[dehai-news] Americanchronicle.com: Ethiopia's Latest Deceptive Ploy: "Withdrawing from Somalia"


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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Dec 05 2008 - 06:41:34 EST


Ethiopia's Latest Deceptive Ploy: "Withdrawing from Somalia"
Sophia Tesfamariam

December 5, 2008
 The recent drama taking place in the Horn of Africa is nothing more than an orchestrated scam designed to skim the US public once more, and force the incoming US Administration to accept and legitimize the illegal, immoral and down right stupid US-backed Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia. First it "announced" it decision to pull out of Somalia by the end of the year, then it brought more troops into Somalia, and barely a week later its "anonymous" officials are hinting that they may stay "a few more weeks". This deceptive drama, orchestrated for the sake of the incoming Obama Administration is transparent and is not fooling anyone of us who have followed developments in the region. It is a cruel hoax designed to keep US finances flowing into Ethiopia and keeping Somalia weak and balkanized for many years to come.

Meles Zenawi has been talking about withdrawing from Somalia from the get go. Notwithstanding the fact that his marauding forces have been vanquished in the last two years and the "withdrawals" are ploys to bring in more troops, as it has recently done to cover up his regimes mistakes and losses in Somalia, this "withdrawal" is yet another hoax. The last two years of Somalia´s invasion and occupation have been filled with deceit, lies, pomp and empty rhetoric. This latest drama is no different. It is a deliberate diversion and the motives are quite transparent. For those who have not followed Meles Zenawi´s saga in Somalia, let us review his many "threats to withdraw" and see why two years later and after boasting of military success, his vanquished forces are being routed out of Somalia by Somalia´s gallant children. No amount of military force can dampen the aspirations and dreams of the Somali people who are determined to liberate their country from all occupying forces. Meles´ flip flopping saga begins right after the invasion in December 2006.

On 2 January 2007, the Guardian reported on Meles Zenawi´s pompous address to the rubberstamp Ethiopian parliament. This is what Meles said then:

".We have now routed and broken the backbone of the force bracing to destabilise our country and the whole of the Horn of Africa, sticking to our back like a thorn difficult to remove.We will withdraw our forces within a few weeks as it is our irrevocable position."

Did he say irrevocable position? We´ll see.

His friend and confidante, Jendayi E.Frazer, the US Secretary of State for African Affairs, who stayed in the region to supervise the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia, informed the world on 7 January 2007 that a "stabilization force" was going to be established, against the expressed wishes of the Somali people. In a Press Conference held in Nairobi at the end of a closed door meeting Frazer said:

"."The Contact Group clearly felt that it was important that there not be a security vacuum in Somalia.But we also felt that it was therefore urgent to get a stabilization force into Somalia with a process also of political dialogue and reconciliation so that the role of that stabilization force will be sustainable in terms of bringing about real peace in Somalia."

Days later, in a 12 January 2007 press conference. Meles Zenawi, taking his cue from his friend and confidante, announced the following:

".Ethiopian troops would not stay in Somalia for indefinite time.Ethiopian troops would stay in Somalia for the specific time hoping that the peacekeeping forces will arrive on time.Contrary to the reports of some media outlets, there is no sign of significant violence in Mogadishu. no single Ethiopian soldier has either been wounded or killed in Mogadishu since Ethiopian troops entered the city. there have been small unit operations in and around Raskamboni and the Kenyan and Somali boarder which is the last hideout of the terrorists.Such small unit operations are expected to be completed soon."

But he was not sounding that confident a few weeks later.

Meles´ regime, citing "onerous financial burdens", announced a multi phased withdrawal and on 27 January 2007, in a staged effort to hoodwink the Ethiopian people, a mock ceremony was held in Mogadishu, "to mark the start of Ethiopia's withdrawal from Somalia". Only 200 soldiers were seen leaving at the start of a supposedly three-phased process. It should be recalled that analysts had put Ethiopia´s troop levels in Somalia at 30,000 to 40,000 to "prop up" the illegitimate TNG.

In a February 2007 Senate hearing held after her return from the Ethiopian capital, when asked by Subcommittee Chairman Russell Feingold about the status of the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer said that they had started their withdrawal in January but it was not yet complete. "It's not my sense that most of the troops have been withdrawn at this point," she stated. It was off course a hoax.the Ethiopians were not leaving. They couldn´t be and she knew it. It was not until March 2007 that the first group of AU peacekeepers entered Somalia.

