The war that started eight months ago in Ethiopia has cost the lives of tens of thousands, displaced millions, and left millions more without food and shelter. Human rights abuses have been committed. Women and girls as young as 8 years old were exposed to sexual violence.
The federal government’s announcement of the “unilateral ceasefire” hasn’t stopped the war. It just changed the battlefield from central Tigray to western and southern Tigray. Now we are getting daily reports of more deaths and displacement in the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara as well.
Abiy Ahmed took the wrong direction from the get go. He undermined the cultural and linguistic diversity of the Ethiopian people and promoted the unitary system. In contravention to the Constitution, he gave tacit support for Amhara elites’ ownership claim to areas that have been under the jurisdiction of the Tigray region for the last 30 years.
Abiy Ahmed also backtracked on his promise to bring the long-sought reforms to the country. Instead, he jailed prominent political party leaders including Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, and leaders of the Oromo Libration Front. He put journalists behind the bar for exercising their rights. He tried to fool the international community by holding a fake election in which he claimed he won more than 94%.
While the world is paying attention to the war in the north, insurgencies are growing in Oromia, the most populous region in Ethiopia. Many of the young people who brought Abiy Ahmed to power are now joining rebels in the West and South of the country. The hopes of Ethiopians to see a democratic country jas been dashed.
The United States supported Abiy Ahmed’s ascendence to power in the hopes that he would bring stability to the country of more than 110 million people. Since the war started in the north, it has been calling for a negotiated ceasefire and all-inclusive national dialogue to resolve political issues. But it fell on deaf ears.
Now Ethiopia is in deeper crisis than it was when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took power three years ago. It slipped into a civil war endangering the stability of the Horn of Africa and beyond. Worse, the leaders don’t seem to understand the gravity of the problem.
Now the United States must act. It has to stop asking Abiy Ahmed to resolve the problems his government created. He can’t. Instead, the Biden administration has to tell him to leave power.