Ambassador Herman Cohen says TPLF’s minority rule unsustainable

By Abebe Gellaw

Washington DC (ESAT) — America’s top diplomat for Africa under George H.W. Bush has said that the hegemonic minority rule of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is difficult to sustain as Ethiopians are demanding freedom and democracy. Former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Cohen, played a key role in Ethiopia’s transition from the military junta of Mengistu Hailemariam to the minority rule of Meles Zenawi in 1991.

In an exclusive interview with ESAT, Ambassador Cohen noted that the hegemony and authoritarian ruleYour browser may not support display of this image. of the TPLF is a fact that exists in Ethiopia. He noted that Ethiopians should never give up on democracy and they need to continue putting pressure of the Meles regime until democracy eventually comes to Ethiopia.

In the aftermath of the violent election-related crackdowns in 2005 that claimed the lives of nearly 200 civilians, Ambassador Cohen had told the Voice of America that Prime Minister Meles proved to be a failure.

“Mr. Meles and his TPLF party fought to overthrow a very dictatorial and tyrannical regime. Everything that Prime Minister Meles said at that time indicated that he was a true believer in the democratic process. But over 10 to 12 years, he has proved to be a disappointment…. They are condemned to rule the country as a minority and that is very dangerous for stability,” he said.

Ambassador Cohen pointed out that US diplomatic efforts in 1991 were primarily focused on saving Addis Ababa from destruction. “The TPLF was at the gates of Addis. We wanted to make sure that the war ended with what we called a soft landing in Addis and there should be no destruction….We didn’t say takeover the government. We said take over Addis,” he said.

Ambassador Cohen also indicated that he tried to engage Meles and press him to implement genuine political and economic changes. He revealed that Meles had once told him that the reason why he would not implement land reform was because of his distrust for Amharas.

“He [Meles] told me that the federal system would work so that each region governs its own affairs. But it didn’t happen that way. And I questioned him about land ownership. I was promoting allowing the farmers to have ownership of the land. He said that was not good because the Amharas would come and take over and buy all the land; and these people [the farmers] would return to be serfs like they were under the Emperor,” according to Ambassador Cohen .

The former diplomat said that after hearing such rhetoric it became clear to him that Meles was going to “impose the same type of authoritarian regime that Ethiopians has always had.”

Asked why the US is still supporting the Meles regime, Ambassador Cohen explained that after President Bush lost the election to President Clinton the later was “seduced by Meles” as he talked the kind of language that Clinton wanted to hear. “He spoke the language that Clinton liked to hear. We want free enterprise, we want democracy and so the Clintons gave him the benefit of the doubt.” He also indicated that Ethiopia’s position as a strategic ally has been another factor why the US still maintains closer ties to the Meles regime.

Ambassador Cohen also revealed that the US government had also given priority for the airlifting of Ethiopian Jews, also known as Felashas. During the last hours of the military junta, the government of Israel paid $35 million as ransom, which was deposited in the government’s account in New York. The former diplomat said that the money was not embezzled by Derg officials, contrary to popular belief.

Ambassador Cohen also admitted that the May 1991 London Peace Conference, which has been recorded as an America-brokered peace process in history, did not happen as it did not go far beyond a consultative meeting he held with EPLF representatives led by Isaias Afeworki and Meles Zenawi’s TPLF delegation, as well as OLF that had a minor role, at the Berkeley Hotel. It also emerged that the so-called “London Peace Conference” of May 27, 1991 under America’s mediation never happened.

Asked why it was necessary to hold a peace conference if there was no negotiations, Ambassador Cohen said: “We thought it was good for public consumption and to show that everyone was sitting around the same table having discussions. The British were there and we wanted to show that this was a true peace effort and that we were not doing everything in secret.”

In his book Intervening in Africa, Ambassador Cohen candidly wrote: “The peace conference began the morning of 27 May [1991] in the conference room provided by the British Foreign Office. I opened the meeting with a statement urging the parties to work out a transition to a democratic form of government and to maintain a single economy of Ethiopia and Eritrea…After my statement, the three parties decided to continue on their own without a mediator…They repaired to a private room for their own discussions, which produced a short public statement. The statement said that a decision has been made to hold an all-parties conference in Addis Ababa no later than 1 July, at which time a transitional government would be debated and launched.

