galbeedi

Abiy Ahmed has the overwhelming support of the Ethiopian people. Tales of my trip in the region.

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I did travel to  the region for the last three weeks and have witnessed personally some of the political changes taking place in Ethiopia and the Somali region. Although  I did travel for personal reasons, I can also state that some of my destinations had political motives. 

 

Also, as a self appointed analyst of SOL, I thought it was imperative to gauge the pulse of the region first hand.  It is not always useful or informative to write from my comfortable couch back home in Canada or in "cold Alberta" as our friend Oodweyne calls it disparagingly. I did traveled to Kampala , Uganda, Addis, Jigjiga and Dubai just to name a few. Unfortunately , I did not visit Mogadishu or Hargeisa.

 

Despite the progress and developments in the horn of Africa, these nations are too slow both on business and political issues. In Kampala, the Entebe International Airport, on the shores of Lake Victoria,  was built by the British some 60 years ago and nothing is added after half century. I will narrate about Uganda in my next segment, but let us discuss Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed and Mustafe Cagjar in Jigjiga.

 

As I stated before , Ethiopia has been always slow to change and these quick reforms from prime minister Abiy are changing the Ethiopian landscape like never before. While there is certain fears that things might got out of hand, especially  in the ethnically administered regions, Addis Ababa was thriving and the public in general feel free to express and enjoy the newly found  freedom. The city is really crowded with millions of people of every ethnic background. It seems the mixture of black race in the world is found in this city. Government figures say the city is home to 8 million people but others say it could easily reach double digits since millions of peasants left  their country farms and flooded  to the main city to find jobs. While no one is starving,  the poverty level of the youth and others are huge in Ethiopia. Yet, despite the poverty, everyone is proud of their nation and want to preserve it.

 

Addis Ababa is the foundation of Ethiopian business, culture, politics and connections to the other world. Their world class airline reaches many capitals around the world. Everyone, regardless of his destination must pass through this city. There is no flights coming from Nairobi or African cities  passing through Bahir Dar, Makele or Gondar. They must come to the capital and them travel to the domestic route. Regional economies based on   farms, livestock and other exports like the coffee are all managed through here.  It is the pulse of the nation.

 

We Somalis who are infatuated by regions or decentralization might not appreciate this but this huge nation is pooling its resources while connecting the capital to outer limits of the country.  Life is cheap in the country side due too their agriculture and local food consumption, yet every thing is connected to the national capital. Imagine a Somali national capital with six or seven million people synchronizing  trades and business connections with regions. While regional airports are important , you need a national hub for the world to enter and trade with your small population. . Looking the size of these economies, these Somali regions with less than a million people or scattered population are too small to compete.  The farming communities surrounding Addis alone  could be more than 10 million people.  Somalia needs one or  two  main centers that  have productive economies which could export their resources through these long coastlines. I do believe that these Somali regions are huge bureaucratic headache that will consume large budgets while hindering the productivity of the people. With peace, trade  and modern transportation, these so called regions could disappear with open trade and join one another. You could travel from Hargeisa to Borama in one hour; two hours from Burco to Garoowe, and four hours from the Jubba to Mogadishu by car. Airline travel could be less than an hour from coast to coast. Yet, we are arguing about these villages with less than hundred thousand people.

 

Back to Addis Ababa.

 

Tens of thousands of unemployed youth crowd the streets and markets to find something to do or stand idly  staring people . Because of these large underclass youth of every ethnic group , even the smallest trouble could shake the foundations of the system. Yet, because of the constant presence of the police and  the cool and patient nature of the Ethiopian populace, Addis was safe  and thriving. Also, if you are decent human being,  your only wish must be  that these millions of diverse humanity from every faith and ethnic group of Ethiopia  is to  prosper in peace , co-existence and tranquility,  otherwise, any shaking of the foundation of these communities will effect the far corners of the horn. So, pray for peace.

 

While disgruntled Tigray are every where,  the overwhelming majority of Ethiopians support the reforms initiated by the prime minister. I did talk to cab drivers, hotel managers, barber shop clerks and even some Oromo businessmen who are based in Adiis. Almost everyone had enthusiastically welcomed these new changes. The Amhara  ethnic group,  which is the most educated and sophisticated group in Ethiopia,  overwhelmingly supports  the prime minister, so  does the  the Oromo,  the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. He has huge support among reform minded Somalis, Affars, Gurage and other ethnic minorities. The only people who had contempt for the changes were the Tigray who are bitter and disgruntled,  and certain Somali group orphaned by the fall of Cabdi Illey.  The TPLF  are still mourning the death of Meles Zanawi , whom they considers to be best that came out from Tigray for centuries, and  are contemplating to sabotage these reforms through many forms including arming covertly some ethnic groups.

 

 in early December , a 60 member paramilitary men, mostly ethnic Tigray were arrested while preparing to attack the residence of the prime minister. They were  captured and swiftly brought to military court  and each sentenced to 15 years in jail. They had amassed huge weapons and aircraft  in their region just in case  things got out of hand. last week Eritrea had closed the border crossing from the Tigray side for fear of sabotage inside Eritrea while Eritreans are allowed to come and go. 

 

On the Oromo side , there were some problems  from certain members of the former rebels OLF (Oromo liberation Front) who are based in western Oromia around Wallega. I asked an Oromo businessman who was married to the  sister of one of my neighbors here in Canada,  and another one from Diredhaba about these clashes. They both told me that these were western Oromo members who are mostly Christian militants who  hate both  the Amhara and the old system. THese men told me that in order for the Oromo to succeed " we must support Abiy, Megrasa  and Jowar Mohamed  as one unit and stop any splintering among the political elite of the Oromo.. All of them agreed that  they would not put any weight or trust on  the former rebels of the OLF who never governed anything. As business people , they believe only   a united Oromo leadership would make their community successful within Ethiopia. 

 

Also, other than few  youth gangs, the clashes in Diredhaba among the Oromo and Somalis had diminished extensively. In my dealings with the Oromo business guys and others, I found them to be well informed and sophisticated in their outlook of the future . Some people might not realize but the Oromo revolution had changed a 150 years old system that took many shapes for over a century:  monarchy, military dictatorship and 27 years  TPLF tyranny. The OLF outsiders,  just like OG controlled ONLF , must contest the election like anybody else, and the chances of these groups succeeding in democratic contest   is almost nil.

 

Somalia and Abiy policy.

 

While Addis is a multicultural melting city, it is difficult to ignore the Orthodox influence of the city. The museums , the media, the culture and the larger civilizations of the capital is based on Orthodox eccentric  civilization. The dominance of that culture is every where including government , private sector, entertainment and all life.  Also recently,  people are attracted to  the emergence of huge American style Evangelical mega churches preaching within  the city centers. You could hear  the loud microphones preaching to the faithful daily. Since the emergence of prime minister Abiy, who as a the Pentecostal member shares faith with the most powerful community in America,  the old system might give way to the new preachers.. Folks, the American Southern Red necks are coming to the horn to preach it's unique kind of ways which is foreign to the locals who are traditionally tolerant of different faiths. There are also a huge mix of colorful Muslims from every ethnic group whether it is Amharic, Oromo, Wallo, Somali or Guraage, all involved with their daily lives while intermingling with their  fellow Ethiopians with confidence..

 

Due to these influences from Evangelicals, these new groups  and the historical rivalry with Somalis,  it will be difficult to predict the future policy of the current government. Yet, the Abiy government's  approach to the Somali issue is diametrically opposed to that of  the former TPLF government. While the TPLF balkanized  and divided Somalia,  as it did here in Ethiopia  in order to rule   the fragmented ethnic groups, the clearest  picture  emerging from  the Tigray elite was all about their efforts to make money---a lot of money.

 

They had a contract with American private companies and the Pentagon that paid them almost $ 600 million dollars  a year to fight Al-shabaab and others in the region. 25% of that money went to the Somali region. While huge jails were established in main cities like Jigjiga, there were other bunkers, hotels, airport hungers and other black holes where people were detained on behalf of the war on terror and for  the cash. . In order to justify this  huge budget, they showed the Americans the detained people perceived to be Al-Shabaab. Hundreds of innocent people were taken to these black holes in order to make money. Millions of these dollars were sent through other channels and sent overseas in Dubai and other places. Locals told me that the Tigray community probably owns 70% of the buildings in Addis . 

 

Furthermore, the TPLF cronies had created security companies in all major towns and forced everyone to implement their fake security policies.  These schemes are visible all in the Ethiopian  regions. In Addis, every hotel, mall, small strip mall, building , shops , community banks and government buildings were  equipped with airport style metal detectors and conveyor belt driven baggage carousel. Every business was mandated to buy these equipment from the TPLF run companies. Dahabshill money transfers in Jigjiga has security guards just  as every other small bank. All these places are manned by two or three people which employs tens of thousands of men and women.  Although no major bombing ever took place in Addis in recent years or before, In order to justify  and loot these funds, they went an extraordinary measures to show the  gullible American outsiders that this country is in a constant threat. 

 

  I saw the same mind set in Kampala, Uganda. Even the grocery stores and  five shop strip malls had private security checking people and cars.  Yet, these 60 years old nations like Uganda couldn't even build a modern airport or even a four lane highway. It is probably the best way to earn millions from their deployments and business in Somalia.

 

Prime minister Abiy believes that economic liberalization , investment and open trade can only lift Ethiopia out of the poverty. The TPLF had created Chinese style public companies controlled by their cronies while managing them like their own companies. These companies had monopolies in manufacturing, Dam building, Telecom and other infrastructure oriented companies. They fought every efforts to privatize these companies  or open competition for the citizens. The only company that is allowed to enter every sector was a company controlled by an Ethiopian Saudi man called Al-Amoudi.  In other words, they did run these publicly owned companies like their own while borrowing billions from the state banks.

 

Open  business opportunities, public sector  privatization and trade liberalization policies might force Abiy to support the pacification of Somalia. He is targeting banking, telecom, airline, and construction sectors for private investors. The Ethiopian Telecom network is one of the slowest in the region. Even major five star hotels have bad WiFi reception. While Eritrea is the preferred trade and sea route  among the Ethiopian elite, a democratic and open Eritrea is out of the question for the near future. Also, the Tigray politicians are determined in the future to oust Asaias  Afwork and join them for Tigray dominated Eritrea. For these and other reasons , Abiy believes a peaceful Somalia could transform the whole region  economically . When the business oriented Guraage community demanded their own ethnic zone, he told them  , " When Mogadishu is stabilized, who is going  to work and do the business things?, I want you guys  to travel to Mogadishu and come back the weekend in Ethiopia."

 

While there is huge opportunity for Somalia, Farmaajo must know that without lifting the heavy weight of pacifying the capital , no one will carry him to the finish line. He must win many tough battles that need resoluteness. The  ousting of the UN envoy last week was on the first tough decisions nations must make to move forward and gain sovereignty. As i said before, there is no free lunch unless you do real work. Also, having your men in regional governments  doesn't change the real issues of security in the two rivers and the capital.

 

In conclusion Ethiopia is in transition. Their biggest advantage is that the public in general do not want and do not support any instability from any sector. if election is held for the next 12 or fourteen months, Abiy could win easily. The real picture of Ethiopia could only emerge  after the elections. Yet, before the election takes place, certain hurdles must be overcome including crushing the armed groups  mainly the OLF and others. 

 

The Ethiopian public are enthusiastic of the future and their prime minister to make good reforms. His pictures are adorned in cars, Taxi cabs and public transportation. For many Abiy Ahmed means freedom and future. 

 

Despite all the hopes I saw in Addis, there are two regions or groups that might face serious situations to pass tp the next stage. The Tigray region who could either accept the reform and swallow their pride or try something foolish and get crushed. The second fault line is the Somali region.

 

Here is why?

 

As I landed Garaad Wiil Waal Airport in  Jigjiga , I did not see any soldiers or the dreaded LIyu police. I was greeted by friends and family members and rode to the main street to the city center. Despite my skepticism and the fear of unknown, I was pleasantly surprised  after I reached my destination.  I felt as someone who was among his people and the feeling of a Somali home and people. 

 

Folks, there was freedom in Jigjiga for the first time in long time.

 

Stay tune for my stay in Jigjiga ........... 

 

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Good to hear about your travels oldman.  It is such a shame that you didn't have the courage to go across the border which is like stone throw's away from Jigjiga. Even on the back of a Donkey, you could have sneak into Borama from Aw Barre. :D 

Hopefully in your next posting you may touch one or two about the 2020 elections in Ethiopia. Apparently that is a litmus test for Oromo Leadership. Many people are saying doom & gloom to befall when Amhara takes control of the ship. Have you felt any of that siesmic shifts beneat the Abiy Earth Quake? 

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Suldaanka,

There is a nagging fear about the Oromo because of the ethnic clashes orchestrated by their militant youth, but their politicians are really good and understanding. They understand that if Abiy fails, their reputation might take a hit.

The Amhara are not in a rush. They are mainly interested to get rid of the ethnic federalism of the country. I haven't  met one single person among the Amhara who supports chaos or seismic change. If there is any ethnic group that wants to preserve Ethiopia as a one unit it is the Amhara. Also, those I met and others assume Abiy as one of theirs. 

THeir hatred of Tigray is really amounts to illogical. One guy told me that if they try any thing stupid, I my self will hunt my Tigray friends.

The Ethiopia I saw is stable and everyone want to keep that way, except the disgruntled TPLF.

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Oh suldaanka,

I forgot to respond your first statement about crossing the border.

Actually the Wajaale -Jigjiga high way is the busiest and fastest road to reach  both Borama and Hargeisa. In fact, the Somali zone can't even exist without the trade with Wajaale. 

I had a short time and going Borama and Hargeisa was difficult. You can't meet your family and friends with just few days. It  would have broken my  heart for  meeting people very short time and leave .

I heard the road between Borama-Hargeisa is faster and people come from Hargeisa for the weekends. Also , there are too many high rise buildings taking shape in Borama. I can assure you that I will be traveling home more from now on.

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Galbeedi,

Welcome back duqa. I have few questions. Is it true that there's going to be a grand D!r meeting? If there's. What's on the agenda and how do they see the new admin Somali region?

What's the true nature of border conflict? Is Jaarso vs Gerri Kombe or there's a real Oromo Somali?

And finally, how do people see Our Abtigiis aka Cagjar?

 

 

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Very informative post there  galbeedi Ethiopia is indeed changing but it has little or no affect on the poltical situation of Somalia. The tigre govt might have used divide rule tactics in the already divided Somalia along sectarian tribal lines. You  described  Addis Ababa very well its a very large city and Ethiopians are very proud of it because of its  multi etbnc  make up. Also most amxara have no issue with gallas  they have only issues with secessionist gallas. Lemme megerse and abiye are both married to amxara. Have amxara maternal  uncles are both Christians. The biggest losers  are indeed the tigre  but some how I believe they will will survive. Eventhough the odds are against them.

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Che,

I heard for the  last few days about the D ..r conference called in Addis. It is difficult to know the agenda other than to form a political party to contest the election.

The Jaarso--Geri K reconciliation issue is being held in Diredhabe as we speak. All major Suldans from the Somali region are taking place. I do not see any Somali-Oromo in this issue but a land and farming issues. In fact , it is the major hurdle in the Jigjiga zone. the good news is the Jaarso trust Cagjar and there is Jaarso members in the Somali regional  cabinet. This issue will be resolved soon.

Even in Diredhabe the so called Somalis who joined the Oromo told me that other than youth gangs there is no major issue. These people pray the same mosques. The Gurgure group who ally with the Oromo do not like the way Djibouti and TPLF favored the Cumar Ghelle clan and are trying to amend old grievances. 

Abtigiis is liked by the people in general. There is no check points or oppressive police. People are really feeling the freedom his administration brought to the region. THey feel like been liberated. People see him as reformist. 

Yet, you can't say the same thing of the OG community. They are  hated just like TPLf by almost every Somali who is not OG.

 

 

 

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Xaaji,

You are correct. THey hate those who advocate separation. They might even bomb and crush the so called OLF if they try any more mischief.

The Tigray people are fine both economically and politically especially in their region. Those in Addis are wealthy , but there is certain push from the diaspora to confront Abiy and their historic jealousy and antipathy of the sophisticated Amhara that might push them over the cliff. 

They can accept the reform and thrive if they wish.

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The ONLF absolutely has no any support among Somalis. Even the D block group of Jid...wq refused to raise their flag in Jigjiga. Most of their men who came from Eritrea had left for Godey and to the  remote regions of the clan.

Unless they change their name and build coalition with other Somalis, there is no chance for them to win any thing. Furthermore, they are betting mostly on the disintegration of Ethiopia. 

Last week Mustafe Cagjar warned them about building military camps and keeping their tribal name. He said unless they change and disarm , they might face the same fate as the Oromo OLF bombed by the Ethiopian air force.

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Galbeedi

At least you could have spared 24 hours of your time to visit kooxda #Nabadiyonolol there's daily flight from Addis to xamar 

I m sure inaad warbixin fiican Naga soon laheed kooxdaas.

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galbeedi,

Good to see you back from an interesting trip.

I am afraid you missed one very fundamental and big as an elephant issue facing Abiy. It is the same as in Somalia. Federalism or Unitary.

The Amhara and Gurage are almost completely against Federalism and so far those are the main supporters of Abiy. The rest are for Federalism.

The fact that a new federal state was welcomed recently Sidama shows you which direction the ground is pointing. Addis Ababa is 65% or more Amxara, so I wouldn't expect a person like you to be able in such a short time to observe inards of it.

Somalis in Ethiopia are as divided as ever if not more. You have the age old groupings and the added new groupings based on latest HoA happenings. Djibouti, Tigray, Eritrea, Abiy, Separatist Oromo are the outside forces of influence on the Somali in addition to the internal groupings.

Ethiopia cannot live without China at this time.

The Evangelical/Pente take over is very obvious. That will be more of problem for Oromo and Amxara and not for others. Since most others are more traditional.

ONLF will find allies very quickly if the autonomy of the region starts being undermined. So far acts undermining the Somali autonomy have been tolerable, but soon this will come to the fore. All those who supported this changes will want to get paid. Since this is Africa no body wants to get paid by building new things, they want to get paid by taking away from the other guy. Then freedom to speak is nothing if not rewarded with economy.

The Oromo you met may want unity of the three Oromo branches, but that is not achievable since for example your friend cannot ally with the Amxaro/Gurage, OLF cannot ally with them and Abiy cannot live without them. Jawar is taken as enemy no.1 now by Amxaro/Gurage and Abiy is taken as their Saviour/leader. This can only go for so long.

 

 

 

 

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Galbeedi well done saxib. That was very informative.

Welcome back!!!!

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If I did not know you or know the region well I would have taken what you wrote, no doubt under the influence of Ethiopian sticks, seriously.

 

I think you, and many SLnders, are wishing against the incoming ONLF goverment lest they hold the actions of your enclave accountable.

 

Ethiopia and Abiy are trying to be more like Kenya, hence why he signed many deals, including a naval base in Lamu with Kenyatta. Safaricom has also signed a deal with Ethiopia’s telecom to help privitese the sector and import other services like Mpesa. 

Why would you head to Uganda to understand Ethiopia? Waa yab.

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Saaxiib,

The ONLF had to contest the election like anybody else in Ethiopia. Reer Hebel baanu  nahay will not serve this time. They do not have the math to win. Sool, Sanaag, Nugaal and Galgaduud have the same population of Shabeelaha  Hoose. Empty land doesn't constitute population density.

Diredhaba  has more people than the whole OG country side.

I did go to Uganda for a different reason.

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