Can a new prime minister finally offer a better life to his people?
Ethiopia recently elected Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed: a 42-year-old reformer intent on making Africa’s second-largest country the only true democracy on the continent. Last week, Prime Minister Abiy’s trip to Eritrea’s capital city Asmara was promising, signaling a thawing of relations with its arch-enemy following two decades of conflict.
During the historic summit, Abiy and Eritrea’s rebel-turned-dictator Isaias Afwerki agreed to jointly open up shared airspace, to rekindle joint communications, and to re-open embassies. Importantly, Eritrea will now permit Ethiopia to use its port, which became landlocked as a result of Eritrea’s secession from Ethiopia 25-years ago. Ethiopia’s trade capital, Addis Ababa, will finally have access to the Red Sea.
According to Abiy, the two leaders agreed,
To bring down the wall between us. Now there is no border between Ethiopia and Eritrea. That borderline is gone today with the display of a true love…love is greater than modern weapons like tanks and missiles. Love can win hearts, and we have seen a great deal of it today here in Asmara. From this time on, war is not an option for the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia. What we need now is love.
Since his swearing in on April 2, 2018, Abiy has promised to reform Ethiopian governance. During his first speech, Abiy espoused western principles including promoting the idea of Ethipoians’ right to choose their own occupation, supporting protections to ensure human rights, and he extolled the virtues of economic security. But what raised eyebrows was Abiy’s bold invitation to Ethiopian exiles saying, “We will welcome you home,” and promised, “the coming season in Ethiopia is a season of peace and reconciliation.”
As for the Ethiopian economy, Abiy has already given it a shot-in-the-arm by stemming the notoriously high inflation rate that plagued the country. Abiy’s new economic strategy, and overall optimism about the future, has investors excited about investing in Addis Ababa’s economy. Ethiopia, a country rich in natural resources, has now been given the opportunity to become an African economic power with potential for broader political influence in the region and beyond.
Less than a year ago, Ethiopia was on the verge of bankruptcy and civil war. Angry citizens rose up against their government in spite of emergency laws the government instituted. Since then, Abiy has earned trust by lifting the state of emergency in the country, and by his appointing a Muslim woman to serve as Ethiopia’s parliamentary chairperson. He has appointed a generally more responsive cabinet and is engaging with ordinary citizens from around the country to help inform policy-making.
Most Ethiopians revere this unusual politician, with a few exceptions. Ethiopian’s rebel group Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that hitherto dominated the ethnic-based coalition government has been critical of the new leaders’s reforms. At times, opposition to Abiy has been deadly – at a recent rally, someone lobbed a grenade in a crowd – an attack that left him unharmed but killed “a few people” and wounded many.
Dr. Abiy Ahmed was born in Agaro in southern Ethiopia to an Oromo-Muslim father and an Amhara-Christian mother. As a teenager, he joined the armed struggle against the Marxist Derg regime. He holds a doctorate in peace and security issues from Addis Ababa University and a master’s degree in transformational leadership from the University of Greenwich in London. Abiy speaks fluent Oromo, Amharic and Tigrinya, the leading three languages of Ethiopia, and is also fluent in English. As an officer in the Ethiopian army (Lieutenant-Colonel), Abiy served in 1995 as a UN peacekeeper in Rwanda. He founded the Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency (INSA) in 2007 and served as a board member of Ethiopian TV. In 2010, he entered politics as a member Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) and joined the Executive Committee in 2015. The following year, Abiy was appointed Ethiopia’s Minister of Science and Technology.
Abiy is Ethiopia’s first Oromo Prime Minister. The Oromo ethnic group is the largest in Ethiopia’s diverse population of over 102.4 million. It has also been at the center of a three-year anti-government protest, which left hundreds of people dead. The Oromo people have complained of being marginalized politically, economically, and culturally. In the coalition government umbrella called the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Abiy’s OPDO is one of its four components. The decision to appoint Abiy as PM had an obvious connection to the rebellion, and demographic weight of the Oromo people.
Given Ethiopia’s enhanced strategic position in the Horn of Africa as a result of concluding a peace treaty with Eritrea, it now has an opening to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, where the busiest oil tanker traffic occurs. For the international community and especially to the European and Asian states, the coastal belt comprising of Eritrea, Djibouti, Somaliland, and Somalia must become secured, guaranteeing the safety of trade from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean. The newly achieved peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea is a positive step in that direction.
