Connect with us


Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict deepens ethnic rifts




<div>Ethiopia's Tigray conflict deepens ethnic rifts</div>

Shortly after nightfall in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, volunteers wearing orange reflective vests and carrying sticks gather for a patrol by a neighborhood militia.

“We are watching and securing the peace of the neighborhood,” member Leul Hassen told AP news agency.

Vigilante groups like this are accused of stopping people and turning Tigrayans, one of Ethiopia’s more than 80 ethnic groups, over to the police.

Tens of thousands of Tigrayans have been rounded up and interred in crowded, unsanitary camps since the conflict began, rights groups report.

Arbitrary detentions have intensified since November when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed introduced a state of emergency and called for citizens to take up arms against Tigray fighters and their allies, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).

Rights groups and the United Nations have recorded wide-ranging ethnically motivated atrocities — from plundering and torture to massacres and gang-rapes — carried out by all parties involved in the Tigray conflict, including Ethiopian federal forces, Eritrea’s Defense Force, Amhara special forces and TPLF fighters.

Ethiopia, a fragile federation of 11 ethnically based territories, is also seeing outbursts of ethnic violence in regions not directly affected by the Tigray war.

In a flare up of a boundary dispute between Ethiopia’s Afar and Somali regions, some 100 civilians, many of them Afar herders, were killed in April, reportedly by Somali regional forces.

Just months later, hundreds of Somali civilians were apparently killed after attacks by Afar militias.

In the east of the Oromia region, dozens of ethnic Amhara farming families were killed in a spate of attacks, allegedly carried out by the OLA in February and March.

Fracturing of Ethiopia

The spiraling ethnic conflicts is stoking fears that Ethiopia could violently disintegrate.

If the fighting reached Addis Ababa and unleashes communal violence across Ethiopia, United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said last week, “we’re facing something I don’t think we have faced before for many, many years: We’re facing a fracture … of the fabric of Ethiopia.”

For US-based Horn of Africa analyst Yohannes Woldemariam, who grew up in Ethiopia, that isn’t a far fetched scenario.

“The level of hatred and the level of polarization is so intense, the situation is so violent and so divided along ethnic sectarian lines that the idea of a unitary Ethiopia surviving seems very difficult to imagine,” Woldemariam told DW.

Oromo feel betrayed

Abiy came to power in 2018 on the back of widespread protests, especially by ethnic Oromos.

They initially had high hopes of Abiy because of his mixed Oromo-Amharic parentage.

But the Oromos, the nation’s largest ethnic group who make up some 35% of Ethiopia’s population, now feel neglected by Abiy, who is seen as aligning himself with Amhara elites.

“They [the Oromo] do not trust Abiy,” Woldemariam said. “They feel Abiy has betrayed those that helped propel him to power.”

Even before the Tigray conflict, Abiy deployed troops to Oromia to silence those opposed to his idea of unified Ethiopia, with soldiers accused of committing an array of abuses against Oromo civilians.

It’s against this background that militarized wing of the Oromo, the OLA, has taken up arms in alliance with Tigrayan fighters against Abiy.

Tigrayans rally around TPLF

As for the TPLF, they were generally despised before the conflict broke out thanks to the corruption and repression of the TPLF-led coalition that dominated Ethiopia’s politics for the 27 years before Abiy’s appointment.

They were even “unpopular” in Tigray because “the TPLF elite were really just pursuing their own wealth and their own lives,” Woldemariam told DW.

“This changed when [the federal government] began to persecute Tigrayans just for being Tigrayans,” Woldemariam said. “Now just about every Tigrayan from every walk of life is [backing the TPLF] because there is a sense that they are being hunted by Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party.”

Atlantic Council researcher Cameron Hudson, a former diplomat in the Horn of Africa region, agrees with this analysis.

“Abiy’s use of hate speech, calling Tigrayans ‘terrorists’ and ‘weeds that need to be pulled’ has only served to drive the Tigrayan people, who had real doubts about their leadership, to the TPLF as essentially the last line of defense for this entire population,” Hudson told DW.

Role of religion

The ethnic hostility raises the question of how Ethiopia can move towards peace and reconciliation.

