A view of the Blue Nile near Dejen, Ethiopia, in September 2020. (Yonas Tadesse/FTWP)

Egypt and Ethiopia are inching, slowly but surely, toward conflict.

Negotiations over the construction and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile — which Egypt fears will cause droughts in the country downstream — have collapsed. On Tuesday, the Egyptian president warned that “no one can take a single drop of water from Egypt, and whoever wants to try it, let him try.” The following day, the Egyptian military revealed joint air force training with Sudan, which it is calling the “Nile Eagles.” (Sudan also depends heavily on Nile water from Ethiopia). Meanwhile, the Ethiopian government is moving forward with plans to fill the reservoir of the dam, which it wants to complete by 2023.…  Seguir leyendo »

I’ll use this month’s President’s Take to highlight two places where we’re worried things could fall apart further over the month ahead, at enormous human cost.

First is Yemen. The UN calls the war the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

It has left almost a quarter of a million people dead, more than half from malnutrition and disease. Many millions more are starving, displaced or homeless. The UN’s humanitarian chief recently warned of the “worst famine the world has seen in decades”. Four hundred thousand children under the age of five are severely malnourished, he said, and “in their last weeks and months” of life.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian Army soldiers stand near children at the Mai Aini refugee camp in Ethiopia on Jan. 30. (Eduardo Soteras/AFP/Getty Images)

Nearly three months have passed since the conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began. Despite Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s assurance that the military operation ended in late November, the conflict in Tigray is far from over. United Nations officials this week cited reports that Ethiopian troops may not have the region under their command, and warned of grave food shortages, calling for the government to allow aid workers to enter the region.

On social media, pro- and anti-government groups continue to vie for control of the conflict narrative. Abiy released a statement on Tuesday encouraging Ethiopians to launch an offensive against the TPLF’s distortions and “lies” in the international arena.…  Seguir leyendo »

Etiopía no es cualquier país. Etiopía es un espejo que plasma bondades y desventuras de todo el continente africano. Lejos de las hambrunas de los años 80 que subyacen en nuestro imaginario, Etiopía crece hoy económicamente por encima de la media africana y del mundo; posee voz propia, resistiendo injerencias extranjeras, y presume de orgullo patrio por ser el único territorio no colonizado de África. Sede de la Unión Africana, la llegada al poder en 2018 del Primer Ministro, Abiy Ahmed, reconocido en 2019 con el Premio Nobel de la Paz por finalizar el conflicto duradero con la vecina Eritrea, encarnó la esperanza africana para este siglo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian refugee children who fled the Tigray conflict wait in a line for a food distribution by Muslim Aid at the Um Raquba refugee camp in Sudan. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopia’s long-serving former foreign minister, was one of the foremost African diplomats of his generation. He was gunned down this month in Tigray by the armed forces of a lesser man – Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister and Nobel peace prize winner. Some suggest it was the Eritrean military, Abiy’s allies, who killed Seyoum, although their presence in Tigray is officially denied. The circumstances of his death remain murky.

As with much of the unreported, unchallenged murder and mayhem currently occurring in northern Ethiopia, murky is what Abiy prefers. When he ordered the army’s assault on the breakaway Tigray region in November, he blocked the internet, shut out aid agencies and banned journalists.…  Seguir leyendo »

Refugees from the Tigray region of Ethiopia head to a refugee camp in Hamdayet, Sudan. (Byron Smith/Getty Images)

I was first in northern Ethiopia in the mid-’80s in the wake of the horrific famine that took the lives of a million people. In the 35 years since then, Ethiopia’s story has been one of remarkable progress. Children in school and jobs created. Roads, railways, factories and power stations built. Addis Ababa became one of the leading African cities; Ethiopia a bulwark of relative stability in the region.

What’s tragic about the current conflict is the danger of all that progress being lost.

As I write, the conflict in and around Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region is well into its fifth week, with hundreds of people reportedly killed, tens of thousands displaced and millions enduring day after day without food, water and power.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Nov. 30. (Amanuel Sileshi/AFP/Getty Images)

There was an aura of excitement when Abiy Ahmed became prime minister of Ethiopia after the abrupt resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn in 2018. Abiy was from a new generation of Ethiopian leadership that wanted to reshape a nation in pain — from civil unrest, famine, and the lack of democracy and peace in a region known for endless conflict.

