Who is Meles?

By Hailu Mengesha

One of the prominently persistent myth that has been floating around, for a long while now, pertains to Meles' intelligence. A closer observation however reveals that Meles is not only genuinely incompetent but also utterly idiotic. Unlike intelligent people, who can foresee things ahead of time and accordingly chart strategic avenues to address impending scenarios, since he has ascended to power, Meles has been propelled by the exigencies of current events. Apparently, he has spent almost all of his political life in navigating the tempestuous political storms that are fabricated because of his congenital malformation attributed to deep seated existential pathology.

Let us start by asserting an obvious verity that seems to chronically elude Meles and his perverted psyche. Meles is the only person, on the face of the world, who is ignorant of the fact that he is the head of the Ethiopian government. Since his ascension to power, he did not comprehend the scale and the scope of his status, nor does he recognize the internal and external factors that are part and parcel of his official capacity. When he was formally anointed to be the leader of Ethiopia, he has concurrently qualified himself to become the ultimate enemy of the very nation that is entrusted to look out for. Then and there the genesis of the fundamental dissonance that has been consuming Meles has taken root. Consequently, over the years, the paradox has evolved into a full-blown-out schizophrenia. Accordingly, the political seat of the head of the government has effectively turned into an authentic psychoanalytic couch. Meles' transformation from an Albanian Marxist object into a westernized capitalist subject, in less than 10 years, is actually in tune with a split personality syndrome. Without a doubt, his malady is grave and ought to be addressed by psychiatry. Unfortunately however, rather than being quarantined under professional observation, the patient has been given a absolute power to preside over the livelihood of a nation.

On his own, Meles is a very simplistic individual. As a leader, though, he is a very complex phenotype. His complexity is a function of a sick man bestowed with absolute power. His case is not unique, history is full of his type. Meles has a deep seated inferiority complex vis a vis the so-called Amhara and Eritrea. In order to alleviate the pain, which has progressed into an irrational hate of the other, he has to seek refuge somewhere. Tigray is not good enough, because he figured the only prominent actors are Eritrea and Amhara. Between the two, he has chosen Eritrea simply because he can trace, genealogically that is, his root back to an "imagined greatness". Since his vision is only zeroed in either Eritrea or Ethiopia, the latter, in his primitive logical reasoning has become synonymized with Amhara. Accordingly, while he was officially ruling Ethiopia he was actually a voluntary puppet of Eritrea; it was a necessarily condition to fulfill his ultimate quest, slaying the Amhara demon. Accordingly, he unilaterally surrendered real power to Eritrea reducing himself and Ethiopia into tributary vassalage. This unorthodox political arrangement was the status-quo during the first seven years of Woyane Ethiopia. Incidentally, it would not be far fetched to state that during those seven years, Eritrea was indeed the de facto as well as de jure custodian of the Ethiopian polity.

The unholy alliance could not sustain itself and reached an asymptotic extreme only to be corrected through war. After the war, to his disgust his side has won, Meles has retreated into a state of chronic depression. In a normal situation the winning side should be happy not only in exonerating his domain from extraneous pressure, but also in the prospect of redefining his relationship from a position of strength. The Ethiopian people both at home and in the Diaspora were jubilant in the hope to witness vindication and justice. Their hope was so high; they were willing to forget the systematic harms they have enduring during seven long years of colonial rule. Many went as far as expressing their unconditional support to the war effort with various means. As we all know clear-cut victory is turned into actual stalemate. Meles has betrayed his nation in general and particularly the fighting force by denying them the final prize that came to fruition on the terraced fields of their crushed bones nourished by their cascading blood.

Recently, a new feud, which is directly related to the war with Eritrea, has split the TPLF into to main factions. The winning side, that is Meles, has outmaneuvered his companions and tries hard to bring back the pre-war status-quo-ante. The demise of the TPLF has inadvertently rendered Tigray politically inconsequential. Because his enemies have considerable following in Tigray, Meles has does not trust Tigray as being trustworthy. His reservation in sending the Siye group to the dungeon demonstrates that Tigray is a delicate matter that can go either way. In all intent and purpose, the political viability of Tigray is a thing of the past. Tigray is the net loser in the equation of power; Siye and company are symptomatic to that effect.

