Ethiopia: A Regional Peacemaker

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Tariku Demeke
It’s clear for everyone that the primary and important objective of our country’s Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy is to secure and guarantee our country’s existence. Without guaranteeing its security, a country cannot focus on other issues.
With regards to this, it’s known that the Ethiopian government has been working on internal and external fronts believing that guaranteeing a country’s security will only be successful if it’s based on both (internal and external) matters.
On the first place there were efforts made to pull our country out of backwardness and poverty understanding the fact that saving our country from disintegration can only be achieved through economic development, successful democratic order building and of course through guaranteeing peace. And the government had started working towards this end.
In parallel, our government understanding of the fact that the peace and security and development of our neighborhood has either direct or indirect correlation to our country’s rapid development and democratic order building; and also understanding the fact that lack of peace and development in the region will inevitably hinder our country’s developmental path, it has and still is working tirelessly giving attention to the happenings in the region.
This is why the FDRE government was able to successfully mobilize a popular movement that will enable it to execute a Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and strategy that focuses on realizing a democratic order setup and rapid economic growth that benefits the people step-by-step.
As its known previous government’s Foreign Affairs Policy focused on voyeuring the outside (world). And this approach has left us to poverty by failing to benefit the public – and we are the evidence of that.
As the previous policies had a ‘siege’ (‘we are surrounded’) mentality that forced the previous governments to a spectator role (with regards to Foreign Affairs) we have seen their foreign policies creating a negative impact on our country’s security by increasing our vulnerability and internal problems. 
It’s by knowing the limitation and deficiencies of the previous governments’ policies that the new (incumbent) Ethiopian government focused on a Foreign Affairs and National Security policy that gives attention to internal problems that are essential to our country’s security.
As the government of our country puts a huge effort and works tirelessly towards our country’s peace and development, it also has the same intention with regards to the region’s countries peace and development mutual development is the governments’ primary choice.
This is because our government has a deep (committed) belief that the peace and development of neighboring has a positive impact on our own country and vice-versa.
The rapid economic and social development and the good governance and democratic order still under construction are bent on guaranteeing our country’s security; and it cannot be argued the positive impact it’s exerting towards bringing peace to our country and the region as a whole. In addition to this, the government has been able to record positive results on securing national and regional peace.
Out of the achievement of the FDRE government diplomatic efforts, the one that stands out is the efforts made to resolve the crisis that brewed in our big neighbor Sudan.
Sudan is the largest state in Africa; and despite its fertile land and huge natural wealth and potential for grand development, the country has been forced to live through years of civil war. And there have been tireless effort to peacefully resolve the chaos, which was responsible for huge human and material loss.
Ethiopia stood out of the horn of Africa countries, which all played a lion-share on the efforts to resolve the crisis in Sudan. The conflict between Sudan and South Sudan started from the moment the country became independent in 1956.
And this situation had a negative impact on the region’s peace and stability. As a consequence, the country’s instability has been attracting the international community’s attention for the last five decades. The effort made during the era of Emperor HaileSellasie from 1972 to 1983 in Addis Ababa is especially noteworthy.
The effort made by Egypt, Nigeria, Germany, US, Libya and other countries were also significant. However, despite the many and continues efforts made to solve the country’s problems, not one have turned fruitful. In fact the situation turned for the worse through every passing moment.
It was during this time and moment the IGAD /Inter-Governmental Authority on Development/ and Ethiopia started to work to bring peace to the region. It was in the 1992 Nairobi Summit, where IGAD worked to broker a peace deal, that the Ethiopian government played a significant and successful role.
I say this because the Ethiopian government contribution to the peace agreement that was struck by the Sudanese government and South Sudan Rebels was immense.
In addition to this, the Ethiopian government has also played a major role in the success of the 1998 peace summit that was held in Addis Ababa. Thus, the team effort made by IGAD /Inter-Governmental Authority on Development/ and the Ethiopian government was accepted by both parties, the 2005 CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) agreement was signed.
However, despite this success the country was sucked onto another problem (crisis). A crisis (an ethnic crisis) was instigated in Darfur shortly after the agreement. Consequently, there were efforts made to resolve the crisis peacefully.
The one made by Chad and Co. and another effort by African Union (AU) are to name a few. African Union (AU) had tried to reconcile the Sudanese government and the two rebel groups in Addis Ababa hoping to stop the crisis which resulted heavy human crisis.
Since Ethiopia’s intention of creating a good relationship with its neighbors arises from its Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy, it has helped improve the relationship between the two countries.
The previous ‘Derg’ administration’s interfering policy it employed towards the Sudan government and the arm and logistics support it gave to the John Garang-led South Sudan rebels had created distrust between the two countries.
In addition to this, the fact that the havoc-crazed Eritrean government made an attempt on the former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s life in Addis Ababa using Sudan as shelter, had strained the relationship of both countries.
Despite all this, the Ethiopian government has been making strong efforts to create a good relationship that benefits both countries’ peoples. And following the end of the Ethio-Eritrean war; not only the relationship between the two countries improved, but it has reached to new heights.
Today the construction of infrastructures that are beneficial to the countries’ peoples, the cultural integration and the joint security works has strengthened the relationship of both countries.
This is why it was possible to create mutual trust among both countries so much that the Sudanese government chose the Ethiopian peace keeping force to resolve the Darfur crisis; (believing that there’s no other force that can solve its problems better than Ethiopia).
