Back in 2002, Meles Zenawi, then prime minister of Ethiopia, drafted a foreign policy and national security white paper for his country. Before finalizing it, he confided to me a “nightmare scenario” — not included in the published version — that could upend the balance of power in the Horn of Africa region.
The scenario went like this: Sudan is partitioned into a volatile south and an embittered north. The south becomes a sinkhole of instability, while the north is drawn into the Arab orbit. Meanwhile, Egypt awakens from its decades-long torpor on African issues and resumes its historical stance of attempting to undermine Ethiopia, with which it has a long-standing dispute over control of the Nile River. It does so by trying to bring Eritrea and Somalia into its sphere of influence, thereby isolating the government in Addis Ababa from its direct neighbors. Finally, Saudi Arabia begins directing its vast financial resources to support Ethiopia’s rivals and sponsor Wahhabi groups that challenge the traditionally dominant Sufis in the region, generating conflict and breeding militancy within the Muslim communities.Continue Reading →
South Sudan ranked lowest on the Foreign Policy/Fund for Peace 2014 Failed States Index, pushing Somalia off that uncoveted spot for the first time. The Deputy Speaker of South Sudan’s parliament, Mark Nyipuoc, protested, complaining, “Sometimes our people begin to wonder and question the credibility and the impartiality of these ranking institutions. [We] […]Continue Reading →
Remarks by Alex de Waal on the occasion of the first anniversary commemoration of the death of Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, August 20, 2013.
It is a privilege to be here today, to honour the memory of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
I first had the opportunity to […]Continue Reading →
In the months following his death on 20 August, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has been eulogized and demonized in equal measure. But his policies, and the transformational paradigm on which they were based, have rarely been elucidated. While alive, Meles was equally indifferent to praise and blame. To those who acclaimed Ethiopia’s remarkable economic growth, he would ask, do they understand that his policies completely contradicted the neo-liberal Washington Consensus? To those who condemned his measures against the political opposition and civil society organizations, he demanded to know how they would define democracy and seek a feasible path to it, in a political economy dominated by patronage and rent seeking?Continue Reading →
Our partners, African Arguments, have posted Peter Gill’s insightful tribute to Meles Zenawi, the late Ethiopian leader. Gill, the author of Famine and Foreigners: Ethiopia since Live Aid, quotes extensively from his interview with Zenawi, ending with this comment:
Meles’ work was not quite done. It is still unclear how far the transition […]Continue Reading →
Co-authored with Abdul Mohammed, this op-ed originally appeared on August 22, 2012 in the International Herald Tribune.
The death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi deprives Ethiopia — and Africa as a whole — of an exceptional leader.
We both knew him from his days as a guerrilla in the mountains of Tigray, northern Ethiopia, […]Continue Reading →
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