ESAT also enquired why Ambassador Cohen read the statement in front of the international media despite the fact that he was not part of it. “I read the statement [because] I did not have any problems with it. They told me the reason they wanted me to read it was that it would give it more credibility with the international community if the American government would announce it. So I felt that if it would promote true peaceful outcome, I should do that,” Ambassador Cohen said.

ESAT raised a range of issues with Ambassador Cohen related to Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa including US foreign policy toward Ethiopia in the context of gross human rights violations.

39 thoughts on “Ambassador Herman Cohen says TPLF’s minority rule unsustainable

  1. DAMO on

    Mr. Cohen you are responsible for installing the Godless mercenaries in our country. Shading a crocodile tear does not help our people. Please, stop adding insult to an injury.

  2. ማነዉ on

    ወንድም አበበ በመጀመሪያ ከፍ ያለ ሰላምታ
    በጣም የምታኮራ ጋዜጠኛ ነህ፣ በቅድሚያ ተዘጋጅተህ፣ መልሱን አጠናጥነህ፣ ትክክለኛዉን ጥያቄ በትክክለኛዉ ሰአት የምታቀርብ በጠም ጉደኛ ገዜተኛ ነህ ቀጥልበት፣፣

  3. Eritreawi on

    This Herman Cohen guy would never tell the truth even if God himself asked him questions, he supported Melles from day one, made sure Melles regime was financed by US tax payer money for 21 years.

    The US financed Melles in his war of invasion against Eritrea in 1998 and worked his tail off in 2000 to save the Melles by faciliatating the Algiers peace talks when it was evident that the Melles regime would crumble under a prolonged military confrontation with Eritrea.

    Now this guy is shedding crocodile tears over a regime he supports and continues to support when the stars are starting to allign against Melles. Herman Cohen and his cohorts are trying to co-opt the Ethiopian democratic opposition by feigning disappointment with the Melles tribal junta.

    Ethiopians need to wise up and take this blood sucker’s words with a grain of salt, he could care less about the fate and future of the Ethiopian people, all he is after is the interests of the US and its allies.

    These people are like expert chess players, they think three or four moves ahead, my Ethiopian brothers and sisters; don’t be fooled by Herman Cohen’s sweet talk, he is only trying to find the next puppet for the US, nothing more, nothing less.

    • Magu on

      Read your comment again to see how truth can be deliberately changed into false for some advantage. Mr. Herman said Isayas is dictator and Militray man, and that is why you are crying here Ato Eritreawi. Egzio Meharene Krstos, endzih siwash ayten anakm!

  4. Gezaee on

    I watched this interview, who gave the right to Mr. Cohen to give Eritrean to exercise their right ? Why he believed Eritreans have more right than Ethiopian? He got involved because Ethiopia was without any representative. A white man from White house decided the destiny of 91 million people because he sympathize with Eritrean, but not to the Ethiopian people. He permitted the Ethiopian to rent thier own Assab port? he tells it was okay Ethiopia to use the port until the war started? Hmmmmmmm

    But at the same time, I do not blame him. I blame the beggar Meles Zenawi for landlocking my country and for keeping Ethiopia in tears for another 20 years after 30 years of destruction.

    But one thing I appreciated about this interview, Mr. Cohen has been honest in his responses. He said America’s strategic interest is first and human right is second. That is perfect. I have to be honest also, there is no actually human right or democracy that comes from USA or from Europe to other people. Everyone’s interest is interest is business, not humanity, if that was not the case, why would ONLF declare massacring 75 innocent lives in Ogaden? From London? what I want to say, human right is not only secondary, it does not actually anywhere, it is just a cover plan to business with such human missin as a cover plan because every human on this planet wishes rights or democracy, but they are using it achieve their agendas. But still I do not blame USA. I blame Ethiopians who does not have even the mind set to sort out their problems apart from asking or begging others to give them solution.

    I must never blame the west or USA. As Mr. Cohen said, it is upto the people to decided their destiny. He admitted a mistake of in Iraq. He is very right on that too. People have to solve their problem themselves and should not seek solution from outside.

  5. TANGO on

    Mr.Cohen has said the USA number one priority is its interest, democrace and humanrigt is second in ETHIOPIA. Ethiopians should take action on tplf rather than waiting the USA to take action on tplf.

