Why are Some African Dictators coming to the USA?

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 Better late than never, as it relates to President Obama’s invitation of African leaders to USA for a roundtable discussion on Africa. Many Africans have argued that President Obama so far ignored Africa, while giving a strong attention to the Middle East and other hot spots. Even compared to former President George Bush, so far he has little to show in terms of rhetoric urging reform or concrete action like Bush did to fight AIDs in Africa.

What is bedeviling Africa is poor leadership and dictators. Africa has all the resources to be a politically stable and economically viable continent if it were not for the prevalence of corruption and dictators. Most of the conflicts are orchestrated by leaders or originate due to lack of good governance.

For example, ten of the  poorest countries in the world are located in Sub Sahara Africa according to the latest U.N. report. From South Sudan, Central Africa to Ethiopia, the leaders have been poking ethnic tension in order to stay in power. While the U.S. is expanding its military bases throughout Africa, it finds  it problematic to speak against countries where it has such bases such as Ethiopia. U.S. with 35 or more military command centers in Africa is supporting  strongmen, mostly dictators that the militaries are backing.

There is nothing Obama cannot tell some of the dictators on the phone than dragging them to the White House and giving them undeserved red carpet and photo opportunity. It would have been more natural to invite only those countries respecting and applying democratic principles. Winning and dinning with African dictators will mean nothing unless he has a concrete plan and he can make it stick.

For example, he can propose a Marshall Plan for Africa like the way Truman did for Europe to build roads East to West and North to South and to connect Africa and strengthen academic and civic institutions and to promote good governance. Furthermore,  he can tell them to abolish their national armies, because the armies primarily used to keep the one party dictatorship, and spend the money on education, end government ownership of land, industries, the Internet, and mines to end corruption. Adopt English, French and Swahili as national languages  so that Africans can speak to one another, and form a strong economic and political union like Europe.

President Obama was perceived as a transformational figure in Africa, as well as in the rest of the world. It will be a historical  mistake if he does not take advantage  to transform Africa; most of all help it get rid of its worst enemy,  unelected and murderous dictators and vigorously promote the establishment of democratic foundation and rule of law.

On the other hand, the west is obsessed with fighting terrorism in Africa, but not solving the root cause of terrorism, poverty and hopelessness that is translated into a Jihad. For the west promoting democracy is secondary to fighting terrorism, which is self-defeating, but it goes on. Some forget that  dictatorship and hopelessness are the root causes for terrorism, but most western leaders ignore it at their own peril and continue to spend huge sums of money on barricading themselves, screening, surveillance and drones.

Raging ethnic tension primarily instigated by the divide and conquer policy of ruling oligarchy, combined with corruption and misapplication of resources are slowly sapping the economy and the political viability of the continent.

Currently, besides  political oppression, and ethnic tensions, some regimes have strangled the people and the economy through government ownership of land, Internet, telephone, and other vital industries leading to massive unemployment and massive migration especially in countries like Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Some of the culprits in this case, the dictators, only thrive and survive with U.S. largesse.  Some will go by the wayside without massive Western  aid. This gives the U.S. tremendous leverage  to coerce democratic and economic changes in the continent.  For example, the rabid anti-Muslim and anti-homosexual  government of Ethiopia lead by  Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn was forced by Washington to rescind the anti-homosexual legislation and demonstration  despite  overwhelming  support  by rubber-stamped parliament and the public. Despite the failure of the African Diaspora to take advantage of it, this shows  the power of lobby groups in shaping U.S. foreign policy.

President Obama is threatening sanction against Russia and he thinks he can bring Russia to its knees using a sweeping sanction. If he thinks he has this kind of power against a resource rich and powerful country like Russia, why can  he not use the some power on perpetual beggars and tinhorn dictators in Africa to reform, end the misery, the corruption, and the dictatorship if he really cares.

Ethiopia is the key to democracy in Africa. Ethiopia besides being the seat of the African union, cradle of mankind, carries great historical symbol for  people of African origin. Ethiopia earned this position as one of the longest independent nations, and for repulsing Western colonial occupation. Despite this legacy, Ethiopians have never enjoyed rule of law or fair and free election.

Most African leaders look up to Ethiopia and gather every year in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. Now representative of warring factions from South Sudan are in Ethiopia to hammer out their differences and to form democratic union. Unfortunately, Ethiopia is not a place to learn or preach democracy or ethnic harmony. The Ethiopian regime pretended for long for things that it is not in order to earn respect and foreign aid.

