Western Ethiopia is once again the scene of ethnic massacres. On Tuesday, January 12, at least 100 people were killed in an ethnic attack in the west of the country, in the Benishangui-Gumuzregion. This was announced by the Ethiopian Commission for Human Rights (EHRC). “We have received information that at least 100 people were killed on January 12 in the Daletti locality. The attack took place between 5 and 7 in the morning, with victims between the ages of 2 and 45. The attack was mainly carried out with knives and arrows but firearms were also used, ”said Aaron Maasho, EHRC spokesman.
A previous attack in the Benishangui-Gumuz region, located on the border between Ethiopia and Sudan, on 23 December resulted in over 200 victims. In this region live the Oromo, Amara and Shinasha ethnic groups. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has promised to enforce order in the region and to severely punish the perpetrators. Promises difficult to keep as it would be the fascist Amhara militias responsible for these massacres which would be part of an ethnic cleansing plan in order to free the lands of ‘unwanted’ ethnic groups. Ironically, the day before the new massacre the government media had assured that a ‘relative’ peace had been restored to the region, thanks to the severe measures taken by the federal government.
The difficulties of the federal government in reconciling the region, the scene of a studied and premeditated escalation of ethnic violence against Oromo and Shinasha, lie in the pact between Premier Abiy and the Amhara leadership to defeat the TPLF Tigrin leadership. The pact provides for military aid in Tigray in exchange for an increase in the territories of the Amhara region in southern Tigray, in Benishangui-Gumuz and in the Sudanese territories of Al-Fashqa. The pact was sought by Abiy, aware that the federal forces alone at his disposal would not be sufficient to militarily defeat the TPLF in his own territories. In fact, in Tigray, the fighting continues at an incessant pace with great difficulties for the federal government despite the fact that the TPLF has to face the federal army, the Amhara militias, the Ethiopian army and the war drones sent by the United Arab Emirates.
The extrajudicial execution of three Tigrinya leaders and the capture of Seyoum Nega, a founder of the TPLF, also seems not to have affected Tigrinya’s military strength. The news given by the Addis Ababa government a week ago had found the reticence of the international media due to lack of evidence produced. Yesterday, for the first time, an international media (Reuter) decided to report the news after local sources had ascertained its veracity. According to our sources, the murdered or arrested Tigrinya leaders (the government claims 9 arrests) are historical figures of the Tigray liberation movement who had no role in the armed resistance that the TPLF is leading.
The proposal for an alliance against the TPLF made by the Ethiopian Premier (which took place between August and September 2020 according to our sources) was immediately accepted by the Amhara leadership who saw the possibility of regaining the power lost over 40 years ago with the fall of the last King of the Solomonic Dynasty, the negus neghesti TafariMaconnèn called Hailé Selassié (Power of the Trinity) dismissed in 1974 by the communist revolution. The last emperor was imprisoned in the imperial palace in August 1975 and killed by suffocation with a pillow by order of General Menghistu HailéMariàm, who had him buried 3 meters deep under a bathroom in the building. After the collapse of the Stalinist dictatorship in 1991, Selassié’s remains were found on February 16, 1992 and buried in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Addis Ababa on November 5, 2000.
As the Amhara leadership is among the most retrograde in the country, still focused on demographic growth policies to prevail numerically over other ethnic groups and on the expansion of the territories of the Amhara region (which they consider as a real state), the price to pay for Abiy for an eventual victory over the TPLF is the Amhara expansionism by iron and fire that is seriously endangering national unity and regional peace.
The day after the Daletti massacre, the Amhara militias attacked Sudanese peasants in the disputed border lands of Al-Fashqa, killing 5 of them. This raid is part of a plan for the illegal annexation of Sudanese territories, trying to force the indigenous population to flee their lands and houses. A plan supported by the federal army which twice attempted to invade the region only to be forced to retreat due to counter offensive and the Sudanese army. On a visit to the site of the massacre, Lieutenant General Abdul-Fattah Al-Burhan, President of the Sovereign Transitional Council and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, swore before his troops to defend the homeland and protect citizens from the violence of the Amhara militias and the Ethiopian government. “How long do we have to be patient? Every situation has a limit and this one has overcome it. Al-Fasqa is our land and we are all willing to sacrifice ourselves to defend it, ”said General Al-Burhan. Consistent with the information policy based on denials, propaganda, nationalistic rhetoric, independent media repression and fake news, the Nobel War Prize winner Ambiy Ahmed Ali has paradoxically accused Sudan of attacking Ethiopian civilians, denying the massacre that took place in Al- Fashqa by the Amhara militias.
