Ethiopia is on the brink of civil war, which has grave repercussions for stability in the HoA

The country once renowned for its history and vibrant economy now faces conflicts and external tensions that pose a serious threat to its stability.

The country once renowned for its history and vibrant economy now faces conflicts and external tensions that pose a serious threat to its stability. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his efforts to resolve the standing conflict with Eritrea seems to be leading Ethiopia towards a path of disintegration and potential conflict with Somalia.

The recent signing of MoU by Prime Minister Abiy has sparked outrage and concern. It is believed that this agreement aims at annexing parts of Somalia, which many see as an agenda driven by Oromo expansionists which will jeopardize Ethiopia’s unity. Also raises the possibility of war with Somalia. While securing access to a port may be seen as important for Ethiopia’s landlocked geography, prioritizing such ambitions over regional stability is an incredibly risky move.The irony is so clear – a Nobel Laureate, once celebrated as a symbol of peace now potentially becoming a cause for conflict in the Horn of Africa (HoA). This significant change raises concerns about the complexities of leadership and the delicate balance between interests and regional harmony.

The ongoing situation serves as a reminder of the complexities involved in leadership in volatile regions of Horn of Africa. Striking a balance between pursuing interests and promoting regional harmony is full of challenges. Leaders often feel tempted to exert dominance and expand their influence. However it is crucial to temper ambitions with respect for law, sovereignty and the pursuit of peace.

Ethiopia is confronted with both challenges and external pressures that are incredibly daunting. Ethnic tensions, particularly involving the Oromo, Amhara and Tigrayan communities have resulted in violence and human rights violations. The government’s firm response to dissent and its crackdown on opposition have only deepened divisions within society. These internal rifts, coupled with foreign policy pursuits are pushing Ethiopia’s unity to its breaking point.

The possibility of disintegration looms large not as a likelihood but as a threat. The path Ethiopia is currently treading could lead to separations or secessions with consequences for the region. The chances of achieving a managed peaceful transition seem remote given Prime Minister Abiys administration’s current trajectory.

Now it is not a matter of if Ethiopia will face disintegration. When and how it will happen. Will it occur through fragmentation or through a series of secessions?. What will be the cost, for the people and their neighboring countries? The urgent need for engagement both within Ethiopia and on the stage cannot be overstated. It is crucial for Ethiopia to mend its divisions and realign its policy in order to prevent a descent into chaos.

The situation in Ethiopia serves as a reminder that peace’s delicate and leadership is multifaceted. The transition from being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to being labeled a warmonger is a trajectory that highlights the nature of politics in the Horn of Africa. For the wellbeing of Ethiopia and its people we can only hope that a path towards peace and unity can be rediscovered, steering the nation away from the brink of disintegration.

Ismail D. Osman
Ismail D. Osman
Ismail D. Osman: Former Deputy Director of Somalia National Intelligence & Security Agency (NISA) – Writes in Somalia, Horn of Africa Security and Geopolitical focusing on governance and security. You can reach him osmando[at] @osmando