By Andrew Korybko
The Ethiopian National Defense Forces’ (ENDF) reported setbacks this weekend in the Amhara Region are already prompting an intensification of information warfare against the country that will only get worse in the coming future. The American Hybrid War on Ethiopia relies heavily on manipulating locals’ perceptions of their government, armed forces, and fellow citizens in an attempt to weaken them from within. This occurs in parallel with misportraying the country’s leadership as “genocidal” in order to increase international sympathy for the Tigray People’s Liberation Forces (TPLF) that were formally designated by the government as terrorists.
The next phase of this psychological aspect of the conflict will be multifaceted. The most dangerous part concerns rumors circulating on the internet alleging that high-level officials and members of the elite are preparing to evacuate themselves and their families from the capital. These claims mirror those that were earlier made about Syria during the most intense kinetic phases of the American Hybrid War that it’s also suffered from and which set the precedent for what’s presently unfolding in Ethiopia. They’re intended to demoralize the population and provoke desertions – if not outright mutinies – among the armed forces.
The second aspect involves the US’ insincere “good cop” approach to the conflict of publicly calling on the TPLF to withdraw from the neighboring regions that they invaded and for the warring parties to immediately “begin ceasefire negotiations without preconditions.” America wants to push its plans for the “Bosnification” of Ethiopia whereby the country’s externally exacerbated identity differences can be further institutionalized than they were under the former TPLF-led government. The end result is to internally partition the country into a checkerboard of quasi-independent identity-centric statelets that can be more easily divided and ruled.
The last dimension of this psychological onslaught concerns the malicious way in which Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s warnings about pro-TPLF fifth columnists have been misportrayed by the Mainstream Media. The Associated Press for example prefaced his words as being made “Amid calls on social media for attacks against ethnic Tigrayans”. This is meant to advance the false “genocide” narrative that’s in turn intended to establish the faux moral pretext for a “humanitarian intervention” carried out under the subjectively implemented “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) vision. It also aims to provoke desertions, mutinies, and political capitulation.
The solution to these multifaceted information warfare challenges actually lies in PM Abiy’s same words that the Mainstream Media is maliciously trying to misportray. The statement that he shared on social media on Sunday calls for national unity in the face of the latest events. He warned that “If we are disturbed by propaganda, it will only help none other than the enemy. If we listen to one another and cooperate, the enemy will crumble and kneel.” It’s therefore of the highest importance for Ethiopians to unite in defending against the unprecedented psychological warfare campaign being waged against them.
This advice puts the recent decision by the Ethiopian Media Authority ordering local broadcasters to terminate the transmission of programs from foreign media outlets into context. A statement attributed to Director General Mohammed Idriss explains that such programs don’t take into account the current situation in the country and could thus harm the national interest. Considering the intensified information warfare being waged against Ethiopians for the earlier explained purposes of further dividing the country during this crisis, it’s sensible to exercise the utmost caution when it comes to the proliferation of such programs across society.
The kinetic phase of the conflict is expected to intensify together with the psychological one. The authorities’ success in the former will be dependent on society’s success in countering the latter. PM Abiy is therefore correct in advising his compatriots that “If we listen to one another and cooperate, the enemy will crumble and kneel.” National unity is the need of the hour, and the failure of the Ethiopian people to unite behind their leadership due to the manipulation of their minds from information warfare would risk putting the country’s very existence at stake. Patriots from all paths of life must therefore urgently come together to defeat the TPLF.