Abiy, an Oromo, was sworn in as a 42-year-old, one of the youngest leaders in an African continent full of dictators who extend their terms far beyond their time. He spoke from the House of People’s Representatives, reflecting on the protection of human rights, peaceful coexistence with Ethiopia’s archenemy Eritrea and the importance of opening up the democratic process.…  Seguir leyendo »

Refugees on Monday stand on the bank of a river that separates Sudan and Ethiopia. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered troops into the northern region of Tigray on Nov. 4, accusing a powerful faction of traitorous behavior. On Saturday, the government claimed its military took control of the region’s capital city, Mekele. On Monday, the Tigray leadership accused Ethiopian troops of launching a “genocidal campaign” in the region.

Tensions have been brewing with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), once a dominant force in Ethiopia’s regime, since Abiy gained power. The conflict erupted soon after Abiy claimed that the TPLF crossed a “red line” when Tigrayans attacked a federal military base in early November. Fears of mass atrocities grew after Abiy’s 72-hour ultimatum for the TPLF’s surrender expired last week.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Ethiopian refugee who fled fighting in the Tigray Region looks on from behind a fence as she waits with others at the Village 8 border reception center in Sudan's eastern Gedaref State, on 20 November 2020. ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

A humanitarian catastrophe may soon unfold in Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Following the expiry of a 72-hour federal ultimatum demanding the Tigray government either surrender or face attack, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced he had authorised the Ethiopian army to begin an assault on the city. The cost of a clash between two heavily armed forces in a metropolis of about 500,000 inhabitants could be staggering. But it is not too late to avert more civilian deaths, nor to avoid a bloody confrontation that could inflict lasting damage to the country. Following the African Union’s lead, the U.S.,…  Seguir leyendo »

A Mekele, dans le Tigré, le 9 septembre 2020. Photo Eduardo Soteras. AFP

Les communications sont coupées ; quelques connexions intermittentes par des lignes satellites permettent d’avoir de rares nouvelles ; la vie suit son court, durement ; les vivres manquent, leur prix atteint des sommets, l’argent est rationné. C’est aujourd’hui que l’ultimatum de trois jours prononcé par le gouvernement avant de lancer son assaut final a pris fin. L’armée avait annoncé qu’elle serait sans pitié.

Les préoccupations exprimées par les partenaires internationaux au sujet des conséquences humanitaires de ce conflit ont suprêmement agacé le pouvoir, rejetant ces interférences étrangères, mais incitant à plus de modération dans les communiqués envers les populations civiles devant se tenir à l’écart des cibles stratégiques.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian refugees fleeing from the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region wait for food at the Um-Rakoba camp on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, in Al-Qadarif state, Sudan, on Nov. 23. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

In early November, Ethiopia’s federal government launched a military offensive in the country’s Tigray region. Why would leaders declare war on their own people? Could the violence potentially spread to other countries?

How the conflict started

The Ethiopian state is structured according to the principle of ethnic federalism, with nine regional ethnic states and two federally administered city-states. The northern Tigray region is inhabited by ethnic Tigrayans, and it is ruled by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The TPLF was the dominant faction in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a multiethnic, four-party coalition that ruled the country for almost 30 years before Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in 2018.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Ethiopian army’s assault on Tigray province marks a serious backwards step by the country’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who has been feted internationally as a moderniser and Nobel peace prize winner. Abiy calls it a “law enforcement operation” – but he risks being blamed for an expanding refugee emergency and a burgeoning region-wide crisis.

An even bigger fear is the break-up of Ethiopia itself in a Libyan or Yugoslav-type implosion. The country comprises more than 80 ethnic groups, of which Abiy’s Oromo is the largest, followed by the Amhara. Ethnic Somalis and Tigrayans represent about 6% each in a population of about 110 million.…  Seguir leyendo »

The humanitarian tragedy is already stretching across borders: 27,000 Ethiopians have crossed the frontier into Sudan in two weeks, the largest influx in 20 years.

Ethiopia’s Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the political party from the northern Tigray region that is battling the central government, has admitted to firing rockets at Asmara, the capital of neighbouring Eritrea. What we’re seeing in Ethiopia might be the last gasps of an empire – akin to the dissolution of the former Soviet Union – for some 115 million people. So, how did we get here?

On 4 November, while the world was occupied with the US elections, Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of a Nobel peace prize for his role in trying to resolve the conflict with Eritrea, declared war on the TPLF, launching a military offensive in response to what he claims was an attack on the Northern Command, the most powerful division of the Ethiopian army.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian migrants who fled intense fighting in their homeland region of Tigray cook a meal in the border reception center of Hamdiyet, in the eastern Sudanese state of Kasala, on Saturday. (Ebrahim Hamid/AFP/Getty Images)

In the early hours of Nov. 4, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed shut down telecommunications and deployed troops to his country’s northern Tigray region. Shortly after, a flurry of new Twitter accounts appeared and began to tweet about the situation. By the following week, new accounts were responsible for nearly a quarter of tweets about the crisis.

