Another Nobel Peace Prize Winner Goes Rogue

By Gwynne Dyer, in Opinion · 06-04-2021 12:08:00 · 10 Comments

Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed, the Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 2019, waited the statutory two years before launching his genocidal war in Tigray last November.

‘Statutory’ is the right word. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who won the Peace Prize in 1973 for ending the Vietnam War, even admitted that he only wanted a ‘decent interval’ of two years after the US withdrawal before North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam – which it did in 1975.

Whereas Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader who won the Prize in 1991, waited almost twenty years before defending the genocide against the Rohingya committed by the government she nominally led before the International Court of Justice.

They should all remember Groucho Marx’s rule: “I refuse to join a club that would have me as a member.” The Peace Prize Club has some very dodgy members, so I went back and looked at what I wrote when these luminaries first won their prizes. (I’ve been in this game for a long time.) It turns out that I sort of defended all of them.

Henry Kissinger wasn’t trying to win a prize. He knew the United States had lost the war in Vietnam and he wanted to get out, but he needed to disguise the defeat in order to bring the more ignorant nationalists in Congress and the country along with his policy. So he signed a ‘peace treaty’ that neither he nor his North Vietnamese counterpart expected to last.

Cynical realpolitik, if you like, but they were actually trying to minimise the killing, knowing full well that there was more yet to come. That’s the defence that I also offered for Aung San Suu Kyi. She couldn’t stop the army from massacring the Rohingyas, and she defended its actions internationally because she thought that might stop it from seizing power again.

If that was her motive, she failed: look at the bloodbath in Burma now. Was that really her motive? It’s impossible to tell, because she has repeated the military’s racist lies about the Rohingya with more enthusiasm than was strictly necessary just to placate the generals. But you can see both her and Kissinger as intelligent people trying to choose the lesser evil.

This defence is not available to Abiy Ahmed, who got the Peace Prize just seventeen months after ending the ‘frozen conflict’ with Eritrea and nineteen months after taking power in Ethiopia. As with the preposterous Peace Prize for Barack Obama only ten months after he took office in 2009, the selection committee just jumped too soon.

At least Obama did not start a war, whereas in retrospect it seems likely that Abiy Ahmed signed a peace treaty to end the 20-years-dormant military confrontation with Eritrea because he saw it as a likely ally in the war he already foresaw with his own erstwhile allies in Tigray. (Tigray is an Ethiopean province that shares a border with Eritrea.)

The war was almost inevitable, because Abiy’s rise to power marked the end of a

27-year period when members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated Ethiopia. (Abiy belongs to one of the countries two biggest ethnic groups, the Oromo.)

Tigrayans are only 6% of Ethiopia’s 100 million people, but their fighters outnumbered everybody else in the guerilla army that finally overthrew the Derg dictatorship, so they just naturally slid into the seats of power in 1991 – and stayed there semi-permanently.

Every other ethnic group was seeking a way to oust the TPLF without a civil war, and Abiy seemed a good choice because he had fought alongside Tigrayan rebels from the age of fourteen and spoke fluent Tigrinya. But that wasn’t enough to reconcile Tigrayans to their loss of power, of course, and Abiy and the TPLF both knew it would probably end in war.

Which it has, and the Eritrean army joined Abiy’s Ethiopian federal troops in invading Tigray. The TPLF’s regular forces were defeated in a few weeks, and the years-long, maybe even decades-long war against Tigrayan guerilla resistance has begun. So have the mass murders, the mass rapes, the looting and random destruction that are the hallmarks of ethnic wars.

Now the first videos are appearing, of Ethiopian troops shooting unarmed young Tigrayan men and kicking their bodies over a cliff. (Why do they always make these videos? Are they proud of it?) By the end of this year, we will be probably be officially calling it a genocide, but that won’t stop it. Nothing will, for a long time.

And can I defend Abiy Ahmed too? I understand how difficult his situation was, and all the other separatist pressures in Ethiopia, and the fact that he started out as a child soldier, but no, I can’t.


