July 11, 2006

UNGRATEFUL CHILD: Melez Zenaawi & Somalia

Ogaden Online Editorial Board
If Somali government officials in the 1970's and early 80's were told that soon after the new millennium, Ethiopia would be seeking to convince the international community that it's military operations in Somalia were justified, that would come as no surprise. If you then mentioned the Melez Zenaawi would be the one leading this Ethiopian charge the reaction would probably have been one of disbelief.
After all, Melez Zenaawi and other leaders of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) the ruling core of the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) enjoyed unprecedented hospitality by the Mogadishu government. It is an open secret that during his struggle to remove Marxist Dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, Zenaawi travelled with a Diplomatic Somali passport. Everywhere he went he was greeted with open arms by Somali government officials. To the Somalis, he was an adopted son of sorts. Like their brethren in Ogaden, Zenaawi was struggling for self-determination (at least that is what he said).
But those familiar with Zenaawi during his stay in Mogadishu recall his intense jealousy for assistance Somalia gave the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF). One former Somali official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Ogaden Online "He was always telling us we should give him what we gave the Eritreans, every time he compared his situation with that of the Eritreans and tried to convince us he had a better chance to succeed against Mengistu than the EPLF"
But despite his envy of the EPLF Zenawi was clearly in no position to complain. Not only was he given a Somali diplomatic passport, but his TPLF was given an office and an expense account all paid for by Somali tax payers.
Zenaawi was also reportedly eager to gain favor among Arab nations, something he felt Somalia was clearly in a good position to get him. Unlike the Eritreans, the TPLF had limited contacts with the Arab world and desperately sought introduction to Arab diplomats in Mogadishu at every opportunity.
On Ogaden, Zenaawi is reported on more than one occasion to have strongly expressed that "Ethiopia is an Empire State artificially patched together" going on to say that all that would change once the oppressed overthrew mengistu.
Zenaawi did not spend all his time lobbying in Mogadishu however, he is reported to have enjoyed frequenting hotel restaurants and playing pool with Somali intelligence officers from the National Security Service (NSS).
While he was also a frequent visitor of the beaches along Mogadishu, he reportedly never went in the water because he could not swim.
Even when his hairline was just beginning to recede, he is reported to have been mocked by other TPLF comrades as having a striking resemblance to Lenin, something he was very proud of.
Following the cease fire agreement between Somali president Siad Barre and Ethiopian leader Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1988 requiring each nation to stop supporting the others armed opponents, Zenaawi was still allowed to keep his Somali diplomatic passport and even secretly visited Mogadishu on more than one occasion from Saudi Arabia, a location where the Somali government had arranged for him and other TPLF leaders to stay.
So why then is Zenaawi so eager to interfere in Somalia sending his forces across the boundary on more than one occasion???
Any answer at this point would be little more than speculation, however, what is undeniable is that Zenaawi benefited from Somali hospitality during the TPLF's struggle. Despite being an impoverished nation, Somalia willingly furnished both money, arms and diplomatic contacts to Melez Zenaawi. Despite his jealousy of EPLF officials who were also in Mogadishu, Zenaawi was warmly welcomed in Mogadishu according to anyone familiar with his stay their.
Today, like an ungrateful child, who was nurtured, supported and raised to be in a position to claim power, he has turned back and bit the hand that once fed him. In Somalia's time of need he not only chose not to return the favor, but to extend Somalia's misery by supporting various warlords at different times in the last 10 years. Now Zenaawi sees an opportunity to dominate the political and economic affairs in Somalia and the current war on terrorism is his vehicle of choice. Ironically, he who once benefited from a Somali government, now seeks to destroy the Transitional National Government (TNG) in Mogadishu.
Interesting isn't it how some forget how they were once humble and in need.
The people's in the Horn have long memories. For Somalis, Zenaawi will always be remembered as an ungrateful beneficiary of Somali kindness.
While Zenaawi may currently be using his knowledge of Somali society obtained during his stay in Mogadishu to ensure Somalia never rises again, he apparently did not learn one critical lesson from being in Mogadishu.
Like their Eritrean brothers, Somalis never kneel before tyrants and Zenaawi's ill will toward Somalis will have only solidified his place in the dustbin of histories failed tyrants.
Ogaden Online Editorial Board

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