Since the so-called memorandum of understanding (MOU), that enables Ethiopia to secure sea access and have a military presence in Somalia, was signed between the prime minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed and the Muuse Biixi of Hargeysa on 1 January 2024, many Somali politicians and scholars have begun to direct their attention on not only the contents of the MOU and the potential consequence it may bring to the region but also the character of the Man, Abiy Ahmed.
Having confined their descriptions on the prime minister of Ethiopia’s character (personality) and his behavior as a politician, those Somali politicians and scholars have summed up that the current prime minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed is adventurous and unpredictable leader. As a result, they have drawn the logical conclusion that nobody can predict what this leader would do the next.
But for my part, my curiosity about this Man, the prime minster of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed dates back to 26 July 2023, before the so-called MOU was signed. It aroused when the prime minister of Ethiopia in televised speech said: ‘we want to get a port through a peaceful means, but if that fails we will use force’ (www.youtube.com/). Then I speculated at the moment: who is the best mentor who can give a coherent definition on this Man who in this time of twenty-one century, this century of globalization accompanied by capitalism publically presented not only his Grand Ambition to get a port, to unlock his landlocked Ethiopia so that it could have an access to a port but also shared his people and the world bravely with the Means (either peaceful means or by force) to attain the desired objective—getting a port.
I could not find a better instructor than Niccolo Machiavelli whose name I was acquainted for the first time when I was a student of Mohamed Xagal, the best teacher I have ever met in my life in Mogadishu Somalia. I enquired Niccolo Machiavelli— who still lives in his books where we always meet— the question on this Man, Abiy Ahmed to satisfy my curiosity. Niccole Machiavelli gave a short response to my query and said: ‘This Man, Abiy Ahmed is nothing but a predictor of a great accident that would occur in the region in the near future’. Unlike the later description— that the Man, Abiy Ahmed is unpredictable—that some Somali politicians and scholars have given when the news of MOU came, Niccolo Machiavelli said the opposite.
Niccolo Machievelli came to a different conclusion, namely that the current prime minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed is so easy to predict. However, I prompted further and asked Niccole Machiavelli if he could elaborate the short answer he gave—that the Man, the prime minister of Abiy Ahmed is predictable?
Niccolo Machiavelli repeated:
‘Look here: Before great accidents occur in a city or in a province, sings come that forecast them or men who predict them’.
In the light of this wisdom that Niccole Machiavelli wrote 1513, 511 years ago in one of his famous works on politics on republics Discourses on Livy, I realized at the moment that Abiy Ahmed’s words were predicting that something great would happen in the region in the near future. And that has been confirmed by the so-called memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the prime minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed and the Muuse Biixi of Hargeysa that was signed in Addis Abba on 1 January 2024.
So in this respect, Niccole Machiavelli was telling the truth that Abiya Ahmed’s terms could be deduced on 26 July 2023 that something great would occur in the region in the near future. Nonetheless, unfortunately as the news of the MOU came as a shock to most of Somali politicians and scholars, it appeared that they had failed to grasp the ‘signs’ that Abiy Ahmed’s verbal expression were conveying at the moment.
The Contextualization of the Man & the Grand Ambition
For my part, my curiosity on the Man Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia has not been satisfied by Niccole Machiavelli because Machiavelli’s response to my question based on not the description on the character of the Man but the signs his verbal expressions were conveying.
In order to define the Man by myself, it is necessary to position him in historical context there I can meet the Man Abiy Ahmed as an entity ready to be analyzed before it is synthesized and labeled to a character. One of the first gifts any given child receives from a parent is a name, an identity one bears in his/her lifetime. In Amharic the name Abiy means ‘something Great’ or something important (https://www.names.org).
Despite the fact that the first foundation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam had been laid by the late prime minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi, the Great Man (as the name Abiy itself stands for in Amharic) happened to announce the finishing phase of this Great Dam which seems to be a symbolic for greatness for Ethiopia in this twenty-century: ‘Prime minister Abiy Ahmed announced Sunday that Ethiopia has completed the filling of its Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile 10 Sep 2023’ (aljazeera.com/news).