Once again the deceptive regime pretended to "withdraw" and on 12 March 2007 Xinhua reported the following:

".The Ethiopian troops, stationed in Somalia's capital Mogadishu and its environs, will start the third phase of withdrawal very soon, the military said Monday. The situation in Somalia is "steadily improving," said a statement from Ethiopia's Ministry of Defense. The Ethiopian government had decided that its troops would be withdrawed from Somalia in three phases after averting the threat posed by the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC)'s extremist forces in Somalia.The military statement said the second phase of the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia has continued."

Of course that too was a lie.

In the meantime, Somalia was on fire. IRIN reported in March 2007 that the situation in Somalia was getting worse:

".Insecurity, fear of attacks, removal from public buildings and outright violence are the main reasons for the movement of peoples and more than 40,000 people have left Mogadishu in the past month. The insecurity has restricted mobility and access and this undermines efforts to re-engage at a level that would be a commensurate response to humanitarian needs."

His troops dragged through the streets of Mogadishu and unable to cope, the mercenary Meles threatened to withdraw from Somalia once again, as if he had sole say in the matter. He didn´t. As the BBC reported on 15 May 2007 BBC:

".The US and the African Union have warned Ethiopia not to withdraw its troops from Somalia before peacekeepers are deployed to replace them."

The very next day, the flip flopping mercenary Prime Minister was singing a different tune. On 16 May 2007, he sheepishly said:

".We are, of course, very eager to withdraw at the earliest possible opportunity. We understand that the circumstances in Mogadishu were such that many African countries felt discouraged to send their peacekeeping troops. I believe things have improved very significantly in Mogadishu, making it possible for peacekeeping troops to do their job..."

He was not about to walk away from Somalia. It was too lucrative and the funds were flowing into Ethiopia. This is not the first time that Ethiopia has "threatened to withdraw" from Somalia. Notwithstanding the fact that its forces have been vanquished in Somalia, this is another attempt at fleecing the international community. In the past, each time Ethiopia has "threatened to withdraw" from Somalia, the US-led international community has responded by pouring millions into Meles Zenawi´s coffers and further legitimizing its illegal, immoral and stupid war of invasion and occupation of Somalia.

It is disingenuous for the regime to talk about any financial burdens on his regime. The international community was not only funding his military adventures in Somalia, it was feeding its people, running its schools and universities, providing clean water to its people, fighting diseases such as malaria, vaccinating its people etc. etc. the funds have been rolling into Menelik Palace from the very beginning and they have not stopped.

It should be recalled that the IMF and World Bank eager to help the mercenary regime´s war machinery signed grant and loan agreements between with Ethiopia totaling 232.62 million US dollars on 13 July 2007.

On August 2007 the US Embassy in Addis Ababa announced:

".United States Ambassador Donald Yamamoto announced that the U.S. is providing US $18.7 million (169 million birr) in humanitarian assistance for needs in Ethiopia´s Somali Region."

And again on 20 September 2007, the US Embassy in Addis Ababa announced:

".In recognition of Ethiopia´s strategic importance to the United States, the U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing new funding totaling $96.71 million (874.26 million birr) to assist the Ethiopian people in four key areas: agricultural and private sector development, health care, primary education, and good governance."

On 23 October 2007, money in hand, the flip flopping Prime Minister once again changed his tune. At the 4th regular meeting of the House of Peoples´ Representatives Meles said:

".rushing to pull out the army immediately would have entailed a situation for the already dismantled forces of terror in Somalia to regroup, and thereby to render void the sacrifices already made by the Ethiopian army."

In the meantime, the dough was rolling in. On 26 November 2007, the US Embassy had another announcement:

".Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Henrietta H. Fore announced Monday that the U.S. is providing $2.9 million in humanitarian assistance and $25 million in emergency food aid in response to needs in Ethiopia´s Somali Region.Total USAID disaster assistance for the Somali Region since August 2007 totals $6.6 million.In addition, USAID has provided nearly $25 million (225 million birr) of emergency food assistance to the UN World Food Program (WFP) in response to food insecurity in the Somali Region.The United States has provided over US $225 million (over 2 billion birr) to support humanitarian programs throughout Ethiopia this year."

