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HomeTop NewsJourney to Africa: Olaf Scholes awaits a tough assignment in Ethiopia

Journey to Africa: Olaf Scholes awaits a tough assignment in Ethiopia


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A difficult task awaits Olaf Scholz in Ethiopia

Source: AFP/Emanuel Cileshi; Image Alliance/dpa/Michael Kappeler; Collection: The Illustrated World

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The fighting in Sudan shows how fragile the security situation in Africa is. During his visit to Addis Ababa, the president wants to try to win the country as an anchor of stability. It will not be easy as Russia continues to strengthen its influence in the region.

SIt’s been seven years since Chancellor Angela Merkel called Ethiopia an “anchor of stability” and praised the East African country’s remarkable economic growth. With the crescendo of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, it was a typical refrain chanted by the West about Ethiopia at the time.

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Not officially ahead of President Olaf Scholes’ (SPD) trip to Ethiopia on Thursday. Peace is new and shaky in the Tigray region in the country’s north. Until six months ago, it was engaged in a separatist war with the Ethiopian government that left tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, dead. The war, along with Abiy’s accord with Eritrea, Africa’s most authoritarian regime, has dispelled many of the overblown expectations.

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A mother (unidentified) of a man killed by Ethiopian troops in early 2021 mourns in Tashi village, 60 km southwest of Mekelle, Tigray region, Ethiopia.  Contact: Christian Butch

Nevertheless, Ethiopia is still one of the continent’s most important security contacts, and not just because of its role as a longtime ally of the United States in the fight against al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia. During Scholz’s visit, “attention will be paid to regional and international security issues, particularly the situation in Sudan,” a central government statement said, revealing a certain nostalgia for Ethiopia’s old role.

You could forgive the country of 120 million people in the Horn of Africa for at least temporarily getting closer to Russia after its tussle with the West.

Because in Berlin they expect a mediating role for Ethiopia in the struggle of the Sudanese generals. Mohamed Hamdan Tagalo, the leader of the rebel RSF militia in Sudan, has for years tried to stay close to Ethiopia – well aware that his war rival Sudan’s army was backed by Egypt. And Egypt is Ethiopia’s biggest competitor in Africa.

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Egyptian military vehicles in the desert.  The army is one of the largest in the world

Ethiopia cannot be expected to allow itself to be dragged into the conflict, as the country’s coffers are empty after the Tigray conflict, and the country urgently needs a billion-euro loan from the International Monetary Fund. And because you still have to do it yourself. The Amhara, the second largest ethnic group, feel marginalized and have strong opposition to the military disarming their regional armed forces. A few days ago, the Oromo-dominated government arrested 47 Amharas, accusing them of plotting a coup. In Africa, where the number of conflicts has increased significantly over the past decade, such internal problems also undermine the country’s long, highly active role.

Source: Infographic World

Ethiopia is also considered by the United Nations Hailed as one of the troop-contributing countries”.. More than 12,000 Ethiopian soldiers are involved in UN and African Union (AU) peacekeeping missions, and no other country is responsible for more missions in Africa. And, of course, AU is located in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The AU is primarily focused on security policy because the continent’s belated economic integration efforts, such as the current AfCFTA free trade agreement, are progressing painfully slowly.

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But even the AU has not been able to prevent the number of successful coups in West Africa from rising significantly in recent years. And radical Islamic terrorist groups in the Sahel are killing more people every year. While French troops were more or less withdrawn from Mali and Burkina Faso, the German armed forces, after much harassment, withdrew from Mali without tension by May 2024. Troop numbers have already been reduced in recent weeks.

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Eritrean dictator Isaiah Afwerki

Russia has signed nearly 20 military deals on the continent in the past decade as Western influence in Africa declines. In very weak countries, Russian Wagner mercenaries are also used because they cannot expect any help from the AU in the event of a security crisis. Since 2003, he has promised to deploy a rapid reaction force called the “African Standby Force” (ASF).

Pending their first official deployment, cooperation between individual states, such as Boko Haram, Mozambican terrorists or militias in eastern Congo, does not conform to the ARSP mandate. However, the Continental Confederation of States takes the lead in only a few cases.

Kenya is the new hope

With Ethiopia recently debilitated as the driving force behind Africa’s security crises, the second destination on Scholes’ Africa trip has made people sit up and take notice: Kenya. Talks there on Friday will focus primarily on renewable energy sources, from which the country generates 90 percent of its electricity, according to an earlier announcement by the German government.

But the East African nation is also a new beacon of hope in terms of security policy. President William Ruto is one of the AU’s official mediators in Sudan’s war, and his country has hosted peace conferences for conflicting parties in South Sudan in recent years. Last November, the Ethiopian Tigray conflict officially ended in Nairobi.

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