In the first part of this series I discussed the political situation in Ethiopia. In the second part I dealt with the economic changes which are being forced onto the country. These changes are designed to reform Ethiopia into a capitalist state. This last part will deal with the international position of Ethiopia.
After the end of the civil war against the Derg regime, Ethiopia was split into two countries. The largest part continued to be Ethiopia, while Eritrea split off to became Ethiopia's neighbour. Towards the end of the 20th century there was a border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia in which Eritrea supported the Oromo Liberation Front. During the current protests the Ethiopian government claims that Eritrea is funding these protests in order to destabilize Ethiopia. Whether or not this is true doesn't change anything about the legitimacy of the Oromo's struggle. Moreover, no resistance can be supported without the existence of structural problems.
Another ethnic group in Ethiopia is the Somali group. The Ogaden National Liberation Front tries to fight for the independence of that area, but there are quite a few unanswerred questions surrounding this organisation. Some allege this organisation has ties with the Jihadist Al-Shabaab, who were active in the Somali civil war. Others claim that the ONLF is in active competition against Al-Shabaab (source). What we can be sure of is that various Islamist organisations are active in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia has long been considered a stable country in the region - in spite of the obvious internal conflicts - which allowed them to become the United States' regional ally. Even though the Ethiopian government violates human rights as a matter of course, the United States continues to send enormous amounts of money under the guise of humanitarian aid. In any case, it's rather strange that a country ruled by a party which calls itself Marxist takes money from the United States. In the current political context, this has turned out to be more than useful for the EPRDF. Next to the enormous amounts of money the Ethiopian government gets, they are also relatively safe from foreign criticism. We've seen similar processes in the dictatorships and civil wars in Middle-America. The EPRDF's hunger for power and control are, thus, supported by the United States. Whether or not EPRDF domination is going to lead to an increase in Islamist sentiments is, as yet, unknown.
The United States isn't the only major power involved in Ethiopia. The land-deals in Ethiopia are usually negotiated with Chinese capital, giving the Chinese government an interest in the stability of the Ethiopian state. Likewise, Ethiopia's industrialisation is mainly financed by Chinese capital. The international economic position of China several decades ago, when Western production was outsourced to China, is now being taken over by Ethiopia. Chinafile already talks of "Made in Ethiopia" instead of "Made in China."
The situation in Ethiopia is explosive. During the current wave of protests, the politicization of ethnicities doesn't seem to hinder solidarity between the Amhara and Oromo. Nevertheless, ethnicity has often been a powerful tool for rulers to enforce their control. In Europe, the white population is incited to hate immigrants, which may well have disastrous effects for both groups. In Ethiopia, conflicts between ethnicities are common and, at the very least, the current constitution of the Ethiopian state maintains the contentious nature between ethnicities. The best we can hope for is that the new-found solidarity can be maintained and expanded to all ethnicities, including the Tigray.
Next to ethnicity, Ethiopian society is changing greatly along class lines. The former peasant-class is turning into a working class. These changes are funded by US and Chinese capital. Direct investments tend to come from China while the United States supports the Ethiopian state for military and strategic purposes. Both countries have an interest in keeping the Ethiopian state stable and experience has taught us that, at least with the United States, repressive and dictatorial regimes are preferred. In the middle-east, this policy has led to a bloody civil war.
China has only relatively recently become an imperialist power and is still developping its own style. The United States has a long-since established and infamous style of imperialism. While European imperialist powers once tried to put virtually the entire world under active military occupation, the United States opted for the threat of military violence to enforce its economic violence. In any case, imperialism without militarism is impossible. In fact, US Admiral James A. Lyons has already openly discussed his vision for expanding the military power of the United States in a reaction to the growth of China's armed forces.
Whatever is going to happen globally, the Ethiopian people are likely to be caught in the middle. The current development strategy of the Ethiopian government, supported by US and Chinese capital, has already victimized countless Ethiopians. Their protests clearly point to the brutality of capitalism and the absolute necessity of resistance against this despicable system. Whether we do so out of purely egoistic motivations or because of solidarity with the oppressed Ethiopians is irrelevant, as long as it happens. If the imperialist powers were to be called to order by their populations, the struggle of the Oromo, the Amhara, and oppressed people everywhere would be far easier.