On the surface, this is a familiar phenomenon. Some regimes use swarms of automated accounts — known as “bots” — to sway political discourse. However, my analysis of nearly 90,000 recent tweets, along with interviews with Ethiopia’s diaspora, revealed a different phenomenon: There are real people behind most of these new accounts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Militia fighters from Ethiopia’s Amhara region in Tigray, earlier this month. The country stands on the cusp of civil war. Credit Eduardo Soteras/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The announcement last week that the government was about to launch a military operation into one of the country’s regions came, to put it lightly, as a shock.

Not only was it very far from the emollient statecraft that won Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed the Nobel Peace Prize last year, it also seemed to shatter the purpose of his premiership. When he rose to power in 2018, Mr. Abiy promised to guide Ethiopia into a new era of peace, prosperity and national reconciliation.

But on Nov. 4, he dispatched the Army to Tigray, one of the country’s 10 semiautonomous regions and home to roughly 6 percent of the population, accusing its leaders — with whom he has increasingly sparred — of attacking a government defense post and attempting to steal military equipment.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of the Tigray region special police force parade during celebrations marking the 45th anniversary of the launching of the "Armed Struggle of the Peoples of Tigray", on 19 February 2020, in Mekelle. MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP.

Unless urgently halted, the ongoing armed confrontation between Ethiopia’s federal forces and those commanded by the northern Tigray region’s leadership will be devastating not just for the country but for the entire Horn of Africa. In a televised address on 4 November, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he had ordered the military to take action against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party in the country’s northernmost region, in retaliation for what he described as a TPLF attack on a federal military base earlier that day. His office also announced a six-month state of emergency in Tigray. A war that many Ethiopians feared was possible but hoped would never happen appears to be under way.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Blue Nile river passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) near Guba in Ethiopia. Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images.

Ongoing talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan attempting to find a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the dispute over the Blue Nile Basin offer a unique opportunity for trans-boundary cooperation and have huge significance for a region dealing with multiple complex issues.

With trust clearly at a premium, the continuation of talks demonstrates good faith, but there is an urgent need to strengthen negotiations through all available diplomatic channels. The African Union (AU) is well-placed to continue mediating, but sustained high-level engagement is also needed from regional and international partners such as the EU and US, as well as multilateral support in terms of both financial and technical resources.…  Seguir leyendo »

Burned buildings which were set on fire during the violence after the assassination of Oromo's pop singer Hachalu Hundessa are seen in Shashamene, Ethiopia on 12 July 2020. Photo: Getty Images.

Violent unrest in Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromia region has led to the loss of over 177 lives, with the detention of thousands and widespread destruction to property. The rise of identity-based conflict and related political tension is the most severe test of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s leadership since he came to power two years ago.

Protests erupted after the assassination on the 29th of June of Hachalu Hundessa, a prominent Oromo singer and activist. They spiralled into widespread rioting, looting and arson which devastated some towns. Targeted attacks and killings, particularly against ethnic minorities in Oromia, have damaged communities’ social fabric and heightened regional tensions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian election authority head Birtukan Mideksa (R) swears in during the handover ceremony at the Parliament in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 22 November 2018. Anadolu Agency/Minasse Wondimu Hailu via AFP

The arrival of COVID-19 could not have come at a more sensitive time for Ethiopia, which was due to hold pivotal elections in August after five years of political turmoil. On 31 March, some two weeks after authorities announced the first coronavirus case in Africa’s second-most populous country, the electoral board suspended preparations for the vote due to the public health risk. Then, on 10 April, parliament approved a five-month state of emergency, giving authorities sweeping powers to battle the disease. As elections will not occur before parliament’s term ends in early October, an interim governing arrangement will likely be necessary.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los incendios devastadores desde el Amazonas hasta Australia, las fuertes tormentas y los patrones de lluvias cambiantes han hecho que a los responsables de las políticas les resulte difícil guardar silencio sobre el cambio climático. En Estados Unidos, legisladores y candidatos presidenciales demócratas hoy hablan de un Nuevo Trato Verde, que podrían implementar si recuperaran la Casa Blanca y el Senado en las elecciones presidenciales y parlamentarias de noviembre.

De la misma manera, en diciembre, la Comisión Europea aprobó un Trato Verde Europeo, que promete una economía sin emisiones netas de carbono en 2050, una creación generalizada de empleos y una mejor calidad de vida.…  Seguir leyendo »