This is a rejoinder to Mark Lowcock’s article titled “How to destroy a country: does Ethiopia have a future?” posted by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) on October 8, 2021.
Although it focuses on Mr. Lowcock’s specific remarks, it is also intended to expose what appears to be an internationally orchestrated sabotage against Ethiopia by some western countries, the United Nations, the international media, global development organizations and devious individuals who twist the truth to accomplish a sinister hidden agenda.
One thing I know [from] having direct experience since I led the 2005 #EUEOM – #TPLF are a dangerous band of criminal oppressors and liars.
A Tweet by the Honorable Ana Gomes, Member of the European Parliament (10/9/21)
Context: The Ethiopian gov’t is fighting a rebel group that has taken up arms (some coerced) against it & the people. A year of war. Tens of thousands killed. Some in the West seem more interested in a bloody forced regime change than saving lives. #Tigray
A tweet by Hermela Aregawi, Journalist (10/21/21)
It is a clear indication of humanity’s collective moral degeneration and deteriorating state of global affairs when highly regarded individuals such as Mark Lowcock shamelessly spread false information in a futile attempt to subdue, divide and destroy a proud African nation. Hiding behind an institution that is presumably established with the intent to create better conditions for all humanity, this individual, along with many others, is distorting the truth and misrepresenting the reasons that led to the current conflict in Ethiopia.
Mr. Lowcock, and through him the Western elite, are trying to convince the reader that they know what is best for Ethiopia without giving any consideration to what Ethiopians want. They believe they are entitled to prescribe solutions forgetting the fact that it is such unsolicited Western meddling that led to this mess in the first place.
Without any reservation, Mr. Lowcock deliberately ignores, distorts or glosses over the real reasons that led to the current crisis. He blurts out biased comments, condescending remarks and unsubstantiated statements to support his argument. Many other supposedly credible individuals and organizations in the Western world are doing the same.
It is reprehensible that individuals with comfortable lives and nothing to lose if they seek the truth, deliberately distorting information using their privileged positions. Their goal, in the end, is to disrupt Ethiopia’s long overdue march towards development which, unfortunately, they perceive to be a threat to their interests.
Their actions clearly indicate that this quest to mislead has something to do with the Western world’s desire to continue the unchecked exploitation of the developing world. As they have amply demonstrated so far, their strategy is to protect the Western system, maintain its advantages and continue holding the world hostage at the expense of the poor.
In this calculation, Ethiopia is one of the most threatening targets where the spirit of independence, self-sufficiency and can-do attitude demonstrated by its people and leaders have to be nipped in the bud as they pose a dangerous precedent for the rest of the developing world. How else can one explain the obsessive push to revive the terrorist organization called TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) against the will of the people and despite their appalling record in terms of respecting democracy and human rights?
Even though these TPLF supporters have been closely following the changes underway in the country after its downfall three years ago, they have no desire to accept the reality on the ground. What they have seen unfolding throughout the
country — the unexpected national unity which the TPLF incessantly toiled to destroy, the resounding rejection of ethnic division, the resolve to usher a new era of development through self-sufficiency and determination, the revival of the Ethiopian spirit etc.; — seem to pose a dangerous threat to them.
The past three years have not been easy for Ethiopians. It has proved to be an excruciatingly painful process cleaning up the toxicity especially in terms of ethnic division spread throughout the country by the TPLF for 27 years. Given the complexity and severity of the problems they created, there will be long term consequences. The extent to which the relentlessly destructive TPLF rule has fragmented, corrupted and spoiled the country to its core has been clearly exposed in the past three years for the world to see.
Ethnic conflicts resulting from the language/ethnic based administrative division, the displacement of large numbers of people because of the TPLF induced conflicts pitting one ethnic group against another, the deeply entrenched corruption at all levels of administration, the debilitating apathy coupled with extreme lack of motivation especially in young people and the overall moral decay are some of the many systemic problems created by the TPLF that Ethiopians need to grapple with in the coming years. With such a long list of destructive governance strategy and even after Ethiopians unequivocally rejected the TPLF, their Western supporters still believe that this terrorist group is a better choice for Ethiopia compared to the current administration.
