Ethiopia vs Obama’s speech at West Point By Robele Ababya

May 31st, 2014 Print Print Email Email

First and foremost, I am sincerely pleased to congratulate the President on all the successes of his Administration in the fight against the ruthless Al Qaeda as mentioned in his speech. At the same time I cannot help but submit my disappointment that Ethiopia is not mentioned by name not even once in the speech given the multiple gruesome violations of human rights of the last 23 years – the latest one being the cold-blooded murder of university and high school students in Ambo and other places in the Oromia region in May 2014 – by the notorious agazi forces of the EPRDF regime.

The 9/11 event marked a horrendous crime that had shocked our global community and messed up our lives beyond measure in practically every aspect: security, instability, and economy to mention but a few.

In the speech I noted the applause of the “class of 2014” when the President said they may not have to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. I too am happy for them for in the words of President Eisenhower quoted in the speech: “War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.” I wish there shall be no more wars so that resources are diverted to human development thus sparring the loss of limps, other vital body parts, and most of all the lives of young people.

The 9/11 catastrophe provided the opportunity for terrorists like the former tyrant Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia to jump on the bandwagon of “Coalition of the willing” put together by the former President George W. Bush. The then dying regime of the tyrant resuscitated by the political support and financial handouts it received from the American taxpayers. That support is still available to this day and is advancing the destructive legacy of the tyrant. For his heirs are perpetrating the incalculable damage inflicted by the tyrant to vital national security and economic interests of Ethiopia not to mention the gruesome blatant violations of fundamental human rights well recorded in the annual reports of the State Department.

In the speech of the President, I like the part: “A new century has brought no end to tyranny. In capitals around the globe – including some of America’s partners – there has been a crackdown on civil society. The cancer of corruption has enriched too many governments and their cronies, and enraged citizens from remote villages to iconic squares. Watching these trends, or the violent upheaval in parts of the Arab World, it is easy to be cynical.”

But Ethiopia today where tyranny is spreading like bushfire and corruption is rampant is not mentioned by name. This is sadly another example of double standard.

Ethiopia is a classic example of where corrupt neuveau riche generals, almost all from a minority ethnic background, collude with the EPRDF regime in plundering the country. This is unfortunate in that US taxpayers generously contribute to the financing of personnel training and equipping of the security and defense establishments of the brutal regime, which recently killed Oromo students for no other reason than staging a peaceful demonstration to protest eviction of Oromos from their ancestral homeland around Addis Ababa (Shagar)

Syria is mentioned about ten times in the speech, far more than any other states on our globe embroiled in political unrest. Syria proved to be a failure on the part of the USA to take firm action to stop the human tragedy there that the Bashar Al Assad regime has inflicted on its own people. Lack of unity on the part of the several opposition Syrian forces is also to blame, which to a considerable extent should serve as a lesson to some of our own Ethiopian opposition forces.

The President underlines in his speech by stating that “the final element of American leadership is “our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity”. He goes on to state that “America’s support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism – it’s a matter of national security. Democracies are our closest friends, and are far less likely to go to war. Free and open economies perform better, and become markets for our goods. Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability, and the grievances that fuel violence and terror.”

But this utterance is inconsistent with the support that the USA has so far been giving, and continues to give, to the ruthless EPRDF regime.

I welcome wholeheartedly the President’s statement to the effect that American leadership encompasses its “willingness to act on behalf of human dignity.” He goes on to state: “America’s support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism – it’s a matter of national security. Democracies are our closest friends, and are far less likely to go to war. Free and open economies perform better, and become markets for our goods. Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability, and the grievances that fuel violence and terror.” This is interesting for the reason written in the paragraph below.

The President said that “In Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests – from the peace treaty with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism. So we have not cut off cooperation with the new government. But we can and will persistently press for the reforms that the Egyptian people have demanded.” This is of interest to Ethiopia bound to Egypt by the Blue Nile River. One would hope that the President will push for political and land reform in Ethiopia too in order to put in place two democracies that are unlikely to go to war.

