Money flow and its impacts in Ethiopian Politics a Causal Loop Diagram analysis

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1 Money flow and its impacts in Ethiopian Politics a Causal Loop Diagram analysis By Yishrun Kassa Money is a crucial factor for a serious political assessment of any given political environment and political struggle. Ethiopia is not different. Understanding how money flows and which factors it impacts is vital for the political confrontation against the TPLF regime. However, doing that piece by piece in an isolated fashion where different factors get analyzed separately may not be a good approach. Rather, It would be beneficial to see the forest first and then the individual trees next. Depicting the whole system with the various interrelated agents and factors in our political arena would help us understand the various feedback and causeeffect structures pertaining to the impacts of money. A huge sociopolitical system as Ethiopia is rather big to depict in one model. But a thematic causal model of the flow of money and its impacts could help us focus on a particular system without being trapped into details. Understanding the cause and effect relations between various variables and the inherent feedback structures within a system are very important in order to analyze the complex political system in which we operate. Also contrary to our intuition, various factors in our social and political systems seldom are related in a linear way and also their cause and effect relations are not instantaneous but usually have a time delay attached to them. The time delays could be months, years and even decades. The existence of such time delays between cause and effects, the feedback structures and the various nonlinear relations makes our political system highly complex. In this article, to help the unity Ethiopian opposition political discourse, a causal loop qualitative diagram has been constructed with the main focus of showing the money flows and its impacts in the Ethiopian politics. The individual qualitative ideas and causal effects are not new to readers, as they have been mostly understood in our long struggle with the TPLF. But looking them from a system and feedback perspective might shed some insights into the political system we are maneuvering. In so doing, perhaps it could trigger some new ideas as to how we identify and safeguard the favorable causal feedback loops to the opposition and also try to impede or break other causal feedback loops that favor the TPLF regime. Causal loop diagrams are widely used in system and strategic thinking applications. However the qualitative diagram presented in this article (Fig 1) is rather limited for being used as an overall policy guidance tool for the following reasons 1) It mainly concentrates on the money dynamics in the Ethiopian politics hence other socio political factors are left out 2)It aggregates the Ethiopian opposition inside Ethiopia as one group in order concentrate on the money flow and its causal impacts. But as we know, that is not the case as there are highly dissimilar opposition groups in Ethiopia as well different groups with different modes of struggle.but for the task at hand of showing only the money flow of the opposition visàvis the TPLF it could suffice 3) Even though I attempted to include the main factors concerning money flow and its impacts in the Ethiopian politics, however funds from geopolitical forces have not been included in the

2 model.this is because inorder to include potential feedback structures towards such a variable, a number of other factors have to be considered in the model. For instance the opposition should be categorized into different groups as the geopolitical forces associate themselves to certain groups and expect something in return... It would be difficult to depict that kind of analysis in this small model (though it is possible and would be beneficial to include such analysis in a more elaborate model). Hence in this article to avoid excessive detail and to concentrate on the impacts of money in a more aggregate manner, the geopolitical factor has not been included. 4. For serious policy and strategic studies, causal loop models should be converted into a fully quantifiable system dynamics computer simulation models that are properly calibrated and verified by historical data. Hence with the sole purpose and the limitations of the model in place, I hope this conceptual causal loop diagram could be used as a qualitative discussion facilitation tool concerning the sources and impacts of money in our political system. But I encourage other well positioned and more resourceful Ethiopians in the strategic studies profession to extend such an approach to create more elaborate and better qualitative causal models and subsequently quantitative simulation models to study the overall political and social dynamics of Ethiopia. Such efforts should be with the end goal of devising efficient anti TPLF, and united Ethiopia friendly opposition strategies. In the last paragraph I said anti TPLF, because we are an opposition force and want to see the TPLF regime dismantled from our country once and for all. And I said united Ethiopia friendly, as we are Ethiopians who want to see a stronger and united Ethiopia after removing the TPLF and we do not want policies that destroy the TPLF and Ethiopia together. Rather we need to design policies and strategies that remove the TPLF but that preserve our Ethiopia so that we can make it united and strong in the aftermath of the TPLF departure. My political orientation is in such a line and I believe most Ethiopians agree with me. Lastly I want to mention that I based my own qualitative understanding of our politics (largely informed from the opposition media of the past 25 years) to construct the causal diagram, hence I might be wrong in certain causal assumptions. Normally in such studies subject matter experts are consulted to gain the right qualitative understanding to construct causal loop diagrams. But the reader after grasping how the diagram is constructed can easily modify the diagram even including other variables if need be. In the following section I would give a very short and easy guideline on how to read the causal diagram Guide to reading a Causal Loop Diagram (CLD) To avoid ambiguity I have copied some simplified explanations from Wikipedia. For a more formal explanation and examples the reader can refer to standard system dynamics books. Positive causal link () means that the two nodes change in the same direction, i.e. if the node in which the link starts decreases, the other node also decreases. Similarly, if the node in which the link starts increases, the other node increases.(source Wikipedia)

