In early 1992, Meles Zenawi and his Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) came up with the idea of paying back Somalia. The TPLF government noted that Somalia provided to it millions of dollars during its long struggle against the regime of Mingistu Hailemarium and openly admitted that for over fifteen years it used to purchase arms in the official documents of Somalia's defence ministry. It continued to say that most of its Executive committee members, including Meles have been provided with Somali Diplomatic passports that they used to travel a round the World as well as with special luxurious villas in Mogadishu and Meles used to stay in a villa just behind Towfiiq Hotel. Because of all the above cited, TPLF said that its intended to pay back Somalia by helping them to reconcile and thus create a government of national unity in Somalia, however, later on it become clear that such intentions weren't true at all.
As the deputy minister of health of Ethiopia, I led a nine member Ethiopian delegation and participated in the first International meeting on Peace, and Rehabilitation of Somalia that has been organized by the United Nations in October 1992, in Geneva, Switzerland. Our main mission was to lobby for the continuation of successive meetings on Somalia to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Most of the countries that were represented in the conference voted in favour of our proposal on the second day of the meeting and that was a big achievement for Meles and his Foreign minister, both of whom warmly congratulated us on the successful mission while we were still in Geneva.
The first Meeting on Peace, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation of Somalia was organized by the UN in Addis Ababa on January 03-05, 1993. Besides the UN and Ethiopia, delegations from the Western nations, Africa, Arab countries and others participated actively in the first three meetings that were held in Addis Ababa in 1993 and I was the Deputy-Chief Delegate of the Ethiopian delegation to those meetings. The leaders of Somalia's warring factions met face to face for the first time but nothing tangible come out of that first meeting. Several member of our delegation met with the warlords and their delegations at the Ghion hotel before they left and told them to include in their next delegations representatives of their communities, like elders, women's groups, doctors and other with the intentions that the Somalis might interact more among themselves and the next meeting might be more productive, however, the foreign Minister was upset by our move and ordered us not to take further actions in the future without his consent and knowledge.
The second meeting was on 11-13 March 1993 and it started in more optimistic atmosphere since the warlords were shaking hands without our interventions and more than one thousand Somalis participated. However, I noticed policy changes in the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, which started to favour some of the warlords. The Ethiopian delegation was instructed for the first time to keep in mind Ethiopia's interests as a priority during these meetings and the whole attitudes of the Ethiopian government changed to the opposite of its originally declared policies. Again, the foreign minister through the instructions of Meles informed our delegation that some of the warlords were hostile to Ethiopia while others were friendlier and hence the latter should be put in power in Somalia. At the same time the foreign ministry started to provide secretly large amounts of money to the pro-Ethiopian warlords so that they will not sign to the agreements at all unless it was in our interests and later on, the Minister of defence was order similarly to supply arms to the friendlier warlords. It was of utmost importance in keeping these manoeuvres secretly from the other Somali warlords, the UN and other international delegates, particularly those from the Western Nations and their Embassies in Addis Ababa.
At this point in time, I complained to Meles about our policy changes, but he told me that we will support the pro-Ethiopia warlords. Now, I came to realize the motives of why Ethiopia wanted in the first place the meetings to be held in Addis Ababa, which were to road block in the reconciliation of the warring factions and thus prevent the creation of a national government of unity in Somalia. The meeting in March ended with the Somali warring factions more divided than ever and the delegates headed home once more empty handed. Within a month the pro-Ethiopian warlords were invited back to Addis Ababa and as guests of the foreign ministry stayed in lavish hotels with all services available and more secret meetings were planned. I wasn't invited to these secret meetings, but was still able to get information through some of the members of our delegation who weren't TPLF.
The 3rd meeting was held in Addis Ababa on November 29-December 03, 1993. Meles refused my request to be excluded from the Ethiopian delegation saying that such a move will cause suspicions to the Somali factions. They knew my stand and excluded me from the briefings of our delegation with Meles as they continued to plan for the failure of the meeting. Again, the third meeting concluded in absolute chaos and with the Somali warring factions much further and further apart than they were in their first meeting of January 1993, but for the Ethiopian regime it ended with success in accordance to its hidden plans towards the peace process, reconciliation and rehabilitation of Somalia. Also it should be absolutely and without any doubt understood that Ethiopia wasn't or isn't opposing only to the creation of a national government in Somalia but does so against any Somali region that was or is peaceful and stable in line with its policy of divide and rule the Somalis and Somalia.
