Outburst of joy in Egypt and its impact on Ethiopia Robele Ababya
There is no doubt that the massive outburst of joy demonstrated by hundreds of thousands of Egyptians was shared by hundreds of millions of freedom-loving peoples around the world that were watching the unfolding of the truly momentous event displayed at the Tahrir Square in Cairo, the epicenter of the popular uprising which started on 25 January 2011 and ended on 11 January 2011 heralding convincing victory of the people, by the people and for the people.
The Egyptian revolution ushered in the dawn of a new era of a new model of democracy, which has already become a beacon of hope to oppressed masses on the one hand and a nightmare to tyrants in the Arab world and Africa on the other.
The heroic people of Egypt deserve congratulations for their endurance and a debt of gratitude for their gift of inspiration to expedite the spread of determined and peaceful struggle to realize a secular, open, inclusive, tolerant, compassionate, democratic and prosperous society across Africa and the Arab world. And with realization of a free society there is hope and assurance that the concern in the quotation “Man was/is born free; and everywhere he is in chains”, attributed to Jean-Jack Rousseau has begun to diminish and will eventually vanish. This would be the quintessential mission of “Youth Revolution” set in motion in Egypt. The journey is long and arduous; the goal is freedom and dignity.
Breakthrough for Egypt-Ethiopia relations
This writer recalls a lively discussion about a decade ago among young Ethiopian experts in the field of development and preservation of water resource. The age-old problem of the waters of the Blue Nile waters came up, citing suspicious and sometimes acrimonious relations between Egypt and Ethiopia on the determination of the fair share of the waters to be allocated to each side. The discussion ended in unanimous agreement that the time will come when farsighted pundits on both sides will get together in a democratic setting and find cure to the chronic problem. That time has now come.
Ethiopians and Egyptians are strongly bound by the Blue Nile; it is by default that the former embraces the source and the latter is located at the receiving end of the Blue Nile. This is the work of Mother Nature, which the two must accept. But the onus is on both as intelligent human beings to resolve the issue of equitable use of the Nile waters rationally and amicably, for it is a propitious moment to do so as the quest for democratic change gathers momentum.
With the inevitably evolving amicable relations between the two countries a rational solution is bound to come. The centuries old sour relations over the share of the Blue Nile will be put to rest. Politicians will no longer use it as a as a scapegoat to divert attention from domestic issues. There will be drastic reduction in military and security expenditure allowing the savings to be allocated to, inter alia: education, health services, job creation, scientific research, agriculture, and environmental protection.
Rays of hope after setbacks for peaceful struggle
We have seen three peaceful changes in the last 36 years: 1) the Emperor relinquished power under mounting opposition in 1974; to His credit the Monarch refused to order His elite bodyguard to suppress rebellious soldiers within the armed forces that were supporting the revolution; Incalkachew’s government issued a white paper promising reform while he was secretly reversing the expectations of the public and soon lost the support of the army; Marxist-Leninist ideologues vying for power engaged in bitter fighting – some siding with the Derg for tactical reasons and the others confronting the Derg in armed struggle, which situation set the scene for divide and rule by the coward Mengistu Hailemariam; 2) the unprecedented spectacular victory of the Ethiopian people convincingly crushed and humiliated the TPLF regime at the historic election of 2005, but Meles Zenawi stole the election by illegally declaring a state of emergency; he did so at gunpoint under the watch of George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice; 3) the opposition actually won in the election of 2010, but tyrant Meles again stole the election by excluding his opponents from counting the votes; in fact the Obama Administration condemned the process of that election in league with EU Observer Mission Report, but it is ironic that the Administration announced $583 million aid to the brutal regime of Meles Zenawi just before the popular uprising in Egypt.
It is quite a reversal of our misfortune that the “U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tells Aljazeera that the U.S. wants to help Egypt to become a model of democracy in the region.” The Secretary expressed her fear that the Egyptian revolution would be high-jacked by internal or external forces. This is good news provided that Secretary Clinton extends the help to Ethiopia where Meles Zenawi has been riding roughshod on the liberty, freedom and human dignity for the last 19 years of his dictatorial rule. One ardently hopes that Ethiopia would be part of the equation for democratic order in the region.
Ethiopia existed in a hostile environment for the last 36 years; neighbors feared the Marist-Leninist ideology ushered in by civilians and facilitated by the Derg regime; financial, material and diplomatic support came from the Middle East to support secessionist dissidents. The misfortune has now reversed a great deal with the success of the revolution in Egypt and with the advent of public uprisings in the Arab world. Ethiopia is strategically located with respect to Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti and the Middle East. As such, the TPLF regime cannot escape popular demand for a secular and free democratic society.
Egypt and Ethiopia have a lot in common. As such they can positively influence stability in East Africa and the Arab world. Consequently, it is in the best interest of Ethiopian opposition forces to forge strong ties with the democratic forces in Egypt, Sudan and the Middle East.
It is important to adapt to the impending Ethiopian uprising strategy some of the ideas and techniques used in the Egyptian uprising. The question of TPLF activists accusing their opponents of being mere copycats is invalid given our experience of scoring three short-lived peaceful changes since the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974.
Meles Zenawi has declared war on opposition forces by publicly calling them his enemies. Add to this all his well-known heinous crimes. There is full justification to call for well-coordinated massive civil disobedience.
Secretary Hillary Clinton should now listen to our earlier pleas to support democracy in a way that would be effective to stop dictatorship in Ethiopia.
Once again, Egyptians deserve hearty congratulations for their enviable revolutionary achievement.
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!
Release all political prisoners in Ethiopia!