By Andrew Korybko
The Economist recently headlined an article inaccurately titled “Ethiopia is losing friends and influence”. The outlet claims that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's ongoing military operations in the Tigray Region, which Addis Ababa regards as an anti-terrorist mission, are counterproductive to its interests. The opposite in fact is true: Ethiopia is gaining friends and influence because its anti-terrorist operations are consistent with its interests. The US and its allies who've intensified their Hybrid War on Ethiopia in response to this anti-terrorist campaign are no longer as powerful as they once were since the world is in the midst of evolving towards multipolarity.
The global systemic changes that are presently underway have seen American influence decline against the rise of Chinese and Russian influence, including in Africa. The US strategists' outdated zero-sum perspective on International Relations resulted in them overreacting to this trend by pressuring their allies into curtailing ties with these two multipolar Great Powers. Those like Ethiopia that refused to comply and instead sought to pragmatically balance between the world's most important countries are ruthlessly punished as evidenced by the US' leadership of the multilateral Hybrid War on that country via their TPLF proxies and even the UN.
Prime Minister Abiy powerfully made his case for defending Ethiopia's sovereign interests in the open letter that he published to US President Joe Biden last month but which was unfortunately ignored by the American leader. Those who haven't read it already should do so immediately since it's one of the most prominent moves in support of anti-imperialism, international law, and national sovereignty by any leader in recent times, whether African or otherwise. In fact, it's even more important that it was done by an African leader since this could inspire Prime Minister Abiy's counterparts across the continent to follow his lead.
That's precisely what the US and its allies are so fearful of. Ethiopia has a special reputation in the African mass consciousness for its historical opposition to imperialism. It's the second-largest country on the continent, recorded some of the world's fastest growth prior to the onset of the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes catalyzed by the international community's uncoordinated efforts to contain COVID-19 (“World War C”), and symbolically hosts the headquarters of the African Union (AU). Ethiopia's influence is therefore already deeply entrenched and has only grown since it began resisting the US-led Hybrid War against it.
This continental leader isn't alone but enjoys enormous support throughout most of Africa at both the local and leadership levels, even if some of the latter are reluctant to publicly back it at this time out of fear of being the US' next targets. Furthermore, Ethiopia's anti-imperialist resistance to America's destabilizing and terrorist-driven meddling has caught the attention of Great Powers such as China, Russia, and India, all three of whom have backed it at the UN. Their refusal to go along with the US and its allies' latest regime change attempt means that the only sanctions that these countries can impose would be illegal since they'd be outside the UN.
That doesn't mean that they still can't cause some serious economic trouble, but just that it would show how increasingly desperate they are to overthrow the Ethiopian government if they'd publicly sacrifice their own international reputations even more than they already have by doubling down on these illegal measures. The whole point of sanctions in this context is to worsen the living standards for average Ethiopians in the hope of turning them against their government to the point where they either violently riot against it (and thus provoke the state to respond in a way that can be misportrayed as “killing civilians”) or join anti-state terrorist groups.
The US and its allies wouldn't have gone to this extreme if the majority of the Ethiopian people didn't already sincerely support their government. It's because of their unwavering support with few exceptions that foreign actors have to intensify their meddling in a last-ditch attempt to advance their regime change campaign. They know that the conflict in that country would soon be over if they suddenly stopped materially and politically supporting the TPLF in parallel with discontinuing their economic and information warfare against the government and its people.
What these hostile actors don't realize is that the more that they try to pressure Ethiopia, the more influence and friends it'll gain. Only the most self-interested and irresponsible forces would want to replicate the Syrian scenario anywhere else in the world, let alone in Africa's second most populous country that's among one of the most diverse on the planet, which is why Ethiopia's resistance to these American-led destabilization efforts is so inspirational for Africans and others. They too know that they might also one day be targeted by similar Hybrid War campaigns if they aren't already which is why they so solidly support Ethiopia's principled resistance.
In the worst-case scenario that the Hybrid War on Ethiopia succeeds, it would make the US-led Wars on Libya & Syria look inconsequential in comparison. The lives of an estimated 115 million people are directly at stake and the collapse of this mighty country would destabilize the entire tricontinental space of Afro-Eurasia that Ethiopia sits in the middle of. It's for this reason why so many Africans, Asians, and Europeans have united in solidarity with Ethiopia, as have countless other supporters of peace in the Americas. The Hybrid War on Ethiopia is meant to turn its target into the “African Syria”, but it'll backfire just like the Hybrid War on Syria did.