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Abiy Ahmed at the Center: Power, Conflict and Identity in Welkait and Raya

The Author

By Sisay Mulu (Amoraw)

Nestled at the strategic heart of Ethiopia, the regions of Welkait and Raya are not just territories on a map but are pivotal arenas of cultural heritage and economic and political power. Historically integral to the provinces of Begemder and Wollo, these lands have been bastions of the Amhara ethnic group, celebrated for their fertile soil and critical geographical position. Their richness makes them more than agricultural jewels; they are also the epicenters of deep-rooted ethnic and political disputes for the last three decades.

The forced annexation of Welkait and Raya by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) following the fall of the Derg regime in 1991 marked a significant turning point in the regions’ histories. This move was strategically orchestrated as the TPLF, emerging as a dominant political force in Ethiopia, sought to consolidate power by redrawing the Tigrayan regional boundaries to include these fertile lands. This expansion was not merely geographical but was also aimed at securing greater economic resources and strategic military advantages, given Welkait’s proximity to Sudan. The annexation ignited deep-seated grievances among the Amhara community, who viewed this act as a blatant erasure of their historical and cultural identity. The TPLF’s decision to absorb these lands into the Tigray region was not just an administrative restructuring but also a deliberate attempt to weaken Amhara’s influence and presence. For decades, these grievances simmered, manifesting in sporadic protests and calls for redress, which were often met with massacres, repression or outright dismissal, further entrenching feelings of marginalization and injustice among the Amhara.

However, the narrative took a dramatic turn in 2020 with the onset of the Tigray War. Amidst the ensuing turmoil, Amhara forces and local militias recaptured Welkait and Raya. This wasn’t just a tactical military operation; it was a resonant reclaiming of their heritage. For many Amharas, this was seen as righting a historical wrong, a bold statement of restoring their rightful claim over lands and heritage that were unjustly taken. This act of reclamation is not merely a footnote in the annals of conflict but a significant chapter in their ongoing struggle for recognition and respect of their historical rights.

However, the battle was far from over. Despite their physical repossession, the legal confirmation of this reclamation remained in limbo. The Ethiopian House of Federation, tasked with resolving such regional disputes, has yet to make a decisive ruling, leaving these critical issues unresolved. This ambiguity has opened a window for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has nefariously used the situation to his advantage, manipulating the ongoing conflict as a political lever to fortify his own power.

In essence, the strife over Welkait and Raya is not just a local conflict but a mirror reflecting the broader political machinations within Ethiopia. It is a saga of power, identity, and history—a saga that continues to shape the destiny of the nation. As the story unfolds, the imperative for justice and recognition remains paramount, urging all involved to strive for a resolution that respects the historical truths and cultural legacies of its people.

The Machiavellian Maneuvers of Abiy Ahmed 

Amid intense international diplomatic pressure to uphold the Pretoria peace deal and the turbulent state of Ethiopia’s internal politics, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s approach reveals a disturbing penchant for manipulation rather than the prudent diplomacy it purports to be. Abiy’s strategy is not about cultivating peace but about fostering division to secure his political future. His actions are emblematic of a Machiavellian leader, more focused on exploiting conflicts for personal gain than earnestly seeking their resolution.

Abiy has a vested interest in perpetuating the contentious saga of Welkait and Raya, a strategy that distinctly serves his personal and political agenda under the guise of national stability. First, by maintaining the conflict, he strategically diverts the Amhara Fano, whose recent assertive movements threaten to usurp his power. In this light, the ongoing dispute is not a mere territorial issue but a devious political maneuver to dilute Amhara’s collective force.

Second, keeping the TPLF engaged in a never-ending conflict ensures they remain a manageable, submissive, and weakened ally rather than a resurgent threat. This tactic effectively neuters a once-powerful adversary, reducing the TPLF to a shadow of its former self, incapable of mounting any significant challenge to Abiy’s rule.

Third, by entangling Tigray and Amhara in an interminable struggle, Abiy ensures that their energies are consumed by mutual hostility. This relentless turmoil diverts their attention from uniting or rallying against his leadership in Arat Kilo, ensuring that any potential opposition remains fragmented and ineffectual.

Finally, amidst this chaos, Abiy positions himself as the indispensable leader, the only figure capable of navigating such complex regional dynamics. He portrays himself as the linchpin holding the country together, a narrative that enhances his standing both domestically and internationally.

Abiy Ahmed’s strategy is clear: fuel the fire of regional disputes to fortify his position at the center. This approach may secure his power temporarily, but at the cost of Ethiopia’s unity and the well-being of its people, making peace and stability a casualty of political ambition.

