By Ethiopia Hagere
On the face of it, what PM Abiy has been doing since he came to power in 2018 seems random, incoherent, at times impulsive and overall lacking purpose and design. Careful examination, however, reveals something that borders on the diabolical!
The PM has been intimating that he has been “divinely” preordained to rule Ethiopia. He has been behaving accordingly. One could have forgiven this adolescent self-indulgence of his, hoping he would eventually grow out of it – had this seemingly innocent preoccupation not been coupled with meanness, and ruthless determination.
His rule is becoming increasingly despotic and intolerant of any and all criticism. In a way, he has been “even-handed” in how he mistreated anybody that he perceives as even fleetingly threatening his power. The corollary is also true: he has shown willingness to sleep with anyone he perceives as supportive of his consolidation of power. And this is where the problem begins. It is not that he does not know who he is sleeping with. It is that he does not care. He will go to bed with the devil, in so long as the devil serves his purpose. Having initially won the hearts and minds of pan-Ethiopianists thru stealth, he now has ditched them all, once he had made maximum use of their blind, euphoric support to consolidate his power. He is now in bed with extreme Oromo nationalists that aspire to establish hegemonic rule all over the country. Literally raised under the (political) nurturing hands of his TPLF/EPRDF masters, Abiy has always remained loyal to the divisive agenda of his mentors that constitutionally enshrined the seeds of Ethiopia’s ultimate fracturing and dismemberment.
Now, five years down the road, even the “blind” can see that PM Abiy has been unabashedly and methodically pursuing actions – posturing and ‘inspiring” rhetoric notwithstanding- that subsequently will lead to Ethiopia’s failure a-la-Somalia, only with bloodier and devastating ramifications! In this two-part piece we describe, in broader terms, evidence of PM Abiy’s failed policies and dangerous consequences thereof (Part 1) and priority action areas concerned Ethiopians should embark on urgently to avoid the looming disaster (Part 2).
There is mounting evidence to support the contention that the PM is intentionally, and not inadvertently (i.e., out of sheer ignorance, inexperience and/or incompetence) pursuing actions that undermine and erode Ethiopia’s integrity. It is not that the multifaceted disaster he has wrought on the country is not apparent to him. Neither is it for lack of dedicated Ethiopian experts and professionals that counsel moderation, introspection, and reexamination of his actions he is indifferent and oblivious to the fracturing of the country. No, the damages he has wrought in his five-year rule are too self-evident NOT to be seen by Abiy or anyone else. The only conclusion left to arrive at is that his “not” seeing is . Here are outlines of the most obvious and dangerous actions Abiy has been taking in his 5-year rule:
- : Abiy has steered the national economy into a ditch. Nearly a fifth of Ethiopians, over 20 million, are dependent on food aid from international donors for their survival. At 28.6%%, the country is recording one of the highest double-digit inflation rates in the world. The currency, the Birr, is becoming worthless by the day. Civil servants cannot even marginally survive on their salaries, if ever they receive them in time. People are destitute – a casual look at the number of beggars in the streets of Addis Ababa is telling. In the cities, for the average wage earner, it is a luxury to have one square meal a day. People are going hungry. Drought is stalking the land. Rural people have started dying from famine in thousands (e.g., in parts of Oromia and, Tigray). The country’s foreign exchange reserve cannot last even one month. Because of the continuing political instability, corruption and generalized insecurity characteristic of his rule, investment – foreign and local – has come to a standstill. Free market economy (based on constitutionally guaranteed property laws – laws that guarantee any Ethiopian to work and invest in any part of the country, mobilizing labor and capital across the country’s regions) is but a pipedream!
Confronted with such grim economic challenges, any sane leader, would attempt to tackle the problems to the best of his or ability! Not Abiy. Since he does not “see” them, these dire economic realities do not exist and do not make it to the list of his priorities. Consequently, he instead commits the country’s scarce resources, billions of dollars’ worth, to vanity projects that catch his fancy – constructing palaces, parks, museums, garages, a new city (Sheger), etc.
