The conflicts rocking Ethiopia continues apace with scores killed in the past fortnight in certain restive parts of the country in clashes among different ethnic groups. The death of innocent citizens is beyond words. “Appalling”, “egregious”, “heartrending” do not even come close to describing the grievousness of the calamity that pain and sorrow inflicted on Ethiopians. Ethiopia is on the verge of a full-blown crisis primarily owing to the government’s failure to bring about a firm and consensual solution to the multi-faceted challenges confronting it for the past three years. The inability of the EPRDF-led government to make amends for the errors of its ways has created a gaping loophole that the nation’s enemies are exploiting to sow discord between fellow countrymen, incite deadly violence and provoke political instability. Sadly they are aided and abetted by radical tribalists who are undermining the solidarity and patriotism that has characterized Ethiopians for centuries. This calls for prompt action aimed at stabilizing the country and restoring public confidence.
A nation that has always retained its independence thanks to the sacrifices of its heroic sons and daughters is nowadays witnessing treacheries which render it vulnerable to the evil designs of adversaries. There is no denying that our proud and brave ancestors achieved extraordinary feats even as they were living under the yoke of oppression at the hand of tyrants due to their love for each other and the country. In spite of ethnic, religious, cultural or ideological differences, they displayed remarkable unity in vanquishing aggressors. They inspired the anti-colonial struggle of black people with the epoch-making Adwa Victory of 1896 over colonialist Italy. It’s paradoxical and indeed upsetting to see a country which accomplished such an unprecedented exploit succumb to ethnic conflicts that have led to the death of hundreds. It should not be lost on all Ethiopians that our enemies never lose sleep to inflame tensions among themselves and malign their beloved nation.
Aside from being the seat of the African Union (AU) Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa hosts numerous embassies, UN agencies and other international organizations making it one of the largest diplomatic hubs in the world like New York, Geneva and Brussels. These diplomatic missions and international organizations came to Ethiopia because it has been the headquarters of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the AU’s precursor, ever since it was founded in 1963. Ethiopia was chosen to be the seat of the continental organization because the inimitable victory its united people achieved over a colonial power served as a beacon of hope for all black people under the yoke of colonialism as well as the pan-Africanist movement. The sacrifice they paid with their blood to preserve the nation’s sovereignty has all been but forgotten now enabling its foes to perpetrate acts which jeopardize its security. If Ethiopia is to become a home not only to its people, but all Africans as well it is incumbent on us to duly honor our heroes and their accomplishments.
Our adversaries are adept at adding fuel to the fire whenever they see us feuding with each other. They try to, among others, portray Ethiopia as a country riven by internecine conflicts, scare away investors, urge donors and embassies to pull out or scale back their operation, pressure the AU and the UN agencies to relocate their headquarters and even co-opt neighboring countries by impressing on them that Ethiopia poses a security threat to them. All this is intended to destabilize the country and stop its economic progress in its tracks. It is disgraceful that the leaders of a nation of farsighted and patriotic people deliver the governance they deserve.
A cursory assessment of the geopolitics of the Horn of Africa and the Middle East would affirm that the scenario described above is not beyond the realms of possibility. The Al-Qaeda-linked al- Shabaab, a sworn enemy of Ethiopia, continues to thrive in Somalia. Egypt is still very much opposed to the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The proxy war that is laying waste to Yemen, the diplomatic crisis that is pitting Qatar against a Saudi Arabia-led bloc, the fierce rivalry for regional political dominance between Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as the desire to exert control over the vital shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea also have national security implications for Ethiopia. In a world where there are no permanent friends but permanent interests only today’s ally may well be tomorrow’s foe. These developments all make it imperative for Ethiopians to stand in unison in defense of national security. In view of this therefore it is inexplicable why Ethiopia is being rocked by hitherto unseen ethnic clashes and why from leaders in the highest office of the land to executives at lower level structures are neglecting their obligation in terms of restoring political stability in short order. Such dereliction of duty is exacting a heavy toll. Mouthing platitudes about how the government is determined to resolve Ethiopia’s political crisis without taking concrete measures is likely to aggravate rather than ease tensions.
Ethiopia is home to nations, nationalities and peoples who make it proud. They can do wonders if they are governed properly. If the government goes the right way about managing the politics and economy of the country, if political power is assumed through free and fair elections and citizens share equitably the national cake, if a system which guarantees respect for basic liberties is put in place, if government organs truly abide by the rule of law while performing the duties entrusted to them, and if civil society organizations were allowed to flourish Ethiopia’s unity would have been laid on a stronger foundation. Unfortunately bigots who espouse a poisonous ethnocentric rhetoric are stoking needless violence that, coupled with bad governance, continues to lead to the death, injury and displacement of citizens. It does not take a prophet to divine that Ethiopia’s fate will be bleak if the underlying causes behind the simmering political unrest are not immediately addressed. Meanwhile, its enemies are leaving no stones unturned to push it over the edge. All stakeholders who feel they are invested in the wellbeing of the nation need to wise up to this dangerous. The government on its part is obliged to stop blaming foreign adversaries for the turmoil roiling it and do whatever is in its power to forge national consensus. Otherwise, it is bound to fall prey to the evil machinations of its enemies.