ETH-WarBy Tonny Onyulo 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Recently, Tigrayans opened the door to a peace agreement, offering to withdraw their forces from outside of their province.  
 
Tigrayan leader Debretsion Gebremichael sent a letter to the United Nations officials this week, calling the withdrawal "a decisive opening act for peace." He hoped the move would end hostilities and jumpstart peace negotiations.
But Tigrayans and others in Ethiopia don't believe things can return to normal so easily. In fact, many are pessimistic that Ethiopia's diverse tribes can ever live in harmony, especially after the brutality of this conflict which has killed thousands, displaced millions and led the UN to pledge to investigate crimes against humanity committed by both sides.
"The government does not want to see any Tigrayans," said Kehase Aregawi, 35, who is a Tigrayan, an ethnic group from the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia.
"They want to finish us," he added, while serving tea and freshly cooked rice to his customers at his hotel in this sprawling capital. "We are dying. There might be no Tigrayans remaining if the conflict continues the way it is."
Last November, fighting broke out in this Horn of Africa country between government troops and Tigrayan forces after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military offensive against the region: He blamed the Tigray People's Liberation Front, a political party that dominates Tigray – and dominated the country of 115 million for three decades until Abiy took over in 2018 – for staging an attack on a military camp in the region.
Tigray has long resisted the federal government's power.
After eight months of intense fighting, Mr. Abiy's government declared a unilateral ceasefire and pulled forces from Mekelle, the capital city of the Tigray region. Since then, however, Tigray forces advanced and captured several towns, including Dessie and Kombolcha near Addis Ababa, raising fears that the rebel forces may capture the capital itself.
Mr. Abiy, a former lieutenant colonel in the military, led troops against advancing Tigray rebels, announcing recently that his troops had recaptured Dessie and Kombolcha.
"The struggle isn't yet finished," said Mr. Abiy, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for making peace with neighboring Eritrea. "We should offer a long-lasting solution to make sure the enemy that has tested us doesn't become a danger to Ethiopia again."
His supporters say they won't rest until the rebels are defeated.
"Tigrayans have not accepted that anyone else can lead this country," said Muktar Mohammed, a resident of Addis Ababa, who is also an Abiy. "They are angry, and they want to retake power through the backdoor. They killed everyone and destroyed our country's economy when they were in power."
"We will not allow them to ascend to power," he added "We will defeat them. They are our enemy number one."
Analysts say such prevailing sentiments on both sides could lead to a protracted civil war, threatening the future of Ethiopia, in spite of a ceasefire.
"Ethiopia could be destabilized," said Macharia Munene, history and international relations professor at the United States International University-Africa in Nairobi. "The residents of Ethiopia are suffering a lot, and it's going to be chaotic in the future if the war continues. The nation is underdeveloped, and people are facing hunger and starvation."
"In the worst-case scenario, the rebel forces capture Addis Ababa – then there would be no country," he added.
Meanwhile, fears have been escalating over the conflict destabilizing the region, especially as hundreds of thousands of refugees have crossed borders into unstable Sudan and also Kenya. Eritrea has already been drawn in, helping the government militarily.
Munene says Sudan, with its recent coup, fragile transition to democracy and economic crisis, is in no position to handle the influx. He worries about larger numbers leaving Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, analysts are split over a solution to the conflict. Munene believes a national dialogue is the path forward, saying that Mr. Abiy needs to reach out to rebel forces and allow for candid and democratic dialogue to address the causes.
"Military action cannot solve the Ethiopian crisis because the strategy has failed before," he said, urging the U.N. and other key partners to put pressure on Ethiopia for a ceasefire to allow for dialogue. "Abiy's bid to use the military to centralize power in Addis Ababa and destroy the country's multi-ethnic federation has failed and is proving disastrous for the country."
However, Adan Getachew, a security analyst in Addis Ababa, disagreed. For a peaceful solution to be achieved, he said, rebel forces will have to be defeated by the government to save the country from collapsing.
"It's a risky situation because there must be a winner in this war," he said, adding that the rebels' intention is to return to power by any means necessary.
"Dialogue cannot work in this situation because everyone needs power," he added. "It's either the government troops who win the war and save the country or lose it to rebel forces, and we become like Somalia and Afghanistan."
To date, Gebremichael has asked the UN diplomats to "establish a mechanism to ensure the immediate and veritable cessation of all forms of hostilities" and "the total withdrawal of all external forces" from Tigray as well as the creation of a no-fly zone over the region excluding humanitarian and civilian aircraft. He has also requested an arms embargo on Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The Ethiopian government has not responded.
Meanwhile, both Tigrayans and non-Tigrayans say the conflict has escalated ethnic tensions on the ground, especially in Addis Ababa, where both sides lived peacefully for years.
"This is no longer our country – all Tigrayans have been labeled as terrorists," said Bisrat Kibret, a Tigrayan woman and mother of two living in Addis Ababa. "The police and army are raiding homes, community places, and workplaces looking for Tigrayans. Many have been killed, tortured and detained for falsely being accused of supporting rebel forces."
Aregawi says the international community must intervene.
"Our country needs help right now," he said. "We are worried about our country."

Photo: November 3, 2021 - Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed greeting soldiers. Last November, fighting broke out in this Horn of Africa country between government troops and Tigrayan forces after the prime minister launched a military offensive against the region.
Credit: Courtesy of Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia's official Twitter account (11/03/21)

Story/photo published date: 12/23/21

A version of this story was published in the Washington Times.
b_179_129_16777215_00_images_RWA161616aa001.jpegKIGALI, Rwanda — Raking through the knee-high grass on his tea farm to clear fallen tree branches, Ezekiel Shinga marvels at how life has changed in his country in the 22 years after the genocide that made this tiny east African county a watchword for horror and brutality around the world.