Abiy's apologists may still defend his war and war crimes against Tigrayans and others elsewhere in Ethiopia. He was groomed and given a roadmap from the get go by Amhara nationalists and ultra-right so called 'Ethiopianists' who are hell bent on restoring the old one-language, one-culture, one-people unitary system where Amhara and Amhara culture rule supreme.
People forget, as you did here, that Abiy is half-Amhara, and that he fought (and still fights) against the Oromo and Oromo nationalism since he joined the TPLF at a young age.
Abiy had a golden opportunity to truely transform the Ethiopian empire into a democratic federal entity, but rather chose to be a pupil of the Eritrean dictator Isayas Afewerqi. Through Machiavellian machinations and completely disregarding the state's constitution and national laws, he went on to eliminates all those he thought would stand on his way to be the new strongman of Ethiopia, hence the current war. The Nobel Peace Prize gave him only some camouflage, something he never deserved.

By Abba Gaarre from Other on 07-04-2021 09:08

Fake Media is working against Ethiopians, they do not want the truth to be told. Where were you for the last 30-years when TPLF Mafia killed our people day and night.

By Emmy from USA on 06-04-2021 08:29

It should be clear that this ongoing Geocidal War (#TigrayGonocide-2021) is orchestrated meanly by the FASCIST AMHARA Expansionist and has been implementing by Abiy Ahmed and his partner in crime the ruthless and notorious Eritrean President-Isaias Afewerki since November 2020. The killer and merciless Abiy Ahmed is simply a mercenary to the Fascist Amhara Expansionist who are encouraging and supporting him behind the screen.
On November 4, 2020, the unelected Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed and his administration declared war on Tigray (my home region), the north most region of Ethiopia, and enforced complete communications and media blackout. Since then, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed, cultural and religious sites have been destroyed, and war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed. Currently, there are widespread sexual abuse and violence against women and girls as well as torture and extrajudicial killings of civilian in the region by the invading Eritrean forces.
Humanitarian agencies stated that currently, 4.5 million people are in need of emergency food aid with hundreds of thousands at risk of starvation. In addition to that, over 1.2 million internally displaced and over 60,000 civilians crossed the border to Sudan in fear of the war.
The government of PM Abiy Ahmed blocked independent national and international media access to the region, harassed and threatened journalists who tried to report independently. Last month, security forces killed Journalist Dawit Kebede Araya, a Tigray TV journalist in the capital of Mekelle in broad daylight.
Currently, over 1.2 millions Tigreans has been forces out of Western Tigray by Fascist Amhara forces, over 100,000 got killed in Tigray

By Haile Michael from USA on 06-04-2021 06:37

Thanks so much for writing this. Yes, we will definitely end up calling it a genocide but what use will that have? Why do we always leave the grievance and outrage to historical analysis when have the power to stop them now? Tigray is a small region being pulverized by multiple forces from the Amhara to the Eritreans to their own Ethiopian government and all they have asked is their right to their hard-won self-government. The massacres, the bestial sexual violence and the starvation crimes all in the name of "law enforcement" but in reality bringing about extermination, unspeakable chaos and dehumanization. Abiy Ahmed is not a reformist - as was his planned transition when he won that peace prize. He is someone, who is not only heinously sabotaging his own people by "othering" them - but is also sabotaging the whole country, the HoA and the vested interests of the US and the West at large, there of. The sooner he leaves, the better. Otherwise, disintegration is likely and the HoA won't be the same.

