Girma Berhanu (Professor)
Mike Hammer is US president Biden’s Horn of Africa Special Envoy and he is scheduled to travel to Ethiopia this week to try and fix the peace deal he hurriedly hatched out in Pretoria, South Africa, between the government of Abiy Ahmed and the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). At the time, it was praised as a forward-thinking deal that put an end to one of modern Africa’s silliest wars: a war entirely revolving around how many ministers of each warring faction got which slices of the cake. It was also one of Africa’s deadliest modern wars, with low-estimates already ballooning into the hundreds of thousands of dead.
In the early stages of that war, Abiy Ahmed was roundly defeated by the Tigrayan front, unsurprisingly as this was not a rough-and-tumble guerrilla outfit, but rather a fully equipped military force that had ruled Ethiopia for 27 years before being booted out by Abiy Ahmed’s faction.
What saved Abiy Ahmed’s cornered regime was the rise of the Amhara FANO militia, which fought against the TPLF not so much out of love for Abiy, but because its Amhara farmers were being ruthlessly butchered by the TPLF as it trampled across their home region.
Fano decisively beat the TPLF and essentially gave victory to Abiy’s central government on a silver platter. Their reward, however, was far from generous. Instead, Fano was rightly seen by the government as a powerful force that jeopardized its national agenda, which can be briefly summarized as marginalizing Amhara citizens to the benefit of Oromo elites.
The Pretoria Peace deal was a masterpiece in deception because it awarded juicy benefits to both losers of the war: the TPLF and Abiy Ahmed’s central government. The Fano were left out in the cold. Fast-forward a year and the dynamics at play are so cynical as to numb even Machiavelli. Now we have the central government in cahoots with the TPLF attacking Fano. The idea was to wipe out Fano entirely, but alas, reality has proven too stubborn. The Amhara militia has stood its ground and, once again, taught both attacking parties a valuable lesson: attack our people at your own peril.
Seeing how a military option has failed, they have whined to their paymasters in Washington for help. And here we are today: with Mike Hammer revisiting Ethiopia to iron out a deal between two sides: 1) Abiy and TPLF and 2) Fano.
Here are a few tips for Mike Hammer which may help him in his peace-making efforts:
- The so-called Ethiopian army is no longer that and has been effectively converted by Abiy into an OPDO/OLF Oromo para-military. And a very bad one at that, capable of large-scale killing of Amhara citizens but useless when facing an armed force.
- The TPLF army may have been weakened by the bloody civil war but it has recently been re-organized and strengthened particularly with the intention to re-take Welkait.
- Abiy and TPLF are waging a genocidal war on the Amhara people and Fano is fighting for survival.
- Hence, Abiy has in effect invaded Amhara region with the express objective of subjugating Amhara citizens who therefore have the right to demand the withdrawal of so-called federal troops from the region as a precondition for Mike Hammer’s peace efforts to have any chance of success.
- The unconstitutional state of emergency imposed by Abiy Ahmed on the Amhara region must be immediately lifted.
- The Amhara people should be allowed to form their own transitional administration.
- Therefore, the leadership recently appointed by Abiy Ahmed for the Amhara region should be quickly annulled.
- Above all, Mike Hammer should be brave enough to raise the question of accountability for the innumerable atrocity crimes and other human and democratic rights violations committed under the Abiy regime.
A personal call on Mike Hammer would say that if you want to make real peace in Ethiopia, please ask your boss, president Biden, to give Abiy Ahmed political asylum in your great country. The Amhara gave Abiy Ahmed the golden opportunity on a silver platter to govern Ethiopia fairly and democratically but he willfully opted for the destruction of Ethiopia and wanton civil war, bloodshed and carnage of the most horrific type. By all means go ahead and try to make peace in Ethiopia but remember that when you shake hands with Abiy Ahmed, you are shaking the heavily blood -stained hand of one of the most notorious genociders of all time and that you are doing it for the sake of the noble cause of making and probably forging peace in the Horn of Africa.
(In collaboration with my brother TG)