  6. Chinklat Yalewsewu on

    Well, I didn’t listen to the actual interview (because I can’t stand Herman Cohen), but nothing is mentioned about the issue of his position on making making Ethiopia and its 70 million people landlocked in the transcript above. I get really mad whenever this old man sheds a chrocodile’s tears afterfacts. First of all, they (the Americans and Brits) shouldn’t have stuck their dirty nose in the business of other people. If it was a genuine effort to save a historic nation and help its people, they would have had the negotiation handled by a senior State Department Official instead of this guy whose primary interest was getting the Ethiopian Falasha’s out to Israel so that their young children will be conscripted to the Israeli Defence Forces and put in the frontlines in their war with the arabs. Cohen, you will burn in hell for handing our country to two con artists on a silver plate. Also, please do me a favor and don’t talk about Ethiopia at all. If you do, stop lying about what you did and tell the truth. Achberbari leba.

  7. Goba on

    The war end by itself not by Mr.Cohn.If Ethiopian national interest is with Iran how would America react ?

  8. Gelaw on

    More than 30minutes spent on the 1991 London Conference out of close to 45minutes interview. Abebe should have asked Mr.Cohen more about the current human rights violations and US’s apprarent blind eye on the racist TPLF regieme. What a waste of precious TV time?

    We Ethiopians are always stuck in the past. Our politics is 80% about the past and only 20% about the present and the future. We have a backward mind set. Also, it was naive of Abebe to ask Mr.Cohen “why the US didn’t stop TPLF from enetring Addis? In other words, we are saying why the US didn’t fight for us in the 11th hour when Mengiustu was running for his life?

    Our jornalists should learn to ask the rigfht questions instead of thinking to please some misguided and confused Diaspora who have very little brain caliber to differntiate reality from fantacy.

  9. WillKillMeles on

    Why don’t you amplify the main message that Meles hates Amharas. All Amharas should know this and should be aware of that they are living with an enemy who don’t sleep before finishing them. The recent land reform law is also targeted to destroy Amharas. They own big homes in Addis and Weyane after selling all the remaining land wanted to take those homes with his mischievous law. Pls Amharas wakeup and do whatever possible to destroy this evil before it finishes us.

  10. Alemayehu on

    The saddest momment of our history is always when we leave others to decide on our destiny. We have a clear memory of that very sad momment, and this man Cohen had, with full conviction, worked to dismantle the country and break our hearts. He had played his roll, the roll it was bestowed on him to subtly destroy Ethipia, and he did destroy it. Ethiopian is no more the same again after the Americans did what they did, and Cohen is the architect to bring us down.

  11. Solomon on

    I feel like puking when I listen to this hypocrite talks because he is unequivocally responsible for the destruction of my country.It looks like child’s play when such prehistoric great country’s fate had to be determined by this arrogant and irresponsible person which still feels proud of his achievement and has no regret for the crime he had committed in this respect. Does he really know that because of his stupid decision how many hundreds and thousands of Ethiopians lost their livelihood? How many families destroyed? How severe the society fractured etc? All of These were done in the name of democracy! What a shame! He thinks he took a wise decision by bringing this ruthless ethnocentric s bandits to control power was a great idea. What a mockery! I want to tell Mr.Cohen that he is not only wrong but thoughtless, mindless and was a blind decision.These bandits that you are proud of don’t have human value neither they have respect for humanity. And the supremacy of law is virtually unknown to them. The threshold for tolerance is very low. The only means of resolving differences is physical liquidation and forceful suppression.I f Mr. Cohen doesn’t know, so better be aware of that his iconic Meles is a brute,a genocidal maniac. In my conclusion I would like to reiterate what Dr. King said from his Alabama prison ” Injustices anywhere is a threat for justice everywhere”

  12. Ethiopian on

    Giving a second chance to Herman Cohen, to rewrite his image after he handed Ethiopia to TPLF and also approved the breaking away of Eritrea without so much as giving an inch of access to the sea to Ethiopia is not acceptable.

    I would spit in his face if I ever happen to come across him anywhere!

    God help me!

  13. Eyaasu on

    The crime you did to the Ethiopian people doesn’t give you a peaceful sleep, that is why you come up to ESAT and try to cover up your sin. What a looser old cracker.

