By Dula Abdu
February 9, 2021
Former U.S. ambassadors to Ethiopia and some Western institutions are lambasting Ethiopia based on information gleaned from social media or their contacts, enlisted during the last three decades of TPLF rule, an ethnic cabal famous for silencing the opposition, disinformation and dazzling Westerners.
Critics of the current reformist government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopia are responsible for propagating misinformation, creating an impression of a monster regime bent on abusing its citizens in Tigray by serving as a conduit for the TPLF, which created in the first place the current unstable and conflict-laden environment in the country, not only by firing the first shot at the various military barracks in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia , but also by establishing ethnic federalism that has been the main source of ethnic conflicts and of displacement of millions of people around the country.
Western Critics use secondary Information and Exaggerate
One of the major problems with Westerners is failure to differentiate between the people of Tigray, and the TPLF junta which was an equal opportunity oppressor of the people of Tigray and Ethiopia. Most of the critics of Dr. Abiy are members of the junta, friends and beneficiaries. If the Junta really cared, millions of people in Tigray should not have remained dependent on international food aid to this day.
Furthermore, crying foul by external critics and internal detractors of PM Ahmed over the presence of Eritrean troops is a clear illustration of a double standard. The U.S. or its Ambassadors to Ethiopia, for example, never complained when Ethiopians troops went to Somalia to fight Al Shebab at the behest of America and other Western countries, or found fault with the U.S. presence in Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, S. Korea, Japan, or Europe.
Eritrea Saved the Horn from Imploding
If Eritrea is present in the northern region of Tigray at the invitation of Ethiopia, there is no reason to deride Eritrea based on unproven Twitter and social media allegations of misconduct. If it were not for Eritrea, Ethiopia and the whole Horn of Africa might have imploded with violence and social upheaval. Besides warning Sudan and Egypt not to take advantage of Ethiopia while at war with a rebellious regional government in the north (Tigray), Eritrea enabled Ethiopia to end the conflict in a matter of weeks by allowing Ethiopian troops to retreat and regroup in Eritrea.
From all indications, it is clear that there is an organized effort to distort facts and portray Ethiopia in a negative image, to the extent of branding it as an aggressor or provocateur of war in the media. This is true even in the eyes of some members of the U.S. Congress. Such a narrative was orchestrated by agents of TPLF and their highly organized PR machine in the U.S. and Europe.
Critics of Ethiopia were coopted or Hoodwinked by TPLF
Critics like Susan Stigant of USIP charged that Ethiopia may be characterized as a failed state during a congressional testimony last December. But she failed to mention that it is the system, which many of the current critics like her supported during the 27 years of TPLF’s minority ethnic rule that is responsible for the predicament in which Ethiopia finds itself today. Ms. Stigant and her colleague failed to condemn such system despite numerous warnings and pleas from the opposition about the danger of creating ethnic federalism in Ethiopia, which the TPLF championed while governing under an ethnic-based oligarchy.
The disinformation about the war and Eritrea is fanned by TPLF social media, critics, and friends of TPLF in the academia, and the diplomatic community. For example, BBC apologized to Dr. Abiy Ahmed for falsely accusing him of a plan to bomb civilians in Tigray based on uncorroborated report. The Washington Post discovered that TPLF agents took over or monopolized the Twitter traffic with their false narrative portraying Ethiopia as the aggressor and then demanding a ceasefire when TPLF started losing the war. This was also to obfuscate the fact that TPLF initiated the war by killing Ethiopian soldiers, many of them while in sleep at their military posts guarding the international border with neighboring Eritrea, looting their equipment, and forcing the rest to flee naked to Eritrea.
TPLF PR and Money Spreads Disinformation
The TPLF junta rule the country for 27 years by using a strategy of silencing the Ethiopian Diaspora and muzzling the domestic opposition from revealing its criminal enterprise, stealing from Ethiopia billions, disproportionately controlling the military and commerce, and other parastatals, as well as powerful state agencies. Consequently, most of the billionaires and millionaires in Ethiopia are Tigreans, though they constitute only 6% of the population, and their allies.
