Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed’s gov’t decisions to tamper with what it called “irregular security forces” before disarming terrorists like TPLF and OLF militant could risk deepening security crisis
Just a day before leaving for the United Arab Emirates, Abiy Ahmed chaired a meeting of the National Security Council which discussed key security matters in the country.
Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Defense Force, Field Marshal Berhanu Jula, and his deputy, General Abebaw Tadesse, and Temesgen Tiruneh, Director of the country’s intelligence were among members of the council who attended the meeting.
As is the case with the other issues, much of the details of what was discussed in the meeting are not known to the public. The general information given to the public, through state media outlets, is that the meeting evaluated the security situation in the country based on recent experiences.
Temesgen Tiruneh, NISS director, revealed a little more detail when he spoke to the state media saying that TPLF and its “provocation”, as the government calls it, was discussed. Full-fledged latest TPLF invasion had displaced over 220,000 residents, which Afar regional state officially disclosed days before the Council’s meeting. Many areas in the Amhara region of Ethiopia are still under military attacks from TPLF.
The council has given direction to the Defence Force, apparently through the commander in Chief of the Army, the PM, to take action to reverse TPLF invasion in the Afar region, as revealed by Temesgen Tiruneh. However, there are also reports that the Ethiopian government is having an indirect talk with the TPLF, which the government denies.
The council under the leadership of the Prime Minister has also passed a decision that has turned out to be outrageous to many Ethiopians, especially in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.
It evaluated that “irregular security forces” in the country are seen as security concerns and that they should cease to exist. Mr. Temesgen did not name names about it, but it was understood to be aimed at dismantling the FANO structure in the Amhara region which proved to be useful in the campaign to defeat TPLF forces who were approaching the capital Addis Ababa by about 150 kilometres from the North Side – something that turned out to be, apparently, a factor to the Prime Minister’s decision to march to the battle front in December 2021.
The government has not yet provided clarification, officially, as to what it meant when it made reference to “irregular forces.”
There are armed groups in different parts of the country that have been undertaking massacres targeting civilians, but it was extensive and recurring in the Oromo and Benishangul Gumuz regions of Ethiopia. No reference was made to those groups either.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government’s self-image about its performance since it took power in 2018 is one that made transformation to “prosperity” possible.
On the other hand, Ethiopians have been criticising his government for failure to provide citizens security and the right to live, and work in different parts of the country. The list of massacres by armed groups is too long. Security incidents in many cities including Addis Ababa have been on the rise too.
Worse, his government has been making a series of decisions, in connection with TPLF and others, that have outraged the public. The decision about “disarming irregular security forces” is only the latest one. If implemented against informal structures that assisted the Defense Force in the operation against TPLF, like FANO, it is anticipated to cause a different security crisis in the country.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government was unable to provide security in the Afar and Amhara regions when TPLF forces ravaged communities and towns as they pleased. There are voices who believe that TPLF was able to control much of Amhara because the FANO, what the government seems to consider irregular forces now, were not armed to repulse TPLF attacks.
TPLF’s ambition to invade both the Amhara and Afar regions is not dead. It still has hundreds of thousands of forces. It would be completely irresponsible for the government to attempt to disarm FANO, before disarming the TPLF and OLF Shane force, which continues to slaughter civilians in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, with the help of pro-OLF elements within government structure.
Abiy Ahmed has been enjoying support from Ethiopians not because he has popular policy that is capable of solving the political problem in the country or because his government was on top in terms of providing Ethiopians security or because of his leadership style or skill but because Ethiopians hoped that he would change and learn in the course of time.
Unfortunately, he does not seem to be changing in a desirable way. The series of decisions he made over the past several weeks rather demonstrates that he is emboldening militant and radical ethnic nationalists forces. In fact, some Ethiopians, as seen from social media conversations and status updates, tend to think that he has become an easy tool for radical ethnic nationalists, both within and outside of government structure, and to foreign powers at the expense of Ethiopia. His decision to disarm FANO, if true, when he failed to control terrorist ethnic nationalists could be very dangerous unless he is reconsidering some of his initiatives,
Afar and Amhara regions have endured unimaginable social and security crises, not to mention economic devastation, due to many months long TPLF military occupation which pursued a scorched earth strategy. Innocent Ethiopians in the Oromo and Benishangul Gumuz regions of Ethiopia. And his government was too weak to avert that and protect Ethiopians. His top priority should be tackling issues like that.
Speaking of restructuring the security apparatus, the regional special forces itself has been seen as a threat to the country, and that is what the TPLF invasion proved.
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