Paulos Milkias Ph.D.
The Pretoria agreement of 2022 is a welcome development, and we are one in our wish for it to succeed. One does not have to be a prophet to know that deep down, what the people of Tigray wanted was liberty; what the people of the rest of Ethiopia wanted was also liberty. By the same token, what the people of Tigray wanted was tranquility, as what the rest of the Ethiopian people wanted was tranquility. The amalgam gives us peace, for as Marcus Tullius Cicero said just before he was beheaded in 43 BC by order of the Tyrant of Rome, Mark Antony, “peace is liberty in tranquility.”
But to wish for peace is one thing to embrace it is another. As long as the TPLF remains what its track record shows, they will never embrace it. They are also untrustworthy in applying an agreement. They change colour like a lizard and jump to betrayal. Thus, though people are rejoicing that an armistice has been signed in Pretoria, real peace will be fleeting. It will remain a mirage.
As if that is not bad enough, when these way out renegades have enablers in the West, it becomes even worse.
The TPLF was not serious when it signed the Pretoria armistice. If you look deep down, you will discover that the West is in cahoots with them and that it knows full well that TPLF leaders are not serious about their commitment to the armistice agreements.
That is why it is wrong to trust the cabal and agree to make them partners in peace-building Nothing short of letting the war take its full course could give us peace and a chance to economically develop and nurture the evolution of democratic governance unencumbered by Ethiopia’s enemies within and without.
Let us learn from history. Had the allied powers given a chance for Hitler and his minions to survive the final assault and part-take in the development of post-war Germany, in 1945, the history of that country, which is now the richest in Europe, would have been different.
The allied powers went all the way to cleanse Germany of the Nazi ordure. That was why they convened the Nuremberg Tribunal. Many Nazis knowing the consequences of facing punishment that fits the crime, chose to commit suicide. Among them were the prime offender, Adolf Hitler, and several of his closest aides. Ten prominent members of the political and military leadership of the Third Reich, who were executed by hanging as prescribed by the Nuremberg Tribunal, were Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Alfred Jodl, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Wilhelm Keitel, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Alfred Rosenberg, Fritz Sauckel, Arthur Seuss-Inquart, and Julius Streicher. One, Hermann Goering, chosen by Hitler to be his successor and also declared “Marshall of the Empire,” cheated hanging by ingesting cyanide and committing suicide in jail. Those who fled Germany, such as Adolph Eichmann, were later hunted down and forced to face the death penalty, in his case, in Israel. At the end of the war, therefore, there was a clean slate. That is what allowed Germany to reconstruct and become the great, highly developed democratic nation in Europe today.
The same with Japan. The Americans went to the extent of using atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing over 210,000 people. When the leader of the gang, Hideki Tajo, asked the Americans to agree to save at least the honour and life of the emperor, who was almost worshipped by the Japanese, General MacArthur demanded unconditional surrender. The tyrant had no choice but to give himself up with his gang members. Thus, convening a Nuremberg style tribunal in Tokyo, Tajo, the Japanese premier of the warmonger Tokyo regime and chief of its ruthless invading army, were sentenced by the allied power judges to death and were hanged along with six other top Japanese leaders, including Iwane Matsui, who organized the sacking of Nanking, and Heitaro Kimura, who brutalized Allied prisoners of war. Sixteen others were sentenced to life imprisonment. As a result, Japan, like Germany, also started its reconstruction on a clean slate. We all know how democratic how, technologically advanced and how economically powerful Japan is today.
When we look at civil wars that are rather similar to the current conflict in Northern Ethiopia, one that immediately comes to mind is the Nigerian-Biafran war that raged between 1967 and 1970. It is to be remembered that after Nigeria became independent in 1960, the new state sought to bring together groups splintered by ethnicity and religion, opposite of what the Woyanes did when they came to power in Ethiopia in 1991. The uniting process in Nigeria slowly led to conflicts that fomented two military coups from which the leaders of the country’s Northern region emerged victorious.
For the Igbos of the east, who were rich in natural resources, the modus operandi was unacceptable. So, they declared their homeland, the Eastern region, the Republic of Biafra, with Odumegwu Ojukwu as its uncontested leader.
