By Amlaku Eshetie
It is hard to put one header or topic for my opticle. The current civil war in Ethiopia is a complex one. It is a never-ending feud between brothers. It is a proxy war of the western political powers. It is the war against the Ethiopians’ right of using the Blue Nile River that we call Abbay. It’s a vengeance war of the TPLF leaders who lost the central government power back in 2018. Therefore, as complex it is, I chose to put a big question mark and to continue putting down my views as follows. I am writing this article for two purposes: to let people understand as much as I did and to let my thoughts go into the records of history.
The Formation of Modern Ethiopia
At one point in history, Ethiopia had traditional type of federation or confederation (whatever it could be called). That was known as Zemene Mesafinit: Zemen – meaning era, and Mesafinit – meaning regional rulers. The Zemene Mesafinit was never based on linguistic or ethnic boundaries. The Shewa ruler was the ruler of both the Oromos and the Amharas in the Shewa province.
The modern Ethiopia as we know it today was conceived by Emperor Theodros the second who brought an end to the Zemene Mesafinit and tried to unite Ethiopia into one strong nation. What was conceived by Theodros II was realized by Emperor Menelik II. The different regional rulers were subjugated to be a province of the modern Ethiopia each. Emperor Haile Silassie followed the same administration structure as his predecessors. Even the socialist Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam also continued with the same, until the Tigrian People Liberation Front (TPLF) led group, the Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), took power in May 1991.
In 1991, TPLF took power after fighting the socialist government for 17 years. Then, this group in power immediately changed the long existing geographical administration structure and instituted the ethnic/linguistic federalism and tore the country into 9 regions and two city administrations.
The linguistic boundaries were artificially lined up by the elite politicians without the direct involvement of the people. Following that, various political rhetoric that stated that one ethnic group was oppressed by the other were born and nurtured into the current state of hate among the ethnic groups. The elites in each ethnic group developed their own respective factions and followers in the current era of Facebook.
The Current War
Fast forward, the people who shared so many similarities, who mingled in marriage, social and religious ties were dragged into ethnic clashes and conflicts. These clashes and conflicts escalated into a full-fledged war. The actors who fuel the conflicts and draw people from all sides into such tragic war are so called political activists who reside thousands of miles away from the country and who send their children to peaceful and best schools, who lead luxurious lifestyles, who never tasted the bitterness of war and starvation at all.
The war on the ground is sadly harming the poor farmers and villagers who struggle for survival in life. The fighter soldiers are the sons and daughters of the innocent poor farmers and villagers. Those who are being displaced, massively killed and massacred are not the war-monger Diaspora and their children but again the poor innocent farmers, villagers and their children. Millions on both sides and all ethnic groups are displaced, exposed to starvation, and being killed savagely and aimlessly. In this 21st century when the globe is becoming a small village and when people are mixing and living together
now more than ever, people of the same color, people of the same soil, people of the same religion, people of the same ancestors are fighting and massively killing each other.
The Aggravating Forces
Nobody should be closer and more concerned about Tigrians than their brother and sister in Amhara, and vice-versa. Nobody should be more concerned about and helpful for the Amharas than their Oromo kins and neighbors, and vice-versa.
Nevertheless, the foreign powers are meddling in this and fueling the fight by supporting one side and condemning the other. I am writing this to history: in what calculation did the UN Security Council convene 11 times on Ethiopia within just 12 months? What precedence the Council had before? How many other nations have been treated this way?
If humanitarian organizations, like the UN and its affiliates, really care about and for humanity, who should they be more concerned about? It should be the innocent civilians than a rebel group! The International community and the world political powers should condemn the war and the warlords instead of fueling the war. It is not Getachew or Demeke, Abiy or Debretsion or their children who are being killed, displaced or starved due to the war. It is the peaceful civilian citizens. So, humanity at all levels should condemn the aimless, unjustified aggression of TPLF who adore and pride over being warriors and warlords.
The Outcome of the War
This war, as I pointed out above, is not the people’s war. It does not represent and benefit the people of Ethiopia in general and the people of Tigray in particular. It never does any benefit at all! It is a war that has been waged by TPLF out of vengeance and fear of accountability for the atrocities and looting they performed while on power for three decades. The war, no matter how much cover-up justification is fabricated for it by TPLF and OLA, it is not in the interest of the Tigrian and Oromo majority living on the land. The majority of Ethiopians in general are not worried about politics, about type of federalism. Most are rather worried about how they can escape poverty, illiteracy, disease, and backwardness. Politics and type of government structure are least known, if at all, by and are not-dream-for luxuries to most Ethiopians. If anybody is concerned about the Ethiopian majority, they need to debate on how they can give them access to quality education, to healthcare services, to transportation infrastructure, to safe drinking water and electricity!
The war, therefore, is a complete savagery and a curse for the entire Ethiopian population regardless of ethnicity, religion, or locality. The war worsens problems Ethiopians already faced and multiplies the sufferance they are undergoing by killing their working family members, by destroying their meager infrastructure and economy, by displacing them, and what not….
In conclusion, we all Ethiopians need to learn from our long history of conflicts, civil wars, unjust hatred we hold to one another. We need to say enough to all that and need to forgive ourselves and heal. The international humanitarian organizations and community need to really be concerned about humanity – about the peace-loving, innocent citizens on the ground, not about the political actors and their agenda!
*Opticle is my own coinage for representing Opinion Article.