by: Dr. Negussie Nega August 25, 2021
TPLF terrorists and their domestic and foreign agents promulgate fictitious information and conduct smear campaigns to discredit the Ethiopian government and harm the reputation of the Ethiopian defense forces. To my dismay, I recently run into an article by Arminka Helić, a member of the British House of Lords, which appeared in Politico. Mr.Helić stated that “ The military operation in Tigray is no longer being presented as just a police operation but as a whole-nation effort to eliminate a mortal threat — a threat defined based on ethnicity.” He then went on to say that Abiy’s uses of the “language of wheat and weeds appear to cast all Tigrayans as inferior.” What a pernicious and inflammatory statement! Such is the type of propaganda and the malicious digital war the Ethiopian people face nowadays. I found such media assault more lethal than conventional ground war.
Arminka Helić twisted the word used by the PM to describe the characteristics of certain criminal elements within the TPLF ranks and put it out of context, creating the appearance that the PM is against all Tigrayans. Albeit, there was no ethnic profiling within the context. I believe a straightforward interpretation of the language that the PM draw on referred to the bad apples in Ethiopian society when he used “weed.” The farsighted and brilliant PM is authentically correct that the Ethiopian people should isolate and uproot the ‘weed’ from the ‘wheat’ to ensure the healthy coexistence of over 110 million people. The popular, multilingual, and Nobel Laureate PM who speaks fluent Tigrinya was well received by broad constituents of Tigray before the current TPLF staged debacle unfolds. He still possesses strong backing from Tigrayans who unconditionally yearn to protect Ethiopian unity. The Machiavellian interpretation of Abiy’s statement is a political stunt intended to aggravate the delicate issue further. Attacking a popular and transformational leader with solid support from his citizens will backfire and leads to a road to nowhere.
Some Western nations regard the TPLF as a government entity with an equal echelon with the Ethiopian government. Based on such misconstrued notion, they urge that the government strike a peace deal with the TPLF, which the government already labeled outlaw. The truth is that the leaders of the TPLF and the peace-loving people in the Tigray region of Ethiopia are not the same. The TPLF junta is predominantly a tiny clique of village clans, which came to power by manipulating and outsmarting mainstream Tigrayans. These highly organized bullies terrorized others into submissions for half a century until the Ethiopian people say enough is enough. TPLF juntas do not represent the people of Tigray. They are simply hostage-takers forcing the proud descendants of Alula and Yohannes, Ethiopia’s true sons and daughters, as a human shield and parade their offspring as child soldiers to inflamed combat. For peace to resurrect in the area, the TPLF must go once and for all.
Criticizing the law and order campaign the Ethiopian government takes to ensure stability in the region, Helić recklessly stated that “the war is defined on the based on ethnicity.” This war is not defined based on ethnicity, as Arminka Helić, TPLF lobbyists, the bias media, and all enemies of Ethiopia dramatize, charge and add fuel to the fire. It is a war against homegrown terror, land grabbing and greed, a water dispute, border conflict, regional hegemony, resources squandering, and undo interferences of foreign powers in Ethiopia’s domestic affairs. In response to the current aggression, the well-trained Ethiopian defense forces with high moral standards acted swiftly to defend their country against foreign and domestic enemies “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”
Arminka Helić then went to prophecies, further drawing a comparison between Ethiopia and Yugoslavia. He foretells that Ethiopia, like Yugoslavia, will drift toward balkanization if the government continues to hunt down the TPLF. Rev. Thomas Reese writes that “the legitimacy
of those in political life who claim to be prophets should be judged by whether they seek to tell
their [audience].” In this case, TPLF is Helić’s audience. He echoes TPLF’s longstanding secession scare tactics –unless we continue to sustain power, the existence of the Ethiopian state will be over! Mr. Helić unduly magnified his opinion to hearten TPLF. Under no circumstance, the Yugoslavia scenario parallels the current situation in Ethiopia.
The contemplation that Ethiopia will disintegrate like Yugoslavian is a delusional narrative and wishful thinking. Yugoslavia has no historical similarities with Ethiopia. To this, Ambassador Tibor P. Nagy, Jr., a former United States Ambassador to Ethiopia who has in-depth knowledge about the social fabrics of the Ethiopian people, eloquently responded to Helić’s statement saying that “Those saying Ethiopia will crumble like Yugoslavia are wrong. Yugoslavia was created by WWI’s winners, while the Ethiopian nation evolved over 2,000 years of history and has overcome many previous crises. Once peace returns, it will thrive again.” Ambassador Nagy has lived in Ethiopia on two praiseworthy missions at different times. He has a keen understanding of the determination and resilience of Ethiopians to overcome adversities and preserve their unity.
It is not a new phenomenon for Ethiopians to pass through difficult times. They have fought numerous wars with Egypt and Sudan over the Nile and have emerged victorious, defeating those nations decisively. Ethiopians surmounted white supremacist aggressions and never surrendered their rights to colonial powers. The British were there and left overnight after assessing the situation and the people’s resolve how Ethiopians could prefer to die before losing their dignity and country after their Emperor Theodor exemplified by sacrificing himself. The Italians attempted to colonize the land twice, and they have been humiliated at the Battle of Adwa and chased out after a brief occupation in their second attempt.
There was also a period of constant domestic turmoil for eighty-seven years during the “Era of the Princes” Zemene Mesafint. The lords constantly fought against each other, one warlord attempting to grab power and establish predominance or hegemony over the other. The administration took turns among the Oromo, Amhara, Agew, Tigre, Somali, Southern warlords, and others until Emperor Theodore emerged and unified Ethiopia under a central authority. From Theodore to Haile Selassie, the internal strife subsided.
