Transformation of the Ethiopian Political Elite and the Armed Conflict in Tigray: from Driving Predecessors out to De-Escalation?


Ivan Loshkariov, Ivan Kopytsev


In the article the authors consider elite dimension of the conflict in Tigray. Conducting the analysis of intra-elite processes allows both to find out the roots and to estimate the consequences of the most fast-moving conflict in the Horn of Africa. The research consists of five conceptual parts, which are preluded by a short description of the run of events. In the first part the conflict potential which takes its roots in 1994-2018 is explained. It starts with the basic notion that ethnic lines predetermine formation of elites in Ethiopia. Then the study shows that one of the main causes for the dispute which has severely divided political elites was the hegemony of the TPLF in government institutions. The second part refers to the transit of power. Here the point under consideration is redistribution of resources and particular strategies adopted by polarized elites. The analysis demonstrates that Abiy Ahmed and his allies did their best to deprive the TPLF leaders of power and economic resources. The TPLF resorted to ethnic mobilization while their rivals tried to break the unity of Tigrayans through stressing the existence of a class conflict. The third and the fourth chapters focus on the investigation of federal elites’ and «tigrayan clan’s» current positions respectively. In conclusion, the authors structure their findings and estimate the perspectives of inter-elites consensus. The research provides three important conclusions. Firstly, the roots of the conflict led to the formation of «action-response» cycles which was the basis for a rapid development and escalation. Secondly, the ongoing war even consolidates ruling elites in their fear of the TPLF. Finally, de-escalation and negotiations may become possible amid internal disputes in the Prosperity Party.


Ethiopia, Tigray, elites, conflict, TPLF, Abiy Ahmed, Prosperity Party




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