Discussion Group January 9, 2023: Ethiopia

Our first discussion group meeting of 2023 will be on Monday, January 9th at 5:00 p.m. PST via Zoom with the topic of Ethiopia: Understanding the Conflict and the Prospects for Peace, following on the December 19 luncheon presentation by Colonel Bruce Sweeney.
The Horn of Africa, which includes Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan, is one of the world’s most conflict-prone and fragile regions. This strategic area has been immersed in conflict in one form or another since 1974. In addition, both protracted conflict and climate-driven drought have also propelled widespread famine of crisis proportions in the Horn of Africa.

Known as the “cradle of humanity, Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country. With Africa’s second largest population, Ethiopia represents a melting pot of ancient cultures from the Middle East and Africa. Following a past wracked with military rule, civil war, and catastrophic famine, Ethiopia emerged as a major power in the Horn of Africa during the 21st century, enjoying rapid economic growth and increasing strategic importance within the region. The economic growth of Ethiopia in recent years has been stunted with the outbreak of conflict in the Tigray region in 2020, and the rise of food-insecurity in response to grain shortages caused by the Russian-Ukraine War. Recently, a ceasefire appears to have been established in Ethiopia and peace talks have started, allowing food aid to be delivered to starving people in the Tigray region of the country.

Some questions to help guide our discussion:
1.  What is the basis for conflict in the Horn of Africa, and particularly in Ethiopia?
2.  What is the prognosis for the latest peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea?
3.  What are U.S. interests in Ethiopia and more widely in the Horn of Africa?
Some suggested resources are provided as background for our discussion, starting with the WACMB luncheon lecture (A), general background (B), and in the context of the current conflict the US-Ethiopia-HOA relationship (C and D) and the prospects for peace in the region (E and F).
A.  Ethiopia: Understanding the Conflict and the Prospects for Peace. WACMB luncheon lecture on 19 December by Colonel Bruce Sweeny, podcast (41 minutes) at https://www.wacmb.org/member-resources/, password: Gibraltar
B. Ethiopia: East Africa’s Emerging Giant. Council on Foreign Relations, 4 Nov 2020 at https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/ethiopia-east-africas-emerging-giant
C.  A Perspective on the Ethiopian-U.S. Relationship After a Year of Conflict. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman, U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, U.S. State Department, 1 Nov 2021 at https://www.state.gov/a-perspective-on-the-ethiopian-u-s-relationship-after-a-year-of-conflict/
D.  The US risks losing its influence in the Horn of Africa. Here’s how to get it back. Gabriel Negatu, The Atlantic Council, 11 Jan 2022 at https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/the-us-risks-losing-its-influence-in-the-horn-of-africa-heres-how-to-get-it-back/
E. Still Far from Peace in Ethiopia. Brookings Institution, 1 Feb 2022 at https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2022/02/01/still-far-from-peace-in-ethiopia/.
F. Ethiopian civil war: parties agree on end to hostilities. The Guardian, 2 Nov 2022 at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/nov/02/ethiopian-civil-war-parties-agree-truce-to-end-hostilities