Sunday, April 21, 2024
HomeOpinionLike TPLF, Fano must disarm for peace in Ethiopia (Teshome Borago)

Like TPLF, Fano must disarm for peace in Ethiopia (Teshome Borago)

Fano Amhara _ TPLF _ Ethiopian Politics
Graphic source – from the Web

By Teshome M. Borago

When the TPLF waged an insurrectionist war against the Ethiopian Northern Command in Tigray, Ethiopians nationwide rightfully rallied around ENDF to stop a Tigrayan tribal revolt. 

Now unfortunately, another senseless tribal revolt, now in the name of ethnic Amhara, is threatening to cause mass casualties & a humanitarian crisis. There are some unconfirmed media reports that unconstitutional Amhara paramilitaries have already encircled Amhara capital city of Bahir Dar, as the situation is getting out of control. What is the solution?

So far, the revolting Amhara militias have adopted the Tigrayan playbook of “defense,” reminiscent of how the Tigrayan elites started the war in 2020 when they claimed they were actually defending themselves ( via a “preemptive” strike against an “imminent” danger, after allegedly enduring anti-Tigray discrimination & “Tigray Genocide”). The same rhetoric is prevailing in Amhara minds who are defending the violence. Unfortunately, it appears the average Amhara resident has acquired a black & white view, concluding who is Good (Fano militia/APF) and Evil (Abiy), thus setting the stage for another round of bloody war where another half a million souls might perish, maybe even more. Is sacrificing the lives of a million youth and destroying the whole infrastructure of Amhara region worth it? 

More than ever, pro-democracy forces must remain principled and defend law & order first and foremost. The participants of this new tribal revolt being of “Amhara” ethnicity does not make the revolt right or provide it any legitimacy. There is no excuse for anarchy and no justification for violence. All Amharas who love Ethiopia must demand the disarmament of Fano, Amhara Popular Force (APF) or any illegal “Amhara” army and call for peace. We can not have a country without a state monopoly over the “means of violence,” or basically, a government. At the same time, both pro-Abiy Amhara state officials and the federal government must open the doors for peace talks, since, afterall, the precedent has already been set with Abiy’s government recently approving negotiations with OLA and TPLF. 

To deescalate tensions, elites and intellectuals who identify as “Amhara” must condemn those who raised arms in the name of “Fano,” a label that was historically synonymous with Ethiopian patriots based out of Shewa who defended our nation-state. The pro-war so-called Amhara activists must stop defaming this honorable Fano label, which symbolized Ethiopian nationalism and the concept of defending Ethiopia against colonial aggression in the mid 1900s.

All Ethiopians must play a role in deescalation of the pro-war rhetoric. Unfortunately, non-Ethiopian foreigners are also instigating the violence. There are various stories of Egyptian and other online activity agitating both sides. Simultaneously, there are TPLF & OLF elements who are using their experience in cyber propaganda to manufacture both Fano “battle gains” and spread anti-Abiy “atrocity” tales to shape the narrative and fuel more Amhara anger. In this moment, it is critical that responsible Amhara scholars and Ethiopian influencers bring down the temperature and promote negotiations, as popular artist Tamagn Beyene recently did. 

Ideologically, it is inexplicable how educated (apparently anti-tribalism) Ethiopians like Dr Yonas Biru oppose the “tribalized constitution” in Ethiopia, while simultaneously promoting tribal Amhara militancy. It defies common sense. One can not  begin to reform Ethiopia’s current tribal constitution while tribal militias defending it & advocating for its implementation roam around free and even flourish. 

This is not to deny that Amhara people have been the number one victims of the post-1991 ethnic apartheid status quo, because they are. Whether it is in Wolega, Arsi, Benishangul and other regions, Amharic speakers have faced genocidal mass killings for years. Though all Ethiopians of all ethnic lineages have been victims of undemocratic governments over the past century, in recent memory, Amharas (and Amharic-speaking others) have been the main and systematic targets of the backward apartheid system. 

But change can not and should NOT come by force. And Fano can not be the change agent alone. Nor will implementing the wishes & demands of Fano (which include annexation, maintenance and/or incorporation of disputed territories outside de-jure Amhara region) ever bring lasting peace.  The same rule applies for all dissident armed movements and groups like OLF, who has expansionist wishlists that include incorporation of non-Oromo lands everywhere and total domination of multiethnic areas like Addis Ababa. Some OLA radicals even seek the ethnic cleansing of multiethnic regions like Wollo and Addis Ababa. One must honestly ask: should OLA remain in the state of war until all its unrealistic demands above are met? The obvious answer is no, accordingly, Fano must also silence the guns if it wants its demands to be heard and taken seriously. 