In the recent past, however, the power struggle manifested itself to the so-called “student movement” with its ‘..up to and including secession’ Marxist dogma and elitism baffled with borrowed somewhat perplexing East/West ideologies. It is the power-mongering elite that creates the current rift and havoc over decent citizens. The average citizens coexisted and continue to reconcile their unity under mutual respect and diversity amid the constant threat of scare tactics of secession. The current problem in Ethiopia is not unique unto itself. Similar challenges emerge and disappear every quarter or half a century when warlords in one region attempt to gain dominance or hegemony over the others living in other regions or the same region. Unfortunately, such frequent disturbance compounded by destructive external forces is the leading cause that stagnates Ethiopia’s progress and subjects its people to wretched poverty.
After I read Helić’s excerpt, I came to the hard realization of how external forces relentlessly engage in a media campaign to fuel the recent Ethiopian crisis and fight Ethiopians on one another. The media spreads insidious misinformation and preaches the balkanization of Ethiopia in vain. The usual mode of the medias’ reference is the synthetic ethnic division coined by the late Prime Minister Melese Zenawi. Zenawi’s idol, Haile Selassie Gugsa, a Mussolini collaborator when Fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia, entertained the idea of dividing the country into small territories. Based on his advice, the Italians attempted to divide and conquer the nation. They took steps to demark Ethiopia’s regions based on language and cultural differences. But soon after that, the Italians were surprised to learn how their plan backfired and made all segments of the Ethiopian society more unified to attack invading forces.
Haile Selassie Gugsa was the first turncoat and betrayer to welcome the Italians raising their ensign removing the Ethiopian flag. Seventy years later, Melese Zenawi, the disciple of Haile Selassie Gugsa, tarnished the Ethiopian flag as a piece of worthless cloth and spat his venomous ethnic hatred to suit his divide and conquer strategies. Hence, the various actors flex their muscles as a prelude to blow the ethnic division. But the will of the people to remain unified prevail over the wishful thinking of some saboteurs. Despite the current crisis, when young Ethiopians surge from Somalia, Afar, Oromia, Gambela, Amhara, and patriotic Tigrayans come together to engage those who challenge their sovereignty and unity, their action demonstrates that the Ethiopian unity proves to be solid indispensable.
TPLF’s confrontation with other Ethiopians isn’t a question of autonomy. It is about greed and an attempt to regain the power they lost, dominate the whole economy, grab all the lands they can get, and subject the 110 million Ethiopians to servitude through the establishment of 17th-century type fiefdom. Ethiopia has the natural resources and the potential to nourish all its citizens abundantly if there is peace and tranquility. It is a beautiful country with immense potential for growth and prosperity. Yet, a cycle of violence and social upheaval that occurs every half a century is the real cause of its poverty.
Ethiopia under Abiy strives for regional and global peace by ending the protracted border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, meditating and reconciling conflicts in neighboring South Sudan and Somalia. It was PM Abiy who brokered dialogue and improved the situation between Sudan and South Sudan. Deplorably, Sudan backstabbed Ethiopia harboring criminal elements and invaded the country, exploiting the current internal crisis. The Ethiopian government sends Ethiopian soldiers to fight the Al-Shabaab terrorist cell in neighboring Somalia and secures global peace. Yet, the US policymakers failed to repudiate the destructive act of the homegrown terrorist cell TPLF carries against the Ethiopian people. Many observe that this is a typical case of a double standard. It is also a mockery that Sudan intends to broker peace between Ethiopia and TPLF while supporting the terrorist group poised to dismantle the federation of Ethiopia.
On the domestic front, it is a great beginning to experience the first non-violent election where various political parties participate and set the stage for future improvements in the process. The people of Ethiopia also completed the second round filling of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and planting over seven billion trees to conserve their ecosystems and combat climate change. While all such outstanding achievements are vivid, enemies of Ethiopia and their domestic surrogates are at work to sabotage progress. They noticed that Ethiopia is on the road to forge alliances and emerge as a unifying force in the African continent. Antagonistic elements hate to see a strong, viable, and self-reliant Ethiopia.
Nonetheless, ‘Even if the earth rises and the sky falls, no earthly power will stop Ethiopia’s progress.’ Such is the most encouraging word vibrating from the new breed, dynamic and aspiring Ethiopian leaders. It requires guts, stamina, and endurance to reverse the half a century indoctrination and brainwash. With God’s help, Ethiopians eventually resort to their harmonious historical coexistence with the type of progress they currently demonstrate.
Come September, with a new administration sworn in; the people expect to see transformational changes. They yearn to see national dialogue and reconciliation, law and order, economic well-being, improved environmental protection and public health, and youth employment as significant changes. The list is long! The mass killing and displacement of ethnic minorities by dominant ethnic groups in some regions is tragic. There has to be constitutional reform that will ultimately resolve ethnic conflict, allow freedom of movement, and the ability to work and reside in any part of Ethiopia regardless of ethnic identity. There is plenty for everyone to share and coexist with peace, but everyone will be the loser if force and violence continue.
Since the dawn of humanity, Ethiopians peacefully coexist with one another. They can resolve their differences without foreign interference in due time if left alone. Prejudiced foreign interference supporting one group over the other aggravates the situation instead of contributing to a solution that alleviates people’s suffering. I respectfully agree with Ambassador Nagy Ethiopia “will thrive again” once the dust settles down.
“When bad times come, it’s your motivation and perseverance that will keep you going until they pass.” Lolly Daskal