Foreign Affairs: Wars will not stop in Ethiopia due to the absence of unity of identity

The American magazine Foreign Affairs publishedForeign Affairs) article At length about the war in Ethiopia, she said that even if the fighting and wars could be stopped, the absence of a unified identity for the country and intense disagreements over who should govern and how to continue, make it difficult for Ethiopia to survive the disintegration.

She added that without a convincing and widely shared vision for the Ethiopian state, neither Abiy Ahmed nor any potential successor would be able to prevent the forces of disintegration from rising at the expense of the forces of unification and cohesion.

The following is a summary of the most important points in the Foreign Affairs article:

Even if the TPLF-Oromo Liberation Front coalition wins its assault on the capital, Addis Ababa, the need to share power is likely to accentuate long-standing tensions between the two groups, increasing the risk of political instability.

If the Tigray Liberation Front decides not to continue to seize the capital for peace on favorable terms and demands a referendum on greater autonomy and protection for the Tigrayans, this is likely to escalate tensions with their ally, the Oromo Liberation Front, which claims that the capital is the heart of the Oromia region, It will leave the underlying drivers of the conflict unresolved.

If there is a coup by the government army to depose Abi Ahmed, as some expect, as the Ethiopian army currently appears internally divided and unable to defeat the attack on the capital, the coup will not end with a solution to the conflict.

If the government army manages to hold onto the capital and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti train line and fails to retake any of the territory now controlled by Tigray and Oromo forces, Abiy Ahmed will be under greater pressure to pursue a negotiated settlement.

But while there are currently secret discussions between representatives of both sides in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, there has been little progress, in part because both groups include hard-liners who see settlement as treason. Ultimately, the survival of the Ethiopian state will require the country’s leaders to develop a new vision for the country that they are currently unable to achieve.

The Tigray crisis only highlighted the danger of Ethiopia’s disintegration, but the seeds of instability in this country have been planted since the end of the 19th century, when it rarely witnessed internal peace.

It is easy to see the divisions in Ethiopia as an inevitable result of the country’s sheer size and ethnic diversity. Ethiopia is the 27th largest country in the world by area and home to more than 80 different ethnic groups, but neither geography nor demography is destiny. Successive Ethiopian leaders stirred up ethnic and regional tensions, and each ruled in a way that gave at least one community reason to feel unjust.

Over the past two years, divisions in Ethiopia have been exacerbated by the spread of hate speech on social media. “Dangerous online talk in Ethiopia has led to real violence harming and even killing people,” Facebook whistleblower Frances Hogan told US senators at a hearing this month, acknowledging that the social media giant contributed to the fragmentation of the country.

At least 13 different ethnic groups are currently demanding either more autonomy or constitutionally guaranteed secession, but meeting these demands is very difficult, for example, regions such as Tigray and Amhara claim parts of each other’s territories and have been stuck in border disputes long term.

There are other, more complex disputes taking place between the inhabitants of the same territory, such as the Sidama region over secession or unity.

Such examples underscore the enormous difficulty in managing Ethiopia’s complex ethnic mosaic and the urgent need for a unified vision if the country is to survive disintegration.

In Ethiopia as elsewhere, civil war has destroyed much-needed infrastructure, such as roads, factories, and communications equipment, and eroded the fabric of national identity. To prevent the country from disintegrating, Ethiopia’s leaders must find a way to reunite the country once again, both physically and symbolically.

Doing so will require 3 things, none of which will be easy: securing a lasting peace, rebuilding Tigray and other parts of the war-affected country, and building a consensus around the idea of ‚Äč‚ÄčEthiopia and its unified identity.

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