African studiesSecurity studies

The specter of civil war threatens federal Ethiopia… Abi Ahmed is caught in the Tigrayan predicament

pared by: Iman El Shaarawy – Researcher specializing in African affairs

  • Arab Democratic Center

A dangerous development reflected in the announcement by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed the deployment of the army in the Tigray region and giving him an order to the National Defense Forces to start a military offensive against the Tigrayan Liberation Front, after accusing the regional government of attacking the federal forces and a federal military base, in a step considered to deepen the deterioration of the relationship between the Tigrayan regional government and the federal government In Addis Ababa, and a warning of a situation threatening political stability in Ethiopia, and that may bring it to a scenario of civil war.

The announcement of a military response from the federal authority towards the Tigray region, especially after the imposition of the emergency and the cutting off of communications and the Internet is the beginning of a conflict in Ethiopia, which includes many different ethnic nationalities and has witnessed a series of increasing internal conflicts, which raises concerns about the further deterioration of the situation in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa region in general. One of the most turbulent regions of the world.

The roots of the dispute between the Tigrayans and Abi Ahmed

Although some attributed the escalation of the dispute between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray region for the Tigray region to conduct the elections separately and to object to the postponement of the national elections that were scheduled for August 2020 and the extension of Abiy Ahmed’s term in office and the subsequent decision to stop funding as a punitive and escalating decision by the federal system against the region, However, these differences were not the main cause of the crisis that Ethiopia is suffering from the current period, which began its roots since the advent of Abi Ahmed as prime minister in 2018, when it saw the ruling Tigrayan Liberation Front in the region that led the political scene in the country during the period (1991-2018 Abi Ahmed’s reform plans target their leaders and symbols, so the Tigrayan Front has become one of the strongest and most prominent opponents of it.

The differences between the two sides also deepened after the reconciliation with Eritrea, as the Tigrayan Liberation Front considers the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki an enemy, which increased the disagreement between the Front and Abu Ahmed, in addition to the Tigrayans’ refusal to merge with the prosperity party that Abi Ahmed announced its inauguration, which consists of 3 parties Major members of the ruling coalition, namely the Oromo Democratic Party, the Amhara Democratic Party and the Democratic Movement for the Peoples of Southern Ethiopia, as well as the pro-coalition parties, namely “Afar, Ethiopian Somalia, Gambella, Bani Shangul and Gumzuhrer, and despite the fact that the Tigrayans ethnicity constitutes about 5 percent of the Ethiopian people, who number 109 Million people, but the region is rich with its political history and influence compared to other regions that exceed it in size.

Growing separatism

In light of this crisis, there are fears that the conflict between the federal government and the Tigray region will exacerbate ethnic tensions and fuel more separatist feelings in other parts of the country, which contributes to the internal flare-up in Ethiopia and encourages other ethnicities to disobey and seek secession with semi-autonomous rule in particular. The Ethiopian constitution recognizes this right for everyone. There are about 8 ethnic groups aiming to obtain autonomy along the lines of the Sidama nationalism. In July 2019, some “state” national regions raised their own flag next to the federal Ethiopian flag.

And in a report issued by the United States Institute of Peace that the division and disintegration of the Ethiopian state will be the largest collapse of the state in modern history, and it is likely to result in a conflict between different races and religions inside Ethiopia as well as to cause a humanitarian and security crisis affecting Africa in general and the Horn of Africa region in a way. It casts a shadow over the conflicts in neighboring countries such as South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

The United States of America commented on the war between Ethiopia and Tigray, so US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement calling for an end to any fighting, while the US embassy in Ethiopia said it was following developments in the Ethiopian Tigray region, and urged the need not to escalate in the region, demanding that The response shall be calculated by both parties, and all parties are encouraged to prioritize the safety and security of civilians.

Civilian genocide

Significant loss of life in the Tigray region, and despite the official announcement by the Ethiopian government that its forces had killed about 500 “Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front” fighters, according to international human rights organizations, the death toll exceeded 600, in addition to thousands of injured and a disaster of displacement. Mass and displacement of tens of thousands. Indeed, official reports received from Kassala state indicate that about 11 thousand displaced Ethiopians have been received, and the number is expected to increase, and all of them fled the fighting between the Ethiopian army between the local government in the Tigray region, in addition to that Amnesty International confirmed that a massacre had occurred. In the region against civilians, as there are 9 million people at risk of displacement due to the raging conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, according to the United Nations, and a broad condemnation was issued by the United Nations for the mass murder attempts of Ethiopians in Tigray, especially since the dead included children, elderly and women.

