The Biden administration should tell Abiy Ahmed to leave power without any delay!

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.


Will negotiation end the ongoing war between the Ethiopian government and Tigray Liberation Force?

The international community is mounting pressure on the federal government of Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed and Tigray Liberation Force (TPLF) to negotiate to bring an end to the ongoing war in Tigray. However, many wonder if negotiations can ever address major outstanding issues that led to the war in the first place.

Although the government doesn’t want to make public, peace talks sponsored by the African Union is under way. The United States Security Council expressed its support for the effort. The United Nations and the European Union are also pushing the warring parties to sit down for dialogue.

The reality on the ground created by the war is also necessitating seeking a peaceful means to an end of the conflict that’s taking the toll on civilians. An increasing number of Ethiopian refugees are crossing border to neighboring countries, particularly Sudan. Internally displaced people need food and shelter.

Casualties both from the government and TPLF side have started to be felt even in areas far away from the war zones. There are reports that hospitals in Bahirdar, Gondar, Dessie, and other cities and towns in Amhara region are filled with injured members of the federal defense force, Amhara region’s special force, and militias who participated in the war.

It’s believed TPLF’s loss of many areas including major cities and towns to the Ethiopian government forces provides more incentive for negotiation. The specter of a costly war to take control of Mekelle city, the capital of the Tigray region, and the heavy toll it will takes on civilians is another motivating factor for both the government and TPLF to sit down for negotiation.

More than three weeks into the war, both Abiy Ahmed and TPLF are not where they were. Abiy has overcome major inhibitors, both psychological and material, of going to a war against the “strongly armed” and the “indomitable” forces of TPLF. He managed to fix the military’s chain of command of the Northern Command and regroup his forces. He has been able to take control of towns and cities in Tigray and made it impossible for TPLF to undertake its daily administrative activities.

TPLF, on its part, managed to show the world what a small but well-organized group can do by taking on the mightier forces of the federal government. It did successful public relations in telling the international community that “hey we are in a civil war which is leading to humanitarian disaster.” It also sent a clear message to Ethiopians that fighting with Tigray is not “walk in the park.”

For Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, what he has achieved through military operations so far puts him in a better position to negotiate. Now he has both carrot and stick in his hands. But this will end if he tries to take control of Mekelle city by force.

The conquest of Mekelle, if successful, should not be something to celebrate. It will be costly and take its toll on the lives of hundreds or even thousands of civilians. The death of civilians in the city as the world watches spells the end of Abiy Ahmed’s advantage over TPLF. The fall of Mekelle under Abiy Ahmed’s forces will also force TPLF to start an insurgency war, the beginning of an endless war, which Ethiopia cannot afford to fight.

The dialogue which the international community is calling for may help to end the ongoing conflict, but it cannot help to address issues that led to the conflict in the first place. For example, mediators may convince either TPLF to cancel the elections it held months ago or persuade Abiy to accept it. Abiy may release all political prisoners of Tigray.

Dialogue may not help to address issues that led to, or exacerbated, the conflict. For example, it’s tough to address Amhara region’s territorial claims over lands which are currently under the jurisdiction of the Tigray regional state. It is hard to resolve TPLF’s concerns about Abiy Ahmed’s relations with Isayas Afework of Eritrea who is believed to have been involved in the war. It’s also difficult to address Ethiopians’ concerns about Abiy Ahmed’s real or perceived ambition to undo the existing multinational federation to replace it with a unitary government system.

A dialogue between the two warring parties may help to bring an end to the ongoing conflict temporarily, but it’s far from addressing long-standing issues that keep ruining the country.

Tigray fired rockets at Amhara cities causing damages

Despite the claim by the federal government that its war jets destroyed “all strategic” weapons in the hands of Tigray region’s special force, rounds of rockets were fired at Bahirdar and Condar cities in Amhara region.

Residents said they heard big explosions followed by heavy gunfire around areas called Mekod and Azezo in Bahirdar and the city of Gondar respectively. The rockets were fired from the Tigray region, hundreds of kilometers away.

Getachew Reda, a higher official of Tigray, confirmed the report saying his region’s “defense force” fired the rockets in retaliation of Abiy Ahmed forces’a air attacks. He said the targets were military bases in Bahirdar and Gondar. But reports from the Amhara region indicate the targets were civilian airports.

Few days ago, Debretsion (PhD), president of the Tigray region, claimed that his forces had weapons that can strike anywhere in the country. He threatened to bombard any targets in the country should the federal government continue its attack in Tigray.

Reports coming from the Amhara region indicate that part of the Ginbot 20 International Airport in Bahirdar was hit. They also said damages were caused to Atse Tewodros International Airport found in the tourist city of Gondary.

Amhara activists are also reporting that a separate rockets attack hit a village in the North Gondar Zone of the Amhara region.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed portrayed his government’s action as a measure to maintain law and order. However, officials in Tigray accuse him of trying to destroy the multi-national federal system of the country.

There is a growing concern among the international community that the conflict may morph into a full-scale war threatening regional stability. Thousands of refugees from the Western Tigray have already fled to Sudan.