Ethiopia On Brink Of New Era – OpEd


1) Introduction 

International Human rights organizations and communities based in various European countries express deep concern about the fast-deteriorating crisis in Ethiopia. The recent wave of attacks on Amharas is on the verge of becoming a full-blown genocide.

Because the Government has recently declared a state of emergency in the Amhara region, many of these abuses have been hidden from view. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has imposed restrictions throughout Amhara region and obstructed efforts by independent investigators, journalists, and humanitarian workers, making it difficult to verify accounts from the region. 

The situation has recently escalated even further, as Abiy Ahmed’s regime launched an all-out war against Fano in Amhara region. The government has shut down the internet in an effort to control the narrative and conceal their crimes. The war has reached horrifying levels, with heavy weaponry and drones being used against defenceless civilians, religious institutions and historical sites. 

A case in point is the recent aggression that included the deployment of drone and air attacks on the cities of Bahir Dar and Gonder (both world-renowned cities with UN Heritage Site) as well as Denbecha, Finote Selam and Debre Birhan. Among the horrific casualties is the Fasilades Castle — an iconic symbol of the nation’s history and a UNESCO World Heritage Site[1] and several other monasteries.

In this article I attempt to outline the very current situation. Residents in Addis Ababa are awaiting the arrival of Fano[2] in what can only be described as a symptom that Ethiopianism is on the rise. With people starving, mass protests are underway in most places in the Amhara region. Abiy’s government is unlikely to survive a sustained mass uprising in the Amhara region, especially given the country’s mounting political and economic crisis. This interim could be the harbinger of a dangerous convulsion. 

Ethiopia is becoming increasingly fragile and unstable. A cumulative of political, social, cohesion, and economic indicators from, for example, the Fund for Peace, ranked Ethiopia as the 26th most fragile state in the world in 2006, and 11th in 2021. Other reputable academic and research publications point in the same direction, essentially an overall deterioration. If this trend continues, that Ethiopia could fail might not be as far-fetched as it first seems.

The ‘current post-Pretoria peace’ deal is fragile. One should not delude oneself. The deal is anything but political expediency and dangerous machinations of a regime adept at constantly shifting unprincipled alliances. This interim could be the harbinger of a dangerous convulsion. As Ethiopia fails so does the Greater Horn/North-East Africa. The contagion will spread all over, eventually affecting maritime trade across the Red Sea Lane and the Bab el Mandab; spilling over and deepening conflict among Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt over the waters of the Nile not to speak of the instability the flow of refugees and displaced persons across borders engenders all over the region. Such deterioration coupled with unpredictable developments in the Middle East and the gathering storm of conflict between the US/West and China/Russia might turn the region into one of two or three hottest theatres where the most intense geo-political conflicts of the 21st century will play out.

The Ethiopian government must immediately end ethnically motivated arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings and amend the state of emergency proclamation to bring it in line with international law. The international community and several European countries have urged all Ethiopian leaders and civic groups to demonstrate the magnanimity and vision needed to reconstruct a country that has suffered far too long already but to no avail. They keep on calling on any negotiated political settlement to include a process of public accountability for mass atrocities committed across Ethiopia and in particular in the Amhara region. The dispossession and displacement of Amhara farmers and residents including those in the suburbs of Addis Ababa must stop. The world must wake up to this fast-changing phase of the Amhara protest and tragedy. If the government does not properly respond to the peaceful demands of the people for their rights in a just social order, the people of Amhara will be obliged to start taking drastic measures that have serious repercussions both for the regime and for the country. As we speak the Fanos are advancing to Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia is sliding into the jaws of genocide. Tens of towns in the Amhara region have been massacred in recent weeks, the latest one being Awra Godana town by the Oromia region Special Forces. Thousands were slaughtered as death went door to door: families murdered, bodies rotting outside, and mass graves appearing on satellite imagery. Now there’s evidence of child soldiers being used and killed. (The concern has been expressed by ID: Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia – 18th Meeting, 54th Regular Session of Human Rights Council. Date. 21 Sep 2023).

It’s already being called a genocide[3]. But as journalists are hunted down or blocked from the country, mass atrocities are hidden from the news, and the world does almost nothing. We have identified a “sleeping network” of Ethiopian journalists, ready to report from the frontlines. They can drag hidden horrors into the light — but first, they need funding to operate in a literal war zone. We need photographers, fact-checkers, and targeted political pressure to shatter the silence. Launch a specialist Human Rights Action Team to track emerging threats, and mobilise millions across the planet to defend democracy and the Amharas and the rest of Ethiopians’ fundamental rights.

