Wednesday (July 6th): Abiy’s multi crisis Ethiopia

Abiy Ahmed

Name? Abiy Ahmed

Westphalian identity? Ethiopian

Age? 45

Why is he in the news? Recently the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) convened in Nairobi, allowing East African heads of state to discuss regional concerns. At the meeting, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met with Sudanese leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to discuss the future of their border conflict over the al-Fashaga territory. Abiy and al-Burhan agreed to move forward with diplomatic resolve to end the conflict, Abiy stating, “our common bonds surpass any divisions.” 

Why do we care? The border conflict over the al-Fashaga territory has been a major impediment in the relations between Abiy and al-Burhan. The conflict has been exacerbated by the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam project threatening Sudan’s water supply and the Tigray war’s spillover of refugees into Sudan. However, two strongmen leaders coming together to agree on communication, despite a recent escalation in the border dispute (seven Sudanese soldiers were killed last week), is a sign of hope. 

Why should you care? The conflict between Sudan and Ethiopia was not the main topic of discussion at the IGAD’s meeting. The main focus was on the worst drought in over 40 years and a major hunger crisis spanning Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. Therefore, you should care 7/10 of the IGAD meeting’s latest outcomes beyond Abiy’s and al-Burhan’s border dispute. 

Who else cares? Xue Bing, China’s Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, has also anticipated China’s role as a peacekeeper in Horn affairs. As an investor in Ethiopia, China has seen its investments through the BRI at risk due to the vulnerability of conflict throughout the Horn, prompting a shift from China’s traditional ‘non-interference’ stance in African security. 

Any further comments? Despite moving forward with al-Burhan in the conflict over al-Fashaga, Abiy still faces violence within Ethiopia. Outbreaks in ethnic violence between ethnic Oromo and Amhara have killed a number of civilians, another conflict while the Tigray conflict remains unresolved.