Jean-Jacques Cornish

Horn of Africa move dangerous towards all our war

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Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed adamantly tried to still fears that the fighting that broke out in Tigray on November 4 would return Ethiopia to allout war.

Not only have things gone seriously pear shaped since then, with Ethiopian refugees fleeing into Sudan to escape the fighting, but the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front admitted today it had shelled Asmara airport in neighbouring Eritrea.

The TPLF claims this in retaliation for Ethiopian air force using Eritrean airports to launch attacks against it.

It could not get more difficult for Ahmed, who has vehemently denied this.

The Nobel Peace Prize he collected last year was for forging peace with Eritrea.

Not only has this been thrown into turmoil but the United National Human Rights Commission is saying the peacemaker faces possible war crimes charges for the lethal attacks his forces have made on Tigrayan civilians. 

How have things gone so wrong?

Tigrayans make up only six percent of Ethiopia’s 100-million population.

They had a disproportionate share of political power until Ahmed took the helm.

The Tigrayans paid a heavy toll in Ethiopia’s war with Eritrea 20 years ago.

Already marginalized by Ahmed, they were pushed even further out by the political reforms he initiated in Ethiopia.

The TPLF attack on an Ethiopian military base 12 days ago was both an expression of frustration and a demonstrate of muscle that the Addis Ababa forces felt obliged to answer ruthlessly.

Ahmed’s denials notwithstanding, the fighting has brought the prospect of all out war back to the Horn of Africa.

Before the Tigrayan attack, he was already dealing with clashes between the Oromo and the Amhara, which are the two largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.