Ethiopian elections 2005 and 2010: Reminder to President Obama

I have reproduced the following from my article titled “Open letter to the AU Chairperson” dated 08 February 2013:-
Quote On that historic day of 07 May 2005 before the election on 15 May 2005, a truly mammoth crowd estimated at 2.5 – 3 million inundated the streets and squares of Addis Ababa to support the now defunct Kinijit Party (Coalition for Unity and Democracy). That sea of humanity was acclaimed internationally for its magnificent display of decorum and civility; it ended peacefully without a single incident of violence.

The unprecedented massive support for Kinijit was followed by an unprecedented turn out of massive voters on 15 May 2005 in which the ruling party suffered a humiliating defeat failing to win a single vote in Addis Ababa where the AU Headquarters is located.
Unfortunately tyrant Meles declared a state of emergency and swiftly implemented his plan B that resulted in killing close to 200 peaceful protesters by trained snipers; throwing the victors to filthy prison; incarcerating tens of thousands of opposition supports, mostly young shaving their heads with unsterilized blades without regard to widespread STDs of that time.
What is really shocking is that the African Union which had sent its observers to the above election pronounced the election free and fair and recognized the TPLF party as the winner. Unquote

Election 2010 was rigged so much so that the brutal ruling party unashamedly claimed 99.6% ‘win’ of the 547 parliamentary seats. The 170-member EU Observer Mission declared that the election was not free and fair. The White House agreed with the EU Observer Mission.
What is heartbreaking is that the EPRDF regime continued to enjoy the generous support of the EU and the USA – politically and financially. The EPRDF repressive regime is now showing the video in which its late master Meles Zenawi was praising election 2005 as the first ever in the history of Ethiopia that marked a peaceful transfer of state power. The late tyrant in the same vein crowned election 2010 as flawless thus insulting the intelligence of the Ethiopian people and the international community.

In spite of the above self-aggrandizement, EPRDF dictators, in May 2014, committed: a killing spree on Oromo students; imprisonment of journalists; incarceration political activities; reinforced the gagging media; prohibiting freedom of speech and assembly – in short paralyzing all instruments critical to the building of a democratic and prosperous society caring for all of its citizens under the rule of law.
Role of USA in the victory of TPLF rebels
The citizens of Addis Ababa met the EPRDF’s entry to their city with strong hostility staging a large protest at the USA Embassy as witnessed by its senior diplomat on the BBC’s “Witness” program aired on 30/5/2014. The diplomat said that he reported about the demo to Herman Cohen, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, who was in London mediating between the Derg and the EPRDF rebels. According to the senior diplomat in Addis, Ambassador Cohen disclosed that the United States government has recommended that the rebels advance to and capture Addis Ababa in order to avert bloodshed.

So the EPRDF is at the helm of power because the USA catapulted it to that position and turning a blind eye to its heinous crimes committed in the last 23 years and counting. Will that change now as a result of President Obama’s Foreign Policy speech?
It is absolutely true that in the 21st century, American isolationism is not an option. It cannot walk out of the world affairs that it had shaped up after the end of World War II. In the words of the President, the values of the founding of the USA “inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe”. So it would be in the best interest of the USA to remain engaged in world affairs as a leader of the free world – and lead fairly consistent with the President’s belief that “ a world of greater freedom and tolerance is not only a moral imperative – it also helps keep us safe.”

The President is so right in saying that “the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism. But a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naïve and unsustainable. I believe we must shift our counter-terrorism strategy – drawing on the successes and shortcomings of our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan – to more effectively partner with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold.” But I warn that partnering with the TPLF/EPRDF repressive and corrupt regime will be a disaster.

All political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia must be released immediately and unconditionally!


  1. Oda Tulu
    | #1

    Ultimately the onus is on us Ethiopians to claim and secure our freedom and independence.

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    Please…there is not one established nation that had ever existed or exist now, that they are not violating some form of human rights. One must be objective and put realities in their proper fram of perspectives. Their are no perfect human beings or perfect nation states-ever. This is the question, is Ethiopia making progress? Any objective observer would have to yes, they have made much progress. However, if it is your intention to cause Ethiopa harm, then you will never be able to answer the question directly or with a steaight-face. Do citizens of Ethiopia have a right to pressure Ethiopia to continue improving its human rights, of course they do. But, those individual whose intentions are trying to distablize Ethiopia must be held accountable for their actions.

