Egypt expects IMF approval of loan package next week    The godfather of CIB Egypt bank, Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, returns as chairman – Al Arabiya    Hyde Park Developments showcases projects in east and west Cairo, North Coast at Cityscape Egypt exhibition    Misr Italia eyes EGP 7.5bn in sales during 2022    MNHD intends to deliver 1,500 units by year-end    K-pop creates mutual understanding between South Korea, Egypt: Korean Cultural Center    K-pop creates mutual understanding between South Korea, Egypt: Korean Cultural Center    Over 300 French companies urge gov't action on energy price crisis    Putin signs decree on partial mobilization in Russia    Three things to learn from Prince Harry about trauma and family    Three things to learn from Prince Harry about trauma and family    Three things to learn from Prince Harry about trauma and family    Angola's newly elected President appoints new Cabinet    Shoukry participates in ministerial meeting of Group of Friends of Global Development Initiative    Egypt's FM meets with his US counterpart on side-lines of UN General Assembly meetings    Korean Cultural Centre organises closing ceremony for traditional Korean music course at Academy of Arts    Egypt's gold reserves hike to $7,078bn in November –    Irrigation Minister stresses importance of scientific research in water sector    MV Logos Hope floating library to arrive in Egypt in January 2023    Self-care matters – 36% of professional gamers in MENA, Turkiye, Africa worry about mental health condition    Amazon unveils blueprint to boost workplace inclusivity for people with disabilities in Egypt    Dior showcases 2023 fall men's collection at Egypt's pyramids    Egypt holds its first championship in American dominoes    Egypt holds its first championship in American dominoes    Byline: Pressing save on the metaverse – the future of tangible experiences    Brazil-Argentina replay called off    US aquarium saves 150 sea turtles from cold    Tech giant Apple 'expresses interest' in acquiring Manchester United – report    Egypt operates solar-powered cars at 2 archaeological sites in Luxor    Egypt launches 200 Years of Continuing Science tourism campaign    QNB Group names TikToker Khaby Lame official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 brand ambassador    Three possible scenarios as Egypt's central bank governor resigns – MP    Adele is living a love story, wants to be a homemaker    In Photos: Egypt swears in 13 new ministers after major Cabinet reshuffle    Egypt's parliament approves Cabinet reshuffle in extraordinary session    Spain: prosecutor seeks 8 years sentence for Shakira over tax evasion    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egypt's FM asserts importance of stability in Libya, holding elections as scheduled    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Brittle diplomacy
Published in Ahram Online on 31 - 08 - 2021

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Uganda and Rwanda following regional calls for mediation in order to bring the warring parties in Tigray to the negotiating table. Seeking regional supporters, he had already visited Turkey, South Sudan and Eritrea.
"It is not hard to see why he made this hurried trip: support from the rest of Africa has been eroding as the Tigray war gets bloodier," said Martin Plaut, a senior research fellow at King's College London. "The Ethiopian leader's shuttle diplomacy around the region is an indication of just how concerned the prime minister is about his increasing isolation inside Africa. He has previously alienated Egypt and Sudan over the use of the Nile's waters. Now other African neighbours are fearful that the Tigray war will destabilise the Horn. Prime Minister Abiy is attempting to shore up his support. This is an indication of weakness, not strength."
Ethiopia admitted in March that Eritrea was aiding its own troops in the war on Tigray. The foreign forces began withdrawal weeks after this announcement but there are reports indicating that the troops are returning to Tigray on the request by Addis Ababa. The US and the European Union warned of an escalation of fighting over the return of the Eritrean forces to Tigray, where Addis Ababa is fighting against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), an organisation it identifies as a terrorist group.
Both Uganda and Rwanda faced civil wars against militant groups and minorities, and those conflicts led to the killing of thousands of people in situations similar to what is happening now in Tigray, which has spread to the regions of Amhara and Afar as well.
The UN recently described the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia as "a catastrophe", calling for an immediate ceasefire and the launch of national political dialogue. Tigray faces a humanitarian blockade and is cut off from electricity and communications, with more than two million people displaced and millions more are in immediate need of food, water, shelter and health care. The UN stated that at least 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions.
With Abiy Ahmed increasingly at loggerheads with Western countries such as the US, UK and Germany, who have demanded to hold an immediate dialogue with the TPLF, Ethiopia seeks support from neighbouring countries. But Jan Abbink, a senior researcher at the African Studies Centre Leiden, said the African countries showed "indifference and divisions" in helping to get a solution for the crisis in Tigray. "They submit too much to the Western misconceived interpretations and actions of this conflict."
Ethiopia isn't only resorting to formation of strategic partnerships with African neighbours but also with countries like Turkey who already has huge interests in the country. According to official reports, Turkey, which invests heavily in the textile sector, is the second-largest investor in Ethiopia after China. There are some 200 Turkish companies in Ethiopia that have created job opportunities for over 20,000 Ethiopians. Turkey is claimed to have provided Ethiopia with combat drones to be used in the Tigray conflict.
Despite Abiy Ahmed's meeting with Uganda's Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda's Paul Kagame, it is likely that they will remain neutral in Ethiopia's escalating civil war.
"Given the long history of party-to-party relations between the TPLF and other liberation movements in eastern and southern Africa which took power in the 1990s, including the NRM in Uganda, the RPF in Rwanda and the ANC in South Africa, I don't think either Kagame or Museveni will be quick to take sides in Ethiopia's escalating civil war," said Jason Mosley, a research associate at the African Studies Centre, Oxford University. "The conflict in Ethiopia appears to be entrenching further, as the momentum of the TDF/TPLF's offensive slows and meets resistance along the main routes via the northern part Amhara Region to the areas of Western Tigray Region occupied by Amhara militia, the Ethiopian national army and Eritrean forces."
Ethiopia announced last week that it would embark on national dialogue in September to address all grievances, though no details are forthcoming as yet about the roadmap or agenda and the possibilities of including the Tigrayans as a part of the initiative.
"The Ethiopian government's call for a national dialogue is a step in the right direction rhetorically, but it won't be meaningful unless all political forces in the country can participate: as long as the TDF/TPLF and OLA are designated terrorist groups and prevented from inclusion, dialogue cannot succeed," Mosley noted. Dialogue with TPLF was excluded as an option since Ethiopia's announcement of the group as terrorist. It's also becoming complicated after the TPLF criticised last week's appointment by the African Union of the former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo as a mediator in the conflict. However, Mosley confirmed that the appointment was a "a positive development".
Still there is an urgent need for "regional diplomatic engagement, and support for a genuine national dialogue process".
*A version of this article appears in print in the 2 September, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Clic here to read the story from its source.