How can one explain the motivations of Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, who in 2020 launched a war against Tigray one year after he won the Nobel Peace Prize? Abiy Ahmed reversed this decision a few weeks ago when he claimed that Ethiopian National Defence Forces had withdrawn from Tigray only to mobilise ethnic regional forces for a second round of a civil war against Tigrayans. This time his justification for the war is that TPLF “is recruiting children for the war.” What is well-documented is the demonsisation campaign against Tigray on top of ethnic profiling expressly targetted against Tigrayans.
Ethiopia invited Eritrean forces to attack Tigray, a decision that forced TPLF to retreat into the mountainous areas. The catalogue of warmongering decisions and human rights violations under Abiy Ahmed’s watch is too much to list. What is happening in Ethiopia now is reminiscent of what was happening in Rwanda in 1994. Sovereignty should never be a bulwark when the state resorts to persecution of its citizens on the basis of their identity or political conviction.
An Unknown Quantity
Abiy Ahmed is no longer the reformist leader whose plan to reconfigure the Ethiopian federal system have won plaudits from Professor Mohamud Mamdani and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former Liberian President. All of a sudden he has become an unknown quantity even to countries that subtly promoted his agenda. In 2019 America viewed Abiy Ahmed as the leader who could terminate the developmental state that transformed Ethiopia into an economic powerhouse in Africa.
Professor Francis Fukuyama gave a lecture at a university in Addis Ababa two years ago, to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary of his book The End of History. Under Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party, Ethiopia is closer to Russia, sparking the fear that Ethiopia might become a Russian sphere of influence in northeast Africa.
There is a conundrum with which peace scholars are grappling: why did Abiy Ahmed make a pact with Eritrea to authorise invasion of his country by Eritrean forces although he won the Nobel Peace Prize over the peace agreement with Asmara? It is a question peace studies scholars might research.
By Adan Essa Hussein