Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Crisis in Ethiopia: Much of the Blame Must Be Laid at the Door of Western Nations, Particularly the U.S.A.

One of the war fronts in North Ethiopia. (Photo : EBC)

Yohannes Berhe

Ottawa, Canada 

On November 4, Prime Minister Abiye Ahimed of  Ethiopia ordered the Ethiopian Defense Force against the Tigray People’s Liberation Force (TPLF). The decision came after a series of provocations by TPLF which lost its  three decades grip on power following a popular uprising. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiye Ahmed, who won the Nobel Prize for his peacemaking with Eritrea and riding high in popular support following his radical reform and conciliatory gesture toward opposition groups tried to exercise caution and showed utmost restraint to avoid a further escalation of tensions. 

The attack on November 3, 2020 by TPLF special forces at a federal army base in Tigray region killing scores of officers as they sleep was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.  PM Abiye didn’t have any choice, but  to respond, in order not only to preserve his credibility within the army, but to reassure the rest of the population disheartened by frequent breakdown of law and order in various part of the country by groups believed to be supported by TPLF. 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiye Ahmed has refused categorically all calls for negotiations and described these measures as “strictly an internal matter.”  and a law enforcement measure. Western officials fear that the fighting between the TPLF and Abiye’s government forces may provoke widespread unrest in Ethiopia and a humanitarian crisis in the volatile Horn of Africa.  Prime Minister Abiye calls these concerns “ unfounded” and the result of not understanding Ethiopian context deeply.

What needs to be understood, however, Much of the blame must be laid at the door of the Western Nation, particularly the US administration. The Obama administration was widely criticized The Guardian for referring to the then TPLF ‘s control government “democratically elected” despite vote-rigging and widespread human right violation; human rights watchdogs describing the statement as “shocking”.

The recent Atlantic Council issues put it this way , “Despite the massive human rights violations that were associated with the TPLF’s rule—despite the authoritarianism and theft, the imprisonments and the torture that have been laid at its door—the TPLF’s international allies have never repudiated it, nor examined their inappropriate investment in the TPLF’s welfare. “

TPLF has been listed as a perpetrator in the Global Terrorism Database, based on ten incidents occurring between 1976 and 1990. As the recent Amnesty Internationalreport reveals,TPLF ’smodus operandi of terrorizing unarmed civilians has never changed. Amnesty International recently confirmed the massacre of a very large number of civilians in Mai-Kadra in Ethiopia’s western Tigray state. Most of the victims appear to have been day labourers in no way involved in the ongoing military offensive . Most of the victims are alleged to be ethnic Amhara resident living in the town which bears all the hallmarks of a genocide.

It has been said  ‘All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.’  philosophically one can agree with this assertion, however, realpolitik dictates peace is not a unilateral action and wishing doesn’t make it happen .

TPLF held regional elections, defying a federal ruling that all polls should be delayed due to COVID-19 and in violation of Ethiopian constitution that stipulated only the National Elections Board can conduct elections in Ethiopia. Most importantly, TPLF ignored calls to desist from supporting various groups responsible for communal violence across Ethiopia. Prime Minister Abiye has been right to call the TPLF’s assault on federal forces a “red line” provocation. There is no government in the world that would tolerate such an assault. As the recent Atlantic Council article correctly states “ TPLF forfeited its status as a political party and regional administration, and returned to its old roots as a rebel movement“. 

International analysts’ assessments of this current crisis reflect their unbridled hypocrisy and the usual reductive view about conflict in Africa. Western nations, particularly  U.S.A. regularly send its troops in far-flung countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of protecting national interest and yet they criticize Ethiopia for countering an existential threat.  Let there be no mistake, the action taken by the federal government of Ethiopia is directed at TPLF and NOT the people of Tigray. The people of Tigray are the victims of TPLF’s crimes.

Calling for negotiation will only embolden TPLF leaders into thinking the only way to have  a big say in the federation is to arm themselves to the teeth and blackmail the federal government. It’s a losing proposition for any administration, much more for a country divided along ethnic lines dealing with troubled history. 

1 comment:

Bill the Butcher said...

Well, you're correct, but you didn't have to mention the CIA stooge Atlantic Council to make your point. The TPLF's record of aggression against Somalia and Eritrea speaks for itself. Apart from the fact that it was the TPLF written "federalist constitution" that permits, well, the TPLF to secede Tigray from Ethiopia of it feels like it. The TPLF is not just a criminal gang, it's a Quisling organisation in the heart of Ethiopia.