Author’s Note: This is the second installment in a three-part series on prospects for “mediation”, “reconciliation” and “negotiation” with the ruling Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF).
In Part I, I discussed why the current discussion on “mediation”, “reconciliation” and “negotiation” with the T-TPLF is of the utmost importance to me personally, why it makes me jittery and extremely concerned and at the same time amuses me.
In Part II here, I aim to examine why it is impossible to engage in “mediation”, “reconciliation” and “negotiation” with the T-TPLF.
In Part III, I aim to sketch out my views on a path that could make possible “mediation”, “reconciliation” and “negotiation” with the T-TPLF and avert the creeping civil war from engulfing the country.
The general aim of the series is to raise fundamental questions about the current fashionable talk about+ “reconciliation” within the framework of a T-TPLF-centered political dialogue and to urge caution and to help inform those who, in good faith, seek to promote a “reconciliation process” as a way out of current dire situation in Ethiopia.
I dedicate the series to all of Ethiopia’s youth that have made the ultimate sacrifice to free their country from minority ethnic apartheid rule and establish a democratic society based on the rule of law.
Ethiopia’s youth (Cheetahs) united can never be defeated!
Ethiopiawinet TODAY, Ethiopiawinet TOMORROW, Ethiopiawinet FOREVER!
The Beast strikes again
As talks of “reconciliation”, “national consensus building” and “mediation” begin to draw public interest, the T-TPLF launched another one of its campaigns of death and destruction against unarmed innocent Ethiopian citizens.
On January 20, 2018, the T-TPLF massacred and injured dozens of innocent Ethiopians in Woldia City, northern Ethiopia, at the Epiphany celebrations commemorating the baptism of Jesus. According to a paper allied with the T-TPLF, “youth were heard singing and dancing with music that have politically charged messages. The members of the security force warned them to stop the provocation, but they refused to stop resulting in the fatal clash between the two.” Eyewitnesses said, T-TPLF’s Agazi (“death squads”) soldiers sprayed machine gun bullets on the crowd just like the Irreecha Massacres in October 2016.
Only the BEAST, the Prince of Darkness himself, will unleash such wanton death and destruction against innocent unarmed citizens on the holy day of the Baptism of Jesus Christ and Ireecha Waaqa (God) Thanksgiving Day!
Is it possible to reconcile with the Beast that massacred and committed mayhem on dozens of innocent Ethiopians in Woldia?
Is it possible to reconcile with the Beast that massacred over 1,000 innocent Ethiopians at the Irreecha celebrations in October 2016?
Is it possible to reconcile with the Beast that has made Ethiopia the Killing Fields of Africa?
Now, the world knows how the T-TPLF does reconciliation negotiations. The T-TPLF will negotiate with unarmed citizens who sing songs of freedom with the rattle of AK-47s and machine guns!
Video of Woldia City T-TPLF Massacre victims’ funeral ceremony HERE. In their lamentations, they sing, “Our youth are dead, but you will never kill Ethiopia. You will never divide us. We are one.”
Dr. Merara Gudina’s call for national reconciliation and the impossibility of engaging in reconciliation dialogue with the T-TPLF wounded beast
It takes two to tango and a dance troupe to put on a performance. Is it possible to dance with a one-legged cornered dying wounded beast?
Following his release from prison, Dr. Merara Gudina, the leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), in an interview on Voice of America – Amharic, chided the ruling T-TPLF in Ethiopia for its on-again, off-again half-assed reconciliation gestures:
I want to issue a call for national reconciliation. National reconciliation means national reconciliation. Therefore, to release a certain number [of political prisoners] and to keep a certain number [in prison] shows the regime is doing [national reconciliation] in a half-hearted way. It would be good [for the regime] to seriously undertake efforts to lead the country on the path to reconciliation. I have always called for the government and the opposition to meet half way and help the people. That is very, very necessary. I have seen it in more than one generation, even during the imperial government, over the past 50 years. Our people have been severely damaged in political crises. The people have been bled, and damaged beyond any expectation. It is necessary to start the [reconciliation] process to close this chapter of suffering. It would be good to start a new era as the former king Haile Selassie did after the end of the Italian War. This regime should use [national reconciliation] as the beginning of a new era and it will benefit them.
