In about few days, Dr. Abiy’s ascendancy to the Negus throne will mark year two. Politically speaking, there is little to shout home about. Ethiopia’s political temperature has always been measured by the standing or stage of its ethnic politics. This time, PM Abiy is confronted by internal and external challenges.
The Internal Politics include Oromia region where there is already a raging armed conflict that is contributing to the quick erosion of Dr. Abiy’s popularity. Western Oromia is under a permanent curfew and communication is cut off for some time now. Journalists are arbitrarily arrested, Human Rights groups condemned Ethiopia’s approach, and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) is on the verge of resorting to a new wave of armed struggle.
The Amara groups, usually not so much featured in ethnic politics, are now up in arms. Fano armed group declared war on its regional government as well as federal troops. Qimant, a Muslim minority in Amara region, is also fighting a two-front war – one against Amara extremists and another against Amhara regional and federal troops.
The Tigray region is to Ethiopia what Somaliland is to Somalia. For all practical purposes, Tigray has unofficially seceded from Addis Ababa.
The Southern coalition is in shambles and no one knows what fate holds for it. Sidama on its part is suspicious of Addis Ababa and will seek alliance with OLF if things deteriorate.
The weaker regions (Somali, Afar, Benishangul) are yesteryear’s Agar or underdeveloped regions and seem to be confused today; they have yet to rediscover their political role in the current [volatile] Ethiopia. ONLF and SDP are both holding their share of peace and stability in the region. So far, the Somali region is the most peaceful region and that may or may not last as the rest of Ethiopia is submerged into a protracted conflict.
Dr Abiy’s Ethiopia appears to have chewed more external politics than it can chew. From The Nile to the quickly fading Eritrea peace deal, the young PM could be staring at the abyss of Ethiopia’s death.
The Egypto-Ethiopian conflict over the Nile Valley water is gathering a new momentum and would certainly make PM Abiy politically weaker – Egypt is stronger, closer to the West, to the Arab League, and equally respected by AU member states. It is a regional power both in the Middle East and in Africa. It can always arm opposition groups to militarily fight and weaken Ethiopia.
The honeymoon of Ethio-Eritrea has lapsed. More and more Ethiopians are narrowing the goals of Eritrea towards Ethiopia to two: Perpetuate conflict in Ethiopia; and/or make sure that whoever comes to Liyubaliyu Palace is a subsidiary agent to Asmara. So far, Ethiopians, mainly the educated and the centrist groups, don’t thrust Afwerki. Most centrist elites see the same guy who masterminded the break up of Ethiopia and strengthened the hand of TPLF. Now that the initial euphoria surrounding the sudden visit of PM Abiy to Asmara is fading away, the emptiness of the peace deal reached by the two sides is filling the void and quickly taking shape. Technically Tigray is at war with Eritrea.
Ethiopia’s gross violation of international law and its incessant intervention in Somalia’s fragile political affairs will ultimately backfire. This road that PM Abiy is travelling, in matters Somalia, has been unsuccessfully traveled by Meles Zenawi. As a matter of fact, Meles’ intervention in Somalia was the beginning of the end of his reign.
Somalia is famed to be a failed state that consumes every other state that interferes with its internal affairs. It is a tough terrain where a new kid on the Horn of Africa block often gets his hands burned (gacmaha ayuu kaga gubtaa). Could Dr. Abiy’s meddling sound the death kneel for his new administration?