Defenders of Fano revolt insist that Fano should not disarm unless all their political demands are met. This is unrealistic and undemocratic. This is political extortion, bordering on terrorism and does not promote heathy negotiations, let alone lead to a lasting solution. Such impractical approach to zero-sum “negotiations” have been promoted by the likes of Tsedale Lemma and others in the pro-war camp who believe peace comes only thru the cards of war. This ideology has kept Ethiopia in a cycle of war and it will never stop, except for a brief pause enjoyed by a new victor, until the next round of war resumes. 

On the ground, there is no meaningful benefit to supporters of Fano revolt. In fact, the reverse might become a reality as we witnessed in Tigray. The TPLF today is less powerful militarily and less organized than it was before its revolt in 2020. And Tigray is smaller today than pre-2020 since TPLF lost disputed lands to Amhara, Afar and Eritreans. And there are less Tigrayans in Ethiopian army, less Tigrayan leaders in federal government today than pre- 2020. Therefore, in many ways, the proponents of an ethnic revolt tend to lose militarily, economically and strategically in the big picture and in the long run. The same fate is likely to reach Amhara opposition forces.

From mass killings in Maikadra to Wolega, I have been an outspoken defender of Amhara human rights, highlighting the plight of Amhara people for years. And I also have previously written articles not only defending but also pushing for Amhara people to challenge (peacefully) the current federal arrangement where Amhara majority places in Dera county & most of northern Shewa (Oromia), Raya & Welkait (Tigray) and Metekel (B&G) have been forcefully incorporated outside dejure Amhara state boundaries. https://www.ethiopia-insight.com/2018/12/10/what-is-the-point-in-amhara-nationalism/

But all this must be done peacefully. One of the most prominent defender of Ethiopia, Jeff Pearce, previously gave valuable advice to Amhara activists on choosing nonviolent struggle and engaging in an organized grassroots & peaceful civil rights movement. Such is the only and the right way to bring change from within Ethiopia; particularly since Amhara people already have the numbers, with their dominant presence in key institutions and virtually all urban centers nationwide. 

In the long-term, it is paramount that Amhara people recognize that demanding incorporation of territories like Welkait, Metekel and Dera into Amhara state should be the short-term “stick” in their negotiations with the Abiy government. The carrot should and always be demanding human rights for all Ethiopians nationwide thru a constitutional reform that guarantees individual rights & equality for minorities residing in all ethnic enclaves, including or up-to outright change of the current federal arrangement. 

It has not been perfect or it might be a “work in progress,” but PM Abiy government’s decision to disarm tribal militias (like Fano) or ethnic regional forces, and to integrate all of them into one federal army was already a step in the right direction. We must do this before we can even contemplate reforming ethnic-federalism. It is ironic though (and a who would have thought moment) that the obstacle for such a necessary reform has become Amhara paramilitaries. This reality is causing Amharas to loose pro-democracy allies nationwide, particularly in the southern “debub” Ethiopian community. Debub Ethiopians represent nearly 25% of Ethiopia and the fastest growing population. For decades Southern Ethiopians of Gurage, Hadiya, Wolaita, Kembatta and other ethnic communities often displayed their opposition to tribal politics, particularly during the 2005 elections, and they often shared the common principles of individual rights with Amhara-dominated Ethiopian nationalism movements. So the current situation of toxic Amhara tribalism has become a shocking surprise. For the Amhara elites who previously claimed to oppose tribalism, now suddenly becoming the most staunch supporters of tribal organization and tribal paramilitaries is a slap in the face of these historic southern allies. It is paramount that educated & influential Amharas in the diaspora and in the country regain the trust of pro-unity non-Amhara Ethiopians.

At the core level of humanity, there is no justification for the ongoing violence in Amhara. In a regional state that just came out of an economic & humanitarian catastrophe imposed on it by the recent TPLF invasion, restarting another round of war will be a self-inflicted destruction of the Amhara region and the livelihood of millions of its citizens. Such a destructive war will also destroy the hard work of a whole generation of Ethiopians who built up Amhara region’s infrastructure. This includes the efforts of thousands of Amhara diaspora who sent their hard earned money or went back to their native land to help rebuild their communities. Educated Amharas worldwide must act and use their voices now to stop this war. 