  14. jemal Sadik on

    Mr Cohen!!
    The job is not finished yet. You started it. Finish it. You planted a weed and have already seen its fruits. So, what’s up now? That guy – Meles has really cheated you and your nation’s beliefs. But you all sat back and relaxed about it for 20 years now. Job’s not done yet old my friend!

  15. poverty-legacy of woyanne on

    I would like to send a huge thank you for Mr Herman Cohen for his painfullY honest interview he had conducted with Ethiopian authentic tv ESAT.

    Through time the true nature of those monesters in Addis come to light by the determination of honest people like Cohen.

    If Mr Cohen were an Ethiopian he would have been branded/leveled as Dreg, Amahara or whatevver you like to name it as Woyanne propaganda smearing black ashes on the people with their genuine concious to wittness against the evils of the minority regime.

    So we should intensify our campaign against the regime at this particular moment when we get acknowlegment of our true cuase to fight the regime. Its is the moment to do our bit.

    Death for Woyanne and its supporters.

  16. Eritreawi on

    Mr. Elias, I posted a comment on this topic yesterday and it simply vanished, there was no profanity in it just an honest critique of Herman Cohen and what he cares about the most, i.e. US interest, not the interest of the people of Ethiopia, hope this post doesn’t disappear too.

  17. jemal on

    i like the way this guy squarely blames eritrea for the war and tells how isayas messed up and caused the death of tens of thousands ethiopians and eritreans and also the fact OLF demanded to have self determination for the oromo people and told to wait at the london conference. i was also surprised to see abebe gelaws reaction which he didnt seem pleased and cornered the man.

  18. Anonymous on

    Well, Ambassador Cohan, what Ethiopians want to know is: what are you going to do to the tyrant that has lied, deceived and used the US government to hold power and used his power to torture, loot, and kill countless number of innocent human beings? Do you carry anyking of responsiblity for Human Rights Abuse and for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent human beings that have been lost by the hands of the man you helped to rule 87 million Ethiopians?

  19. Anonymous on

    The weyane Government and Tigray mafias are still murdering and massacred non-tigrays. Enough! With these junta and in-human weyanes.

    Some solid proofs of HATES the weyanne government said,”we don’t implement the Land reform, because we don’t trust AMHARAS”.

    Which means, weyane MASSACRED Millions of Amharas, secretly. Also, he massacred the Gambellas and Oromo people.

    Meles and his TPLF agazies are Lizards. They change their ugly faces and they sucked Ethiopian people blood many times, until now. The Ethiopian people must do the same cruel killing against weyanne. Because, weyanne did cruel killing and mass murdering against innocent Ethiopians. Meles the CANCER must witnessed it before he will die.

  20. Yuhun on

    I was impressed by Mr. Cohen’s frankness, for his open and sincere replies. Because we were not happy about the outcome in Ethiopia in 1991 we should not blame Mr. Cohen or others. People wake up Mr. Cohen didn’t hand the TPLF power and didn’t hand the Ertireans their country, they earned it through their blood and sweat. The U.S. do not care about human rights, democracy, elections, genocide bla bla.. as he said they were inivited by the USSR to help with the Ethiopian case in the last minute when TPLF with the help of the EPLF was at the doors of Addis and EPLF almost liberated and controlled the whole Eritrea. Whether the U.S. intervened or not it wouldn’t have changed the outcome. Unlike Ms Clinton or Ambssador Susan Rice he is telling the truth, he said America’s interest is the priority not democracy or election bla bala … Don’t blame Mr. Cohen or the U.S. for what happened or for what is happening in Ethiopia. Just like the TPLF and EPLF or the Egyptians or Libyans did, we have to earn our freedom and democracy, we should not expect somebody to hand us power, freedom or democracy. In its history, America never handed democracy or freedom to any society in the world.

    Death to Melies Seitanawi and TPLF

  21. Tazabi on

    I think Abebe failed to tell him upfront that he is a toxic liar. Mr. Cohen denied Eritreans got a chance to decide what they wanted to do with their life….. That is blushed. This old toxic white dog knows very well Eritreans was given the right of self-determination and the vast majority of Eritrean decided to be part of Ethiopia and the emperor rejoined them with Ethiopia.
    He speaks with no shame that Ethiopia is not entitled to have a right to see outlet. Abebe simply could have presented historical facts and make him look like an idiot.
    “Ambassador Herman Cohen says TPLF’s minority rule unsustainable” This is blushed of you Abebe Gelaw. You have to read a little bit of history before you invite this type of toxic people especially in sensitive issues like the one you held with this white pig. You failed to bombard him with a hammering question in relation to Asab, and the referendum that was held in 1953 EC.

