቲክስ ዘንድ እውቅና ሊሰጠው የማይችል ነው።
አትሌቷ የሶል ውፍረቱ 40ሚሜ የሆነ ዙምኤክስ ቬፐርፍላይ (ZoomX Vaporfly) ጫማ አድርጋ በመወዳደሯ ምክንያት።
● ደንቡ ምን ይላል?
በትራክ ውድድሮች ላይ የሚፈቀደው ከፍተኛው የሶል ውፍረት ፡-
– 20ሚሜ ከ 800ሜ በታች ለሆኑ ውድድሮች እና ለሁሉም የሜዳ ላይ ተግባራት (ከስሉስ ዝላይ በስተቀር)
– 25ሚሜ ለ800ሜ እና ከዛ በላይ ለሆኑ ውድድሮች እንዲሁም ለስሉስ ዝላይ
– 40ሚሜ ለትራክ ላይ የእርምጃ ውድድሮች
እነዚህ ደንቦች እ.ኤ.አ. እስከ ኦክቶበር 31, 2024 ድረስ በሥራ ላይ ይውላሉ። ከኖቬምበር 1 ቀን 2024 ጀምሮ ለ800ሜ እና ከዚያ በላይ ለሆኑ ውድድሮች እንዲሁም ለስሉስ ዝላይ የሚፈቀደው ከፍተኛ የሶል ውፍረትም ወደ 20 ሚሜ ዝቅ የሚል ይሆናል።
● የትራክ ላይ መወዳደሪያ ስፓይክ ጫማ ከሌለኝስ?
ደንቡ የጎዳና ላይ የመሮጫ ጫማዎች በትራክ ላይ እንዳይደረጉ አይከለክልም ነገር ግን በ25 ሚሊ ሜትሩ ገደብ ምክንያት 30 ሚሜ ወይም 40 ሚሜ የሆኑ የጎዳና ላይ መሮጫ ጫማዎች በትራክ ውድድሮች ላይ እንዲደረጉ አይፈቅድም፡፡
● ለበለጠ መረጃ :-
On the TPLF’s Love Affair With ‘Genocide’
Today, the joint investigation report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Council and the UNHR
on human rights violations committed in Tigray concluded that there is no evidence that genocide has taken place so far. While this is a bit of a setback for the TPLF, which has wanted the world to believe—since the 1990s, even as the TPLF was dominating power in Addis—that a genocide has been perpetrated against the people of Tigray, unfortunately the group still appears to be determined to make genocide a reality. This is confusing for people who don’t understand why the TPLF is obsessed with genocide, why its internet cadres began using #TigrayGenocide in April 2020, months before the war began. So many weapons have been deployed in this war, and among them: confusion and obfuscation.
In the past several months and more so in the past few weeks, we have been getting
testimony after testimony from allied Amhara forces fighting the TPLF that Tigrayan residents of cities in Wollo have been collaborating with the TPLF by a) attacking ENDF and allied forces from behind; b) forcing ENDF and allied forces to withdraw from towns and cities afraid of committing large scale massacres by firing back at the civilians (Tigrayans) firing at them; c) helping the TPLF locate and execute young Amharas believed to be a threat; and d) in at least one horrifying account by an IDP who managed to escape occupied territories, handing TPLF soldiers a list of women to rape. Another shocking development in the past several months has been the widespread use of child soldiers by the TPLF, which, according to experts who have studied the practice, is an “alarm bell” calling attention to possible plans to commit mass atrocities. The use of child soldiers by the TPLF and its attendant implications, along with the widespread deployment of civilian sleeper agents in Amhara cities the TPLF has taken over, serves to create an overall perception of every Tigrayan as a potential enemy, sowing fear and mistrust.
Many Ethiopians are looking at this and wondering: why are Tigrayan elites on the internet
either celebrating the TPLF’s advance via these toxic methods or silent about all this? How can they not see how dangerous this is for everyone, especially for Tigrayans who live outside Tigray? How can they not see that there is no “winning” after stoking all this lasting animosity? Do Tigrayan elites not understand that there can be no justice for Tigray—whether Tigray secedes or not—unless there is justice for her neighbors, for Tigray does not exist in a vacuum? The questions are being asked but nobody is answering them. Our academic class has largely failed to offer viable analyses of the ideas driving this war, as they failed over the past fifty years in regards to coming up with a fitting paradigm for understanding Ethiopia’s unique situation.