  3. Birhane
    | #3

    Robele..I am sad for the deaths of “university students”. Security police should have tried water cannons or other means. However I don’t agree with your assertion the “students” are peaceful. Is destroying public properties like banks peaceful? No gov’t in world allow destruction of public properties in the name of protests. How about demolishing hotels belonging to other ethnic group.How about the slogan”oromiyaan kan oromooti”?

  4. haile
    | #4

    thanks you anonymous

  5. Anonymous
    | #5

    yes no one could argue that human rights issues are fully respected and adhered to. But the noise which is being made by narrow minded ethno- centric dark age thinking aspirants under the umbrellas of human rights, should be scrutinized to depth. anti peace and development elements shall be held accountable if they are masking themselves in the shadow of human rights. As you make noise in blaming the west, have you realized the west would also knows the hidden agendas you are promoting. why they are going to be blamed for not giving you a single attention for the wrong noise aiming at to a wrong end of narrow shouvensitic thinking and aspiarations.

  6. Eskemeche
    | #6

    Dear Robel,
    I read your burning desire for justice in Ethiopia. I agree with you in that respect. Your appeal to the president has two sides to it. The person in you who knows the democratic process in USA fights for the rule of law. That law, dear, works only for, by and to citizens of the USA. When it comes to Ethiopia, it is a foreign country to USA. What is important to USA government is the interest of USA. Every little and big thing is weighted only from this angle. Whatever help USA gives to the TPLF government is to help it push the interest of the USA government.
    The second person in you tries to appeal to the president to solve our problem. Dear friend, our problem is ours. We are the owners of it. Only we can solve it. USA will come to our aid only when our force is mightier than that of the TPLF government. I know you do not miss this but I have to underline it for everyone to see. LET US STOP LOOKING TO UNCLE SAM to solve our problem.
    If only we who claim to be on the side of the people raise our hands together, if only we put our country Ethiopia above everything else, if we place the interest of Ethiopia before our party and group interests, if only we stand together, the answer to our problem is right in front of us. Let us talk to each other in only one language – the interest of Ethiopia and the interest of Ethiopia alone.
    You see, in Ethiopia there is an invading force. It is not a dictator, it is not Ethiopian, it is an invading force imposed on the people. It does not matter who brought it to power. It is doing an imaginable damage to the country and to the people. What we have to do is bring it down together.

  7. Million
    | #7

    You wrote: “But I warn that partnering with the TPLF/EPRDF repressive and corrupt regime will be a disaster.” …

    That is what I thought, some 15 years ago, residing in the USA. However, going back and forth multiple times, and looking at the progress made in Ethiopia, forced me to humble my opinion and accept the good. It isn’t perfect, however, I have never thought I would see so much progress in Ethiopia is so little time.

    I am sure most cheese burger muncher like myself in the US thinks themselves as some entitled citizens of Ethiopia. To the contrary, this government has proven that we are expendable. They have done it without support from most of us. We are just going to die and get buried in the United States, while Ethiopia and the new generation rises to the moon.

    Humble yourself cheese burger munchers (diasporas) and join the party in Ethiopia. I’m seeing some amazing progress, every time I visit.

    Writer that is looking for a word (“Ethiopia”) from Obama, if you are a true Ethiopian, you would not look for validation from a president of another country. Obama is in it for himself; so is Putin, etc etc.

  8. Tefera
    | #8


    I just came back from Ethiopia after three months of visit, on my GOD!
    Guys, Ethiopia is going through one of the most speediest transformation ever recorded in Ethiopia history. every were you go there is all sorts of constructions, factories, raid roads, high ways etc…., I have no doubt IF Ethiopia continues the same path Ethiopia may become the shining example of Africa.
    I like what I saw in Ethiopia it is a great progress, thus I will be casting my vote to EPRDF on the coming election.