Human rights records in many African countries are abysmal and are well documented by Amnesty International,  Human rights Watch, and independent media. Some of the African dictators such as the one in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and Eritrea appeared along with North Korean dictator in the Dictators of the Month Magazine. Unfortunately, in Washington leaders like the late Ethiopian dictator, Meles Zenawi were wined and dined, as they disguised their “vicious dictatorship” by ingratiating themselves with the U.S. State Department and by hiring high power lobbyist using the money collected from the impoverished people of Africa. For example, Ethiopia spends huge sums of money  to make sure Washington does not notice the cruel and evil system and to portray the regime incorrectly anti-terrorist and democratic.

President Obama has also to avoid past pitfalls. In his book Out of America: a Black Man Confronts Africa, journalist Keith Richburg rebukes some African-Americans for being too cozy with African dictators who bring untold misery to their own people.

To his credit, George Bush stemmed the tide of AIDs in Africa; Bill Clinton pretended to be the first Black President. On the other hand, there is little to brag about Obama yet, as far as his contribution to the welfare or the transformation of blacks in America or in Africa.

It might be that his hands are tied, but not for lack of empathy. Either way, there will be no legacy for Obama to brag about so far.

President Obama can rise to the challenge if he dared too. Pushing democratic values and freer market  economic development strategies are critical to save the continent. With an investment of $13.3 billion under the Marshall Plan from 1948 to 1952, President Truman provided a lifeline to a devastated Europe and created strong democratic allies for the U.S. President Obama has the option to embark on a bold political and economic agenda for Africa, while opening a huge market three times that of Europe for American businesses.

Dula Abdu,  is a U.S-based writer on foreign policy. (article was adopted from previous articles from similar topics).

Ethiopia is Key to Democracy in S. Sudan & Africa!

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Ethiopia besides being the seat of the African union, cradle of mankind, carries great historical symbol for  people of African origin. Ethiopia earned this position as one of the longest independent nations, and for repulsing Western colonial occupation. Despite this legacy, Ethiopians have never enjoyed rule of law or fair and free election.

Representative of warring factions from South Sudan are in Ethiopia to hammer out their differences and to form democratic union where all different groups can live in peace. Unfortunately, Ethiopia is not a place to teach such lessons. The Ethiopian regime pretended for long for things that it is not in order to earn respect and foreign aid.

In Ethiopia the government perfected the Machiavellian system where ethnic groups are pitted one against another, embraced the bantustanization of Ethiopia, resources are controlled like in North Korea and Cuba by the state, where the state owns land, access to Internet, telecommunication, banking and  all other vital means of production causing many Ethiopian to live a precarious often miserable economic and political existence. Freedom of the press, free assembly, civil societies, and political parties are barley existent or survive at the whims of the regime.

In 2005, the late Meles Zenawi allowed unfettered debate among candidates believing that he was assured of victory, but when the polls started coming, he realized that he was losing in all major cities and in most of the country side except in Tigre, Silte, Hadre regions, so he stopped the countdown and declared victory. When protest erupted  he used deadly force killing over 190 peaceful protesters and arrested hundreds of thousands. The U.S. government and African leaders looked the other way because the sway Ethiopia holds in Africa.  After  Meles emerged unscathed except condemnation by a few representatives in Europe and the U.S.,  leaders in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan realized that if  Meles can get  away by stealing an election, they can do it too. The Kenyan attempt was bloody, others were less bloody, but the pattern for dynasties or one party apparatus were set in motion. Now some elections in Africa are ceremonial because the winner is predetermined.

Ethiopia holds the key to democracy in Africa. So in order to restore democracy in Africa, Ethiopia as the seat of the OAU has to uphold the rule of law,  respect free and fair election, then the rest of Africa will follow suit. Ethiopia plays a significant leadership role and that role has to include in promoting democracy in the continent. African leaders come to Ethiopia in a regular basis at least once a year and see  Ethiopia’s oppressive system year after year surviving and the West giving a blind eye. So  goes the rest of Africa.

Ethiopia will hold its true place in history not as the physical capital of Africa, or as the cradle of man kind, only when it upholds the rule of law and becomes  a pride for the rest of the oppressed African masses, as it did during pre-colonial Africa. The Obama administration has tremendous power on Ethiopia, a country landlocked and far dependent on aid ill can afford to alienate the West.

All Africans from  Eritrea, Ethiopia and others are yearning for democracy and for American leadership. Unfortunately, leadership has been reactionary only willing to put out fires instead of building a roadmap for democracy for the continent.

