Ethiopia Geopolitics

The vastness, the complex historical path and the multiple ethnic and cultural identity make Ethiopia a leading country with enormous potential and at the same time represent the elements of greatest fragility. In the name of the principle of self-determination, to which all communities in the country can potentially appeal, the government of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (Eprdf) has led a process of radical social and institutional change, inspired by an ethnic-based federal model. Ethiopia is now made up of nine ethnic regions (Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, Benishangul-Gumuz, Region of Nations, Southern Nationality and Peoples, Gambela and Harar). A detail has been recognized in the cities of Addis Ababa and Diredaua status autonomy. In 1991 the guerrillas of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (Tplf) overcame the Derg army, now en route, and occupied the capital, Addis Ababa, decreeing the definitive fall of the socialist-inspired military regime that governed the country since 1974, when Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia, was deposed. Together with the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (Eplf), the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (Epdm), the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (Opdo) and the Southern Ethiopia People’s Democratic Front (Sepdf), the Tplf founded a coalition party, the ‘Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (Eprdf), in which each party represented an ethnicity. Through the control of the EPRDF, the TPLF took control of the new federal republic.¬†For Ethiopia 2001, please check

The control exercised by the EPRDF has been maintained over the years, effectively reproducing a one-party political system and preventing a real transition to multi-partyism. Federalism has allowed the emergence of new local elites, but has not altered a paternalistic and authoritarian government policy. The actual participation of the various opposition forces in the federal and regional elections, which followed one another from 1995 to 2010, was prevented or limited by a series of intimidation and discrimination attributable to the ruling party. The opposition, even on an ethnic basis, to the hegemony of the EPRDF has thus gradually taken on a violent character. The death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, leader of the TPLF since the time of the opposition to the Derg, which took place in August 2012, after a few months of illness, put the leadership Ethiopian in the face of the difficulties of an unexpected transition. The delicate ethnic balances that are at the basis of the holding of the state have thus been put at risk. Hailemariam Desalegn, of Wolayta ethnicity, deputy and successor of Meles according to the provisions of the Constitution, represented a temporary solution to keep exogenous forces within and between ethnic groups under control. At the end of 2012, Hailemariam carried out a government reshuffle which assigned an important role to exponents of various origins and factions: perhaps it was not a greater openness towards a less centralizing model, but the manifestation of Hailemariam’s inability to keep the different souls of the movement united and therefore the need to make important concessions to the main actors on the political scene.

The reorganization of Ethiopia on the basis of local autonomy through the principle of self-determination constituted the premise for the secession of Eritrea as early as 1991. The former Italian colony has maintained a very important strategic role for Ethiopia due to its complementarity cultural, economic and geopolitical: the Eritrean ports of Massawa and Assab constitute the natural outlet for Ethiopian trade.

Eritrea’s exit from the birr monetary area in 1997 not only led to Ethiopian retaliation for not accepting payments in nakfa, the new Eritrean currency, but triggered a crisis that resulted in a real war. The fighting began in 1998, starting from a border dispute, and only ended in 2000 with the intervention of a United Nations interposition mission. The international mission also ended in 2008, due to the repeated boycott by the Eritrean side. Since then, the tension has increased again along the border, until it exploded openly in 2012, following an action by the Ethiopian army within the Eritrean borders.

The conflict with Eritrea also indirectly reproduced during the military intervention that Ethiopia carried out in Somalia from December 2006 to January 2009 and then from the end of 2011, to protect its national security and to serve US policy in the region.. Ethiopian troops intervened in aid of the Somali transitional federal government against Islamist groups which enjoyed the support of the Eritrean government. In October 2013, two Somali citizens died following an explosion at the Addis Ababa stadium: it is suspected that they were preparing an attack. The risk of retaliation by Somali Islamic terrorist groups, al-Shabaab in the first place, therefore remains high and security standards have been strengthened.

Its role as a barrier to the spread of Islamic terrorism in the Horn of Africa makes Ethiopia the main US ally in the region. Ethiopia is a member of the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Agency for Development (Igad), the regional organization of the Horn of Africa and the African Union (Au), which is based in Addis Ababa. The dispute with Sudan over mutual interference has faded with the signing in 2000 of a bilateral treaty for the peaceful resolution of conflicts and border security.

Ethiopia Geopolitics

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