Tigray’s Interim Regional Administration (IRA) has made its first diplomatic effort by seeking an alliance with the Oromia Regional government. This move comes at a time when the Oromia-Amhara alliance appears to be falling apart. Tigray has been besieged and at war with its antagonists, and forming alliances is essential to secure its interests within the federation, a likely motive behind IRA’s charm offensive.

The Tigrayan and Oromo nationalists share similar interests as they are both aggrieved by the mainstream historical narrative, which tends to exclude their roles and interests. They both pursue identity-based politics and consider “self-determination up to secession” part of the constitution as non-negotiable. Therefore, forming an alliance with the Oromia Regional government makes perfect sense for Tigrayan nationalism.

This alliance between Tigray and Oromia appears to be a repeat of the 1991 alliance between the TPLF-led EPRDF and the OLA.

However, this time, the roles have reversed. The Shimelis-led ODP/PP stands for Oromo interests, and it is not the TPLF-dominated IRA that is in a position of power. In 1991, the TPLF/EPRDF was overconfident in its military might and considered a partnership with the OLF of mediocre interest. However, this led to the OLF walking out of the transitional government, culminating in the Oro-mara alliance that brought TPLF/EPRDF to its knees.

Tsadkan Gebretensae had at one time lamented the lack of sufficient efforts on the part of the TPLF/EPRDF to make the alliance with OLF work.

Now, the TPLF/IRA has offered an alliance to Shimelis’s ODP.

The TPLF/IRA is desperate for friends and alliances, and for now, it appears to be content with whatever terms ODP is willing to offer. However, if the partnership is not in equitable terms, pressure from the indignant Tigrayan public will eventually force the TPLF to backtrack. This will lead to another broken alliance and may end up culminating another round of instability in the Horn.

Shimelis’s ODP and Oromo elites need to consider the potential implications of repeating the TPLF’s mistake in overestimating their current position. Oromo nationalism cannot rule alone, regardless of demography or resource superiority. Another one-ethnic group dominated leadership will invoke resentment from other nationalities, leading to the same predicament as that of Tigrayan-dominated EPRDF.

It is time for the Oromo leadership to learn from TPLF’s mistake and seek mutually beneficial partnerships with Tigrayan nationalism which could be emulated to include other federalists. Only then can the constitution, which has shown its vitality to Ethiopia’s continued existence, be strengthened. As tensions continue to rise within Ethiopia, the country is at a crossroads, and the decisions made now will determine its future.