Is Ethiopia falling apart?

Dear reader, I hope you are doing good. Checking in people first has gotten a huge priority since the world began to deal with a pandemic like never before. Today I’m going out of a big wall in the compound where I work. I did this because I’m going to see different people, eat different food, breathe a different air and sleep in a different bed. I’m in the city of Hargeisa this evening. The weather is bliss – – if this isn’t your favorite weather word, then I would say the best weather of the night then. I have just had my haircut. I liked the style and I think I’m coming back to this barber again. As I mostly spend my life on campus, my hair often grows out of control so having a haircut once I head to the town is always on the top of my to-do list. Bardon me for my crap. I think being a regular reader of the world’s famous papers and digital media, I’m stealing the life of the best authors, As they bombard you with their life before you start reading their pieces. Let me get straight to the point of my writing now. 

First off, if you are a non-Ethiopian and were paying attention to the recent headlines on Africa, Ethiopia dominated the world’s biggest journals and media headlines. Ethiopia isn’t a press free country, that means foreign journalists have to come and go for special moments only but since recently the focus of many journalists shifted to Ethiopia’s northern regions where months of intense fighting between Ethiopian military with the help of Eritrean troops and TPLP, Tigray liberation front turned the region into a hostile environment.

TPLF elites had ruled Ethiopia for over 3 decades. They had dominated the country’s top management including the military and foreign policies. However their leadership was soon overshadowed by massive nation-wide Oromo protests. Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group is one of the majority ethnic groups whose human and political rights were immensely denied by TPLF rulers. In 2013, A nation-wide Oromo protests erupted in Oromiya. They abruptly began to rise up from the old-aged oppression. They protested in numbers across the vast Oromo territories. The daily demonstrations were keeping pressure on the government. In 2016, the Oromo protests reached a new height. At the time the government was forced to refine its policy towards the Oromo people but continued demonstrations in and outside the Oromo world forced TPLF leaders to think outside the box. Foreign media were getting access to the harassment and enslavement of the Oromo people and that was still mounting pressure on Ethiopia.

In the eastern part of Ethiopia , the same crimes were happening but demonstrations were not allowed. Somali region or previously Ethiopian Somali region was one of the few self-administered places where human rights violations were conducted by the top Ethiopian military. The Somali people were indiscriminately massacred in the name of ONLF, a secessionist group fighting for the independence of Ethiopia’s largest territory of Ogaden region. If you are blaming Ethiopia for what happened in Tigray, I can legitimately admit to you that Ethiopia had destroyed and massacred more people than what might have been documented in Tigray. The only difference is that the Ogaden war was a silent one and Tigray one has earned more attention than the Somali region. I’m sure that everyone’s judgement on crimes is the same and if that is true, I can re-affirm that the TPLF has enslaved more civilians in Somali region and beyond silently than anyone in and outside Ethiopia can possibly imagine.

So what is new in Ethiopia? Many things, first TPLF lost power to the Oromo after TPLF parliament was voted out, This historic vote out turnaround ended TPLF’s 30-year long single rule. secondly TPLF opposed prime minister Abey’s new government. Tigray assumed that new Oromo-led rule was the start of a new Oromo era. The interest of TPLF had utterly vanished since the power slipped out of their hands. For that reason alone, they began to form their own government and administration but that’s legally against Ethiopia’s form of federalism. In a hope to ease tensions in Tigray, prime minister Abey offered several consultations to the TPLF leaders but they insisted on standing by their own. In the peak of their anger, they mistakenly ambushed Ethiopian military base in northern command back in November. This step had triggered Abey Ahmed’s “return of order invasion”. The Tigray invasion was a planned one, there is no clear estimation of what happened in the region and after several months of tit-for-tat attacks, the Ethiopian government had finally managed to secure the region. However the aftermath of the civil war is turning the Abey’s  government into a war criminal now. I think we can all agree that what happened in Tigray was very devastating. Rape, killings and torture were all kinds of violations committed. 

In a bid to restore peace and order, the international community has called for peace in Tigray. Access to humanitarian emergency entry was blocked therefore many Tigraians were left starved. The UN had expressed its deepest concern in Tigray. Currently the global media are closely following and covering the crises. Now the US and its allies are forcing Ethiopian government to take full responsibility for what happened in Tigray. They want top military leaders held accountable for their actions. Ethiopia is both internally and externally facing pressure but the criticisms coming from outside are worrying the government more than what it can deal with at home. Within the country, the government is struggling to contain sectarian uprising. Externally, the GERD dam project is another unsolved mystery. According to Ethiopia, the dam is ready to be filled in as the government announced several times but Egypt who is believed to be the owner of the Nile river sees Ethiopia’s move to fill the dam as utterly unacceptable. Sudan is another blue Nile beneficiary eager to have its own influence. As far as I can recall, there have been few attempts to settle the issue but I think that hasn’t satisfied everyone’s interest. A tripartite treaty had not worked out for all.

More recently, the US had imposed travel restrictions on Ethiopia. Furthermore they cut the aid to Ethiopia which could potentially affect the country’s efforts to tackle humanitarian crises. Last week Ethiopia had declared a national day of protest against what it called “anti-American intervention or generally anti-western intervention” in both ways, Ethiopia is against the west. In the East, there were banners that depicted the present Xi Jinping of China’s pictures. A Russian president’s picture was also visible in the demonstrations. I think Ethiopia is seemingly done with the west. The reason why I think Ethiopia is falling apart is because both internal struggle among competing groups and external pressure from the west are enough to take Ethiopia into a different path.

Some protesters held a banner of present Xi of China and Russia – Photo by the BBC

I was born, grew and educated in Ethiopia so Ethiopia falling apart is a problem for everyone in the country. However what is happening in the country is making me and every Ethiopian national think twice about the future. I hope this country will thrive and we will be able to have a stable government full of peace and development. If you are a non-Ethiopian reader, know that Ethiopia is too big to fall apart but your imaginations are right and our reality is true. This’s a series of my Ethiopia and Somalia blogs and I hope you enjoyed my piece. Remember, I’m a growing blogger so if you are a professional writer or blogger, then your comments don’t apply to me at least now. otherwise I think I deserve your time. Till I come to you with another blog, stay safe and sound!

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