During the TPLF insurrection, we all remember desperately wondering, searching & asking the diaspora Tigrayan community, where are the pro-peace Tigrayans? are there not any Tigrayan elders or any influential Tigrayans on the ground who can think beyond their ethnic box and say “stop!”or #NoMore to insurrection? Now, we are asking those same important questions to the diaspora Amhara community, to say no to war and call for the peaceful disarmament of non-state actors. Otherwise, the situation can quickly spiral out of control. 

There is no clear map or an easy exit in a war of this nature and Fano is even more disorganized, with no single goal or endgame. Even supporters of the powerful TPLF, which began the Tigray war and with a tight-nit ethnic base that accumulated more powerful weapons over decades; now have realized how fruitless their revolt was in 2020, as they lost tens of thousands of lives, in vain, since then. 

In a country like Ethiopia, people die not only due to war but also as a side-effect of it, as masses will perish with sickness or hunger.  When the TPLF lost the battle it started, it quickly began to use Tedros and its Western connections to lobby and play the victim, and trigger a humanitarian crisis for Western media consumption and to demand Western sanctions against Ethiopia. Do Fano has such western allies to lobby? It doesn’t, but even if it did; is it really worth it to bring another round of such mass death, and a damaging & humiliating experience for the Ethiopian nation? 


Both promoters of Fano revolt and the federal government of Abiy Ahmed must pause and calm down emotions, to think for the betterment of all Amhara and all Ethiopians. While disarmament of non-state Fano militia is a priority, there are other factors contributing to the current crisis. There are reports that one of the drivers of this rapid escalation is bitterness and egotism among the Oromo higher ups inside the federal military. In addition, the rush and incompetence in the disarmament policy has also led to regular disgruntled Amhara state troops joining Fano & APF; similar to events in Oromia where some regional Oromo troops joined OLA. The Abiy government must correct these mistakes or be transparent and balanced on the nationwide disarmament procedure. In this age of technology, there is no excuse for the Ethiopian government not to display specific figures to the public on the ongoing progress to disarm non-federal forces in every ethnic region. It also must be transparent on the parliamentarian procedures dealing with hot topics like the future of Welkait & Raya. Otherwise suspicion and mistrust will fuel resentment and anger among people, causing them to unlawfully defy federal government authority both in Amhara region and nationwide.

Teshomeborago@gmail.com
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11 COMMENTS

  1. Once in a while we are very lucky to be graced with sensible articles like this one by Obbo Teshome. But in many others we have to read articles by those who monger war over peace. They can say or write whatever they want just because that is their inalienable rights even though it may look senseless. But this is the time when well read individuals should do everything in their intellectual prowess to help avert any potential civil war. They should not be hurling insults and name calling at others they don’t know personally or for just some mysterious reasons don’t like..

    There is a powder keg everywhere in that country now. It desperately needs the know how of its educated children to diffuse/neutralize this ticking explosive. Amhara region is not a small village. It is a region of more than 30 million people. An all out conflict in Tigray which has a population of less than 7 million had killed close to a million people and displaced millions more. Take that outcome and juxtapose it on this much bigger region. Just imagine the magnitude of death and destruction. It will not be a walk in a park. It is not funny okay! Intellectuals should know better. They should stay away from fanning the flame of senseless war.

    Now, these days I see more and more individuals who own media channels on YouTube and other outlets/platforms coming to the fore and spreading poisonous and hateful propaganda. These smart alecks have a history of taking advantage of the suffering of the people that country to line their pockets by way of fundraising drives. They have been doing that since they came here and seek political asylum. I assume they are citizens now. They were able to raise millions using well known funding sites. Once in a while they throw a bone or two to show/pretend their charity effort. They have managed to secure hundreds of thousands of paid gullible subscribers generating a revenue windfall in hundreds of thousands in U.S. dollars every month. This is on top of millions they had raised thru Go-Fund-Me campaigns. Just imagine what they pay themselves as CEO’s of these charities.

