Dr. Aklog Birara
Part 18 of 20
“The United States supports Ethiopia’s unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity and wants to return to a strong partnership. In the spirit of the new year, we call on the country’s leaders to put Ethiopia on a path that ends the suffering and achieves a lasting peace.”
US Department of State, (on the Ethiopian New Year), September 2022
“Plainly, the central idea of secession, is the essence of anarchy,” Abraham Lincoln, 1861
On November 4, 2020, one day after the US Presidential elections, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), that had ruled Ethiopia with an iron-fist for three decades and plundered it to the hilt, committed treason. In the wee hours of night, its combatants pre-selected non-Tigrean Ethiopian soldiers and officers and killed them. Its catastrophic “people’s insurgency” started in earnest. An estimated 500,000 Tigreans, most of them young perished. Tens of thousands (no one really knows the exact numbers) of non-Tigreans died.
Whether treason, insurgency, or secession, there is practically no plausible reason that puts the blame on the victims, namely, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ethiopia faced an existential threat. It responded against this threat of disintegration (in the words of America’s greatest President (Lincoln) to “preserve, protect and defend” the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and the unity of its diverse population.
It is reasonable to argue then, TPLF whose military machine morphed into Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) is anathema to peace, stability and human security. Its very existence as an ideology and organization is a permanent threat not only to Ethiopia, but for the rest of the Horn and Eastern Africa.
This is the 18th of a series of commentaries under the overarching theme of “The Art of Dominance” showing Western-led make-believe narratives, fabricated evidence, massive disinformation, proxy and hybrid wars, cyber-attacks, diplomatic pressure, threats of sanctions and more sanctions against the legitimate governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea before and during “peace talks” in South Africa.
In Part 17, I questioned the premise of “peace talks” on Ethiopia turning out to be an American instead of an Ethiopian agenda. The US dominates the conversation on the global stage. I suspect, behind this dominance is US Government and allied determination to save the TPLF leadership and TDF.
I never believed that TPLF will disarm willingly; halt insurgency; and give durable “peace” a chance to take hold. Its ideology and actions since its formation on February 18, 1975, in Dedebit do not show genuine commitment to one Ethiopia or to peaceful coexistence among Ethiopians and inclusive democratic governance, The only exception is the period 1991-2017 when it ruled Ethiopia and extracted massive rent from the Ethiopian poor, including Tigreans.
Tragically, millions of Tigrean-Ethiopians are indoctrinated to internalize and implement the TPLF Manifesto of February 1976 that declares:
- “A Tigran is defined as anybody that speaks the language of Tigrigna including those who live outside Tigray, the Kunamas, the Sahos, the Afar and the Taltal, the Agew, and the Wolkait.
- The geographic boundaries of Tigray extend to the borders of the Sudan including the lands of Humera and Wolkait from the region of Begemdir in Ethiopia,” lands that extend to Wollo and includes Alamata, Ashengie, and Kobo, and all Eritrean Kunama lands (Badme, Saho, close to Zalambessa), and Afar lands including Assab.
The reason why Eritrea is involved in the war is because of TPLF penetration and attacks of Eritrean territory, with intent to annex lands and incorporate them into Greater Tigray. The international community cannot afford to deny Eritrea the right of self-defense against a mortal enemy that threatens its territorial integrity and national security. Eritrea did not invade Ethiopia.
- The final goal of the TPLF is to secede from Ethiopia as an independent “Republic of Greater Tigray.”
TPLF and TDF both wish to achieve their end goal by compelling the Government of Ethiopia to cede lands identified under two above to Tigray. This is where the government of the United States fails to translate its talks and declarations with action. If the US “supports Ethiopia’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” why would it not ask if not compel the TDF to disarm and declare commitment to Ethiopia’s “unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity?”
Two defense forces in Ethiopia entail future war
It is virtually impossible to achieve durable peace if there are two competing and antagonistic defense forces in the same country. Did America’s foremost leader, Abraham Lincoln allow an independent military establishment of Southern States after they incurred defeat? He did not. TPLF and its newly declared TDF are no more. They are militarily dead. So why try to resurrect them?
The USA led West acts more like an enabler of TPLF/TDF insurgency rather than an honest broker for durable “peace.”
I recently read a tweet from the former Prime Minister of Italy who said that the only way “to end the war in Ukraine” is for the US led West to stop channeling billions of dollars of aid and weapons to Ukrainian combatants.