Some countries like Ethiopia are exempt from respecting the rule of law despite their repeated defiance. Many African leaders are aspiring to anoint themselves and their children for life whether it is good for the country or whether the people support it or not. The West especially Washington is eager to acquiesce in the name of stability, which in this case is a mirage, because there is no stability without respect for rule of law.

Billions of souls from Third World nations are potential terrorists, unless we end their extreme poverty, oppression and suffering. For Africa, the first place to start is Ethiopia.

Unless other African countries including Ethiopia pledge to hold free and fair election, respect the rule of law and respect the rights of their citizens regardless of their tribe or religion, the leaders of South Sudan may not want to be an exception to the norm. In the long run, for Africa to enjoy peace, stability and economic growth, ethnic and/or one party dictatorship has to be forbidden.  The writer can be reached at  dula06@gmail.com

Legacy of African Leaders: Meles Zenawi Versus Nelson Mandela

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Over 100 heads of states including Obama and Castro were present for Mandela’s funeral service, while a handful of African leaders like Al-Bashir  of Sudan, Museveni of Uganda were present for Meles’ funeral.  Mandela state funeral  appeared more genuine, spontaneous, full of  love and celebration  unlike that of  Zenawi  which was shrouded with secrecy (cause of death still unknown) and appeared orchestrated and staged managed by the party. Mandela stands out in many ways.

While Mandela fought to end  Bastustanization and oppression in  South Africa, Zenawi on the other hand was the architect of Bastustanization in Ethiopia driving schism and wedges among Ethiopians.

Mandela gave up power peacefully, while Zenawi did everything in his power to keep it including voiding election, jailing opposition leaders, and killing peaceful demonstrators against rigged election.

Mandela brought very diverse people together, while Zenawi  broke the long standing unity and nationalism that made Ethiopia unique and  that  withstood Western colonialism into a breaking point.

A writer for Aljazeera expressed Meles’s legacy as follows ” The late Meles Zenawi ……practically reduced Ethiopia into a landlocked, bantustanized, and impoverished country thanks to his Stalinist organization in the name of TPLF. “ Aljazeera, December 9, 2013 “Ethiopia and Eritrea: Brothers at ware no more” Ethiopia and Eritrea: Brother’s at War

The World and South Africans will dearly miss Mandela, I am not sure that will be said of  Meles by those who really know his true legacy.

Zenawi was given bigger than life farewell at the end by his supporters and some citizens, despite his tarnished legacy. By force or by volition, Ethiopians throughout the country were engaged in praising, wailing, and crying for Zenawi,  The wailing and the crying for Meles was primarily due to the fact that most dictators become father figures for the majority of the people, especially for the youth, with the help of the state controlled media, where such leaders are lionized on a daily basis. So anxiety and fear set in because a vacuum is created by the death of a dictator in Ethiopia or North Korea. This is primarily true when the state controls the media; nobody knows the true state of affairs in the country.

For a country as poor as Ethiopia, the parade, the display and the ceremony  for Zenawi was excessive. The attempt was to rebrand, redefine and humanize Zenawi  to justify continued control by the ruling party. Zenawi was praised for everything in the world, but not for his wrongs, such as for genocide he committed, for the war he waged to make Ethiopia landlocked, for creating ethnic gerrymandering or for excessive control of the economy by his ethnic party and his cronies.

Though no dictator is lionized after death to the extent Zenawi was, however, thanks to re-branding by a well organized party, TPLF, Zenawi’s profile looked better in death than in life. Those who might have expected the TPLF machine to self-destruct after the passing of Zenawi should have a second thought because the machine is highly organized, and exceedingly efficient in manipulating the Ethiopian state in any shape or form it wishes. In a manner similar to a cult, the regime has finessed how to manipulate the media and get the people organized to behave accordingly. A farewell of such depth, organization, fanfare is only possible under a dictatorial regime.

Zenawi was rebranded as a great leader instead of an ethnic or Marxist dictator, as the opposition has often called him. So the idea of worrying about ones legacy  doing the right thing may go out the window provided if one has a well organized party like Meles did. Overall, in life or death, Meles or his party succeeded in hoodwinking many people in Ethiopia and around the world by creating a different persona.

For  three months, the system in Ethiopia was completely shut, no business license was issued, even no wedding ceremonies were held, millions of dollars was spent to materialize Zenawi’s after-life grandiose with burst out of a 21-gun salute. Most leaders in his shoe, such as Benito Mussolini, Nikita Khrushchev, or Joseph Stalin, did not get such honorable departure.