It is clear that there are many political and economic interests these people consider when they choose to condemn an entire population by reviving and bringing back to power a group of thugs that they consider are loyal to their cause. However, the world is changing, and the era of exploiting the poor by using strongmen to maintain
a decadent life style cannot continue indefinitely. To distort the truth and subject millions of innocent lives to the savage antics of a murderous terrorist organization that mercilessly looted, destroyed and morally corrupted the country for 27 long years is tantamount to aiding and abating the perpetrators of a holocaust.
Mr. Lowcock and others like him only see what they want to see, and recent world events testify to that fact. As long as it helps them achieve what they desire, they use any means necessary to break, subdue and destroy those they perceive are standing in their way. Their strategy includes spreading lies, purposefully distorting the truth, arrogant extortion, threats to withhold aid/loans and any other leverage they might have at their disposal.
The adversaries they condemn to brutal suppression are not mere individuals but whole populations. Thus in Ethiopia, for the sake of safeguarding their interest, they have arrogantly decided to make enemies out of 120 million people. And an orchestrated campaign is underway to ensure that Ethiopia remain in their grip by helping the TPLF rise up from its deathbed.
Contrary to what they tell the world, they are the ones encouraging the terrorist/ tribalist/ group, helping it push the country towards an all-out civil war, which will definitely result in the devastation of millions of lives. A civil war could be avoided if they refrain from “fanning the flames” and let the Ethiopian people and government deal with their internal problems. They can only do this if they really care about people. Sadly, they don’t. All that is of interest to them is domination and exploitation regardless of the human consequences.
The TPLF and its puppet organization the EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front) held power for 27 years until Abiy Ahmed took the helm as prime
minister three years ago. TPLF, the dominant group, was gradually forced out of central power through a protracted struggle which claimed thousands of lives.
If their worth is measured according to what they are willing to sacrifice to satisfy their Western masters, yes the TPLF goons are good obedient slaves. They are willing and eager to sell Ethiopia, its resources and their own souls to the highest bidder. But, if they are to be judged by Ethiopians according to what they achieved for the country and its people, then they couldn’t have done any worse. Despite their poor track record of suppression, economic mismanagement, human right abuses, ethnic division, and corruption, with the support and encouragement of their Western allies, they remained in power for much longer than they should have.
Mr. Lowcock righteously begins his article by making a statement that the nation wants to destroy itself. The fact is the TPLF openly worked to destroy the country and used all its might and powerful Western friends to achieve this goal for 27 years, and it failed miserably. On the other hand, Ethiopians decided to save their country, and after a long struggle, they removed this parasitic burden from their backs.
After they were peacefully removed from power, the TPLF retreated to their region. Instead of accepting defeat and making an effort to repent for the heinous crimes they committed against Ethiopia and Ethiopians, they decided to retaliate.
Mr. Lowcock attempts to mislead his readers by accusing the Ethiopian government of picking a fight with the TPLF when all the facts indicate otherwise. He claims that the TPLF attacked the federal forces because they were provoked. As a matter of fact the TPLF brutally attacked the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) in an attempt to reclaim their lost power in the central government. They cowardly launched an all-out surprise attack to regain their lost glory. Eventually, the invincibility they led themselves and their supporters to believe they possess proved to be nothing but arrogant overconfidence.
Mr. Lowcock further states that “a neighboring army was invited in to rape and kill civilians and destroy their crops, businesses, schools and clinics” referring to the Eritreans. For someone who seems to have unfiltered information about the situation, he deliberately misleads.
The Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) were stationed in Tigray to defend the northern frontier from external enemies. In their usual ungrateful disposition, the TPLF attacked those who for more than 20 years protected them from outside aggression. Thousands of troops were massacred as a result of this unexpected brutal attack by the TPLF. This situation created a vacuum. As a result, the Eritrean forces proceeded to assert their presence in the area.
Immediately after the brutal assault, the Ethiopian forces who survived the attacks retreated into Eritrean territory. They were received with open arms as the TPLF forces pursued them. After regrouping in Eritrea, they were given free passage to return and restore order in their country. For this brotherly gesture, Ethiopians are eternally grateful to the Eritreans.