In addition, The Economist (2022) wrote, by quoting a 25-years –old who lives in Addis Ababa, that Abiy Ahmed is a man who is looking for a very spectacular place in the history. He says: ‘When Haile Selassie saw the marble plaques installed in Africa Hall, the first seat of the Africa Union, he ordered the removal of the names of all the officials involved in its construction except his own……Abiy recently revealed to be following in his predecessor’s footsteps…… He seems to have similar sense of his own place in history’. In his book Emile or Treatise on education, John Jacques Rousseau noted that the risk is not what one does not know, but in what one thinks one knows. The same could be applied to Abiy’s situation, the Great as the name stands for in Amharic. The risk here is not what prime minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed is not, but what he thinks he can do.
However, as he now appears to be a man grappling with the development of the true nature of the name (Abiy, the great) given by his parents, there is no reason to disdain the assumption that the so-called Great Man (the name ‘Abiy’) would make his Ambition Grand as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is. So his attempt to remap the continent particularly Horn of Africa Somalia by annexing part of it would fulfil his dream of getting a remarkable place in the history. That is only what the so-called Great Man (Abiy Ahmed) wants to do right now but NOT what the Somali people would accept to be done. Will this become true is an important enquiry, but the more interesting question to address deeply here is the Means that the prime minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed wants to use in order to achieve his end (The Grand Ambition).
The Means: ‘peaceful means or by force’
Here is where the rub is particularly the later, to get a port by force as the prime minister of Ethiopia has openly and bravely said for the first time on 26 July 2023. And having calculated the pros and cons of his chosen means (by force), we are witnessing his direct violation on Somali sovereignty. The prime minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed has taken the first step of his Grand Ambition (getting a port) by signing the illegal so-called MOU with Muuse Biixi of Hargeysa on 1 January 2024. This has been a wake-up call for Somali people and a shock for most of Somalia politicians and scholars who failed to grasp the core of message at the first time on 26 July 2023 and when the news came, these same groups have concluded that the prime minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed is adventurous and unpredictable leader. Nevertheless, now after the so-called memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Abiy Ahmed of Addis Ababa and the Muuse Biixi of Hargeisa was signed on 1 January 2024 everything has become crystal clear to not only Somali politicians but also the Somalis around the world.
Defending the fatherland (Somalia)
Once the Abiy Ahmed of Addis Abba embarks on the second phase of the mission and attempt to implement the so-called MOU by force, what to do for the defense of the fatherland (Somalia), is another question I have again asked Niccole Machiavelli?
‘Dear me, do you forget the renowned wisdom of John Jacques Rousseau that you learned from his book Emile or Treatise on Education. In this book Rousseau noted: ‘don’t read my book if you expect me to tell you everything’. Therefore, I am not here to answer all your questions nor am I ready to do the job for you. That is not my business. In addition, it is too late now as you (your politicians and most of your people, Somalis) have failed to predict what would happen when the prime minister of Ethiopia said that ‘Ethiopia will no longer be landlocked anymore and it will get a port either through peaceful means or by force’. As a result, today you appear to be unprepared either physically or mentally as the second phase (the annexation) of the mission may occur at any time.
But let me ask you, Cismaan, a question that may challenge your mental maturity so that I can see if you are able to follow a precise logic:
If an enemy is going to take a part of the fatherland (Somalia) ‘by all means’ what is the logical framework you would apply for the defense of the fatherland (Somalia)’?
‘Of course, to defend the fatherland (Somalia) from the enemy ‘by all means’, I would answer your question so.
‘Well, you are absolutely right, Cismaan, and this is exactly what Lucius Lentulus (roman), the, Roman legate, suggested when he was giving an advice on the kind of policy to apply to save the fatherland and Lucius Lentulus said: ‘It did not appear to me that any policy whatever for saving the fatherland was to be avoided’. That advice deserves to be noted and observed by any citizen ‘(like you, Cismaan)’ who finds himself counseling his fatherland for when one deliberates entirely on the safety of his fatherland, there ought not to enter any consideration of either just or unjust, merciful or cruel, praiseworthy or ignominious; indeed every other concern put aside, one ought to follow entirely the policy that saves its life and maintains its liberty’.
