Can Ethiopia avert deepening turmoil and prioritise peace? | Opinions


Ethiopia’s most devastating civil war has just entered its second year. Conflict between the federal government and the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) has escalated into Tigray, exacerbated the old animosity between Tigray and Amhara, and is found in troops from Oromia, Benishangul and Afar, fueling Ethiopian-based conflicts.

Today, war is looming on the horizon in the capital city of Addis Ababa, with fears of a major catastrophe. On November 2, the Ethiopian prime minister declared a state of emergency in the country and there are numerous reports of Tigray civilians being detained without valid reason. Governments around the world, from the United States to Turkey, are urging their citizens to leave the country immediately.

At present, northern Ethiopia is facing a major humanitarian crisis, with more than 8 million people in urgent need of assistance. In Tigray, some 400,000 people are believed to be living in extreme famine. Two million people have fled their homes and there are more than 60,000 refugees in Sudan. There are no transportation routes that have entered the area since mid-October, despite the need for at least 100 vehicles a day to meet the needs of the locals.

A joint study by the United Nations and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and a subsequent EHRC report revealed the brutality, torture and sexual assault of civilians by the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and the Tigrayan. , Amhara and Eritrean military forces at various stages of the conflict, including some possible human and military offenses.

Tigrayan is making progress – but the final game is still unknown

Ethiopian government troops have been returning in recent months. The TDF has taken over much of the country, including major cities and towns such as Weldiya, Dessie and Kombolcha. The Tigrayan people also formed an alliance with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), which has seized territory in many Oromia territories experiencing minor setbacks from the ENDF and its allies.

Troops are within 200km of Addis Ababa. In Afar, militants want to cut off the main road to Addis Ababa from neighboring Djibouti, which would allow them to close the capital and open the main road to Tigray.

But the end of the Tigrayans’ game is not clear. He or she must define a political consensus or form an alliance that has the potential to achieve a legitimate state.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the OLA recently formed an alliance with seven smaller groups seeking to establish a change order, but details of the alliance, which do not have a majority of legitimate people, are unknown. It is still unknown whether the TPLF-TDF is fighting a war to conquer the entire country, to secure Tigrayan independence in Ethiopia, or to secede.

For his part, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed remains steadfast in his commitment to military victory, announcing that he will lead the military forward, and calls on citizens to take up arms against groups designated by his government as terrorists. He is a staunch supporter of Addis Ababa, but the government is no longer the only power in the country. Regional commanders are leading their forces and prioritizing their ethno-federal goals – fighting not only to protect and expand their territory but also to assert themselves in future political positions. The consistent concept of violence is at risk of being established.

Few of the world

No side seems to be ready to listen to the outside call for peace. Prime Minister Abiy seems to believe that the international community wants to oust him and his only option is to follow a successful path. The TPLF / TDF also sees little benefit in negotiations, mainly due to recent developments. Both sides see each other as an existing threat.

The European Union and the US have demanded that they suspend aid, and the latter re-imposed Ethiopia on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, in an effort to resolve their differences. Punishment for Ethiopian athletes has been banned, especially in the meantime, to allow time for negotiations to bear fruit, but the mechanisms under control have been put in place by Eritrean officials and organizations for their role in disrupting the conflict.

However, these efforts have met with limited success and the punishment of outsiders has been used to promote patriotism and to encourage resistance.

A mediator will be instrumental in resolving the conflict – but no single player can do it well. The representative of the African Union (AU) Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, is holding a shuttle talks, but his party needs help and support to move forward. The US and EU delegates also play an important role in negotiating with local and regional players.

The AU is in a quiet place. Its headquarters are in Addis Ababa and its example of decision-making requires unity, strong action, such as stopping Ethiopia, is impossible. The regional body, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), is also in turmoil due to the turmoil in Sudan, which is currently chaired. And even before the coup, the strained relations between Khartoum and Addis Ababa, as well as the relationship between the IGAD Secretary-General of Ethiopia and Prime Minister Abiy, have made it difficult for the commission to act as mediator.

Without effective mechanisms, dialogue between regional leaders such as President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya is essential. Kenya, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, has defended Addis Ababa (sanctions against China and Russia), insisting instead to end the African-led conflict. But it also spoke of the problem of humanitarian action and of an end to war. Following talks with Prime Minister Abiy in Addis Ababa, the Kenyan president also discussed ways to resolve the Ethiopian dispute with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Moving on to real conversations and reconciliation

The road map to Ethiopia’s permanent peace can be mapped out only after the war ends. For this to happen, the federal government and the terrorists have to agree as negotiators. This would require the federal government to remove the names of the TPLF and OLA-Shene as terrorist groups and terrorist groups in order to gain approval for the federal government. The state and federal states will also need to allow humanitarian assistance to reach Tigray as soon as possible. In the meantime, an independent UN monitoring and evaluation agency could be set up to oversee the firefighting.

All parties need to recognize the importance of finding a new way to deal with politics and to address the root causes in Ethiopia. They must begin to work to reconcile their conflicting historical issues, to accept the division of power between the state and the territories, to oversee the interests of the people, and to resolve regional disputes.

In order to move forward peacefully, Ethiopian leaders will need to find a way to realize their ideals of rivalry and create a vision of a united state. This can only be achieved through international dialogue and a process of inclusive change.

The dialogue that had already been initiated by the Ministry of Peace and the seven regional organizations was weakened due to unequal relations and interests. As a result, its integration will need to be uninterrupted by the government, empowering the people, and promoting peace and reconciliation.

The transition process should include the federal government, terrorists and senior leaders of the opposition parties – such as Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba and Eskinder Nega – as well as civil society groups, religious leaders and prominent individuals.

Such integration could make the short-term government of international cooperation recognizable to all concerned. This government, which may have a short-lived, pre-planned period, could impose corporate reforms to strengthen the federal project and allow for a real division of power, which would result in national elections based on local and international expectations.

The process of social justice – essential for the healing of the human race and the preservation of the victims – must also be put in place. In addition, the partners must agree on a plan to run regional self-governing forces and co-ordinate national forces. International partners can support the project with equipment and expertise.

For all of this to happen, both parties will need to agree on some complex issues.

Prime Minister Abiy has to admit that his government’s legitimacy has been so badly tarnished by the brutality of the civil war that he cannot continue to rule the country on its own after the war. The people of Tigraya, for their part, must acknowledge that serious grievances from the long period of their rule in Ethiopian politics still exist, and that many Ethiopians will not allow themselves to lead a federation again. Both teams may want to win the battle, but they cannot expect to win on their own.

Ethiopia’s civil war has caused much anguish and the country is about to collapse. Now is the time for the elite to put their interests aside and begin to work to address the growing grievances of the country, and to establish a new system of mutual understanding and reconciliation.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al Jazeera.


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