    Just look at them. You can see them bulging with beer guts and at least three layers of hot dogs both under their chins and napes. They are said to own luxurious homes and drive top car models. God knows when the last time these connivers were audited by independent accounting firms or the IRS. But they are back at it again these days. These are both who are said to be Amharas and Oromos. Some of them are engaged in arranging conflict hatching conferences. All their conferences are attached with calls for donations. To these evil minded individuals from both regions the suffering of those noble people has become a lucrative market, an opportunity to enrich themselves. They take their children to schools and McDonald’s here but they urge the youth in that country to rush into an awaiting flame. That is why I have nothing but utter contempt for these faceless swindlers. It is sad but all true.

    • Ittu Aba Farda,

      Quietly, spreading your poison, you found a fellow traveler, who has come up with the most deluded view possible.

      well, it is a free country, unlike Ethiopia, you can only say what Abiy Ahmed wants you to say.

      Otherwise, his men rain down blows on you, even if you are a member of parliament, elected by the people.

      So, here quietly campaigning for this man, ethno nationalist, a psychopath who is the cause and destruction of so many.

      Well, it doesn’t matter how many million Abiy Ahmed kills or gets killed, you would go on campaigning for him.

      Anyway, what is the matter, you sound a bit depressed, your man is still in power, may be not for too long.

      Is that what is worrying you? Cheer up, Abiy killed, I think, 30 or 40 people today, bombed some areas in Amhara too!

      Well, I just wanted to cheer you up!!!

  2. Government lap dog. Get up from your knees and whipe your mouth from Abiy’s lap, you are embarrassing. You are the worst type of scum that can exist. Here are you own words:

    “This is not to deny that Amhara people have been the number one victims of the post-1991 ethnic apartheid status quo, because they are. Whether it is in Wolega, Arsi, Benishangul and other regions, Amharic speakers have faced genocidal mass killings for years. Though all Ethiopians of all ethnic lineages have been victims of undemocratic governments over the past century, in recent memory, Amharas (and Amharic-speaking others) have been the main and systematic targets of the backward apartheid system. ”

    Amhara has every right to demand that PP be dismantled and Abiy step down. You can’t tell them otherwise as not only are you unintelligent, but you don’t represent a single group you mentioned in your trash article. Get lost bud.

  3. Here is how you are definitely full of sh!t. Amhara people have done the following (peacefully) for decades and have been ignored:

    “From mass killings in Maikadra to Wolega, I have been an outspoken defender of Amhara human rights, highlighting the plight of Amhara people for years. And I also have previously written articles not only defending but also pushing for Amhara people to challenge (peacefully) the current federal arrangement where Amhara majority places in Dera county & most of northern Shewa (Oromia), Raya & Welkait (Tigray) and Metekel (B&G) have been forcefully incorporated outside dejure Amhara state boundaries.”

    You have no podium to take a peaceful preachy tone to Amharas who have been living in hell. You are not smarter than Amharas who are on the front lines. Hodam. Then you say this:

    “There is no clear map or an easy exit in a war of this nature and Fano is even more disorganized, with no single goal or endgame. Even supporters of the powerful TPLF, which began the Tigray war and with a tight-nit ethnic base that accumulated more powerful weapons over decades; now have realized how fruitless their revolt was in 2020, as they lost tens of thousands of lives, in vain, since then.”

    5M Tigrayans vs 35M+ Amharas in Amhara Region. That’s a totally different ballgame. In the 2 year war, all of Ethiopia (and especially Amhara + Afar) helped the ENDF to victory. This time around? No one is there to save PP or ENDF. You are very slow if you think the situations are even comparable. Then you keep blabbering your BS:

    “In the long-term, it is paramount that Amhara people recognize that demanding incorporation of territories like Welkait, Metekel and Dera into Amhara state should be the short-term “stick” in their negotiations with the Abiy government. The carrot should and always be demanding human rights for all Ethiopians nationwide thru a constitutional reform that guarantees individual rights & equality for minorities residing in all ethnic enclaves, including or up-to outright change of the current federal arrangement.”

    LISTEN. Those areas you mentioned are NOT negotiation cards. Carrot and stick. Lmao. We use that specific metaphor all the time at work when making battle cards for our sales reps. This is not corporate US. You are out of touch. Next time, please spare yourself the shame and simply code ChatGPT to write an article for you. You are a shambles, don’t make sense, and have too many false equivalencies to count. Truly one of the worst articles I’ve read in a while.

    • menelik+jegna,

      I agree, Man! Completely! Give it to him, I have been fighting with these bozos for a while now.