Dr. Merara’s was arrested by the T-TPLF after he returned from a briefing with Members of the European Union in December 2016. He was imprisoned and was awaiting trial in T-TPLF monkey court on a variety of trumped up charges. (For the Amharic version of the bogus charges, click HERE.)
Dr. Merara’s arrest, detention and “trial” has been condemned and criticized by various international human rights organizations and institutions.
In May 2017, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for Dr. Merara’s release and dismissal of charges.
Human Rights Watch addressed a complaint to the Permanent Representatives of Members and Observer States of the UN Human Rights Council calling for his release and release of all political prisoners.
Amnesty International condemned Dr. Merara’s arrest “an outrageous assault on the right to freedom of expression and should sound alarm bells for anyone with an interest in ending the deadly protests that have rocked Ethiopia over the past year.”
Members of the U.S. Congress have criticized Dr. Merara’s arbitrary detention and introduced legislation to address human rights violations in Ethiopia.
Dr. Merera has been arbitrarily imprisoned for speaking his mind by the previous military Derg regime serving out a seven-year term.
Despite the ludicrous charges of terrorism, Dr. Merara has earned the universal respect and admiration of Ethiopians for “his commitment to academic excellence, peaceful resistance, Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty as well his unbridled commitment in defense of the rights and freedoms of all of the Ethiopian people.”
Beyond his personal integrity and commitment to peaceful change, Dr. Merara is a highly respected and well-established political scientist and scholar. His impressive list of publications demonstrate that he has a deep understanding of Ethiopian politics and society in addition to his unflagging and unrelenting activism for equality, justice and human rights in Ethiopia.
In a 1994 article, Dr. Merara foresaw the ominous signs of T-TPLF tyrannical rule in the destruction of Ethiopian national institutions. He wrote that because of the “drastic measures” taken by the TPLF regime “Ethiopia is nowhere near the promised goal – durable peace, democratic governance and positive development. Still it is the drums for war, not the peaceful reconstruction of the country, that invoke the emotions of the people in the corridors of power as well as some opposition groups.”
In a 2007 article, Dr. Merara argued that the “experiment in ethnic federalism” in Ethiopia has largely failed “because of the hegemonic aspiration of the ruling elite, and the tensions in the attempt to implement both collective rights and individual rights of citizens”.
In another historical analysis, Dr. Merara documented “the result of the accumulated five grand failures of the Ethiopian elite in a century, the perennial quest for peace, democracy and development [which] continue to be as elusive as ever.” In his conclusion, he argued, “two factors are critical to move forward out of the present political impasse: the abandoning of the hegemonic aspiration and the zero – sum game politics thereof on the part of the ruling elite and leaving behind the fixation on history as well as the extravaganza of some elites on the right to secession in a more globalised world of the 21st century. Without national consensus on the modality of democratic governance and the ‘political rules of the game’ thereof, successful democratization is more of an illusion at best and hypocrisy at worst.”
In his 2009 article (p. 154) on electoral politics and the future of Ethiopian democracy, Dr. Merara identified as “Problem 1: Democratisation without national consensus.” He argued, “Following its impressive military victory the EPRDF leaders quickly moved to the ‘remaking’ of Ethiopia without creating a national consensus over the basics of state transformation, a badly needed action for countries like Ethiopia where there are contradictory perspectives regarding the interpretation of the past, the understanding of the present and the vision concerning the future.”
It is important to heed Dr. Merara’s call for national reconciliation and peaceful transition to democratic rule because he has a deep understanding of the complexities of Ethiopian politics and society.
Others have made similar calls for reconciliation in one form or another.
In 2006, then Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Donald Yamamoto testifying, before Congress said, “On numerous occasions, the Assistant Secretary sent me to Addis Ababa to work with the Ethiopian Government and opposition groups in support of U.S. Embassy efforts to encourage a reconciliation of differences between the opposition and the ruling parties, and to discuss ways to improve the political process with the Ethiopian government. We encouraged the opposition parties to take their seats in the Ethiopian Parliament and use their positions as parliamentarians to press for continued political reform and a greater voice for the opposition.” But the T-TPLF rejected it and jailed the opposition leaders.
