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Dr. Newitol Is Here To Add To Your Confusion: (21-30)

Posted On September 19, 2018

  1. Curious from Hmeret Kelboy asks, ” why did Eritrea and Ethiopia sign their peace agreements 3 times?

Dr. Newitol: One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now, go, cat, go. The one signed in Eritrea was for the money (from UAE to Ethiopia.) The one signed in Abu-Dhabi was for the show: bling, bling. And the one in Jeddah was clearly because Saudi Arabia sits on the Human Rights Council and is an authority on human rights.  Now go, cat, go. (See also question 25.)

  1. Even more confused in Nazreth, Ethiopia: So, how did Lemma Megersa become a bad guy overnight?

Dr. Newitol: His police commissioner said, “I couldn’t catch the criminals in Burayu because they are hiding from me.”  He also told his wife, “I couldn’t buy the groceries because I lost the grocery list you gave me.” The birr stops with the regional president even in an inflationary market.

  1. Khelifa from Omdurman, Sudan asks, “why wasn’t my country invited to the Peace & Friendship Agreement in Saudi Arabia! Everyone know we Sudanese are very peacy and friendy!  

Dr. Newitol: Door # 1 has Iran, Door # 2 has Qatar, Door # 3 has Turkey, Door # 4 has Saudi Arabia and UAE.  You guys chose the wrong door. The Saudis and Emiratis do not like the Muslim Brotherhood and they are looking for a Sudanese to sisi Omar Albashir on his friendly ass. Also because Isaias Afwerki has to have at least one enemy at a time.

  1. Shengeb from Halib Mentel asks, “do you have any information on the arrest of Berhane Abrehe and do you expect any reaction from Eritreans?”

Dr. Newitol: My notes say he was under house arrest for a month until they gathered enough evidence about him. Then, when they did,  he was able to proudly walk to his car in his dignified clothes and he was presented with an arrest warrant. Remember, this is for a man who is accused of being responsible for heinous human rights violations involving hyenas and lions and burning 7 churches and…

 

wait, I think I have my files confused. I confused civilized Ethiopia with backward Eritrea. I was telling you about Ethio Somalia regional president Abdi Omar Mohammed. You are asking me about the Eritrean? He was having breakfast with his son at a public place, security officers hauled him to their car and nobody said or did anything. The country appears to be in a state of permanent trauma.  The Eritrean opposition is discussing what took him so long to speak up (they would tell a prisoner of war why didn’t you surrender earlier.)

  1. Andom from Adi Keyh (College of Arts and Social Sciences) asks: Abraham Isaias Afwerki (AiA) was my classmate and he had a 0.2 matriculation. What is he doing in Zalambesa and Jeddah and what exactly is his title?

Dr. Newitol: His title is “President-in-waiting.” I don’t know why this is a big deal. For the last 17 years he was being trained to be a successor and now it’s the citizens turn to be trained about him. His title, for now, is Chairman of the High-Level Joint Committee which will guide and oversee the implementation of the Agreement. This is very important for the peace and friendship of Eritrea and Ethiopia because the last time the two countries had a high-level joint committee, the Eritreans (hard-core EPLF) didn’t like the Ethiopians (hard-core TPLF), and vice-versa  and they had a bloody war. President Isaias Afwerki, a man of peace,  is wisely placing a highly qualified man in the position: someone who has no hostility to Ethiopia and, working from the President’s office, can overcome bottlenecks.  Sounds very efficient and peaceful and friendly to me.

  1. “Still say whati!ing” from Washington, DC asks, “I was attending a public seminar conducted by Eritrea’s Charge d’affaires Berhane G Solomon and he said those in prison in Eritrea are better off than those who are not in prison. Can you please explain what he meant?

Dr. Newitol: Why is everything politicized? He is talking science! The challenge in Africa is food, medicine, shelter.  And free from fear of government that will arrest you. Those in prison never have to worry about that. Out in Asmara, at a restaurant you have to pay 2 Nakfas for a cup of water. You can also do a lot of reading in prison. So, really, what is there to argue with his logic? Families are a nuisance anyway.