      I want to vomit when I read what these bozos write sometimes, I say to myself, really?

      There are those like ittu too who quietly spread poison by sounding reasonable, an ethno-nationalsit, sooo in love with Abiy Ahmed. . .

      Anyway, keep it up man, the things you are saying are the kind of things I would said too. . .

  4. This a thoughtful article , Ato Teshome. However to have an impact one should look at all angles. I am afraid you are giving an easy pass to the government of PM Abiy.
    It was just reported that the a duly elected opposition party member of parliament was arrested at his home , brutally beaten and jailed by government security forces. Journalists , political activists are imprisoned incommunicado by extrajudicial sometimes unknown security agencies. The idea of independent judiciary exists in name only. Some times people are kidnaped and held for ransom in makeshift jails. It happens that the majority of victims in the recent past ,since the Pretoria peace agreement , have been Amharic speakers.
    It seems that the government can’t preform its basic function of assuring its citizens safety.
    Wining, dining and rewarding recent combatants of TPLF in Addis and Oromia by the chief negotiator of the Pretoria agreement and the president of Oromia does not instill confidence in the Amhara region. It rather stokes the atmosphere of suspicion and perhaps understandable paranoia that there is a strategic alliance between TPLF and OLF with the intent to isolate , attack and subjugate the Amhara region perhaps with the government’s complicity.
    Is there any wonder why people are resorting to armed struggle to protect themselves from the government’s powerful cadres especially in Oromia’s PP. People have concluded that unless one changes the narrative and the balance of power through armed struggle the government will not take them seriously to start peaceful negotiation. After all that is what happened in Pretoria and in Tanzania recently.
    Given its economic and military powers plus monopoly over the media , the burden of creating a peaceful resolution of conflicts should be primarily on the government .

  5. Very nice commentary promoting peace
    We need more of this!

    But it might be too late because once war start, it never stops with the cycle of revenge adding recruits to fight more as retribution and anger
    God help us!

    • QUOTE.”But it might be too late because once war start, it never stops with the cycle of revenge adding recruits to fight more as retribution and anger God help us! ” UNQUOTE

      a). Well said “… once wars start …” the life of people is in danger, to put it lightly.
      b). Are Ethiopians aware of such a danger???
      c). For sure, the instigators of such war are, needless to say, well aware of the consequences. They don’t care.
      d). They will save their skin according to their agenda.
      e). It is the poor, the honest, the ordinay population who pays the price. It has always been so!!!
      f). World history is full of sordid stories >>>> and yet, human beings never fail to FIND themselves in the gutter. of wars (*)
      ————————————
      (*) Get hold of World History Books on many world wars that has happened in the past — culuminating in the death of uncountable ordinary humble soldiers. They gave their LIVES under the order of individuals who love themselves (naturally) more than to any single soldier. Let Human History be the judge.

  6. Teshome Borago,

    You were saying: “This is not to deny that Amhara people have been the number one victims of the post-1991 ethnic apartheid status quo, because they are. Whether it is in Wolega, Arsi, Benishangul and other regions, Amharic speakers have faced genocidal mass killings for years.”

    And therefore, we “. . . demand the disarmament of Fano”

    So, that the genocide could continue, and the Amhara people could be treated as second, third citizens in their own country, among other things.

    That is the argument you are advancing, to call you stupid, an idiot, a moron or some such to have a complete disrespect, unfair disregard to these terms, therefore, I won’t call you by any one those things.

    But really, what did eat your brain, is there any of it left, or was the payment so good to put up with the indignity of having to come up with this thing, how much?

  7. Dear Obbo Teshome M. Borago,

    Please do not be discouraged by loser detractors and continue expressing your opinion. That is your Allah bestowed rights. Some of us have decided and get high in attacking those who preach peace and harmony among those noble people. I am beginning to doubt even if they are the products of those people. What they do is sit in their comfy homes here among us and fan the flames of war. These are not the products of Ethiopia and they don’t want those people to live in peace because they know with peace and stability the sky will be the limit for them. These war drum beaters know they will be left holding the bag once our people find their mojo and decide to live in peace and harmony. Just look at the language they use. They are like those eyal-al-souqs from the Middle East who grew up at bazaars unattended. They want to shut peace mongers like you and me by hurling cringe worthy slurs and name calling. They were losers then and they are losers now. Please do not respond directly to them. It will be like throwing silk on pigs.

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