No sooner has the PM come to power, he got embroiled in war in the north that resulted in the death and displacement of millions of people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions and the destruction of billions of dollars’ worth infrastructure (schools, hospitals, airports, roads, farms, and bridges). It In hindsight it is self-evident that Abiy leveraged the war to attain multiple objectives. As they say, by shrewdly exploiting the TPLF-instigated war in Tigray, he killed several birds with a single stone. For one, he deepened the fissure between the Amhara and Tigray, culturally, politically, and sociologically close, kin communities whose collusion would have proven formidable, potentially challenging his aspiration to bring the entire Ethiopia under Oromo hegemony. Both Tigray and Amhara are now MUCH, MUCH weaker (by any measure) than when the war started. For another, thanks to the Pretoria Agreement, he has been able to forge alliance with TPLF, promising to cede Wolkait and Raya thus keeping Tigray and Amhara at loggerheads indefinitely. While agreeing with TPLF to embark on further loosening the federal system toward confederacy, Abiy has also paved the way for dismemberment in the event bringing Ethiopia under Oromo hegemonic rule proves illusory. This diabolical machination of Abiy, if not countered before it is too late, will cost the country and the people dearly in the years ahead.
Abiy has continued the legacy (of demonizing and scapegoating the Amhara) he inherited from the TPLF/EPRDF. This has not, however, prevented him from beseeching Amhara (regional militia and Fano) when the war in Tigray went badly and he nearly lost it. All the same, he has now resumed his campaign against the Amhara with renewed vigor. Abiy has launched a demonization propaganda against the Amhara Fano/Militia forces as insurrectionists, robbers, and such. It is worth noting that these are the very Fano forces he once extolled as gallant fighters protecting the country. He has started an Amhara-wide military campaign deploying the Ethiopian Defense Forces allegedly to disarm the Fano/Amhara militia while at the same time intimidating, killing and harassing the civilian population both in the urban centers and the rural hinterland. He is perpetrating these attacks against the Amhara with explicit and tacit collusion and coordination of the Oromo Liberation Army, aka Shene. He is committing all these atrocities while, shamelessly, leaving TPLF forces intact allowing them to recuperate in preparation to attack against the Wolkait and Raya Amhara lands. This is in violation of the Pretoria Agreements, during whose conduct Abiy seems to have made informal, off-the-record side dealings with TPLF. Abiy has not even spared his puppet Regional Amhara Administration, accusing them tangentially, as not fully cooperating in the disarming of the Fano. Abiy is hell bent on bending and irreversibly weakening the Amhara by any means possible.
Abiy’s five-year rule has been accompanied by systematic, uninterrupted genocide against the Amhara mainly in Oromia, but also in Benishangul-Gumuz and southern regions during which thousands of ethnic Amhara farmers, pregnant women, children, and the old were indiscriminately massacred and those who escaped the wanton killing are internally displaced, now numbering in hundreds of thousands. During all these atrocities Abiy did not even once utter a word of sympathy to the victims, nor publicly condemn the perpetrators, much less conduct robust intervention to protect the Amhara. (Ironically, during the same time, he has been sending words of sympathy to disaster victims all over the world, while at the same time advising countries in conflict such as the Sudan to resolve their internal disputes thru dialogue and reconciliation!)
In order to pave way for the realization of his dream of institutionalizing Oromo hegemonic rule, Abiy has embarked on desecrating anything that holds Ethiopia’s unity and our shared history high. What else proof does one need other than Abiy himself, a sitting head of government, publicly speaking of his and his party’s power to disintegrate the country if they so wish. There is nothing sacred for him. He colludes with rabid Oromo nationalists nodding to their claim of the national capital city, Addis Ababa, a city of over 5 million people, as theirs. Toward this ultimate end, Abiy is tacitly overseeing the encirclement of Addis Ababa by a new urban metropolitan Oromo administration called Sheger, the construction of which is at the same time serving as pretext for the forced removal of a large segment of non-Oromo, mainly Amhara residents from Addis Ababa, their houses being demolished without recourse to any legal protection. The Oromo regional flag is to be hoisted, in place of the Ethiopian flag, in schools and public buildings in the capital, and learning Oromifa to be obligatory in schools. Not that there is any objection to pupils learning several languages, including Oromifa! But objecting to the adoption of a language – Amharic – that, for historical reasons is already a lingua franca is unacceptable, for a people that have no common language – a lingua franca- cannot talk to each other and develop any common bond and shared identity of citizenship. Abiy has not even spared the two already indigenized faiths of the country – Islam and Orthodox Christianity- from his intrusion to imbue them with ethnic identities. These faiths are the two constants that have been binding the country’s citizens together for centuries, cutting across and rising above ethnic, political, regional, and other identities. No wonder Abiy is targeting these age-old institutions that have provided, by and large, the moral and ethical foundation of Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s glorious past, which even its enemies have acknowledged and admire, such as the Adowa Victory over Italian aggression, is being revised, contested and its annual celebration intentionally turned into a minor event and a “controversy”!
