Ethiopia, a nation in danger

Editorial of the “World”. It is no longer time to take oratorical precautions for fear of offending the main stakeholders who, in any case, no longer seem to be able to listen, neither anything nor anyone: Ethiopia is a country in danger. The second most populous nation in Africa (nearly 120 million inhabitants) is no longer just in the grip of a civil war (which began a year ago), which led to the rebels of the Tigray Defense Forces in early November. (TDF) about 200 kilometers from the capital, Addis Ababa. She also faces a threat of serial breakouts.

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What is likely to erupt in Ethiopia is not only new fighting that no one seems able to win immediately, nor the TDF rebels and their allies from various armed groups than the other camp, the one Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, supported by the remnants of the federal army and militias swollen in recent months by mass recruitments.

What is likely to erupt, it is also violence going beyond the already vague framework of clashes between more or less regular soldiers. Repeatedly, hate speech targets certain communities, and in the first place the Tigrayans (originating in the region where the rebellion comes from), considered en bloc as “spies” or “enemies” even when they are not. have nothing to do with war. These words of violence multiply at the same time as the arrests, the annoyances, to which they already seem to give a blind justification. Tomorrow it could be worse.

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This verbal violence – including calls for murder – is spreading in society thanks to social networks. Facebook and Twitter are still expected to understand where the country is running and to take action to match the situation. The messages are relayed in a way that is often euphemistic, but clear to the recipients, by politicians, particularly within the Amhara group, and by “influencers” close to the loyalist camp, who are fueling tensions on the Internet.

Serial explosions

A context of civil war, a discourse of blind violence against a background of exacerbated nationalism, an “essentialization” at work, pyromaniac political leaders: this combination is likely to lay the groundwork for the worst massacres, even genocide. These serial explosions risk leading to the break-up of the Ethiopian nation. Commentators sometimes evoke the fear of seeing a recurrence in the Horn of Africa, the situation in the Balkans thirty years earlier, when, from 1990, Yugoslavia broke up, causing a cycle of wars marked by violence such as the Srebrenica genocide.

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The differences with the context of the former Yugoslavia are obvious. They are due in particular to the fact that the country ruled by Tito was a recent creation, where violent nationalisms flourished with the ease of revenge. Ethiopia has for her, in the shadow of its long history, a strong national feeling. This is his chance.

Nothing is lost, but the Ethiopian project is today in danger. In a time of all dangers, the rescue of the nation will require the treatment of many problems, ranging from the return to order in the state-provinces in full drift to the search for a consensus on how the country must be ruled. If none of this happens, then a central country, bordering the Horn, the Gulf and North Africa, risks the worst.

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Ethiopia, a nation in danger