  22. Gojjam on

    I really don’t understand the purpose of giving air time to this kind of historical enemies of our people. Abebe Gelaw definately has some form of access to the current and former US diplomats and law makers. What we need to ask ourselves is that wheather we are benifiting from this kind of whistle blowing and mambo jambos. Abebe brought Vicky Hadelston in his prior air time and she told us how she is still supportive of Meles and his fascist govt. Cohen also told us that we need to invest in agriculture in particulat and Ethiopian economy when the whole world well awares that the Ethiopian people are suffering of dictatorship and tyrany. Abebe you are clearly showing us that you are a devouted and entrusted home slave. In return you are getting their willingnes to come over to ESAT and insult us as a people. What a desgrace and shame.

  23. Gebre Meskel on

    Mr. Cohen’s myopic quick-fix policy of provisional peace-at-any-cost is leading the region to greater destruction. It is unfortunate that he still does not have any remorse even after two decades of sad history unfolding before his eyes. His ethnic federalism will utterly destroy Africa unless Africans devise an authentic “democracy” for themselves.

  24. Yihhun,

    Are you kidding me? US/UK was involved since the inception of TPLF and EPLF. Who was funding them when they were rebels, including Arabs/Egypt was funding this group to take power. Those who weakened Mengistu were also those within the Derg of course such as Dawit Woldegiorigis, etc. they were working secretly with the West to bring down Mengistu, they were naive that the West will bring Democracy to Ethiopia I guess we never learn from other African nations. These former Dergs who sacrificed Ethiopioa didn’t know that West was back stabbing them to put TPLF in power already. The promise is that Eritrea will be independent, TPLF will give more power for Egypt for water which the West wanted to keep Israel safe, TPLF will rule for 99 years without the interference of the West. If need be, Tigray will also break up. What the West will get is strategic interest for U.S.

    Take a look at our past leaders before Meles. No foreign governments were involved in putting past Ethiopoian leaders, even Mengistu. And despite Mengistu’ brutal action, Ethiopoia was still stable. Past kings were in power also by support of the people or by their own. Everytime foreign governement involved such as in this case U.S, U.K, Egypt, etc, it means they own it along with the dictators they stored. So Ethiopoia today is owned by TPLF, West, Arabs.

    Who is to blame? Obviously you can’t blame the West or Arabs as they interest is different than those of Ethiopians. You can’t blame Shaebia or TPLF as their interest repeatedly told us that their interest is only for their own respective people. What I blame is the repeated foolishnes of our so called politicians who can’t seem to learn from past history of what happens to a nation when outsiders are involved in giving power of leadership. Our first experience has been with TPLF and let this be our last and do not keep repeating bad history over and over again. Even as we speak in case everything in Ethipia is out of control, outsiders have allied with OLF and ONLF to break up Ethiopia if need be.

    What is so sad about the West especially is that how easy they forget the alliance they did during our king Haile selassie. They know the people are allways with the West and yet they are damaging Ethiopia. What do they gain by damaging their own ally Ethiopians instead by destabilizing the country, pushing Ethiopian people away from the West, they are just creating animosity and the only Judao-Christian country in the region that has historic ties with Israel? It is such a sad fact. Instead they are allying with Arabs and extremists to destory Ethiopia? That is what I can’t grab what they gain by damaging Ethiopia. They know every single thing the plan of TPLF and Shaebia.

    So the point is to store our own leader without the interference of outsiders otherwise, it will be another disaster. However, since Ethiopia has enemies, it needs its defence they only way to get it and to win was when there used to be a balance of power where you can buy arms from any powerful countries to defend your country but since some powerful nations will soon be gone, such as Russia, China because U.S is becoming to be the global dominance in economy and arms therefore, you are at the mercy of only one powerful country.

    I repeat, work within without involving outsiders and we can solve our differences. It is very clear now TPLF, Shebia are enemies to both Eritrean and Ethiopians so and work with outsiders. Of course you can’t trust ONLF and OLF. Of course this doesn’t mean we won’t have allies. We are also better if we strengthen our friendship with Israel, we can learn so many things from them to protect ourselves when we used to be allies during king Haileselassie.

