Ethiopia on the brink of guerrilla warfare

Dr.Nasser Mamoun Issa
Latest posts by Dr.Nasser Mamoun Issa (see all)

Ethiopia has returned to the global spotlight once again with a violent civil strife which is actually expected due to the fragility of the regime and the mismanagement of the transitional phase from Tigrayan rule that has been in power since the establishment of the federal state to a rule with a more centralized unified political structure represented in the Prosperity Party.

This strife was predicted by the observers and opinion leaders inside the Ethiopian community, as there were signs warning of the inevitableoccurrence of that clash, the most important of which was what happened in the weeks preceding the confrontations,when media of both sides showed the military parades of highly trained commando paratroopers and special forces with red berets on fake missions in a clear show of force. This was sufficient for everyone to realize that a comprehensive confrontation was imminent in the not-too-distant future and this is what really happened.

According to some observers, Abiy Ahmed’s military power achieved a limited victory, so he declared his victory over that junta that violated the constitution and the law and entered their capital, Mikeli, while being euphoric about the victory he had achieved, accompanied by a severe popular media war on the Tigrayans from other regions, which prompted the government’s speech against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Some factions saw that speech has psychologically provoked the Tigrani people, taking advantage of the blackout and isolation imposed on the region. A flood of Facebook pages were devoted to insulting Tigrayans, imitating Ahmed’s description about them as hyenas and monsters, and some activists described the Tigrani people as mere and petty followers to their leadership.

Since Abbiy Ahmed announced the entry of his forces to the city of Mikkeli, noting that this is the end of the conflict between the rebel junta and the central government in Addis Ababa, after giving it time to surrender more than once, many have been suggested by some international sides including Sudan, the current president of the IGAD (the Intergovernmental Authority for Development), Uganda,  the African Union and the United Nations, calling for peace through dialogue between partiesas an alternative to the conflict. However, Abbiy Ahmed rejected and aborted those attempts on the pretext that this is an internal affair and practically prescribes enforcement of the ruling law.

Some analysts have some concerns on Ahmed’s view, they are summarized in the following:

  • Ahmed has forgotten that this feral group represents an important region and ethnicity in the worn out federal fabric, with a population of more than six million people, from whom they recently obtained an official mandate under the September 2020 elections.
  • That rogue class or junta, as he described them, is the most experienced Ethiopian ethnic in carrying weapons and the most familiar with the methods of popular resistance. Its history, which began before Abbiy Ahmed’s birth, was evident in its resistance against the imperial rule in the 1970s until its overthrow in 1974 and against the Marxist rule (the Darj) until his fall in 1991.
  • That junta was the first and most harmed front in the Ethiopian state during the worst war in the continent, the Ethiopian-Eritrean war, and the Tigrayan region is still suffering residues of aggressions of units and militias supported by the Eritrean army that plunder, kill and penetrate the borders of the region from time to time.
  • He also forgot orput away, under the pressure of power and the pressure of other regions that drove him to took the chair, that he sought and planned to be described as a man of peace not only in the Horn of Africa but throughout the continent as well. Thus, he should have left his selfishness and go to the table of Negotiations, prioritizing the country’s interest, as TigraniDesalegn did in 2018 in the face of pressure and demonstrations of the Oromo Community. While some international bodies requested a call for negotiations, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front agreed to dialogue on the condition that the opposition parties and other stakeholders attend. In fact,Ahmed sensed that this matter might target his presence in power, and this was one of the reasons behind his rejection, if not the most important one.

In what is called pitting of ethnicities, Ahmed has used some armed militias from other ethnicities, the most important of which is the Amahara that bears historical hatred for the Tigrayans because of border problems between the two regions in order to achieve a victory, but in fact this victory is poisoned with the bitter of homeland loss. There is no victory if the body defeats an organ of it and cuts or amputates it (Assuming that the body feels well with survival of all organs) and this made the Tigrayans completely sure of their leaders ’claim that the homeland is no longer their home or wasn’t their home in the first place.

