Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeOpinionWaiting for Another Historical Parting on the Red Sea 

Waiting for Another Historical Parting on the Red Sea 

Published with the Permission of Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis Journal

British advisor Orde Wingate with Emperor Haile Selassie in Ethiopia, 1941. ( Photo : GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs )

By Gregory R. Copley
Editor, GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs. 

Little or no news or intelligence of any substance has emerged in the public arena from the fighting inside Ethiopia in recent months, but the war is now almost certainly the biggest in the world, in terms of casualties. 

Some 1.5-million lives are reported to have been lost in the past year of the Government’s attempt to destroy the Amhara, Afar, and other peoples. And some 26-million Ethiopians are now internally displaced persons (IDPs). 

But it looks as though the major casualty may be Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali and his Government. Significantly, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has staked much on its support for Dr Abiy, especially given how important Ethiopia is, geographically, to protecting or threatening the PRC’s only naval base on the Red Sea, in Djibouti. 

In infrastructure terms, the wars in Ukraine and Israel-Gaza are where the most damage has been done. But the wars in Ethiopia and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is now entering its election phase, are causing the greatest human casualty levels. 

It should be stressed that the current conflict — civil war — in Ethiopia is not directly related to the earlier civil war in which the former Government of the extreme marxist Tigré (Tigray) Popular Liberation Front (TPLF) fought to regain control of the country. That ended on November 2, 2022, with an Agreement for Lasting Peace through a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities between the Ethiopian Government and the TPLF. And even though the promised relief of Tigrean displaced persons has not been fulfilled, a number of former TPLF military personnel were re-absorbed into the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF). 

The Abiy Government in that conflict had partnered with the Amhara population, which had been significantly attacked by the TPLF. And, with the TPLF silenced, the Abiy Government turned its attention on the Amhara and Afar people, as well as on the many Ethiopians who declare their support for a unified nation by their support for the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox (Christian) Church. Then, as now, Abiy has cut Ethiopia off from most internet links. 

The Amhara strenuously resisted the Abiy attempts to invade and neutralize the historically significant position which the Amhara region and people have had in Ethiopia. [The Amhara are the second largest population among the 80 or so ethnic groups of Ethiopia, after the Oromo people, with whom Dr Abiy identifies.] The Amhara then developed a militia movement — known as Fano — to resist the unprovoked attempts by Abiy to reduce the capabilities of the Amhara. What happened then, earlier in 2023, was that ENDF forces found themselves told to target innocent villages to eliminate the inhabitants. Many ENDF personnel at that point defected and joined the Fano groups, taking their weapons with them. 

Now, the Fano, which began as Amhara groups, have taken on the mantle of the Arbagnoch, the Patriots, who resisted the Italian occupation of 1935 to 1941. The Fano have taken on the voice of Ethiopia, not the voice of a specific ethnic group. As a result, Fano units began to appear around Ethiopia, including among the Afar Muslims, the Southern Regions, and Gambela, and elsewhere. One unifying factor is their collective call for the draft Constitution of 1973 to be implemented. Emperor Haile Selassie I had promulgated the proposed Constitution which would have created Ethiopia as a fully constitutional monarchy, with an elected bicameral parliament, and protected property rights. 

The coup of 1974 by the Dergue, and the Emperor’s regicide in 1975, meant that the Constitution — a progression from the 1955 Constitution — was pre-empted, and new communist constitutions were imposed, without a mandate, by the Dergue and subsequent TPLF governments. 

Significantly, Dr Abiy, who emerged after the TPLF-dominated Government collapsed in 2018, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for resolving the border war with neighboring Eritrea, once a part of the Ethiopian Empire. Now, with his war against the Amhara, Abiy has completely alienated the Eritrean Government of Pres. Isayas Afewerke, and has threatened war against Eritrea again. Will Abiy be forced to return his Nobel Peace Prize? Eritrea has not yet entered the civil war on the side of the Amhara, but that is the great fear of Prime Minister Abiy. Support for Abiy declines daily, and he even has doubts as to the loyalty and effectiveness of the ENDF.  

Security even within the capital, Addis Ababa, is now at its worst level since the overthrow of the Emperor in 1974. On major event days, the old Imperial Ethiopian flag, with its Moa Anbessa (the Conquering Lion of Judah), appears in every crowd. And in all this, all foreign sponsors are facing difficulties in determining the outcome in Ethiopia: the PRC, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and the US. 

So far, the Fano groups have not had foreign support, except for the moral support of Eritrea. But the next phase will see — as it did with the Arbagnoch in 1939-41 — the establishment of unified communications and command. It will then be interesting to see how much of the ENDF then remains loyal to Abiy, who seems bent on his own messianic quest. 