  25. ibro-ogadenia on

    I wonder,why cohen is using somali Ethiopia instead of (Ogadenia),u cann,t hide your hand balm with are a ware of the dictator melles and his ruthless woyanna ,will be accountable to the thousands he massacred in ogaden.either support through media by saying
    we have an eye to strtegy when a human life you dishonoured.what type of polical philosophy ethicaly you had.
    Ogaden people wake up this the type of a civilised nations philospher.”we look our interest”. is,nt the people see your activity or u thing you are chatting with childreens,east africa won,t be the yesterday policy.

  26. Tesfa on

    Mr Cohen is not responsible for the ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia, or for the thirty years of massacre of Eritreans. He is not responsible for haile selassie, mengistu or meles. Ethiopians are responsible for their countries fate and for their governments behaviour towards neighbouring countries and peoples. The sooner Ethiopians accept and internalize this fact, the faster Ethiopia and her children will have peace and the sooner the sooner we are all going to get to a peaceful region. Mr Cohen and his likes are just opportunists with detestable motives serving a detestable empire.


  27. Hailemariam on

    This is a joke! We need action! The American government must stop supporting the Meles (Legese) regime.

  28. Eritrea on

    What really surprised me was like all or ruther some (a majority in some cases by the way) Ethiopians, the interviewer tried to make Mr. Cohen say “sorry” or the out come what “not what i expected” or something similar when it came to the Eritrean issue. But the guy was very clear and to the point. No regrets, the Eritreans were and are bound to be free. Period. I was wondering why, “ETHIOMEDIA” posted the video…!!. The editor is Eritrea freak, and stands everything what Eritrea and Eritreans are for. The way forward, from now on is: how do we start the long way to words integration, and if handled with care, towards unity?, that is a discussion only the intellect need to perseu.

    Well done Mr. Cohen, respect!


  29. I listened to Mr. Cohen’s interview and I agree with his analysis that as long as the Al-Shababa exists in Somalia, American government will continue to support the Meles regime as a strategic interest. However, the interviewer failed to ask Mr. Cohen the issue whether or not Meles Zenawi is blackmailing the USA by clandestinely supporting Al-Shabab to operate in Somalia. The is a strong evidence that both Meles and Esayas have played a significant role in establishing an Islamic militant in the Horn of Africa to make sure that the USA never swerve with its support. In the 90s, I had personally witnessed a number of young people’s being recruited in Ethiopia and Somalia and sent to Afghanistan and Pakistan for training. This was funded by Saudi Arabia Wehabi movement and I believe the strong role of Sheikh Mohamed Al-Mudin.

    From my personal assessment, the Meles regime will continue to draw support from the USA as long as Al-Shabab remains active in Somalia. The only way to end the Meles regime is by making sure that this militant organisation destroyed by a Somali democratic movement. I am asking the Ethiopian Diaspora to look for a way to open up a route how they can make some significant contribution to democratic forces and strong Somalia government come to power in Somalia.

    This is the right time to bring about change in Ethiopia. Ethiopians have to understand that a viable democratic society could only be established if a all inclusive political system is promoted in the country. As one Herman Cohen correctly cited one university professor in Addis Ababa, there are many Ethiopians who entertain the notion that Ethiopia can only be governed through single political ideology. They do not give a chance to pluralistic approach. If you challenge any Ethiopian about his political opinion, he/she would immediately accuse you unpatriotic or traitor. This is the main reason that Meles continue to rule in Addis Ababa. There are many Ethiopians who fear the unknown future that would materialised if this dictator vanished from all political system.