Many intellectuals and government representatives such as Tony Blair of Great Britain, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Laureates, and others were victims of a highly organized PR propaganda that prevented them from acknowledging the plight of the Ethiopian people as they were provided with distorted narratives. To show their power, recently TPLF agents supposedly garnered over 2300 signatures from who’s who in academia and other professions around the world in less than a week to sign in support of TPLF narratives, leading some luminaries in Europe and the USA to demand Ethiopia to stop defending itself; EU suspended aid to Ethiopians a result. One wonders what Ethiopia would look like if TPLF coup attempt succeeded.
Should Ethiopian Soldiers Surrendered to TPLF?
As a historical illustration, the American Civil War was started when Southern rebels attacked federal forces. Do you think Lincoln should have acquiesced to the confederate takeover, slavery, or the breakup of the union? Some countries including the U.S. engage in preemptive attacks because of perceived threat or fear without the other party firing one single shot. However, Ethiopia was blamed for responding in a proportionate and calculated manner while protecting civilians and historical sites, for coming to the rescue of its soldiers where some were slaughtered while asleep and their equipment was looted in multiple locations.
Another illustration is the recent attack on Capitol Hill by white nationalists and supporters of former President Trump which was condemned universally, but none of you condemned the TPLF attack using thanks, rockets, and machine guns to slaughter Ethiopian soldiers while asleep, or even the most recent Sudanese invasion of Ethiopian territory for that matter.
In an interview with BBC, US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Tibor Nagy, had corroborated that Ethiopia was attacked, its soldiers were killed, and its military hardware looted. We believe most of your colleagues have access to the same information as that of the diplomat. The false narrative focusing on Ethiopia and Eritrea without mentioning this egregious TPLF heinous crime against Ethiopian soldiers is demonstrably biased and unforgiveable. To attack a poor country like Ethiopia, CSIP, USIP and other U.S. agencies are often fooled by propaganda hatched and disseminated by agents of the former regime. For many Ethiopians, TPLF was the worst regime ever came to power in Ethiopia’s long history, and some even compare it to Khmer Rouge and other notorious regimes around the world. TPLF posed a mortal danger to the survival of Ethiopia as a state and brought untold misery and agony on the Ethiopian people without the world ever realizing it.
TPLF Left Ethiopia Ungovernable and Unlivable
I argue that the TPLF regime and the ethnic federalism it created, which some of you fervently supported, made Ethiopia unstable, unlivable, ungovernable, and difficult to live in, to trade or travel for the majority of Ethiopians due to the ethnic animosity the system created.
Ethiopians are deeply dismayed about the Western media and the disinformation campaign they are waging against Ethiopia by relying on opinions of so-called regional experts, who have very limited knowledge about the complexities of politics, economics, and history of the Horn of Africa. Alex De Waal, a British national at Tuft’s university, memorialized Seyoum Mesfin, the politburo member and foreign minister of TPLF and the architect of the coup. Martin Plaut, another former BBC correspondent, reported, “The Ethiopian government stole the Ark of Covenant from Axum and executed 750 priests in front of the church.” As a longtime observer of Ethiopian politics, I know these statements are not based on facts but on fabricated, partisan accounts that normally originate from agents of the TPLF. I also suggest in strongest terms that you read the distorted reporting of the Economist also, another British magazine’s innuendo that Ethiopia is deliberately starving the people of Tigray to win the war.
Ethiopians Dismayed by Western Critics and Media
Because of these and many negative portrayals of Ethiopia, American citizens of Ethiopian descent here in the states feel that our country of origin is not getting a fair shake by Western media and so-called Ethiopian experts of foreign background. Of course, TPLF built a huge PR machine, a strong relationship in the media and other important places during the last 30-40 years using stolen funds from the country and was able to crowd out the voices of the opposition. As a result, we are very concerned about the continuous distortion of facts, disinformation, and the appearance of a double standard used against Ethiopia. We regard USIP, CSIS and former American Ambassadors to Ethiopia as allies only if they take the time to check all the facts on the ground and not be swayed by disinformation and past personal relationships with some members of the criminal TPLF regime.
Dula Abdu is a retired banker, academician and originally from Ethiopia.
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