Ethiopia is on the brink of a crisis “comparable to the one that destroyed Syria”, says Renaud Girard in Le Figaro. But while Bashar al-Assad’s civil war engulfed his 17 million countrymen, the conflict in Ethiopia threatens to consume a nation of 112 million people and “spill out into the Horn of Africa”. So much was hoped of Ethiopia’s young PM, Abiy Ahmed, when he was elected in 2018. He won a Nobel peace prize for ending a bloody war with neighbouring Eritrea and had dreams of unifying the second most populous country in Africa.
But when the proud northern region of Tigray refused to bow to Abiy’s bureaucrats, he sent in the troops last November. There’s mounting evidence of appalling atrocities: mass rapes, burnt crops, systematic looting. Abiy even forked out for brutal Eritrean militias to support the army. Just as they had with al-Assad, France, Britain and the US have an opportunity to use western leverage to convince Abiy to walk. The army’s abuses will only “galvanise the Tigrayan civilian population against the occupiers”, setting the region up for another “forever war”. The Tigrayan mountain-dwellers – “remarkable soldiers since the dawn of time” – have hit back and captured Ethiopian soldiers. Abiy is no longer a man who can calmly negotiate. “If he had Ethiopia’s good at heart, he would leave power as quickly as possible.” As things stand, he needs a nudge.
Read the full article here (paywall).