Implications of anti-Islam film for Ethiopia By Robele Ababya

September 19th, 2012 Print Print Email Email

Changing political landscape

The ongoing outrage in the Islamic world against the anti-Islamic film was originated by little known individuals in the United States, where freedom of expression is sacrosanct under the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. The outrage compelled President Obama to go so far as to state that Egypt is no longer an ally. This sudden development will surely hugely affect Ethiopia not only because of the significant proportion of her Muslim citizens that lived in harmony with their Christian community for centuries but also because of the sensitive strategic location of the country once regarded by scholars as an island of Christianity in a sea of Islam.

Anti-American protest is spreading throughout the Middle East in particular and in the entire Islamic world in general. The underlining reason is not so much as defaming the Prophet as it is a pretext to seize the occasion to denounce the US’s one sided policy fully biased towards Israel over the legitimate Palestinian issue particularly by the Republican Presidential Candidate, Mr. Mitt Romney, and to a lesser degree by the Obama Administration. As to extremists in the Islamic world, they have never found an opportune moment like the present to advance their agenda of obliterating Western civilization. At this point in time when the US election is at a critical stage, the event is no doubt a headache for President Obama running for his second term; it is also a moment of anxiety for his allies in non-Arab countries, including the repressive Ethiopian regime, fighting Al Qaeda.

The main purpose of writing this piece is to initiate debate so that all stakeholders vying for change in Ethiopia will consider the implications of the ongoing outrage in the Islamic world on their plan of action; it is as well meant to inform the younger generation how the strategic location of our Motherland Ethiopia is intertwined with the national interests and ambitions of Islamic countries and the Western powers in particular.

The Oslo Accord on Palestinian Question

I was to a considerable extent familiar with the involvement of Ethiopia in this complex issue both during the times of the Imperial and the Derg regimes. Emperor Haile Selassie was torn between His pro-Israeli stance for historical reasons and His position as an architect of the defunct Organization of African Unity in his role as a revered Statesman of the continent. With mounting pressure from the Arab world and promise for economic aid including oil, most African States severed diplomatic relations with Israel in 1973 and the Imperial regime saw it prudent to follow suit. I recall that the same day that diplomatic relation was severed, Israeli friends working as experts in the institution of which I was chief lost no time in saying good-bye; that was a shock for me in my capacity as a non-politician to discern how cruel politics can be.

The Arabs reneged on their promise of providing aid and oil; members of the defunct OAU that broke diplomatic relations with Israel en masse were embarrassed and soon had to scramble to reverse their stand. Anwar Sadat of Egypt signed the 1978 peace accord with Israel brokered by President Jimmy Carter. The Imperial regime had to face the sudden outbreak of the 1974 Ethiopian Revolution that put an end to Monarchy with the dethronement of the 235th Monarch in the Solomon’s dynasty.
The Derg after deposing the Imperial regime began flirtation with what it considered progressive Arab states such as Iraq and Syria. The PLO enjoyed open door favoritism in order to appease the defunct USSR that was a staunch supporter of Yasser Arafat.

The thorny issue of relations between Israel and PLO continued until a bright ray of hope crystalized in the signing of historic agreement was witnessed by the world as vividly and concisely put in the following paragraph:-
“Oslo Accords, officially known as “Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements”, is a document signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization and representatives of the State of Israel in September 1993. The agreement which was signed in a ceremony held in Washington by U.S. President Bill Clinton marked a breakthrough in decades-old conflicts between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. Yitzhak Rabin, the then Israeli Prime Minister and Yasser Arafat, the president of PLO, brought an end to their sworn enmity in a historic handshake in an event which went on to become one of the most momentous in the history of Middle East. The entire geo-political map of the region was redrawn in that one thoughtful move.” Source: Google

This agreement, which was the result of the Madrid Conference in 1991, contained a set of general principles pertaining to a five year interim self-rule period allowed to Palestine, mutually agreed upon by the both parties. The issue of “permanent status” was to be initiated in the third year so that the negotiations would lead to the implementations that were to take effect at the end of this interim period.”

The bright hope dimmed with the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 by a Jewish extremist named Yigal Amir. “The assassination of Rabin was a shock to the Israeli public. Rallies and memorials took place near Kings of Israel Square—later renamed Rabin Square in his honor—as well as near Rabin’s home, the Knesset building, and the home of the assassin. Many other streets and public buildings around the country were named for Rabin as well.” Source Google
President Clinton invited Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel (who replaced the assassinated predecessor Yitzhak Shamir) and Arafat on 5 July 2000 to come to Camp David to continue their negotiations on the Middle East peace process for which there was also a promising precedent due to the peace agreement between Anwar Sadat of Egypt and the Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin brokered by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.