In September 2009, the Crises Group in its seminal study on “Ethnic Federalism and Its Discontents” observed, “the EPRDF’s ethnic policy has empowered some groups but has not been accompanied by dialogue and reconciliation.”
In 2013, some Ethiopian human rights activists told the U.S. Congress (p.84), “Reconciliation can be done. The people in Ethiopia there are some moderates within the government.”
On December 22, 2017, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and ambassador Herman Cohen called for the start of a “reconciliation process” through broad public participation which includes “women, youth, the press” and other marginalized groups.
On January 3, 2018, Hailemariam Desalegn, the puppet prime minister (PPM) of the T-TPLF said he “will release politicians jailed on charges including involvement in terrorism” to “foster national consensus”. He just could not bring himself to use the word “consensus” because he believes the word signifies weakness and surrender.
In January 2018, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, commended Desalegn’s action as “important and farsighted” and vital for “fostering national consensus and widening democratic space.”
Others have urged the T-TPLF to “implement a process of national reconciliation based on the principles of inclusivity and genuine political dialogue.”
I respect the views and aspirations of Dr. Merara, the foreign diplomats and others who have called for national reconciliation in Ethiopia through “mediation”, “negotiation” or other dispute resolution mechanism with the T-TPLF.
In as much as I respect their views, I respectfully disagree with those who, in good faith and with good intentions, have called for and urged national reconciliation with the T-TPLF.
I believe it is impossible to have reconciliation or reconciliation dialogue with the T-TPLF. Here are my reasons:
Reconciliation is, first and foremost, a state of mind.
Is the T-TPLF capable of accepting Dr. Merara’s challenge of initiating a genuine national dialogue and reconciliation process?
Is it possible to reconcile with those who wallow in “hegemonic aspiration” and know how to play only “zero -sum game politics”, as Dr. Merara observed in one of his articles?
True, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” There may be cause for optimism about national reconciliation in Ethiopia, but not with the T-TPLF.
Reconciliation is first and foremost a state of mind.
Parties to a reconciliation dialogue must minimally accept the position that they (may) have done or failed to do something that has caused harm to the other party. The state of mind of the T-TPLF bosses is that they have done nothing wrong to anyone and see no reason to reconcile. They are instinctively averse to even using the word. I recall a statement made by the late T-TPLF thugmaster Meles Zenawi that he finds no reason for Irq (reconciliation) since he has not “fought” with anyone. In the T-TPLF view, reconciliation and negotiation are for wimps, wussys and cowards. For the T-TPLF macho men, they don’t talk. They let their AK-47s do the talking for them.
Reconciliation requires trust, giving one’s opponents the benefit of reasonable doubt. The T-TPLF bosses are incapable of trusting anyone or anything. They live trapped in a mental state of terminal paranoia. They trust no one, including themselves. They stay up all night scheming to destroy not only their enemies but also each other. No trust among cannibals.
Reconciliation requires courage and the strength of character to say, “I (We are) am sorry” and ask forgiveness for intentional and unintentional wrongs. The T-TPLF has never apologized for any of its long list of crimes against humanity. Just a simple personal example. Last October when the T-TPLF publicly stated that they “doubt my Ethiopian-ness” because of “some of my writings, I demanded a shred of evidence of my written work, now approaching one thousand commentaries, over the past 12 years which casts doubt on my Ethiopian-ness or an apology. They produced not an iota of evidence, a word, a phrase or a sentence to back up their slanderous allegations. Of course, I did not expect an apology. I know that is not a virtue taught and learned in the bush nor commonly practiced in the society of thugs and in the land of Thugistan.
But I proved to them I am a proud Ethiopian.
Thugs who are incapable of apologizing to an individual they outrageously slandered are incapable of asking forgiveness from a nation they have victimized for over a quarter of a century.
There can be no reconciliation with those whose core philosophy is “blame the victim”. Just yesterday, the T-TPLF officially blamed the dozens of unarmed innocent citizens in Woldia City for provoking the police and security forces into killing them by singing songs that offended them.
Reconciliation requires atonement, making amends for the wrongs one has committed. The self-righteous and hubristic T-TPLF bosses demand atonement from their victims. A few days ago, T-TPLF con man Getachew Reda demanded the Ethiopian people make reparations to the Tigrean people “for their sacrifices”.
