Friday, May 24, 2024
HomeOpinionEthiopians Cannot Gaslight Themselves Out of the Oromo-Amhara War 

Ethiopians Cannot Gaslight Themselves Out of the Oromo-Amhara War 

Editor’s note: Views in the article reflect the views of the writer, not that of

Yonas Biru (from the web)

Yonas Biru, PhD 

This is a follow up to my last article titled “ኦሮሞ ታሟል: Oromo’s War Against Amhara is Guided  Neither by Political nor Military Strategy.” The article and my presentation on የሀሳብ ገበታ (Buffet of  Ideas) with the host Moges Zewdu Teshome and his guest Lidetu Ayalew seems to have ruffled  feathers.  

For those who have not read the article or watched the debate on the Buffet of Ideas, the debate  was whether the current war in Amhara is merely a conflict between Oromo and Amhara  political elites or a conflict between the people of Oromo and Amhara? 

My belief is that it is a war between the people of Oromo and Amhara. This elicited a rather  strong reaction from the host, who suggested labeling the war as people-to-people and accusing  Oromo as a culprit is tantamount to a call for genocide against the people of Oromo. This was uncircumcised rhetorical hyperbole. Though he partially walked back on his expression, he still  maintained the article was “morally indefensible.” 

Lidetu on his part “strongly” recommended I retract the article.  

After the discussion with the two gentlemen, I feel more convinced that attributing the war only  to conflict-peddling political elites is wrongheaded. The purpose of this follow-up is to address  some of the criticism that the article provoked during the debate on የሀሳብ ገበታ and critical  commentaries on the social media. 

It is long past time the people of Ethiopia stop blaming everything on “political elites” as though  they are alien to our body politics. We need to take the people at large to task for failing to speak up against the atrocious political elites within their tribal communities.  

To have a clear understanding of the issue at hand, let us start by defining “political elite”.  Britannica defines it as follows: 

Elites are small groups of persons who exercise disproportionate power and  influence. It is customary to distinguish between political elites, whose  locations in powerful institutions, organizations, and movements enable them  to shape or influence political outcomes, often decisively. At the national level,  political elites number only a few thousand persons in all but the largest  countries…. 

Considering this definition, let us take the conflict between Tigray and Amhara first. Is there a  difference in thoughts and interests between Tigrayan political elites and Tigrayan masses about  Wolkait and Raya conflict? Is there a difference between Amhara elites and Amhara masses on the same issue? If war erupts between the two communities because of Wolkait and Raya, would  it be a war between Amhara and Tigray elites or between the people of Amhara and Tigray at  large?  

We must also ask: Was the two-year war in Tigray strictly a war between the Ethiopian National  Defense Forces (ENDF) and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) or was there an  underlying war between Amhara and Tigray?  

Critical follow-up questions ensue: Was there any community in the economic, political, social, or religious sectors of the Amhara tribal land that did not materially, financially, logistically,  and/or morally support the war? Didn’t we see Amhara parents blessing their children as they  sent them off to the war front? Was the reality in Tigray any different? Was there any community  in the economic, political, social, or religious sectors of Tigray that did not materially, financially, and/or morally support the war?  

Add to this the fact that the Amhara community both at home and in the diaspora was utterly  silent when the people of Tigray were subjected to atrocities that some foreign governments  and international organizations characterized as “crime against humanity and ethnic cleansing.In like manner, the Tigrayan community both at home and in the diaspora was in the proverbial  “hear-no-evil and see-no-evil” mode when TPLF committed what Amnesty International’s  Secretary General described as “despicable acts by TPLF fighters that amount to war crimes and  defy any iota of humanity.” 

Each society’s silence in the face of such atrocities by their tribal forces is complicity of the highest order. Looking back, the Tigrayan people’s silence in the face of 27-years of TPLF  atrocities against Amhara has lent itself to the silence of the Amhara people in the face of  Amhara atrocity in Tigray. This, in turn, has led to the silence of Tigryan people when TPLF forces committed atrocities against the people of Amhara. The cycle of indifference to each other’s sufferings has bred resentment and built animosity between the two people. Each society’s full  participation in support of their tribal forces is a product of a built-up resentment and animosity toward each other.  

Ethiopians cannot avoid the hard question “what led the people of Amhara and Tigray to see  each other as adversaries, if not as enemies.” Understanding the source of the problem and  addressing it is a critical first step to address the vagaries of ethnic politics. Attributing the  problem solely to the political elites of the two people is a futile gaslighting exercise. 

