If history is any guide, it is not likely that this "REACHING OUT TO THE [Shanee Group of] OLF ..." would be in search of a just resolution of the conflict between Oromia and Ethiopia which would be the decolonization of Oromia through the Oromo people’s right of self-determination. The sole purpose in this case seems to be the isolation of Eritrea, another state using the Oromo struggle as a pawn in its chess game against the West and its neighbor to the south.
Eritrea and the West share a common interest, albeit to a differing degree, when it comes to the OLF. A weakened OLF is in the best interest of both. The West would like to see a OLF weakened to the point of surrendering to TPLF without or with minimal face saving concessions for its demands. In that way, it can keep one of its tyrant clients – Meles Zenawi - happy and in power. Eritrea, on the other hand, would not want to see a strong and independent OLF that can take on TPLF on its own. But, neither does it want to see OLF surrender to TPLF before it (Eritrea) has a chance to use it (the OLF) as a bargaining chip in possible future negotiations with TPLF. It would require a total suspension of logic and rational thought to be able to imagine a deal between the two which would not include the fate of THE [Shanee Group of] OLF while they are both (Shanee – The Dawud Ibsaa Group, and Jijjiirama – The Kamal Gelchu Group) stationed in Asmara.
One tried and true method both sides use to keep the OLF weak and pathetic is by helping it replicate itself every few years. How? They simply refer to some of the OLF leaders as “moderates” and to others as “hard-liners.” To top it up, they throw in Meles’ wish to negotiate with the moderates. Then, the race to become the darling of the West would begin. Given the omnipotence some leaders of the Shanee Group of OLF attach to the West and their craving for West’s attention, they start talking to the West behind each other’s backs and promising to meet the set conditions including renouncing armed struggle, accepting the TPLF constitution or whatever is asked of them.
In 1998 a group of OLF leaders, led by Lenco Lata and referred to as “moderates”, signed agreement with World Lutheran Federation (WLF) to accept the TPLF constitution and renounce armed struggle. They gained nothing for doing so except contempt and disregard from the West, TPLF and the Oromo public. Their action split the leaders in to two groups. Another group of OLF leaders, led by Dawud Ibsaa and referred to as “moderates”, accepted the same conditions set by the West and TPLF in the form of “Agenda for Peace” in 2000. Besides causing the organization to split and earning the leaders of the organization contempt from the Oromo mass and others, nothing was gained by this group's action either. In 2008, this later “moderate” group split into two: one led by Dawud Ibsaa a.k.a Shanee and another led by Kamal Gelchu a.k.a. Jijjiirama. It is not enough for the West and TPLF that these two groups offered their “Agenda for Peace” as moderates before their split. As you can read from the leaked document below, they have to further be dichotomized into “moderates and hard-liners” to weaken them further.
Having learned nothing from history and in its race to become the darling of the West, the Kemal Gelchu group has come up with “OLF Declaration of Non-violent Struggle against Meles Zenawi and its Tyrannical Regime” ( READ HERE)
What is my point?
May point is that what TPLF and the West are looking for is not a moderate OLF. If that was the case, they would have been satisfied with those who signed the WLF agreement and would have pressured or persuaded Meles to compromise with them. They did not! Had the West was looking for a moderate OLF, it would have been satisfied with the group that published “Agenda for Peace” in 2000. It did not happen! That group got no help from the West, nor any compromise from Meles. What they are looking for is a OLF weakened into nonexistence. In other words, the only way you can satisfy them is by destroying the OLF, not by being “moderates”.
Oromo nationalists should Resist! Resist! and Resist this machination at all cost!
===Leaked Document Begins Here=====
Reference ID: 07ADDISABABA1961
Created: 2007-06-23 14:48
Released: 2011-08-30 01:44
Origin: Embassy Addis Ababa
DE RUEHDS #1961/01 1741448
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 231448Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6729
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 001961
DEPARTMENT FOR AF AND AF/E
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER
CJTF-HOA AND USCENTCOM FOR POLAD
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/23/2017
TAGS: PGOV PINS ER ET
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA: REACHING OUT TO THE OLF AND CUTTING
ERITREA'S DIVISIVE INFLUENCE
Classified By: AMBASSADOR DONALD YAMAMOTO. REASON: 1.4 (D).
