Is Ethiopia Doomed as a Failed State? Not yet but the prognosis is alarming

Zekarias Ezra

The failure of States is nothing new. But in the aftermath of a plethora of global terrorism, the consequences of state failure for the international order are potentially much more damaging than ever before. Consequently, the international system keeps a watchful eye on what is going on around the globe particularly on those nations that are deemed strategic given their size and location.

Sub-Saharan Africa – with over 750 million people – sliding deeper into all sorts of problems viz, poverty, terrorism, instability etc. is a major headache to the international community in terms of geo political stability in the region. And, Ethiopia,  with a population of over 100 million, undoubtedly hold huge strategic significance. So, naturally the international community, in general, and the West, in particular, give attention to Ethiopia. It is this writer considered opinion that the West cannot afford and thus won’t let Ethiopia slide into a full fledged ‘Failed State’. The stakes are high!

Ethiopia is not yet a “Failed State” but the prognosis is alarming drawing the close attention of the West.

How does a state failure happen?

Some nations fail spectacularly, with a total collapse of all state institutions, as in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal or during the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, where the government ceased to exist altogether.

Most countries that fall apart, however, do so not with a bang but with a whimper. They fail not in an explosion of big war and violence but by being utterly unable to take advantage of their society’s huge potential for growth. Rather they use it for advancing some delusional idea –  re-writing history under the false pre-text of rectifying an alleged wrong done over a millennial ago. This type of slow, grinding failure leaves many countries in total collapse and condemn its people to a life time of abject poverty.

What’s tragic is that this failure is by design. These countries collapse because they are ruled by what social scientists call “extractive” economic institutions (I prefer to call them Mafia group such as EPRDF/TPLF/ODP), which destroy incentives, discourage innovation, and sap the talent of their citizens by creating a skewed playing field and robbing them of opportunities. These institutions are not in place by mistake but on purpose. They’re there for the benefit of the Mafia group who gain much from the extraction at the expense of society.

Ethiopia is a classic example of this. TPLF, just less than a year out before taking power, formed the Mafia group, EPRDF, along ethnic lines. After assuming power, TPLF oversaw the enactment of the worst constitution ever devised that formed semi-independent countries along ethnic and language lines. The rationale behind this evil design is to rule Ethiopia through surrogates and amass wealth until they can no longer rule in which case, they will ignite the fire that propels the disintegration of the country as originally designed.

In 2010, TPLF, was overthrown in a coup d’ etat successfully staged by OPDO’s Team Lemma. TPLF, Mafia group extraordinaire, is now hiding in Mekelle with its billions. The victor group, a protégé of TPLF, not much different in its constitution that its former Lord, basically follows the same ethnic politics – replacing the dominance of TPLF with that of OPDO. Its huge constituents, the Oromo youth, trained and instigated by fanatic and zealous activists as well as pseudo intellectuals and OLF, a quasi ‘fascist’  organization have created havoc in the country producing over 3 million internally displaced people. The smuggling of fire arms and money has become a daily news. Violence in almost every part of the country has become a common phenomenon.

It is these issues that Major Dawit has addressed exhaustively in his recent critical piece. He surmised that Ethiopia is on the verge of being a ‘Failed State’.

One of the most conspicuous indications of state failure is a breakdown in law and order and a related loss of personal security.  Unless one is blind to reality or swayed by sweet talk as to overlook glaring facts, Ethiopia fully meet this criterion of a ‘Failed State’.

Major Dawit must be commended calling a ‘spade a spade’. Many have started criticizing Major Dawit, not so much based on facts, but more as an attack on his personhood. Such attacks, however, would not change the facts one iota.

It is an established and irrefutable fact that in almost all cases state failures are associated with civil violence and the rise of warring nonstate groups flush with money. That is what has been taking place in Ethiopia since Dr Abiy assumed power. Ethnic violence, loss of lives, and displacement – too many to enumerate.

Dr Abiy began on an inspiring note last year but sadly he has miserably failed as a leader when it comes to the most and critical test of leadership – securing peace and stability. This fact cannot be glossed over by ad hominem attacks.



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