Despite recognition by some African states and tacit support from Western countries such as France, the Nigerian Federal Military Government wouldn’t allow the oil-rich Igbo entity to secede from sovereign Nigeria. In a vicious war that followed, the federal government, with its superior forces, ruthlessly crushed the Biafran rebels. The war and the famine claimed the lives of over a million people, but in the end, the Republic of Biafra was totally crushed and ceased to exist after its officers surrendered in January 1970. For Nigerians, this is just a footnote to their history.
Another civil war that bears a resemblance to the TPLF-fomented war in Northern Ethiopia is the rise of the Tamil Tigers, who fought the Sri Lankan state from which they intended to secede. The bloody war spearheaded by the Tamil Tigers and waged for 26 years came to a dramatic end even though, at one stage, the rebel force had a navy and an air force, but when faced with full federal force, they were completely defeated. The war had claimed thousands of victims, but tragic and appalling as it was, it was the only way to end that nation’s bitter civil war. The Tamil Tigers being totally eliminated by the Federal armed forces, it is only the mayhem they caused that remains a footnote to the history of Sri Lanka.
There are other cases where total war smothered intransigent separatist guerrillas. Take the case of the Muslim Chechen independence movement, which struggled for eighteen years but was ultimately crushed by the Russian state army. Chechnya’s rebels’ battle for independence was finally snuffed out after almost all of its mujahidin fighters were hunted down and killed. That is also just a footnote to Russia’s long history.
Elsewhere in Africa, we can look at the fate of Angola’s right-wing UNITA movement, which refused to be governed under the socialist MPLA government in Luanda. This reactionary force fought for 27 years, but after Washington decided that Angola’s new socialist regime would be a reliable supplier of oil, and thus abandoned its old ally UNITA, the renegade army was isolated, and its leader, Jonas Savimbi, was assassinated in an ambush. The UNITA army, marooned in the remotest regions, ultimately collapsed, and peace returned to the country. In the final analysis, UNITA and Savimbi just remain as a footnote to Angola’s history.
On an important note, አባቶቻችን እንደሚሉት, “ያልጠረጠረ ተመነጠረ.” We know the TPLF that had broken its promises to the TLF, the EDU, and the EPRP can never be trusted. In the case of the TLF, it invited its leaders, dined with them and in subterfuge known by historians ‘the night of the long knives’ cut the throats of its unsuspecting hosts. They did the same to Ethiopian soldiers in the northern command by which action they initiated the bloody civil war that raged starting in 2020. The action was again carried out by subterfuge. One thousand senior commanders of the EFDF were “invited” to a dinner party by the TPLF and were taken prisoner on the evening of 3 November, 2020. The TPLF identified and separated unarmed Ethiopian soldiers of non-Tigrayan origin, tied their hands and feet and butchered them in cold blood. They left the bodies rot in open air and were recorded singing and dancing on the bodies of their victims. This is the DNA of the TPLF.
Fast forward, just preceding the Pretoria meeting, led by non-other than Ethiopia’s Goebbels, Getachew Reda, the TPLF leaders, including Debretsion and Tsadkan, had a zoom conference with their supporters in the diaspora numbering 1,800 in which they pledged never to give up the armed struggle in urban areas like Hawzein though they might agree to a ceasefire since the federal armed forces have the upper hand in the battles, How can one have any faith in such group?
Can we also trust the West in brokering the deal in Pretoria? I am afraid not. Let us take the cases of Sadam Hussein and Muammar Gadhafi. Sadam Hussein, who was working hard to modernize his country, was duped when the West provided him with chemical weapons to fight against their erstwhile enemy, Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, in the vicious war that raged from 1980 to 1989. Sadam discovered the ruse too late. Unbeknownst to him, they were encouraging him to believe that Washington would accept him as its key ally in the Gulf region which was a mirage. The Iraqi leader never imagined Washington’s deceit, that his modernization of Iraq was unacceptable to them, and the decision to destroy his regime and control the huge oil reserves in his country had already been made.
Saddam fell into an open trap when the green light was given to him to annex Kuwait. On the night before the invasion of Kuwait, the Iraqi leader invited the US Ambassador to find out if it would be OK for him to occupy Kuwait, a country he accused of stealing oil from a common pool while he was fighting Iran. The ambassador told him that the US would be with him all the way because he was their most trusted ally in the region. He trusted the ambassador and ordered his army to occupy Kuwait and was puzzled that the US had all of a sudden turned against him and, with the blessing of the UN, opened a war to liberate Kuwait treating him as an international pariah.
