Analysis on Ethiopia’s Recent Events: Economic Growth, Political Repression and ISIS

By (eurasiareview)

Nestled in the turbulent Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent modern nation-state and second most populous. Discourse on Ethiopia has traditionally revolved around poverty, conflict, disease, and famine, yet in recent years it has experienced considerable economic growth, making it amongst “Africa’s top performing economies,” and the country has also made significant progress on several of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. Furthermore, regional political maneuvers and ambitions have seen Ethiopia touted as “Africa’s Next Hegemon.” Although these developments are widely heralded within the new Ethiopian narrative, other critical issues have often been overlooked.

For example, while Ethiopia’s economic “miracle” has been much celebrated, it remains the second poorest country in the world according to the United Nations Development Programme and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative’sMultidimensional Poverty Index, the country continues to rank extremely low upon various socio-economic, governance, and development indicators, it still receives significant amounts of military, economic, and food aid, is plagued by considerable regional and ethnolinguistic-based inequalities (many arising through government cronyism), and it is also burdened by significantly high levels of unemployment (partly fueling mass migration).

Problematically, Ethiopia’s state-led development strategy is riddled with pervasive, systematic human rights abuses. Since the beginning of work on Ethiopia’s Gibe III Dam project in 2006, international human rights groups have repeatedly accused the regime in Addis Ababa of forcibly driving indigenous minority ethnic groups out of the Lower Omo Valley and endangering the indigenous Turkana community. Survival International, a UK-based rights group, has warned that the “Kwegu people of southwest Ethiopia are facing a food crisis, severe hunger, and the loss of their water and fish supplies due to the destruction of surrounding forests and the drying up of the river on which their livelihoods depend.”

The brutality characterizing the Gibe III Dam project is mirrored by the violence and repression accompanying Ethiopia’s “villagization” program, a vital component of the state’s agricultural development strategy. Dating back to the days of the murderous Dergue regime, and condemned by a spate of international rights groups, villagization entails the forcible relocation of indigenous communities from locations reserved for large foreign-owned plantations. Reports by rights groups list a plethora of human rights violations including beatings, killings, rapes, imprisonment, intimidation, and political coercion by the government and authorities. The program has also led to greater food insecurity, a destruction of livelihoods, and the loss of cultural heritage of ethnic groups. The deleterious effects of villagization are displayed in a report (based on first-person testimony) recently released by the Oakland Institute (OI), an international rights, advocacy, and environmental group. OI’s report vividly describes how, via “strongarm tactics reminiscent of apartheid South Africa, the Ethiopian regime has moved tens of thousands of people against their will to purpose-built communes that have inadequate food and lack health and education facilities to make way for large, foreign-owned commercial agriculture projects.”

In essence, Ethiopia’s socio-political climate is characterized by torture, oppression, and crackdowns on any perceived signs of dissent. Reports “detailing the arbitrary detention, beatings, and torture of journalists, bloggers, youth, and governmental opponents are widespread, including Ethiopia’s use of surveillance equipment to monitor the speech and interactions of the Ethiopian diaspora.”

Last year, documents released by renowned international journalist Glenn Greenwald also revealed that Ethiopia’s state surveillance activities were partly underwritten by the NSA.

However, there are signs that long-simmering grievances and tensions may boil over.Disenchantment and disillusionment, marked by claims of “repression, inequality and unemployment” have inspired large, frequent protests against the regime over the last few years. Last year, mass protests by Oromo civilians, especially students, were brutally crushed by Ethiopian authorities, while last week, a government organized rally, arranged in the aftermath of ISIS’ brutal murder of Ethiopian migrants in Libya, witnessed numerous arrests, injuries, and widespread clashes between security forces and protesters. During the rally, the government trumpeted political slogans, with an eye on upcoming elections, while government spokespersons urged potential migrants not to risk their lives by using dangerous exit routes. Demonstrators erupted in anger, denouncing the government as “thieves” and condemning the fact that Ethiopian migrants were only in Libya due to the deplorable conditions in Ethiopia.

With national “elections” on the near horizon, periods historically marked by boycotts, corruption and vote-rigging, violence, and repression, Ethiopia’s internal socio-political dynamics merit attention and should not be overlooked, particularly due to potential domestic and regional humanitarian and security implications. The migrant tragedy in Libya and the regime’s ongoing crackdowns display clearly that the “African Lion” is unwell. Moreover, they could augur that additional instability, upheaval, uprisings, and even a long-sought socio-political change are to come.

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Posted by on April 29, 2015. Filed under FEATURED. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

5 Responses to Analysis on Ethiopia’s Recent Events: Economic Growth, Political Repression and ISIS

  1. Namaga

    April 30, 2015 at 8:47 PM

    “Nestled in the turbulent Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent modern nation-state and second most populous.”

