If there is any commonality among the series of political administrations that have ruled Ethiopia over the decades, it is the demonizing of Egypt as a nation that always dreams of the downfall of Ethiopia as a nation. Even though these administrations do not present concrete evidence as to the extent of Egypt’s involvement, one may not fall far from the truth to assume that Egypt benefits less from a sturdy east African nation capable of taking its fair share of a river’s waters that have disproportionately only benefited Egypt for centuries.
Once again, following the brutal massacre of hundreds of people of Amhara origin in Wollega of the State of Oromia, Egypt’s name was attached to the explanation. During his recent appearance at Parliament in which he addressed security concerns from MPs, Abiy Ahmed (PhD), Prime Minister, sounded more upset while counter-accusing MPs of building a narrow understanding of the matter. His administration seems to be of the belief that all security challenges are related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Hence blame lies with Egypt and not a failure of his administration.
Before, during, and after Hosni Mubarak—Egypt’s long-serving president—the north African nation has never had a friendly regime willing to fairly negotiate with nations sharing the world’s longest river. The man who led the military coup to become Egypt’s president in 2014 is no different. Indeed, there is no question about tensions between Cairo and Addis Ababa over GERD and Ethiopia’s revitalized relationship with Eritrea.
Against the backdrop of all this is the responsibility of the Ethiopian government to anticipate security challenges and keep citizens safe at all costs. During the early days of Abiy’s administration, much of the blame went to the strength of the security apparatus which was weakened due to political upheaval. Later, public officials, while boasting of the improved strength of their security apparatus, seemed to crawl back to the cliché excuse of Egypt, again.
Governments around the world have the primary responsibility of foreseeing and preparing for potential external challenges to their nation’s security. By working closely with other nations and international organizations, governments can better identify potential threats and develop strategies to address them. Additionally, governments must work with their domestic law enforcement and intelligence agencies to ensure that they are adequately prepared in the event of a security incident.
While no government can completely eliminate all possible risks, it is important that they take steps to mitigate as many as possible. This includes developing strong relationships with key allies, sharing information between agencies, and preparing for potential incidents both domestically and abroad.
The government must choose between the option of doing all it can to ensure security for its citizens or creating an environment in which individuals can protect themselves.
The most important factor in determining the role of government in security is the type of society in which it exists. A society with a strong central government likely has a larger role for government in security, than a society with a weak central government. Weak security only means weak government. The public display of Abiy’s government’s strength does not match the sense of security on the ground.
There is a saying that goes ‘history does not remember blood; it remembers names’. Yes, when this is all over, history will remember GERD and Abiy Ahmed. At this time, however, there is already a high risk for the latter to be attached to ethnic-based massacres than the construction of the biggest hydroelectric dam in Africa.
10th Year •July 2022 • No. 109