Less than a month ago, the Norwegian Nobel peace prize committee announced the Nobel peace prize. Lately, the Nobel peace prize has been more used to extend the interests of Western imperialistic interests. This year’s award to the young Ethiopian president Abiy Ahmed Ali should be seen in that light.
A new geopolitical game is being played in Ethiopia for trade and commerce with a false notion of peace. Historically, Ethiopia is called the gateway to Africa strategically located at the horn of Africa geopolitics. Also, Ethiopia historically has not been colonised like the rest of Africa.
With the ongoing shifts in geopolitics, the currently serving president of Ethiopia is being awarded 2019 Nobel Peace prize is trying to open up the horn of Africa nation to western capital. The 43-year-old president Abiy Ahmed Ali is chosen one amongst the 301 candidates (223 individuals and 78 organisations) nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace prize (which includes jailed journalist Julian Assange and young climate change activist Greta Thunberg).
The award has been given in recognition “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea” according to Nobel Peace prize committee. The announcement also stated that “the prize is also meant to recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions”.
A former Army intelligence officer Abiy has a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering (2001), Master of Arts degree from Greenwich University London (2011), and an MBA degree from Addis Ababa University (2013) and has completed his PhD in 2017 at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University with a thesis entitled “Social Capital and its Role in Traditional Conflict Resolution in Ethiopia. His published research article on de-escalation strategies in the Horn of Africa has played an important role in securing the peace prize it is said. He comes from the Oromo ethnic group, which is the most populous in Ethiopia’s nation of 100 million, comprising some 84 different ethnic groups.
Following the end of the socialist military Derg Rule, Eritrea succeeded from Ethiopia and Ethiopia became landlocked and cut off from the Red Sea. Since then the two countries were fighting a war on border disputes for nearly two decades (1998 -2018). Two months into the office, in July 2018, Ahmed finalized a sudden peace initiative with Eritrea buy giving up the disputed land to Eritrea. This was done by facilitating of Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki in Ethiopian Capital Addis Ababa. This move has angered many Ethiopians and especially the minority group in northern Ethiopia (bordering Eritrea) Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) who have lost close to 1,50,000 people in the civil war. The TPLF is also a partner in Abiy’s ruling coalition government. This has angered many Ethiopians and has the potential to trigger ethnic fractures in the future Ethiopian politics.
It has been reported that America, Saudi Arabia, and The United Arab Emirates have played a major behind the scene role in this peace deal as the Horn of Africa is increasingly becoming a strategic location for entry to Africa. The peace deal between Ethiopia and Eritrea was facilitated by US officials in spite of Washington sanctioning and isolating Eritrea over alleged human rights abuses under its long-time leader Afwerki in the past.
After the peace deal was reached the two leaders were facilitated with gold medallions by the Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in UAE. This was followed by one of the most important political assassinations of Ethiopian engineer Simegnew Bekele (53) who was overseeing the ambitious $5 billion Golden Renaissance dam project(Africa’s Largest dam on Blue Nile river) which was largely self-financed and partly funded by China. Until then, the IMF and Western finance capital had been kept at bay in Ethiopia’s development.
With the ongoing geopolitical shakeup in the North Africa region and especially in the horn of Africa, the Nobel Peace prize to Abiy is seen as west trying to negate growing China’s clout in the region. As soon as Abiy came to power in April of 2018 he has signaled a shift in the internal and international politics of Ethiopia. This shift has also given the US, a greater role in the economics of the country removing the dominant role of China has been playing the region. Under his presidency, he has promised to open key sectors of the economy to foreign capital and for that, he has been praised by the western media as a “Reformer”. Until then Ethiopia was seen as the African model of Chinese-assisted development for the entire continent as Ethiopia was seen as a gateway to Africa.
It only remains to be seen whether Abiy Ahmed Ali will steer Ethiopia to greater heights in the prosperity of the country ushering peace or turns out to be just a pawn in the grand Imperialistic Geopolitical chessboard. But, the history of peace prize post-’90s has been marred with controversies after it has been given to actors, promoters or mute spectators of violence or willing pawns in the strategic plan of Western imperialism. After receiving Peace prize Abiy Ali has already given conflicting statements about the completion of the dam and has threated to use force against Egypt in Parliament debate on October 11 for opposing the dam.