Full story of Ethiopian “Tigray Region”, conflict roots and consequences

Dr.Nasser Mamoun Issa

The societal synthesis in Ethiopia encompasses rare and complex combination where the multiplicity of nationalities within the Ethiopian society reaches more than 84 who are ideologically different. Such multiplicity made the society that is based on the quota system lacking the national integration and so fragile that it can be divisible and inflammable at any moment.

The three great nationalities who dominate the political front of the state are namely the Oromo, which forms about 40% of the population that recently reached to 110 million, then the Amhara, which forms 25% of the population, and finally comes the Tigrayans, that includes about 6% of the population. Such federal state wasestablished on the basis of the 1994 constitution and its parliamentary government consists of four parties emanating from four liberation movements representing the nationalities of Oromo, Amhara, Tigrayans and the southern peoples. They allcluster under the name of the Revolutionary People’s Democratic Front, which has beenruling the country since 1991.

Modern Ethiopia went under the control of the Amhara nationality since foundation by the Menelik II (1889-1913) until the reign of Mengistu Haile Mariam, who was overthrown in 1991 by an influential struggle from the Tigrayan Liberation Front, which controlled the reins of power and collected in its hand the keys of the state, assuming the main and influential public positions to be limited to its peopleuntil the popular demonstrations that started from within the Oromia region and then spread to more than one other region due to the confiscation of land from its owners in 2018 during the reign of Hailemariam Desalegn who came down to the people’s desire, leaving the rule to be taken over by Colonel Dr. Abiy Ahmed who is affiliated to the Oromo and Amhari nationalities, according to (his mother’s nationality), to represent a  beginning of a new era for a different nationalism and a new page in a conflict historical book always heats up.

Roots of discord

Firstly, Tigrayans have suffered, since they left power, from persecution, arbitrary, removal from jobs and corrupt trials. All problems that the state suffered including poverty and illiteracy are attached to their period of rule while  their management of the state was charged with being the main cause of most of the state’s problems and the people’s suffering. Now, it is self-evident that this feeling deepens the gap and the dispute that can abort any attempt of national integration.

Secondly, in 2019, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sought to combine the four parties that make up the ruling front in one party and under his leadership, under the name of the Prosperity Party, but the Tigrayan Liberation Front refused to join that party, citing that what Abiy Ahmed was doing was a dictatorial attempt to gather all strings of the political process in his hands.

Thirdly, in the same year and in the month of September, the date of the parliamentary elections was due, but actually came at a time when Abiy Ahmed was suffering from many internal problems, so he resorted to postponing the elections indefinitely, claiming fears from the spread of the Corona pandemic in the country. The Tigrayan Liberation Front strongly opposed thisand considered Ahmed’s decision a breach of the constitution, and insisted on holding it on time. Such postponement decision  was also opposed toby many prominent politicians who were under arrest and trials such as the icon of the Oromo Revolution, Jawhar Muhammad, who was Abiy Ahmed’s right-hand man until becoming a national figure.

Fourthly, the Tigray region held parliamentary elections on time within the region and formed its government, but the federal government had a different opinion, and it did not recognize these elections and considered them illegal, and the Tigrayan regional government also considered that Abiy Ahmed lacked legitimacy by virtue of the end of his term in September 2019. Then, calls were sent to all international organizations to intervene and mediate between them and the regime in Addis Ababa to lift the ethnic persecution against them, but most of their calls went unheeded.

Fifthly, in early November, the federal government claimed that some armed Tigrinya elements stormed the headquarters of the Federal Military Northern Command located within the Tigray region, and despite Jabra Mikael, head of the region said that the Northern Command personnel voluntarily joined them, Abiy Ahmed considered this action a violation that crossed the red line and declared war on the regional government. The war raged, civilians fell and blood flowed, setting a new page of discord and deepening the profound wounds that became too hard to be healed.

Conflict consequences

Firstly, the Tigrayan nation is divided between Ethiopia and Eritrea, as ruler of Asmara, Isaias Afwerki himself belongs to the Tigrayan, which refers to a great danger if the war develops or continues, as it is possible for the Eritrean Tigrayans to fight with their Ethiopian counterpart to get the heat of battles to Eritrean lands. Indeed, this is what Asmara afraid of, as it is possible that nationalism will coalesce in the two countries, demanding secession and the establishment of the Tigray State.

Secondly, there are Ethiopian regions always hot, perhaps the most important of which is the Somali region of Ogaden, which suffers from persecution that some analysts see as a strong qualification for a civil war. The conflict has already occurred with the federal government and resulted in the deaths of Somalis, as well as what happened in a few days of targeting a bus in the Benishangul region, which killed more than 40 people. This region in particular is easy to receive the conflict because of the presence of large numbers of Tigranes and Amhara in it.

Thirdly, the eastern region of Sudan, especially the Sudanese state of Gedaref, is a strong candidate for an explosion if a quick solution is not reached. Thousands of people fleeing the war, including the armed men who might drag that region into war. Getting the battle field theremay revive cross-border crime which may lead to cutting the national road that links Ethiopia with Port Sudan.

Regional and international situation

Firstly, regionally, connections have alternated between Sudanese Prime Minister Dr. Abdullah Hamdok and his Ethiopian counterpart discussing ways to resolve the crisis, but the Ethiopian Prime Minister rejected any form of mediation with the excuse of deeming such issue an internal matter, and the law recognized that the Tigrayans are a rogue group.

Secondly, Uganda also tried to enter the crisis line due to the friendship of its president, Yoweri Museveni, with Abiy Ahmed, as Museveni offered to host them, and elements of the Tigrayan front are expected to arrive to meet with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demiki Mekonnen, while many are counting on this meeting in terms of stopping the fighting.

Thirdly, the African Union called for a ceasefire and for human rights respect, affirming its support for the Ethiopian government, but its role remains deficient and lacks neutrality, after removing Ethiopian employees because they are Tigranes.

Fourthly, as for the United Nations, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called for a comprehensive investigation into the occurrence of war crimes and expressed its concern about the continuing fighting and its impact on the entire region.

Finally, the Ugandan or other mediation may succeed in dragging the parties to the negotiating table, and the federal forces may be able to settle the conflict in their favor, but everyone will not be able, no matter how hard he seeks, to redress what has been done in terms of breaking the spirit of citizenship of the Tigrans who will spare no effort again to seek separation. .

Quoted from “Realist” under a cooperation agreement

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