In a recent article, social harmony scholar Mohammed Girma argues that Christians and Muslim religious groups in Ethiopia have “big roles to play” to prevent the tragedy unfolding the country.

“Ethiopia is a deeply religious nation,” Girma writes, adding that in the past, its two dominant religions have “provided a vision for peaceful cohabitation.”

“There is a is a great need for an inter-religious peace effort,” he writes and for religious leaders to “find courage to speak truth to power” and “focus their teachings on healing and reconciliation.”

New dialogue

Former diplomat Hudson believes Abiy has “too much blood on his hands” to continue to govern Ethiopia even if the prime minister manages to end the conflict.

“The country will need a fresh political start,” Hudson said.

A number of conflict experts, including Hudson, believe Ethiopia will need to initially establish a transitional multi-ethnic and ethnically balanced government.

In the longer term, its thought the country needs to set up a national dialogue to examine the different visions of Ethiopia and agree on the state’s fundamental orientation.

“The last year has created such new tension and such new rifts,” said Hudson.

Now there needs to be “some kind of broad-based grassroots conversation about how the country can be not just governed, but how it can be constructed in a way that allows for ethnicity to be identified without it being the defining feature of Ethiopian political life.”

Edited by: Benita van Eyssen



Get more from The Thaiger

Looking for your next home in Thailand? Let us match you with a local expert in minutes!

Thank you for your interest!

One of our agents will
reach out to you soon.

