Tigrai is under siege: From the North by the Eritrean dictator and from the South by Abiy Ahmed Ali, the new self-proclaimed Emir of Ethiopia!


Flashback-This article was posted on January 7, 2019


Drs Tsegezab Gebregergis

1. Introduction

In 1989, at the time the TPLF/EPRDF were heading towards Addis Ababa and Massawa was under siege from the EPLF, I had written a book entitled “Ethiopia – An Empire under Fire and in Crisis: Is it on the Eve of Death or total Transformation”? The intention [of this book] was to analyse the contradictions of the then-ailing Ethiopian empire, to make an original contribution towards broadening knowledge and understanding of the problems that then existed and to suggest ways of resolving them.

I made the following observations and drew conclusions about the Amhara ruling nation and its ruling class and what should and should not be done in order to secure and attain durable peace, stability, and social and economic progress in Ethiopia.

2. On the Dominant Nation in Ethiopia

The dominant nation, which has succeeded in imposing its political, cultural, and economic domination over all the other nations/nationalities in the empire of Ethiopia is the Amhara nation. And it is the expansionist, repressive and discriminatory politics of the dominant Amhara nation and its ruling class – a ruling class that has imposed its way of life on the people it has conquered by fire and sword – that has become the principal cause of major bloodshed in the Horn of Africa in general and in Ethiopia in particular.

Put differently, I concluded my observations by emphasising the total absence of a democratic state which would guarantee the equality of all the different nationalities administered under its political jurisdiction. In other words, I stated that it was the non-existence of a state system, guaranteeing unity-in-diversity and equality in the economic, political, and cultural development of the various peoples inhabiting Ethiopia that was the root cause of that nation’s problems. I, therefore, put forward a detailed policy recommendation for what an “Ethiopia of the People” – which is urgently needed now if peace, stability, and social and economic progress is to be attained in the Amhara’s disorder-ridden Ethiopia should look like.

3. “The Ethiopia of the People”

To become an “Ethiopia of the People”, I stated that the nation had to be reconstructed on a new and sound basis through the consent and active participation of all who live in it. It must become a new and democratic Ethiopia, one that will not be a threat to any nationality, race or religious group; an Ethiopia in which everyone will be rewarded according to one’s merits, as opposed to the Ethiopia of today which provides special privileges to a certain nationality and religious group and denies them to others. It must be an Ethiopia in which the starting-point for every policy will be considered, adopted, and implemented in terms of its usefulness, first and foremost, in the cause and well-being of its entire people.

It must be an Ethiopia which will never again force its citizens to flee, because of a lack of human rights and democracy, to lead a miserable refugee life in the capital cities of Western and other societies. It must be an Ethiopia that will have maximum respect for each and every human individual, one which will treat its citizens as innocent until they are found guilty in an open court of law.

The Ethiopia that is on the eve of being born, therefore, must be one with an army, police force, judges, public administrators and state officials at all levels; one which is multi-national in origin and composition, with the people using the country’s constitution to devise ways and means of ensuring this.

Last but not least, it must be a democratic Ethiopia which recognises the right of a political divorce for those who believe that the political, economic, and social life of their people will be better off by as a result of that divorce. Thus, in my opinion, the Ethiopia which must now be established, as a product of historical necessity, must be a political home for all those people who live there and want to remain there as Ethiopians. The Ethiopia which must be now established as a matter of urgency must be free from chauvinism and all forms of national oppression. Thus, it must be an Ethiopia that considers as Ethiopians those who consider themselves Ethiopians and who want to remain as part of the nation.

Such an Ethiopia, apart from being at peace with itself and its neighbours, would also be an Ethiopia that would have a powerful attraction for those oppressed nations and nationalities that have already made their decisions to quit the old, oppressive and unjust Ethiopia and who might now reconsider their position if this should be in the best interests of their people and of the progress of the whole of the Horn of Africa.

4. Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, I stated that the prerequisite for the establishment of
“The Ethiopia of the People” was, therefore, the immediate replacement of “The Ethiopia of the Amhara” by a provisional government consisting of all members of the different opposition groups and of patriotic individuals who did not take part in committing crimes against the oppressed people of Ethiopia or against the Eritrean people.

For all practical purposes, a transitional government such as this should be short in duration, limited in scope, and empowered only to prepare the country and its people for an election to choose leaders who would be accountable to their electors. The decision and verdict of the people, expressed in a freely contested election, should then be made supreme. With this fulfilled, the triumph of “The Ethiopia of the People” over the forces of retrogression would then be certain and irreversible (1989, pp 85-89).

As far as I know, after the fall of the tyrannical Ethiopian military regime led by Mengistu Haile Mariam and its replacement by the TPLF/EPRDF in May 1991, a serious attempt was made to create “The Ethiopia of the People”, as outlined above, but to no avail.

I therefore still maintain that the blueprint I have outlined in my 1989 book is still valid to solve the problems of conflict-ridden Ethiopia under the rule of the inexperienced Colonel who is bent on to implement the expansionist and chauvinist political agenda of the Amhara ruling class and that of the Eritrean dictator in the Horn of Africa.

It is, therefore, no wondering that since Colonel Abiy Ahmed took power in a bloodless coup in April 2018; Ethiopia has become a most fragile and fractious country in which ethnic violence is escalating amid a struggle for political supremacy between the three largest ethnic groups, the Oromos, the Amharas and the Tigrians.

5. Who is Colonel Abiy Ahmed?

Colonel Abiy Ahmed Ali, now 42, was born to a Muslim Oromo
father and an Orthodox Amhara mother and is a devout Pentecostal
Christian. As a leader of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation
(OPDO) and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, he has made inaptly a strategic political alliance with the hated Eritrean dictator, Issayas Afeworki, who has an ax to grind with the leadership of the Tigrian People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

It is therefore important to grasp that the essence of the present Ethiopian crisis emanates from the desire of the younger leader, Colonel Abiy Ahmed, under pressure from the Eritrean dictator and his Amhara constituencies, to isolate and destroy the TPLF leadership and bring the Tigrai region to its knees.

In other words, the grandiose political project of Colonel Abiy Ahmed is aimed at getting rid of the ethnic-based federal system, enacted by the TPLF under the leadership of Meles Zenawi, to replace it with a centralised unitary system of government and gradually to bring back the Amhara nation and its ruling class to preside over the affairs of Ethiopia. This would clearly explain why Tigrai is under siege from the Eritrean dictator in the north and from Abiy Ahmed Ali – the new self-proclaimed Emir of Ethiopia – in the south.

As far as I can tell, the preparation now underway in Ethiopia to bring Tigrai to its knees will, therefore, create an unpredictable chain-reaction that could draw in outside powers and those countries sharing common borders with Ethiopia.

In the final analysis, as far as Abiy Ahmed – the man who so admires the Eritrean dictator and who regularly wines and dines with him – is concerned, unless he is overthrown, then he, too, will end up becoming a fully-fledged dictator in Ethiopia.