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.
Jeremy Corbyn leads a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London in 2014, one year before becoming Labour Party leader. Photo: File.
This marked a massive rise from the previous such survey, in which only 39% of Jews believed Corbyn was antisemitic.
British Jews also expressed an extremely low opinion of the Labour Party in general. The poll showed that 85.6% believed Labour suffered from “very high” levels of antisemitism.
Corbyn and his party have been beset with a series of high-profile antisemitism scandals for several years, which has resulted in the resignation and suspension of several prominent officials. Corbyn himself was recently caught on video saying that “Zionists” did not understand “English irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time.”
Makuya in Jerusalem 201 (YouTube)
Like an apple tree among trees of the forest, So is my beloved among the youths. I delight to sit in his shade, And his fruit is sweet to my mouth. (Song of Songs 2:3)
For ten days in late August, Israeli Rabbi Benny Lau and his wife, Rabbanit Noah Lau, traveled from Jerusalem to Japan to lead Bible study for groups of Makuya Japanese Christians. The Laus traveled to five Japanese towns and spent three days together at a weekend conference with 3,400 members of the Makuya group.
Makuya is Japanese for the Hebrew word Mishkan, the tent of meeting, where human beings come into contact with God. The Mishkan was the portable sanctuary that the Israelites used in the desert, before entering Israel and building the First Holy Temple.
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (Psalm 11:5)
Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. (Credit: Agencia O Globo)
Jair Bolsonaro, the front-runner in the upcoming presidential election in Brazil, was stabbed during a campaign rally Thursday and was undergoing surgery.
The far-right politician, whose heated rhetoric has electrified some voters and angered others – -who accuse him of racism and homophobia – in a deeply polarized electorate, was attacked amid a crowd in the south-east state of Minas Gerais. Bolsonaro has performed strongly in recent opinion polls.
Those same polls suggested that he will likely receive the most votes in next month’s presidential elections, especially if the country’s former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (‘Lula’) remains blocked from standing. He is currently in prison, but is appealing against his candidacy ban – imposed after his conviction for corruption.
Republican lawmakers have made it clear they have no intention of repealing Obamacare in the current Congress.
Republicans in the nation’s top lawmaking body have never really wanted to get rid of Obamacare. They would prefer to present the program, which David Horowitz correctly describes as “the greatest assault on individual freedom and individual choice in our lifetimes,” as a villain and whip up sentiment against it and run against it every election. They view Obamacare as good for the business of politics. They may chip away at it from time to time or tinker with it at the margins, but make no mistake: these creatures of Washington want to keep it in place. This is the Republicans’ dirty secret.
The Trump administration has decided to reopen a case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, previously closed by the Obama administration in 2014, alleging that the university had allowed Jewish students to be subjected to a hostile environment in violation of Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. The issue, ignored by the Obama administration, was whether the students were discriminated against based on their actual or perceived Jewish ancestry or ethnicity. Kenneth L. Marcus, the new assistant secretary of education for civil rights, decided that the case deserved another look.
Nestled in the Han River in the middle of South Korea’s bustling capital of Seoul, Yeoui Island is hardly where one would expect to find the largest mega-church in the world. Home to the city’s business and financial district, its skyline dotted with skyscrapers, the island boasts some of the country’s most powerful institutions, such as the Korean stock exchange and the headquarters of LG, the international conglomerate.
The AfD’s opponents, who often brand the party as “far right” or “extremist,” claim that the party’s alleged ties to neo-Nazi groups pose an existential threat to Germany’s constitutional order. The AfD’s supporters counter that Germany’s politically correct establishment, afraid of losing its power and influence, is attempting to outlaw a legitimate party that has pledged to put the interests of German citizens first.
Israel’s Palestinian foes regard “martyrdom” as the supremely highest expression of Islamic sacredness. Nonetheless, there are certain conspicuously prominent disjunctions between the relevant obligations of faith and expectations of international law. Unambiguously, only the latter set of obligations can offer a suitably authoritative source for assessing Palestinian resorts to armed force.
This is the case even when the stated objective of such resorts would be “self-determination” and/or “national liberation.”
“Setting fire to the ground,” a “major catastrophe,” bringing “new instability” are the headlines that have greeted Donald Trump’s unorthodox decisions over the past year. Withdrawing from UNESCO, moving the US Embassy, leaving the Iran deal and cutting funding to UNRWA and funding for Pakistan were seen as extreme decisions in the Middle East and around the world. Insofar as there is a “Trump Doctrine,” it has been to call this bluff.
In the mind-set of Trump and his team, the time has come for the United States to move quickly to reverse decades of foreign policy norms, ending the status quo, and ripping up what the previous administrations did.
The jihadi assault on and massacre of Christians continued unabated throughout the Muslim word. According to one report titled, “Armed gangs WIPE OUT 15 villages in mass Christian slaughter in Nigeria,” several Islamic terrorists “stormed through 15 villages to massacre Christians and destroy their churches in a violent crackdown against the religion…. Dozens of people have been killed after the gangs ransacked towns and villages to clear them of all aspects of the Christian faith.
Wars are raging in various parts of the Middle East, although there is a tendency not to call the conflicts by that name because of the fear conjured up by the word.
One conflagration is the war Iran is waging against those – headed by Israel – who stand in the way of its plans to take over the entire Middle East.
Another is the Assad regime’s war to take back control of the entire country, and a third is the PLO’s battle for survival.
Much has been written about the first of these wars, and reports have claimed that from early 2017 on, Israel has launched over 200 attacks in Syria, mainly at targets connected to Iran.