The so-called war on terror has deformed the Ethiopian state and society. The social fabric as a result has been badly frayed with widespread extrajudicial killings and torture. Can anything be done to improve this?
By Karen Jayes (TRT World) |
Ethiopian government policy on the “war on terror” has conveniently dovetailed with what many in Ethiopia see as the central administration’s inherently colonialist approach – supported tacitly by the US and her allies – towards ethnic minorities in the country, especially those with movements calling for more self-determination.
In this regard, the country provides a snapshot on how the US-led so-called war on terror is the modern world’s version of colonialism, seeking to imprison, weaken and intimidate communities who are striving for more rights to access natural resources and political say in the region.
Ethiopia’s geopolitical role in the ‘war on terror’
Ethiopia, known as the oldest independent African nation, has never been colonized by Europeans, although many European nations exerted various degrees of influence in different periods of time in its history. A deeply hierarchical nation where power was often vested in the emperor, this power, under the semblance of “democracy” has since been transferred to the government.
Currently, the government has aligned itself firmly with the US and its allies in the war on terror, often casting itself as a bastion of Christianity against “encroaching Islam,” a position that has aggravated a generally peaceful and colourful multi-faith society.
A particular flashpoint in the region is the conflict within Ethiopia’s Ogaden (Somali) region, with its majority Muslim population. The Ogaden is an ethnic group of Somali origin that exists in parts of Ethiopia, Somalia and northeastern Kenya. It is also the name of a region in which the Ogaden people live, which stretches across the eastern region of Ethiopia on the borders with Somaliland and Somalia.
The inhabitants of Ogaden are 98 percent Muslim. Interestingly, although the land is arid and dry, Ogaden is home to four trillion cubic feet of natural gas and several oil fields – drawing interest from international multinationals. It is not only seen as a crucial economic foothold by the Ethiopian government, but is also a launch pad for US-backed African Union (AU) military incursions into neighboring Somalia.
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