Mr. Lowcock, of all people should have known that war is a dirty undertaking. Whatever happens once it is unleashed will be at the hands of the people on the ground facing a life and death situation. The best thing to do is, not to start a war, but if it starts, atrocious acts are to be expected from all sides. Instead of sabotaging and facilitating the downfall of the current Ethiopian government now when the situation becomes complicated, what they should have done from the start was to persuade their TPLF puppets to stand down if they were really concerned about people’s lives.
Deceitfully, Mr. Lowcock declares that “the victims (in Tigray) were persuaded that they were about to be subjected to genocide and hate speech is promoted against them among the rest of the population”. This is a contemptible insult towards Ethiopians besides twisting the truth to fit a vile narrative.
Prime Minister Abiy and his government attempted all possible means to resolve the issue peacefully. The Tigray population was treated with utmost respect, and contrary to Mr. Lowcock’s assertion, Ethiopians never endorsed hate speech. The hate speeches he refers to come from the TPLF and its puppet ethnic organizations. Their main goal is to induce an all-out ethnic carnage in the country, and in the aftermath, create an independent Tigray along with a bunch of small and weak banana republics that the West can easily manipulate and exploit.
The TPLF thugs rejected all peace initiatives and decided to push on with their transgression undermining the central government’s authority. After regrouping, the Ethiopian defense forces launched a counter measure and took control of the region within a matter of a few weeks.
However, sabotage, propaganda and foreign intervention made it impossible for the civilian administration appointed by the government to handle the pressure caused as a result of the turmoil and chaos that the remaining TPLF thugs created with the help of the West. Taking advantage of this situation, the remaining TPLF bandits reasserted themselves and took control of Tigray. Using scare tactics, they persuaded the local population to support them. They then advanced even further, attacking and occupying Amhara and Afar territories after the Ethiopian government announced a unilateral cease fire.
Resources were never cut off to Tigray as Mr. Lowcock asserts, and despite grumblings from much of the rest of the Ethiopian population, the Tigray regional state was favored and it received more than what is due. He deliberately tries to make it look like that the Ethiopian government was determined to provoke the TPLF as if this group is an innocent bystander suffering because of the central government’s imposition.
Talking about genocide, Mr. Lowcock seems to have a selective memory. If genocide is committed, it is the TPLF forces who massacred Amharas in the Wolkait Tsegede area – what the TPLF calls western Tigray (The Mai-Kadra Massacre, 9-10 November 2020) in clear view of the world, and not much has been reported about this atrocity.
For the past 30 years, genocide and crimes against humanity were committed against other ethnic groups with the full support and initiation of the TPLF (Amhara massacres in Oromia, Southern Nations, Beni Shangul and Anuak massacre in Gambela, December 13, 2003). In many cases, during its 27 year rule, the TPLF turned a blind eye when atrocious crimes were committed against the Amharas and other ethnic groups in different parts of the country.
Writing about the ethnic tension prevalent in the country, Mr. Lowcock asserts that “Meles was, with difficulty, able to keep the lid on”. For your information, it is Meles who instituted an ethnic federation in Ethiopia 30 years ago. Mr. Lowcock claims that ethnic tensions have been high across much of Ethiopia in recent years. But he fails to explain the origins of these tensions.
It is Meles Zenawi, the grand wizard of the TPLF who imposed an ethnic based system where tribal composition and the language spoken in a specific area became the criteria for carving out regional boundaries. The limitations and dangers of such division became evident from the start. However, Meles was determined to divide the country in such a way so that he could manipulate and pit one group against another to maintain power. In an obsessive quest to alleviate his insecurities and boost his ego, he vainly aspired to make his ethnic group a dominant force by taking advantage of this division.
It is this partition of the country’s territory into language based ethnic states that resulted in the current escalation of tension and hostility. A system of government as recommended by Nelson Mandela where “ethnic groups see themselves as Ethiopians first and consider their ethnic identity a distant second” would have been a better solution for a multi-ethnic country such as Ethiopia.
As a result of such division, the nation has been put through one of the worst periods in its history where ethnic violence reached the highest level. The number of internally displaced individuals increased exponentially, and massacres, discrimination and displacement became everyday occurrences.
Mr. Lowcock makes a crude condescending statement when he claims that “Western countries are (whether they should or not) proud of the contribution they have made to progress in Ethiopia in recent decades, especially what their development aid has helped achieve.”