To that effect, towards the end of 1993, The Ethiopian regime become anxious about the peace, stability and unity of the Somalis in the self-declared republic of Somaliland and thus started planning for possible actions in order to alleviate its concerns. The Ethiopian government invited a group of politicians from some of the clans in Somaliland to Addis Ababa and successfully kept this event as secretly as possible. Abdulmajid Hussein Bare, who was the external economic cooperation minister of Ethiopia was appointed to be fully responsible for that secret operation, where he prepared all the necessary arrangements. For over a month the group met secretly at his residence and several times with Meles and his foreign minister at their residences and finally, the group unilaterally declared that they were against the succession of Somaliland and joined the warring factions in Mogadishu. It must be noted and clearly understand that at this point in time, Ethiopia wasn't advocating at all for the unity of Somalia, but was rather concerned with the peace, unity and stability of Somaliland and was simply trying to weaken it. Those manoeuvres have led to the outbreak of the terrible civil war in Somaliland during 1994-1995, and the group hasn't been allowed to return home since than and are an opposition to it. Again, look at what Ethiopia is currently doing to the Somalis in Puntland, a region that has been successfully peaceful and stable for the last decade!
The foreign ministry used to provide secretly money to the pro-Ethiopian Somali warlords mostly just the night before the reconciliation agreement signing day in Addis Ababa, and I am convinced that had the meetings were held in any other East African country or elsewhere in the World, Somalis would have reconciled and a viable central government could have been established during 1993-1994. Ethiopia has tried since early 1993 until today with its power, influences and efforts to prevent the formation of a national government of unity in Somalia. The Ethiopian Empire has been held together by force for centuries and now most of the nations and nationalities are opting for their right for self-determination and is not capable of conquering Somalia, but might use some warlords to occupy their regions on behalf of Ethiopia and thereby create mini-Somalia regions under it's indirect rule!!
Meles is not concerned with the development of poverty ridden Ethiopia, but does so in staying power in line with his long believes in Marxist-Leninism ideology. I remember the night when Meles invited the late General Mohamed Farah Aidid at his residence in December, 1993. Upon our arrival, he greeted Aidid warmly and said with raised voice: "Aidid you are the Hero of Africa!" and congratulated him for fighting against the Americans in that terrible day of October the 3rd, 1993 in Mogadishu. Clearly, he was happy of that human tragedy, asked about the fighting and later on said: "Americans deserve what has happened to them and Africa needs more sons like you". But now, he is showing one of his other faces as being pro-American. The fact is that he is a man of many words! Look at his friendly way of paying back the failed nation, Somalia? Who on earth is going to trust him? he can deceive some people sometimes but he can't deceive all the people all the times!!!
Meles officially opened the first Somali meeting in Addis Ababa on January 03, 1993 and said repeatedly in his speech: "My Somali brothers and sisters, Ethiopia has no hidden agendas towards Somalia by hosting these meetings in Addis Ababa and we are willing to help you at any cost". This was a dishonesty statement but the Somalis in the meeting honestly believed him and clapped their hands with joy and happiness and many of them instantly said: "May be he is a Somali, he is more of a Somali than us!!!" This man is a hypocrite and that is clearly shown by his destructive intentions towards Somalia, a nation that has practically brought him to power. Some confused Somalis might argue that Ethiopia has allowed the Somalis to live and stay in Ethiopia following the civil war in Somalia, but the Somalis were bringing millions of dollars to the impoverished economy of Ethiopia. Look at Ethiopia's current actions: why doesn't it allow the Somalis to reside in Ethiopia without the so called special ID cards for the Somalis only, even including the Ethiopian-Somalis? Meles told me in 1993: "Somali clans queue up for my office, each one claiming to be the largest and friendlier to us, however, we know that they are united in their long hate and enmity against Ethiopia". Whether some warlords or clans like the Ethiopians or not, for them the bottom line is: A Somali is a Somali, period! May be you are living in illusions with the temporary 'friendships' that will be simply terminated any time the present Ethiopian regime loses its grip on power or while its still in power! This man has been using some Somali warlords to his advantages; just imagine the Somali generals, colonels and politicians destroying Somalia upon the command of young junior Ethiopian military officers? What more goals could Ethiopia have achieved so easily and cheaply in this historic period?
