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HomeOpinionNegotiation or Illusion? Unveiling the Complex Dynamics of FANO and Abiy's  Regime...

Negotiation or Illusion? Unveiling the Complex Dynamics of FANO and Abiy’s  Regime in Ethiopia’s Pursuit of Peace: A Call to Action for the International Community  

Fano _ Abiy Ahmed _ Dialogue _ Ethiopian News
Fano forces in Wollo (Photo : SM)

By Amanuel Bagor 

Following Ambassador Masinga’s public disclosure of US policy preference, there has been  significant discourse about the possibility and efficacy of negotiations between FANO and  Abiy’s regime. Many have advised FANO to declare intent to negotiate, citing reasons such as  garnering international support while viewing negotiation as the only viable option to end the  war, recognizing the absence of an obvious winner in the conflict, and insinuating Abiy’s  willingness to accede to Amhara demands to maintain his grip on power.  

Understanding the practicality and utility of negotiation necessitates examining the primary  cause of the war and the inherent characteristics of both warring parties. It is often said,  sometimes condescendingly, that FANO doesn’t have a political cause but simply demands a  right to life. However, the historical complexity surrounding the issue renders the question more  nuanced. Amharas have long inhabited the vast swath of Ethiopian territory, with conviction that  every ethnic group holds an equal claim to the land. However, in the past 50 years, marginalizing  Amharas and their exclusion from the political process have steadily intensified and reached  their peak in the past five years. For a long time, despite being targeted, Amharas have refrained  from embracing ethnic politics. Instead, they have advocated for addressing ethnic questions  within the broader Ethiopian state framework.  

The TPLF devised a constitutional arrangement that significantly undermined, irrespective of  historical realities, the territorial claims of Amharas. Consequently, Amharas have suffered  relentless persecution without any semblance of accountability. Demonizing, inciting violence,  and propagating hate against Amharas occurred with impunity. In many parts of the country,  being Amhara is enough of a vice to get one imprisoned, tortured, and arbitrarily killed.  

In recent years, a disturbing trend has emerged wherein federal and regional high-ranking  officials have played a significant role in orchestrating the mass displacement of Amharas from  urban centers across the nation, accompanied by targeted acts of violence and the normalization  of such atrocities. This unsettling development has resulted in a pervasive desensitization among  the broader populace to the severity of these acts. While Abiy’s regime is a front runner in terms  of the magnitude and brutality of its actions, including displacement, imprisonment, torture, and  murder of Amharas, it is essential to acknowledge that it is not the exclusive perpetrator, as other  actors also contribute to the perpetuation of violence and oppression.  

With great fervor, the TPLF seizes every opportunity to harm the Amharas, leaving a trail of  devastation in its wake. Similarly, the OLA focuses its attacks on Amharas and their  sympathizers in the Oromia regional state, causing widespread fear and suffering. The regional state of Benishangul witnesses the tragic loss of Amhara lives. Throughout the country, many  Amharas endure humiliation, displacement from their jobs, loss of property, and numerous  injustices.  

These accumulated injustices have propelled many youths to join FANO, not as instruments of  revenge, but as champions advocating for acknowledgment of the injustices they have endured  and fostering a platform for all Ethiopians to engage in dialogue for lasting peace. The FANO  uprising was not a feint to get temporary relief amidst the decade-long slaughter; it stood as a  desperate and unwavering endeavor to halt the violence permanently.  

Abiy’s regime poses a significant threat to the survival of the Amhara people, yet it is not the  sole perpetrator. This reality underscores the futility of pursuing a negotiated settlement  SOLELY with Abiy’s regime. Such an approach fails to adequately address the fundamental  question of the Amhara people’s right to life. Instead, it risks being perceived as merely a shift in  the ongoing conflict dynamics, one that Ethiopians are forced to endure. Furthermore, it may be  interpreted by other stakeholders as a pact against their interests. While a negotiated settlement  with Abiy’s regime might reduce the risk of casualties from drone strikes, it cannot guarantee  protection against the potential horrors unfolding in places like Walkait or Raya, which may fall  victim to violence perpetrated by the TPLF. Similarly, such an agreement would offer no refuge  for residents of Ataye city from the brutalities inflicted by the OLA, nor would it shield Metekel  residents from the harrowing atrocities committed by various actors in that region, including  reports of cannibalism.  

