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“If an armed group comes to power, it will be the end of Ethiopia,” says Defense Chief FM Berhanu Jula

Ethiopian Defense Force - Jula - Amhara
FM Berhanu Jula (Photo : Screenshot from the FBC interview)


In the second part of his interview with the state-owned Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC), Ethiopian Defense Chief of Staff FM Berhanu Jula addressed various questions from FBC journalists, including topics on military diplomacy, the threat from Al-Shabab, and the overall conflict situation in Ethiopia – among others. The Broadcaster titled it “Interview with Defense Chief of Staff Field Marshal Berhanu Jula on current affairs of the country.” it is an indication that the content is not exclusively military matters. The Defense Chief instead delved into purely political matters in a way that seemed to defend the status quo.

Concerning military diplomacy, he mentioned that the Ethiopian Military is highly desirable, stating it emanates from the “capability of the Ethiopian Defense Force to undertake a mission in a difficult situation.” He highlighted his recent trip to Tanzania as an example to demonstrate that the “Ethiopian Defense Force is highly sought after” because of the values with which it is built.

On the question of Al-Shabab, he stated, “We are only using a limited force in Amhara and Oromia region” implying that there are forces that can address issues like that.

Regarding the security situation in the country, he responded to criticism suggesting the Defense Force should withdraw to the barracks in an emotional tone, saying, “Ayagebachewum” (Amharic word that translates to “it is none of their business”). He implied that the Defense Force has a mission whenever the country is facing a threat from within or external enemy. Addressing strong criticism towards the Defense Force as an institution, he said the Defense is attacked because “the enemy knows that the Defense Force is the strength of Ethiopia.”

In his remarks on internal security issues, his tone implied as if Ethiopians must defend and protect the ruling party. He seemed to view political dissension in the country as a form of terrorist activity – just like the ruling party. For instance, he framed the planned anti-war demonstration as “a cover for forces whose spine is struck” by the defense force. He expressed concerns about the possibility of taking power by force, stating, “It is a different configuration and it is not possible to take power by force and rule like before.”

He warned, “If an armed group takes power by force, it will be the end of Ethiopia.” He said the country would disintegrate, leading to civil war, and added, “Everyone is armed now.” Additionally, he criticized Ethiopian society for “conflict mentality,” stating, “We have been fighting for over sixty years. Always fighting. Does this country look like one that has existed for three thousand years? We should have been the leader of the world,” he added. However, despite this, he disregarded significant political issues and existential threats arising from radical ethnic nationalism currently in power at the Federal level. Instead of addressing the serious issues within the status quo, he externalized almost all of the problems.

The response to his interview from many politicized Ethiopians on social media has been notably negative. There is increasing concern over the Defense Force’s growing involvement in political matters, particularly in ways that align with the ruling government’s interests. The Ethiopian government is based on an ethnic-based federal structure, which has fueled unprecedented ethnic violence in the country’s history. Despite having a constitutional basis, this system continues to create chaos in all corners of the country. The Defense Force asserts, “The Defense Force has no ethnicity,” yet it defends a system that has perpetuated ethnic violence and a system based on ethnic ideology. Ongoing conflicts persist in the country, primarily in the Amhara and Oromia regions.

Watch the second part of his interview below.

Video : embedded from FBC YouTube channel
Cover photo : screenshot from the video

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