Similarly, the only way “peace,” stability and human security can be restored in worn-torn northern Ethiopia is for TPLF/TDF to disarm; and for the Government of the US to stop threatening Ethiopia and Eritrea in support of the terrorist, treasonous, docile, and subservient TPLF/TDF.
More specifically, the Government of the United States must stop pushing the following hurtful and harmful positions:
- Immediate cessation of the war by all warring parties or factions
- Unfettered humanitarian aid to Tigray
- Immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Ethiopia and
- Reinstatement of Wolkait and other TPLF annexed Amhara territories to Tigray.
I repeat my query, “Whether the peace process in South Africa is an Ethiopian or an American agenda?” I conclude again that it is the USA that has become the leading TPLF/TDF champion that acts as the mover and shaker of the process. This partisan and biased US policy position prolongs the war. It provides TPLF/TDF longevity that it does not deserve. The above requirements are intended to give life on the diplomatic front to TPLF/TDF that is losing credence on the battlefront. The untold story is that ordinary Tigrean-Ethiopians have begun questioning the efficacy of war by the insurgent and terrorist group. They want peace.
Continued frustration and gross interference by the USA (in defense of TPLF/TDF), undermines the AU sponsored peace process led by the former President of Nigeria, Obasanjo.
Ethiopia’s only option is disarmament of TPLF/TDF insurgents. The saying “Give a dog a bad name” applies here. The USA and the rest of the West give commitment to Ethiopia’s “territorial integrity and to peace” a bad name. Inputs such as “Tigrean Holocaust,” starvation and other fake data and misinformation, complaint to the UN Security Council of a domestic Ethiopian matter, threats of sanctions and more serve as tools for imposing America’s will on Ethiopia and Eritrea. Appallingly, they declare these under more under the misleading and indefensible pretext of defending international human rights law. Set-aside deliberately and intentionally is TPLF/TDF crimes of war, economic crimes, and genocide it inflicted.
TPLF/TDF must disarm
I support the principled position of the government of Ethiopia that the TPLF/TDF must first disarm and vow publicly that there will not be a TDF. This position is legitimate because the existence of either the TPLF or TDF as independent military force means permanent war.
Further, both in terms of ideology or political governance, TPLF/TDF is hardly aligned with America’s long-term national security or market interests. This insurgency is not committed to the rule of law or democracy or to racism-free society or corruption-free financial system or free-market oriented economy. It certainly is not committed to peaceful coexistence of groups. All indicators show that TPLF/TDF is not committed to gender equality.
So, why does the US support or enable TPLF/TDF currently? Many independent observers believe rightly or wrongly that US support to TPLF/TDF is driven by American self-interest of securing a submissive and subservient leadership.
Had Egypt, Sudan, the West, the US in particular, and the UN refrained from providing logistics, intelligence, material, financial and diplomatic support to TPLF/TDF, it would have been finished by now. It would not be able to participate in “peace” negotiations at all.
For this reason, I share the uncomfortable but true sentiment and conclusion that the Government of the United States is hardly pushing for or promoting a message of peace but constant threats to impose submission. These threats are premised on unfounded accusations, misinformation and fake news provided by TPLF and agencies that Ethiopian Defense Forces are committing war crimes and genocide of Tigreans.
The opposite is true. In the town of Alamata freed from TPLF atrocities and destruction, citizens are overjoyed. Electricity cut off by TPLF has been restored. I have no doubt in my mind that other towns and cities in Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions will enjoy human freedom, security and services too.
In the light of positive developments emanating from surgical military operations by Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) in response to TPLF/TDF aggression and cruelty, it is my considered opinion that the Government of the United States ought to reconsider its animus towards Ethiopia and Eritrea.
TPLF notoriety is well established and documented. Tigray is poor and oppressed not because of its relationship with the rest of Ethiopia; but because of a self-selected and appointed TPLF leadership that is cancerous, corrupt, self-serving, submissive, and divisive.
It is time for the Biden Administration to recognize the notion that TPLF and its supporters have cultivated personal and financial relationships with a slew of US former and current officials since 1976. TPLF/TDF is reaping dividends from this investment at huge costs to ordinary Tigrean-Ethiopians as human beings, to Ethiopia as a country as well as to the and long-term interests of the good and decent people of the United States of America.
I commend the Ethiopian people and government for commemorating TPLF’s treasonous and barbarous act of November 4, 2020, on Thursday November 4, 2022.
I urge the AU “peace” team in South Africa to do the right thing by pronouncing disarmament of TPLF/TDF. This will pave the way for other conditions—unfettered access, restoration of basic infrastructure and the rest to be fulfilled.
Ethiopia Shall Prevail!!