Reconciliation requires integrity. That means strong moral principles and uprightness. It means honesty, sincerity, decency and a sense of fairness. The T-TPLF bosses have as much integrity as the proverbial used car salesmen.
Reconciliation requires good faith and good will, an open heart and an open mind. The T-TPLF bosses are trapped in a state of mind in which they see everyone, including each other, as enemies. They have never shed their Hobbsean bush mentality where the law of the jungle/bush rules and life is nasty, brutish and short. They left the bush 27 years ago, but the bush never left them. It is true you can take the thug out of the bush, but you can never take the bush out of the thug.
Reconciliation requires tolerance and understanding. The T-TPLF bosses have an overinflated sense of self. They believe they are the only ones with courage, bravery, valor and guts. They believe all other Ethiopians are cowards, gutless and fainthearted. They believe other Ethiopians are such cowards they will never pay the ultimate price for their freedom, as they did to create the Republic of Tigray, and would rather live in slavery in an ethnic apartheid system than a free Ethiopia.
But who is the real coward? Those who set up a system of 1 spy for 5 households? Those who are so scared they tremble going out in the streets? Those who massacre unarmed citizens who sing songs of freedom?
I have it on T-TPLF authority that Meles Zenawi ordered the post-2005 election massacres as shock and awe against the Ethiopian population. It was a calculated and deliberate act intended to send a message to the Ethiopian population that the T-TPLF is capable of extreme violence to suppress its opponents. But that was then, not now.
The T-TPLF bosses do not understand Gandhi’s maxim that “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” They are now witnessing the indomitable will of Ethiopia’s young people fighting them in every hamlet, town and city. The T-TPLF bosses are learning the hard lesson that Ethiopia’s young people are prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice for their freedom and use the most powerful weapons of nonviolence and Ethiopiawinet to defeat the wounded beast with feet of clay.
Reconciliation requires walking a mile (kilometer) in the other person’s shoes. The T-TPLF bosses know only “my way or the highway”.
Reconciliation requires an irrevocable commitment to peaceful resolution of disputes. The T-TPLF warlords are committed only to war, death and destruction.
Reconciliation requires acceptance that the other side could be right, and one can be wrong. Just the other day, the T-TPLF told opposition elements with whom it was “negotiating” that its cut and paste antiterrorism law was perfect, fully complied with international law and required no change.
Reconciliation requires a fundamental commitment to working together and sharing power to serve the greater good. The T-TPLF public position has always been, “We will not give up power we have won with the bullet to those who have won elections at the ballot.”
Reconciliation requires a state of mind filled with hope and optimism. The minds of the T-TPLF bosses are filled with despair and pessimism. For years, the T-TPLF bosses have been crying wolf about a civil war to scare the people into supporting them. Today, the wolf they fed and nurtured sits at their doorway baring his teeth.
Reconciliation requires a commitment to earnestly honor promises made and keep one’s word. The T-TPLF bosses speak with the forked tongue of snakes.
Reconciliation requires a commitment to justice. The T-TPLF bosses are committed to JUST-US.
Reconciliation requires a commitment to truth before reconciliation. Truth is the one thing the T-TPLF bosses fear the most. They do not understand the truth shall make them free and all Ethiopian free. So in Ethiopia today, truth swings from the scaffold and wrong sits on the throne.
Reconciliation without truth-seeking and -finding is impossible
Reconciliation without truth is impossible. As Bishop Desmond Tutu said, “reconciliation is based on an acknowledgement of what was done wrong, and therefore on the disclosure of the truth. You cannot forgive what you do not know.”
The T-TPLF is fatally allergic to truth. As I have often said, the “LF” in TPLF stands for Lie Factory. After nearly a decade and half of denying they do not hold political prisoners, the T-TPLF last week finally acknowledged holding “political prisoners”. The T-TPLF has been lying about “double-digit economic growth” for the past decade. The T-TPLF has been lying about elections claiming to have won 100 percent of the seats in its rubber stamp parliament.
The T-TPLF bosses are pathological liars, born liars. They cannot handle the truth.
