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Talking past each other

Talking past each other

Kalayu Abrha 07-14-21

The English language idiomatic expression "talk past each other" means two persons are talking about the same subject but are saying different things. This happens when one of the two knows what the other is saying is the truth but has decided not to admit it. The resistance to accept the truth could arise from the sense of defeat that could logically follow admission of the truth. This could be worse if admission of truth and the acceptance of defeat has serious consequences on the life or career or position of the defeated. In most cases admitting defeat and minimizing the consequences is a sign of wisdom. However, the innate stubbornness of people in some political office, until the last minute and the last drop of blood, could result in a disaster.

USA fought in Vietnam determined that the latter would never become a Soviet ally and a communist. America was trying to convince its people and troops to support and fight in Vietnam because if the Vietnamese win the war America will be in danger! This was the line of US propaganda. To the contrary the Vietnamese were fighting to liberate their land from foreign forces and determine their own future; not to threaten the USA. The Vietnamese and Americans were talking past each other because USA knows very well that Vietnam is not a threat to it but admitting defeat in Vietnam is a disgrace in the eyes of the world. USA was not ready to take that; but the disgrace came to it anyways. A negotiated exit for USA from Vietnam could have been more honorable for USA than the drama of disorganized retreat at the US Embassy in Saigon by helicopters as the tiny Vietcong soldiers stormed the gates of the embassy with tanks. USA was also trying to display the Vietnam war as a war to save the world from communism. The same thing happened in Congo and Korea where USA transformed the local conflict into a UN-led international war. The troops from Ethiopia, who fought in these two wars consider themselves as heroes who saved the world.

The most irrational war the world has ever seen was and still is being waged in Tigray. This was the result of the two sides in this war talking past each other. Tigray and its leaders were talking about self- determination, no interference in their internal affairs which are rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution. Holding an election according to the Constitutional dictates, before the term expires, is not just a right but an obligation. The new party (PP), which controlled the Federal government without being elected postponed the general election by the Covid-19 excuse but in truth to buy time for consolidation, declared the election in Tigray unconstitutional. Might at Arat Kilo said the "Election in Tigray is unconstitutional according to the Constitution"; and the truth in Tigray said "There are no two constitutions for each of us. the Constitution we have in common is only one. That constitution does not allow exceeding the term. So, Tigray acted accordingly. The constitution is violated at Arat Kilo not in Tigray."

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Talking past each other as if there are two constitutions continued because the Arat Kilo side of the argument did not want to admit that it is wrong. Why? Obviously because holding the general election in time will certainly affect the new Party which was and is amorphous and without a sufficient mass base. The new Party is above anything else furious about the failure to convince TPLF to join it. So, it had every reason to dread the fact that a very strong party (TPLF) is outside its grip. The fear also emanates from the bad thing the other three parties of the EPRDF coalition did to TPLF. A fear of retaliation by a re-elected TPLF was thick in the Arat-Kilo air. It is clear that the talk past each other is not about the Constitution, which is only one and readable to anyone with basic literacy. The Constitutional dictate that 'election must be done in time before the end of term' is not ambiguous even to ordinary people. It is the diameterically opposed interests of the two sides of the political divide that are causing the talk past one another. They will never talk to meet in the middle and reconcile. In fact, the opposed political interests of the two sides go beyond the irrational fear of retaliation by TPLF on the PP if it is allowed to remain a potent political force and retake Arat-Kilo. The PP and the Arat-Kilo administration, in the jaws of the "One Ethiopia" movement, have become instrumental in the quest for a unitary state replacing the existing Federal arrangement. The only Ethno-linguistic group, which is in the lead advocating for a unitary Ethiopia is the Amhara. Of course, it has assembled many others who are beneficiaries of the Federal arrangement but are busy cutting the branch they are sitting on. The national regional states, that are assisting the demise of their hard-won self-rule, are doing so for a very simple reason that TPLF has "offended them for 27 years". Unable to see the bright lights TPLF put on for them they are looking for some dark corner to blame the TPLF and ally with their former oppressors. Wise people know what they would lose before they lose it; people blindfolded by propaganda know what they have lost after they lose it forever. "You cannot have your bread and eat it". It is not possible to restore unitary system and at the same time remain as a national regional state.

The Amhara political elite (now including the academic and economic elites) and their unsuspecting followers from other regions long to restore unitary Ethiopia for two interrelated reasons: Unitary Ethiopia ensures the restoration of Amhara based rule because Amharic-the official language-will prevail all over Ethiopia as a language of administration, education, and justice not to mention the fact that it will be the language of media and entertainment. If the old teklay gizats or something like them are restored there is no way that the geography will allow own language use for official purposes. It is likely that there will be multilingual regions who are obliged to take Amharic as a common factor. Employing millions of translators in all parts of Ethiopia is the likely scenario. If it is the choice of Ethiopians to jump from water into fire out of fear and hatred of a Tigray-TPLF's come back to Arat-Kilo so be it. I assure you Tigray would never like to govern Ethiopians; it is only interested to protect itself from them. Tigray brought Federalism to Ethiopia, which is being enjoyed by regional states, including Oromia and Sidama, who are surprisingly sending troops to fight the Tigray which lost 60,000 of its children to bring about the Federalism that created them. Now Tigray is made to be public enemy number one in Ethiopia. Proponents of unitary Ethiopia, who purposely relate Federalism with disintegration of Ethiopia, have naive followers who believe them for whatever they say. This includes eliminating the source of Federalism: Tigray. Little wonder that Federalist Tigray and Unitary Amhara + PP + other opposition groups are talking past each other.