Tribalism which is the true opium of the Somalis has been practised early in the civilization of mankind; unfortunately, Somalis trust and worship it even now and usually close their eyes and turn a deaf ear to the truth if it compromises into their tribal oriented interests and ideological thinking. Most of the Somali politicians and intellectuals practise tribal-based politics, which is not compatible with the modern way of governing in the 21st century. Somali politicians and intellectuals must wake up now!, the ball has been at your corner for along time and it is time to re-evaluate fully your responsibility to the Somali society and act responsibly with positive attitudes for the future of the Somalis and Somalia in this World, keeping in mind that unless you decide to change the present history course of Somalia by yourselves, no body is going to do it for you! Hopefully the Somalis will come back to think rationally, use their sense of reasonable judgement and work to bring Somalia back to its feet as a nation. Somalis must forgive each other, lessen or stop practising tribalism and put national interest as a priority rather than self or the clan for the sake of reconciliation and nation building in Somalia.
Whatever happened to the qualities of the Somalis, for the time being they are living in low life and have buried their dignity, patriotism and nationalism for clan and selfish interests! Ethiopia is considered to be the poorest nation in the World by many experts, but has been supplying arms worthy millions of dollars to the pro-Ethiopian warlords for the last eight years. The truth is that these weapons will haunt back Ethiopia sooner or later; what goes around will come back to you! Ethiopia is a landlocked country but isn't planning to use permanently even one of Somalia's several seaports that have been lured to it freely by the pro-Ethiopian factions, but has signed an agreement with Sudan to use permanently it's seaport at Port Sudan!!! Pro-Ethiopian factions, whether you like it or not the fact is that the over a century suspicions, mistrusts and enmity between the Ethiopians and the Somalis are still strong and alive and Ethiopia is using you for it's short term interests only and doesn't honestly trust you at all for a long ride!!!
The Western Nations and the UN should understand the basis of the over a century hostility between Ethiopia and Somalia. Ethiopian regime's destabilizing policies against some of its neighbouring countries in East Africa must not be underestimated. Ethiopian soldiers frequently cross the border into Somalia and thereby loot and terrorise the suffering Somalis. Besides, this regime is terrorizing its own citizens, particularly the Somalis and the Oromo, and there are 4-5 million Ethiopian-Somalis who have been exposed to long hidden atrocities, gross human rights violations and are presently living in subhuman conditions in the Somali region of Ethiopia, under it's illegal colonization against their will and consent. These Somalis will keep on pressing their long struggle of fighting injustice until they get back all their human dignities and rights, including their basic principle right of self-determination, all of which have been stolen and hidden from them as well as the World by successive brutal Ethiopian governments for over a century, the present one being the worst of all of them!!!
Finally, the World, and particularly the Western Nations, has turned its back to the plight of Somalia for the last eight years, while its hostile neighbouring Ethiopia has taken Somalia's internal affairs into its own hands uncensored. Let us say as an example that Pakistan become like present Somalia! Would the Western Nations and the UN have requested India to assist and come up with solutions in establishing a government of national unity in Pakistan or vice versa? Personally, I don't think so and the enmity between Ethiopia and Somalia is older and worse than theirs. Why is Ethiopia propagating massive propagandas against this failed nation, Somalia? The truth to this question is that Ethiopia is trying to deceive the Western Nations in order to get economic aid and arms that it will use against some of its neighbours in East Africa. Now, it is high time for the merciful, compassionate and peace loving Western Nations, the UN and the rest of the World to start to help and come up with viable solutions to the desperate situation in anarchized Somalia, brought on by the more than decade old civil war. Besides, Ethiopia should be told clearly once and for all to take off its brutal and destructive hands from the internal affairs of Somalia.
Dr. Abdi Aden Mohamed
January 30, 2002