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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

will strife-torn Ethiopia see peace !!

Heard of Abyssinia -  In 1543, Emperor Gelawdewos beat Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi armies and Ahmad was killed at the Battle of Wayna Daga, close to Wegera. This victory allowed the empire to reconquer progressively the Ethiopian Highlands. In 1559 Gelawdewos was killed attempting to invade Adal Sultanate at the Battle of Fatagar, and his severed head was paraded in Adal's capital Harar.  .. .. Gruesome history !

Ethiopians claim honours in Sports especially long distance running .. .. Olympic champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia made a stunning debut over the classic 42.2km distance winning the Amsterdam Marathon last month in a course record.  The 30-year-old Ayana returned to competitive racing after a three-year hiatus as she looks to replicate the successes on the track in her transition to the road. The Rio 2016 Olympic Games 10,000m champion and former world record holder captured the Amsterdam Marathon title breaking the course record with a time of 2:17.19. Ayana’s time was the fastest marathon debut by woman and is the seventh-best time on the world all-time list. Ayana finished ahead of fellow Ethiopian and fellow marathon debutante Genzebe Dibaba in second place with a time of 2:18.05. Tsehay Gemechu completed the Ethiopian sweep of the podium, winning the bronze medal in a time of 2:18.59. All three medallists made their marathon debuts in Amsterdam.

Away from Sports, Ethiopia is haunted by wars, civil wars and gruesome killings of people.  A couple of years ago, in Nov 2020,   600 civilians, mostly Amharas and Welkait, were killed in a massacre in the town of Mai Kadra with machetes and knives used by local militias and police loyal to the TPLF. Media reports suggested that Amhara militia were the perpetrators and Tigrayans  were the victims.  Subsequently  Humera was shelled from the direction of the Eritrean–Ethiopian border for two days – the ENDF gained control of Humera. 

Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan & Sudan.  It is home to around 113.5 million inhabitants, making it the 12th-most populous country in the world and the 2nd-most populous in Africa after Nigeria. The national capital and largest city, Addis Ababa.

Anatomically modern humans emerged from modern-day Ethiopia and set out to the Near East and elsewhere in the Middle Paleolithic period.  In 980 BCE, the Kingdom of D'mt extended its realm over Eritrea and the northern region of Ethiopia, while the Kingdom of Aksum maintained a unified civilization in the region for 900 years. Christianism entered first and Islam arrived later.   After the collapse of Aksum in 960, a variety of kingdoms, largely tribal confederations, existed in the land of Ethiopia.  

In modern history, the country was savaged by internal unrest and civil war.  The Ethiopian Civil war was fought between the Ethiopian military junta known as the Derg and Ethiopian-Eritrean anti-government rebels from 12 September 1974 to 28 May 1991. The Derg overthrew the Ethiopian Empire and Emperor Haile Selassie in a coup d'état on 12 September 1974, establishing Ethiopia as a Marxist-Leninist state under a military junta and provisional government. Various opposition groups of ideological affiliations ranging from Communist to anti-Communist, often drawn from ethnic background, began armed resistance to the Soviet-backed Derg, in addition to the Eritrean separatists already fighting in the Eritrean War of Independence.  The Ethiopian Civil War left at least 1.4 million people dead, with 1 million of the deaths being related to famine and the remainder from combat and other violence.

Lessons have not been learnt as there have been more killings and continuing unrest. The Tigray War,  an armed conflict  began on 3 November 2020  in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia. It was primarily fought by the Ethiopian federal government and Eritrea on one side, and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) on the other.  The Tigray Region   is the northernmost regional state in Ethiopia.  Tigray's official language is Tigrinya, similar to that spoken in Eritrea just to the North.  Following the end of the Ethiopian Civil War in 1991, Ethiopia became a dominant-party state under the rule of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of four ethnically based parties dominated by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). In feb 2018, trouble erupted owing to a growing discontent within the public, fuelled by a reaction to 27 years of repression. After years of increased tensions and hostilities between the TPLF and the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea, fighting began when Tigrayan security forces attacked ENDF Northern Command bases and headquarters in the Tigray Region.  

After a successful government counter-offensive in response, and then a series of negotiations with the TPLF, Ethiopia declared an indefinite humanitarian truce on 24 March 2022, in order to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid into Tigray.  However, fighting dramatically re-escalated in late August 2022, after peace talks broke down.  All sides, particularly the ENDF, EDF, and TDF, have committed war crimes during the conflict.

For locals and common people, war / civil war throws life out of gears and there would be killings of so many people .. .. peace is what everyone wants!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
9th Nov. 2022 

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