The interim process put in place under Oslo had fulfilled neither Israeli nor Palestinian expectations, and Arafat argued that the summit was premature. The Summit began on 11 July 2000 and ended in failure on 25 July 2000.
And in my opinion Ethiopia should reconstruct her policy within the framework of the Oslo Accords of 1993 and play a constructive role in the face of the looming explosive situation where the present Palestinian leaders are threatening to annul peace agreement with Israel.


According to AP, “Somalia’s new leader was inaugurated Sunday 16 September 2012 amid tight security in the capital, Mogadishu, four days after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud survived an assassination attempt.” I wish him well and plead that his Excellency should not forget that Ethiopia was at the forefront in the struggle for the liberation and independence of Somalia during the Imperial regime under the able advocacy of our irreplaceable Prime Minister, the late Aklilu Haptewold. However, succeeding Somali political leaders including Siade Barre did not reciprocate; they insisted stubbornly to affix five-star emblem to their as a symbol of Greater Somalia claiming territories from neighboring countries including Ethiopia and Kenya in breach of the OAU Charter. I sincerely hope the new Somalia leaders will not fall into that same trap of shifting the present boundary in their favor.

I note that “The inauguration ceremony was attended by some regional leaders, including the prime minister of Ethiopia and the president of Djibouti” which is bizarre in that Presidents of Kenya and Uganda were represented at the level of Ministers.

Implications of anti-Islam film for Ethiopia

There is no doubt that the USA will be forced to review its policy with Arab world. President Obama has already gone public that Egypt is no longer an ally – neither a friend nor enemy; Secretary Clinton has said that support to end the tyranny of one man was not meant to usher in tyranny by a group. The message is clear to the Moslem Brotherhood Party ruling Egypt. For us too Ethiopians our expectation for improved relation with democratic Egypt for the sake of regional stability and prosperity is most likely to be jeopardized.

Given the hostile environment it is facing in the Arab and Islamic world, the USA will most likely stick with its support for the TPLF regime that has been a staunch ally in the fight against the Al Shabab linked to Al Qaeda. The USA has invested hugely in the security and defense establishments of Ethiopia; it goes without saying that it would protect that investment by all means.

The 1978 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel is likely to lose its effectiveness; Palestinian leaders are threatening abrogation of the peace processes with Israel. Given her strategic location and her historic relations with both, I put the question how is Ethiopia going to handle this draconian situation?
In view of the above, the need for truth, peace and reconciliation has never been so obvious and urgent for internal harmony and strength. God has done His part to show us the way and we must do the rest in earnest.

My take on the EPRDF/TPLF

The ruling TPLF party has vowed that the horrendous legacy of the late tyrant Meles Zenawi will continue in tact without any amendment or regard to the calls of opposition forces and civic organizations for all inclusive national dialogue. That means all pillars of democracy shall remain under the monopoly and tight control of the repressive regime – unfortunately instigating violence that would inevitably lead to severe civil unrest resulting in bloodshed. The question is why the party that had claimed 99.6% ‘victory’ in election 2010 is so scared to allow freedom of expression and expansion of the political space. The answer is that it stole the 2010 election just like it did in the election 2005 and for that matter all the elections held during the last 22 years!

Consequently, the new Prime Minister designate has been and is now a beneficiary of stolen votes and rigged elections; he is an accomplice to crimes in the aftermath of those elections committed by the security forces of the brutal regime in which he held lucrative positions of power. He needs to show remorse by acquiescing to the demand for peaceful change starting with: releasing all political prisoners including Muslim leaders immediately without pre-conditions; allowing freedom of expression; stopping interference with Christian Orthodox Tewahdo and Muslim religious affairs; cancelling the repressive ruling regime’s monopoly on all pillars of democracy; completely relaxing the political space immediately; withdrawing the infamous so-called Anti-terrorism law and the NGO laws.

The new Prime Minister designate should call for immediate dialogue with the Ethiopian people and all opposition forces in his acceptance speech following confirmation by the Parliament.

Release all political prisoners including Andualem Aragie, Eskinder Nega, Reyot Alemu et al

  1. Alemayehu
    | #1

    Egyptians are confident the Renaissance dam project is Allah’s way of adding gold , other precious stones and fertile land to the water they get from Ethiopia. Engineer Hailemariam Desalegn need to make an environmentally aware person his consultant. Engineer Hailemariam need to evaluate Meles Zenawi’s dam plan and the effect it has on the environment carefully. The artificial lake behind the dam would cover 146 kms of forest land. The beautiful mountains of the area would become islands. The natural forest covering 146kms will be cleared off and the huge gold and marble reserves of the land will be buried under water.If in anyway the dam collapses all the marble and gold will be washed away out of Ethiopia not to be returned.They have been telling us that the total amount of money needed to complete the construction of the dam is about 80 billion Birr. Professionals can calculate the amount of solar or wind energy that same amount of money can generate.