Furthermore, these is nothing to worry about in your situation, (Somalis) for you have mainly been in war in the last 33 years and as a result you may have developed a kind of resilience out of that. So I can say, your leader, your president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is today luckier than Tullus Hostilius of Roma. For your president today have people who have unshakable resilience. But ‘For Tullus Hostilius succeeded to the kingdom, he did not find a man who had ever been in war, since Rome had been at peace for forty years: nonetheless, when Tullus Hostilius planned to make a war, he did not think to avail himself of either the Samnites or the Tuscans or others who were accustomed to being in arms.
But as a very prudent man, Tullus Hostilius decided to avail himself of his own. So much was his virtue that in a stroke, under his government, he was able to make very excellent soldiers. Your president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud can do the same and follow the footsteps of Tullus Hostilius. On the contrary, I stress one thing, it is more truer than any other truth that if where there are men there are no soldiers, it arises through a defect of the prince ‘(the president)’ and not through any other defect, either of the site or of nature’.
So Cismaan, I know there are many insightful lessons that you can draw from the different stories (wisdoms) I have discussed with you in our conversation, but I would like to hear from you one or two key lessons or takeaways that may be useful for your present situation as you (Somalia and Somalis) are under threat of annexation from an existential enemy—Ethiopia.
What are your biggest takeaways from these wisdoms?
But before you go on to respond that, I wonder why you have only been so curious about the prime minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed than Muuse Biixi in Hargeysa?’ Asked Niccole Machiavelli to me.
‘Because, I know you, Niccole Machiavelli, you are always so busy discussing really world politics. On the other hand, I don’t want to bother you with trivial things or something I have already addressed in my book, A Crying Somali Citizen: Somalia: A Manipulated and Vulnerable Nation. In this book I have discussed the so called politicians like Muuse Biixi. I have noted that history shows that only a few so- called citizens always lead to a nation being annexed by an enemy. So Muuse Biixi includes those so-called citizens I have mentioned in my book’ I replied.
‘Go a head and answer my question: What are your biggest takeaways from those wisdoms I have shared with you during our conversation?’ Niccolo Machiavelli asked me again.
The Two Biggest Takeaways
What I have learnt from your wisdoms is, first and foremost, that as long as there are men with a resilience stemmed from more than 33 years of war experience and also capable of bearing arms, there is no, according to you, Niccolo Machiavelli, a justifiable reason that stops either my president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud or Somalis at large to defend the fatherland (Somalia).
Second, we ought to defend the fatherland (Somalia) from the prime minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed and the like by all means. Therefore, let the enemy led by the prime minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed know that the fatherland (Somalia) will be defended by Somalis in British Somaliland, Somalis in Italian Somaliland, Somalis in French Somaliland and Somalis in Ogaden, Somalis in North Frontier District (NFD) and ultimately Somalis around the world by all means.
In closing, we should always remain in suspense even if the level of temperature of the present tensions is somehow lowered or even reduced to zero. Because what I have learnt from Niccolo Machiavelli is: ‘there is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to the advantage of others’. As a result, my fellow citizens, let us always remain in suspense (Dhagtu Ha Innoo Taagnaato) because we live in a skeptical age.
By: Cismaan Cali Amiin, author of A Crying Somali Citizen: Somalia: A Manipulated and Vulnerable Nation
Amiin, Cismaan Cali. A Crying Somali Citizen: Somalia: A Manipulated and Vulnerable Nation. Published in Sweden, 2020.
Machiavelli, Niccolò. Discourses on Livy. University of Chicago Press,
Machiavelli, Niccole. The Prince. Hackett Publishing, 2008.
Rousseau, Jean- Jacques. Emile Or Treatise On Education.Published 2003, USA.
The Economist, Reinventing globalization, JUNE 18TH-24TH 2022.