Later on, with a highly publicized propaganda blitz spearheaded by US Secretary of State Collin Powell, they accused Saddam of owning weapons of mass destruction and invaded Baghdad. After the invasion, Washington admitted to falsely using Saddam’s ownership of weapons of mass destruction. But the invasion was a prelude to the ultimate capture and hanging in jail of the Iraqi leader on December 13, 2003.
Eight years later, the US and its NATO allies turned their attention to invading Libya. The csusus Belli was gross human rights violations under Gadhafi. Nevertheless, human rights organizations questioned the claims due to a lack of evidence.
The West had ulterior motives, which were being hatched in Brussels and Luxembourg as later became clearer. Before attacking him, they cajoled him into renouncing his nuclear ambitions a la North Korea. He was invited to Brunelle, where he unsuspectingly went with his Bedouin tent and a female camel to be milked for his use since he was averse to drinking any other type of milk. I happened to visit the Belgium capital at the time and saw the tent and the camel in a field. As he was drinking his camel milk, they were hatching plans for his demise.
The war waged against Gadhafi had nothing whatsoever to do with human rights. As was later shown in published emails by Hilary Clinton – the US and NATO acted to prevent Gaddafi from establishing an African central bank with its own gold-backed currency. The West’s action was, in fact, to prevent the creation of a hard independent currency in Africa that would free the continent from its economic bondage under the American dollar, the IMF, and the French African franc. That hard currency would have enabled Africa to shake off the vestiges of colonial exploitation. Indeed, the creation of a hard independent currency in Africa would have allowed Africa to be free of neocolonial exploitation once and for all.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails later laid bare that NATO’s entry into Libya had nothing whatever to do with the maltreatment of Libyans under Gadhafi; it was to protect Western-owned multinationals’ interests. Clinton’s visit to Libya in October 2011 was dubbed by the Western media as a “victory lap.”
On hearing of the capture and hanging of el-Qaddafi, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton squawked in a CBS interview. “We came, we saw, he died!” Soon, Libya was consigned to the back burner, being thrown into chaos. Civil war raged, destabilizing the region, and to boot, fueled the refugee crisis in Europe that the West was trying to contain.
Lest we forget, one cardinal topic not raised in the armistice agreement, undoubtedly under the strong insistence of the Ethiopian government, is the fate of the Eritrean army that came from the North to support the Fano-bolstered Federal Ethiopian Armed forces who entered Ethiopia upon the sovereign invitation of Addis Ababa to sandwich the arrogant TPLF insurgents and ultimately seal their fate.
This topic which is rarely discussed among Ethiopians, is a hot topic if you look at the echo chamber of TPLF supporters, DW (Dimtsi Weyane.) They want the sovereign Eritrean army that joined the war upon the sovereign invitation of the Ethiopian government to disengage. The alliance of Addis Ababa and Asmara is recognized by international law. It also has numerous precedents. When Hitler declared war on the UK in 1939, Churchill asked Roosevelt to join him in the struggle against their common enemy, and the US did. With a combined force, they defeated the Nazis.
Ethiopia also defeated the Ottoman armed and manned El Ghazi forces in 1541 by inviting its Christian ally Portugal that, sent 400 musketeers under the leadership of Cristovao Da Gama, the son of the famous explorer Vasco da Gama and with the combined force of Ethiopia and Portugal, victory was achieved. When Siad Bare’s revanchist army invaded Ethiopia in 1977, also, the Derg sought and received heavy armaments from the Soviet Union and internationalist brigade support from Cuba led by the Lion of Angola, Colonel Ochoa. Together they decimated the Siad Bare invading forces in Harargie.
There is a saying that ‘for every cloud, there is a silver lining.’ Call me an incorrigible optimist. This chance alliance between the proud Habasha people both within and beyond the Mereb may lead to the first confederation and then federation, an event that has eluded us since 1993.
Long live the Habasha alliance.
Paulos Milkias, a Ph.D. graduate from McGill University (Dean’s Honour List) and holder of Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship is currently Professor of Political Science at Columbia University, Montreal, Canada. Professor Paulos has published seven books and more than 60 Peer-Reviewed articles. Readers who want can contact him via email [email protected]