3 Negative causal link() means that the two nodes change in opposite directions, i.e. if the node in which the link starts increases, then the other node decreases, and vice versa.(source Wikipedia) Closed cycles in the diagram are very important features of the CLDs. A closed cycle is either defined as a reinforcing or balancing loop. A reinforcing loop is a cycle in which the effect of a variation in any variable propagates through the loop and returns to the variable reinforcing the initial deviation i.e. if a variable increases in a reinforcing loop the effect through the cycle will return an increase to the same variable and vice versa. A balancing loop is the cycle in which the effect of a variation in any variable propagates through the loop and returns to the variable a deviation opposite to the initial one i.e. if a variable increases in a balancing loop the effect through the cycle will return a decrease to the same variable and vice versa. If a variable varies in a reinforcing loop the effect of the change reinforces the initial variation. The effect of the variation will then create another reinforcing effect. Without breaking the loop the system will be caught in a vicious cycle of circular chain reactions. For this reason, closed loops are critical features in the CLDs.(source Wikipedia) To determine if a causal loop is reinforcing or balancing, one can use this simple rule Simply count the negative polarities across a given loop then Reinforcing loops have an even number of negative links (zero is considered as even) Balancing loops have an odd number of negative links.(source Wikipedia) Identifying reinforcing and balancing loops is an important step for identifying Reference Behavior Patterns, i.e. possible dynamic behaviors of the system. Reinforcing loops are associated with exponential increases/decreases. Balancing loops are associated with reaching a plateau (or stable point) If the system has delays, the system might fluctuate.(wikipedia). Time Delays in the conceptual loop diagram in Figure 1 are denoted by drawing short double lines across the causal link Dominant loops In causal loop diagrams even though there are many reinforcing and balancing loops present, usually there would be one dominant loop either balancing or reinforcing that determine the overall system behavior. Depending on the changing values of the factors (the dynamics) the dominant loops may change through time. But this is usually difficult to see from causal loop

4 diagrams only. One has to run fully quantified system dynamics computer simulation model to see such behaviors. But from qualitative conceptual analysis standpoint, understanding the balancing and reinforcing loops from causal loop diagram would give some insight in our understanding on which loops are advantageous for the opposition and which loops favor the TPLF and to act accordingly in order to guard and cultivate the opposition friendly reinforcing loops and to try to mitigate the effect (if possible break) the TPLF friendly reinforcing loops. I give one example from the causal loop diagram and leave the rest to the reader to analyze by himself/herself. Example: The remittance money dynamics (Please refer to figure 1) One good example is the impact of the remittance money the diaspora sends to Ethiopia. Several reinforcing loops are associated with this money flow and unfortunately most of the loops favor the TPLF. In Fig I have shaded the loops associated with remittance. I will explain 4 of them and leave the rest to the reader. 1)The first loop is associated with the political frustration of the people resulting in migration to become diaspora Ethiopian diaspora remittance >()TPLF money base>()tplf totalitarian military power grip>() political frustration of the Ethiopian people>()ethiopian Diaspora >() Ethiopian diaspora remittance As there is no negative sign (i.e. even number, as zero is considered even number) the loop is a reinforcing loop. This is how it goes. As remittance money increases, TPLF money base increases, which in turn increase TPLF s totalitarian military grip. The increase in TPLF repressive grip in turn increases the political frustration of the population which in turn increases mass exodus to become a diaspora and finally results in an increase in remittance closing the loop. As it stands now (i.e. the diaspora actively sends money back home using money transfers by which TPLF gets commission) clearly this reinforcing loop hugely favors the TPLF. 2)The second loop is similar to loop 1 and is associated with the economic frustration of the people resulting in migration to become diaspora Ethiopian diaspora remittance >()TPLF money base>()tplf totalitarian military power grip>() TPLF total economic control>() economic frustration of the Ethiopian people>() Ethiopian Diaspora>() Ethiopian diaspora remittance As there is no negative signs (i.e. even number, as zero is considered even number) it is a reinforcing loop.