The reality is that their finances and blind support for an administration that hates its own people created an enabling environment for the voracious TPLF parasites to suck the life out of the country. The economic opportunities created as a result of Western support spawned a greedy elite class leaving millions of poor Ethiopians far behind to fend for themselves in abject poverty.
He goes on to affirm that “The World Bank alone has been giving Ethiopia more than a billion dollars a year in grants and very cheap loans in recent years, most of it financed by taxpayers in North America and Europe.” It feels like he wants Ethiopians to be grateful to the West because it bankrolled the atrocious activities of a group that is determined to impoverish, dominate and destroy their lives and their country.
Obviously, he misses the point that it is Western aid and loans that made the unjust exploitation of the country’s resources and the poor possible. Additionally, as we are witnessing currently, a large chunk of the support they provided to the TPLF was used to amass weapons to flex their muscle at the federal government instead of improving people’s lives.
Talking about Western taxpayers, it may not have dawned on Mr. Lowcock yet, but he needs to get it through his head that poor people in the developing world are the ones subsidizing his decadent lifestyle while they languish in extreme poverty. If you think you, your children/grandchildren are going to live in a peaceful world while a large majority of the world’s population is suffering under crushing poverty; you need to reexamine your sanity. An equitable world that enables all its citizens to lead a reasonably just and comfortable life is a better choice you should aspire and rather work for.
In 27 years, the TPLF as an organization, and its members as individuals amassed and squandered immense wealth that could have significantly improved living conditions for a large majority of the population. The masses suffering under the heavy weight 10of deprivation while their leaders indulge in luxury could have been lifted out of miserable poverty with some concerted effort. And by now, after 30 years, the country should have reached a state where poverty, hunger, malnutrition and communicable diseases have been eradicated. At the very least, absolute poverty should have been eliminated and the country should have been able to feed itself instead of begging for alms.
Such lofty dreams might have been difficult for the TPLF to imagine and achieve, given their inept, selfish, backward and greedy nature. But they haven’t done much for their own people in Tigray either for whom they claim they are fighting.
The very least the TPLF could have done in the 27 years they stayed in power was to make the country self-sufficient in food production. If they were foresighted, wise, and humble leaders, they had more than enough resources at their disposal to create a veritable paradise for their own people, if not for the whole of Ethiopia. Instead, they are once again using the captive Tigray population to beg for food.
They employed the same tactic 30 years ago during the horrific famines of the 1970s and ‘80s, and now they are doing the same thing. The West, as usual is cheering them on encouraging them to continue the vicious cycle with another round of ghastly famine, war and genocide just around the corner.
During their 27 year rule they created an elaborate system that siphoned much of the wealth created by the expanding economy that Mr. Lowcock seems to be proud of, which is financed by his side. The economic expansion has been given a great deal of admiration by many forgetting the fact that this expansion has not enabled the country meet its people’s fundamental needs.
An economic expansion that makes a large majority of the population modern day slaves is not something to cheer about. Transforming people who used to be independently poor into aid-dependent poor people is not progress. Those who encourage and support this kind of economic expansion are groups and individuals who have been able to exploit the country while the poor suffer for lack of basic needs. It is not like we don’t have the resources to create a fair, equitable and decent life for all. The only problem is greed; greedy individuals and greedy nations.
The TPLF embezzled much of the finances entering the country in the form of aid and loans. Knowing very well that this money is not reaching the intended recipients, Westerners chose to ignore what transpired. A selfish and decadent, ethnic based, narrow minded elite class emerged as a result of this arrangement. Literally, all money making ventures operating in the country were penetrated by this group. They did everything in their power to amass wealth illegally while ignoring all the priorities that needed attention to eliminate poverty, hunger and diseases.
Mark talks about this expansion as an “economic miracle”. Is it really a miracle when millions suffer or die because of lack of the very essentials for a simple life in this day and age? Is it really fair to jeopardize poor people’s lives and waste scarce resources on elaborate weddings/birthdays, imported alcoholic beverages, expensive vehicles, luxury items, shopping trips to the most exclusive foreign destinations? This is what the members and families of the TPLF who 30 years ago didn’t have a penny have been doing.