Ahmed did not read the history well to know that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s resistance to imperial rule was not really for the interest of Ethiopia as much as it was for the liberation of the Tigray people. This is evident in the name of the Resistance Front (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) which refers that it sought to liberate its people more than entire Ethiopia. The cohesion under the banner of Federalism emerged after long paths of resistance and was conditional on the acknowledgment of each region’s rightof self-determination and even secession, although this was also conditional on some lean terms but existed at the end of the daywith approval from the Federal Constitution.

Ahmed also forgot the Tigrayan Liberation Front’s feeling of disappointment due to what happened after the understandings they reached upon relinquishment power in 2018. The Tigrayan met persecution of its members and followers, aggressive purges, widespread criticism and job dismissals, which made them believe that they had been deceived to give up power in exchange for false promises at a time when the country was in dire need for reconciliation and for Tigrayreintegration to be part of the Democratic Union.

Likewise, Ahmed underestimate their anxiety aboutthe way the peace was achieved with Eritrea andhow they were excluded from the peace process with their archenemy, which made them feel that all sides conspired against them.

After the guns took over the dialogue between the factions of the state, Tigrayansare no longer partners in the homeland, at least until now. The one who killed, deserted and displaced the Tigrany from his homeland to be lost around the mountains is for the Tigranianthe Ethiopian who entered with his tank to occupy his homeland that he fought for. Perhaps this is what Gabarmichael said in his statement several days ago when he said (Abi Ahmed has to stop this madness. We are talking about the right of self-determination. We are facing an invasion of our country). Contemplating the sentence “invasion of our country”, we can read the dynamics of that conflict. It is no longer an objection of a faction in the society to the mismanagementor misdistribution of wealth, rather, it turned into a national resistance against an occupying invader whose beliefs and customs are to be confronted. For the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, no difference between the Abiy Ahmed regime and the Hellasalasian regime or even Mengistu as all of them are covetous of their home and they are ready to sacrifice more lives for the sake of self-determination.

Abi Ahmed himself said about Tigray when he visited it last year that it was the womb of the homeland.as the ancient Aksum civilization was founded and the armies set out to annex the current parts of the country. So sadly, it has become an area suffering marginalization and most of other Ethiopian ethnicities look at them with suspicion as saboteurs, especially after the occurrence of some sabotage and bombings and the attempts of assassinatingAhmed who indirectly blamed this all on them, believing they did it in response to their expulsion from power.

The bullets discarded the ragged robe of citizenship from the Tigray people, so they no longer feel that they are Ethiopian citizens like Amaharafor example, or else, the central government would not use Amahara to invade their country. Theyfeel they are in a lower degree than them if they are not in the lowest ranks of the Ethiopian Federal Coalition.

That who thinks that conflict has ended is certainly mistaken. What has ended indeed is the announced small part, whose role is only to express the dispute that reached to a strife can’t bring back national cohesion. The matter is iinit’s way toguerrilla warfare in the framework of the resistance against the invaders; according to the resistance commanderGabramichael.

This war, which Abiy Ahmed and the international community must realize is a fire that will touch everyone’s clothes. Internally, the conflict will be transferred to other inflammatory places in the Ethiopian entity, which will lead the state to collapse and to balkanization. Regionally, the spark of chaos will spread to the surrounding countries who also suffer from ethnic difference, which will lead to the influx of refugees to those societies whose death of starvation happens commonly on a daily basis. Besides, this region represents file of interest to the international powers, so the region, if not the entire world, will be affected as this region has Bab al-Mandab and the Red Sea, which carries nearly 30% of the world’s oil needs and is located near the world’s hottest regions such as the Middle East and Southwest Asia and deemed significant for the Arab Gulf region and the Arabian Peninsula, where Iran and Gulf oil located.

Therefore, the one who believes that any player can achieve victory through war in this country, he is undoubtedly wrong.Theremight be a defeat on the battlefield, but no one can build sustainable, peaceful political system that can embrace everyone.

Hence, the international community and regional players must exercise maximum pressure and bargaining to save this country  in order to save the region that may be affected with impact of more chaos that may devastate everything. Immediate interference shall call for immediate cessation of all hostilities and forcing all parties to a comprehensive national dialogue that includes all political forces, not only today’s conflicting parties who were enabled by circumstances to hold arms.

Quoted from the Russian Realist Studies Center, according to a cooperation agreement

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