An African Yugoslavia: Is Ethiopia on the Brink of an Ethnic Civil War?


Ethiopia’s economy is among the most vibrant in Africa, with annual growth of 9.8 percent between 2008 and 2019. But the nation is made up of many disparate ethnic groups and there are fears it could come apart at the seams.

Heavy shelling has been reported in Ethiopia’s Tigray region on Thursday, 5 November, and more than 20 Ethiopian soldiers are thought to have been wounded amid growing ethnic clashes.

A humanitarian source in Tigray told Reuters two dozen soldiers had been treated at a clinic near the border with the Amhara region.

​Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for solving a border dispute with neighbouring Eritrea, has refused to halt a military campaign in the Tigray region which could spiral into civil war.

Federal troops clashed with Tigrayan forces in the northern region on Wednesday after Abiy claimed government bases had been attacked by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The TPLF was the dominant political force in Ethiopia for more than 20 years but fell out with Abiy when he came to power in 2018.

​The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed Abiy in a tweet on Wednesday.

Tensions between Addis Ababa and the TPLF have been escalating since September when Tigray held regional elections in defiance of the federal government.

Ethiopia is now in danger of collapsing into an ethnic civil war in a similar way to Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

​There have been…

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