To truly grasp the depth of Abiy’s malice, one need only observe the calculated maneuvers during his conflict with the TPLF. As the war in Tigray escalated, Abiy expanded the conflict into the Amhara region, masking this expansion as a strategic necessity. This move, pitched as a tactical advantage to encamp in areas supportive of Abiy’s forces, paradoxically enabled the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) to retreat strategically, granting TPLF forces easy passage. This retreat, far from being a mere oversight, appears in retrospect to have been a carefully orchestrated withdrawal that precipitated devastating consequences. This reveals not just a pattern of neglect but a profound and disturbing level of strategic malice.

Once the TPLF entered Amhara territory, the consequences were devastating: widespread atrocities, including massacres, looting, gang rapes, and extensive destruction of infrastructure, ensued. While it is true that the TPLF’s deep-seated anti-Amhara sentiments played a role in these barbaric acts, it was Abiy’s strategic decision to draw the conflict into Amhara lands that lit the fuse. This maneuver was not about military tactics; it was about sowing seeds of enduring enmity between Amhara and Tigray.

Abiy’s actions revealed a sinister objective: to embed deep-seated animosity between these communities so that reconciliation becomes unimaginable. By ensuring that both Tigray and Amhara remain embroiled in a cycle of vengeance and mistrust, Abiy wants to weaken both adversaries, diminishing their ability to challenge his authority. This is not the hallmark of a leader devoted to his country’s unity or the welfare of his people but rather of one who prioritizes personal power over national peace. The devastation inflicted upon many parts of Amhara during the TPLF war serves as a stark testament to a leadership style that fosters division and suffering, exploiting it for political gain.

The Geopolitical Dynamics of Welkait and Beyond

Amidst these intertwined internal complexities, Abiy Ahmed faces significant geopolitical dilemmas that are pivotal for securing his political dominance. If TPLF were to establish a corridor to Sudan through Welkait, it would significantly enhance its logistical and military capabilities and potentially forge an alliance with General al-Burhan, who commands the neighboring Sudanese territories. This would not only empower TPLF but could decisively shift the geopolitical balance in the Horn of Africa, threatening Abiy’s grip on power.

Nevertheless, Abiy’s geopolitical maneuvering involves a calculated preference for TPLF control over Welkait rather than allowing Amhara forces to prevail. He perceives the Amhara Fano—a robust grassroots resistance—as a more immediate and dangerous threat to his regime than TPLF, whose strategic ambitions he might find more predictable and manageable. Furthermore, recognizing Amhara’s historical claims to Welkait and Raya would significantly empower the Amharas, granting them additional resources, parliamentary influence, and a stronger political voice—elements that Abiy considers substantial threats to his centralized authority.

It is imperative to recognize that Abiy Ahmed’s potential decision to permit TPLF dominance over the Amharas in Welkait represents not just a strategic misstep, but a dire oversight that could shape the future of the entire region. This pressing issue compels all stakeholders to confront a critical question: Are the Tigrayans of this generation being maneuvered by Abiy Ahmed into a renewed cycle of devastating conflict against their neighbors, the Amharas? Addressing and comprehending these matters is vital to ensure the stability and directing the forward trajectory of the region. As we consider these dynamics, the urgency for thoughtful dialogue between Amhara and Tigray elites cannot be overstated.

Eritrea’s involvement adds another layer of complexity to the Welkait geopolitical puzzle. Initially, the peace agreement that ended the state of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, facilitated by Abiy, was a landmark achievement, enhancing his international stature and contributing to his Nobel Peace Prize accolade. However, the dynamics have significantly shifted dramatically with the Tigray conflict. The Pretoria peace deal, aimed at settling hostilities between the Ethiopian central government and TPLF, has caused concern in Eritrea, given the potential reintegration of TPLF into Ethiopian politics.

Eritrea views a strengthened TPLF, especially one allied with Sudan, as a direct threat to its security. Such a scenario would allow TPLF to bypass Eritrean and Ethiopian logistical support by securing port access through Sudan, thereby enhancing their military and political autonomy. This development could potentially reignite regional hostilities and force Eritrea to reassess its strategic stance, focusing on maintaining its border integrity and regional power status amidst shifting alliances.

In conclusion, the ongoing saga of Welkait and Raya and the actions of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed have surfaced as a central, malignant force exacerbating long-standing tensions between the Amhara and Tigrayan communities. By leveraging these historical lands as political pawns, Abiy wants to keep the regional conflicts simmering, diverting attention from his governance and securing his position by pitting Amhara and Tigray against each other. His deliberate strategy to fragment the focus of the Amhara Fano and extend the conflict to weaken the Tigray reveals a deep-seated manipulation aimed at cementing his grip on power. Such tactics not only fuel an endless loop of hostility but also block the path to any potential reconciliation or peace, trapping both communities in a vicious cycle of mistrust and retaliation.

