Mogadishu (OPINION) — It may sound surreal but Somali political leaders can mediate between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian government.
Ethiopia is a country that has become too economically dependent on the Somali turmoil.
Its troops are in Somalia as peacekeepers but their status is vague. There are non-Amisom Ethiopian troops fighting Al-shabaab.
Since 2006 the Somali federal institutions were in one way or another reliant on Ethiopia for some protection against militant groups.
Derg sympathisers were stunned to hear an Ethiopian government vowing to protect a Somali government “against any threat” when, in 2006, Baidoa, the then seat of the former Transitional Government faced threat of being overrun by the Union of Islamic Courts.
They remember the 1980 joint defence pact that President Mengistu Haile Mariam signed with President Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya against Somalia.
The former Somali President, Siyad Barre, likened the pact to the ‘Final Solution’.
Forty years after that stillborn pact the Ethiopian government’s domestic policies are similar to Derg regime’s policies.
As experts in state failure, Somali political leaders can disinterestedly act as bona fide mediators. They know that, without strong institutions and democratic governance, homogeneity does not guarantee peaceful coexistence of citizens.
Any efforts to impose one form of identity or outlook on Ethiopians defeats the purpose to politically reengineer the Ethiopian society à la _Medemer_.
As a prime minister whose rhetoric earned him the appellation -reformer-, Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopia followed in the footsteps of the Derg junta to declare a war on Tigray and then claim to have imposed state of emergency on the region of six million citizens.
Attacking people who have exercised their right to elect leaders is an indefensible proposition.
Just as Somalia is grappling with the curse of clannism, Ethiopia is struggling to disentangle itself from ethnic militarism rooted in the conquest history of state-building in the country.
A guiding principle of the mediation is that neither the TPLF nor the Prosperity Party should allow their differences to turn Ethiopia into a proxy-war theatre.
Eritrea should never take sides in the political conflict.
A government claiming to be stamping out the vagaries of “ethnic federalism”is resorting to what can fuel ethnic disillusionment with the Ethiopian government.
Somalia will not be able to deal with the impact from a failed or failing neighbouring state.
Already grappling with communal hostilities, the Ethiopian government seeks support for the war against a member of the Ethiopian federation.
Sovereignty should not be used as a pretext to declare a civil war in a multi-ethnic nation state.
That is why the role of Somali mediators is all the more urgent to steer Ethiopian antagonists into the path of negotiation and compromise in the interest of a citizenry who would bear the brunt of a civil war.
© Puntland Post, 2020 – This article first appeared in the Puntland Post and is republished with permission.