    False pride, it is. False superiority, indeed. Haleluya if you believe only your tribe in Africa has had a kingdom. As a southwestern Ethiopian once punished twice shy, you hold a fat stick for to challenge your truth, your pride, your falsehood.
    Trust me West Africans such as Malians, Ghanaians, and Nigerians, East and Southern Africans such the Kikuyus, Luos, Bantus of Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Endebele, Zulus and Khosas will have a field day laughing at your ignorant superiority.

    The word ‘nestled’ is a misuse. It usually describes a place hidden or scantly showing due coverage other things such large canopy of trees, tall grass, mountains, etc. Secondly, something comfortably sitting or resting on another thing, e.g. a cat nestled in his arms.

    The author used the word nestle to give the false impression that Ethiopia is enjoying peace in a war-torn northeast Africa. I don’t want to use UN’s racist term ‘horn’ for animalization of this geographic location. He did not want to acknowledge that civil wars are going in Ogaden, Oromo, Tigray, Amara, Gambella, Benishangul-Gumuz. The only difference from Southern Somalia is the absence of US drones against liberation fighters.

    What is the value in being ‘most populous’? What’s the crack ingredient that makes you feel euphoric about being overpopulated, least developed, least healthy, most impoverished, most violent, religiously divided such that Muslims may not catch up to Christians may be in the next 150 years. Tribes at conflict with each other.

    If you consider Egypt is Africa, Ethiopia follows Egypt, First being Nigeria equally impoverished and violent.

  2. tazabi

    May 2, 2015 at 3:01 PM


    I see you are a terribly mentally sick person with the virus called “Hate”. The writer of the above article tried his best to bring some balanced facts into the table even though I don’t agree with all of it. You are infuriated! Why? Because, your are mentality sick. As an Ethiopian I don’t see any indication about racism by calling a geographic region of east Africa as “Horn Of Africa”. I mean there is nothing wrong with it! Unless it is interpreted as racism by some small minded individuals, like you, The Gentle Man!. If that part of the region is the horn of a certain animal, just think of the rest of Africa as the remaining body of that animal. To your delight, It is Rhinoceros, the graceful, the fearless and independent. You talked about tribe. That is deeply disturbing. By that token I am thinking of the animal tribe the likes of, Lions tribe in Serengeti of Tanzania. Are you still part of that kingdom? Haleluja, God bless your tribe. Are you jealous of everything of being Ethiopian? I don’t think you are, because the kingdom you are still in (the animal tribe kingdom) has not yet developed the concept of jealousy of this magnitude. Presumably, you have evolved to a human being with all the traits of its initial developments. I said it is initial because you identify yourself with the Zulus (A tribal kingdom which takes pride of robbing ones property and burning a human being alive.) That is why I am so proud Ethiopian People (Even you should be proud of Ethiopians, If you are really a human being!). No matter how difficult their living situation is, Ethiopians don’t rob your property in a mass mob like the Zulus, let alone to grill a human being alive. What a savage tribe!

  3. Namaga

    May 2, 2015 at 9:43 PM

    Definition of nation-state: a sovereign state whose citizens or subjects are relatively homogeneous in factors such as language or common descent.
    Accordingly, Ethiopia has never been a nation-state.

  4. Namaga

    May 6, 2015 at 10:11 AM

    It’s not hate to call a spade a spade.
    I know it should not hurt. In a perfect world that is. Among rational, civilized human beings that is. I can understand why savages would hurt by such ‘insults’ to their pride. Pumped up by false pride due fake superiority created fake legends, It hurts to be told that you are equally by those subjects who are targets of your fake superiority to accept. Even when you are qimalam, STD carrier, raw meat eating savage, primitive farmer, a fistula society of sick women due to child marriage, a tribe that knows no freedom due to lawless bandits from commons who declare themselves as murderous kings until over thrown in turn by another bandit who would declare himself a king.

    ‘Horn of Africa’, animalization of the geographic region, the only of its kind in all of the world though such extending peninsulas exist elsewhere, until two decades ago used to be called the “Somali Peninsula”. Perfect name for the geographic region of Somalia that extends into the Arabian Sea. To deny this name is not racist is to deny there doesn’t exist racism in Britain and USA which together control the UN that gave this racist name to the old Somali Peninsula. It also stuffed Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibuti and Somalia in it. Now, friends of the UN such as Zatabi want it to include Sudan and Kenya.

    To Zatabi, even the name Ethiopia, a Greek word for Negro, is also not racist. For cancers that eat away at our freedoms like Zatabi, to complain about racism is to be small minded.

  5. Namaga

    May 8, 2015 at 9:21 AM

    Zatabi therefore is certainly a member of a political gangster such as TPLF and other organizations with same view helping to implement the US and European racist policies on the peoples of northeastern Africa, they prefer to demonize as ‘Horn of Africa’. These paid agents who easily turn into hired guns advise that life is easier to go along with racism than fight it. They have no conscience nor ethics nor morality.