The truth about their long record of crimes against humanity, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and abuse practices in their prisons, enforced disappearances, arbitrary displacement of civilian populations and turnover of ancestral lands to fly-by-night operators, expropriation of citizens’ lands, abuse of political power, subversion of the judicial process for political ends and so many other things.
The TPLF was born in lies, lived in lies and will find its final resting place in the graveyard of lies.
But the T-TPLF bosses can save themselves if they heed the maxim and act fast. “The truth shall make you free”. No doubt, the truth shall send others to jail. But that is the way of truth.
Prisoners cannot negotiate or reconcile with their prison wardens about their freedom
In my July 2017 commentary, I made it crystal clear: “Political prisoners are the 800-pound gorillas in the negotiating room. Any reconciliation negotiations that does not start with the acknowledgment and release of the tens of thousands of political prisoners is just window dressing. Better yet, it’s horse_ _ _t!”
In 1985, Nelson Mandela issued a statement from his prison cell explaining why he cannot negotiate with the minority white apartheid regime: “I cannot and will not give any undertaking at a time when I and you, the people, are not free. Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts….”
The T-TPLF today has created an open-air prison in Ethiopia which holds 100 million people.
The T-TPLF must understand, before it is too, too late for its own good, that it must unconditionally release all, all political prisoners in the country. A few here and a few there will not suffice. They should also heed the wisdom, “Judge and ye shall be judged.” For the T-TPLF Judgement Day is at hand!
For the opposition to negotiate or discuss reconciliation without the release of all political prisoners is itself a crime against humanity. It is aiding and abetting those who perpetrate crimes against humanity and will be held accountable as accomplices.
Reconciliation means give and take, win-win, NOT zero-sum game in which the T-TPLF wins everything by 99.6% or 100%
As I argued in my 2009 commentary, “The Raw Machismo of Dictatorship”, for the T-TPLF negotiation means playing a “zero-sum game”. They win all the time, everybody else loses every time. More bluntly, the T-TPLF negotiating strategy is, might makes right. Alternatively, it is “My way or the highway… or jail!” No more questions.
The T-TPLF will negotiate in earnest only and only if two conditions are met: 1) They will remain the only dominant political and economic force in the country. 2) They are so concerned and fearful about losing political power that they want to use negotiations to buy time to re-establish their political and economic supremacy.
There is a third condition. As the creeping civil war creeps closer and Ethiopia’s youth sing Tom Petty’s tune, “I (We) won’t back down”, the T-TPLF will beg for reconciliation. “Hey, T-TPLF, you can stand us up at the gates of hell, but we won’t back down. We won’t let you push us around. There is no easy way out. We will stand our ground.”
The fact of the matter is that the T-TPLF has one and only one overriding interest in any reconciliation negotiations: Remain in power in much the same way as they are now. For one more day. One more week. One more month. One more year. One more decade…
The T-TPLF plays only zero-sum games. For them, everything is negotiable except one. There can be no negotiation about their total and complete control of the political and economic process in the country. Period!
That is nothing new. The T-TPLF has perfected the zero-sum game in Ethiopia over the past 26 years.
In 2008, in “elections for regional parliaments, the T-TPLF won 1,903 of 1,904 seats. They won all but four of 3.4 million contested seats.
In May 2010, the T-TPLF “won” all the seats in “parliament” by 99.6 percent.
In May 2015, the T-TPLF “won” 100% of the seats in “parliament”.
Such total and complete zero-sum electoral “victory” occurred in a country where there are 79 registered opposition political parties.
Such total and complete electoral “victory” occurred in a country where the real opposition party leaders are arrested on trumped up terrorism charges and languish in official and secret T-TPLF prisons without due process of law for years.
In August 2007, Meles Zenawi “pardoned” 38 opposition political leaders to “give impetus to political negotiations in Ethiopia after more than two years’ crisis and stalemate.” In October of that year, “in spite of continuing negotiations between the government and the opposition , the political environment continued to deteriorate.” In that negotiation, the T-TPLF had a double zero-sum game “win”. It validated the 38 railroaded leaders were criminals, and forced the leaders to “admit” crimes they never committed and “pardoning” them.