Here is my humble attempt to explain what I think is happening with the TPLF’s obsession
with—and with its active attempt to inspire—genocide:
The most successful psychopaths in any field understand that, in order to win anything, one
must risk everything, including the very thing one is supposedly fighting for. In the case of the
TPLF (and associated Tigrayan political elites), whose motto appears to be “give me supremacy or give me death,” that “everything” they are risking is the lives of ordinary Tigrayans in whose names they are fighting. We have seen over the past several months the extent to which the TPLF is willing to go to sacrifice ordinary Tigrayans in order to get what it wants: wave after wave after wave of young poorly armed and inexperienced Tigrayans were unleashed upon ENDF and Amhara and Afar forces in order to force the latter to waste ammunition and energy before the more experienced soldiers are sent.
So, for a political group who sends tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of
young Tigrayans towards open fire, violence against hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans is nothing if it means the TPLF will in the end win the “prize” it has been obsessed with for decades: genocide. You see, merely attaining power in Addis Ababa is not enough for the TPLF, whose core driving ideology is Tigrayan supremacy. Power is temporary; anybody can take it away from you, and the 2018 uprisings demonstrated that. Genocide is forever. Nobody can take away from you the story of genocide committed against your people.
The TPLF looked at countries like Israel and Rwanda and realized what a potent instrument
genocide is for establishing perpetual minority rule. We have some indications suggesting that the TPLF views Israel as a model. When the war between Ethiopia and the TPLF began in November 2020, Sekoutoure Getachew, a TPLF official, went on TV to tell us that the TPLF’s decision to launch a preemptive attack on the Northern Command was inspired by how the young state of Israel, feeling threatened by her neighbors, launched preemptive attacks against them in the “six-day war” of 1967. Another indication is the manner in which the TPLF, during its 27 years in power, invested heavily in creating a wealthy and strongly networked Tigrayan diaspora which has been used to lobby and influence western governments and organizations much in the same way as the Jewish diaspora aids the state of Israel. The TPLF has figured out that truth does not matter in politics, especially in international politics. If you have the wealth and the personnel to peddle your preferred narrative, if you have the military power to subdue the people you want to subdue, if you are willing to make concessions to external forces (US, Egypt, etc), you can do unspeakable things to others (much like the state of Israel does to Palestinians) and still manage to portray yourself as the victim.
This calculation is so far working for the TPLF, but nothing would seal the deal like the actual
commission of genocide—or something that looks like it—against Tigrayans. As we have seen over the past twelve months, western governments and organizations have shown their willingness to adopt TPLF’s narratives without scrutiny and can easily reward the TPLF with its much pursued prize, genocide, even if actual genocide doesn’t take place.
But why does the TPLF need genocide to establish minority rule? Because, as we saw in their
first tenure in power, you can only rule with an iron fist for a limited period of time. Leaders of the TPLF are adherents of Tigrayan supremacy: the idea that Tigrayans, as the “only” heirs of the Axumite empire, are the natural rulers of the Ethiopian state, and cannot be ruled by “barbarians” south of them. The only acceptable power arrangement for the TPLF is one in which Tigrayans are either directly dominating political power or are the perpetual kingmakers pulling all the major strings. Anything outside that, any system that forces Tigrayans to live on equal footing with everyone else, is unacceptable. And this kind of domination by a minority cannot coexist with a democratic system that the majority of Ethiopians clearly prefer. So, the TPLF needs something more potent than pure political/economic/military power to justify bypassing democracy to establish itself as the permanent ruler/kingmaker of Ethiopia. It needs a new and powerful raison d’être to justify its domination not just to Tigrayans and the rest of Ethiopians but, and most importantly, to the rest of the world. If a genocide were to be committed against Tigrayans (or if the U.S. decides to reward the TPLF with the genocide label even in the absence of it), then the TPLF can license itself to impose all manner of drastic measures aimed at “protecting Tigray and
Tigrayans.” This could be anything from redrawing internal borders (and taking debilitating
measures against the peoples whose lands are being robbed—most likely Amharas and Afaris—so that they will never be in a position to assert themselves) to ethnic cleansing and genocide against populations considered to be a threat. And when you oppose it, the TPLF will say “you committed a genocide against Tigrayans” over and over and over, and its western backers will repeat the same chorus. If they have been this loud over a non-existent genocide over the past twelve months, just imagine what it would be like if the U.S. or UN rewards them with that label.
