For almost a week now I have been trying to make peace with the interview given by Meles Zenawi to a reporter from the Washington Post. I have re-read it several times, alternately cursed and laughed, yet each time I pass the pages lying on my coffee table it makes my blood boil.
I just can’t seem to digest the dispicable irony of this man publicly claiming support for the transitional government of Somalia (TGS) solely on the grounds that “it represents all the clans in Somalia” (as reported in the Ethiopian Herald, July 2006)—a bold claim from a dictator whose entire leadership has been fashioned from the divide-and-rule tactics of a minotrity clique!
There has not, as of yet, been significant evidence to suggest that the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) intends to establish Taliban-style rule and the threats of “jihadist attack’ on Ethiopian soil remain greatly exaggerated--despite his cunning attempts to ridicule the “intelligent people in the 21st century” who correctly assume that unprovoked invasion could eventually push the Courts (10 out of 15 of which are currently considered moderate) to retreat into extremism, resorting to terrorist methods in response to the unprovoked attacks.
You want to discuss a truly “interesting and very suprising” argument? How about the illogical claim that “the group has clearly demonstrated ….that it is prepared to use dialogue to facilitate military takeover” ! What does that even mean? …If they use violence, they are terrorists; if they opt for peaceful dialogue, they somehow become even more dangerous terrorists? Come on, man—you can do better than that!
I’ll tell you what’s worse than “fecklessness in the face of a challenge”…How about a militant leader interefering in the internal affairs of a neighboring country (that has finally, according to international reports, ‘admittedly’ experienced a level of stability and security under the UIC unprecedented for over a decade) to appease Western powers that seem “less than pleased’ over recent reports of internal human rights abuses? What about a cruel tyrant, systematically oppressing his own people and driving the country towards irrepairable economic ruin? Or how about a dictator recently implicated in the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians, calmly discussing the ‘elements of a terroist regime’?
I can just imagine the expression on his face as he dodged the questions of democracy—most likely a carefully concocted mixture of humility and definance , head bowed “just enough” in shame to underline the fact that he too has, indeed, made some mistakes in the “process of democratization”. Perhaps he even chuckled amicably when he uneccessarily reminded (threatened?) us that he is “not certifed dead yet”, and therefore “still learning”…?
I can barely even address his final comments—I am already spitting mad!!(…again) If there is “no such fear’”here, why are students being shot in the streets and
increasingly rounded up and forced into military service or imprisoned ‘just in case’? Why do national bloggers receive death threats on a daily basis for merely reporting events that would otherwise be covered by a free and independent media body? Why were thousands of soldiers brought in to surround Meskel square during the celebrations, if it was not exactly to inspire such fear and trembling? Why does everyone now fall unnaturally silent when the opposition song is played in bars and street cafes? Why have the fingers and arms of children been broken in punishment for a simple hand gesture that has now become illegal? Tell me why, in this country, are the prisons overflowing and the cupboards bare?
Perhaps you, Mr. Prime Minister, are not afraid (though your frequent fainting bouts seem to suggest that oppressing millions of people on a daily basis is more stressful than it appears!) but I know I have already taken to lowering my voice in public, limiting my phone calls, and quickly moving on when someone seems just a little ‘too interested’ in the contents of my computer screen…