Abiy Ahmed Finds Himself in a Political Straitjacket
Aynalem Sebhatu 02-01-21
In time of all-out crisis of the country, the boundary between the domestic and foreign enemies disappeared, but in the war against Tigray, Abiy Ahmed and the Amhara elites—over the vigorous rebellion of Tigrayans—insisted on maintaining the non-Eritrean involvement in the war with a straight face. At a time when the country is undergoing the most serious political and ethnic conflicts that have threatened its unity and its sovereignty and in the absence of a strong leadership, hope is the only thing that is left for all Ethiopians to grab on and continue their life.
Prof. Kjetil Tronvoll, on Ethiopian Insight (January 29, 2021), expressing his hope writes, “Let’s hope that Abiy may learn from the country’s war-torn history to understand that this political dispute cannot be solved by arms, and open up for negotiations before it is too late.” Whether or not Abiy Ahmed will learn and change course only time will reveal, but the political reality he is operating in now is significantly different than that of the political atmosphere before the start of war in Tigray.
Now, as will appear later, I do not look upon the political crisis of the country as being hopeless and difficult to resolve the political impasse in a national dialogue setting. I do agree that national dialogue should be the first tool used in breaking the political gridlocks and the rampant ethnic conflicts.
However, I do feel compelled to doubt Abiy’s abilities and political willingness in changing the political trajectory of the country via inclusive national conversations. One for sure, he is known for deploying divisive political tactics and he is well known for deliberately misusing such dialogues for consolidating his grip on power. Second, Abiy’s allies, mainly the Amhara political elites and Isaias Afewerki, will strongly object to any negotiated settlement with the TPLF not to mention the OLF. Even if Abiy shows an inclination, say due to international pressure, to a negotiated settlement with the TPLF, he has no chance of surviving the political onslaught from the Amhara elites and more so from the Eritrean dictator, Isaias Afewerki.
Abiy is under the military umbrella of Isaias Afewerki and it might take some time to build back the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF). In essence the whole country under the mercy of the Eritrean dictator and Ethiopia a sitting duck. Worst of all, Abiy is increasingly becoming powerless. He has no moral courage or military capacity, and he is without any political leverage in convincing the Eritreans to pull out from Tigray which is the main demand of the international community. Lastly, given the security apparatus of the country dominated by the Amhara and the Eritrean securities freely roaming around Addis Ababa, it is not far-fetched that he might be endangering his own safety. He is basically trapped in a political straitjacket of his own making.
The other danger for the country emanated from the extremists in Amhara regional state. Abiy’s political base or pillars are no more the Oromos. Even though there are some Oromos supporting him, in effect he is surrounded by the Amhara elites. Increasingly the demand from the Amhara elites is becoming unsustainable for the country’s unity.
Abiy and his cliques from the Amhara saw a tactical ally in the unhinged Eritrean dictator. Abiy Ahmed, the Amhara elites and Isaias Afewerki have established, beyond any reasonable doubt, that their hatred and intentions are to see the people of Tigray hit rock bottom. This unholy alliance was mainly driven by the ideology of hate against the Tigrayans. Beyond this diabolical motivating factor, there is not that much to say about other motivating common interests. They have already started snapping at each other.
In the first week of the war, a wave of Amhara extremists’ ire left Tigrayans in west Tigray with nowhere to turn. Thousands of Tigrayans were literally sliced and diced to their graves. Thousands are in prison dungeons and thousands flee to central Tigray and beyond. Over 60,000 became refugees in Sudan. The wave of atrocities committed by the Amhara militia and Fano, is a historical throwback to the Menelik era (1889-1913) and the real enactment of the Neftegna era which the Amhara political elites have been accused off by the Oromos, the Somalis and the Woliytas. It is a political irony and blunt hypocrisy when the Amhara elites are complaining about what is happening to the Amhara outside their regional administration.
The Isaias army have attacked, bombed, rape, looted, killed and harassed innocent civilians wherever the are found. The Eritrean fury against their southern brothers and sisters is very intense and beyond rational human explanation. We all, including well-meaning Eritreans, are struggling how to explain the unexplainable deeds committed by the Eritrean army on so many levels. Looking from the moral, humanistic and the sovereignty of the country, a Tigrayan is left in a very deep shock if not showing a categorical anger and hate towards Ethiopians and Eritreans in general. But let me remind my fellow Tigrayan brothers and sisters that we have a just cause for the war against all the beasts roaming inside Tigray. We should not go down to their level of indecency and fight a beast by becoming a beast. If we do become like them, we not only betray our just cause but also desecrate the history of Woyane and the memories of our martyrs.
One of the smear campaigns unleashed against Tigrayans, by the direction of Abiy Ahmed, is the Mai Kadra massacre. With the collaboration of Daniel Bekele, Head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and the unsuspecting international human rights organizations, it was a successful public relations drama for the war effort against Tigrayans. The EHRC’s speed of investigating the Mai Kadra’s massacre and publicly announcing it was even more puzzling. Most of the Mai Kadra Tigrayan residents who narrowly escaped with their life to Sudan told different narratives than Daniel Bekele’s report. Tigray is now an open-air exhibition for massacres and where are Daniel Bekele’s reports?
The demolition of Tigray is part of a vicious war campaign against the estimated 7.5 million people of Tigray. To this genocidal campaign, the spoils of the war are divided among the Amhara and Eritreans. Northern Tigray goes to the dictator of Eritrea and southern and western Tigray is included to the Amhara regional administration. The heavy military equipment and military installations of the Northern Command are not spared by the Eritreans and transported to Eritrea. Therefore, these areas of Tigray should be sanitized and ethnically cleansed by any means necessary. That means genocide is imminent, time is ticking, and we all hope that the international community stop procrastinating and act responsibly.
Tigray will prevail!
Eternal glory to our Martyrs!
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