Abiy finds the major urban cities of the country (which are more diverse, multicultural, and therefore relatively cosmopolitan) stumbling blocks to his agenda of establishing all-encompassing Oromo hegemony. Residents of Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Hawassa, Adama, Harrar, Bishoftu, Bahir Dar, and Gondar for example, hail from all parts of the country, making these cities their multi generation home. These cities in a way form the primary core identities of their citizens. For example, “Yedire Dawa Lij – የድሬ ልጅ” – denoting an open, cosmopolitan, accommodative spirit – is an identity unto itself. Such all-embracing, enlightened, and tolerant populace is anathema to die-hard Oromo ethno-nationalists who are increasingly becoming the powerbase for the prime minister.
Though the primary focus, the Amhara are not the only ethnicity Abiy and his rabid Oromo ethno-nationalist’s target. With equal ferocity the Gamo, the Gurage, the Afar, the Somali, – all have borne orchestrated attacks – lootings, killings, evictions, and other forms of atrocities – from Abiy and his Oromo fellow ethno-nationalists. For historical, sociological, and economic reasons these ethnic groups are highly resistant to, if not hostile, to Oromo hegemony. They are targeted.
It is not hard to picture what the cumulative consequences of the above five major disasters PM Abiy has instigated.
hanks to Abiy and his Oromia hegemony aspirants, and his TPLF collaborators, Ethiopia has been on a dangerous trajectory the likes of which the country had never navigated. All the pillars of Ethiopian unity have been systematically undermined by ETPLF/EPRDF for over half a century, now carried over by Abiy and his Oromuma ideologues. Both ethno-nationalists, the TPLF and OLF (disguised as Oromo Prosperity Party) are regrouping and coordinating to bring the dissolution of Ethiopia as we know it.
The failure of a strategically located Ethiopia, a large country with over a 100 million people will have regional and global repercussions as well. Internally, it will be the Hobbesian war of all against all. Death, destruction of apocalyptic proportions will visit all. The refugee outflow will destabilize neighboring countries and beyond, as far as Europe. The entire Oromo people, though it is obvious that its political elite engineered state collapse, will all the same (wrongly) be perceived as enabling the collapse! The common, poor Oromo will not escape the ensuing social, economic, political dislocations either, much as it is the ordinary poor Tigrayan farmer that paid the price of TPLF’s criminal instigation of the last war. If Ethiopia fails, the region will be a breeding ground for a plethora of rogue non-state actors that export political terrorism and criminality (drugs, smuggling, money laundering, etc.) to the rest of the world, particularly to Europe and the Middle East. Assuming a moderate scenario, where the state does not fail as such, but is perpetually unstable and thus incapable of providing either a modicum of economic growth or security to its people, the result will eventually morph into state failure, making Ethiopia one more addition to the list of failed state Somalia, and failing state in the making – Sudan. This will turn the entire Horn of Africa into an unstable geopolitical theatre threatening not only the region, but the world at large, far, and near. This scenario might not be as far-fetched as it seems. One should recall that nobody thought Sudan would turn into a mess overnight, seemingly out of the blue. But the writing has been all along. Only people were unwilling to read! We cannot guarantee Ethiopia’s trajectory will be much different – we do something about it. Indeed, we can do something about it and prevent total disaster.
Continued on Part II