The Oromo-Amhara War 

One thing is for sure. Under the Oromo-led government, Amhara is being hunted. In the last  three years, over a million Amhara people have been forcefully evicted out of the Oromo tribal  land. Thousands have been subjected to mass murders both by government and Oromo-Shene forces. The Prime Minister and the President of the Oromo tribal land have labeled Amhara as  their enemy and intermittently prohibited the people of Amhara from entering Addis Ababa.  

Since the war started Amhara, concentration camps have mushroomed in the Oromo tribal land.  We cannot hide behind the all too familiar “the Oromo political elite is responsible” narrative.  Nor can we dodge the question with “the government is not an Oromo government” argument, as Lidetu contended during our debate on Buffet of Ideas.  

What else can we call the Shimelis administration in the Oromo tribal land that expelled over a  million Amharas? What else can we call the Oromo-led government with supreme and absolute  power held by an Oromo Prime Minister when his administration is pushing the Oromummaa  agenda of creating a hegemonic Greater Oromia?  

The Oromo President is on the record, saying the Future of Ethiopia is Gedaaand the  Prosperity Party is built in such a way to advance the interest of Oromo.” He has repeatedly singled out Amhara as the enemy of Oromo. 

A detailed strategic plan is provided in a report titled “We Need Modern Version of the OLF With High Confidence Politics.” Here is how it is described: “The aim of an independent Gadaa Oromia  is Oromo politics of the past… We surely will move to the level of high confidence in order to  own the whole Ethiopia…” 

The Oromo-led government is not perusing its Oromummaa agenda peacefully. It is using  violence as a political tool. Its primary target is Amhara because it is seen as a contending  political force, owing to its population size. 

Take for example the decision to disarm regional special forces. The interim president of the  TPLF has publicly announced that Tigray has a 200,000 strong army and it has no intention of  disarming small weapons such as Kalashnikov rifles and high-powered handheld assault  weapons. The Oromo-led government did not send troops to forcefully disarm Tigrayans. To the  contrary, the Oromo Prime Minister and his Oromo Field Marshal sent the ENDF to disarm  Amhara forces “by any means necessary.” At the writing of this article, civilians are being bombed  by drones. Unarmed innocent people are dragged and shot point blank in broad daylight. 

The fact that both the Oromo-led federal government and the Oromo tribal land government  are committing unprecedented atrocities against the people of Amhara is incontrovertible. The  question my article raised is: Where does the responsibility of the Oromo-led government end  and the responsibility of the Oromo people begin?  

Silence is complicity, and complicity lends itself to a de facto approval and in so doing  perpetuates the problem. In this regard, we must ask: When does complicity crosses a threshold  into a de facto approval? When and under what circumstances do complicit people slide into  becoming perpetrators of the political elite’s agenda? 

As we discuss this issue, we need to remember that only 14 percent of the Oromo population is 45 years old or older. These are people who knew Ethiopia prior to the enactment of the tribal  constitution. Those who are between the ages of 15 and 45 constitute over 51% of the  population. This mans the majority of the politically active Oromo population constitutes two  generations who are raised and shaped under the tenets of the current constitution.  

Further this demography is indoctrinated with the false claim that Amhara is the culprit that  perpetrated The Ethiopian colonial terrorism and genocide” against the people of Oromo. There  is no reason to believe that their political views are much different from the poisonous grievance  narrative curated and peddled by the Oromo political elite. 

The current war against Amhara cannot be resolved by exclusively focusing on Oromo political  elites. We need to address part of the people who are complicit and part of the people who are  aligned with the Oromo political elite. The reasons behind their observed behaviors are important questions in and of themselves. They Oromo masses may lack the requisite  knowledge necessary to make rational choices.  

They may enjoy economic privilege under the Oromo-led government. For example, according  to the UN-OCHA report, “about 80 percent of the land has been cultivated across all Meher  dependent areas; however, only about 50 percent has been planted in Amhara, 80 percent in  Oromia, 48 percent in Benishangul Gumuz, 50 percent in SNNPR, and 30 percent in Tigray,  according to the Agriculture Cluster.” The Oromo 80% figure shows it has better access to  fertilizer and seeds than the other regions.  

The Oromo public may also see allegiance to their tribal leaders as a necessary guarantee to  protect themselves from perceived or real tribal adversaries.  

One thing is indisputable. To date, there is no voice from the people of Oromo condemning the  systemic atrocities against the people of Amhara. In fact, in some cases the Oromo public is a  willful perpetrator of the atrocities. For example, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission’s  report on “demolitions and forced evictions” by the Oromo government reveals “government  forces including police, special forces and militia demolish and forcefully evict people. Also  present at the scene were stick wielding civilians.” 

Look also at this video. An Amhara Orthodox priest is being paraded on the streets of Oromo  with dead chicken hanging on his neck. The crowd is shouting “hung him”. Neither the  perpetrator nor those who cheer them up are members of the political elite. They are people  from every day walk of life. 