    Although the project could definitely bring about immeasurable environmental disaster to Ethiopia, they are labeling those who raise their voices as enemies of the state. Egypt is liking it since the fertile land, the marble and gold has a possibility of flowing to their direction.

  2. Oda Tulu
    | #2

    #1 Excellent comment; I agree with you entirely.

  3. Sam
    | #3

    I do not see any significant implication for Ethiopia, Robele. The Egypt unrest which you particularily focused in your article is not being anti-western as you claimed it to be. True, for every assumed evil accusing the Western nations, Particularily USA, is a given in that part of the world. The politicians down there create this pervasive phenomena. The most radical moslems are unhappy about the Moslem Brothers winning the election. Imagine a time when the Moslem Brothers considered moderates. And using the film as a means to test the determination of the new Egyptian president is a political tactic the Sulafis considered worthwhile trying. In a country where more than fifty percent of the youth are unemployed bringing them to the street is not a big a deal, Robele. In a sense the Egypt street demonstration has more to do with domestic politics than the film. As for your comment it “will surely hugely affect Ethiopia,” I do not see any connection at all. It becomes a fashion to say now that everything that would happen everywhere on the planet will have a direct impact in Ethiopian politics. Not necessairly. Not a long time ago when the so called Arab uprisings were engulfing some Arab countries and North Africans, some Ethiopians in the diaspora wrote about Ethiopia being next. I did not see any connection even then. In fact, I really wondered how people wrote what they wished to be as a fact, and congradulated for it. The Arab uprisings were not a democratic movement. It never was. It is uprisings instigated by people who do not see a bright future economically. Had Egyptian, Tunisian had had 8 percent unemployment, in my personal opinion, they would not have dared to change the dictators as they did. That is not to say they were happy with their dictators. No they were not. But getting rid of a dictator who was especially supported by the USA could be a monumental task, and they knew it. Despite that fact they revolted. Why? The unemplyment rate, especially for the youth is almost fifty percent. That is the main reason they revolted, not because they wanted to bring Western style of democracy to their country. The Western media dessimated this lie as a fact and many bought it. Robele seemed one of them. In Ethiopia a truly democratic government will be established. Whether I live to see that happening is another question I cannot answer. I do not truly know. I am not one leg already in the grave kind of person. I believe I have some distance to go. With that distance how I wish to see mature politicians to emerge who could tell the truth no matter how unpoplular the truth might be. Or people who write could not worry about tailoring their writings to fit the angry crowd sensibility. As if they are running for office themselves. The last two sentences has nothing to do with my response to Robele article. I really mean it.

  4. Dawi
    | #4

    [[ Prime Minister designate has been and is now a beneficiary of stolen votes and rigged elections; he is an accomplice to crimes in the aftermath……He needs to show remorse by acquiescing to the demand for peaceful change..]]

    I was kind of taken by the accusations and then asking the new PM to remorse.

    Then again compared to Prof. Al’s wishful optimism write up of the other day yours is a breath of fresh air. :-)

    I will tell you a story I read a while ago about an honest pastor.

    The man’s brother who was not exactly a saint passed away.

    The brother handed his pastor 1 million dollars and said all I ask in return is when you preach at my brother’s funeral, tell everybody attending that he was a saint. That is all.

    Pastor said OK it’s a deal. He deposited the check the same afternoon and prepared for the funeral.

    The service was held several days later, and the church was packed. The people sat in silence, wondering what in the world could be said since they knew the kind of life he’d lived. They were stunned by the pastor’s opening words. “This man was a reprobate. He was unfaithful to his family. He lived a life of hypocrisy and immorality. He was dishonest in his business. He was a liar … not a man that you could trust. He was a major cause of this church’s troubles and struggles before and after I arrived as pastor … a real heartache to many of you. But compared to his brother, he was a saint.”‘

    There are several ways to speak the truth. Robele Ababya at least spoke the truth.

  5. musema
    | #5

    Tomorrow what we need is a leader appointed by all ethiopians not just one party that will show the true leadrship if it continue like this every two years election then the country will move to the right direction
    we can not be a fortune taller today.

    This democratic move will give way not for ethnic domination but for intelectuals from any corner of ethiopia to feel the gaps.