¶1. (S/NF) SUMMARY. Norwegian Church Aid representatives Arne Saeveraas and Hans Birkeland told Ambassador June 21 that while there was little progress on their mediation efforts between the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Ethiopian Government, they were keeping lines of communications open. The continued presence of OLF hard-liners and leaders in Asmara remains a stumbling block to progress in engaging Ethiopian leaders and the OLF, but the Norwegians are hopeful that they can bring moderate elements of the OLF into closer dialogue with Ethiopian officials. Sebhat Nega, TPLF central committee member and stalwart within the Ethiopian government, is scheduled to travel to Europe in the near future to meet with OLF representatives. The Norwegians believe that strong U.S. support for the moderate OLF leadership will help undercut Asmara,s divisive influence and bolster a greater opening between the OLF and Ethiopian government. Embassy supports Norway's approach and believes encouragement of the Ethiopian Government and outreach to the OLF moderates on a dialogue will enhance internal Ethiopian peace and stability. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (S/NF) Norwegian Church Aid special advisor Arne Saeveraas and country representative Hans Birkeland briefed Ambassador on their latest discussions with Ethiopian officials on an OLF engagement. Saeveraas said Norwegian Church Aid and Norwegian Government remained hopeful but that the current dialogue between the OLF and Ethiopian Government (which is conducted in Brussels through former Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. and current Ambassador to the EU Berhane Gebrechristol) required higher Ethiopian attention. Ambassador Berhane, a conservative hard-line member of the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), had been a barrier to dialogue. Saeveraas noted that TPLF central committee member and stalwart of the Ethiopian Government, Sebhat Nega, who remains a close advisor to Prime Minister Meles, plans to travel to Europe in August to meet with moderate OLF officials.
¶3. (S/NF) While Sebhat,s involvement is hopeful, Saeveraas is trying to push the Ethiopians to reach out and engage the moderate elements of the OLF rather than to set conditions for expanded dialogue. Saeveraas noted that so long as Asmara hosted and played a significant role influencing the hard-line OLF members and much of the leadership, expanded OLF-Ethiopia dialogue would be difficult. Saeveraas said moderate OLF leaders like former leader Leencho Lata were being marginalized by more hard-line members resident in Asmara.
U.S. MUST PLAY A ROLE
¶4. (S/NF) Saeveraas and Birkeland both underscored the importance of the U.S. to the process. Public encouragement by the U.S. and other countries for the moderate wing of the OLF would help bolster OLF leaders seeking a dialogue with Ethiopia and moderate the influence of the hard-liners in Eritrea. Saeveraas suggested that Norway could host a meeting of the OLF leadership, including those from Asmara, but there needed to be strong support from the U.S. and other countries to help moderate OLF leaders demonstrate to their membership that the path of dialogue was more effective than armed resistance and the more intolerant rhetoric of hard-line members.
¶5. (S/NF) Further, both Norwegian Church Aid officials said that the U.S. and other countries privately encouraging the Ethiopian Government to reach out to the moderate OLF leaders would be the best way to undercut Asmara,s negative influence.
¶6. (S/NF) COMMENT. Over two years ago, the Africa Bureau, working with Norway, engaged moderate elements of the OLF and encouraged Prime Minister Meles and his envoy, Ambassador Berhane, to take a more positive approach to OLF-Ethiopia Government discussions. A meeting with some OLF leaders, including a few based in Asmara, over two years ago at the State Department, while highly encouraging, did not lead to greater USG involvement, because of the lack of interagency consensus and differing views with Post which did not fully support engagement.
¶7. (S/NF) COMMENT CONTINUED. Tough measures adopted by Ethiopian security forces in parts of the country in response to increased security threats and continued political differences between Oromo and Ethiopian Government leaders make dialogue between the Government and the OLF challenging. A dialogue with moderate elements, an effort Prime Minister Meles supports, should be encouraged. Post recommends that the interagency support the Norwegian efforts for a moderate OLF-Ethiopian Government dialogue, and that the U.S. play a greater supportive role, along with our European colleagues, in encouraging expanded dialogue. Getting the OLF leadership and supporters out of Asmara would be critical to a successful dialogue, but the U.S. and others will need to encourage the OLF that dialogue will be more beneficial in securing long-term peace, than armed resistance or opposition to dialogue. END COMMENT.