    I was surprised by some Diaspora attitude about what it does mean to be an Ethiopian. Recently in interview Elias Kifle conducted with Esat Ethiopian TV, he made it clearly that what his version of Ethiopianism constitutes and he obliviously of the fact at the ground ignored main principles that underpin the anti-oppressive practice. The anti-oppressive practice is a concept which has got significance in social work study. The concept of social justice and human rights imply that we should stand up with all oppressed people. By representing only one version of the oppressed people, we have the danger of creating oppressive practice to continue as long as the Ethiopian people exist. The history of Ethiopian people is a history of subjugation of one people by another people. If we want come out this vicious cycle of oppressive practice, we have to build a democratic and shared country among all of us. That shared country could only be created if we try to use our leverage to profess for a new discourse in the Ethiopia people’s history. This practice should not be only in words but also in deed.
    If you listen to the interview Elias Kifle gave to the Esat TV, you can clearly see what he thinks represent Ethiopia. The comment was made when he was asked about his visit to Eritrea. He said these two countries should have not been first of all being allowed to separate. I do agree with him. However, he continued to say that his reason is that Ethiopia and Eritrea is the same people. And he said that the dressing, greeting, church and other distinctive feature of Christian Ethiopia as the main reason for his comment. However, Elias has forgotten about the fact that Ethiopia is a home to many nation/nationalities with their own culture. He also talks about the Christian religion many times. I have no problem with the Christian religion. But the picture Elias want to draw about Ethiopianism through the lenses of Christianity an erroneous venture that might anger many people who feel the oppression being implemented by the current Ethiopian government. This would alienate them and this is not health for the future Ethiopia we would like to establish.

    I have strong belief that religion is a personal matter and it should be kept out of the Ethiopian political picture. We should never try to justify a political question through one or another religion. Ethiopians follow many religious doctrines they have shown extreme tolerance with one another. We used to celebrate both religious festivals without any major concern. Keeping the politics out from the religious piousness transference would be the best anti-oppressive strategy we should promote in Ethiopia. How we could be more anti-oppressive in our analysis of the Ethiopian politics a crucial ingredient that Ethiopian political system lacked for many years.

    I wrote this comment to show my disappointment by the analysis Elias used in explaining some problems in Ethiopia. I do agree with many points Elias has made in his interview. As far as the regime in Ethiopia is concerned we are in the same boat. However, it would be better if Elias as an editor of an influential website in Ethiopian’s politics adopted some more inclusive approach when it comes to culture, religion, language, and other distinctive features of Ethiopians. Let me give one example that always baffles me. Ethiopian in Diaspora thinks that all Ethiopians have the some physical facial features. To be Ethiopian for them is to be light skinned. If they see another person with black complexion, they would assume that he/she is not an Ethiopian. Never the less, there are many Ethiopians who have dark skins. If you are dressed differently than the Northern Ethiopian way of dressing they would think that you came from another country than Ethiopia. I remember one occasion when I was walking in Addis Ababa and approach by a young female who wanted to court me to have a relationship with her because she assumed that I was a foreign national. They reason behind her assumption was that my deep dark skin. She was taken aback by surprise when I spoke to her in Amharic. I tried to speak to her to convince her that I was not a foreign national an even I told her small town I came from. It turned out that I could not persuade her about my Ethiopianism to this girl. I do not blame her. She has not made this discourse to remain alive in Ethiopian culture. All our system sustains it and Elias has repeated it in his interview with the Esat. She tried to speak to me in English and when she heard I spoke Amharic she was taken aback by surprise. This is one of the many occasions I started to question what does Ethiopianism means. I do not blame this young girl. However, it would not be good for someone in higher social responsibility to vision and convey his way of Ethiopianism. The concept of inclusiveness means that we have to take on board all cultural, language, physical, facial features of all Ethiopians so that we promote the practice of anti-oppressive approach in all fabric of Ethiopian system. We do not want to replace a tyranny by another tyranny. A holistic change in the whole system is important. We should adopt a new discourse in each and every part of the Ethiopian people way of living and thinking. It is only in this way we could address the dysfunction of the societal fabric.
    To sum up, I am strongly advising Elias Kifle to adopt an anti-oppressive practice to fight against the injustice and violation of human rights in all level of oppression. A famous American social work writer, Thomson, Neil, has eloquently stated oppressive practices operate in three levels in a given society. These levels are: personal level, cultural level and structural level. I do not want to expound further what constitutes each level. I would like to leave for reader of this comment to investigate the issue more deeply. Unless we actively reflect on our practice, in this case journalism, we would not be out of part of the oppressive system.