In conclusion 

Ethiopians cannot gaslight themselves out of the Oromo-Amhara war. The war may be instigated  by Oromo political elites. But it is sustained by the total complicity of the Oromo people, if not  by the active participation of part the Oromo people. We have seen members of the Oromo Aba  Gedaa traveling to Mekele to seek support for the war against Amhara. We have observed part  of the Oromo public taking part in the coordinated crimes against Amhara.  

It is hard to attribute the entirety of the problem in the Oromo v. Amhara and Amhara v. Tigray  war to their respective political elites. The people of the three tribes bear responsibility. Most  people in Oromo, Amhara and Tigray are against this narrative because it strips them of their  moral high ground from whence they point fingers on “political elites” of their adversaries  without carrying the burden of their sins of complicity, if not direct culpability.

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of  


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  1. hello Borkena you can not wash your hands out of the article by this man with a simple “Editor’s note: Views in the article reflect the views of the writer, not that of” after all the below were posted with your due consent and approval

  2. Dr. Yonas, This is telling the truth as it is. I appreciate your courage and I agree all of us are responsible by not condemning when elites of our tribe have done unimaginable horror to the entire Ethiopia. We can only curve the madness by awakening the population and by advocating that silence is not a solution.

  3. You are a father and pseudointellectual who previously worked for UN organization. You stand higher up among thousands of stupidest Amahra elites. I believe you are only trumped by Dawit Weldegiorgis among thousands of idot Amhara elites.
    You should be ashamed of yourself. In your book a PM whose mother is Amhara and father oromo is Amhara only. let’s not forget his wife is Amhara from Gonder
    What is your explanations the head of the current military campaign against the Black Nazis- AKA Fano is lead by Temesgen Tiruneh the spy chief whos is Amhara. What do you say the lead General who is leading this war is General Abebaw who is Amhra/agew. What do you say to those people who ask you the deputy PM is Amhara from Wolo. The prime minister’s chief advision is Daniel Kibret, A decan from Amhara.
    Mr Dr Yonas did you even learn something called evidence based and truth ?
    What a loser. i would rather die than having a father like you!

    • Mister Eshu  Please do not call this poisonous man “”Decan”. in the first place. Your spelling is not correct. Decan is a sign of the zodiac.

      Daniel Kiseret (poisonwell-“”ሙሓዘ መርዝ(geez :ሕምዝ)””) does not know even how to conduct holy mass like any of those priestly class members. He is pedantic, and he was ordering poor members of the church to write an article for him.
      “He who takes credit for the work of others is like a thief in broad daylight, stealing recognition that is not rightfully his own.”
      He is like Abiy Ahmed-he dnot wrote his dissertation himself. Like master(abiy) Like servant(poisonous kisiret)

    • The mother of the prime minister, his wife, Temesgen Tiruneh,Abebaw,Demeke, Daniel Kibret being Amhara doesn’t say anything. It is deeds that matter not names. You have to accept that what we now have in Ethiopia is an Oromo government. Before it was a Tigrayan government with its Amhara and Oromo servants. Others like yedebud hizboch are always treated like inanimate objects.

  4. Yonas’ views hold water – else why would the oromo field marshall accuse ‘”diaspora elites” (shying away from the word Amhara) as trying to break up the country and then goes on (with his oromo chumy air force chief) to bomb Amhara people exclusively (something he has not done in Oromia and other ethnic enclaves). Yes, although horrifying and frightening, I am convinced that Yonas’ view are coming true.

  5. I don’t think there is any contradiction, or something untoward, in saying that the Oromo people as people bear at the very least some responsibility for what is going on in Oromia. On the other hand, there is no question that the Oromo people have been poisoned by a rancorous, malicious and devious intellectual and political elite that deep down wants only its own advantages by pretending to advance their well-being. Would it be historically defensible to blame only the Fascist, Nazi or Communist intellectual and political elite for the atrocities committed under their regimes? Historians have demonstrated without a shadow of a doubt that regimes such as these could have not continued to exist without the willful cooperation of a very large swath of the population. What we want to see are people of conscience, like there have been in the mentioned regimes, of whatever ethnicity, who can stand up to the cruelty, insanity and barbarity whispered into the ears of the Oromo people. People, who as people stand against the malevolent influence of the so-called elite. And this is what is in very short supply in Ethiopia.

    • You seem to have read ” Hitler’s Willing Executioners ” of Daniel Goldhagen. As I see it, In the case of the Oromos and the Tigrayans the ” Willing Executioners ” are a combination of easily-led simple people and others who are evil by nature. In the sense that they enjoy killing other ethnic groups and destroying their properties.


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