By Andargachew Tsege
How do you connect the existential threat facing the people of Amhara with the broader existential challenges confronting Ethiopia and East Africa? How can the shared threat be used to bring about a solution to the challenge?
Let’s establish the facts.
Are the Amharas currently facing an existential threat?
While this threat has historical roots extending back centuries, it has intensified over the past 50 years, reaching its peak in the past five years. Unless Amharas address this issue their future is insecure.
What actions are the Amharas taking in response?
The Amhara people, along with groups like Fano, are actively resisting those who pose a threat to their survival. A bitter armed struggle for survival is unfolding in the Amhara region.
Who bears responsibility for compelling the Amhara masses to take up arms in defence of their survival?
It is not the Ethiopian government, as it effectively does not exist. Neither is it the Prosperity Party, as it practically has no presence. The responsibility lies with an individual who monopolizes control, having become ego-centric, narcissistic, and power-hungry. This individual neither heeds counsel nor comprehends the consequences of his actions. This person is none other than the current Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.
Is Ethiopia currently facing an existential threat?
Yes, indeed, the situation is dire. Ethiopia is war-torn, with millions internally displaced. Famine is spreading from the north southwards, and over 20 million people rely on daily food handouts. The economy is in dire straits, and corruption is rampant, spreading like gangrene. The political atmosphere is suffocating, prisons are overflowing, and tens of thousands are fleeing their birth land in the face of hopelessness. State institutions are in shambles, unable to provide security, justice, or services. Social cohesion is in tatters, civil societies are enfeebled, and diplomatically, the country finds itself isolated. Its political leadership callous, its citizens disenfranchised, and its elite seems to be lacking vitality. The challenges are vast and multifaceted, painting a grim picture of the current state of affairs. What else can describe these challenges except the challenge to the very existence of the country?
The responsibility for the current existential threat faced by Ethiopia, despite the problems accumulating over decades and being inherited from the past, lies squarely on the shoulders of Abiy Ahmed. The severe challenges the country faces today are a direct result of the squandering of the promise of a bright future that came with the change six years ago. Abiy Ahmed, once viewed by local, regional, and international communities as a beacon of hope, has now become Ethiopia’s curse.
Is East Africa facing an existential threat?
Despite a semblance of peace in some parts of East Africa, it would be a mistake to assume even some parts of the region are entirely at ease with themselves. If the threat to stability does not originate from within, it has the potential to emerge from external sources. Ethiopia and Sudan, the two largest countries in terms of land size and population, are internally grappling with civil wars. Somalia, having not fully recovered, remains susceptible to relapse from external influences. South Sudan has been sitting on a knife edge. Both interstate and interethnic conflicts have plagued East Africa. with Kenya being an exception, for reasons not detailed here. Djibouti can be swamped and disappear by the mass flow of refugees should East Africa continue with the current trajectory of events. While Kenya currently enjoys a modicum of peace and stability, this veneer of tranquility is known to be thinner than a blade. The social, economic, and political challenges catalogued about Ethiopia’s current state are more or less present in all East African countries though to a varying degree. Only a fool or a delusional person would ignore the frightening prospect confronting the region.
Who is responsible for this existential threat?
While each nation bears a portion of the blame for the state of a particular country and the broader region, a significant share of responsibility falls upon Ethiopia and its political leaders. Ethiopia, given its vast size, unique history, and substantial manpower and material resources, plays a crucial role in the stability of East Africa. The unhealthy situation in Ethiopia has ripple effects that extend beyond its borders, affecting the entire region. This is why the current state of affairs should be a cause for concern for all in the region.
Six years ago, the dawn of a new era brought hope to Ethiopia. The Abiy administration, with support cutting across ethnic and religious lines, promised brotherhood, peace, and collaboration, painting a picture of a brighter future for Ethiopia and East Africa. Abiy was seen as a beacon of change, poised to replace the old narrative of suspicion and hostility in inter-regional states and intergovernmental relations with a fresh perspective. However, that hope is now dead and buried.
Abiy, having accomplished the destruction of Ethiopia, now endeavours to export this devastation to Ethiopia’s neighbouring countries. The once-positive relationships Ethiopia has been fostering with its neighbours in recent years have been replaced by a central role in fermenting war and enmity in East Africa. Thanks to Abiy, Ethiopia is at odds with all six sovereign counties that border it. Abiy’s regime, once draped in the language of peace and cooperation, now embraces warmongering, belligerence, and divisive policies. The signing of an MOU between Abiy and Muse can not be interpreted except as Abiy’s intent to spread his wings of chaos across Ethiopia’s border.
What is the solution? What should nations that sense the existential threat to their people posed by Abiy should do?
Bluntly put, the solution lies in bringing a swift end to the rule of Abiy Ahmed.
Different pundits may propose various solutions, such as strengthening national defence, forming alliances with nations hostile to Ethiopia to weaken Abiy’s regime, or collaborating with opposition forces to make Ethiopia ungovernable for Abiy. However, upon serious examination, these ideas may not be cost-effective, efficient, or conducive to bringing enduring peace and stability to the region while fostering cooperation between East African states.
Strengthening national defence, believing it will deter Abiy from belligerence and warmongering, is expensive and effective only if the adversary has the capacity to weigh the consequences of their actions—an attribute not synonymous with Abiy.
Collaborating with states antagonistic to Ethiopia may provide Abiy with the patriotic ground needed for survival, given the cultural context and sentiments in Ethiopia.
Weakening the state by supporting any opposition to Abiy may make the country ungovernable or dislodge him from power. However, the chances of replacing Abiy with someone capable of stabilizing Ethiopia and restoring normalcy are uncertain, potentially leading to the breakup of Ethiopia with serious consequences for East Africa and beyond.
There seems to be one viable option: The most formidable challenge that can rally a huge portion of the Ethiopian people and which has become a reality under Abiy’s crown is the struggle of the Amhara people for survival. East Africans can easily link their struggle for their survival with this struggle. Supporting the struggle of the Amhara people, particularly through Fano, emerged as the most efficient and straightforward path to remove Abiy from Ethiopia and the region.
The cause of the Amhara people is just, devoid of animosity towards any ethnic group in Ethiopia or neighbouring countries. Amhara cultural values, such as trust, reciprocity, aversion to unfairness, and intolerance for injustice, make the ideal partners for cooperation. In addition to this support, regional powers should leverage their influence to encourage other opposition groups to collaborate with the Amhara people, specifically Fano, to end ethnic conflicts and bring about a transformative change where all ethnic groups and citizens can coexist as equals within Ethiopia. For the birth of a new Ethiopia at ease with itself and its neighbours.
Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com
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