While the Amhara people have faced significant challenges and injustices, it’s important to  acknowledge that other ethnic groups in Ethiopia have also experienced marginalization and  oppression. The conflict between FANO and Abiy’s regime is multifaceted, with various ethnic,  political, and historical factors at play.  

On the other hand, the decentralized structure of FANO poses a significant challenge to the  practicality of negotiations. Since its inception, FANO has been characterized by its highly  decentralized nature, consisting of numerous armed groups united by the common goal of  securing the right to life for all Amharas across Ethiopia. While they share this overarching  objective, there is a lack of consensus regarding the specifics of this goal. Even within areas  under unified command, such as Gondar and Wollo, cohesion is tenuous. Each of the four sub regions maintains its unique organizational structure. However, what remains consistent is the  reliance on voluntary contributions from local residents for logistical support. It is the society  itself that sustains and reinforces FANO, providing it with sustenance, protection, and supplies.  

Should any FANO leader express willingness to settle for anything less than an all-inclusive  negotiation representing all Ethiopians, they would quickly lose favor with society. This would  result in the loss of logistical support and, consequently, render them unable to represent any  constituency. Therefore, negotiations with Abiy’s regime remain impractical due to the  intertwining of FANO’s decentralized structure with Abiy’s deeply ingrained belief in divine  ordination. None of the FANO organizations can initiate negotiations without jeopardizing their  status as representatives of the Amhara cause. 

Considering these realities, it is imperative for diaspora supporters of FANO to enhance  communication efforts to better illuminate the challenge we collectively face. It is crucial to  avoid echoing the highly inflated strength of FANO while acknowledging its significant  improvement over the past 8 months. The uprising that started with decrepit old rifles and fewer  soldiers now armed itself with fairly modern weapons and bolstered by increased numbers.  Although loosely, it started a path to unity of command. Many non-Amharas sympathize with its  cause. These developments all signal progress and work in FANO’s favor. However, we should  not underestimate the weight of state power. The past 8 months have made it apparent Abiy can  create frightful carnage- burying hundreds of unfortunate civilians, and there is likely no  intervention out of sheer humanitarian reasons. Primarily, Ethiopians across the country wield  significant power to halt Abiy’s trajectory, which threatens to lead the nation into devastating  consequences. We cannot risk losing their favor. Considering the three-decade-long state  narrative against Amharas, even a hint of pride in FANO’s accomplishments, amidst an  otherwise commendable struggle, may raise concerns among non-Amharas about the movement.  When victory is within our grasp, it can be buried under the weight of arrogance. Efforts must be  made to convey to the general populace the reasons why a two-party negotiation may not provide  the necessary relief for Ethiopia. It is imperative for the international community and friends of  Ethiopia to lend their support to initiatives aimed at exerting pressure on and incentivizing Abiy  to consider a transitional government where his party holds only one among many roles. Abiy’s  capacity to wage war against his people must be gradually impeded through the comprehensive  utilization of all available diplomatic, economic, and political tools within the arsenal of the  international community. Only through the active facilitation of a transitional government can  Abiy effectively transition from a figure of conflict to a stabilizing force within the nation.  Redirecting efforts towards pressuring FANO for a two-party negotiation with Abiy’s regime,  even if successful, offers little utility beyond shifting the conflict to other regions of the country.  The mounting resentment and growing undercurrents of rebellion nationwide, compounded by  economic stress, may soon erupt into widespread unrest, presenting a costly challenge for the  region to manage. Failure to address these issues could plunge the country into an extended  period of lawlessness and political upheaval. This juncture may represent the final opportunity  for the international community to intervene effectively without the need for a military presence. 

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


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