  9. Kush-Kush
    | #9

    I am your regular reader and I also read the comments made by fellow Ethiopians. As it is customary comments become personal and I could not believe how much we progressed at attacking others. Most are sensitive that is including me. By saying this let me start my disappointment toward your paper (article). The country you and I grow has fourteen province and with the many languages. Of course, we have one national language which is Amharic. My complaint to my dearest writer is why on earth you recognized (accepted) the TPLF criminal tribal policy? Is it not going backward to acclaim and propagate TPLF’s policy? What I believe is that supporting a tribal policy directly or indirectly is a crime and there is no excuse for that. On your article you said Oromia students in the Oromia region were massacred by the TPLF government. What I assume is that you the writer wholeheartedly support ethnic movements. Here, what I want to emphasize is one thing. Whoever supports any ethnic movement are narrow, opportunist and criminal. Besides, I extremely detest ethnic movement. Dear writer, in one instance you said “Addis Ababa (Sheger)”, what was in your mind when you wrote Sheger in parentheses. I expect clear and concise answer from you. And to me, I guess it’s inclining towards the tribe. If this is not your inclination, what is the Sheger thing? I know one thing for sure. No one likes to be corrected. I sincerely apologize if you feel insulted. In the end, those precious young students massacred by the TPLF government were our children and our hopes. Whatever demand they had was based on their upbringing. And the answer from the tribal government shouldn’t be bullets. A couple of months ago, we also lost our dear children from Eritrea province in the Mediterranean Sea. Our hopes and dreams were dashed and shattered by the criminal guns barbarous act. Our grieving period will never end until we Ethiopians dethrone the TPLF tribal and defacto government once and for all.

    Selam Tena yistilign.

  10. Worku tesfaye
    | #10

    Why obama speech repeatedly Syria more zan 10 and no Ethiopia?
    Zis clear for some one who considere and undermine ze interruption of western and consequence coming on innocent civilian zat dreaming change of regime by westErn support.
    No.1 destabilazer of Syria is American.
    American,israeli,Saudi are legaly aiding rebels.Iran,rusia ally of asad.
    Obama speech mentioned Syria10 times.bc rebels or western interest s no achieved.multi dollar donating from American for disruction of Syria.
    US aid in Ethiopia is for health decrease mother,children,death.
    Not for military.
    Ethio taken aid for observable action and witness on ur eyes.
    Zos diasporas who refusing ze aid for ethio peoples are not Ethiopia.aid from US supporting many peoples.
    Not American even any diasporas support ze

  11. Robele Ababya
    | #11

    #8: The issue is why “the speediest transformation” did not translate into respect for human rights. Agazi forces have no right to kill Oromo students in cold-blood.

    Among inexcusable heinous crimes of the TPLF regime: leaving Ethiopia landlocked; ownership of land leaving the peasant without private land; committing genocide; stealing election in broad daylight; ad infinitum.

    It is a shame that you side with the kingdom of thugs bound to be swept away with the impending storm of popular anger

  12. Boko Haram
    | #12

    Whom are you fooling? The telephone line in Ethiopia which was established in 1906 was working fine until the unwelcome TPLF puts its hands. The experience dealing with Tigryan burecatic system will drive one insane. Economic develpoment at the expense of Sidams’ and Oromos’ mineral resources to the betteremnt of Tigray and their pupets of similar ethinic backgrounds will eventually lead to what happened in Somalia. We can see it coming. It is within their rights like Afaars, Annuk, Ogaden Somalis, Oromos and Sidamas must take a step to control what belongs to them.

  13. Robele Ababya
    | #13

    #9:- Thank you very much for your brilliant comment. I must first inform you that I am not a racist or tribalist at all. I have been writing for the last 40 years condemning apartheid policy and liberation separatist movements including OLF. I have also been urging non-separatist opposition political entities in Mederek to drop their tribal garbs.

    The reason I used the word “Shagar” is to oppose those calling Addis Ababa “Finfine”. Shagar was the name used before my hero Menilik came to Addis Ababa – named by his brilliant wife Taitu

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