  1. Zrefom from Asmara asks, “I work for Red Sea Trading Corporation. Do you have any recommendation where we should base our office in Ethiopia?”

Dr. Newitol: You will need two offices. One is in the Eritrean embassy where diplomatic pouches are still untouchable, confederation or not. There is a large diplomatic community in Addis Abeba and someone has to provide the cocaine, amirite? The other is at Assosa, which has a huge farmland for cash crops (weed, khat) and it also happens to be very close to the Sudanese border.

  1. Aradom Abkeyom from Mekele asks, “in one of his first addresses to Ethiopian parliament, PM Abiye said that the Ethiopian people are entitled to hour-by-hour, day-by-day updates of EPRDF meetings. I know EPRDF had a meeting last week. Where is the report?”

Dr. Newitol: It takes a lot of time to edit out the parts that are not good for the public to hear. He is just looking out for the interest of the people. What are you, people-hater? All his talk was before his frequent visits with Isaias Afwerki, anyway, who has told him to introduce “bego adraginet” to the restless youth. And Gnbot-7, Arbegnoch, ETV all say Eritrean National Service is great so, huh, huh, huh?

  1. Semhar from Senafe says: “Man, my town is just flooded with people coming and going. My question is: are all these Eritreans going to Ethiopia coming back?”

Dr. Newitol: Coming back from what to what? It is all one big country. I don’t understand your question: are you against free movement of people?

  1. Simon from Atlanta, GA: What is going on in these pictures? I am from the South and I went home to Ethiopia and this look like something I am familiar with in Atlanta but I am trying to be culturally sensitive?

Dr. Newito: Just some youth went to a church to pray and got lost. And the nice lawman was escorting them out. In the courtyard, they lost

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“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” George Carlin

This covers a lot. Enough said.

Mekonen Haddis, Professor.

JULY 10, 2018

Keeping Your Refugees: Macron, Francafrique and Euro-African Relations

Ties between Europe and Africa have never been rosy. A relationship based on predatory conquest and the exploitation of resources (slave flesh, minerals, and such assortments) is only ever going to lend itself to farce and display rather than sincerity.  The late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, whose death must be placed squarely at the feat of the Franco-Anglo-American intervention in the Libyan conflict of 2011, typified the cruelly distorted relationship, a man who morphed from erratic, third way statesman of revolution to terrorist inspired “Mad Dog”; then to a modern, if cartoonish figure capable of rehabilitating a state from pariah to flattered guest.

A neat expression of Euro-African ties was captured in the 2007 Dakar address by then French President Nicolas Sarkozy.  Like the current French President Emmanuel Macron, Sarkozy wanted to make an impression on those in what had been formerly characterised as the Dark Continent.  The leaders of the Maghreb and West Africa had been led to believe that promise was wafting in the air, that France would have a grand update on its relationship with former colonies on the continent. The system of Francafrique, larded with neo-colonial connotation, would be scrapped.  Sweet sensible equality would come to be.

An impression he did make, albeit in spectacularly negative, sizzling fashion.  “The tragedy of Africa is that the African has not fully entered into history… They have never really launched themselves into the future.”

Sarkozy’s speech seemed a cribbed version of texts produced at a time when European officials were falling over each in other in acquiring, and renting portions of the continent.  But in 2007, a French leader could still be found speculating about the limited world view of African agrarianism, its peasantry cocooned from enlightenment.  “The African peasant only knew the eternal renewal of time, marked by the endless repetition of the same gestures and the same words.”  This, for the French President, was a “realm of fancy – there is neither room for human endeavour nor the idea of progress.”

The impact of the speech was such as to prompt Senegal’s foremost scribe Boubacar Boris Diop to suggest a cognitive confusion of some scale.  “Maybe he does not realise to what extent we felt insulted.”  Defences were offered in France, one coming from Jean-Marie Bockel. The speech, he concluded, had one thread through it: “the future of Africa belongs firstly to the Africans.”

And so now, in 2018, where history has again become an issue, throwing up its human cargo of suffering from conflict, poverty and strong shades of neo-colonialism, France, fashioned as a European leader, again finds itself considering how to respond to relations with the southern continent.

