Fools rush in where angels fear to tread

a comedy of errors by Elias and Sileshi

Dilwenberu Nega
May 20 2009

Sileshi Tilahun, Isaias Afwerki, and Elias Kifle (Photo credit Ethiopian Review)The decision by Ethiopian Review to flaunt snapshots of its cyber publisher Elias Kifle and EPPF’s Sileshi Tilahun with Isaias Afewerki on its web page has ignited wide-spread anger and resentment among Ethiopians all over the world. Ethiopian cyber voices of moderation, too, AIGA, Ethiopifirst.com and even Dagmawi were quick – and rightly so – to echo their strongest condemnation, yet, of what amounts to a blatant act of treason by adventurists lured by Shabia’s charm offensive and, no doubt, irresistible freebies. The issue of conducting an interview with Isaias Afewerki cannot be viewed in terms of the right to information or freedom of press. The reasons are all too familiar for any responsible Ethiopian irrespective of their political allegiances.

Though the guns of the Ethio-Eritrean War of 2000 are silent, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the State of Eritrea remain in a state of belligerency. The State of Eritrea – which shares no border with Somalia – is aiding and abetting Jihadists in Somalia with the sole purpose of destabilising Ethiopia. Ethiopians have never viewed and will never view Eritreans as enemies. But things are different when it comes to Isaias Afeweki. Ethiopians harbour pent-up feelings of grudge and resentment on Isaias Afewerki which a carefully choreographed interview is not able to address. Isaias is universally known for his Ethiophobe (hatred of Ethiopians) and I don’t like the likes of the duo to tell me that Isaias is a changed man because his current actions speak louder than any amount of spin doctoring by Elias and Sileshi. The blood of Ethiopians still curdles when they think of Isaias’ order to his troops in 1991 on how inhumanely they must treat Ethiopian POWs as well as when they hear him refer to Ethiopians as “asinine.” The duo’s pilgrimage to pay homage to Ethiopia’s sworn enemy, therefore, far from being seen as a yet another bold act to bring down the Ethiopian Government, in actual fact has come to herald the long overdue parting of the ways within that section of the Ethiopian Diaspora which had, thus far, remained in hoc to the politics of extremism, vitriol and hate. And this is good for all those who have been waiting to see a modicum amount of common sense to rein in the politics of the Ethiopian Diaspora. The unmasking of Elias and Sileshi will go a long way in vindicating what a handful of responsible Ethiopian websites have been struggling for: the cutting of a wedge between the forces of moderation and extremism within the Ethiopian Abroad.

In an ideal world the interview that the two men secured with the dictator of the State of Eritrea would, no doubt, have earned them an accolade. But no one knows better than Elias and Sileshi that the prevailing conditions between Ethiopia and Eritrea are anything but ideal. But there again, who says Elias and Sileshi are journalists in the real sense of the word. If being owner and manager of a web-site was the qualifying criteria of a journalist, then my ten year old daughter is a journalist.

A desperate bachelor will even marry a pregnant woman

As the doyen of the avatars of extremism and the politics of hate within the Ethiopian Diaspora, Elias Kifle and Sileshi have been publically instrumental in fomenting all forms of opposition against the Ethiopian Government: from organizing anti-EPDRF demonstrations in Washington to raising funds to mug the democratic process during the 2005 National Election to canvassing for the phantom EPPF. Particularly, a lot can be said about Elias Kifle’s idiosyncrasies which are the facsimile actions of one intoxicated by the delusions of grandeur. It, however, took Ethiopians at-large, up to this moment to realise that he was all along working in cahoots with Shabia’s Ministry of Information with the sole aim of being a reliable conduit for Shabia’s charm offensive on the Ethiopian Diaspora. A stream of invectives was thrown at individuals and websites who had courageously exposed the symbiotic relations between Elias Kifle’s Ethiopian Review and Shabia’s Ministry of Information. Elias had no qualms when he publically proclaimed on his web-page Ethiopia’s sworn enemy - Isaias Afewrki - as Man of the Year. Mind you, mounting an opposition against an elected Government of a pluralistic nation is one thing; boot-licking the sworn enemy of Ethiopia who had succeeded in turning his beautiful country into Africa’s Gulag Archipelago quite another. But nothing better describes the infantile and idiosyncratic nature of Elias, than his continued insistence on the indispensability of forming a government in exile by Ethiopian opposition forces. Either he has no inkling as to what is meant by a government in exile or he his exhibiting an advanced form of mental derangement for which only Asmara can be his convalescing venue.

We will, of course, be monitoring closely the interview as and when it appears on Ethiopian Review. We do this not to show our approval of it, but to further warn the silent majority of our citizens not to be duped by Shabia’s charm offensive. Elias and Sileshi have by their own actions relegated themselves into a political spent force. No sane Ethiopian will henceforth lend them their eyes, ears and purses. What a good riddance!

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