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Ethiopia is in turmoil

Ethiopia’s ethnic tensions may cause a civil war

The possibility of a  civil war stirs between Ethiopia and its Tigray region. Since Nov. 4, missiles have been launched, with various battles held across the country. 20,000 civilians have fled to Sudan. All of this has unfolded under a communication blackout.

The conflict began with a surprise attack made by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TLPF) on an Ethiopian military base. This was a consequence of a dispute between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray leadership over a regional election that was federally illegal.

The reporting of this conflict became murky when Abiy cut electricity, telephone, and internet services in Tigray. It became a media blind spot.

Since then, the situation has escalated rapidly. Missiles struck Ethiopian airports, the Tigray Region and bordering country Eritrea. According to the TLPF’s leader Debretsion Gebremicheal, Eritrea is sending troops in Tigray, justifying their missile strike in Eritrea’s capital.

Due to the blackout, no one can confirm nor deny these claims, but both Eritrea’s leader and Prime Minister Abiy have been prompt in denying this.

The lack of on-foot media coverage has made this conflict hard to follow, but the facts are these: 20,000 refugees have fled the Tigray region to Sudan; missiles were exchanged between the TLPF, Eritrea and the rest of Ethiopia; there is evidence of mass killings in the Tigray region; Abiy is resolute in trying “to save the country and region from instability,” and the TLPF has no intentions of backing down.

The cause of this situation lies in Ethiopia’s deep-rooted ethnic dilemmas. The Tigrayan’s TLPF ruled the country for almost 20 years until they merged into a coalition due to other ethnic groups feeling discriminated against.

It is called the Prosperity Party and it appointed Ahmed as Prime Minister in 2019. Although, the relationship between Tigray and the rest of the country deteriorated when the TLPF left the coalition.

From then on, Ahmed turned against Tigrayan leadership, and they were eventually pushed aside from the federal government altogether. This escalating tension resulted in civil unrest.

Ethiopia has one of Africa’s largest military forces, but their most experienced fighters are Tigrayan. Most of their military hardware is controlled by Tigrayans. So, if this escalates further, the consequences could be very damaging to the Horn of Africa.

A civil war in Ethiopia and surrounding countries could bring Africa to a halt. If it keeps escalating under a media blackout, who knows where this will go.

 

Graphic by @the.beta.lab

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Swept Under the Rug: the cost of the Renaissance Dam

The construction of the biggest dam in Africa is creating friction

The Nile River’s water flow will soon be dominated by human hands as Ethiopia is constructing the biggest dam in Africa on one of its core arteries: the Blue Nile.

The Nile is vital for the survival of the countries down its path. Now that Ethiopia has the power to cut one of its flows, this conflict specifically targets Egypt and Sudan, who historically rely on the Nile’s yearly water cycles to sustain themselves.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is a nation-defining opening for Ethiopia. The opportunities that it will bring to this poverty-stricken country is immeasurable as it will produce a reliable source of income and jobs for Ethiopians.

Also, according to the World Bank, only 45 percent of Ethiopians have access to electricity. This dam will be able to offer service for all Ethiopians with enough leftover energy to offer surrounding countries. So, for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, this strengthens his resolve to complete the construction of the dam.

For Egypt and Sudan, the consequences of Ethiopia’s control over the Blue Nile are dire. According to Al-Jazeera, Egypt gets about 90 per cent of its fresh water from the river, and the Blue Nile contributes to 85 per cent of the Nile’s water flow.

Even partially cutting water supply from the Blue Nile could have catastrophic effects for the over 140 million Egyptian and Sudanese people.

Since 2011, negotiations have been ongoing between the three countries to reach a consensus, but Ethiopia has been shrewd throughout. For Ahmed, keeping up with a bigger country like Egypt is a show of strength for the Ethiopians. According to The Week, Ahmed has the intention to mobilize troops if push comes to shove.

Even with the mediation of the African Union, currently led by South Africa, the negotiations have not progressed.

Ethiopia is still proceeding forward with the dam’s construction, disregarding Egypt and Sudan’s fragile water supply.

Recently, Ethiopia has banned flight activities over the dam’s construction site for security reasons, according to The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority. Ethiopia’s reluctance to give further details will put yet another dent in the everlasting negotiations.

Ahmed said last month at the United Nations that Ethiopia has no intention to harm Egypt and Sudan, but the targeted countries have continued to voice their concerns.

However, the Ethiopian government officially announced that it has every intention to start generating power with GERD’s two established turbines this year.

They are committed to completing this project, even if agreements have not yet been met. This leaves Egypt and Sudan in suspense; will there be a way for them to reach an agreement, or will the dam be completed beforehand?

 

Graphic by @the.beta.lab

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