For various African states, the signs are not good. Historical condescension and the sneer seemingly persists.  Macron, in an effort to steady the refugee control effort in the European Union, has gone into full school teacher mode.  The EU, he has iterated, cannot take decisions on behalf of African states, though he does suggest that, “Helping Africa to succeed is good for Europe and France.”

African states also suffered from a distinct problem of fecundity: unplanned population growth threatened further northward migration. Immigrant processing centres in North Africa designed to halt the flow into Europe’s south, he suggests, “can fly, just if some African governments decide to organise it”.

This is something Macron has been onto for a time, and it replicates a broader formula adopted by wealthier states to more impoverished ones.  No doubt eyeing such ghoulish experiments as Australia’s Pacific Solution, which shifts the burden of processing and assessing refugee claims to small, low-income Nauru and unstable Papua New Guinea, Macron suggested in 2017 that states such as Libya carry the can, a suggestion as absurd as it is venal.

In August that year, he ventured, with agreement from German, Spanish and Italian counterparts, to focus on the setting up of migrant processing centres in Libya, Chad and Niger.  These would involve European resources to help create and sustain them.  The gaping flaw of this suggestion, one carried over into the EU negotiations last week, ignores the shattered status of Libya, a state in all but name.

Such plans, in the assessment of Left MEP Malin Björk, were “tainted by structural racism towards the African population”. In the opinion of the Swedish MEP, “Europe has not right to criminalise mobility of movement especially not in third countries.”  Such views are coming across as marginally quaint in the hard nosed and distinctly inhumane line of EU politics.

The value of Macron’s schooling is also compounded by manifold problems on what Europe actually intends to do.  The EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan that came into force on March 20, 2016 was meant to be a holy of holies, stemming the flow of refugees into frontline Greece.  It came with the natural consequence of shifting the routes of movement towards the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean.  Like aqueous matter, human flows will find a way.

Macron is only speaking for Europe in one respect: regaining control of borders and putting the refugee genie as far as possible back into the bottle.  Disagreement reigns over the method.  During negotiations in Brussels, EU leaders agreed, for instance, that “regional embarkation platforms” established outside the zone would be implemented to target the people-smuggling process.  In principle, it was also agreed that there would be secure migrant processing centres set up in EU countries.

On this point, member states remain deafeningly silent, though Macron has insisted on the traditional formula that states who first receive the migrants should have those centres. The current Italian government hardly sees the point of why; other EU states are more than fit to also conduct such processes.

As such squabbling to the richer North takes place, the impecunious South will simply continue to be a massive conduit of dangerous, often deadly travel.  This, along with Francafrique notions and various lacings of European suspicion towards African states, will continue with headstrong stubbornness.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Top of Form

 

By Grant T. Harris June 6 at 6:00 AM

Grant T. Harris is CEO of Harris Africa Partners. He was senior director for Africa at the White House from 2011 to 2015.
Small shops at a market in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, display imported used clothing, known locally as chagua. (Jacques Nkinzingabo for The Washington Post)

Rwandans would like to wean themselves from American hand-me-downs, and the United States wants to punish them for it. Last week, the Trump administration suspended duty-free access to U.S. markets for Rwandan clothing. This may sound like inconsequential news, compared with the prospect of a trade war with China, the European Union or our Canadian neighbors, but the move follows a dangerous trend of disregard for Africa. And it’s not just Africans who will suffer: Neglecting the continent will foreclose trade opportunities, harm U.S. companies and, ultimately, cost U.S. jobs.

Rwanda and several of its neighbors recently introduced tariffs on used clothing in an attempt to bolster the local apparel industry. In response, a U.S. trade group filed a complaint, claiming that the new tariffs violate the terms of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which requires participating countries to reduce trade barriers for U.S. goods. Unlike its neighbors, Rwanda stayed the course. The administration has every right to retaliate under the terms of the act — but the move is inconsistent and shortsighted.