    So some crazy people think we fought and give away power for some one alse
    Mind you todays america rulled by one black man even his parent are from Kenya .other thing is ethiopians living in any part of europe a country where occupied by diferent inveders so this nation fought and liberat their country today any one enjoying the freedom becouse of some one sacrify.

    today some weyane say we fought how comes we just give it away.
    my freind this land belongs to every one if you do not share it peace fully
    at the end of the day people will come like armagedon you can not stop might say we have weapon all that .

    so you might kill one thousend but you are not living in those days
    you will be stoped from masacer your own people and will come international intervintion that will be the end of it.

    think before you talk.
    there are better ways to live with love and harmony!!

    | #6

    If better thing happen we will be more than happy otherwise.
    the nation is with as we will be pepared thousend time better than the old IHAPA SYSTEM we will put absolut wipe out any one coming against us you just watch.

    We this generation can not sit and look.
    we just taking time getting prepared we do not need a weapon.
    we ahve enough weapon.that will shock you to death its not what banda sebhat nega talking rubbish,we will show him before his death.

    in every corner of your busines core area we will hunt you down.
    we are million can not control it.

    we are new IHAPA,IHAPA,IHAPA ,thats will happen in a day light!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    | #7

    Muslim should join the new IHAPA to destroy weyane.
    join IHAPA,IHAPA,IHAPA,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    that will be our solution no peace talk with weyane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    | #8

    Muslim should join the new IHAPA to destroy weyane.
    join IHAPA,IHAPA,IHAPA,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    that will be our solution no peace talk with weyane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    legedleh kemta mejemeria gedelew.
    konchera jizeh tebekw eyteshegshegu angetun mekuret.
    bila yizeh tatkeh selatehen seged kemeta sededebet.

    alem eyaye new you can not kill will be under control.

  9. Tasew
    | #9

    chrestian muslim we absolut need to pray turn to God we will be free and unit once again like befoer.

    GOD is GREAT!!!
    one ethiopia for ever God is watching us from heaven we will be free!!!!

  10. 007
    | #10

    yes nice one

  11. move on
    | #11

    Beman chanka lay komesh manen tamiyalesh
    if you do not represent us leave us alone .
    why you don just go to asmera.

    abebe gelaws voice when it turn to action you can imagin.
    its no one voice a million voice!!

  12. Abebe
    | #12


  13. ጉረኞች
    | #13

    Sam said
    “The Arab uprisings were not a democratic movement. It never was. ….That is the main reason they revolted, not because they wanted to bring Western style of democracy to their country.” By the same token, it is deceiving when some oppositions in Diaspora including Robel chose to unconditionally support the current muslem fight against Woyane government. When, in fact, the leaders themselves insisted their allegiance is to Woyane government not to supporting democratic struggle, the opposition chose to make it look like a struggle for democratic right. One could be sympathetic to their cause, although they are fighting for very limited goal of ascertaining their right to choose their own cleric. This is an outright misleading and confusing the public and undermining the democratic struggle. We know that all these skirmish will stop if woyane chooses to settle the minor difference it has with these leaders. Woyane could easily turn it around and use the same muslem leaders to attack the oppositions. It is a great political miscalculation on the part of the oppositions.

  14. Truth
    | #14

    #13: Things will never be the same even if the limited goal of the Muslims are met. They will ask for democratic governance because the quest for freedom and dignity is a common attribute of humanity.

  15. ጉረኞች
    | #15

    I don’t disagree with what you said. The question is when? My opinion on that is.. not in foreseeable future. I’ve based my opinion after listening the clerics leading the resistance in various occasions. There is a big disconnect in what we hear from Diaspora media and reality. Just spinning everything to score temporary political points is not helpful. That was the whole intent of my comment, state the facts to the public. Give credit where it is due, I give these leaders/clerics big credit. They showed how to mobilize their constituency and resist illegal government intrusion under ruthless dictators. This is what the opposition should have done in the past years and the sacrifice people may have to pay for freedom.

  16. Tamiru
    | #16

    @ Robele,
    Do not relate Ethiopian cause to out side happening We ETHIOPIANS are Unique we ate TEFF we think different we have our own faith so unique. we have culture developed for centuries.
    as Mr SAM said I do not see to relate such thing to us. By the way the freedom of speech and experessing views in America is ensherind in thier constitution no one is let shake it. you can not reduce it peice by peice in order to accumadate your hidden agenda. you have no right to amend it either. you may be member of OLF or the so called Ogaden Libration front cliaming Ethiopian land for others.
    @Alemayehu/Ali Mohamed wheather you liked it or not the DAM will be built. do not worry with gold and marble we will drill it out when we generate power from it. thanks to Western technology even oil can be drilled from deep ocean.

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