Sunday, December 5, 2021

Ethiopia on the brink of crisis threatens ‘peace and stability’ of the region – but what has fueled conflict and criticism of Biden’s response?

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is warning that the worsening situation in Ethiopia threatens the “peace and stability” of the Horn of Africa.

The comments were made on November 17, 2021 as Blinken began a five-day visit to Africa during which he would speak with regional leaders about concerns of an all-out civil war in the continent’s second most populous country. The diplomatic mission follows criticism from the US and the international community over its response to a conflict that has seen multiple allegations of war crimes.

The Conversation asked Dr. Gloria Emegvali, professor of African history at Central Connecticut State University, how the crisis developed in Ethiopia, and what hopes are for a path away from the catastrophe.

What is the current situation in Ethiopia?

The conflict in the Tigre region in northern Ethiopia has been going on for more than a year now. While major fighting has been between the Tigre People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, and Ethiopian government forces, armed groups from neighboring Eritrean have also been involved.

The fighting has been particularly intense. Both the TPLF and federal government forces have been accused by the United Nations of human rights violations, including systematically racially based rape and genocide. The concern has recently turned into the threat of starvation for hundreds of thousands of people cut off from supplies.

And things could get worse. Ethiopia’s population of 110 million is at risk of an all-out civil war.

The fighting has spread from the Tigre region, which was the center of the early part of the conflict. The TPLF and its allies continued to advance south from their base at Mekele in the north, and captured strategically important cities such as Lalibela and Daisy. The Ethiopian government has expressed fears that fighting could soon engulf the capital, Addis Ababa.

What is the immediate cause of conflict in Ethiopia?

The fighting has a long history, but the spark of the current phase was an attack by the TPLF on Confederate troops based in Mekel on November 4, 2020. At least a thousand soldiers were kidnapped and an undetermined number were executed. This was retaliated by government forces by TPLF rebels and a state of emergency was declared by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

What is the broader context of the crisis?

For nearly three decades, the TPLF controlled the government and the military. During this period it gained enormous control over the country’s economy and land, as well as over billions of dollars in aid received each year. The TPLF ruled in such a way that it redefined Ethiopia largely on the basis of ethnicity, with the Tigrayans holding most of the power.

Opposition to the TPLF-dominated government contributed to the election of Abiy Ahmed in April 2018. As prime minister, Abiy began to limit the economic dominance of the TPLF and institute more centralized federal policies.

The Abi administration promised a new level of transparency, freed thousands of prisoners and made peace with neighboring Eritrea – earning them the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

But even before that, political resentment was brewing. An assassination attempt on Abiy in June 2018 led to a deep power struggle between the TPLF and the new administration.

How could an all-out civil war affect the region?

A long and bloody conflict in Ethiopia is likely to have ripple effects with a steady influx of refugees, arms and displaced population groups into neighboring Eritrea, Sudan and Kenya.

Any further instability is likely to encourage terrorist organizations such as al-Shabaab, which could spread westward from its base in Somalia to Ethiopia and even Sudan. It would shatter the effective control model put in place by previous and current Ethiopian governments.

Read Also:  The trial of Ahmaud Arbery accused killers will investigate the use - and abuse - of 'outdated' civil arrest laws

More peaceful areas of the Horn – such as Djibouti and Somaliland – may attract prisoners of war or forcibly recruited terrorists. A civil war could also exacerbate instability in Sudan, which is currently embroiled in a standoff between pro-democracy activists and the military.

For Ethiopia itself, civil wars of all kinds can be disastrous, igniting tensions in a country that includes more than 80 ethnic groups, and potentially dividing the country into impractical political entities and enclaves.

Why has the US response been criticized?

While the Biden administration has called on “all rebels in the Tigre region” to agree to a ceasefire, Ethiopia and Eritrea have accused the US of backing the rebels.

In a letter to the United Nations, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh blamed the Biden administration for “instigating further conflict and instability” in the Tigre “to revive the remnants of the TPLF regime”.

The Ethiopian government similarly accused the US of interfering in the region and “treating on an equal footing” to the democratically elected government and the TPLF – which the Ethiopian government declared a terrorist group in May 2021.

After Washington announced sanctions against all sides in the conflict in September, Abiy responded with an online letter to Biden accusing the US administration of “failing to openly and strongly reprimand the terrorist group”. The way he is following my government.”

The decision in early November to remove Ethiopia from a US trade program that Biden described as a “gross violation” has strained relations with Abiy’s government.

Ethiopians suspect that US foreign policy is being influenced by Washington’s support for Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, a massive hydroelectric project on the Blue Nile in a dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia says it needs a reliable electricity. Grid and economic development.

Ethiopia began filling the dam reservoir, which will take about five years, in July 2020. Yet Egypt, which sees the dam as a threat to its fresh water supply, has said the dam reservoir should not be filled without a legal agreement about the allocation. Nile river water. Former US President Donald Trump cut aid to Ethiopia in September 2020 with officials in his administration saying the country had not followed through on its promise to resolve the dispute. It is important to note that the dam was led by the TPLF-led government led by Meles Xnawi. Critics argue that any dissolution of Ethiopia would strengthen Egypt’s position in negotiations on the dam.

What can be done to avoid an all-out civil war?

It may be almost too late to avert an all-out civil war in Ethiopia. But pressure from the African Union and member states that border Ethiopia, along with ties with civil organizations within the country, could push the warring sides toward peace talks.

[More than 140,000 readers get one of The Conversation’s informative newsletters. Join the list today.]

Meanwhile, there are some actions the main protagonist can take to defuse the tension. Declaring the TPLF as a terrorist organization was probably a misguided policy by Abi, and may be revoked as a gesture of goodwill. In return, the TPLF should recognize Abiy Ahmed as the democratically elected prime minister of Ethiopia – something he has so far refused to do.

As far as the role of the US is concerned, a visit to the region by Secretary of State Blinken is long overdue. Rising anti-Americanism in Ethiopia as a result of the Biden administration’s stance on the Tigre conflict has helped push Ethiopia toward closer military and trade ties with Russia and Turkey.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
Latest news
Related news
- Advertisement -