In 2010, the T-TPLF engaged donors in “negotiations” to allow them to send election observers. The European Union sent observers and Zenawi called their final report “useless trash that deserves to be thrown in the garbage”. They “won” that “election” by 99.6 percent.
Today, T-TPLF head honcho Debretsion says, “Ethnic federalism is equality. T-TPLF supremacy is nothing but a conspiracy. To say Tigreans are supreme (everywhere), that is not the reality. That is a zero. Zero.”
True. It is a zero. It’s all a zero-sum game for the T-TPLF.
Reconciliation is not a zero-sum game!
Reconciliation is not a game. But today it is the only game left for the T-TPLF to play before GAME OVER!
It is impossible to negotiate and reconcile with a group whose religion is hate, claims a birthright to ethnic supremacy and believes in subjugation of other ethnic groups it considers subhuman
The T-TPLF regime is founded on an ideology of hate and ethnic supremacy.
Meles Zenawi believed his T-TPLF has a birthright to rule Ethiopia perpetually because he believed they possess infinitely superior capacities for valor and bravery in the field of battle and intellect. Only they know the secrets for civil administration, for economic planning, for entrepreneurship, for social organization, and for advancing civilization.
In 2009, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto perceptively observed the TPLF leaders “believe only they can know what is best for Ethiopia.” Because they believe they are the best.
The T-TPLF bosses truly believe they are the Ubermenschen (“supermen”) who are destined to rule over a primitive collection of Untermenschen (subhuman) “nations, nationalities and peoples”.
The T-TPLF leaders have said time and again that they will not give up power they won with full metal jacket bullets in the bush to paper ballots at elections.
The T-TPLF bosses believe all other ethnic groups, particularly Amharas and Oromos, are their mortal enemies. They have unbridled hatred for Amharas.
Meles and his T-TPLF today are obsessed by their ethnic theory that Amharas are the cause of all the troubles in Ethiopia. Their solution is the extermination of the Amhara people, not reconciliation with them.
The TPLF Manifesto, which has never been repudiated by the TPLF, declares, “Amhara are the enemy of the Tigray people. Amhara are not only enemies but also double enemies. Therefore, we must crush Amhara. We have to destroy them. Unless Amhara are destroyed, beaten down, cleansed from the land, Tigray cannot live in freedom. For the government we intend to create, Amhara will be the main obstacle.” That is the Mind of the T-TPLF!
The T-TPLF bosses have deep contempt for Oromos. They underestimate the intelligence of the Oromo people. They believe Oromos can be easily duped and misled. They believe Oromos can be easily manipulated and distracted. That is why the T-TPLF offered to rename the capital Finfine in exchange for confiscating the lands of struggling Oromo farmers on the outskirts of the capital. They thought they could hoodwink Oromos with cotton candy but the brave and heroic Oromo people told the T-TPLF to take its empty words and shove it.
I recently heard a T-TPLF supporter in one of the online chatrooms say words to the effect, “We raised Lemma Megerssa as our own and gave him everything. It is sad when a dog you have raised bites your hand.” That is what the T-TPLF thinks of the Oromo people.
The children of the T-TPLF bosses call Amharas “retards” and Oromos “criminals” and “terrorists”.
Is it possible to reconcile with those who believe their opposition are “dogs”, “retards” and subhuman?
It is not possible to reconcile with those who believe reconciliation and negotiation are just games, stalling games and delaying tactics
For the T-TPLF, reconciliation and negotiations are gimmicks to buy time, prolong their rule and cling to power. They use negotiations as stalling and delaying tactics.
I have previously discussed the T-TPLF bosses’ negotiation strategy, which I believe they will use in any future “reconciliation” discussion and mediation.
1) Negotiate from a position of strength and you will have no reason to negotiate and you are guaranteed victory every time. The T-TPLF controls and owns everything: the political process, the economy, the civil service and the military. The opposition inside the country have nothing, literally nothing. How can people who have nothing negotiate with people who have everything? How can antelopes negotiate with hyenas about the dinner menu?
2) Negotiations are essentially elaborate public relations games. That means window dressing negotiations and going through the motions of negotiations. The T-TPLF’s cardinal negotiation strategy and rule is: Negotiate without negotiating and bargain without bargaining. In other words, pretend to be negotiating and bargaining with the opposition, but in the end, make suckers out of them.