Former EPRP leader, and renowned activist, Professor Getachew Begashaw says this of the strategic importance of Ethiopia:
It should be noted that the Horn of Africa (or Northeast Africa) is as much a part of the Middle East as it is of Africa. Consequently, Ethiopia has been directly or indirectly connected with the crises’ that have long characterized the Middle East and the Mediterranean world for most of its history. The Ethiopian highlands catch most of the rainfall — earning the country the label, “the Water Tower of Africa.” In fact, Ethiopia provides over 86% of the Nile waters.
The potential conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Mega (Renaissance) Nile Dam enhances Ethiopia’s strategic importance in the region (Israel could serve as an impartial mediator). At the same time, the collapse of state authorities in Somalia and South Sudan, the threat of Al-Shabab (affiliated with al-Qaeda), and political Islam, pose a challenge for the Abiy government.
The new prime minister holds the promise of a better life for average Ethiopians. Having started the peace process with Eritrea, Abiy can now turn to assure the economic progress, political stability, and regional influence of the country.
The US Treasury added three top Hezbollah figures to its list of sanctioned individuals on Tuesday, including two members of the Lebanese Parliament and a security official responsible for coordinating between Hezbollah and Lebanon’s security agencies.
It was the first time the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated a member of Lebanon’s Parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to terrorist organizations. Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
South African fans in Cairo celebrating their team’s win over Egypt at the African Cup of Nations. Photo: Reuters / Sumaya Hisham.
Three days after South Africa stunned the world of international soccer by knocking hosts Egypt out of the 2019 African Cup of Nations, the sound of elation remains clearly detectable in the voice of the team’s Jewish midfielder, Dean Furman.
“It was a fantastic victory, just fantastic,” Furman told The Algemeiner during a break in training on Tuesday, as South Africa prepared for its crucial quarterfinal game against Nigeria, another of the continent’s toughest sides, tomorrow.
Pieter van Oordt, left, with his brother, Roger, at the Israel
For the second time in recent history, a Dutch Christian organization dedicated to supporting Israel has gone head-to-head with the government. With their family tradition of belief in Israel that preceded the state of Israel by almost one hundred years, it seems unlikely that the van Oordts are about to back down, no matter what the odds.
Last month, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy made a request from the management of the Israel Products Center (IPC) to ensure they were in compliance with regulations adopted in 2015 by the European Commission requiring products made by Jewish owned companies in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and sections of Jerusalem to be labeled in a manner indicating their origins.
Studies have shown that dairy cows contribute large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the organisms living in their microbiomes.
Genetically modifying cows may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed world populations, a new study led by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggests.
“Our findings are both a major breakthrough for basic science and will have a positive impact on two major challenges facing the international community for the foreseeable future: climate change and food security,” Mizrahi said.
The decision by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to promote Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter reflects his future political aspirations.
Incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi walks out at the end of a handover ceremony where he replaces Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 15, 2019.
Israel has its own version of Napoleon’s famous saying, “Every soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his pack.” In these parts, every general carries a prime minister’s baton — or at least that of a defense minister — in his pack
As Islamist Watch has pointed out many times before, Islam is enormously diverse – containing many competing schools of theology, schools of jurisprudence, sects, ethnicities, cultures and mysticisms. Islamism is also not a single force; it comprises dozens of (both) competing and collaborating radical ideologies.
One of the most intriguing divisions, then, within both American Islam and Islamism of late has been growing dissent over the question of liberalism.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, I ran an article about how incredibly fake the news coverage was about his inauguration. (Those reading my site know I’m not a big Trump fan, but credit where credit is due and calling fake where calling fake is due.) The media was nothing short of spectacularly fake in the news it contrived that week on CNN, the New York Times and the other major fake media, and they mostly got away with it.
It wasn’t condescension or contempt. Recent remarks by former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit reek of racism. That is the proper way to frame them, calling them anything else is letting him off easy. In its classic, formal sense, racism is when a certain social sector perceives itself as superior because of clear racial criteria. Shavit represents an updated version of racism that doesn’t require ethnicity or religion as proof of a defect – you can call it “essential racism.”
Little Napoleon Barak is going to save Israeli Democracy? What a bunch of claptrap Orwellian doublespeak.
Well let’s check out history. How well did the original Napoleon save France’s democratic revolution against the monarchy?
Hmm, if I recall he crowned himself emperor!
For years, the pundits have been telling us that Israeli democracy is in danger because of the Arab birthrate, or because of the Jewish nation-state law, or because of the debates over the powers of Israel’s High Court.
I wonder if they will recognize the danger posed by the 10 left-wing American Jewish organizations that have formed a new umbrella organization, the essential purpose of which is to undermine Israeli democracy.