Is Ethiopia Moving Towards Civil War?

by Muhammad Al-Hashimi, July 26, 2020

Civil WarOn Monday, 29 June 2020, the famous Oromo activist and singer Hachalu Hundessa was assassinated by a gunman on the outskirts of Finfinne (Addis Ababa), the Ethiopian capital.  The following day, 30 June 2020, Jawar Mohammed, the globally respected Oromo activist and media mogul, was arrested by Ethiopian security forces while attending the funeral activities for Hachalu Hundessa.  Arrested along with Jawar was Bekele Gerba, a highly respected veteran Oromo activist.

Behind the assassination and arrests, unrest broke out all across the Oromia region of Ethiopia.  The Internet was shut down in Ethiopia and international phone service was disrupted.  Thousands of Oromo youth immediately filled the streets of Finfinne and many other towns across Oromia mourning Hachalu’s death. The Ethiopian security forces violently reacted against the mourners.  As a result, many Oromo were injured.  According to one report, some 10,000 Oromo have been displaced, over 5,000 detained, and more than 230 killed by security forces in the ensuing violence across Oromia.

Now, with the arrests of Jawar and Bekele, a heightened sense of anger and outrage now accompanies the mourning and grief of the Oromo people!  In the eastern city of Harar, the anger and outrage felt by Oromo youth led them to tear down a statue of Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael, the father of Emperor Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia who was deposed in 1974 by a military coup led by then Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam.  The statue depicts Ras Makonnen sitting on a horse as an important military figure and former governor of Harar province in the 19th century under then Emperor Menelik II.

The imperial regime under Menelik II was a colonial nightmare for the Oromo people.  The anti-Oromo policies established by Menelik were continued by Haile Selassie.  Thus, the statue of Ras Makonnen was torn down not only because it is a historical reminder of anti-Oromo treachery of the former Ethiopian monarchy, but also because it is a symbol of the anti-Oromo treachery of Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the current prime minister of Ethiopia, who has publicly praised the exploits of the monarchy, especially those of former Emperor Menelik II!  No doubt other imperial statues will be coming down soon in Ethiopia!

Now, the apparent government assassination of Mr. Hachalu coupled with the arrests of Mr. Jawar and Mr. Bekele at the funeral of Mr. Hachalu clearly shows to anyone with eyes to see that Abiy Ahmed, guided by his spiritual love and attachment to the anti-Oromo exploits of the former Ethiopian monarchy, is determined to destroy the legitimate progressive leadership of the Oromo people!  In the two years and four months that he has been in power, Abiy Ahmed has managed to maneuver himself into staying in power indefinitely.  Believe me, it would not surprise me that Abiy Ahmed in future begins to refer to himself as “Menelik III,” such is the love and respect he has for Menelik II, this historical oppressor of the Oromo and Muslim peoples of Ethiopia!

In my analysis, the nation-state of Ethiopia is on the verge of blowing up!  Unless there is some kind of profound breakthrough, I cannot see anything but armed conflict about to take place.  With the great Hachalu Hundessa assassinated and Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba arrested, the Oromo community across the world no doubt feels that it has its collective back against the wall.  And when you have your back against the wall with no place to go that is when you strike out against your oppressor by any means necessary!

Muhammad Al-Hashimi, PhD, is an Adjunct Professor at Euclid University (Pole Universitaire Euclide), www.euclid.int, Washington, DC, USA; and Banjul, The Gambia, West Africa.

Copyright© Muhammad Ali Alula Al-Hashimi, 2020 / 1441; (26 July 2020 / 5 Dhul-Hijjah 1441)

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