Abi Ahmed’s decision to withdraw his forces operating in Somalia and redeploy about 3000 soldiers to assist in the Tigray attack, and it is known that these forces that are being withdrawn are Ethiopian army soldiers and are not under the leadership of the 5,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, complicates matters. And more casualties in the Tigray region and the increase of thousands of displaced and homeless people due to the war inside Ethiopia and the acts of identity killing.

Sudden dismissals

In the context of the military escalation in the Tigray region, Abi Ahmed launched a campaign of dismissals, announcing that his government had appointed a new president for the Tigray region in the north of the country, Molo Nega, as the CEO of the Tigray region known for his loyalty to Abu Ahmed, and this step comes after the federal government lifted parliamentary immunity About 39 officials from the Tigray region, and Abi Ahmed appointed those close to him at the head of the security posts, as the army commander, General Adam Muhammad, was dismissed and his deputy, General Berhanu Gula, was appointed in his place, and the head of the intelligence service was replaced by Minister Timisgin Tironeh, who was the head of the Amhara region. The place of Demelash Gabriemichael, who became Commissioner of Police, and Deputy Prime Minister Jamak McConnen assumed the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs after the dismissal of Guido Andargachu. .

Will Ethiopia slide into a civil war ..?

One year after the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to Abi Ahmed, Ethiopia’s internal crises have multiplied, but the most severe threatening the fate of the Ethiopian state is the war on the Tigray region, due to the strength of the two parties and the presence of their supporters from inside and outside, so the Ethiopian federal government gets support and it may be There is participation in the attack on the Tigrayan region on the part of Eritrea, due to the great disagreement between Tigray and Eritrea headed by Isaias Afwerki, and the Tigrayans’ objection to the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea and obstructing the development of a solution for the city of Badme, which Eritrea wants to recover from Ethiopia according to the decision of the UN-backed Boundary Commission By handing over the city, which will not happen without the cooperation of the Ethiopian government with the Tigray region because it is running the region, which is rejected by the leaders of the region who consider that Abi Ahmed wants to sacrifice their lands for his own interests, in addition to the fact that the Tigrayans have historical ambitions in Eritrea and the Tigrayans soldiersMaintaining the Ethiopian army in the war with Eritrea.

In addition to the Amhara region’s support for Abu Ahmed, who bore the burden of the war against the Tigrayans, as the head of the Amhara region, Timisgen Tirana, said that members of the Tigrayan security forces were welcome to defect to his area, and wrote, “We know that you are fighting because you have no other choice,” at the time. In which Sudan imposed strict control on the borders with Ethiopia to prevent the infiltration of loyalists of Tigrayans, in addition to Somalia, which is taking a position alongside the federal government against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the groups supported by it, as well as Israel, which signed an agreement with Ethiopia after Abi Ahmed declared war on the region Tigrayans with the aim of cooperation in the field of intelligence and security, including combating terrorism, which may indicate the existence of Israeli support for Abu Ahmed in his war against the Tigrayans and consider the Tigrayans’ stance towards the Ethiopian federal government as terrorism.

On the other hand, the Tigrayan Liberation Front, although it is not the strongest party, is not underestimated, as most of the Ethiopian military equipment is in Tigray due to the long-running war against Eritrea, which ended in 2018 when the two countries signed a peace agreement, and despite my father’s attempt. Ahmed expelled the elements of the Old Guard associated with the Tigrayans from the army, but there are still a large number of them that retain their position, and the Tigray region is home to a large part of the federal military personnel, so Tigrayans can mobilize more than half of the total number of members of the armed forces, as well. On the other hand, the scope may expand with the entry of the Afar, the Oromo, and the Somali region, along with the Tigrayans against Abi Ahmed.

In light of these data, Ethiopia may slip into the scenario of civil war and conflicts between different groups in the event of failure to reach a political solution and a national dialogue between all the conflicting parties supported by regional mediation by the African Union, so that these parties work to support the idea of ​​a national dialogue in Ethiopia and prevent it. From engaging in a civil war that threatens peace and security in Ethiopia and the conflict-ridden Horn of Africa region.

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SAKHRI Mohamed

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