Ethiopia’s Abiy, from Oslo to The Hague!
Ethiopia is one of the uncolonized countries in Africa. Historically, Ethiopia fought against Italia’s colony in the fight of (Adwa). As many historians argue that, Ethiopia is the cradle of the human. In the contemporary era, Ethiopia is called “China’s Africa” because of its population and economic booming. With all these fetching characteristics, currently, Ethiopia is hovering between civil war and anarchy.
Ethiopia tends patrimonial leadership, political dynasty, and imperious leadership from Menelik to Haile Salassie, and from Mengistu to Meles. Apart from Ethiopia’s population diversity which exceeds over 80 communities, Amhara and Tigray used to lead the country, while other communities, especially the largest Oromo ethnic remained downtrodden. As a result, this political disparity propelled the country into successive coups, particularly from 1974 to 1991. Amhara, the second-largest community in Ethiopia is the longest-ruler in the country under an iron fist. Though Ethiopia is a polyglot nation, Amhara made the Amharic language ironclad. In 1991, the Tigray ethnic under the leadership of Ethiopia’s dead former prime minister Meles Zenawi has overthrown Mengistu’s administration which was ruling the country since 1977. Since then, Amhara and Tigray consider each other as the arch-enemy.
Abiy’s premiership in April 2018
After closely three-decades of Tigray rule, in 2015 demonstrations erupted in Ethiopia, especially in the largest Oromia region, and later metastasized to the Amhara region. The demonstrations begun spontaneously at the beginning but later raised regime change. After three-years of indomitable protest against the Tigray rule, in April 2018 Haile Mariam Desalegn resigned who was the acting prime minister since Melez Zenawi’s death. After few days, the former dissolved alliance party EPRDF nominated the incumbent prime minister Abiy Ahmed as the 4th prime minister of Ethiopia.
The world welcomed the newly appointed youngest leader in Africa with alacrity and lukewarm reception. Abiy engaged instantly to appoint his cabinet and give almost half-of the cabinet women. He also released all the political prisoners and offered leeway to the media. Abiy also surrendered the disputed territories in the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea and submitted to Eritrea in order to terminate the longest-vendetta among African states. These scintillating actions again captured international attention which led ultimately to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.
On the flip side, plenty of the talking heads expressed that, Abiy’s reform was razzle-dazzle. Because, in hindsight, Abiy imposed on the media draconian rules, arrested several media actors, especially during the Tigray war in November last year. And the reason behind when Abiy gave the disputed territories on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea was to ostracize Tigray and lacerate them.
Tigray War: Ethiopia’s Pandora’s box
Abiy who won a year ago the Nobel Peace Prize announced a military operation against some of his people. In November 2020 Abiy declared a military confrontation against the Tigray region. Abiy’s invective statement of the war erupted after the Tigray region orchestrated its local election in September last year.
The TPLF leaders expressed that, Abiy’s mandate ended in August last year, thus has no legal mandate to remain the office. Ethiopia’s federal elections were supposed to take place in August last year, but Ethiopia’s house of federations delayed under the guise of the Covid-19 curbing methods, but the oppositions refuted such justification and considered it as a political tool to extend the term.
After the Tigray region’s election result was announced, Abiy’s administration rejected it and considered it a shanty election. Since then, a smear campaign erupted which finally led to a military confrontation.
Tigray region encountered a pincer attack from Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) and the Eritrean troops which was giving a hand with the Ethiopian forces. Additionally, UAE’s drones were also siding with the allied forces who were engaging in the war. Closely one month of internecine war between Tigray forces and the alliance forces, the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed claimed that his forces captured the capital city of Tigray (Mekelle), but some reports are saying that the war is still going around Mekelle and other towns in Tigray region.
During the confrontation, hundreds of people have been killed and scores of others maimed, while thousands of people have been displaced and refuged to the neighboring countries, especially Sudan. In the beginning, Abiy’s administration and Afwerki, the president of Eritrea was denying Eritrea’s troops’ involvement in the battle, but after several organizations and countries found smoking-gun evidence via virtual, no room for doubt.
Since Abiy unilaterally claimed that, his army captured Mekelle, and he finalized the war against the restive region, the humanitarian crises erupted, and the world started to beseech humanitarian aid as for their last shriek. Regrettably, Abiy restricted the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Tigray region who was suffering badly.
The other heinous actions were, the Eritrean troops and the Ethiopian forces, mainly Amhara ethnic committed gross human rights violations including rape, killings, torture, castigation, and other reprehensible acts. Since then, Extrajudicial killings, are so rampant in the Tigray region.
