The Afar Saga: Woyane playing the blame game
by Abeje T. Chumo
January 23rd, 2012
Last week, as I was scanning the news media, I landed on tragic news coming out of Ethiopia, a country I am deeply indebted. In Afar region, gunmen have killed five foreign tourists for unknown reason. Indeed that is so sad. What puzzled me though is the prompt response from the Ethiopian government. Like many in the occupy movement, I believe in a government that works for the people. What I am hoping to do here is to argue for that. To question the statement Addis Ababa is making. To do so I don’t have to be affiliated with any group. I am the one percent, sharing what I see so others can see. Just buckle up on my ride.
It is of course, bad news for Afar’s fledgling tourist industry though it is not the first time that armed groups in the region have targeted foreigners. As in previous cases, the Ethiopian government was quick enough to blame the attack on militant groups from Eritrea. When that claim was made, there was no clear and convincing evidence to support it. As far as I see it, Addis Ababa is continually playing the Eritrea card to build its case against global terrorism, disregarding the genuine demand of its people. As the old saying goes, “The complete lack of evidence is the surest sign that the conspiracy is working.”
In a press release this afternoon, The Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF), a rebel group fighting for greater autonomy for their region, claimed responsibility for the attack. ARDUF said 16 Ethiopian soldiers were killed, about a dozen others wounded and an unspecified number taken captive. ARDUF also said the German nationals as well as Ethiopian soldiers, whom it said were in safe hands, would be released once peaceful mediation is conducted by Afar elders. Though Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of the attacks, ARDUF categorically denied of Eritrean government involvement. “The fighting occurred between ARDUF and TPLF led Ethiopian forces. Both European Nationals and Ethiopian soldiers were killed in battle with ARDUF. The press release makes Ethiopia’s accusation of Eritrea baseless and unfounded.
Since the 1998 Ethiopia-Eritrea border war, ARDUF took Ethiopia’s side and declared a cease-fire in operations against Ethiopian forces. In 2002, one faction of the ARDUF went even further in its reconciliation with Addis Ababa and declared that it would permanently abandon armed struggle in favor of peaceful involvement in Ethiopian politics. In March 2011, the armed ARDUF faction claimed to have killed 49 government soldiers in the area. Recent reports indicate that ARDUF still dominate life in the desert region.
Whatever the roots and ideological aims of ARDUF’s attack, one clear priority should be clear. The Afar problem needed to be addressed in broad and comprehensive manner. Such initiatives must encompass issue of human insecurity, economic and political development and participation in decision making in Addis Ababa. It is equally clear that under all of these manifestations lie the same root cause – a persistent trajectory of underdevelopment and misgovernance in that part of the country.
There is an old proverb that explains my whole argument here “The trouble with political jokes is that they get elected “. Following the attack, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry was busy in campaigning in political joke to provoke Asmara. The Ministry noted “The government cannot and should not sit idly by while the regime in Asmara continues to sponsor acts of terror within Ethiopia’s territory with impunity,” As I see it, such provocation is not well thought and overlooks two important facts. Mr. Zenawi is consistently using the blame game to averting attention from the mounting internal problem. By doing so, he wanted to send a clear message to the international community that he is the one and only partner to relay in the fight against terrorism. In his latest actions: convicting two Swedish Journalists of terrorism, cracking down the media, the opposition and human right groups in and outside the country, charging them with heinous crimes, he proved that he is indeed unstoppable. This in turn, sparks more opposition to his regime and open door to question his genuine intension as a partner to work with.http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2012/01/2 ... -afar-saga