TPLF war in Cyberspace
By Alex Bekele
December 17, 2020
A war that European pundits were telling us will drag on for months, if not for years, was over in a few weeks. Despite their doomsday prediction of massive civilian casualties, the actual count, by all accounts, was very limited. Even this limited casualty is, of course, regrettable, and hurts us Ethiopians, more than it does any outsider. Unfortunately war is not a cosmetic laser surgery, free of unforeseen and uncontrollable consequences. Especially, when a treasonous junta raided a division of the Ethiopian National Defense Force and inflicted a devastating blow and dug its trenches in Mekele—a densely populated city—some civilian casualty appeared to be inevitable. The World, instead of condemning the TPLF for starting the war and hiding in a city, using the city dwellers as human shields, preferred to put untenable pressure on Prime Minister Abiy not to act. What a self-respecting leader accountable to his people will heed to such pressure? Abiy resolutely counter attacked. TPLF was dislodged ignominiously from all its cities and strategic locations in a matter of weeks. Despite a concerted effort by TPLF and its international hordes of lobbyists to drag Eritrea into the war, hoping to internationalize it, Eritrea adamantly stayed out of the fray—even when TPLF missiles rained onto Asmara, in a flagrant provocation.
Again the West continued to pressure Abiy for a dialogue, humanizing the decades-old and obsolete monster of the region. What is sad is there are still European scholars and correspondents who want to sanctify the TPLF, believe the war is still raging, accuse the Ethiopian regime of deadly attacks on civilians, claim Eritrean soldiers are patrolling the streets of Mekele, blame the Amharas of having occupied one-third the land of Tigray, and boldly assert their ill-imagined regional ramification of the war. I beg to differ.
At the outset, let me put the record straight as to what the TPLF is to Ethiopians. Irrespective of our ethnic identity, we vehemently rejected it, and swept it out of power by popular insurrection. We resented their unbridled corruption, their monopoly over our land and all our national resources, their grabbing of banks, insurance companies, supply chains, and manufacturing industries, their callous disregard of our most basic human rights, their Machiavellian policy of divide-and-rule, and of course, their uninterrupted effort of imposing TPLF’s hegemony over everyone else. They bled us bone-dry; they tortured us in the most inhumane ways, and jailed and imprisoned us with impunity, as the EU, the World Bank, the IMF, and the USA poured grant and loan monies to their coffer—I mean their individual coffers–enamored by their pretense of reformists. They used ethnic federalism as a cover to their tyranny. They recruited sycophants from each ethnic group and organized them into phantom ethnic organizations whose main function was executing what TPLF wanted executed in their respective region, often directly harming the interest of the ethnic group they claimed to represent. The world bought this charade and kept pouring money and arms hoping for a more stable and a relatively stronger Ethiopia as a linchpin of regional peace and security. The ears and eyes of the Western World in Ethiopia, the Western Media, lauded the TPLF for their reform and democratic governance, despite vociferous resistance. Even Obama had no shame addressing the then Ethiopian government as democratically elected, knowing it has claimed to have won the election by one hundred percent. Instead of the real cry of we the people, the world chose to listen to the performances of the TPLF charlatans. Finally, after we gave up on the preachers of democracy to reprimand our dictators by cutting the flow of aid, we rose up in unison, and swept TPLF out of power. Because of Prime Minister Abiy’s inexhaustible patience, they were allowed to settle in Tigray with no accountability for their crimes of almost three decades. Unfortunately, instead of peace, they preferred to sow chaos and discord all over the country. To add fire to the fuel, they eventually felt emboldened to wage a surprise attack on our Northern Division, with a long sight at the palace they lost in Addis. This is our TPLF Western academicians and correspondents are hellbent to sanctify.
When the war began all in unison blamed Ethiopia for starting it, and demonized Ethiopia’s legitimate, existential counter attack. When TPLF boastfully claimed responsibility for starting it by carrying out a swift and devastating raid on our Northern Division, they were temporarily silenced by shame. They soon came back with the false claim of massive civilian casualties in Mekele, totally disregarding the maximum care the Ethiopian government took such as declaring a seventy-two-hour lull two times, and the discipline, patience, tactfulness, and precision of Ethiopia’s defense forces to protect civilians.’ Just blame Ethiopia to submission’s was their marching order. On the contrary, none of them saw the moral depravity of the junta that started a war against a colossal army and fortified itself in the city, using the city dwellers as human shields. It was like everything the junta did was just and right; whatever the ENDF did was inherently unjust and wrong. Frankly they all sounded silly and irrational.
Right from the get-go, TPLF incessantly worked to drag Eritrea into this war. It shot salvos of long range missiles targeting Asmara on more than one occasion. Thank God! Eritrea exercised uncharacteristic restraint. President Afeworki did not give the TPLF junta what they wanted—the internationalization of the war as a last ditch effort to save their lives. Yet, most Western journalists continue to write as if Eritrea had taken a direct, active role in this war. Twitter is replete with correspondents who claim Eritrean soldiers are patrolling the streets of Mekele, as if the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea are so stupid and reckless to give to the peddlers of fake news such political fodder. They tell us the British government or the United States government had credible sources that Eritrea was actively participating in this war, without telling us what makes their claim really credible. Remember, the United States government and the Egyptian government crafted an agreement over the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and ordered Ethiopia to sign it, for the United States government believed it was a credible agreement, even though Ethiopia was not a party to the drafting. Calling the names of big, developed countries as a source of credibility doesn’t cut it any longer. With this kind of big accusations, the burden of proof on the accusers is much stronger than name calling.