Tigray, or for that matter, any nationality cannot monopolize power and rule over the rest of the country. The demise of the TPLF is demonstrative of this fact. As long as Addis Abeba remains the center of capital accumulation, Mekele has no chance in the game. The provinces can only fight Addis in the old Maoist fashioned, like TPLF, once they assume power, Addis has the global market behind it to transform the barbarians into civilized citizens. Addis has the power to corrupt, the power of all the vices that are inherent in conspicuous consumption. The TPLF leadership, despite all of their military hardware and gadget of bellicosity, has unconditionally surrendered to the glitters of Addis. Die hard and tough minded fighting spirits were systematically emasculated and turned into shamefully parasitic bloodsuckers. Addis Abeba does not fight peasants in the battle field simply because it looses the contest. Addis bribes its rulers and make them fight against each other.

Once Tigray is unceremoniously eliminated from the game, Meles has to find a power base dependable enough to maintain his power. Apparently, after everything is said and done, the only viable force in existence to uphold Meles' agenda in none other than Gashe Issayas. Don't forget Meles has an unqualified distaste for Ethiopia and unequalled hate of the so-called Amhara. If Tigray is no longer part of his arsenal, the only remaining locus of support is Eritrea. Apparently, as we speak high level talks are undergoing between the two sides under the auspices of U.S. blessing. Meles's telegraphic transmutation from being the self-proclaimed guardian of the most destitute peasantry in the world, Wyanay Tigray, to that of the most loyal regional ally of the most powerful country (the U.S.) speaks volume about the nature of this particular individual.

Yesterday's dogmatism, accentuated by Marxist-Leninist doctrine and articulated on the back of Tigray's peasantry, is replaced by wild pragmatism crystallized into outright theft and extortion. Pragmatism devoid of the rule of law and sense of purpose is nothing but old fashion opportunism at best or straightforward corruption at worst. Meles has perfected the both into an art form. He is an opportunist to the extent of succumbing to the dictates of metropolitan interests; he is also corrupt in hording unprecedented loot from the already hard-pressed citizens of Ethiopia. At this historical juncture several socio-historical dynamics are intersecting in determining the long-drawn-out evolution of Ethiopia. Unless the nation has a visionary leadership the future of the country is going to be in a dire strait. Apparently, Meles is not and cannot be visionary; simply because the precondition to be a farsighted leader is to believe in the vested interest of the polity. Meles does not believe in the well being of the country and his relationship with his official capacity is riddled with all sorts of dissonance that is not intelligible to rational state of mind.

The only sobering thing about the entire saga and gloomy scenario is the fact that historically constituted and formed norms cannot be obliterated by a passing psychopath whatever his official capacity. First of all, Meles, including Issayas, are unadulterated Abyssinians. Far from being cosmopolitan agents they are utterly provincial to the extent of instituting neo-feudal social relationship. Meles', TPLF, entire fight and resulting public policy and governing decree can only be understood from a feudal point of reference. They deeply believe that Tigray should rule over all Ethiopia, therefore a Tigrayan is in effect primus inter pares. As long as we remain on power, the entire country and its people are functionally our serfs subjected to all sorts of exploitation. During wartime, by giving lip service to national integrity, we can levy a huge army to fight the enemy. During peacetime we fabricate laws that are custom designed to undermine whoever stands on our way. The name of the game is to amass wealth, because land is no longer the principal means of production, we oblige ourselves to other means of gratifications. We become capitalists by rejecting capitalist norms. We believe in the sanctity of law and order and in the values on civil society, as long as we promulgate the laws and fabricate the values. We have the monopoly of violence; we also have the sole power to prescribe the cost of protection. Protection in Ethiopia is not from deviant elements; it is in classic feudal fashion, protection means extortion.

Now can Meles really navigate the impending storm that is forming in the Ethiopian political landscape? This is a question that many are trying to answer. Can he go back to the days of abdicating sovereignty to Eritrea? Is he going to be successful in marginalizing the forces within Ethiopia without the Stalinist political machinary in Tigray? While we contemplate the answers to these questions, we should also try to forge fundamental vision that is going to be a navigational compass guiding our nation into safety; far away from the specter of Melessian pathology.