For a start, the administration can hardly claim to be acting on principle. More than 100 countries benefit from U.S. trade preference programs without returning the favor. Florie Liser, former assistant U.S. trade representative for Africa, notes that countries like India and Brazil, which are major exporters to the United States under the program known as the Generalized System of Preferences, “ship a lot more to us than Rwanda, yet have significant barriers to U.S. trade.” The selective decision to retaliate against Rwanda not only adds to the general trade turmoil damaging U.S. standing overseas but also is seen as a particular snub of Africa, where President Trump’s derogatory comments about its countries have not been forgotten.

The administration can’t claim to be protecting a vital American industry, either. The complaints of the used-clothing association — that Rwandan tariffs would have a negative impact on up to 40,000 U.S. jobs — are unsubstantiated. Rwanda, a country of approximately 12.5 million people, imported $17 million in used clothing in 2016, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. The clothes are primarily donations to organizations like the Salvation Army and Goodwill, bought by members of the trade group that lodged the complaint, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, and resold in Africa. Rwandan vendors sell them in market stalls.

[African nations are fed up with the West’s hand-me-downs]

Rwanda’s motivations are as much about dignity as they are about economics. Just as China recently banned imports of “foreign garbage” that it used to buy and recycle, Rwanda is taking a stand against the perceived indignity of buying clothes that others have worn and discarded. It would be a different story if Rwandans were rejecting icons of American ingenuity and enterprise, like cutting-edge medical devices or mobile technologies. But they’re not; they’re rejecting our hand-me-downs. The White House fails to grasp that, as well as the bigger picture for the United States. It’s not just Rwanda — the president is picking fights with trading partners old and new over relatively small amounts of U.S. imports and exports and with little regard for the long-term consequences. As relationships fray — even longtime allies feel under duress — the price to the United States rises; the country will pay not just in self-inflicted economic harm but also in diminished global leadership and reduced support for its national security priorities.

Banning used clothes is not enough to build Rwanda’s domestic textile and apparel industry, especially given competition from cheap Chinese imports of ready-made clothing. But there is a certain irony in Trump punishing Rwanda for protecting domestic manufacturing in what really is a Rwandan version of “America First.” More to the point, the United States ought to be supporting countries that pursue economic growth and development plans — not just because it is the right thing to do but also because the vitality of the U.S. economy depends on whether we have markets for our goods and services.

Until recently, supporting African economic growth was a key piece of U.S.-Africa policy. For instance, building on the African Growth and Opportunity Act’s strong legacy of bipartisan support, President Barack Obama launched the Trade Africa initiative to support regional economic integration and work toward a more reciprocal trade relationship. But the suspension of access for Rwandan apparel reinforces the sad truth that the Trump administration has no vision for trade with Africa. And there is no question that U.S. businesses will suffer as a result. Africa represents the last frontier for America’s export-driven economy, with consumer and business spending predicted to reach $6.7 trillion by 2030. A U.S. government report released last week cited motor vehicles, poultry and refined petroleum products among various sectors, as well as a range of services, with the potential for greater American exports to sub-Saharan Africa.

The United States misses a larger opportunity by engaging in petty trade squabbles and generally neglecting the continent. While it is true that the Trump administration maintains that it supports more reciprocal trade relationships with African states and has been studying trade and investment potential in certain African markets, advancing a strategic economic partnership with Africa requires more than talk. Actions — like threatening the funding of government agencies that support U.S. companies investing in Africa, leaving key ambassadorships vacant and deprioritizing trade programs — speak louder than words.

Meanwhile, other economies are making aggressive commercial plays in Africa. China has been Africa’s leading trade partner for the last nine years; trade scuffles like this one with Rwanda can only further drive African states into China’s open arms. Nor is it just China — the European Union has been actively traveling the region, signing two-way trade agreements that will disadvantage American companies far more than any tariffs on secondhand clothing.

It would be misguided to dismiss this row with Rwanda as a small issue with a small country. The larger economic picture is much more worrying.

 

Diplomacy in Korea and the Hope It Inspires

History will be made this week with the summit meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. With a second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump looming in four to six weeks or so, it’s tempting to look past this first summit, but that would be a mistake. This inter-Korean summit could well be the more important of the two. Should North and South Korea continue to make solid progress toward peace and reconciliation, and there is every reason to think they will, agreements made at this first summit will set the stage for subsequent negotiations, including the Trump-Kim summit.