2)  Addis Ababa Awaits Fano’s Liberation

We need a new historical chapter in Ethiopia without ethnic and religious conflict! Ethnicity and religion are used by incapable people to seize power and use power to steal money and property from the people! Abiy Ahmed does not know the ABC of development economics and yet he brags about being able to bring about rapid economic development in Ethiopia! He definitely has brought billions of birr for himself and his lackeys and henchmen! He gave 3500 sqm of prime land in two different places to Field Marshal Berhanu Jula and made him a billionaire overnight! Adanech Abebe, previously a rustic-looking woman, is now getting used to sporting British and French designer clothes and 45,000-birr scarves into the bargain! Shimeles Abdisa is claiming the entire Oromia Killil including Addis Ababa and his plundered money and wealth are reported to be eye-watering for the envious and mouth-watering for the vultures of corruption! Abiy himself is building a fabulous trillion-birr palace in the hope of competing with kings and princes of the United Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

By contrast, the people are not even allowed to live their God-given lives in their beloved country, which we together built from the ground up over centuries of hard work and sacrifice, particularly Amharas, the largest language and ethnic group in Ethiopia, have been labelled as “Jawessa” (read “cockroach as in the Rwanda genocide) by none other than a self-professed Amhara, one called Daniel Kibret, and are being pursued and stalked for ethnic cleansing, genocide and inhuman detention in concentration camps as in Nazi Germany!

As if that is not enough, inflation, unheard-of high youth unemployment, near-absence of investment, extreme supply shortages of all kinds, currency depreciation and informal devaluation, severe macroeconomic imbalances, etc. mainly arising from the Abiy regime’s gross mismanagement of the Ethiopian economy, are having a crushing and devastating impact on the largely docile Ethiopian people! Now, though, particularly the great Amhara people are saying enough is enough and have taken up arms to strike terror into the hearts of the Abiy coterie who slashed the bulging bellies of pregnant Amhara women, scooped third-trimester foetuses and ate them with chili powders! Horrific evil of unprecedented barbarity.

That is why Addis Ababans are anxiously waiting for Fano to capture Addis Ababa. Fano is a traditional and cultural volunteer militia that mobilises itself spontaneously, particularly in times of external aggression as in the case of fascist Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in the 1930s.  Now the aggression has come not from outside, although outside forces may be operating behind the scenes, but from internal forces masquerading as freedom fighters! The main enemy protagonists are OPDO, OLF, ONEG SHENE, TPLF and BEADEN. Spurred by righteous indignation at being betrayed and massacred by the genocidal Abiy kleptocracy, Fano is now breathing down Abiy’s throat where he is virtually in hiding in Addis Ababa ranting at his generals and ministers including at the shameless traitor Berhanu Nega, who was once an economics professor at an American university!

The big question now is: when is Fano coming to dinner in Addis?! Of course, Abiy and the two Berhanu’s won’t be invited to the banquet. That is for sure! Oh! How anxious we the people are for that day to arrive sooner than later.

3) The Ethiopian Economy Appears to Defy Economic Theory

Devaluation is supposed to boost exports according to economic theory but here in Ethiopia exports have actually declined.  Inflation is supposed to reduce demand but here in Ethiopia demand does the opposite to create supply shortages. The government is expected to introduce some sort of rent control during periods of high inflation, as is presently the case in Ethiopia, but the government has actually increased rents on government-owned houses by over 200 percent. 

If prices go up, says economic theory, production tends to go up but actually in Ethiopia production goes down. When inflation gets too high workers demand wage increases to compensate for the resulting loss of real income but here in Ethiopia, people draw down on their savings, and people who don’t have savings reduce the number and volume of their meals drastically! When inflation is high interest rates go up to tighten monetary policy but in Ethiopia the bank money deposit interest rate is negative by over 23 percent in nominal terms.

In Ethiopia prices of goods and services have soared beyond belief within a short period of time: the price of a single egg has soared from 8 birr to 16 birr; the price of a cup of milk has gone up from 28 birr to 45 birr; that of toothpaste (75ml) from 140 to 275 birr; that of one quintal of teff staple crop) from 7ooo birr to 13000 birr; that of a kilo of butter from 560 birr to nearly 800 birr; that of toilet soap (Life boy-small) from 10 birr to 35 birr and that of a loaf of bread from 4 birth to 8 birr!

And modern human behaviour in Ethiopia seem to be counterintuitive and contrary to the tenets of psychology.  Addis Ababans, 10 million strong according to some estimates, accept all this state of affairs with apparent equanimity. With high inflation, their average poverty level has soared but their response is a deafening silence. The government, tired of printing currency to cover fiscal deficits, has now resorted to tax and rent increases. Most of the over one million government pensioners live below the poverty line. Nearly 3 million active civil servants teeter around the poverty threshold. But the silence in Addis Ababa is more deafening than the hooting and honking of the motor traffic on the roads. How long the ominous silence will remain is anybody’s guess but that the Ethiopian economy apparently defies economic theory is a rather strange phenomenon that needs to be further investigated. Psychology is, however, waiting for that critical tipping point which is still expected to unleash a momentous popular uprising in the midst of the capital city of Ethiopia and the citadel of African Unity!

[1] Ethiopia: ‘Hundreds killed’ in drones, jet attacks in Amhara | APA news – African Press Agency

[2] Fano: A living saviour of the Amhara people And the Ethiopian spirit.


Girma Berhanu

Girma Berhanu, Department of Education and Special Education (Professor), University of Gothenburg

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