The Executive Director of the Global Peace Foundation, Alex de Waal, expects that the military conflict in Ethiopia will continue to threaten the stability of this country and cause chaos in Northeast Africa, and will destroy the fragile African Union institutions for peace and security if Washington does not rush to stop it.
The writer said In his article In the American Foreign Policy magazine, the dispute between the conflicting parties in Ethiopia is difficult to resolve, because it begins with denying the federal government headed by Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front each other about who started the first shot, and extends to the precise interpretation of the constitution and the powers it gives to the central government And to the regions, and to external interventions by the State of Eritrea and the UAE currently.
The writer does not rule out the interference of more neighboring and other countries in this conflict if it is not stopped early.
Risks to the whole region
The writer says that with every passing day, every massacre of civilians, every air or ground attack on the towns and cities of Tigray Region, and every missile fired by the region against another city in Ethiopia or in neighboring Eritrea, grievances and the risks of violent chaos accumulate throughout the country and neighboring countries.
He pointed out that the modern history of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa proves that Ethiopia was one of the first challenges that Washington faced four decades ago during the reign of the Ethiopian dictator, Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, who carried out harsh military campaigns against his own citizens and killed hundreds of thousands in the so-called “red terrorism”. A war against Somalia over the Ogaden region.
The US administration also faced another challenge in Ethiopia in 1998 during the bloody conflict with Eritrea over the borders, as Susan Rice, the newly appointed Assistant US Secretary of State at the time, faced its first difficult challenge in a mediation involving Rwandan President Paul Kagame, which ended in the refusal of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. – Who did not want to shed face and admit the military defeat, and his belief that Ethiopia, like Yugoslavia, is subject to collapse – the final formula to stop the war between the two countries.
A lesson from recent history
De Waal said that there is a simple lesson for the US administration, which is that it is easy to start wars in Ethiopia, but it is difficult to stop them, and therefore it is better to stop military operations before they escalate and spread.
The writer went on to review the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, saying that after 18 years of the cold war between the two countries, the new young Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed arrived in Asmara in 2019 to embrace Isaias and declare peace, describing it as one of the amazing reforms underway at that time, which It brought Abi Ahmed acclaim and a Nobel Peace Prize.
But Isaias – who was perhaps the most hard-line and backward-looking of any African ruler according to De Waal’s view – saw peace with Ethiopia as a security agreement to crush the Tigrayans.
He added that the administration of US President Donald Trump – like many countries in the world – admired Abi Ahmed, but in the Horn of Africa, the qualifications of reformers are always secondary to the calculation of strength and national pride, and naivety about this fact becomes dangerous when a country wages war.
The current parties to the war
The writer emphasized that it is clear so far that the warring parties are the federal government in Ethiopia, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the State of Eritrea, and the UAE, which launches armed drones from its Eritrean air base in Assab, which it uses in its war in Yemen, pointing out that the fingerprints Isaias is scattered throughout the war, and he likely knows he will not go unpunished the moment Rice may return to her position under the leadership of the new US President, Joe Biden.
It is also clear – de Waal says – that with fierce battles, air strikes, missile attacks, massive infantry attacks and massacres of civilians, this war is a major war that will not end with the Ethiopian army taking over the cities of Tigray and declaring victory.
He said that the Ethiopian war will turn into a guerrilla war in which Abiy Ahmed turns to the nationalist discourse, and the Ethiopian media indulge in anti-Tigrayal hate speech, which will only deepen the divisions of society.
Victory in the Ethiopian war are illusions
He added that history should be the guide, as Ethiopia’s wars kill tens of thousands if not millions, open the door to famines, and victory in them are just illusions, and there is one logical policy to deal with, which is to stop it early by banning weapons, sanctions, travel bans, and everything that can be done in this direction. Warning that the next few weeks are crucial.
De Waal advised that if Biden’s foreign policy transition team cannot work with outgoing Trump officials to reorient US policy in the coming days, Congress should send a bipartisan message to Abiy Ahmed: Stop this needless war.
He concluded that Biden’s state would start with an unresolvable quagmire in the Horn of Africa that would drag the foreign policy of his administration into it, and perhaps destroy Ethiopia.