According to the White House press release in late July President Obama will travel to Ethiopia for bilateral meetings with the Government of Ethiopia and with the leadership of the African Union. Ethiopians are expected to demonstrate against the visit. The Washington Post characterized the visit as “unfathomable” given the brutal nature of the regime.
If the trip comes to fruition, we should not blame Obama for going to Ethiopia, a place that has a great deal of symbolism and attraction for most Black people. We should blame the Diaspora for not doing enough to educate him or force him to take the right stand regarding the regime during his presidency. In America, all decisions are not done in the best interest of America; more often lobbyists decide foreign and domestic policies. Some of them go against the grain of American principles and interest. I can name a few domestic organizations and foreign government lobbyist, like the one organized by Ethiopia via DLA Piper.
In 1997, we were able to pass House Resolution #20 demanding the Ethiopian Government adhere to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and stop promoting “… the shocking brutality of ethnic warfare elsewhere in Africa from spreading to Ethiopia” This Bill was initiated by Ethiopians in Houston and passed the House and Senate, but it was vetoed by President Clinton for other reasons. After learning about the Bill, Meles immediately flew to Washington in September of 1997 and invited “Who is who in America in Academia and politics on Ethiopia” to Washington and he immediately launched a Woyane lobby to stop any similar bill from passing again.
The State Department and President Obama know all the facts about Ethiopia, however, should President Obama go on the limb by himself and defend the Ethiopian people against all the lobbyists and some of his closest friends such as Susan Rice, Wendy Sherman, Gayle Smith and others who are co-opted by Woyanes.
If we had an Ethiopian lobby this would not have happened. The regime would have been a pariah state like Eritrea and North Korea, and will not be in power for over two decades. Now, they have mastered the system at home and abroad. It will be hard to disentangle them, but it is doable if enough people are committed to creating a lobby and fund it. I have stated the strategy how to defeat Woyane in a year- 2000 piece how to_defeat_meles.html. Unfortunately, no one in the Diaspora seems to realize the value of effective lobbying like Melese or the Woyanes did back in 1997. An effective lobby is one that helps shape U.S. policy in the interest of Ethiopians, not in the interest of Woyanes like DLP does. An effective lobby or political action committee (PAC) has good access to the power to be in Washington and knows which button to push to get a job done. So don’t blame Obama, blame the Ethiopian Diaspora for this disastrous foreign policy. I am sure the Ethiopian people will totally lose faith on us. The shame is on us, not President Obama.
Now some in the Diaspora are urging a demonstration in front of the White House and elsewhere. This is the same song and dance we heard by so-called leaders of the Diaspora, who play on the emotion of innocent Ethiopians. Demonstrations are useless unless they can garner massive publicity or create an embracing situation for the President or the State Department. For example one of the most successful demonstrations was conducted in Waco Texas near President Bush’s ranch during Thanksgiving weekend of 2005. With Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey protesting the death of her son in Iraq and blaming President Bush for it, as well as a visit by the President of Russia, and alleged sickness of Bush Senior or whatever reason forced the State Department to request the cancelation of the protest. The State Department did not want us to go to Bush’s ranch during Thanksgiving and embrace him with the presence of his family including his father, media, during a visit by President of Russia, so we got calls from the State Department asking us to cancel the demonstration. Why did we chose Waco, because of the presence of hundreds of international and local media.
Why did we get the call, whether his father was sick or not, President Bush was under tremendous pressure and he did not want any more bad publicity under the presence of hundreds of journalists who were there covering Cindy Sheehan and the visit by the President of Russia. We were promised that the imprisoned CUD leaders will be released immediately and there was no need for further demonstration. Of course, since there was no guarantee that CUD leaders will be freed and the demonstration was organized by various groups of Ethiopians in Texas it was hard to stop it.
Nonetheless that pressure was manifested immediately when the new Ambassador, Donald Yamamoto went to Ethiopia. Ambassador Yamamoto was the toughest Ambassador on Wyanes. Meles circumvented his call to impose severe sanctions by invading Somalia to co-opt America and Ethiopian nationalists by claiming that he was fighting Muslim terrorists from Somalia.
Another useful tactic was one conducted by Ato Abebe Gelaw when he confronted Meles, and later President Obama for shock effect and to cause embarrassment. It also important to mention another effective demonstration conducted by Ethiopians in Israel though this may have involved the blocking of the Ayalon Highway for three hours in many directions. This demonstration resulted in face to face meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
By the way, if the number of demonstration was a factor, Ethiopians should have conquered the whole world and not just free Ethiopia. Ethiopian demonstrations for some reason don’t resonate with the media because we are peaceful people or poorly organized. Of course, diversity in tactics should be encouraged, but we should not waste time on tactics that did not yield any results so far.
For the last 24 years, we did everything we could to fight oppression in Ethiopia, unfortunately, we have nothing to show for it despite numerous demonstrations, the presence of ESAT, Ginbot 7 and other organizations. What is missing? The most important instrument in shaping Washington policy is the formation of a lobby. Meles realized that immediately and formed one.
What is needed is the formation of an effective lobby in the U.S., and encourage and finance massive civil disobedience at home. With an effective lobby, we can stop U.S. support of the brutal regime and with effective funding, we can strengthen civil disobedience at home. Ethiopians funded various groups, have demonstrated in numerous occasions, thus far there is nothing to show for it. So let us learn from the master of all evils, Meles Zenawi, form immediately an all Ethiopian lobby in order to defeat his own creation, TPLF and EPRDF.