Editor’s note : The article appeared first on GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs, Formerly Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily, Volume XLI, No. 60       on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 . Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of 


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  1. This paragraph in this article had me screaming ‘say it again!’
    ‘The coup of 1974 by the Dergue, and the Emperor’s regicide in 1975, meant that the Constitution — a progression from the 1955 Constitution — was pre-empted, and new communist constitutions were imposed, without a mandate, by the Dergue and subsequent TPLF governments.’
    The writer has hit it home with this one. Once commie foreign professor(s) were able to imbue this demonic dogma of Marxism/Leninism in the tender minds of the gullible youth in the 1960’s that was when the onslaught on that gem of colored had begun. Remember these were foreign professors entrusted and hired by the permission of the emperor. These hideous foreign professors were committed commies who witnessed the failure of their parties to overthrow every Western democratic nation in the 1930’s thru the 1950’s. Those losers then decided to try it from the outside and went into developing nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America. They failed again in one foreign country they moved to after another except a few countries in Africa. Ethiopia is where they succeeded the most.

    Then after they were sure that they have planted their demonic and twisted commie theories in sizeable number of the youth, they left the country. But before they left the country they had compiled a long list their students who they knew have been infected with their disease. They knew and even now they still remember the names of their former students who founded parties and ‘liberation fronts’ such as the EPRP, MEISON, OLF, ONLF, EPLF, TPLF and other commie outfits like these. The next task on their hideous agenda has been churning out one book after another about the history of their former students and groups founded by those students. Their first series of books was about groups that can be classified as formal communist parties. Then when they saw those formal communist parties bite the dust one after another, they turn attention to ‘liberation’ fronts that were founded by their communism converts-turned-bigots. I have no qualms about ‘self determination’ if it stops there and then. When the commies put a twist on that it became(becomes) ‘Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self- determination, including the right to secession.’ Then the carnage began in earnest in 1974 and still raging today in almost every region except Afar and Somalis. It seems brothers and sisters in these two regions have woken up to the commie connivers among them. I better stop here because the more I think about the damage those commies inflicted on that gem of the colored, it makes my blood boil. Unless this demonic philosophy is successfully discredited methodically and in non-violent manner, the bloodshed and destruction will go on unabated until that country is no more.

  2. The two regional powers Tigray and Eritrea will reignite a new war in Ethiopia. Tigray committed to defending Oromia which is its gift to the Oromo people but not interested in saving the government in Finfine, will intervene if the currrent trend in the battle fields continues and the Amhara forces overrun the Oromo dominated army.

    • Digital

      You remind me one of TPLF ‘’online baby ’’ on such platform, to be specific he was all over years back while TPLF was the driver in Ethiopia, his name is ASH he used to undermine Ethiopia every day, he talks just like you, too much miscalculation, underestimation, arrogance, always in inferiority mode.

      All these just because America chased out Mengistu H/Mariam and you claimed the victory but we know the truth.

      I told him one day Ethiopia will win,

      TPLF will be crucified, he didn’t believe me

      I even told him TPLF Arm will be twisted, and they will handover power. He laughs, he says no one defeat GOLDEN Tigray

      Fast forward, Ethiopia is back via the greatest leader Dr Abiy. He doesn’t play, any danger for Ethiopia will be eliminated going forward! Be nice for your own benefit.

      What is regional power?

      Just because you have a few KEBERO on hand you think you are regional power? Stop laying to yourself…. Here is the correct answer ETHIOPIA was and is regional power!

      Also don’t forget we will never let you split from Ethiopia, you will be hit hard again, but purposely if we allow Tigray and Eritrea to merge and get of off our back-Ethiopia still kick some ass….. the one and only regional power Ethiopia!!!

      • Your comments diagnose that you are suffering from the mental disorder known as inferiority complex. Tigray is a regional power and will be a power broker in the conflict in Ethiopia. The Amhara forces will never take over Oromia which is the gift of Tigray to the Oromo people. Your idol prime minister Abiy Ahmed has already begun to plead for military help from Tigray in recognition of it as a regional power.

        • ” Tigray is a regional power and will be a power broker in the conflict in Ethiopia.”

          Very laughable, please broker food and water for Tigray people, you and your types are not qualified to broker anything in Ethiopia! from our end we only see dead TPLF and a few residues. What can we say, after TPLF did what they did to our military and civilians we are still seen some of them in fragile power in Tigray. Thanks to USA and EU who choked my Ethiopia to do that. I wish Ethiopia was economically able to push back those moves by the west. My suggestion was to clean all TPLF to make sure the future is free of evil TPLF. Sometimes I wish Ethiopia is in Easter Europe, people over there are not soft on criminals like TPLF, they won’t backdown until the job is done. It is ok Ethiopians are religious, forgiving, and most affected by short memory and it is very easy to switch to the next chapter undetected. TPLF is dead, try one of those idiot groups out there to continue your hate for Ethiopia while eating her bread. At list get your own bread….

          Also please define inferiority complex, is seems like you misunderstood the word.


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