Yonas Biru, PhD
There are two factors that can destabilize Ethiopia and potentially lead to its disintegration.
The First is Economic Deterioration. This has two primary factors: (1) chronic foreign exchange shortage, and (2) restive unemployed youth that are polarized and agitated by tribal conflicts.
The Ethiopian government has little to no control on either factor in the short term. The US, EU, World Bank and IMF have far more control over the first factor. If they impose sanctions as they have done to Sudan, and starve Ethiopia of foreign exchange and budget support, Ethiopia will be in big trouble within three to four months. No money to import fuel. Transportation will come to a near standstill. No money to import badly needed input to manufactured goods with detrimental implications on employment. Also no budget support to pay for government services. This will create a disaster.
The Ethiopian government has little control over exchange-rate shortage in the short term. The same is true with the unemployment problem. It takes time to build the economic base to create jobs. In the short to medium term countries such as Ethiopia cannot survive without foreign aid. Your “We are rich spiritually and culturally. We have water resources and gold” and all the other crap associated with “Axum This, Adwa That and Lalibela ኡኡ” will do us nothing. Not a thing. Get over it.
If you closely study the limited sanction the US has imposed on Ethiopia, to date, (in terms of delaying the disbursement of already approved funds), they have little impact on critical economic areas. One was money allocated for fighting human trafficking. More recently, it is money to help finance the privatization of Tele. The US has made sure it will not contribute to the destabilization of Ethiopia. That is why they bluff but stop short when it comes to sanctioning Ethiopia, but acted at the speed of light to sanction Sudan.
The Second source of instability that can potentially disintegrate Ethiopia is political friction that the tribal constitution has triggered. Here the factors are Team Jawar, Ortho-Amhara extremists led by a certain Shaleka, Shene OLA, TPLF, among other tribal forces.