Recent media reports are full of speculation about U.S., Chinese and Japanese interests and influences over the North-South Korea talks. This is understandable, but the real story here is about Koreans making peace.

It’s remarkable how far we’ve come since just the beginning of the year, when the opening created by the Olympic Truce greased the wheels for smart diplomacy by the governments of both South and North Korea, leading to an astonishing thaw in relations.

Even before the two summits begin, North Korea has agreed to freeze its nuclear weapons and missile tests, agreed to discuss denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and voiced openness to the continued presence of 28,000 American troops in South Korea. Just last week, North and South Korea discussed signing a peace treaty to replace the supposedly temporary armistice in place since 1953 (meaning a state of war still technically exists between the North and the South and the U.S.). Also, remarkable in terms of symbolic and practical meaning, they discussed

returning the border to a more normal state. The “Demilitarized Zone” is of course a misnomer, perhaps even ironic at this point, as it is the most heavily militarized patch of land on Earth.

All of this incredible progress has occurred despite the North’s understandable loathing of the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises, the largest in the world, which are currently in progress. Beyond that, no sanctions on North Korea have yet been lifted, and neither the inter-Korean summit nor the U.S.-North Korean summit meetings have happened yet.

North Korea has pivoted to an emphasis on economic development over further military investment, as announced by Kim on New Year’s Day and in more recent statements. The United States should honor the remarkable steps North Korea has taken to demonstrate it is operating in good faith with a reciprocal commitment for peace. Ultimately, U.S. goals should include the signing of a peace treaty, the lifting of economic sanctions against North Korea, and the integration of North Korea into a regional and world economy, which is key to long-term peace and stability on the Peninsula.

While recent diplomatic progress has inspired hope for peace around the world, few feel the full weight of that hope more than Koreans. South Koreans overwhelmingly support a peace agreement to end Korean War, 79% according to the latest poll.

For many Korean and Korean-American family members divided by Korean War, these summits offer the hope of being reunited with their families—the last hope for some. According to the latest government report, 131,447 South Koreans are registered as separated families since 1988. Over 73,611 have passed away since 1988 when the registration opened, and a quarter of those alive are over 90 years old.

In the U.S., Members of Congress to show their support for diplomacy and a successful summit with public statements, and by co-sponsoring the “No Unconstitutional First Strike on Korea Act,” S. 2016 sponsored by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and H.R. 4837  sponsored by Representative Ro Khanna. It’s time we all gave peace on the Korean Peninsula a real chance.

 

by:SIMONE CHUN – KEVIN MARTIN

Dr. Simone Chun serves on the Steering Committee of the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea. Kevin Martin is President of Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund, and also convenes the Korea Peace Network. www.peaceaction.org

 

Attention

“What governments need to pay extra attention to should be high unemployment rate; with a large population of an educated youth force with shattered expectations, and an uneven distribution of wealth. These problems are also faced by democratic governments as well. With the use of new information technologies to quickly spread news and images to help organize street protests, no government will be able to escape the wrath of the citizens.”
“Those governments who objectively understand the existence of the problems within their societies will be able to find remedies, in time. Those who are blind and deaf to the realities within society, those government leaders who love to hear sugar coated lies from their snake oil salesmen advisors, those leaders who are way removed from the “real” people and are surrounded by cheerleaders are bound to repeat the usual historical mistake. False sense of security cannot replicate the reality. Neither Zine Al-Abiidine Ben Ali nor Hosni Mubarak thought that they will be kicked out so quickly by the same people that they had oppressed for long and had taken them for granted.”
Kidane Tsegai.

One of the most truthful and principled writers that I have respect for.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

America has had its share of crooks (Warren G. Harding, Richard Nixon), bigots (Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan), and incompetents (Andrew Johnson, George W. Bush). But never before Donald Trump have we had a president who combined all these nefarious qualities.

These are admirable combined qualities of U.S. President Trump.

Professor Mekonen Haddis