The Daletti massacre is creating all the conditions for an armed rebellion of the first Ethiopian ethnic group: the Oromo who harbor feelings of secular hatred against the Amhara accused of oppressing them for over 150 years. Ethiopia is a mosaic of ethnic groups historically in contrast with each other for fertile lands, resources and living spaces. The TPLF had devised a federalist system by creating regions for the most part mono-ethnic and giving the various ethnic groups the possibility to manage the local resources present in their territories on condition that they did not question the right of Tigers to remain at the helm of the country. Addis Ababa, considered a free zone, was and still remains the only area where the various ethnic groups live together in harmony. The system worked for about 20 years until it became clear to the other ethnic groups that the TPLF was more favoring the economic and social development of Tigray and Tigrinya. In fact, only Addis Ababa (non-Tigrinya area) has experienced an impressive construction, social and economic development as it was decided to transform it into the showcase of the “Ethiopian miracle”.
The ethnic orientation of the TPLF created resentments that resulted from 2012 in open rebellions by the Amhara and Oromo. The first in the hope of being able to regain the power lost after the Negus (Haille Selaisse). The second to claim a real representation in the central administrative, political and economic power never possessed despite being the majority ethnic group. When he was appointed Prime Minister in 2018, Abiy spoke of national unity, of feeling Ethiopian before identifying with one’s own ethnicity. An innovative message that hid a trap. The “We are all Ethiopians” was followed by a progressive weakening of the autonomous power of the regions, by violent repression of popular demonstrations, the elimination of Oromo political and cultural leaders, by a war of attrition that pushed the TPLF out in January 2020 the ruling coalition he led for 29 years and an impressive centralization of power in the federal government.
The latest and dramatic events show that the concept of national identification promoted by Abiy hides the resurgence of the centrifugal forces of Amhara nationalism that are using the Prime Minister to regain control of the country as the Amhara leadership historically feels the mistress of Ethiopia. recognized by the influential Orthodox Church due to the “divine” origins of its emperor ancestors who boasted of being the direct descendants of the Queen of Shaba and King Solomon.
The war in Tigray is symptomatic of a national political crisis in Ethiopia prior to November 3, 2020. A crisis that Abiy’s reform policy had the sole effect of accelerating events to the current and horrific bloodshed. Much of Western Tigray is now occupied by the Amhara regional state forces and a border war has broken out between the Amhara militias and the Sudanese army. The ethnically motivated killings of Amhara, Oromo and others in the regional state of Benishangul-Gumuz accelerated the intervention of the Amhara security forces, an unprecedented military deployment of one of the states of Ethiopia in another. In fact, the Amhara leadership is engaged in three low intensity wars: Tigray, Benishangul-Gumuz and Al-Fashqa in Sudan. Wars that could (perhaps already are) escape control and become three major conflicts with serious consequences for Ethiopia and the region. In their plan to reconquer the country, the Amhara leadership is implementing medieval policies where brute force and violence are the tools to regain control of Ethiopia.
The continuation of the conflict in Tigray and Amhara nationalism at the expense of the other Ethiopian states and Sudan, are creating the ideal conditions for the emergence of requests for secession from other Ethiopian states including Oromia which hosts the capital Addis Ababa. The continued violence suffered by the Oromo in the Benishangul-Gumuz region is creating strong rancor that can turn into an open armed revolt. To avoid it, the federal government should restore peace, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators and instigators of the massacres that are repeating every two weeks. A practically impossible task as the perpetrators of the violence belong to the Amhara leadership and the violence is aimed at alienating other ethnic groups to absorb the area considered to be of strategic political and economic importance given that it hosts the Great DERG dam. In reality, the task of pacifying the region has been entrusted to the Amhara militias, thus allowing the “Solomonic” leadership to exert greater pressure and violence in order to force the other two ethnic groups to abandon their lands.
Nobel War Prize Abiy’s arms policy is unlikely to be more successful in Ethiopia than it has in Syria or Libya in preserving security and mitigating threats to its neighbors in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East. The elections that the Premier has announced for next June cannot be credible, free and transparent in the current war situation. Even the policy of repression of dissent adopted by the dictator Abiy clashes with the Ethiopian youth who, like that of neighboring Sudan, are too diversified, pluralistic and eager for political changes and it is practically impossible for authoritarian repression to turn into national stability as it is. success in Chile or Argentina in the 1980s.
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