Will Ethiopia Survive 2020?

Ethiopians wave national flags and celebrate in the streets of Addis Ababa on Sept. 9, 2018, at the return of Berhanu Nega, the leader of the former armed movement Ginbot 7, after 11 years in exile.
YONAS TADESSE/AFP via Getty Images

Will Ethiopia Survive 2020?

Islamists threaten to hijack internal ethnic and religious division.

Ethiopia made Foreign Policy’s list of “10 Conflicts to Watch in 2020,” which predicts, “Elections scheduled for May 2020 could be violent and divisive.” Swelling tension and internal conflict in the nation threaten to thrust Ethiopia into turmoil, possibly even collapse. This will present radical Islam with an opportunity to hijack the political unrest and increase its control over the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia is Africa’s second-most populous nation, and it is also one of the most divided. The nation’s 105 million people belong to more than 80 different ethnic groups and speak several different languages. The nation is partitioned according to major ethnicities into nine separate regions. Each of these regions has its own executive, judicial and legislative branches; its own regional flag; is governed by its own constitution; and in many cases, has its own language.

Much of the nation’s ideologies, policies, programs and projects are issued by the central government. This undermines the federation’s principle of regional self-rule and causes much of the anti-government hatred across the regions.

Protests in Oromeia, Ethiopia’s most populous region, against the ruling regime in 2016 brought the current leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, into office in 2018. Abiy’s rule initially brought relative peace. He was even awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in October for settling Ethiopia’s dispute with its Eritrean neighbors.

However, grievances and small-scale conflicts are simmering underneath Ethiopia’s facade of relative stability.

Leading up to the May 2020 elections, the nation is divided between two groups: pan-Ethiopian nationalists, who favor a stronger central government, and ethnic nationalists, who favor the independence of the individual states.

But it’s not quite that simple.

Within the ethnic nationalists favoring state independence, the states fight and bicker among themselves as they strive for supremacy in the next government. According to a report by the Institute for Security Studies, these internal conflicts, which often become violent, have given “rise to a more hardened nationalist rhetoric, resulting in even more (intense) conflicts.”

The current ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, is led primarily by Abiy and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, a political party dominated by the Tigrayan region. Therefore, any national decree issued by the central government favors Tigray over other regions. This means that national policy is created by and favors 6 percent of the population, causing frustration in the other 94 percent.

The ethnic strife between the nine regions has led to hundreds being killed and, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Global Report on Internal Displacement, almost 2.9 million people being displaced in 2018, the highest number of displacements from a conflict that year worldwide.

New Opposition

According to Africa News, prominent Ethiopian activist Jawar Mohammed is set to join the Oromo Federalist Congress opposition party to participate in next year’s national elections.

Jawar Mohammed and his media network is a powerful force in this region,” said Clionadh Raleigh, a professor of political geography and conflict at the University of Sussex. “I think that Jawar Mohammed has incredible power and that power is not something that Abiy yields.”

Mohammed was instrumental in the 2016 protests that ultimately brought Abiy to power. He used social media to organize strikes and protests that led to the toppling of the government. Ethiopian writer and democracy activist BefeQadu Hailu said that “his greatest influence is on the Oromo youth,” claiming that he can “create resistance among the youth.”

In November, the Oromia region, including Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, became the stage of several anti-Abiy rallies and clashes between ethnic groups. Deutsche Welle reported, “The violence came after a Facebook post in which Mohammed accused Abiy’s security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack on him in the region.” Video footage posted on social media showed hundreds of young Oromo men joining the gathering outside Mohammed’s home, chanting slogans such as “Stand down Abiy,” according to Al Jazeera.

Ethiopia is a very young country—43 percent of the population is under age 15. Just under two thirds of the nation is younger than age 25. This is why Mohammed’s popularity with the nation’s youth gives him so much power.

Christian-Muslim Conflict

Oftentimes these political divides are more than just ethnic; they are also religious. Ethiopia is a majority Christian nation with a large Muslim minority, at about 34 percent, according to data by cia World Factbook.

In Ethiopia, religion is a big deal. According to a 2018 Pew Poll, 98 percent of polled Ethiopians say that religion is very important in their lives.

The Oromeia region is equally split between Christians and Muslims, with a slight Christian majority. Here, more than anywhere in Ethiopia, the religious divide is most evident. When protests ignited in 2016, the large majority of conflicts occurred throughout Oromeia between Christians and Muslims.

Far from resolved, Ethiopia’s Christian-Muslim divide is an ongoing issue.

On December 24, Al Jazeera reported that several thousand Muslims across Ethiopia protested the burning of four mosques in the Christian-dominated Amhara region. In Amhara, thousands are protesting the ill treatment of Christian students in Oromeia.

The widespread conflicts and internal division have made Ethiopia prone to intense, sporadic violence. The unrest is expected to worsen leading up to the May 2020 election as ethnic and religious conflict takes center stage.

The central government is weak and the nation’s politics are becoming more and more volatile. As a result, Ethiopia is in danger of collapse.

The Prophecy

In Libya and Ethiopia in Prophecy (first published in 2012), Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes, “What is the immediate future of Libya and Ethiopia? We must go to the Bible for the answer—you will find it no place else.” These two nations are mentioned together in a prophecy in Daniel 11: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. … But he [the king of the north] shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, … and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps” (verses 40, 43).

These scriptures prophesy about the rise of radical Islamic group of nations in the time just before the return of Jesus Christ. This end-time power, biblically called the king of the south, will be led by Iran. (For proof, request a free copy of The King of the South, by Gerald Flurry.)

The Soncino commentary defines “at his steps” as either “joining his army or placing themselves at his beck and call.” The Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines the expression as “in his company.”

Radical Islam thrives in an environment of civil unrest. When the Egyptian and Libyan governments fell in 2011, radical Islam momentarily gained control of both nations.

If these ethnic and religious conflicts cause the collapse of Ethiopia’s government, the nation, especially the Muslim-dominated regions, will likely fall prey to radical Islam and Iranian control.

Iran has a long history of working in Central and East Africa. In 1993, a few hundred Iranian troops worked in neighboring Sudan. Two years later, thousands of Iranian-educated terrorist trainers were in the country. Though the relationship isn’t as strong as it once was, Iran is still active in the region, supporting various terrorist organizations. It has continued its support for the al-Shabaab terrorist organization in nearby Somalia and the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen.

Mr. Flurry continues in Libya and Ethiopia in Prophecy:

All you need to do is get a good map of the Middle East, with the emphasis on the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Then you can see why the king of the south, or radical Islam, is so interested in an alliance with or control over these two countries (as well as Egypt and Tunisia). They are on the two seas that comprise the most important trade route in the world!

Whoever heavily influences or controls Ethiopia will undoubtedly also control the small areas of Eritrea and Djibouti on the Red Sea coastline. These areas only recently became independent of Ethiopia. Also, I believe the Bible view is that these small areas are included as a part of Ethiopia. …

So you need to watch Libya and Ethiopia. They are about to fall under the heavy influence or control of Iran, the king of the south.

For years, the Trumpet has watched for radical Islam to gain control of this majority Christian nation. Since 2011, Mr. Flurry has been warning that this will happen. Now that Ethiopia is in the limelight as one of the top 10 conflicts to watch in 2020, this prediction rings truer than ever.

For more information, read and study Libya and Ethiopia in Prophecy.