Sunday, February 07, 2010

OLA unit defects: so where does the buck finally stop?

By Gumaa Guddaa

“The quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, determines the success or failure of an organization.” Fred Fiedler & Martin Chemers.

The defection of a unit consisting nearly 100 Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) fighters, including their commanders, to the Wayane regime in January 2010 has dominated the discourse of the Oromo diaspora. As is expected the how and why the unit defected have been considered.

However, I am surprised how little has been asked as to who should take the ultimate responsibility for the condition that led to the defection of the company of the fighters.

In any organization there should be a single point of accountability and leadership responsibility for the success as well as the failure within it. Thus, it would be extraordinary to say the least if the question of who should take the responsibility will be conveniently brushed under the carpet when such a serious incident takes place. In addition, the explanation given by some, in order to reassure the Oromo public, as to why the unit defected also raises more question than it answers.

The explanation given so far seems to suggest that the leaders of the unit were agents of the Wayane regime. This leaves a number of questions unanswered. How long have they been operating as agents? Is it a new discovery or if not has it been known for some time? If known for long why was action not taken? If new has there been a restructuring of the organization since? If the organization was infiltrated, how deep is the infiltration? Are there some others left behind or all them have gone? I am raising these questions not to defend the defectors but to ask serious questions to shade some light on our deep-rooted problem; a problem deeper than a defection of a unit.

One has to look back over the last one decade to put things in perspective. First, the political leadership under whose command the OLA unit that defected was trained has been openly advocating for return to the Ethiopia for years now. You may recall the infamous unfounded claim that “majority of the Oromo people would like to return home”. This is a very dangerous mindset for any fighting force. It would send a message that the enemy is not a real enemy and you can make peace with given a favourable condition. The military needs a clear instruction. It should not be left in doubt about the justness of the war or what to do with the enemy. Imagine what Bergen would do to the self-confidence of the force. It would seem that the unit negotiated a term of surrender for itself rather than leaving it to its political masters.

Second, a fighting force should never be treated as pageants for the latest fashion show. You may recall the bizarre “inside rebel territory” drama less than 6 months ago. The yearly photo shoots of the army that will be used to collect funds is yet another example of the abuse the OLA had to endure over the past decade. A trained and armed unit should be kept physically active, mentally alert and psychologically resilient to execute the task of liberating a country successfully. You cannot just train and arm someone and leave him ideal as a bargaining chip.

There is no doubt the commanders who went back with the fighters are wholly responsible for their actions. They should be blamed. Nevertheless, who should be overall accountable for what has happened? One might argue why someone should be responsible. But the first question must be the unit has been under the two factions of the Asmara Group; long time under the Shanee Gumii and recently under the Jijjirama Group albeit very brief. Therefore, the two leaders namely Dawud Ibsa and Kamal Galchu must take the blame. Had the unit attacked and overtaken Moyale these chaps would be the first to self-congratulate and take credit. Unfortunately, now that the unit has defected they must take the blame. Or do you think that these people in Asmara should not be held accountable?

Have your say!


Anonymous said...

Hmmmmmmm! I would say you hit the nail on the head on this one. But, accountability is what we are missing utterly and completely from the OLF "leadership". Good luck in your quest to hold them accontable. I am afraid, before you get lucky, harreen gaanfa baaftti.


Anonymous said...

Holding the OLF acountable is 9 years too late. What it the point of trying to hold them accounabale now after all what the organization had is almost gone be it Credibility, respect,...

Anonymous said...

Dear Gumaa,

Absolutly right, the political leadership of the Shanee and their Godfathers (Lencho, Xaha and Dimaa) must be held responsible for the debacle they caused.

A number of civilians in several capital cities of the West who go around and agitate people to go back also responsible. I do not understand why it has taken them so long to return to the folds of the Wayaanee. Even if they went on foot by now they could have reached there.

There is no difference between surrender in Bergen Norway,De Huege Holland or Moyaale. The first and formost surrender is the giving up your objective.

"Galluus maalitti gallaa? Boqqoolloo waaddii malee, Qocholloo jaartii malee?"

Anonymous said...

As someone has already said,
surrendering in Bergen, the Hague or Moyale are all the same.
If the idea of surrendering was from those selfish political Masters, all their media outlets and the big-mouth paltalk heros would have appreciated it.
I don't understand why "Oromos" support the surrender in Bergen and the Hagues, while crying fool for that of Moyale. Wake up!
When WBO killed three weyyaanee it's widely spoken as the strength of the selfish political Masters; when it comes to defeat and surrender, those political manipulators point their bloody finger to some one else.
When the month is July or August all the Websites post video and Photos of WBO, just to collect money. The Money, whose destination is unknown!

Anonymous said...

Do not worry about the two Shanees (Shaagaa and Shaajaa). Alas it is the beginning of the end.

Anonymous said...

Dear Author of the article,
I would like to recommend you read Fayyis Oromia under or so that you be healed from your blame-orgie! He once wrote: "fault finding is the very simple job, which can be done even by embeciles"! Are you one of them? He also wrote specifically regarding the defection of this group of OLA related to the blame game directed to the leaders as follows:
"We also need to stop the blame game sometimes directed against only the leaders of our liberation movement for the unsuccess we had in our struggle. Just as we do share the glory whenever they lead us to success, we should also be ready to share the pain when we (they) fail. It is enough that the Weyane cadres do the blaming and the accusation, in order to discourage them, 24 hours and 7 days per week in the cyber world. Let us Oromo nationalists concentrate on the constructive criticism, i.e. by showing the alternative and the corrective way forward. Leading the Oromo liberation is very very difficult because of many factors attributable to us – the Oromo people, to our foe Abyssinian rulers and to their allies (administrations of the neighboring nations and that of the Western nations). Here I am not saying that our leaders are free from mistakes, but I just suggest that we need to address their “weaknesses” in appropriate manner, at a right place and time. Of course, we need to learn also to give them a due respect for leading us until now under the dire circumstances to the victories we already achieved."

Anonymous said...

On the question of defection, where on earth is Aba Biya Aba Jobir?

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