PP desperately wanted to ensure its survival at Art-Kilo by eliminating TPLF. To accomplish this, it had to turn the dispute between the two into a National agenda for all others to support and participate. PP succeeded to rally "patriotic forces" by fanning the allegation that TPLF-Tigray have rebelled against Ethiopia and are doing their best to destroy Ethiopia. This would sound like a re-invasion by Italy or Somalia reaching Dire Dawa again to ordinary Ethiopians, who are unable to perform political analysis to get to the truth beyond the barrage of propaganda they are exposed to 24/7/30/365. Tigray is saying I need to protect self-rule within the Federal arrangement; while the PP side is saying Tigray is working to destroy Ethiopia. They talked past each other and PP, the Amhara Militia, Eritrea, Somalia, UAE and other forces invaded Tigray. They were trying to "save Ethiopia by killing Tigray". The falsehood in the allegation has been so intoxicating that Ethiopians preferred to save Ethiopia even if this needs the elimination of Tigray. Poor Ethiopians are being deceived beyond limits because if the agenda is about saving Ethiopia Tigray has always been in the forefront. The people never seem to pause and think if this is really about saving Ethiopia. In reality, the people are paying such a hefty price to save PP and the Eritrean dictator.

Although the Federal Constitution created the Amhara region, by merging four former regions and putting Welkait, Kafta-Humera, Tselemti, Tsegede, Alamata and Ofla weredas, with an overwhelming majority of Tigrigna speakers, within the Tigray jurisdiction, the N.Gondar and N.Wello zones of Amhara objected to the new arrangement. Their objection was based on the pre-Federal constitution. They based their claim on the afore listed weredas on the "walking-dead" Imperial constitution. All Amhara is not interested in what has come to be dubbed as the "Welkait issue". This is a matter for the adjacent zones of Noth Wello and North Gondar. Gojjam is engrossed in regaining Metekel; Shoa is busy with Oromia portions of its former territories. The reason why the Welkait issue has become an Amhara issue is driven by the need to join hands against the common enemy of unitary system and defender of Federalism to the detriment of Amhara ambitions for one Ethiopia under their iron hand. Hence, Welkait is simply an emblem or a banner or a rallying cry of the unitary forces against Federalist Tigray. Otherwise, Welkait is just the same as Elkere of Somali for Bale (Oromia); Afar for Wello (Amhara); Asosa for Welega (Oromia). No such claims are made by Oromia and Amhara.on these zones. Afar is a desert Wello does not claim it. Metekel is fertile Gojjam needs it; So are N.Gondar going for Welkait and Humera and North Wello going for Raya. Economic interests of adjacent zones are the key drivers; but this is being used for a wider political purpose inflating it far beyond proportions. Amhara militia, predominantly drawn from N. Gondar invaded the claimed weredas of Tigray, established "Amhara administration" after chasing out hundreds of thousands of Tegaru residents. The Amhara government declared that the weredas in western and southern Tigray have been "re-integrated" into Amhara for eternity.

When the sudden reversal came with Tigray Defence Force launching the re-liberation of all Tigray the occupying Amhara force panicked and declared a state of war at regional level. It called upon all able bodied in the Amhara region to join the fight against TDF and "save the Amhara people". From whom are the Amhara people to be saved? From Tigray? What the Amhara militia did to Tegaru was more than enough reason to apply the Laws of Hamurabi: "an eye for an eye". Nevertheless, the people Tigray from which the TDF is drawn are on a too high moral platform to conceive of such barbarous acts of revenge. Long enough before the campaign for the re-liberation of the Amhara occupied territories of Tigray started top leaders of Tigray have tried to reassure the Amhara people that the TDF is not after the Amhara people but is determined to weed out the leading perpetrators of the genocide and destruction in Tigray. While Tigray talks of how its highly discipled army is going to operate minimizing civilian damage the Amhara officials are intentionally painting a doomsday scenario in the Amhara region by Tegaru. They are talking past each other because what the Amhara officials want is to save their necks from the punishment for the atrocities they ordered and led. They care less about the Amhara people. If they had even a little love for the Amhara people, they would never have sent them to invade land that does not belong to them. First, they wanted to protect their political office by invading Tigray now they are declaring an all-out war to save their own lives. When mobilizing the entire Amhara region against Tigray is not turning out to be adequate the regional officials have gone into a last-ditch effort to involve all Ethiopians to save Welkait! What is Welkait for the people Ethiopia? Why should they go from as far as Sidama and Oromia to Welkait and fight as if it is Italy or Sudan that are trying to take it? Arat-Kilo has confirmed to Ethiopians that "Sudan is a brother Tigray is a foreign enemy". Ethiopians accept without a question and go to die in something that they have no idea about. TDF never said it will attack Amhara let alone Ethiopia. It is saying firmly that it will get the whole Tigray back, punish the invaders, return its looted property, re-settle its displaced millions, and be fully compensated. If this is intentionally translated into an intention to exterminate Amhara and Ethiopians Tigray alone cannot put the distortion right; the adverse consequences will be the responsibility of those who are evading the truth and taking the Country on a sure path to doom.

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