The regime change riots and torching of foreign companies which preceded Ethiopia’s imposition of a six-month-long state of emergency have more to do with waging a Hybrid War against China’s Maritime Silk Road and its Horn of Africa component than they do with airing out local socio-political grievances.
Crisis Background and the Origins of Hybrid War
Africa’s second-most populous country and one of the world’s fastest growing economies has been in sporadic turmoil over the past 10 months as its largest plurality violently agitated over what it claimed to be socio-political injustices. The Oromo began protesting late last year because of opposition to the central government’s plan to expand the capital of Addis Ababa into their region. The problem arose because the municipality is entirely surrounded by Oromia Region, so it’s impossible for Ethiopia’s most important city to develop in the future without reaching some sort of compromise with the neighboring locals about their land rights.
The immediacy with which some of the Oromo, which are Ethiopia’s largest plurality at an estimated one-third of the population, took to violence indicates that there’s a deeper undercurrent of long-running discontent present in the community. This can be traced back to the simmering resentment that the most extreme members of some of the country’s identity groups have to Ethiopia’s post-civil war internal reorganization and subsequent federalization, which some of their representatives believe can only be remedied through regime change, secessionism, and/or another civil war.
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