By Alem from USA on 06-04-2021 06:20

The same reign of thought runs through the minds of blind supporters of Abiy Ahmed: For all the ills of Ethiopia, the cause is either the West or the TPLF. If you sympathize with the oppressed's plight, you will be placed in either group, even when you do not have a vested interest in the Horn of Africa. It should be noted repeatedly injustice in any form, whether is it is carried out now, thirty years, or a century ago by any group is unacceptable. Atrocity is always atrocity. Under the Noble laureate, in one region alone, 4.5 out of 6 million people are starving, 2.5 million are displaced, wanton destruction of property and stealing is rampant, women are raped in thousands. What else should happen for one to be outraged by crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing? And all these are being carried out under the disguise of Medemer (togetherness). Abiy's approach to Tigray's problem is the same as the defunct military regime: "To kill the fish, drain the sea." Very sad indeed. On the positive side, we have honest individuals like Mr. Dyer who tell it as it is. Mr. Dyer, your apt description of the current emperor of Ethiopia is highly appreciated.

By Kebede Gobena from USA on 06-04-2021 05:48

Abiy is a political opportunist driven by lust for power. He resorts to all and any means to cling to power. He says , promises great things, but breaks them. The reality on the ground is unbearable for a lot of people. Him and his apologists know the Ethiopian territory is made up of different peoples - some sharing culture, others not so much. In the 21st century, one can not forcefully wield diverse people under a single rule as shown in the Balkan and former Soviet Union. It is time for reckoning of the past 100 years. 'Ethiopian nationalism' is a hollow concept for the diverse population. It can no longer be used as an excuse to subjugate others. The so called 'nationalists' need to wake up from their sleep and accept the new reality. People want to practice their culture and independence without the fear of the monster 'Ethiopian Nationalism' that consumed their youth for generations. Enough is enough.


By Bruk from USA on 06-04-2021 05:24

Abiy is truelly a genocide perpertrator and my strong evidence is that he orchestrated genocide and ethnic cleansing of Amhara people. He told to Ethiopian people the he doesn't care to see innocents being killed. There are all evidences that Abiy and his party OPDO are organising the mass killings in Arusi, Welega, Metekel... He did not Amharas only but Gamo, Gedion, Somali...ethnic group too. The world must be deaf and dumb to ignore the extensive Amhara genocide.

By Yimer from Other on 06-04-2021 03:51

Thank you for allowing us to comment on your stories. Every body first has to examine and realise who committed Genocide it could be said through out all over the country. Why you only see one side of the story at Western media. I am not even scratching what TPLF did to Ethiopians for 27 years. Everything the army now accused of doing in Tigray, TPLF did to the rest of Ethiopia 1,000 times more. One tiny example, they butchered more than 1000 peoples in Miachadra town in 2021 and 700 at Bishoftu in 2016 in a single day. Western hypocracy is really nauseating.

By Birhanu Bogale Addis Ababa Ethiopia April 06/2013

By birhanu from Other on 06-04-2021 03:23

Thank you for allowing comment on your stories. The problem is not with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. He has begged the criminal junta, the TPLF, to avoid conflict. They had been beating the drum of war for 3 years and instigated ethnic hostilities orchestrating bloodshed in many parts of the country and finally, they dragged the country into a civil war.
The truth is the west is waging ferocious propaganda against the country for several reasons. The west has not ears to listen to the crimes committed by the TPLF such the genocide against ethnic Amharas and the coordinated attack on the the unsuspecting defense forces. There is a lot to tell. All I ask you is please look for the truth.

By Tadesse Melaku from Other on 06-04-2021 02:02

Ms Dyer, no need to defend Abyi, but you could have elaborated more on what triggered the war. TPLF after withdrawing to Tigray in 2018, sent countless weapons, cash, agents all over the country to light ethnic conflict derail the change. Finally, they attacked the federal base killing many officers, driving tanks on some, cutting breast of female officers. They also hacked to death over 1,100 civilians at Maicadra before fleeing to Sudan. Those in power in Europe who put TPLF in charge 30 years ago enraged now they have been driven out. Why you only see one side of the story at Western media. I am not even scratching what TPLF did to Ethiopians for 27 years. Everything the army now accused of doing in Tigray, TPLF did to the rest of Ethiopia 1,000 times more. One tiny example, they butchered 700 at Bishoftu in 2016 in a single day. Western hypocracy is really nauseating.

By Gobanaa Dacci from USA on 06-04-2021 01:57
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