Last week a friend tells me his family and neighbors fled to Addis Ababa from Dessie Zuria to escape the war. Most were sick from the long journey, with no money to buy food or put a roof over their head. They are going to live a hellish life. Unfortunately, my dear friend simply does not have the means to help. In one way or the other we shall all suffer the consequences of this fall out.
So a question for you, Brave Readers: Is this war worth it? How many more will have to flee their home or die?’ To date we count death in hundreds of thousands; wounded or forced to flee their homes in millions! Was it…is it worth it?
The enormous human suffering, the internal displacement and migration, the destruction of key infrastructure, and diversion of resources away from productive activities and investment in public health and education… Is it really worth it?
No one who believed the government of Abiy was on the right on November 2020, could have foreseen the scale of the war to come.
Its full repercussions are still yet to be understood.
The more protracted this conflict gets, the more logical it is to conclude that a united Ethiopia may no longer be a possibility. The fate of Ethiopia may evolve to resemble scenarios similar to Iraq and the former Republic of Yugoslavia – divided communities along ethnic loyalties.
Today neither is likely to achieve total victory. So a negotiated settlement should happen, but for this to happen both parties require the help of outside parties to get to the table and try to find common ground for accommodating divergent positions.
Obviously a lot has changed on the ground in favor of the Tigray Defense Force since the premature victory declaration by Abiy and his military leaders. The problem now is how to deal with the issues of honor, integrity, and identity when deciding whether to negotiate or not with an enemy judged as a ghastly dragon?
When one avoids analyzing a situation, when one is overly swayed by emotion, and more critically, when one is the only one deciding based on his own values, then we can expect dangerous traps. At this stage deciding not to negotiate might directly harm not only the people and the country, but indirectly affect neighboring countries and even destabilize the entire region and beyond. Abiy and his party have a greater moral obligation to negotiate. The only option now open to the PM is whether or not to make a dismal situation worse.
From where I stand, I sense there is a timid movement from PM Abiy towards calling off the war for some negotiated settlement. He may have sensed the populace may soon go restless. That’s why on a recent ‘work visit’ he (the PM) ‘advised’ regional state leaders to stop thinking about wars and focus on farming… and investing on pumps… not Kalashnikov’s.
The whole episode deserves at least a footnote in Ethiopia’s political history, for rarely has a public spectacle been so completely fake. It was, as someone rightly put it, like a graduation for a young lad who’s about to start his freshman year; incoherent for everyone.
Still, his message and intention were clear; he seems to have realized that he cannot achieve more through continued fighting than through settlement. The question then is can he be trusted to lead the country to a negotiated settlement? Can the regional state leaders credibly commit to implementing the peace agreement? Can the leaders and the people of Ethiopia use this conflict as a critical aspect of creativity and motivation to chart a new political arrangement?
We all know we can never change things by fighting a war that cannot be won. To change something, to transform it from the bottom up we should come up with a new model that makes the existing model obsolete, and reconcile the many contradictions that are visible everywhere across the country.
That said we must first be more determined than ever to peacefully end this civil war, stop the suffering of innocent civilians…. and then plan for a shopping spree.. for pumps and all other goodies.