Ethiopia’s multi-ethnic state is in danger of collapsing | DW | 04.11.2021

When US special envoy Jeffrey Feltman once again travels to Addis Ababa, the international community will be making one last desperate attempt to rescue the tottering giant in the Horn of Africa.

Feltman will try to persuade Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to agree to a ceasefire and peace talks. The goal: to end the war that has been raging for a year between the Ethiopian Federal Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), before the conflict moves to the capital.

This war has long since spread beyond Tigray, and has devastated half the country. A war in which, in addition to neighboring Sudan and Eritrea, countries such as Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and China are involved.

Destabilization for decades

That is why the Ethiopian conflict has what it takes to destabilize not only the strategically important Horn of Africa for years and decades. It is also driving a wedge in the international community, in which, once again, Beijing and Moscow are allowed to carry out a veto policy in the UN Security Council.

The fact that Prime Minister Abiy, initially euphorically supported by the West, has turned his back on the Americans and Europeans, turning to the east, is one of the most bitter lessons for the foreign policy and security representatives of the United States. The old world.

Ludger Schadomsky runs the Amharic staff at DW.

The bloody end of the Ethiopian spring is, in many ways, tragic, especially for the 100 million Ethiopians who hoped for a better future, after the peaceful change in 2018. Tragic, too, because the Ethiopian economy, already hit by a Galloping inflation and the coronavirus pandemic, suffers under the weight of war, and the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger will continue to spin.

Ultimately, it is tragic because the western partners of the Ethiopian reform failed scandalously again, once again, after the debacle in Afghanistan. It was grotesquely naive to politically support the so-called reformer’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

As a reminder: the award was given to Abiy due to its peace agreement with neighboring Eritrea, a country whose soldiers were to commit the most serious human rights crimes in Tigray two years later.

The Balkanization of Ethiopia

Western capitals were blinded by his reformist momentum. The Ethiopian success story, with a young and charismatic prime minister, who would pacify the second most populous country in Africa and stabilize the region, was too tempting. However, they underestimated the dynamics of that multi-ethnic state.

A quick glance at Ethiopian history would have been enough to understand that the deep rivalry between the great ethnic groups of the Oromo, Amhara and Tigray cannot be masked by gestures and symbolic politics alone. It almost goes without saying that the Addis Ababa-based African Union (AU) once again failed to deliver on its claim to offer “African solutions to African problems.”

Of course, it would be too easy to blame the international community for the recent failed reform project. The culture of mistrust, deeply ingrained in Ethiopian DNA, together with an incapable and ethnocentric political caste, stifles any timid attempt at democratization.

Anyone who hears, for example, the bewilderment and amazement of Ethiopian intellectuals about the coalition talks in Germany will understand that it will take generations before a culture of compromise is installed in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian civil society is too weakened to attempt post-authoritarian steps. Thus, lighting the powder keg that is Ethiopia, with its more than 80 ethnic groups, is an easy task for saboteurs. Ethnic hatred spills its poison on social media like never before.

One of the biggest mistakes of the Nobel Prize Committee

Abiy Ahmed, the dynamic reformer who, with his charm, promised conciliation, today voices martial threats and calls civilians to the final battle, and will be remembered as one of the most serious mistakes in the history of the Nobel Prize Committee, to which It is not exactly short of wrong decisions.

And the former government clique of the TPLF, which for a quarter of a century controlled politics, the economy and the military, will again play a role. This is particularly good news for nostalgic people in the West, who praise the discipline and morale of the old guerrilla movement. The remaining 94 percent of the population, on the other hand, have very mixed feelings about this new constellation.

“The country with 13 months of sunshine”: This is how Ethiopia is promoted by the national tourism body. But Abiy Ahmed’s good weather policy failed miserably. When will the next political spring come? No one can seriously predict it. First of all, now alone it is about preventing further bloodshed and the taking of Addis Ababa.

(cp / rml)

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Ethiopia’s multi-ethnic state is in danger of collapsing | DW | 04.11.2021

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