Dictators are giants with a feet of clay- they will collapse – By Dula Abdu
Dictator Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia has established one of the most successful lobbying machines in America with various tentacles. He has penetrated the U.S. Congress, academia, some Ethiopian churches, and community organizations, but all these can be defeated in due time by keeping pressure and exposing them, as they are nothing, but agents of oppression.
In early ’90s, government representatives kept secret their visit, travel and any activity, unless you were part of their machinery. During that time, they did not have much representation. Their supporters especially among non-Tigrians was non-existent. However, slowly, they started targeting hodam Abashas and those who are seeking any low hanging fruits at any cost. Most of these candidates were what you call bandas or people with low IQ about the reality of the Woyanes or Ethiopia.
With the first introduction of a bill in Congress in 1996 to deny Woyanes economic aid unless they adhere to basic fundamental human rights, things started changing. When the Bill passed with a unanimous vote in the House, Meles decided to put his PR machine in gear. He immediately flew to Washington and started putting a PR plan together to get the upper hand against the Ethiopian Diaspora to forestall changes in his dealing with the Ethiopian people. To achieve this, he invited American friends of Ethiopia to Washington for breakfast and other meetings. I recall talking to a few of these friends like Dr. Donald Levine before and after the meeting. I sensed a shift and I am not sure this was due to coercion, or the utilization of Meles outstanding ability to charm and to convince others. He also started inviting African-Americans, businessmen and other professors of Ethiopian history to Ethiopia to wine and dine them so that they can be neutralized or become advocates of the Woyane federal system that ended Amhara hegemony in Ethiopia. African-Americans were lectured about their own marginalization in white dominated society similar to the marginalization of other tribes by Amhara and how Meles has liberated all the other tribes and gave them self-determination. The story of saving Ethiopia from the evils of the past and from disintegration was also echoed more often.
In more recent times, Meles has ratcheted up his penetration of the Ethiopian community from churches to investors, who are kept as hostages. Besides sending to America or recruiting quite a number of Tigrean cadres to vociferously support the Woyane system, Meles has heavily invested in recruiting Ethiopians, who are susceptible to such opportunities.
The Woyanes appeared to have mastered the art of PR by picking Nobel Laureates in Economics to support their adulterated GDP growth and some of the most powerful people in America, such as former speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives to right wing religious groups. The most powerful organized lobby is the conservative or often referred to the right-wing party in the U.S. These groups combine religion and politics to achieve legitimacy and moral authority. The Israel Lobby and other most successful lobby groups have also targeted these groups by providing funding and by exploiting flaws in religious interpretation of the Bible. Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma is one of the member of these groups and an ally of the Meles regime. Previous African dictators such as Mobutu, and the Afrikaners were also supported by these groups. In addition, Meles has targeted business with the opportunity of making big profit in untapped and virgin markets such as Ethiopia.
Meles has also targeted the Black Caucus and their delegation. On few occasions with the help of some congressmen, Meles offered to make a substantial donation to the Congressional-Black Caucus foundation, a non-profit think -tank in order to garner their support and to neutralize them. That effort was thwarted partially by alert and vigilant Ethiopians, especially in Washington, D.C.
Despite these efforts and PR undertaking, dictators are vulnerable. On January 18, 2011. one of the speakers in NPR referring toTunisia and Ben Ali said, “Dictators are giants with a feet of clay,” recalling the ignominious fall of the Ben Ali clan in Tunisia.
It means that dictators can easily fall. The most important thing is never to give up or let up. Always keep the psychological pressure, whether through demonstration, civil disobedience, or disrupting their conferences, or at any occasion try to be on their face.
For example, the recent release of Birtukan Mideksa happened after Meles was humiliated and disgraced at Columbia University by the absence of President Bollinger and public outcry. Furthermore, the release of President Alemayehu Tefera, the former President of AAU happened after a similar disruption of a Woyane conference in Houston based on lack of academic freedom in Ethiopia. As a matter of fact the Woyanes were stopped at the last minute at the gates of Texas Southern University because of nationwide protest by patriots like Abdu Adem and others including the late Wondem Woldemichael writing and making phone calls to the President of Texas Southern University. Following three weeks of the massive humiliation of the Woyane delegation, Dr. Alemayehu Teferra was released after 11 years of incarceration in communicado. So dictators respond to pressure despite the appearance of their Teflon personality.
Make sure their crime against people is not forgotten. Such encounter or reminder keeps them in suspense. There comes a point that they feel the fight is not worthy. So they decide to flee.
Mengistu Haile Mariam and Haile Selassie are perfect examples of rulers, whose empire crumbled despite the tremendous military and police power at their disposal.
KEEP THE PRESSURE AND NEVER LET UP ON DICTATORS, because they are giants with a feet of clay like Ben Ali and Mengistu. They will eventually fall.
Dula Abdu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org