5 3)This is a balancing loop that tries to mitigate the reinforcing loops associated with remittance Ethiopian diaspora remittance>() economic frustration of the Ethiopian people >()Ethiopian Diaspora>() Ethiopian diaspora remittance As there is one negative link (odd number) it is a balancing loop It goes like this. As remittance increases, economic frustration decreases, and as economic frustration decreases migration to become diaspora decreases, as diaspora decrease remittance decreases. 4)This is similar to the balancing loop in loop 3 Ethiopian diaspora remittance>() economic frustration of the Ethiopian people>() political frustration of the Ethiopian people()>()ethiopian Diaspora>() Ethiopian diaspora remittance Again there is an odd number of negative link hence it is balancing loop. One has to note that these balancing and reinforcing loops do not act in in isolation in the real system. As stated earlier, in any given moment the system would be dominated by a reinforcing loop (even if there are balancing loops) or balancing loop. But in this case it is quite clear that the remittance associated system is hugely dominated by TPLF favoring 8 reinforcing loops that add up to become a dominant causal force in the system overpowering any balancing effects in the system. Hence one has to note that using alternative ways of sending money would help in breaking all 8 TPLF favoring reinforcing loops. I am not suggesting in any way for people to stop sending money to their needy families. I am just saying if possible to avoid the remittance loop by using alternative means if any so that the Ethiopian diaspora remittance >()TPLF money base causal link is broken. But the other good alternative to break these huge 8 TPLF favoring remittance associated loops is to break the link between being politically frustrated and becoming a diaspora and being economically frustrated and becoming a diaspora (see figure 1).This is important as these are the only 2 causal links by which all the TPLF favoring reinforcing loops operate. This way the remittance money flow would decrease or be limited as the number of diaspora Ethiopians would not increase indefinitely as what is happening now. It might sound hypocritical to say this while I myself am a member of the diaspora. But it is time we all faced the reality if we need to move forward. It is also important to note that breaking these two migration links has also another benefit for the opposition. One can note that there is an ominous negative link between the Ethiopian diaspora factor and the opposition manpower base inside Ethiopia which in turn is positively connected to the opposition activity and uprising in Ethiopia factor.

6 Ethiopian Diaspora>() opposition man power inside Ethiopia It means as more people flee to become diaspora the political manpower base in the country decreases resulting in decreased opposition activity. Hence breaking the political frustration of the Ethiopian people>()ethiopian Diaspora and economic frustration of the Ethiopian people>()ethiopian Diaspora causal linkages seems to be greatly important in both breaking the remittance associated reinforcing loops as well as ensuring strong opposition presence within the country. These are the two vital link we need to break besides of course breaking the obvious remittance to TPLF money base link. Of course one could argue from the causal model that as diaspora increases money available for the opposition also increases. But this is the dilemma we need to address based on our experience so far i.e. whether to have a strong opposition manpower base inside Ethiopia (in whatever mode of struggle) with decreased money base as a result of decreased donations from diaspora or to have a fattened money base from diaspora donations but depleted opposition manpower inside Ethiopia. The reader can continue and identify other loops in the causal loop diagram to understand how our system is interconnected as it pertains to money flow and its causal implications in Ethiopian politics. I only showed the loops involving remittance. There are many other loops both balancing and reinforcing in the causal diagram. For example a similar analysis can be made regarding the diaspora s consumption of Injera and baltena products from TPLF associated shops which are greatly increasing the TPLF money base(see figure 1).This also result in many TPLF favoring reinforcing loops which can be broken by breaking the migration links as discussed above. And also by directly dealing with the diaspora consumption culture whereby other alternative ways of getting the products (or suitable replacements) can be considered to break these TPLF favoring money loops. I leave the rest as an exercise to the reader. As you can see such a causal loop diagram greatly facilitates discussion and sheds some insight in otherwise obscure system interrelations. The end result of such an effort is to encourage leaders of unity Ethiopian forces to be able to strategically think and plan so that they strategically mobilize our people to overcome the TPLF tyranny and snatch Ethiopia from its grip and at the same time ensure the post TPLF era would be an era of a united and strong Ethiopia. Ethiopia Tiqdem! May God bless and keep Ethiopia! Yishrun Kassa January 20/2016

7 Fig 1. Causal Loop Diagram of money flow and its impacts in Ethiopian politics (software used : Vensim by VENTANA systems inc.) revenue from TPLF affliated Injera and baltena shops in the diaspora TPLF affiliated Injera and baltena shops in diaspora Ethiopian diaspora Ethiopian diaspora remittance economic frustration of the Ethiopian people diaspora donations for political opposition money base for Ethiopian opposition Ethiopian diaspora media and propoganda machine political frustration of the Ethiopian people opposition manpower base inside Ethiopia TPLF totalitarian economic control TPLF totalitarian military power grip to opposition activity and uprising ratio TPLF totalitarian military power grip strong political opposition activity and uprising inside Ethiopia TPLF removal probability TPLF media and propoganda machine TPLF money base western military aid western monetary aid TPLF eligibility for regional partner for western anti Islamic terrorism china investment Bribed spoliers in the opposition camp bribed western diplomats and workers in various international organizations Exaggerated and falsified assesement of the TPLF regime to create positive impression

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