This call of the Sudanese government was quickly met by the FDRE government’s decision to send its peacekeeping forces which consists more than 5000 personnel. This act has gained the good grace of the Sudanese people.
Here it’s important to note that the effort of our government to bring peace in Sudan is driven by the positive impact it has on our country’s peace, development and democratic order. It has nothing to do with other reasons as some people are claiming. The struggle against poverty can only be won when our neighbors are on peace.
It’s obvious the direct or indicted positive impact our neighbors being peaceful has on the strengthening of our own country peace. And our government’s tireless effort to solve Sudanese problems (that has a close influence on our own peace) stems from its objective of guaranteeing our country’s security.
Ethiopia’s peace can only be sustained by winning the fight against poverty and backwardness. And the fight against poverty and backwardness can only be won by eradicating our vulnerability. Notwithstanding these facts, if crisis and havoc that erupts on our neighbors are not resolved peacefully, the heat will burn us too.
As its known, a problem that occurs in a certain area or place will inevitably spread to other places like a wildfire; it will not be left confined to one area. So, following a path that takes into account not only ours but the surrounding peoples’ interest as well is important. For this end, our government has been making big efforts and is playing its own role in bringing peace to the area.
As a consequence to this fact, we can see the strong trust both the Sudan and south Sudan have on the Ethiopian government which played a large role in peacefully resolving the heinous crisis that erupted between the two. And this is a huge victory (credit) or our country.
The fact that both parties made Ethiopia as their only choice for the peace keeping mission as an Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), speaks to this truth.
I believe Ethiopia has garnered enough belief among many of its capability when we take into account the fact that the UN approved the mission where only Ethiopia is the sole troop-contributor (the first time in history). Although some countries with their own agenda have downplayed this fact, but the fact of the matter is both the Sudan and South Sudan governments did not accept any other peace keeping nation (other than Ethiopia).
And this episode has created a situation where both parties have signaled to the international community that they have an understanding and conviction on our country’s commitment to mutual benefit and adhered policy of peaceful co-existence.
Our government’s effort of creating a relationship with our neighbor countries based on mutual benefit did not stop with this alone. It’s working with huge attention on the activities to bring long-last peace in the horn of Africa, believing it’s the only option to sustainability of our country’s rapid economic development. Keeping this in mind, our government had been doing a great deal of work to bring peace to the civil war ravaged Sudan, and (now) to the south Sudan which is losing its peace.
After fighting under one umbrella (political party) for years to bring freedom and equality to their people, “SPLM” is heading once again to civil war inflicting heavy human and material loss. According to recent information, this recent conflict has taken the lives of more than thousands of people, and forced in the region of hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.
Although the International Community has given attention to this brewing crisis in South Sudan, it would be not an exaggeration to claim none has made an effort as much as the FDRE government and IGAD /Inter-Governmental Authority on Development/.
As we all can understand, the first in line to suffer from this crisis that’s happening in the world’s newest (youngest) nation south Sudan is its own citizens, as we all can see from the reports that’s coming out on the conflict. However, the crisis will inevitably spill over the surrounding countries.
This is part of the reason why IGAD and the FDRE government took the initiative to engage, and showed the commitment to resolve the conflict that’s brewing in south Sudan.
The regional organization IGAD and the Ethiopian government went as far as setting a deadline to president Salva kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar to cease fire and come to the table (and start peace talks). And by sending a mediating delegation to Juba, Nairobi and Addis Ababa, they have tried to come up with peaceful solutions.
The FDRE government on its part has shown its commitment to solve the problem and end the conflict peacefully by sending a delegation led by Prime Minister HaileMariam Desalegn to the country’s capital city, Juba.
It has demonstrated its brotherhood during these tough times. During this visit, the FDRE Prime Minister and IGAD’s current chairman Ato HaileMariam Desalegn had a meeting with South Sudan’s President Salva kiir and saw the conditions of detained authorities.
I have mentioned severally in this article the fact that our country’s effort to bring peace in the area stems from its Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy. And this peace loving effort has paved the way for both parties to come to peaceful negotiation.
Both the South Sudan government and the oppositions have responded positively to our country’s and IGAD’s call for peace by sending their representatives to Addis Ababa (for peace talks). Although the peace talk has not come to fruitation (yet), many believe that it’s a step in the right direction.
Currently the Ethiopian government is working with huge attention to make the peace talks successful. Especially the former foreign Minister Ato Seyoum Mesfin’s; who IGAD assigned as chief mediator, involvement has many analysts believe will bring the mediation to fruitation citing his many years of diplomatic experience.
Of course the fact that the civil war is continuing while the two parties are having peace talks in Addis is worrying the Ethiopian government. That’s why the Ethiopian government is stressing to both parties to prioritize their countries and peoples’ security and well being a head their own interest.
As it’s known this crisis not only poses a grave danger on South Sudanese people, but its negative impact on our country and the surrounding cannot be stressed enough. For one, the number of south Sudan citizens who fled their country to take shelter in neighboring countries is huge.
All in all, I believe the FDRE government, which is playing its own role in bringing peace to the region, will record a positive outcome in its effort to resolve the South Sudan crisis (conflict).
This has to do with its strong believe in the positive impact the development and peace of the region has on our own country’s economic development. I would like to end this article by stating my hope to see the peace sign doves flying in the skies of South Sudan and wishing harmony and tranquility to be up on our South Sudanese brother and sisters.

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