The economic progress over the past 30 years that Mr. Lowcock admires is not what Ethiopia and its 120 million plus citizens deserve. Naturally, the economy expands at a faster rate if investment and activities increase. In the past 15 – 20 years, as a result of the land grabbing crusade and the unchecked exploitation of resources, investment increased and many foreign companies set up shop to take advantage of the easy opportunities.
However, the kind of development that actually transforms people’s lives for the better has not materialized. The investment initiatives drawn by the TPLF attracted those who favor exploitation by subjugating/displacing poor people, despoiling the environment and threatening cultural/social heritages/norms without giving any consideration to genuinely improving people’s lives.
Unscrupulous investment choices that fetch huge sums with the lowest cost possible were purposefully encouraged. The service industry expanded profusely while production activities lagged behind. Decadence and wanton consumption were encouraged to appease the lazy elite and their foreign enablers.
Economic expansion based on such basis allowed the TPLF ruling class to amass huge amounts of wealth at the expense of the poor. Most of the TPLF leaders, their relatives and supporters became instant millionaires. Instead of shrinking, the gap between the rich and the poor widened. Life for a large majority of the population became unbearable. This is essentially why Ethiopians rejected the TPLF.
Mr. Lowcock also tells us that “Western countries are proud of the contribution they have made to progress in Ethiopia in recent decades.” Are they proud because they let a predatory minority ethnic elite strip Ethiopia to its bones? They should be ashamed that they let a rag tag team of bandits fool them for 30 years.
Unless Mr. Lowcock expects Ethiopians to surrender to the TPLF criminal band again, how you would “alienate your supporters” when you defend your country’s sovereignty is another disingenuous statement. His other comment about the Ethiopian government “antagonizing its neighbors” is equally deceitful unless he believes that building a dam for the development of the country is not the right thing to do.
He also accuses the current government of “inflaming arguments over disputed land” in reference to the territory of Al-Fashaga with the Sudan. The statement he made that the “Ethiopian government inflamed the argument” when the land is forcefully taken by the Sudanese military shows how incurably biased he is. The Ethiopian government rightfully took a strong position. It has also sought a peaceful resolution to this problem, and is in dialogue with the Sudanese government. Mutual respect is key in this case, as Ethiopia, just like any other nation, has the right to defend its territorial integrity if provoked.
In reference to the Nile waters, Mr. Lowcock states that Ethiopia is “giving them (its immediate neighbors) reason to think you plan a grab on shared water resources”. The equitable use of shared resources has always been the cornerstone of Ethiopia’s stand. Equitable use can only be accomplished with respectful dialogue and a mutually beneficial agreement. Unbalanced colonial era water allocation agreements cannot be expected to continue while Ethiopian children suffer and die because down river countries cannot accept a new agreement that allocates a fair amount of water to Ethiopia. Reaching a balanced agreement on the time needed to fill the dam should also be looked at from all points of view. The Nile waters could sufficiently meet the needs of all stakeholders. This is only possible with cooperation. Not with intimidation, sabotage and threats.
Mr. Lowcock also accuses that “Abiy has continued to throw fuel on the flames.” How so? He is doing everything he can despite the incredible challenges he faces.
He exhausted all possible means to a peaceful resolution before TPLF attacked. So what else is expected? Is the right to defend a country’s sovereignty from a terrorist group only reserved for some selected countries? Is it fair to wage an all-out war on the people of Ethiopia from all sides, after they have been subjected to such brutality for so many years?
With all the overwhelming challenges it has faced so far, the country has shown the world how resilient it is. However, the incessant external push to destroy the country will not stop until Abiy thoroughly cleans the disrupting forces within his inner circle. Narrow-minded saboteurs afflicted with ethnic hatred at all levels of his administration have made the vision to extricate the country from the scourge of an all-out ethnic conflict difficult. This is the greatest threat Abiy will have to confront and correct in the coming months/years. With the support of Ethiopians, it is my sincere hope he will succeed.
As established above, there are some extremely powerful forces scheming to divide and destroy the nation of Ethiopia. However, as they altered the course of world history by defeating colonialism at Adwa, Ethiopians will once again make history and usher the dawn of a fair, equitable, environmentally sound new world order for all humanity by crushing neo-colonialism.
To answer Mr. Lowcock’s question; Yes, Ethiopia has a bright future, and it will prevail. The vicious attempt to lynch Ethiopia into submission will fail.