In an interview with the Guardian held in late January 2008, he once again set the preconditions for removal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia. Meles said that Ethiopia could not disengage militarily until the African Union's peacekeeping mission to Somalia (AMISOM) was up to strength or had at least achieved a "substantial deployment". An illusive idea.

While Ethiopia´ sons were being massacred in Somalia, more funds were flowing into his coffers under various pretexts. The US Embassy announced one such pretext on 25 April 2008:

".Ethiopia became one of the focus countries for PMI last year. This year´s funding of $20 million will be spent primarily in the Oromiya Region, which suffers most from the country´s malaria burden."

But that was not all. In 10 June 2008, there was another announcement from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa:

".The United States Embassy and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that the American people, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided approximately $70 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia in the last two months."

Hold it.there is more. On 23 July 2008, the US Embassy had another announcement:

".The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), have provided an additional $91 million in emergency food aid and $21 million in emergency humanitarian assistance in response to the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia´s revised June 2008 Humanitarian Requirement Report. This new donation coupled with last month´s announcement of $80 million in emergency assistance brings the total U.S. assistance in response to the drought to nearly $200 million."

The more he threatened to pull out, the more the money flowed.

In report posted on 27 August 2008 the Financial Times reported that the Ethiopian PM signaled "shift over Somalia":

".We have done what we could to help an alternative framework so technically we could remove our troops any day, but we have obligations including to the African Union to hold the rein until they are able to deploy their troops and they have been hindered by all sorts of problems, but most particularly, logistical ones. So we feel we need to continue to hold the ring until the African Union is able to deploy actional troops .We will try everything in our capacity to create an environment where our withdrawal would not seriously disrupt this process in Somalia but that is not necessarily precondition for our withdrawal. Our obligation towards peace in Somalia is only one aspect. There are also requirements of our own including financial requirements. The operation has been extremely expensive so we will have to balance the domestic pressures on the one hand and pressures in Somalia on the other and try to come up with a balanced solution."

The threat worked, because on 18 September 2008, there was another announcement from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. It said:

".The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced today that it is providing an additional contribution of nearly $60 million in food assistance to the Ethiopian people through the U.N. World Food Program. The contribution consists of nearly 72,000 metric tons (MT) of food commodities, including approximately 33,000 MT of sorghum, 33,000 MT of wheat, 5,000 MT of corn soya blend (CSB), and 1,000 MT of vegetable oil."

On 22 September 2008, Meles hits pay dirt, the US Embassy has another announcement:

".Today the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development signed U.S. $151 million worth of Grant Agreements to continue mutually agreed-upon support for development programs in the areas of education, health, economic growth, and democracy and governance. This commitment from the United States is the latest installment of a five-year development assistance agenda supporting Ethiopia. To date, the total commitment under this five-year plan has reached U.S. $426 million, a 43 percent increase over the originally planned commitment of U.S. $297 million."

On 24 September 2008 the United States announced that it had:

".pledged over $400 million to support Ethiopia´s development programs in education, health, economic growth, democracy and governance in the next five years."

According to USAID, in U.S. fiscal year 2008, the United States´ total assistance to Ethiopia, through these grants and other programs, including PEPFAR and emergency humanitarian assistance, will total more than U.S. $900 million. In addition the UK´s Department for International Development (DFID) announced on 22 September 2008 that it was providing the TPLF regime with £20 million "to help the country cope with its worsening humanitarian crisis". Ireland provided ?32 million in bilateral development assistance. As we can see, there were no "onerous financial burdens" on the regime.

So what has the US-backed invasion and occupation of Somalia accomplished? What Bloomfield reported on 18 October 2008 has been echoed by many analysts, journalists and aid workers in Somalia:

".a disastrous intervention that sparked new violence and suffering."

".Somalia is now in the midst of its worst ever crisis. The ongoing conflict, which has claimed the lives of at least 9000 civilians and forced more than 1.1 million to flee their homes, has combined with devastating droughts and rocketing food prices to create one of the world´s worst humanitarian catastrophes."

