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Published:December 3rd, 2007 06:16 EST
Ogaden Conflict: A Top Priority for Condoleezza Rice

Ogaden Conflict: A Top Priority for Condoleezza Rice

By SOP newswire

It was stated in a recent press release from State Department of the United States that the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice will visit Addis Ababa on December 5 to tackle conflicts in the region. She will attend a meeting with the leaders of the Great Lakes countries. According to the press statement “… also will engage in consultations on current developments in Somalia and on implementation of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with cabinet ministers from east African countries as well as senior representatives of the African Union and United Nations.” Ironically, the statement did not mention if she will raise the deteriorating situation in Ogaden, not to mention the totalitarianism rule exercised by minority TPLF on Ethiopias diverse nations; and Ethio-Eritrea conflict.
 
This visit comes at a time when the world is alarmed by what has been unfolding in the Ogaden; a moment when international aid and human rights organisations witnessed the brutality of the TPLF regime; when the international media has been reporting the atrocities ordered by the bloodthirsty dictator Zenawi, by a time when for the first time the dystopia of Ogaden has been brought to the attention of peace loving Congressmen in the United States who have lately increased their lobby, individually and collectively, for peace and democracy in Ogaden, and Ethiopia in general; a time when the UN’s Head of Humanitarian Affairs has seen the problem by his very eyes.


The Bush administration has many times expressed sympathy to oppressed nations in some parts of the world, whatever the reason may be. They insistently clamored over Darfur; expressed their concern over Tibet and supported the independence of Kosovo to mention a few. Nevertheless, it is a pity to see the double-standardness of this administration as they support some of the worst oppressors on earth who know they are deliberately obliterating entire innocent ethnic group and yet claim they are pushing for counterinsurgency to eradicate a notorious rebel. Double-standardness is hypocrisy, pretence, and insincerity.


It is an open secret that the regime in power in Ethiopia is one of the most brutal administrations Africa has ever seen. Yet it appreciates the support of the world supper powers. According to statistics, Ethiopia receives the largest aid money from the United States not to mention the huge military support it receives in the name of the so called War on Terror. This regime has many times violated its own constitution which promises for citizens the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
If Secretary Rice and her administration are really committed to promote the values and principles of democracy, she has to act against the dictatorial regime that massacred innocent civilians in the streets of Addis Ababa, and arrested many thousands who demanded a fair election. A regime that massacres its own people by claiming they are rebel sympathisers, a regime that creates a man made famine to the same people it should have protected. Moreover, it is quite contemptuous for the white house officials to back a dictator who has many times acted against their own interest in Africa. Look at his strategic ties with China which is more than the Ogaden gas exploration.

Probably, one good way to understand the deep rooted problem of Ogaden is to visit the area independently and read the faces of the victims directly! I say independently because I remember what happened to Jendayi Fraser when her visit was arranged by the oppressors. The US marines, for example have been to Ogaden independently to monitor what is going on in Ogaden. Their interest in the region grew after September 11. They have independently met with ONLF army on the ground and received their cooperation. The marines confirmed what they have seen was not a terrorist organisation as claimed by desperate TPLF; instead the marines described to their seniors the nature of ONLF as a liberation movement. Two US soldiers and their Ogadeni-American interpreter Mohamed Abdi have been arrested by TPLF army in a remote village in Ogaden. The marines were promptly released and transferred to United States embassy in Addis Ababa.  However, the interpreter remained in custody and was later released on july 29 after spending more than two months in a military camp without being charged. More than once, the marines cooperated aid delivery to the Ogaden, particularly Godey zone. They philanthropically rehabilitated some schools in Jigjiga including the only high school in the region. The marines also offered some medical assistance to Karamara hospital. All this helped to revive the bad Image associated with the USA after 9/11. 


Although the Ogaden people were hurt by Jenday Frazer’s comments that followed her visit to Godey when she said that there was merely allegations that are 'unsubstantiated' and there was no genocide that has and was taking place in Ogaden. People are now welcoming, though sceptical, the increased aid by USA (I doubt, if this aid will end up in the right hands –the intended beneficiaries) which came after the visit of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Henrietta Fore to Addis Ababa. We also hope that Dr Rice will be able to see which way the wind is blowing and will not be disillusioned by the so called War on Terror over basic human rights.
 
The most effective message, whether political, religious, or ethical or service – oriented is the one propagated by our life, otherwise every effort or resources injected into communicating the gospel and soul-winning will end up a wasteful venture. If Dr Rice is really coming to solve conflicts as stated in the press release, she should not simply ignore the Ogaden conlict and must not avoid telling her ally to live with the truth.


Eventually, while we feel sympathy to all the oppressed people be it Darfur or Palastine, it is a pity that the attention received by Ogaden now is not enough and much is expected by not only USA but also the United Nations, EU and the wider international community.

By Saafi Labafidhin