The US Bears Some Responsibility for Ethiopia Tragedy

A member of the Amhara Special Forcessits next to a machine gun at an improvised camp in the front of a shop in Humera, Ethiopia, on November 22, 2020. - Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, announced military operations in Tigray on November 4, 2020, saying they came in response to attacks on federal army camps by the party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). Hundreds have died in nearly three weeks of hostilities that analysts worry could draw in the broader Horn of Africa region, though Abiy has kept a lid on the details, cutting phone and internet connections in Tigray and restricting reporting. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP)

Somalilandsun: Ethiopia is Sliding into a man-made Disaster. The tension between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a group that misruled Ethiopia for three decades and the federal Ethiopian government has been simmering  for months. The Tigray conflict is over the TPLF fighting back after it was purged. The TPLF draws its  support from 6 million Tigrayans out of 100 of Ethiopia’s population yet it had dominated Ethiopia’s political spectrum before  Abiy took the helm of the Prime Minister post in 2018 after a popular uprising of Oromo and Amhara people.

Until now, Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy has refused offers of mediation from regional leaders, including the China-centric African Union. Abiy of Ethiopia  is telling the world that conflict will end in a matter of weeks, as  government claims taking over  Mekelle, Tigray’s mountainous capital. But even if Ethiopian troops capture Mekelle, the remnants of the TPLF would resort to guerrilla warfare, which could destabilize one of if not the most unstable regions in the world—-the Horn of Africa.

The human toll of the conflict can be measured by the death toll of hundreds or perhaps thousands of people that have been killed, and the displacement of thousands of civilians fleeing for their lives into Sudan. There are reports of war crimes being committed by both sides, including reports that civilians have been hacked to death or profiled because of their ethnicity. Many Eritrean refugees were abducted by Eritrean soldiers supporting Abiy’s government, which is a “major violations of international norms.”

Eritrean dictator, Isaias Afwerki, a longtime foe of the TPLF is helping Abiy’s war efforts against Tigray region. Abby had made peace overtures  to Afwerki, who committed “ systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations”,  a move that won him a Nobel peace prize. Eritrea is allowing its territory for Ethiopian troops to launch attacks into the Tigray region while also providing logistics support.

Moreover, Abiy’s reforms brought into open the discord and division among Ethiopia’s ethnic groups sowed by the TPLF, which led into communal violence. To tame the communal violence, Abiy’s government has committed a gross human rights abuses: It arbitrarily arrested 9,000 people, mainly Oromo, 178  was killed during peaceful demonstrations, since the killing of Hachalu Hundessa,a popular Oromo singer who gave a voice the uprising that  brought Abiy into power.

Many Oromos felt that Mr. Abiy has abandoned their cause for justice, human rights, and the rule of law. Instead, they believe Abiy is serving the special interest of big global banks that are eager to take over Ethiopia’s economy under the guise of introducing free market economy, and the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie apologists.

Human rights activists have known how Ethiopia’s stability was like a smoldering ember waiting to ignite into flames at any moment because of the repressive, authoritarian , and predatory nature of Ethiopia’s rapacious rulers whether they were the feudal emperor or the Marxist Derig or the TPLF or even now today. Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa, is a fragmented nation  with a history of oppression and with diverse ethnic and religious groups whose first loyalty is the self-interest of their people rather than the idea of One Ethiopia as a nation state like Yugoslavia was in the 1990’s

And the United States is complicit for the tragedy because it aided and abetted the TPLF to pursue on a narrow counter- terrorism efforts in Somalia. The TPLF had prolonged the fight against al-Shabaab militant group, and conned United States out of billions of dollars of foreign aid some  of that money went straight to Ethiopia government coffers to rig elections repeatedly, to stifle freedom, and to incite interethnic resentments that is tearing up Ethiopia now.

To save Ethiopia from plunging into a full-blown civil war, America, EU, and Africa should use their diplomatic muscle to negotiate an immediate ceasefire ending the Tigray conflict and to end government blockade for international aid organizations to Tigray region. They should also demand from Abiy to release all political prisoners and journalists languishing in his jails. More importantly, the upcoming Biden administration should suspend all non-humanitarian aid to Ethiopia until the State Department reassesses the prevailing human rights.

Doing so  would  show to the rest of the world that  America’s moral compass is  functioning again and cares not only about  human suffering in Ethiopia but also would  hold  accountable those who commit blatant war crimes and incite inter-ethnic violence to cling to power.

Finally, keeping blind eye on the human suffering of the Tigray conflict would foment combustible ethnic or religious driven violence tearing down Ethiopia, and sending waves of refugees into a region already plagued by famine, wars, and despotism. The very disaster the west is expending vast resources trying to mitigate.

By : Ali-Guban Mohamed Editor

This is piece was originally published at the Daily Nation, Nairobi