".Almost half the population - 3.2m people - are in need of emergency aid (the figure has almost doubled in the last 12 months). One in six children is thought to be malnourished..."

".This crisis is broadening as well as deepening.It is now the world´s most complicated crisis."

".Violence and insecurity have made it almost impossible for aid to get through, and 24 aid workers have been killed in Somalia so far this year."

".the international community had "completely failed Somali civilians"."

".Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya is now one of the largest refugee camps in the world with nearly 250,000 people."

".this government, which is backed by the United Nations and funded by Western donors including Britain and the EU, has been accused of committing a litany of war crimes. Its police force, many of whom were trained under a UN programme part-funded by Britain, has carried out extrajudicial killings, raped women and fired indiscriminately on crowds at markets. Militias aligned to the government have killed journalists and attacked aid workers."

".Few Somalis will weep if the government falls.The government´s fall would mark the end of a disastrous US-backed intervention."

Meles is street smart. He knows that the Djibouti Agreement is a farce. How convenient can it be? Abdulahi Yusuf, the President of Somalia has not signed the Agreement and there is no sign that Meles is "pressuring him to do so", as that would really mean the end of Ethiopia´s occupation of Somalia. The way it is set up now, the Djibouti Agreement will fail and the AU and UN (per US State Department) will be "forced" to "ask" Ethiopia to stay on, legitimizing Ethiopia´s illegal, immoral and stupid war of invasion and occupation. Fait accompli.

Just days after Ethiopia announced its withdrawal its Ministry of Foreign Affairs put out a report dated 2 December 2008, which said:

".Panel of the Wise of the African Union (AU) commends Ethiopia for its contribution toward ensuring peace and reconciliation process in Somalia.Holding its 4th meeting on 28 and 29 Nov. 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya, the panel appreciated Ethiopia´s efforts in ensuring peace and stability in Somalia after holding comprehensive review on the existing situation in that country.The panel also lauds the decision of the Ethiopian government to withdraw its forces from Somali as part of the implementation of the Djibouti agreement signed on 19 Aug. 2008."

That branch of the AU must reside at Menelik Palace, because as had been predicted, the AU Chairman is asking for Ethiopia to stay on.and already Meles has agreed. The latest, 3 December 2008, report from Voice of America says:

". Ethiopia has agreed to a brief delay in its troop pullout from Somalia to allow the international community time to organize a replacement force. An Ethiopian foreign ministry official, who asked for anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly, said Addis Ababa has agreed to push back its self-declared December 31 troop-withdrawal deadline by, at most, a few weeks, to allow time for the AMISOM replacements to arrive.But the official emphasized that Ethiopian policymakers are losing patience with the international community's seeming lack of concern at the possible collapse of Somalia's fragile transitional government, and the likelihood it would be replaced by an administration led by religious extremists hostile to the West."

As I have stated many times in the past, there are two reasons why a "peacekeeping force", will not be established anytime soon. No self respecting African country is willing to sacrifice its sons for an illegal, immoral and stupid fratricidal war against the people of Somalia. There is no peace to keep in Somalia; the "stabilization force" would essentially be an "occupation force". there can be no real reconciliation amongst the Somali people under a brutal Ethiopian occupation.and so the war in Somalia will go on until Somalia is fully liberated.

What happens to Somalia will depend on how the Obama Administration deals with Ethiopia.

Will Obama ignore Ethiopia´s blatant violations of international law, violations of the UN Charter, and violations of over two dozen Security Council resolutions?

Will the Obama Administration ignore Ethiopia´s role in the extraordinary rendition and torture of prisoners in the CIA run "secret" prisons in Ethiopia?

Will the Obama Administration ignore the massive human rights violations, massacres and genocides in Ethiopia´s Ogaden, Gambela and Oromia regions and Somalia?

Will the Obama Foreign Policy eeam with Hillary Clinton at the helm, and Susan Rice at the UN, provide the minority regime in Ethiopia led by Meles Zenawi the diplomatic, financial, military and political shield he has enjoyed under the Bush Administration?

How Obama deals with Meles Zenawi will signal if he is really serious about bringing change.as he promised in his campaign. He can begin by calling for the unconditional removal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia and allow the people of Somalia to choose their own leadership without external interference and threats.

The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle.


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