Ethiopia’s Historic Turning Point
Ethiopia’s Historic Turning Point
Podcast / Africa 1 minutes

Ethiopia’s Historic Turning Point

This week on The Horn, Alan is joined by Ethiopia scholar Christopher Clapham, who helps place the stunning events in the country against the backdrop of a longstanding struggle to establish a viable model for the Ethiopian state.

Even the most seasoned observers have been stunned by Ethiopia’s recent twists and turns. The first shock came in 2018, when the country saw a peaceful transfer of power to a coalition led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. For some, this promised a turning point for a country that had long struggled to open its political space and find a workable political model that balanced its strong state with regional demands for ethnic autonomy. This optimism did not last. Ethiopia has since been plunged into a deadly civil war that threatens the very integrity of the state. Only weeks ago, Tigray forces captured towns in the direction of Addis Ababa, leading some foreigners to evacuate the capital.

This week, Alan is joined by Ethiopia expert Christopher Clapham, an author on the Horn of Africa and retired professor at the University of Cambridge, to take a deep dive into the country’s complex history. They discuss the legacy of Ethiopia’s imperial past, Ethiopia’s exceptional resistance to European colonial rule, the lingering effects of the Derg’s violent revolution, and the contradictions inside former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s vision for ethnic federalism. They also talk about the breakdown of the Ethiopian regime after Meles’s death, the “miracle” of Abiy’s ascent, the slide into civil war and the possible scenarios for Ethiopia’s political future as the military tide turns against the government.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

You can find more of Crisis Group’s work on our Ethiopia page. Make sure to check out Professor Clapham’s latest book The Horn of Africa: State Formation and State Decay for more fascinating insights.


Project Director, Horn of Africa
Christopher Clapham
Former Professor, University of Cambridge's Centre of African Studies

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