Ethiopia's Government and the TPLF Leadership Are Not Morally Equivalent
The leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front are seeking to manipulate the international community into backing a power-sharing deal that grants it impunity for past crimes and gives it far more future influence over the country than it deserves.
Most Ethiopia analysts or so-called experts on the Horn of Africa are busy these days preaching the need for an all-inclusive national dialogue. They’re also calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
These seemingly benign calls are at face value noble and well-meaning. After all, calling for negotiated peace has become the textbook proposal for resolving conflicts, wherever they arise. I truly believe that most people recommending this approach are well-intentioned outsiders who are merely echoing the conventional wisdom of how one should resolve conflicts in Africa.
The problem is that such blanket propositions often don’t work. Indeed, Ethiopia’s neighbor South Sudan is a case in point; it is the archetypal example of how such situations tend to be viewed and handled by the international community. When armed conflict within the ruling party of South Sudan broke out after independence, the peace dialogue that followed resulted solely in a power-sharing arrangement, neglecting proper accountability for the mass killings that had occurred.
The key problem in the international community’s initial approach to South Sudan—and now to Ethiopia, which I led as prime minister from 2012 to 2018—is the assumption of moral equivalence, which leads foreign governments to adopt an attitude of false balance and bothsidesism. Facts and details regarding the true nature of conflicts and the forces igniting and driving them are frequently lost in international efforts to broker peace deals that often crumble as soon as they have been signed. Read more...