“I think no one could have predicted the strides Rwanda has made in the past two decades,” said Mr. Shinga, whose farm is in the southern district of Nyaruguru. “Everything in this country has changed. People own businesses, and the majority here are tea farmers. At least everyone has income. There’s peace, and neighbors now love each other.”

Read more at The Washington Times

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_USAObama130222AA001.jpegATHENS — President Obama called for a "course correction" for the global economy Wednesday in an effort to stave off the nationalist impulses being felt in the United States and Europe.

In an address to the Greek people, Obama said growing distrust of elites and institutions demands that democratic governments work to become more responsive to the people they serve.

Read more at USA Today

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ISR150318aa001.jpegJERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud Party swept to a decisive victory results showed Wednesday in a general election that exposed Israel's rifts at home and abroad, including with the White House.

With the majority of votes counted, Likud won 30 of the 120 seats in the country's Knesset, or parliament. The center-left opposition Zionist Union party led by Isaac Herzog won 24 seats. Israel's Election Committee is expected to confirm the results Thursday.

Read more at USA Today

aranetwork news

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud Party swept to a decisive victory results showed Wednesday in a general election that exposed Israel's rifts at home and abroad, including with the White House.

With the majority of votes counted, Likud won 30 of the 120 seats in the country's Knesset, or parliament. The center-left opposition Zionist Union party led by Isaac Herzog won 24 seats. Israel's Election Committee is expected to confirm the results Thursday.

Read more at USA Today
b_179_129_16777215_00_images_111111.jpegGAZA CITY — As the Palestinian death toll rose, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Friday to continue to target members of Hamas with air strikes in Gaza until rockets the militant group has been firing into Israel from the southern border halt.

"I will end it when our goals are realized. And the overriding goal is to restore the peace and quiet," Netanyahu said at a news conference.

Read more at USA Today

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_5410433581_8ae746d004.jpegBAGHDAD — Islamic militants Tuesday attacked areas in central Baqouba, a city just 30 miles northeast of Iraq's capital Baghdad, but were pushed back by security forces and tribal fighters.

In one incident, at least 44 Sunni prisoners died in an apparent foiled rescue attempt by Sunni Muslim militants from the al-Qaeda breakaway group known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — referred to as ISIL or ISIS. The Levant is a traditional name for the region including Iraq and greater Syria.

Read more at USA Today

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Africanwomen130318AA001.jpeg

ABUJA, Nigeria — Frustration and despair over the fate of hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamic extremists in northern Nigeria is forcing families to organize the rescue themselves.

"We are trying to search for our daughters on our own," said a mother of one of the girls, asking to remain unidentified out of fear of causing her daughter further harm. "Soon we will be heading to the forest.

Read more at USA Today

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY130705aa003.jpegCAIRO - Violence persisted at Egypt’s universities this week as part of a broader conflict between authorities and student protesters that underscores rights’ activists concerns about obstacles facing independence of the nation’s universities.

On Wednesday, three blasts erupted outside Cairo University, apparently targeting riot police deployed to deal with protests staged almost daily by students. A senior police officer was killed and five others were wounded, Egypt’s state news agency reported. The protest movement Students Against the Coup distanced itself from the attack, cancelling a protest planned for midday at Cairo University. But the incident underscores wider anger at a security crackdown on government opposition.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Europe130228AA001.jpeg

Following the October 3 deaths of around 400 migrants off the Italian island of Lampedusa, European leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday have promised to put immigration on the agenda alongside scheduled discussions on growth, competitiveness and fighting unemployment. But as long they hold to the illusion that interests of migrants are at odds with those of "native" workers, their policies will continue to put lives at risk – and will do nothing to help the EU economy.

Over the past decade, Europe has invested more and more money on keeping non-Europeans out. Frontex, created in 2005 to police Europe’s external borders, saw its budget balloon from €19 million in 2006 to €85 million in 2012. But analysts say this approach does little to reduce overall immigration figures and merely plays into the hands of those ready to exploit irregular immigration, from people-smugglers to unscrupulous employers.

Read more at Occupy.com

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GRC130517aa001.jpeg

ATHENS - In crisis-ridden Greece, a network of volunteer-run crisis clinics is providing citizens with the medical care denied them by the state. 

Read more at Deutsche Welle

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ130228JR011.jpeg

Whether by a harrowing boat trip across the Mediterranean, a mountain crossing over the Turkish border or a flight to Germany, more than 2 million Syrians have fled their war-torn country to take refuge in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq as well as in the Gulf countries and in Europe.

Two million people have fled the war as of September, says the United Nations. Those who got away from the 30-month-old conflict share horror stories of snipers and aerial bombardment, of murdered loved ones and wounded friends. The problems they face in their new homes varies tremendously depending on the country.

Read more at USA Today

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IND130614MG002.jpeg

NEW DELHI — Eight young women dressed in red tunics and black scarves make their way along a narrow lane in Lucknow's Madiyav slum in northern India as young men move quickly out of their way, avoiding their eyes.

The girls reach a house at the corner of the lane: Two go in and emerge with a young man. Preeti Verma, 17, has a hand around his neck and pushes him toward the girls who then pummel him with slippers and their fists. No onlookers intervene.

Read more at USA Today

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130629aa001.jpegBERLIN - Germany takes in more refugees than any other rich country. But that does not mean it is easy for the hundreds of thousands of refugees stuck in limbo.

One year and eight months since Chima Oxumbor arrived at Düsseldorf's police station to appeal for asylum, he has a €1-an-hour (85p-an-hour) job cleaning the toilets and floors at the camp where he shares a room with four or five other people. His life in Germany is not what he expected.

Read more at The Guardian

You are here: Home Top stories