If there is such a thing as a perfect storm …

If there is such a thing as a perfect storm, last week was one for Ethiopia. From senseless, but deadly attacks in South Africa to the crossfire in Yemen and the capsized vessel on the high seas of the Mediterranean, the news was all loss of lives of Ethiopians and other nationals from the Horn of Africa.

The pick of the national frustration was, all the same, from the news that a militant group affiliated to the Islamic State (IS) has slaughtered more than two dozen Ethiopians en route to Europe. The brutality presented in as graphic a manner as it gets revolted many here and abroad. The word of all these losses is no longer a mere disclosure of statistics; many have names and faces that are now recognised by their families and acquaintances here in the capital and elsewhere in the country.

Hence, the cry for action came from hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians in Addis Abeba and regional towns, as well as abroad. The one held at Mesqel Square pronounced in particular that many Ethiopians felt as if they had no government which could stand by them in their times of tragedy and vulnerability, gossip observed.

The call for action before rage and frustration turn to hopelessness, does not appear to have been misplaced on the administration of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, gossip claims. Few ought to find it surprising that the administration should be pressured by the public rage to act quickly, according to gossip. Again, it would be obvious to see the administration sit down with its leaders of the intelligence community and top brass of the military weighing its options for responses, claims gossip.

It may have set out with the analysis to determine why Islamic militants affiliated to IS chose to commit the atrocious crime on unarmed Ethiopians and wanted to publicise it, according to gossip. The broad consensus appears to be that IS, which is designated as a terrorist group by 14 countries, is a group which declared itself as Caliphate and seeks the allegiance of Muslims worldwide. In the eyes of IS, failure to pay allegiance to the Caliphate condemns them to total annihilation. And there are no less than 34 groups from Sudan and Nigeria to Algeria and from Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines which have paid such allegiance to date.

The notable exception is Somalia’s Al-Shabab, as much a militant group but whose allegiance is to Al-Qaeda, another Islamic militant group not known to have a cosy relationship with the IS. One theory behind the beheading of Ethiopians on the shores of Libya is perhaps an attempt by IS militants to impress the Al-Shabab so that its leaders distance themselves from their Al-Qaeda affiliation and declare allegiance to the IS, claims gossip.

It will hardly be surprising then, to see the administration of Hailemariam, whose options to directly retaliate against the IS affiliates in Libya as Egypt did, are limited by geographic barriers, compelled to consider identifying other targets to strike, according to gossip. If that would be the case, gossip foresees, the two ideal places where Ethiopia has already deployed military assets, are of course Somalia and Sudan, claims gossip.

In both cases, there are targets of interest for Ethiopia, gossip claims. Destroying Al-Shabab forces in Somalia, both as symbolic significance and as an act of neutralisation before its possible allegiance to IS, could be the most logical consideration on the drawing board, claims gossip.

There is, however, a group in Sudan, al-I’tisam of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which has already declared its affiliation to the IS. Ethiopia’s military assets already presented in Sudan could also be taken to carry out offensive operations to avenge the blood of civilian Ethiopians caught up in an unfortunate situation, claims gossip.

Published on April 2015 [ Vol 15 ,No 782]



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