And this is where the Ethiopian government’s major dilemma comes from: if ENDF and
Amhara forces fight to regain their cities and towns, they risk committing large scale massacres. The TPLF networks reported to be operating within these cities wear civilian clothing and fire at the armies from inside civilian establishments, in an apparent attempt to set up pro-Ethiopia forces. Pro-Ethiopia forces are essentially being dared to commit large scale massacres in order to win back their own cities. So far, they are choosing to withdraw from these towns and cities. But that is another problem: not only is the TPLF committing unspeakable violence against civilians and destroying infrastructure in those cities, the takeovers are emboldening it to continue pressing, giving young people back in Tigray false hope that they are winning and—this is very important—the false idea that they are being “welcomed” by locals in those cities. Then more and more and more young Tigrayans are sent to their deaths.
So the Ethiopian government is stuck between a rock and a hard place. One option is
allowing its forces to do whatever it takes to take back territory, thereby offering protection to its citizens in Wollo and elsewhere, but also risking the “genocide” label by western governments who have been eagerly waiting for such an opportunity so that they can blackmail the government into submitting itself to their wishes on GERD and other issues. Option two is avoiding large scale violence and allowing the TPLF to take power in Addis Ababa and do to Ethiopia what it wishes. One of the things it might do to Ethiopia, according to its leaked strategy document, is force a confederation that will no doubt privilege some states, i.e. Tigray, more than others, and that will no doubt be designed to subdue some populations—mainly Amharas and Afaris—who are considered obstacles to Tigray’s aspirations of domination and expansion (in the TPLF’s original manifesto, Afar is claimed as Tigray land).
And there is absolutely no doubt that the TPLF will make big concessions on the GERD in
order to compensate its western and Egyptian backers, if not redraw borders to make Benishangul Gumuz Tigrayan territory. If you think this is wild, read about the history of the state of Israel, the TPLF’s model state. The redrawing of borders that the TPLF undertook in 1991 was also wild at the time; people don’t think of it as outrageous anymore because the fact that they held onto the territory for 30 years has normalized the event in our minds. And that’s all the TPLF needs: another thirty years to normalize all the outrageous things they will do next.
One may argue that this is a false dichotomy, that there is a third or even maybe fourth option: winning these cities back without mass violence much in the same way the ENDF managed to do during its first campaign in Tigray. We all should pray for such a miracle, of course. However, one can also say that in the early days of the war, the TPLF was mostly withdrawing from Tigrayan cities to avoid urban warfare. And even when they engaged in urban warfare, it was not at the same scale and intensity as has been the case over the past four and half months or so. Starting in mid June, the TPLF’s use of civilians as human shields and fighters stopped being just another weapon in its arsenal and became a center of its operations. The near collapse of the ENDF inside Tigray right before its withdrawal was precipitated by the TPLF’s intensified use of “civilians” to trap the ENDF. Many ENDF soldiers chose to surrender rather than fire at those “civilians.” It is still possible to avoid large scale violence in the attempt to retake towns in Wollo, but the risk for it is very high, and is possibly behind the federal government’s reluctance to take decisive actions.
The point is: barring miracles, the Ethiopian government is positioned to lose something
one way or another. All that is left is choosing its preferred poison. Perhaps one thing to consider for the federal government is: the rights of Amharas and Afaris to defend themselves against the existential threats posed against them by the TPLF is much bigger than the national government’s concerns about its place and relationships with the rest of the world. If the federal government decides to risk the disintegration of Ethiopia, like it has done so far either due to incompetence or severe fear of committing large scale violence, that is fine for the federal government. But when you allow that disintegration to happen, please don’t leave the people of Amhara and Afar in a vulnerable position, unable to defend themselves and their lands. If we must return to the State of Nature, at least give these two peoples, who have so far shed more blood than anyone else in defense of their country, a chance to preserve their lives and their lands. Give them the resources they need to defend themselves before it is too late for them even if you feel it is too late for Ethiopia. Anything less is just a continuation of the gross criminal negligence that the federal government has been guilty of so far.
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