Mekelle: 13 May 2024 (Tigray Herald)

By KoKi Abesolome


Last week I read a brief-summary of Jawar’s interview on Addis Standard and shared my reaction in an article I titled “Jawar’s Political Transformation is Welcomed but Lacks Moral Culpability.”

Today, I read all 24 pages of “The Interview: Jawar Mohammed.” My reaction is the same. In his interview he raises many substantive issues that are useful. His interview has a lot of good points, meshed up with carefully placed façade to cover up the ills of tribalism. That part is understandable because as one who, in the past, has bragged about creating the political calculator for tribal politics, he needs a graceful coverup as he sneaks out to the other side.

Politics is dynamics. When the political dynamic changes, it forces political actors to change their position. Humans adapt to changing circumstances to survive. That is what Jawar is doing. Tribalism has proven both primitive and degenerative. He is running away from it. What undermines his political resuscitation project is his lack of moral culpability.

He was a leading part of the problem but tries to present himself as a visionary who was not listened to. He wants us to believe that had the government and its opposition forces listened to him, all would have worked out. Here are some examples.

On National Dialogue He Now Says: “A national dialogue would have been an ideal platform to debate, discuss, and negotiate on fundamental issues and contradicting narratives before we can ultimately agree on a new social contract. That is why many of us have pleaded with the new leadership to facilitate a forum for national dialogue since they came to power in 2018. Unfortunately, our plea was not heeded at the time.”

The truth is he did not encourage free dialogue, Nor did he championed for a negotiated settlement. He wanted to shove tribal politics down the throat of all Ethiopians. This s what he wrote on July 28, 2018 “Multinational federalism engrained in the current constitution is here to stay. It’s in not up for discussion, let alone negotiation. Anyone caught in some FANTASY should wake up from their hallucination.” This is the screen shot.

On Nation Building He Stated: “Imperial Ethiopia aimed to create a nation-state by assimilating the diverse population into a single identity through the suppression of linguistic and cultural differences. This was not unique to Ethiopia; it was the most common approach to state-building worldwide until the rise of the concept of self-determination.”

This is the same person who maligned the Ethiopian state and coined the popular tribal slogan “Ethiopia Out of Oromia.”

On Ethiopia’s Resilience to Sustain Coordinated Tribal Assault He stated: “Its long and deep-rooted history of statehood appears to be one of the factors. Look at countries that faced serious social upheaval and civil wars in recent years. Egypt and Syria have managed to maintain their statehood because, like Ethiopia, both have a long history of statehood. On the other hand, Yemen and Libya succumbed to their political predicaments.”

This is the same person who has been telling us Ethiopia is only 120 years old.

On Tribal Forces Accused of Being “Enemies of the State”, he wrote: “The centrifugal [read tribal] forces, who tend to attack the state as they seek to empower social groups, are accused of being unpatriotic and labeled ‘enemies of the state’. While such accusations might be exaggerated, they are not without merit.”

His resuscitation project faces formidable challenge. His worst problem are the very extremists he nurtured. In 2018, he had millions of followers. His base has abandoned him. Today his OMN program gets 4,000 to 5,000 views. He needs to rebuild his brand. As it stands, his chances for success are miniscule. The first thing he needs to do is be honest and have some moral culpability. If all fails. At east that way he can salvage himself.

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