Please allow me to express my high regard and appreciation to your neat work in discussing the root causes of corruption in Ethiopia (Inside Ethiopia’s institutionalized corruption, June 2013). It is one thing to have journalists report on the names and numbers of suspected individuals, quite another to shed a much needed light behind the root cause of corruption, which your article has done in a professional manner. Having said so, please also allow me to add what, in my humble view, I consider to be visibly absent from your article: all the names and faces under your “corrupt and be damned” list were not simple individuals; they were the system themselves. The only difference between them and their ex -brothers in arms is that theirs’ was a bad fate, a misfortune of falling out of love and therefore be perceived as eminent threats not to the system, but to the other individuals who are the system themselves. In a country where party business and administrative affairs are jumbled together, it is hardly possible to argue armed with logical explanations of how a government functions. When talking about the root causes of corruption in Ethiopia, we must therefore explain a situation whereby not only are politics and governance sleeping together at night and walk inseparably during day times, but why the governing body is the only crusader of corrupt individuals and not the public at large. Keep up the good work.
Please allow me to commend you on your courageous expedition to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, a country we in Ethiopia in particular and the whole world in general think is a wasted land. Your cover story (Somalia: the failed state no more, May 2013) asked a critical question on why Ethiopia was not a part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Apart from what the unnamed diplomat from the AU said in your article, “in order to maintain its own military strategic interest in Somalia, “‘which may not necessarily be in tandem with the strategic interest of AMISOM’”, historically, Ethiopia has had a different and often intense relationship with Somalia than it does with the rest of its neighbors. This relationship compels Ethiopia to maintain a specific strategic interest and presence, which will not be curtailed under AMISOM’s rules of engagement, which will diminish Ethiopia’s military engagement in dealing with some of the eminent threats emanating from Al-Qaida linked militant groups operating within Somalia, such as the Al-Shabab. However, this doesn’t make Ethiopia’s decision politically wrong. If you look at Kenya, for example, it decided to join the AMISOM only after it secured its national interest in the port city of Kismayo and elsewhere.
Colonel Salif Mustafa
Former member of the AMISOM
Mark N. Katz
Far from being on the verge of collapse as many in the West and the Arab World had hoped, it now appears that the Assad regime in Syria has gained the upper hand against its internal opponents. With Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese Shi’a movement Hezbollah all strongly backing Assad while the opposition is only receiving mainly light arms from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, perhaps this was inevitable. The European Union allowed its arms embargo on Syria to lapse and could now aid the Syrian opposition, but it seems unlikely that any European government will do so unless the U.S. takes the lead.