Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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Viktor MARSAI, Hungarian National University of Public Service

In connection with its Eastern neighbour the Ethiopian perception was mainly determined by the historical experiences of Ahmad Ibrahim al-Ghazi and the Ogedan war. Therefore, Addis Abeba was only in words enthusiastic to support any strong central government in Mogadishu, which was well demonstrated by its attack against Islamic Courts Union in the early 2000s. Since its military intervention in 2006 Ethiopia has – again – emerged as one of the most influential actors in Somalia not only in the battlefield but also in the inner political processes. While at the beginning the EPRDF was sceptical about the rise of the new moderate Islamist politicians in its neighbour, by 2011 it recognized that a more pragmatic approach is needed to reduce the power of the main rival of Somali politicians in Mogadishu – namely al-Shabaab. Furthermore, Addis also had to face the fact that without a more supportive Ethiopian attitude towards the Somali state building its main geopolitical – and ideological – rivals, the Gulf states, Egypt and Turkey will gain a more wider influence in the Horn. Furthermore, EPRDF had to find solution for the challenge of al-Shabaab not only in Somalia, but also at home, in Somali Region, which caused dramatic shift in the policy of Addis towards the territory. In my presentations I will examine the changing strategies and tactics of EPRDF towards Somalia and the Somali politics concentrating mainly on the 2000s. I will show the use of clans and other proxies as ASWJ in the border region to provide stable background for the Ethiopian operations in AMISOM and which makes the Ethiopian perhaps the most successful troop-contributing country (TCC). In the meantime, I will also demonstrate how it changed the perception and approach of EPRDF towards Somali Region inside Ethiopia. I will also examine the Ethiopian interference in Somali inner politics during the electoral processes in 2011-12 and 2016-17.