During his reign, Zenawi never met ordinary citizens in public; never traveled without massive security, and if he did, streets were closed, and he was completely isolated from public view. However, in death, he was lionized by ordinary people that he tried to shun for security reasons.

In Ethiopia most people cannot afford Aslekash or hired help to instigate crying or mourning for the dead. However, the rich, kings and dictators, can afford to hire such people, as it appears Zenawi benefited from such practice where hundreds of people were employed to show case his invented  popularity to foreigners and Ethiopians. Would this manufactured and manipulated ceremony dissipate as the public and the world knows the real legacy of Zenawi?

Zenawi’s Ethiopia is a landlocked and impoverished country. At last the world gets a chance to see its true state of affairs, world leaders who praised Meles without checking the facts will be put to shame.

Innocent students were massacred at Addis Abeba University for opposing the secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia; hundreds of people were killed in the aftermath of the 2005 election, and hundreds of thousands of people were imprisoned during the same period. During the last 22 years, hundreds of other innocent people were killed in other parts of the country due to ethnic policy of the regime, and the recent killing of Ethiopian Muslims for asking their freedom to worship without government interference has to be also mentioned.

Although Ethiopians throughout the Diaspora held a memorial service for the thousands of victims of Meles Zenawi, but they were given no media coverage, while Zenawi was memorialized in grand scale for weeks by his party and those who benefited during his 22 years of rule. The grand finale for Meles was beyond expectation and more than deserved by a leader who used force to take power and to stay in power.

Zenawi ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist and bloody hand. According to Human Rights Watch, “Ethiopia’s citizens are unable to speak freely, organize political activities, and challenge their government’s policies – through peaceful protest, voting, or publishing their views – without fear of reprisal.” Despite these abhorrent statistics, and dire economic conditions for two (2) decades, resembling other dictatorial regimes such as North Korea or China, Meles Zenawi dared to claim that he received 99.6% of the vote in the last fake election.

Zenawi was a dictator par excellence in applying the Machiavellian system of divide and rule. Unlike other dictators, he carved out a positive image abroad by partnering with top PR firms, opportunistic and ill-informed Americans, despite being highly-detested at home and abroad by the majority of Ethiopians. Like other dictators, he controlled the army, the police, 100% of the land mass, industry, and denied Ethiopians access to technology, thus forcing the greater number of Ethiopians to eke out a meager living, often with the help of Western food aid or flee the country to places like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, South Africa and other places despite facing real and present danger as refugees.

So why is Zenawi memorialized? Like North Korea, his supporters want to maintain the current system by giving one of the bloodiest dictators a facelift and by rebranding him as a great leader. By giving him a humane face, his supporters believe that they can justify staying in power for years to carry the torch of their great leader.

Zenawi’s critics were jailed, killed or chased out of the country. Ethiopia has more journalists exiled or in prison than any country according to New York-based Human Rights Foundation. In addition, Ethiopia was found to be one of the failed states following countries like Somalia, Chad, and ranks 174 out of 180 countries in terms of human development index.

Given these facts, Zenawi should be remembered just as another dictator, except he was exceptionally good in hoodwinking the world to the contrary. In the meantime, he left Ethiopia totally unprepared and desperately behind the curve in access to technology, human and economic development.

In the end Zenawi was just a tyrant beyond comparison who employed voodoo economics to exaggerate his economic achievement, denied Ethiopians their basic freedom, rigged elections, and humiliated and desecrated their religion, history, identity and humanity.

All said and done, the West has to bear some responsibility for piling praises on a dictator without unveiling his dark secret, genocide in Gambella, cyber jamming, and the strangulation and evisceration of the Ethiopian media, intellectuals, as well as monopolizing the economy by his clan.

At the end, the world may find out that Zenawi may have hoodwinked the West, eviscerated the Ethiopian economy, it nationalism,  and its institutions.  If all this is true, unlike Mandela,  Zenawi will eventually be remembered as nothing but a charlatan

The article was based on “Legacy of Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia (1991-2012) by the same author.

Humiliation and suffering in Saudi Concentration Camp

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Ethiopian workers beaten, robbed in Saudi Arabia – BDlive

http://news.google.com Tue, 19 Nov 2013 05:10:42 GMT

Addis Abeba: When Abdallah Awele moved to Saudi Arabia from Ethiopia last year, he thought he would land a good job and earn enough money to send home to his family. But instead, M …

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