For the current generation of Tigrayans and their Amhara counterparts and other peace-loving Ethiopians, the key to breaking this destructive cycle lies in recognizing the traps laid by Abiy’s divisive politics. A collective shift towards peace and a staunch refusal to be drawn into further conflicts can pave the way to a more stable and peaceful future for Amhara and Tigray. Ultimately, resolving the deeply rooted issues of Welkait and Raya—and, indeed, turning the tide of Ethiopia’s broader ethnic and regional conflicts—hinges on the removal of Abiy Ahmed from power. Only through such significant political changes can there be hope for addressing the historical grievances and injustices that have plagued these communities, restoring peace, and allowing for healing and rebuilding in a nation torn by too many years of engineered discords.

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

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I Repeat:
    Some adults with infantile minds like this one have the audacity to call themselves after brilliant patriots who bitterly fought the fascist invaders in the 1930’s. This one decided to call himself after one of the bravest freedom fighters Ras Wubneh Tessema known to his followers as Amoraw because he was like an uncatchable eagle to his enemies. So this writer assumed the name after sipping the last drop of his bourbon. Ras Wubneh fought those fascists on site but this one wants to do it thousands of miles away from the place of the action. What a scammer.

  2. Sisay Mulu(Amoraw), portraying Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as solely responsible for exacerbating tensions and manipulating conflicts for personal gain is a one-sided view of the situation. Mr. Sisay overlooks several key points and presents speculation as fact.
    Sisay , using or expressing in more words than are needed, a one-sided view of the situation portraying Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed overlooks several key points and presents speculation as fact.
    He neglects to mention the TPLF’s role in the initial annexation and subsequent conflicts, painting them as passive victims.
    When in power for twenty seven years , the TPLF led the government and refused/ignored the request of the Wolkite-Tsegede committee organized from the region to resolve the issue. (The Amhara Wolkite-Tsegede committee appealed innumerable times to resolve the wrongfulness of the annexation of Wolkite-Tsegede region to the Tigray Killil). The request fell on deaf ears of the TPLF at that time.
    And what’s more, attributing all regional tensions and grievances solely to Abiy oversimplifies past and recent historical and ethnic dynamics. Sisay’s conclusion that removing Abiy from power is the sole solution overlooks the need for broader political dialogue and reconciliation efforts involving all stakeholders.

  3. Sisay Mulu(Amoraw), portraying Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as solely responsible for exacerbating tensions and manipulating conflicts for personal gain is a one-sided view of the situation. Mr. Sisay overlooks several key points and presents speculation as fact.
    Sisay , using or expressing in more words than are needed, a one-sided view of the situation portraying Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed overlooks several key points and presents speculation as fact.
    He neglects to mention the TPLF’s role in the initial annexation and subsequent conflicts, painting them as passive victims.
    When in power for twenty seven years , the TPLF led the government and refused/ignored the request of the Wolkite-Tsegede committee organized from the region to resolve the issue. (The Amhara Wolkite-Tsegede committee appealed innumerable times to resolve the wrongfulness of the annexation of Wolkite-Tsegede region to the Tigray Killil). The request fell on deaf ears of the TPLF at that time.
    And what’s more, attributing all regional tensions and grievances solely to Abiy oversimplifies past and recent historical and ethnic dynamics. Sisay’s conclusion that removing Abiy from power is the sole solution overlooks the need for broader political dialogue and reconciliation efforts involving all stakeholders.

    • Ayele,

      Good point

      See how he started this long article, it is not mature enough to help calm down the issue, it is Traditional complaint

      “Nestled at the strategic heart of Ethiopia, the regions of Welkait and Raya are not just territories on a map but are pivotal arenas of cultural heritage and economic and political power. Historically integral to the provinces of Begemder and Wollo, these lands have been bastions of the AMHARA ethnic group, celebrated for their fertile soil and critical geographical position”

      A guy from Tigray or other parts of Ethiopia will not be interested to read this article further, he already has a position of playing victim while providing no solution for the issue.

      He himself mentioned that the issue of Welkait and Raya has been there for decades, especially following TPLF dictatorship rule, but he still trying his best to blame our king Dr. Abiy…. Just because

      Gobez,

      We have big problem, everyone is trying to score a small credit within their own society by pretending like this guy, who loves victims’ game and demoralize such a strong Amhara society who never benefited from all the past and current Amhara rules but still happy to wake up every day to Thank their God.

      He gave himself big name but I am dying here waiting to read fair, big and mature stuff from this guy with long complaints

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