Africa’s $700 Billion Problem Waiting to Happen

Back in 2002, Meles Zenawi, then prime minister of Ethiopia, drafted a foreign policy and national security white paper for his country. Before finalizing it, he confided to me a “nightmare scenario” — not included in the published version — that could upend the balance of power in the Horn of Africa region.

The scenario went like this: Sudan is partitioned into a volatile south and an embittered north. The south becomes a sinkhole of instability, while the north is drawn into the Arab orbit. Meanwhile, Egypt awakens from its decades-long torpor on African issues and resumes its historical stance of attempting to undermine Ethiopia, with which it has a long-standing dispute over control of the Nile River. It does so by trying to bring Eritrea and Somalia into its sphere of influence, thereby isolating the government in Addis Ababa from its direct neighbors. Finally, Saudi Arabia begins directing its vast financial resources to support Ethiopia’s rivals and sponsor Wahhabi groups that challenge the traditionally dominant Sufis in the region, generating conflict and breeding militancy within the Muslim communities.

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Hollow Existence

What a tangled web did Eritrea weave when the top leaders took us for granted and led us to a conflict that could have been avoided! They squeezed us empty, and then they tried to fill us with small-minded hogwash. Memories of my friends who perished in the war remind me of the sacred hope to which I give refuge in my exiled heart. Tears will not fall on their graves … but I hope tears of joy will be shed in their memory, during the great embrace with their ghosts when we, the living, celebrate the rebirth of our country.

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Liberation Avenue: Medhane Haile and Dawit Habtemichael (a.k.a. Wedi Memhir)

Today, we marked 12 years of the disappearance of our good friends and colleagues. I hope and I pray they are alive and we will meet one day. At the same time, this day should not only be a day of reflection, but it should also be a somber reminder of the onus Medhane, Dawit and other disappeared voices of democracy shoulder us.

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