I want to:
  • Thailand (ไทย)+66
  • United States+1
  • United Kingdom+44
  • Australia+61
  • Afghanistan (‫افغانستان‬‎)+93
  • Albania (Shqipëri)+355
  • Algeria (‫الجزائر‬‎)+213
  • American Samoa+1684
  • Andorra+376
  • Angola+244
  • Anguilla+1264
  • Antigua and Barbuda+1268
  • Argentina+54
  • Armenia (Հայաստան)+374
  • Aruba+297
  • Australia+61
  • Austria (Österreich)+43
  • Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan)+994
  • Bahamas+1242
  • Bahrain (‫البحرين‬‎)+973
  • Bangladesh (বাংলাদেশ)+880
  • Barbados+1246
  • Belarus (Беларусь)+375
  • Belgium (België)+32
  • Belize+501
  • Benin (Bénin)+229
  • Bermuda+1441
  • Bhutan (འབྲུག)+975
  • Bolivia+591
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (Босна и Херцеговина)+387
  • Botswana+267
  • Brazil (Brasil)+55
  • British Indian Ocean Territory+246
  • British Virgin Islands+1284
  • Brunei+673
  • Bulgaria (България)+359
  • Burkina Faso+226
  • Burundi (Uburundi)+257
  • Cambodia (កម្ពុជា)+855
  • Cameroon (Cameroun)+237
  • Canada+1
  • Cape Verde (Kabu Verdi)+238
  • Caribbean Netherlands+599
  • Cayman Islands+1345
  • Central African Republic (République centrafricaine)+236
  • Chad (Tchad)+235
  • Chile+56
  • China (中国)+86
  • Christmas Island+61
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands+61
  • Colombia+57
  • Comoros (‫جزر القمر‬‎)+269
  • Congo (DRC) (Jamhuri ya Kidemokrasia ya Kongo)+243
  • Congo (Republic) (Congo-Brazzaville)+242
  • Cook Islands+682
  • Costa Rica+506
  • Côte d’Ivoire+225
  • Croatia (Hrvatska)+385
  • Cuba+53
  • Curaçao+599
  • Cyprus (Κύπρος)+357
  • Czech Republic (Česká republika)+420
  • Denmark (Danmark)+45
  • Djibouti+253
  • Dominica+1767
  • Dominican Republic (República Dominicana)+1
  • Ecuador+593
  • Egypt (‫مصر‬‎)+20
  • El Salvador+503
  • Equatorial Guinea (Guinea Ecuatorial)+240
  • Eritrea+291
  • Estonia (Eesti)+372
  • Ethiopia+251
  • Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)+500
  • Faroe Islands (Føroyar)+298
  • Fiji+679
  • Finland (Suomi)+358
  • France+33
  • French Guiana (Guyane française)+594
  • French Polynesia (Polynésie française)+689
  • Gabon+241
  • Gambia+220
  • Georgia (საქართველო)+995
  • Germany (Deutschland)+49
  • Ghana (Gaana)+233
  • Gibraltar+350
  • Greece (Ελλάδα)+30
  • Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat)+299
  • Grenada+1473
  • Guadeloupe+590
  • Guam+1671
  • Guatemala+502
  • Guernsey+44
  • Guinea (Guinée)+224
  • Guinea-Bissau (Guiné Bissau)+245
  • Guyana+592
  • Haiti+509
  • Honduras+504
  • Hong Kong (香港)+852
  • Hungary (Magyarország)+36
  • Iceland (Ísland)+354
  • India (भारत)+91
  • Indonesia+62
  • Iran (‫ایران‬‎)+98
  • Iraq (‫العراق‬‎)+964
  • Ireland+353
  • Isle of Man+44
  • Israel (‫ישראל‬‎)+972
  • Italy (Italia)+39
  • Jamaica+1
  • Japan (日本)+81
  • Jersey+44
  • Jordan (‫الأردن‬‎)+962
  • Kazakhstan (Казахстан)+7
  • Kenya+254
  • Kiribati+686
  • Kosovo+383
  • Kuwait (‫الكويت‬‎)+965
  • Kyrgyzstan (Кыргызстан)+996
  • Laos (ລາວ)+856
  • Latvia (Latvija)+371
  • Lebanon (‫لبنان‬‎)+961
  • Lesotho+266
  • Liberia+231
  • Libya (‫ليبيا‬‎)+218
  • Liechtenstein+423
  • Lithuania (Lietuva)+370
  • Luxembourg+352
  • Macau (澳門)+853
  • Macedonia (FYROM) (Македонија)+389
  • Madagascar (Madagasikara)+261
  • Malawi+265
  • Malaysia+60
  • Maldives+960
  • Mali+223
  • Malta+356
  • Marshall Islands+692
  • Martinique+596
  • Mauritania (‫موريتانيا‬‎)+222
  • Mauritius (Moris)+230
  • Mayotte+262
  • Mexico (México)+52
  • Micronesia+691
  • Moldova (Republica Moldova)+373
  • Monaco+377
  • Mongolia (Монгол)+976
  • Montenegro (Crna Gora)+382
  • Montserrat+1664
  • Morocco (‫المغرب‬‎)+212
  • Mozambique (Moçambique)+258
  • Myanmar (Burma) (မြန်မာ)+95
  • Namibia (Namibië)+264
  • Nauru+674
  • Nepal (नेपाल)+977
  • Netherlands (Nederland)+31
  • New Caledonia (Nouvelle-Calédonie)+687
  • New Zealand+64
  • Nicaragua+505
  • Niger (Nijar)+227
  • Nigeria+234
  • Niue+683
  • Norfolk Island+672
  • North Korea (조선 민주주의 인민 공화국)+850
  • Northern Mariana Islands+1670
  • Norway (Norge)+47
  • Oman (‫عُمان‬‎)+968
  • Pakistan (‫پاکستان‬‎)+92
  • Palau+680
  • Palestine (‫فلسطين‬‎)+970
  • Panama (Panamá)+507
  • Papua New Guinea+675
  • Paraguay+595
  • Peru (Perú)+51
  • Philippines+63
  • Poland (Polska)+48
  • Portugal+351
  • Puerto Rico+1
  • Qatar (‫قطر‬‎)+974
  • Réunion (La Réunion)+262
  • Romania (România)+40
  • Russia (Россия)+7
  • Rwanda+250
  • Saint Barthélemy+590
  • Saint Helena+290
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis+1869
  • Saint Lucia+1758
  • Saint Martin (Saint-Martin (partie française))+590
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon (Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon)+508
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines+1784
  • Samoa+685
  • San Marino+378
  • São Tomé and Príncipe (São Tomé e Príncipe)+239
  • Saudi Arabia (‫المملكة العربية السعودية‬‎)+966
  • Senegal (Sénégal)+221
  • Serbia (Србија)+381
  • Seychelles+248
  • Sierra Leone+232
  • Singapore+65
  • Sint Maarten+1721
  • Slovakia (Slovensko)+421
  • Slovenia (Slovenija)+386
  • Solomon Islands+677
  • Somalia (Soomaaliya)+252
  • South Africa+27
  • South Korea (대한민국)+82
  • South Sudan (‫جنوب السودان‬‎)+211
  • Spain (España)+34
  • Sri Lanka (ශ්‍රී ලංකාව)+94
  • Sudan (‫السودان‬‎)+249
  • Suriname+597
  • Svalbard and Jan Mayen+47
  • Swaziland+268
  • Sweden (Sverige)+46
  • Switzerland (Schweiz)+41
  • Syria (‫سوريا‬‎)+963
  • Taiwan (台灣)+886
  • Tajikistan+992
  • Tanzania+255
  • Thailand (ไทย)+66
  • Timor-Leste+670
  • Togo+228
  • Tokelau+690
  • Tonga+676
  • Trinidad and Tobago+1868
  • Tunisia (‫تونس‬‎)+216
  • Turkey (Türkiye)+90
  • Turkmenistan+993
  • Turks and Caicos Islands+1649
  • Tuvalu+688
  • U.S. Virgin Islands+1340
  • Uganda+256
  • Ukraine (Україна)+380
  • United Arab Emirates (‫الإمارات العربية المتحدة‬‎)+971
  • United Kingdom+44
  • United States+1
  • Uruguay+598
  • Uzbekistan (Oʻzbekiston)+998
  • Vanuatu+678
  • Vatican City (Città del Vaticano)+39
  • Venezuela+58
  • Vietnam (Việt Nam)+84
  • Wallis and Futuna (Wallis-et-Futuna)+681
  • Western Sahara (‫الصحراء الغربية‬‎)+212
  • Yemen (‫اليمن‬‎)+967
  • Zambia+260
  • Zimbabwe+263
  • Åland Islands+358


    Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

    Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

    Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

    Thailand's largest online portal for news and information.

      Follow Thaiger by email:

      Thailand5 mins ago

      Thailand News Today | 4th vaccine booster dose now available for 10 provinces

      Indonesia24 mins ago

      At least 19 killed Indonesia’s West Papua nightclub fire

      Philippines26 mins ago

      Philippines’ Typhoon Rai destroyed 1.5 million houses in total – IFRC

      Sponsored1 day ago

      What makes Supalai Icon Sathorn the ideal property choice

      Thailand29 mins ago

      Government wants to closely monitor eateries following extension of alcohol curfew

      Tourism35 mins ago

      Thailand’s Test & Go registration opens on February 1

      Thailand40 mins ago

      Thailand won’t allow entrance exam makeups, other Asian countries do

      Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
      Travel1 hour ago

      Survival Guide: Beware of these common scams in Thailand

      Cannabis2 hours ago

      Thailand’s FDA plans “Cannabis Sandbox” entry scheme for tourists

      Thailand2 hours ago

      If pigs could fly: Authorities tackle pork price crisis following swine fever outbreak

      Pattaya2 hours ago

      Pattaya mayor says there will be no festivals, fireworks for Chinese New Year

      Bangkok3 hours ago

      Move Forward member pushes for sex work legalisation as election campaigns heat up

      Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

      Tuesday Covid Update: 6,718 new cases; provincial totals

      Tourism4 hours ago

      CCSA clarifies details on Test & Go, registration opens at 9am on February 1

      Property4 hours ago

      Top 5 property developers in Thailand 2022

      Thailand4 hours ago

      Ask Jay, Natty and Jett Anything! | Thaiger Unfiltered

      Thailand4 months ago

      Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

      Thailand11 months ago

      Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

      Tourism11 months ago

      Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

      Phuket11 months ago

      Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

      Tourism11 months ago

      Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

      Thailand11 months ago

      Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

      Tourism11 months ago

      In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

      Thailand1 year ago

      Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

      Thailand1 year ago

      Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

      Thailand1 year ago

      Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

      Thailand1 year ago

      Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

      Thailand1 year ago

      Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

      Thailand1 year ago

      Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

      Thailand1 year ago

      Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

      Thailand1 year ago

      Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11