The other fake news swirling on the cyber-media is Amhara’s occupation of one-third of Tigray land. Truth be told: Amhara does not snatch anybody’s land, as it does not allow others to snatch from it what is rightfully its own. When TPLF came to power, using its political dominance, it expanded its border by swallowing the Raya region on one side, and the Wolkite-Tsegede, and Tselemt region on the other. Both people have been fighting to regain their land and reassert their true identity; both have paid untold prices both in human lives and human sufferings. Now with the fall of the aggressor junta they have regained what is rightfully theirs. Not to honor this result will be a source of intractable problems.
There are also those who attempt to question Amhara’s participation in the war, and distort it as an attempt to impose Amhara dominance over Tigray—TPLF’s trite scare-crow tactic. Anytime TPLF is in trouble, be it when it was in power or out of power in Mekele, its last defense is “the Amharas are coming, you have a bigger enemy.” The dominance of one ethnic group over another often requires a strong material basis. The blame of Amhara dominance in 2020, five decades after the radical land reform, and the nationalization of extra houses, twenty-nine years after the rapacious tyranny of the TPLF, and after the almost three years of Oromo dominance is an absurd proposition. In our present day reality, the claim of Amhara dominance is losing even its once powerful propaganda effect.
Amhara participation in the war was motivated by two powerful motives: one was self defense, the other defense of the motherland; reclaiming their land was only a by-product. When TPLF, by some miscalculation, decided to smash the Northern Division, its goal was to march to Addis via Gondar and Bahir Dar to reclaim the power it lost. To sit and wait for TPLF until it marched to the Amhara region would have been a war mistake of epic proportions. There was already a remnant of the Northern Division putting up a resistance that could use the fast deployment of the Amhara forces. Deploy fast they did. As some in the West want us to believe, this was not a war between two countries. This was a case of a regional state within a federation declaring war on the federal army. Hence any Ethiopian citizen or region has the duty to defend the motherland. As the adjacent region to the problem area, the Amharas have unwaveringly and effectively carried out their duties. To brand this as an aggressive move for dominance is misrepresentation of the reality, to say the least.
The other lie some Western journalists and pundits are spreading is the continuity of the war and the resulting massive suffering of civilians. Is there massive suffering in Ethiopia born of our poverty and maladministration, you bet there is. In Tigray, in Benishangul, in Western Oromia, and in Amhara region there are extensive human sufferings and deprivations, in the case of Benishangul, parts of Oromia, and the southern regions even genocides. But to pick on only Tigray as the only place of suffering because of this war is quite jaundiced. Frankly, the war is over now for all practical purposes; cities and towns have come back to normalcy, despite the distant sounds of artillery from the guns of the fleeing fugitives. Anybody’s bet that they will wage a guerilla insurgency movement, and be a force to reckon with is a farce. The junta knows this better than anyone else. Their youthful ideal of liberating their people had been blunted by power and corruption. The self-affirmation that comes from a clear and simplistic socialist ideology that had been debunked is no more there. Playing ELF against EPLF and growing under their protection as they did in the 70s and the 80s is out of the question. Building their army as they did when the Derg was kept busy in the urban centers by the EPRP, and over extended in the war against Somalia and Eritrea is a pipedream in the 2020s. Access to the rest of the world for logistics and international diplomacy is not going to be easy if Ethiopia managed to keep up its good neighborliness with the surrounding states. All the old guards in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, there is also the question of the brutal physical toll of building a guerilla army from the ground up. Moreover, will the people of Tigray endure another guerilla insurgency after closely witnessing the outcome of the last one? It is hard to answer this in the positive. So, the talk of those Western pundits of the Junta building a viable guerilla force is wrecked at the take-off. So, calm down; there is no raging war in Tigray now, and there will not be a spreading insurgency coming soon.
Related to this is the hysteric prediction that the insurgency movement that the junta is starting will create such a tectonic shift in Ethiopia that will reverberate throughout the region, destabilizing neighboring countries. Some even go as far as saying the junta may decide to move into Eritrea, underestimating the zeal of Eritreans to protect their sovereignty. TPLF’s power of stabilizing or destabilizing the region is long gone with its loss of power in 2018. Whatever was left of it was exhausted and squandered in a vain campaign of creating ethnic chaos in Ethiopia as a makeshift cover from its criminal culpability. It worked for a while. But Ethiopians are not so stupid to buy into TPLF crying wolf every time it damaged our country. In short, TPLF had committed a political suicide by starting a war with an enemy it cannot win. True, the region’s stability largely depends on the stability and the strength of Ethiopia. Ethiopia has shown time and again, from Korea to the Congo, to Rwanda, to Somalia, its willingness to pay the price for world peace and regional security. The world’s payback should not be withholding an already approved aid, as the EU plans to do, to force it to negotiate peace with a junta on the run. When it comes to such coercion we, no doubt, will reject the aid, and starve with our pride and independence.
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