The Ethiopian ministry of women confessed that there are enormous cases of rape in the Tigray region committed by the alliance forces. At the beginning of the war, Abiy was peddling that, he wants to dissolve and dilapidate the TPLF top-echelons and install like-minded ones with the camouflage of “Law Enforcement Operation”.
But, when the alliance forces engaged in massacring the gullible people because of their ethnicity, the rancor among the community peaked, and the international community considered as an “Ethnic Cleansing”.
Abiy persisted in his actions while the world is rebuking him, and Western countries halted the budget support. The newly elected Biden-Harris administration demonized Abiy and Afwerki’s notorious actions against Tigray people. Additionally, four retired US ambassadors who served in Ethiopia expressed their grave concerns in a letter to Abiy. Lastly, the Secretary General of the UN Antonio Guterres admonished Abiy and Afwerki’s administrations for their shameless and relentless actions. The PP party and Abiy’s Medemer philosophy are misnomers and eviscerate the linchpin federalism. Lacerating the federalism may lead the country into a perilous path. And as a result, Abiy will be accountable for his bloodletting.
During the former president of the USA era, Mr. Trump, many Orwellian leaders got an opportunity to lead their countries with an iron fist. Trump’s policy was inward-looking, and he gave less attention to US foreign relations.
Abiy gave the green-light of the war against the Tigray region while the world was busy on the USA’s latest election in 2020. Abiy’s Trojan horse deal was to expunge TPLF’s top-echelons while the world is focused on America’s election. But, Abiy miscalculated and didn’t think if another system takes the lead, it may become his calculation blowback.
When the results of the election were unleashed, and the Democrat nominee, Joe Biden becomes the president of the USA, Abiy and his quintessence de facto leader Afwerki encountered lost the game. Biden-Harris administration rebuked the war against the Tigray region and demonized Abiy-Afwerki administrations. And if Abiy continues adamantly his cruel acts against Tigray, Bidden administration may take draconian actions including cutting the budget support; imposing sanctions against Abiy’s administration.
If we trace back on Ethiopia’s body politic, Amhara used to patronize the rest when it comes to leadership. Though, Ethiopia conglomerates enormous communities with different languages and cultures, but Amharic language imposed all of them as the working and communication language. The other communities including the largest Oromo ethnic used to feel marginalized.
In 1991, when the TPLF ousted the Dergi regime, the Tigay rule imposed each community exercise its own local language and have self-administration. EPRDF under the leadership of the Tigray rule adopted in 1995, the constitution of the federal democratic republic of Ethiopia. In article 39, paragraph 1 stipulates “Every Nation, Nationality, and people in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession”.
The second paragraph of the article denotes “Every Nation, Nationality, and people in Ethiopia has the right to speak, to write and to develop its own language; to express, to develop and to promote its culture; and to preserve its history”. These articles are intended to offer leeway to the different nationalities in the country. all the communities in Ethiopia are happy with these articles except Amhara who believes that they are responsible for the country, and in order to protect the nation, it must be united. Principally, Amhara doesn’t believe in the federal architecture which Ethiopia adopted in 1995.
Alternatively, Amhara advocates tirelessly to eviscerate federalism and supplant unitary government under their tutelage. That is why the mastermind behind the Tigray war is Amhara in order to obliterate the cradle of federalism so they can resurrect a central government under their auspice.
Medemer Book: Like Watermelon, outside green, and inside red!
Abiy envisaged that he could be the 7th emperor in Ethiopia. In order to make true his dream, he ordered a military attack against the Tigray region on 04, November this year, because he knows that, Tigray under the TPLF party is the only region that can oppose his clandestine vision. When Abiy defeats Tigray, his second step was to deplete the federalism and replace it with the unitary government under his tutelage, and all the regional presidents will be governors. Already some of the regional presidents acted like governors such as the president of the Oromia region, the president of the Somali region. This slippery slope bewildered many people in Ethiopia, and that is why, most of the regional states (Kilils) don’t understand deeply Abiy’s PP, and Medemer project.
There is burgeoning news that says that Abiy is looking for an interlocker who mediates the TPLF’s embattled leaders, and his administration in order to peter out the external pressure. If this news mushrooms, it will be an act of confession. As a result, Abiy should release all the political prisoners, and he will be accountable for his miscarriage of justice. The copperhead opposition may demand to disband the little-known newly established Prosperity Party (PP), and re-introduce the disbanded EPRDF party or pioneer a new one. Also, an independent investigation committee will evaluate the human rights situations in the region. If war crimes were found, then Abiy’s demise will be behind bars.
– Anwar Abdifatah Bashir.
Freelance Journalist and Horn of Africa Affairs Analyst