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 University of Cape Town campus. Photo: Adrian Frith via Wikimedia Commons.
The University of Cape Town, the top-ranking academic institution in Africa, is set to consider enforcing an academic boycott against Israel later this month.
The UCT Senate, a decision-making body comprised primarily of professors and administrators, endorsed a proposal on March 15 to bar the university from entering into any formal relationship with Israeli academic institutions that operate “in the occupied Palestinian territories,” or otherwise enable “gross human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the university said in a statement.
The campus of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
JNS.org – Students at Brown University voted overwhelmingly in favor of a referendum held between Tuesday and Thursday, calling on the school to separate itself from companies that conduct business with the State of Israel.
The tally was 69 percent in favor and 31 percent against.
Members of the pro-Israel community nationally and locally condemned the outcome.
“For the sake of My servant Yaakov, Yisrael My chosen one, I call you by name, I hail you by title, though you have not known Me.” Isaiah 45:4 (The Israel Bible™)
Many have seen similarities between the Biblical King Cyrus and President Donald Trump. (Breaking Israel News)
After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!
Many are claiming this was a pre-election gift to Trump’s friend, Netanyahu, but it others see a much larger significance that transcends politics and enters into the realm of the Biblical. One such belief was expressed by Breaking Israel News publisher Rabbi Tuly Weisz, who noted that the announcement came on the Jewish holiday of Purim.
“The same days on which the Yehudim enjoyed relief from their foes and the same month which had been transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy. They were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor.” Esther 9:22 (The Israel Bible™)
If there was ever a quintessentially Jewish holiday, it’s Purim, when the Jewish people were threatened by Haman, a descendant of Amalek, and saved by God’s hidden hand. Even so, we find examples of people from the Nations being inspired by the story of Purim and even gathering to mark the day alongside the Jewish people.
Protesters waving Turkish and Palestinian flags shout anti-Israel slogans during a demonstration in Amsterdam June 4, 2010. Israel’s raid of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla has set off a diplomatic furor, drawing criticism from friends and foes alike and straining ties with regional ally Turkey, which cal. (photo credit: REUTERS)
AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags turned their backs on a Dutch chief rabbi during his eulogy at a vigil for Muslims killed in New Zealand.
The incident Sunday happened as Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs was discussing the meaning of a minute of silence at the gathering at the Dam Square World War II memorial monument. Thousands of people, many of them Muslims, gathered at the square to commemorate the 49 people slain Friday by a far-right killer at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Hamas is now accusing the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah of exploiting the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip to call on Palestinians to overthrow the Hamas regime. Fatah, for its part, is accusing the “dark forces” of Hamas of acting on orders from outside parties to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
The US administration says it will publish its long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East, known as the “Deal of the Century,” after the general elections in Israel on April 9
There is a difference between an “honest broker” and a “neutral arbiter.” In advance of the rollout of its Middle East peace plan, the Trump administration has taken a series of steps to ensure its role as the honest broker. The U.S. is not “neutral” between our ally, Israel, and the Palestinians who seek to replace it. But it won’t be easy to change presumptions that are deeply embedded in the
When the FBI informs us that parents are ready to spend up to $6.5 million in bribes to get their children into prestige colleges, it seemingly implies that all is very, very well in the American university. But Warren Treadgold tells us that’s an illusion.
He’s a distinguished professor of Byzantine history at St. Louis University who has also taught at Berkeley, FIU, Hillsdale, Stanford, and UCLA. Having entered college in 1967, he draws on long experience to both indict and offer a remedy of the most thoroughly left-wing major institution in America. His book, The University We Need (Encounter, 2018) presents its case with insight and a light touch.
The threat posed by Hezbollah and Ali Musa Daqduq, a senior operative in Hezbollah, was unmasked by Israel on Wednesday.
Daqduq was responsible for the “abduction and execution of five American servicemen in Iraq in 2007,” the IDF said. The role of Hezbollah members in neighboring states is an illustration of how groups allied with Iran are continuing to build a web linking Tehran to Beirut via a “road to the sea” that transits Iraq and Syria.
According to the IDF, the role of Daqduq includes establishing terror cells in Iraq to fight the US in 2006, stints training in Lebanon in 2013-2018 and now putting down roots in Syria.
Every few weeks, some political or national figure demands a national conversation about race. (Most recently, Senator Kamala Harris insisted, “We have not had these honest discussions about race.”)
What does a conversation about race mean? Invariably, an indictment of the fundamental unfairness of our country, the historical roots of racism in white supremacy, and the national guilt of white people.
Or, to put it more simply, why Senator Kamala Harris deserves to be in the White House.
We don’t have national conversations about anti-Semitism because the problem can’t be narrowed down to an easily blamed demographic. The Democrats invariably try to blame anti-Semitism on the usual suspects, white male Republicans living more than two hundred miles from a Starbucks, but the largest toll of violent anti-Semitic attacks tend to fall on New York City’s black neighborhoods.