Ethiopian Political Stability: A 6 Month Outlook


    A breakthrough disarmament agreement is in effect after African Union led talks resulted in a peace deal between Ethiopia and rebel forces in Tigray. The war in Tigray has left thousands dead and several million displaced [source]. As a result, President Abiy Ahmed’s image as a peace broker accordingly suffered, and Ethiopia’s political capital in the West declined. However, several combatants are not listed as parties to the ceasefire. This will potentially set the stage for further violence. Although the African Union managed to negotiate an impressive accomplishment, it remains to be seen if the most recent ceasefire will hold.

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    KJ-1: It is unlikely that the ceasefire deal will reduce violence in Tigray in the next 6 months. 

    • The African Union brokered a peace deal in South Africa between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) [source]. 
    • Eritrea was not party to the talks in Pretoria. Eritrea has not stated its intention to honor the most recent ceasefire [source]. 
    • Although the Ethiopian government and the TPLF agreed on concessions, other major issues must be resolved at future talks [source].
    • Hostilities erupted in 2020 over President Abiy Ahmed’s rapprochement with Eritrea, the TPLF’s main political rival [source]. 
    • A temporary ceasefire was broken in August after the Ethiopian military downed a Sudanese aircraft it claimed was trafficking weapons to Tigrayan rebels [source]. 
    • Government forces launched a large offensive operation with Eritrea following the incident. Amhara Fano militias supported Ethiopian federal troops, amplifying existing ethnic tensions [source].
    • Ethiopian and Eritrean troops captured the town of Adwa several days before peace talks in Pretoria were to begin. Several airstrikes across the settlement resulted in an unspecified number of civilian casualties [source].
    • Rebel officials in Tigray issued full mobilization orders on 10 October, effectively putting the population on a footing for total war [source].
    • The Omoro Liberation Army (OLA) seized several towns on 4 November in West Wollega. Subsequently, Ethiopian federal government officials were taken hostage by the OLA [source].
    • The OLA looted government buildings and banks across the region and attacked local police stations [source].

    KJ-2: It is likely that the Ethiopian economy will contract in the next 6 months. 

    • Ethiopia’s GDP growth rate shrank to 5.6% in 2021 from a rate of 6.1% in 2020. This was due in part to COVID-19 related difficulties as well as the civil war in Tigray [source].
    • In line with previous years, GDP growth is projected at 4.8% in 2022 [source].
    • The number of people in need of humanitarian aid rose from 8 million in 2020 to 15.8 million in 2021. The conflict in Tigray, combined with a record drought, led to the worst humanitarian food crisis this century [source].
    • The rate of urban unemployment increased since the start of the pandemic. Wages are yet to recover fully from 2020-2021 [source].
    • Adverse and inclement weather, as well as non-standard climatic patterns, exponentially worsen food insecurity [source].
    • Inflation is expected to reach 32.6% by the year’s end as a result of higher food and energy prices [source].
    • Ethiopia is particularly vulnerable to debt related distress. Moreover, the current account deficit will expand to 4.1% this year [source].
    • Research suggests that Ethiopian manufacturing sector may not have the necessary resilience to support long term industrial investments from China [source].
    • Ethiopia is already under immense debt related pressure from $13.6 billion worth of Chinese development loans, with the government urgently seeking debt relief [source].
    • The Export-Import Bank of China refused to release $339 million of capital due to Ethiopia’s debt related distress [source].

    KJ-3: It is highly likely that Ethiopian-Somali relations will worsen in the next 6 months.

    • A new government came into power in Somalia in May of this year [source]. Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, appeared to humiliate President Ahmed after he visited regional leaders in Ethiopia without meeting President Ahmed himself [source].
    • Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi suggested that Somalia backed Egypt’s claims over the highly controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam [source].
    • Somali based terror group al-Shabaab conducted a cross-border operation into Ethiopia in July. Insurgents reached nearly 150km into Ethiopian territory with some 500 fighters [source].
    • USAFRICOM warned that more attacks could be conducted in the near future [source].
    • President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud decision to appoint a former al-Shabaab deputy commander, Mukhtar Roobow Mansuur as Minister of Religious Affairs angered Addis Ababa [source].
    American born Islamist militant fighter Omar Hamammi known as Abu Mansur Al-Amriki, right, and deputy leader of al shabab Sheik Mukhtar Abu Mansur Robow, left, in Mogadishu’s Afgoye district (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
    • Ethiopian officials directly responded to Abu Mansur’s appointment by holding direct talks with local Somali politicians such as Abdiaziz Lafta-Gareen. Lafta-Gareen is a known sympathizer with the former Somali government [source].
    • President Mahmoud reportedly has ties to rebel fighters and rebel aligned groups in Tigray. Consequently, this creates a level of distrust among Ethiopia’s federal authorities [source].
    • An Ethiopian military aircraft flew Lafta-Gareen to Addis Ababa where he met with Ethiopian military intelligence officials [source].
    • The nature of the meeting concerned the wider issue of border security along Ethiopia’s frontier, an issue typically reserved for central government officials [source].
    • Said Abdullahi Deni, the regional leader of Puntland may form an opposition front against the central government in Mogadishu with Lafta-Gareen with the backing of Ethiopian military intelligence [source].

    Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 9th of November 2022

    Alec Smith
    Alec Smith
    Alec Smith is a graduate of the MSC International Relations program of the University of Aberdeen and holds an LLB in Global Law from Tilburg University. He works in the private sector in field investigations and security.

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