  30. Anonymous on

    The irony is that just before Herman Cohen and other Jews handed over Ehiopia to the wolves and snakes, another less-known jewish author had written a book outlining that if Ethiopia is to disintegrate or cease to be the way she has existed for millenniums, it would be because EPLF, TPLF and their co-horts. The book was written by certain Moshe (last name and title of book cant be recalled). Our guess is the high-placed Jews like Mr. Cohen have proven not to stand truly for the interest of Israel. They have done an irreparable damage to Ethiopia playing her as just another proxy African country this time with Israel’s interest specially at heart. Now, after 20 years of the unbelievable, we know Israel and America for who they are. After 20 years of Assyria; wolves; snakes; Gog & Mgog; world disorder and much more, the architects of that infamous May 1991 day should simply disappear silently into oblivion instead of making waves with their self-serving talks. The fact is Israel & America are still content with the current regime of Ethiopia, which is very wrong from the view within. The country of David’s Throne, The Arc of the Covenant, and the Tribes of Jacob ought to count for something.

  31. Ali,

    When you said Isayas and Meles were sending Ethiopians and Somalians to be Al qaeda. Can you send this information to State Department please? That explains why one Ethiopian, Benyam was sent to Gitmo. This is a strong evidence for the U.S to arrest Meles and Isayas. This information should be all over sites and reach the world.
    Ali, I hear about what you said. Don’t take things personally about each Ethiopians’ actions. Call it uneducated. It is lack of education and leaders who continue to drum up prejudice. As far as Elias is concerned, I don’t think he is also expert in politics, and the social aspect of Ethiopia. Me too, I don’t know much. Why Elias is here is because the love he has for Ethiopia however emotions drives him than knowledge. Emotion then should be transformed in how to play politics as well what it means to be Ethiopian from all aspect of Ethiopia, he as well as US should take this opportunity to learn about entire Ethiopia rather than small portion. Therefore, we are ignorant and we shouldn’t act as if we have knowledge about Ethiopia just because we know i.e Addis. We shouldn’t act mature and educated about Ethiopia just because we are all of the sudden participating in her politics. So, I agree with you. Many in the diaspora/Ethiopia have knowledge about Ethiopia that is why they are indifferent from involving truly and be active toward the well being of Ethiopia.

  32. United We Stand on

    Dear Mr. Cohel Herman,
    First, thanks for your frank answers. Having said that, as prodemocrat activist, i must say respectfuly it sounds double standards of disapointing news for those of us who advocate passionately for genuine democracy, human right, justice for all and regional/beyond responsible peaceful unity; not that woyane’s despicable choatic aparthiedism version of democracy.
    However, it’s understandable keeping the interest of the U.S in the strategically vital horn of Africa, hopefully in fair and mutual ways with the suffering natives by their dictatorship regimes.

  33. Gurmu on


    What u mentioned about the social reality in ethiopia is right. I remember few years ago, a freelance journalist then working a documentary for CNN, a very dark skinned west african,went in to an orthodox church in wollo after which people started to shout that a devil has entered the church. The priest laboured to calm down the people and told them that this man is God’s creature, has the same nose, eyes like them and asked them to calm down. This is superstition. There are many such examples of social prejudices. But we have to show maturity in the way we fight social prejudice. One is to deinstituitionalise social prejudice in the form of self governance, equal oppotunities and protection of the rights of minorities and socially discriminated groups. There are many researches , articles written in addis ababa university of social pejudices, cast outlooks among the multitude of nationalities. It is not foucsed in amahara or gurage alone. it also exists within the south like the sidama, wolayita, etc. the first stride forward is to recognise that such prejudice exist and outline a system of governance to ensure that the rights and interests of all citizens are respected. Glossing over the problem does not help. In civic education, the media and social groups the issue should be addressed.

  34. kassu on

    The diaspora which i am a part of can’t seem to get the idea that America and the jews stand for their cause FIRST than to ours, unless you happen to play a key part in AMERICAN POLITICS. This interview could have been better for what it was, DIPLOMACY rather than an apprehensive and poor line of qusetioning the guest. Even i, who is not a journalist, can tell you that was a poor performance and could have been done much better.

    What kind of a journalist believes that one american can be responsible for betraying ethiopia when that person is not even ethiopian and prepare this line of questioning as such. The guest didn’t want to do the interview and we blew a chance to show we are upto the task understanding diplomacy and international relations

    We have a cause, a well founded one. let us present it in a professional way.

    there is always c-span.

  35. I was intrigued by this post which explains Cohen’s support for Eritrea’s break up from Ethiopia. No wonder Mr. Issayas lashes out comfortably against the West when he know the West and Eritrea are in cahoots with eachother. I am sure TPLF knows this too. This means the breaking up of Ethiopia will soon materialize to weaken it further.

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