3) Avoid real negotiations at all costs, but engage in make-believe negotiations. Negotiation is a game of attrition and a process of wearing down the opponent to the point where s/he walks away giving you an opportunity to lay blame on them. The reason for this is simple. Negotiations are a slippery slope. Any concessions to the opposition will only open the floodgates to other concessions. If the T-TPLF negotiates and makes any concessions, even small ones, it will only encourage the “opposition” to demand more. If the T-TPLF gives in to one of the “13 agenda items”, the opposition will press for demand number two and three and so on. If you release a few political prisoners (which you don’t have), they will ask for the release of all political prisoners (you don’t have). Where will it stop? It is all or nothing. Therefore, the T-TPLF will NEVER engage in real negotiations, only make-believe ones.
4) Negotiations should be used to bait and trap the opposition. The T-TPLF’s history of negotiations shows that it likes to use a prolonged process of enticing, delaying and stringing along the opposition until the moment the trap is sprung on them. For the T-TPLF negotiating with the “opposition” is like someone baiting a mousetrap with cheese to catch mice. The T-TPLF will put out all sorts of cheesy promises, commitments, assurances, etc., to attract the opposition to the “reconciliation negotiating table” only to slam shut the trap on them in the end.
5) In negotiations, just as in ordinary politics, use ethnic politics, sectarianism, regionalism, etc. to divide and conquer the “opposition” negotiators. Consequently, the T-TPLF will throw crumbs to the various opposition leaders just to watch them fight and tear each other up. It is like the master throwing a bone to a bunch of hungry dogs. The dogs will kill each other to get a piece of the bone. That is how the T-TPLF sees the “opposition” negotiating with it. Indeed, the T-TPLF sees its opposition as a bunch of “do-eat-dogs”.
6) Negotiations are weapons of mass public distraction and confusion. By talking “negotiations”, the T-TPLF hopes to create an atmosphere of hope and optimism of a negotiated settlement of disputes and reconciliation. The T-TPLF hopes it can hoodwink the people into believing that this time it is for real. The T-TPLF will make the hard choices and make things right. That was exactly the promise the hyenas made to the antelopes before inviting them to dinner in their den.
7) Negotiations are for suckers (fools). I have said it for years that the T-TPLF slicksters believe they can outsmart, outmaneuver, out-trick and out-finesse their opposition any day of the week. The T-TPLF bosses think of the “opposition leaders” as a bunch of cowards, fools and idiots. Susan Rice captured the essential attitude of the T-TPLF leaders in her eulogy of Meles in 2012 when she said Meles “liked to call” his opposition “fools, or “idiots”. The T-TPLF guys believe that they are negotiating with fools and idiots when they sit down with the opposition for their make-believe negotiations.
8) Negotiation is a competitive blood sport. For the T-TPLF, that means take the easy way first to bring pressure on the opposition to negotiate a deal. If the “opposition” wants to play hardball, offer them rewards, money, jobs, business opportunities. If that does not work, threaten or slam them in jail for violating the “anti-terrorism law”.
9) The purpose of negotiation is to cut down your opponent, not to cut a deal. That is the essence of the T-TPLF’s zero-sum game. Meles Zenawi once said of the opposition, “We will crush them with our full force; they will all vegetate like Birtukan (Midekssa) in jail forever.” The T-TPLF will crush anyone who is foolish enough to sit down and negotiate with them.
10) In negotiations, use them and lose them. The T-TPLF will use and lose the “opposition” negotiators as soon as it feels the “opposition” has served their purposes and more comfortable in their grip on power.
Reconciliation or Countdown to Showdown
As I explained in my February 2016 commentary, the T-TPLF is fast approaching its day of reckoning, Judgement Day. What happens to the T-TPLF is in T-TPLF’s hands. It can choose the path of reconciliation and peaceful change or it can watch the creeping civil war consume it bit by bit.
Regardless, the T-TPLF Beast will reap what it sowed. Soon, “They will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears, like chaff swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window”. “Their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.” “There will be no future for the wicked.” They will be “carried in the wind so that no trace of them is found”. Those who have troubled the Ethiopia House “shall inherit the wind.”
It is so written!
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIAWINET!