EthioPoint: Ethiopians Analysis | Research Articles

To the Chicken Little Prophets of Doom and Gloom: Ethiopia is a Rising State and Nation!

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By  Alemayehu G. Mariam

Green-ey’d monsters in Ethiopia

ABIY 5Until April 2, 2019, the first anniversary of H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s term in office, the narrative and refrain of Ethiopia’s Chicken Littles and the boys crying wolf was, “The sky is falling on Ethiopia”.

Today, the new narrative of Ethiopia’s Chicken Little prophets of doom and gloom is, “Ethiopia is a failed state”.

How unrequited ambition makes the green-ey’d monster blind.

But the whole world sees a rising and shining state, not a failed state, in the northeastern corner of Africa under the phenomenal leadership of H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed.

The world press extols PM Abiy’s leadership in words and phrases unheard of for any political leader anywhere.

The Financial Times, a newspaper that has been in operation for over a century and half, wrote, “Abiy Ahmed has overseen the swiftest political liberalisation in Ethiopia’s more than 2,000-year history.”

BBC wrote, “Abiy Ahmed has been doing the seemingly impossible ever since he unexpectedly became prime minister of Ethiopia in April.” He has done “the “equivalent of making the sun rise from the west.”

The Washington Post editorialized, “Abiy Ahmed pulls off an astonishing turnaround for Ethiopia”.

CNN even tried to explain “Why Ethiopians believe their new prime minister is a prophet” and concluded, “Abiy Ahmed is the prime minister who captured Africa’s imagination.”

To top it all off, the Peace Research Institute Oslo, regarded as the world’s “oldest and most prominent peace research center” nominated PM Abiy as the leading candidate for the  2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

PM Abiy is only 43 years old.

Until about a year ago, he was unknown not only internationally but in his own country.

Since taking office on April 2, 2018, Ethiopia’s political has beens, woulda, shoulda, coulda and wanna be political leaders have been wagging their venomous forked tongues and gunning for him.

PM Abiy, 42 when he took office, is the youngest head of state in Africa.

The average age of the 15 oldest African leaders today is 77.

Interestingly, the dotard prophets of doom and gloom are pushing 70.

The irrefutable fact is that Abiy Ahmed has done more to make Ethiopia free and democratic than all previous Ethiopian leaders combined!

But the dotard self-proclaimed leaders of Ethiopia can’t handle PM Abiy.

They are all turning green with envy because he has done in one year more than they have done in their lifetimes combined.

They don’t know how to handle PM Abiy.

He is fast but not furious.

He floats like a butterfly but moves like a cheetah.

He wears a velvet glove over an iron fist but speaks softly.

He does not punch like a bush thug. He stings outlaws with the rule of law.

But he has enemies in the Old Animal Farm: Daylight hyenas, old hippos, wolves in sheep skin, snakes in the grass, pig-heads and stubborn mules.

Regardless of what they say or do on the Farm, PM Abiy does not get bitter. He gets better and better, every day.

What drives the prophets of doom and gloom?

I have my own “theory” about the Chicken Littles and the boys who cry wolf in Ethiopia.

I suspect many of them are wanna be, has been, coulda, woulda and shoulda been political leaders.

I suspect many of the old fogies yapping at Abiy’s feet have been unable to thaw themselves out of the deep freeze of the politics of the 1970s but today see  themselves as the comeback kids.

I suspect many of them wasted their lives pretending to be leaders babbling revolutionary mumbo jumbo.

But they all share one thing in common: Irrepressible jealousy of Abiy Ahmed.

They can’t stand the political wunderkind Abiy Ahmed who has become the equivalent of a rock star in national, regional, continental and global leader.

That is a fact.

But I am not surprised by the venom of the political leaders manqué.

I  suspect many of them have tried unsuccessfully to ingratiate themselves with PM Abiy and jockey for a position in his administration.

But when they found out they have no place because they ain’t got what it takes,  they stand outside and spit venom.

How true William Congreve’s verse, “Hell hath no Fury like a woman scorned.”

Hell has no fury like those spurned and turned back from entering the halls of power!

The prophets of doom and gloom, masters of  fear and smear and Ethiopia “the failed state”

Ethiopia’s Chicken Little prophets of doom and gloom are grasping at straws talking about Ethiopia as a “failed state”. They predict “civil war” and implosion of Ethiopia in an ethnic conflagration.

An April 8, 2019 commentary proclaims, “Ethiopia [is] A Country on the Brinks”. The author argues during the past year under PM Abiy, Ethiopia’s “situation has gone down from bad to worse with a serious possibility of a civil war” and  “Ethiopia is fast becoming a failed state in its truest sense.”

The prescription to save Ethiopia from the state of failed state is to find a leader who could coordinate a soft coup against PM Abiy.

(They say, “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

To those who have lived their lives plotting coups, they think everything can be solved with a military hammer.)

That leader will presumably marshal public support by “campaign[ing] for Ethiopian unity and Ethiopiawinet’’, embracing  “a broad agenda”, using “a pool of experts around him who can challenge him” and “listen[ing] not [] lectur[ing]”.

But the ultimate test for this phantasmic leader is his willingness to “abolish the constitution, dissolve parliament and lead a transitional government by decree.”

In an August 18, 2016 op-ed, the same commentator above declared, “A civil war, and possibly genocide, is in the making in the Horn of Africa, in Ethiopia. The commentator argued:


In an interview in 2011, the same commentator was prophesying Apocalypse Now(forward clip 44:16-46:14; 1:11-1:13:45) over Ethiopia as a failed state. He adamantly stated that “Change can come only from struggle within Ethiopia and anyone who thinks otherwise is dreaming”.

In 2019, after change came with the blood, sweat and tears of the young people in Ethiopia, the same commentator now wants to snatch and  hijack that victory from the young people and give it to a leader he and his clique will anoint in the  backroom.

What arrogance! What hubris!

Let there be no mistake: Those who brought the change and paid with their blood, sweat and tears will defend it with their lives.

A September 2016 commentary declared, “Ethiopia Is On The Brink Of Collapse”.  The reasons given ranged from “political protests to a crippling drought”.

A January 11, 2018 commentary announced, “Ethiopia Is Falling Apart. Tepid reforms and halfhearted concessions won’t save the country’s authoritarian government from its existential crisis.” The commentator prescribed:


A bizarre January 28, 2018 commentary  declared, “Ethiopia is following the path of failed states in the Horn of Africa, North Africa and the Middle East. Ethiopia is in danger of falling apart—and falling prey to predator nations like Iran.”

In a September 22, 2018 commentary, another commentator in earnest urged: “Declare State Of National Urgency (military takeover) in Ethiopia: Remove Abiy Ahmed, Arrest Terrorist Leaders”.

Just today another commentator declared it is the “national duty of Ethiopian defence force to save Ethiopia”.

Why is Ethiopia a “failed state”? Redux

Back in July 2008, when ye dil atbiya arbegnoch/jegnoch (heroes who show up after victory is won), were nowhere to be seen, I wrote a commentary entitled, “Why is Ethiopia a “failed state”?” and battled the erstwhile ambassador of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Samuel Assefa over the issue of Ethiopia as a “failed state”.

In explaining why Ethiopia is a failed state under the misrule of the TPLF, I created an equation:

FL+FR(k)/time =FS

Zenawi (FL) [failed leader] and his TPLF-EPDRF syndicate (FR(k)) [failed regime) operating a kleptocracy (government of thieves) over a period of 17 years (/time) produced a failed state in Ethiopia (FS).

What exactly is a “failed state”?

Over the past couple of decades, various euphemistic neologisms have been invented as descriptors for certain anarchic and dysfunctional “states” in countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, the Sudan, Eritrea, Zimbabwe and others.

Interchangeable phrases/concepts for “failed states” include: “Fragile States”, “Crises States”, “Dysfunctional States”, “Declining States”, “Disintegrating States”, Collapsing States”, “Dissolving States”, “Disordered States”, “Collapsed States”, “Paralyzed States”, “Virtual States”, “vulnerable states”, and even “etats sans gouvernement” (states without government), among others.

While there is no single universally accepted definition of a “failed state”, scholars and researchers in political science, sociology, economics, and even international law use the phrase to describe a regime/government that is incapable of meeting the most elementary functions of governance.

A failed state is most readily identified by the existence of rampant corruption and criminality in the state apparatus, massive human rights violations, rigged elections, predatory elites with protracted monopoly on power, an absence of the rule of law, severe ethnic divisions and sectarianism, deep economic crises and a significant refugee problem caused by political persecution, among other factors.

The Failed (Fragile) States Index is an annual ranking of 178 countries based on  The Fund for Peace’s proprietary Conflict Assessment System Tool (CAST).

For years, Ethiopia under the Zenawi/TPLF regime has ranked at the top end of the Failed (Fragile) States Index.

In 2008, Katherine Wheeler of Foreign Policy Magazine in a videotaped interview asked TPLF ambassador Samuel Assefa point blank, “Is Ethiopia a failed state?”  A visibly flustered, Assefa responded:


Assefa categorically denied Ethiopia was a failed state but shifted the focus on America claiming America during the “Civil War was the biggest example of a failed state”.

Assefa insisted America was a “failed state” until the 1960s because it had racial barriers to voting.

But Ethiopia is not a failed state. Assefa unabashedly argued, in “Ethiopia, my own country, voting rights are not abridged by restrictions of the kind that were prevalent in this country [America] until very recently.”

Assefa alleged the Index was made up by “the West, the United States” so that they can measure up other countries by their standards. It is “disturbing, this whole idea of exporting one’s own model of democracy to others, using it as a benchmark.” Assefa schooled his interviewer by pointing out that “Palestine, Hamas and Fatah” are “very good example[s] of a failed state”.

In a rather zany metaphor aimed at discrediting the “failed state index”, Assefa concluded, “A former professor of mine… a great critic of this approach once wrote that if I should require my leg amputated, I should prefer a very skilled surgeon to a butcher, rather brutal language.”

Is Ethiopia a failed state, or a state that has a failed leader and a  failed regime?

For decades, Ethiopia has had political institutions that have been corrupted to a point where they have been rendered ineffective in performing basic governmental functions.

But an important distinction can be made between Ethiopia and Somalia, the archetypal “failed state”.

Somalia is considered the archetypal failed state because for over two decades it barely had institutions or governance structures that perform basic functions or public services such as security, education, health, transportation. For decades,  Somalia has been in a perpetual state of clan warfare and in 2006 the TPLF warlord Meles Zenawi  joined the clan fray by conducting his own private war in support of one clan against the others.

But Ethiopia has a failed state not because it has disintegrated or non-functioning political institutions; rather, Ethiopia has a failed state because its public and governmental institutions and processes were co-opted, manipulated and distorted for the singular purpose of maximizing the survivability and longevity of the Zenawi TPLF regime.

Ethiopia was state captured by the TPLF and as a captive state failed miserably!

On every measure of state failure, this can be demonstrated.

The security apparatuses (army, police, etc.) in the TPLF regime were used as private military forces to suppress the citizenry and opposition elements and prevent the growth of democratic institutions that can challenge the TPLF.

The parliament was used to rubberstamp the decisions of the TPLF bosses.

Judicial institutions were populated by TPLF political hacks in robes who decide matters through corrupt practices; or in high profile cases, pursuant to political instructions.

There was rampant disregard for the rule of law as the “constitution” of the country was ignored and trampled by the TPLF bosses and the rights of citizens flagrantly violated.

Elections were rigged and stolen in broad daylight by the TPLF. In 2010 the TPLF bosses claimed a 99.6 percent victory in the parliamentary elections followed by 100 percent in 2015.

Corruption was rampant in every aspect of public life under the TPLF regime. Lucrative government contracts and transactions were given to businesses and businessmen with ties to the TPLF regime. For instance, Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC), the largest company in Ethiopia was a wholly owned subsidiary of the TPLF. PM Abiy’s campaign against corruption resulted in the arrest and prosecution of TPLF Brigadier General Kinfe Dagnew, head of METEC and 29 current and former senior employees.

The so-called privatization of state-owned enterprises ended up becoming a  conduit for the transfer of state wealth to friends, supporters and cronies of the TPLF regime. Gold mines, tobacco and brewery plants were delivered (privatized) to TPLF friends at fire sale prices.

The few super-rich in Ethiopia, the vast majority of whom were drinking at the TPLF trough, were squirreling away hundreds of millions of dollars in British, European and American banks, manifestly reducing the available investment inside the country and magnifying the country’s dependence on foreign economic aid and loans and increasing its debt.

For the last 27 years, Ethiopia was forced into becoming a failed state through the manipulation, machinations and incompetence of the TPLF regime.

For 27 years, the TPLF regime ruled with an iron fist and massive repression. Arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, torture and other abusive political persecution practices went on unchecked.

The TPLF regime consistently interfered in the functioning of judicial institutions and undermined their legitimacy, efficacy and credibility by installing political hacks as judges.

The TPLF regime ignored the welfare of the people as it lined its pockets with billions of dollars.

Ethiopians continued to suffer from preventable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrheal diseases.  An incredible  85 percent of  Ethiopia’s rural population does not having access to health care.

In March 2007, Meles Zenawi, responding to a question on the Ethiopian “doctor drain” shocked health officials and physicians attending a conference by declaring, “We don’t need doctors in Ethiopia….Let the doctors leave for wherever they want. They should get no special treatment.”

The TPLF regime greatest failure was its criminal indifference to the plight of Ethiopia’s youth. Millions of children were missing out on education. Most of these children faced a future of despair and misery.

The grand scheme in state failure in Ethiopia over the past 27 years was the TPLF’s phony ethnic federalism, a diabolical concept borrowed from South Africa’s apartheid system of creating homelands for different ethnic groups.

The TPLF’s Kilili-stans (similar to apartheid South Africa’s Bantustans) were created to ensure Ethiopians from diverse ethnic, religious, linguistic and regional backgrounds will be unable to make common cause by accentuating historical grievances, magnifying real and perceived differences and polarizing one ethnic group, region, religion, language, etc., against another.

In “ethnic federalism” ethnicity becomes the defining feature of governance, access to political and economic power, political survivability and self-identity. Fear and loathing is the currency of ethnic politics.

How to Disenroll Ethiopia From the Failed States Index

In 2008, I specifically identified how Ethiopia can disenroll from the rogue’s gallery of failed states.

Over the past year, PM Abiy has met all of the requirements I set in 2008.

In 2008, I argued for Ethiopia to be removed from the Failed States Index it must meet at least the following benchmarks:

Release of ALL political prisoners and restore the democratic rights of the people.

During the first few months of his administration, PM Abiy released ALL political prisoners in the country! Period.

Institute democratic reforms with accountability and uphold the rule of law. 

PM Abiy has instituted massive reforms on accountability and rule of law. PM Abiy has refused to impose collective punishment on an entire group for the crimes of just a few. Dozens of officials have been arrested on major corruption charges. In the past few daysdozens have been arrested on corruption charges.

Provide protections for human rights and civic society organizations and ensure adequate monitoring and reporting processes for human rights violations.

PM Abiy has repealed the former repressive civil society law and replaced it with a new oneProclamation No. 1113/2019.

PM Abiy has allowed (and excluded NONE) all dissidents, opposition leaders and others declared “terrorists” by the TPLF regime to return to the country and participate in the political process peacefully without any preconditions.

PM Abiy has managed to peacefully integrate thousands of armed insurgents to join and participate in the political process peacefully.

PM Abiy living up to his pledge to scrap the TPLF’s anti-terrorism proclamation which has been used to arbitrarily arrest opposition figures, NGO leaders, journalists, and other critics of the government established a Legal and Justice Affairs Advisory Council  A law that conforms to international human rights standards should be in place in the foreseeable future. .

From the very beginning, I challenged Meles Zenawi personally to get rid of his anti-terrorism law because it is a cut-and-paste job  which has little that is legally defensible.

Set up an independent judicial system free from political interference.

PM Abiy religiously preaches rule of law not only to society but the military and security elements. He has practiced rule of law in its purest form. DUE PROCESS. NO person shall be arrested, prosecuted or convicted without the due process of law.

His critics have urged him to uphold the rule of law by imposing collective punishment. He has forthrightly refused to  indiscriminate military force and violence in the name of rule of law and law and order.

Let there be no mistake. He has gone after criminals who have been involved in lawlessness throughout the country and many have been brought to justice, others are awaiting justice.

In November 2018, he appointed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Meaza Ashenafi, a prominent civil society leader founder and executive director of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association. CJ Maeza has started the long and arduous task of building a professional and independent judiciary while fighting corruption and maladministration of justice.

Bring to justice all human rights abusers, including the killers of 193 innocent men, women and children and those who wounded 763 others in the post-2005 election period, and thousands of others.

PM Abiy has arrested dozens of officials who were at the helm of government agencies infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations such as torture and the arbitrary detention of people including in secret facilities.

The notorious Bereket Simon, Mele Zenawi’s Heinrich Himmler, is behind bars now.

I have “indicted” Bereket Simon on various charges of crimes against humanity in the Meles Massacres of 2005. In time, I am confident all the criminals in the Meles Massacres will be brought to justice.

Improve election procedures to ensure fraud-free elections, and refrain from rigging and stealing elections.

PM Abiy appointed Birtukan Mideksa, a highly respected former judge and leading opposition figure to head Ethiopia’s electoral board.

Birtukan was imprisoned by Meles Zenawi time and again because she believed and declared Zenawi stole the 2005 election in broad daylight.

Those who know Birtukan’s suffering under the TPLF regime would never believe she would return to Ethiopia. But PM Abiy was able to persuade Birtukan to return to Ethiopia after years of imprisonment by the TPLF and 7 years in exile. Only a man with extraordinary persuasive powers could convince Birtukan to return and serve her country.

With Birtukan at the helm of the elections board, I have no doubts whatsoever that Ethiopia will have a free and fair election for the first time in its 2000-year history in May 2020!

Repeal all censorship and restrictive press laws.

PM Abiy has removed all censorship on the press. “Hundreds of websites, blogs and satellite-tv channels have been unblocked since Abiy Ahmed took office as prime minister in April last year. For the first time in 13 years there are no journalists in prison; no fewer than 23 publications and six privately owned satellite channels have been given licenses by the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority since July.”

In response to abuse of speech and press freedom, he is currently circulating a draft hate speech law which is in public discussion and comment. I believe the final version of that law will meet international standards of press freedom.

Undertake a genuine program of privatization in land and other government-owned sectors.

In February 2019, the Ethiopian government has announced  Ethio Telecom would be the first of four major state corporations to be sold to private investors. The method of privatization is going to be sale of shares. Among enterprises to be privatized include Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopian Electric Power, and Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise.

In time, land will also be privatized.

What else has PM Abiy failed to do in the “failed state” of Ethiopia?

In October 2018, PM Abiy assigned 50 percent of all ministerial posts to women including ministries of peace, trade and industry, and defense.

How many non-failed states have done that?

PM Abiy has brought order and harmony among the “failed states” of the Horn region by “improving prospects for lasting peace in the Horn has created a significant reservoir of regional and international goodwill. Ethiopia’s relationship with the Gulf states has also significantly improved over the past year. the normalization of relations with Eritrea after twenty years of discord, bringing a massive peace dividend to a vast area of the Horn of Africa that had long been undermined by proxy conflicts between Addis Ababa and Asmara.”

When was the last time the “failed states” of the Horn of Africa join up and agree to create a common market, open borders and open markets?


PM Abiy is dragging all the “Failed States” of the Horn, kicking and screaming, into Rising States with peace brokered in South Sudan, good relations between Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti and the prospect of a prosperous future for all.

How has PM Abiy done on the economic front?

Let’s look at the record.

As a result of PM Abiy’s effort, The World Bank provided Ethiopia with $1.2 billion in direct budget support, the “largest loan ever to a country in sub-Saharan Africaand the first such loan to Ethiopia  in 13 years after lending was suspended  in the wake of the disputed elections of 2005.”

When PM Abiy took the helm in April 2018, Ethiopia’s public debt was moving skyward and gross official reserves nosediving.

In June 2018, when PM Abiy was barely two months in office, Ethiopia had the equivalent to less than one month’s worth of imports in foreign exchange.

PM Abiy travelled to the United Arab Emirates and managed to arrange a $1 billion dollar immediate deposit in Ethiopia’s national bank to ease the severe foreign currency shortage and a firm commitment for $2 billion in investments.

For years, Ethiopia faced severe foreign exchange shortages. Among the causes of the shortage include capital flight (money illegally moved aboard), disproportionate access given to TPLF private businesses, state (TPLF-owned)  enterprises and government (TPLF) sponsored infrastructure projects.

PM Abiy also managed to persuade private investors from the Emirates to undertake a $2 billion mixed-use development in the capital city of Addis creating more than 4,000 residences and community urban space.

In 2011, Global Financial Integrity (GFI) reported, “illicit financial flows out of Ethiopia nearly doubled to US$3.26 Billion in 2009 over the previous year, with corruption, kickbacks and bribery accounting for the vast majority of that increase.”

GFI concluded, “ The people of Ethiopia are being bled dry. No matter how hard they try to fight their way out of absolute destitution and poverty, they will be swimming upstream against the current of illicit capital leakage”.

In light of the TPLF’s continuous plunder of the country’s forex, it is not surprising to see the following depressing data:

Gross official reserves
2011/12- $2.26 billion      2012/13 – $2.36 billion

Gross official reserves
2013/14- $2.49 billion    2014/15 – $3.24 billion

Gross official reserves
2015/16- $3.24 billion    2016/17 – $3.40 billion

Gross official reserves
2017/18- $3.19 billion    2018/19 – $3.67 billion (IMF stf. est.)

What has PM Abiy done on the debt front?

Ethiopia is up the wazoo in debt.

The TPLF has been financing its corrupt enterprises with stolen and embezzled loans.

Ethiopia’s Public Debt is skyrocketing:

2012/13= $37.4 billion
2013/14= $46.8 billion
2014/15= $54.0 billion
2015/16= $55.4 billion
2016/17= $56.9 billion
2017/18= $59 billion
2018/19= $58.1 billion

In September 2018, PM Abiy successfully negotiated to get China to restructure some of the debt obtained to finance a $4 billion railway linking its capital Addis Ababa with neighboring Djibouti.

In February 2019, Prime Minister Abiy told parliament that his government has successfully renegotiated the repayment period for 60% of its external debt.

To revive the economy totally destroyed by the TPLF, PM Abiy over the past year has sought help from the World Bank which  injected $1.7 billion in a direct loan in an effort to narrow the trade deficit, which currently stands at 500%.

He also arranged loans from a number of multilateral institutions, primarily the World Bank in the range of $US 7.8 billion. The Africa Development Bank and China have also granted huge sums in loans to Ethiopia.

PM Abiy doing his best trying to keep an Ethiopia drowning in debt afloat.

What have PM Abiy’s critics done over the last year?

Not a doggone thing!


They have been moaning and groaning.

They have been whining and griping.

They have been grousing and grumbling.

They have been carping and sniveling.

They have been clucking and quacking.

They have been cackling and braying.

They have been bellyaching, headaching and heartaching.

They have been daydreaming military coups and takeovers.

But they ain’t done a damn thing!

I have one message for all of them: Get a life.

Correction. I have a second message:

Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way!!!

On a personal note

There is no question Ethiopia was a failed state until Abiy Ahmed showed up in 2018!

Today, Ethiopia is a rising and shining state.

Today, Ethiopia is the Spirit of Africa, just like her majestic airline!

Today, the world looks at Ethiopia with wonderment.

Against this background, all of the naysayers, doomers and gloomers and moaners and groaners to me sound like Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind” tearfully pleading with Rhett Butler, “Where shall I go? What shall I do?”

Paraphrasing the immortal words Rhett Butler, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn what the Chicken Littles and the boys who cry wolf have to say, do or go to…”

I care about the facts which I have laid out above. DEAL WITH IT!

Ethiopia is a rising state and nation, no doubts .about it! 

We should all thank Abiy Ahmed for it!