Dr. Taye Berhanu
Ethiopia’s quest for peace, security and development as well as its determination to protect its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity have been blatantly challenged by certain quarters for the last three years. The recent pressures and meddling in the internal affairs of Ethiopia by the West major powers, governmental and non-governmental international organizations and international media outlets are a case in point – an assertion to “history repeats itself”.
Ethiopia has traversed through enormous trials and tribulations for years. In the past, albeit irrational and unjustified, the colonial dreams and the antagonistic ideological rifts, particularly during the Cold War, were reasons for unabated internal interferences and pressures in flagrant violations of international norms and values. Today’s world situation is, presumably, different. The globalization process and the end of the Cold War are changing the wheel of history towards a better international order.
Yet, the recent pressures and bogus propaganda warfare directed at Ethiopia is one symptom to reverse the course of globalization and revive the Cold War syndrome. Incontrovertibly, the direct and indirect implications engulf the Horn, Africa and the world politics.
The ulterior motives of the foreign forces are reflected through, inter alia, the Renaissance Dam and the disturbing situation in Tigray region.
The Renaissance Dam
The renaissance dam is a mega project Ethiopia has aspired for years. During the reign of the Emperor, the United States of America had graciously extended its support and cooperation by undertaking studies on building dams. A four to five years study was concluded in 1963/4 by having a total of 31 dams along the Abay River and its tributaries – 4 dams for electricity, 9 dams for irrigation and electricity and 18 dams for irrigation only. After years of procrastination, the Renaissance Dam is realized.
The dam is, situated within the sovereign territory of Ethiopia at Abay River, designed to generate electricity with significant implications to the nation and the global environment. Apparently, electricity to Ethiopia is not an option, but a necessity. The engine of growth and development hardly operates without electricity. Undoubtedly, more than 65% percent of the Ethiopian people will come out of darkness and the industrialization process will be hastened. This will help Ethiopia meet one of the targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, reduction of poverty by half.
Moreover, electricity provides an opportunity for the creation of a balanced echo system. The need for destroying forests for fuel and other purposes will cease; thus, alleviating burdens of mothers and children carrying woods and contributing to environmental concerns, the global agenda of climate change.
The purpose of the dam is crystal clear. There is no ill intention at all for Sudan or Egypt. The dam does not block the natural flow of the Abay River to their lands. Unfortunately, the leaders of the two brotherly countries did not like to see the development of Ethiopia.
The Tigray Situation
The deteriorating situation in Tigray region is a consequence of the belligerent Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The heinous crimes and agonizing atrocities perpetrated by TPLF are unparalleled in Ethiopia’s history bleeding each and every Ethiopian. The Ethiopian parliament has strongly denounced TPLF’s genocidal crimes and labelled it as a terrorist organization.
The TPLF had established a pseudo federal system, an ethnic based federation, a replica of the colonialists’ “divide and rule” machination. It is a despicable system the Ethiopian people loath and vehemently condemn as it is a road map for destabilizing and disintegrating the country meant to fulfill the long awaited vengeance of the defeated colonialists. Under its dictatorial ethnic based federal system, the Ethiopian people have suffered for the last 30 years. Nepotism, arbitrary arrests, displacements, tortures, killings and deprivation of economic, human and employment rights on the basis of ethnicity had prevailed. The result of the 2005 election was overturned forcefully. The leaders of the winning party were thrown into prison. About 200 peaceful demonstrators were killed in Addis Ababa. Ethnic cleansing and corruption were rampant.
It was, eventually, coerced to leave its political, military and economic domination it heavily gripped for about 27 years. The vigilant popular protests have brought changes in the EPRDF leadership in 2018. But, the TPLF had opted for unlawful path of regaining power. Since then, it has been engaged in escalating tensions and havoc disturbing peace and stability in various parts of the country. Millions were displaced; properties looted and destroyed; hundreds cruelly murdered; churches, mosques and various governmental and private properties set on fire; banks robbed; and, university girl students abducted.
Further, the arrogant leadership gave deaf ears to calls of the Ethiopian government and repeated pleas by elders and religious leaders for round-table peace talks to amicably resolve the problem in the interest of the Ethiopian people. Instead, it has grotesquely unmasked its true nature by cruelly and savagely attacking members of the Ethiopian Defense Force Command stationed in the region. Hundreds were massacred, more were driven away naked and some were imprisoned. It had callously attacked Bahir Dar, Gondar and a sovereign country’s capital, Asmara by rockets. More than 1561 Amharas in Mai Kadra were horribly massacred (Gonder University Study Report – July 2021). Hundreds in Benishangul, Metekel, Western Oromia and elsewhere were brutally assassinated and evicted. It had connived with parochial forces of similar objectives and foreign enemies in committing such abhorrent, terrible and horrifying crimes against its own people.
Ethiopia’s appalling situation was further complicated and aggravated by the aggression of the government of Sudan. Ethiopia was confident that the international community will support its strenuous efforts to solve its internal problems and would condemn Sudan’s intrusion and Egypt’s hostile and unprovoked propaganda. To the dismay of Ethiopians and peace loving peoples of the world, some fanned and supported the fake and malicious stance of terrorists and aggressors that do not match the standards of international relations. Ethiopia became a victim of those forces which indulged in sheer interference in its internal affairs in violation of the UN cardinal principles and general international norms and values.
The Non-Ingenuity of the Concerns and Positions
The anti-Ethiopian propaganda under the pretext of humanitarian concern and averting the escalation of war in the Horn has become an international concern. With regard to the dam, there appeared aggressive and sinister attempts to make it an international agenda. Mr. Trump’s insistence to be a mediator of the tripartite negotiation and his intimidation of Egypt’s bombing the dam had created bewilderment and confusion in the international politics. USA, which had helped Ethiopia in the study of dams at Abay River, and others have unduly tabled the issue at the UN Security Council. This was, however, thwarted by the principled stand of China, Russia, India, Kenya and others.
By the same token, they have loudly raised their deep concerns not as such on the Tigray humanitarian situation but, alas, on the demise of the terrorist group. They have echoed their voices for the gunners who themselves are louder with their own guns and lobbyists. And, as such, they have demonstrated their discriminatory stance. They care less for the voiceless and the gunned ones. This signals the hallmark of the 21st century humanitarianism of the West, a hypocritical stance. One can assume that the top leaders are either led astray by the lobbyists and experts or they have chosen to advance the policies of their predecessors.
Their concerns were aired in various ways. They condemned the involvement of the Eritrean army and the Amhara special force in Tigray region. They called for cessation of war through peace deals, avoidance of human rights infringements and for the withdrawal of the Eritrean army and the Amhara special force from Tigray region. They supported the position of Egypt on the handling of the dam negotiation. Such positions are truly unexpected from the architects of the UN charters, promoters and defenders of the basic ideals of democracy, freedom, justice, equality and independence.
Are these concerns and positions genuine or principle based? Are they an outcome of disinformation or false propaganda of the lobbyists and TPLF members in the diaspora or a derivative of a strategic interest? These are pertinent questions to ponder on.
Those which have now voiced their concerns aloud about the situation in Tigray remain silent to the above mentioned tragedies. They did not condemn the Sudan’s military intrusion to the sovereign territory of Ethiopia. They uttered no words on the use of children as soldiers and human shields in the war fronts. This is, indeed, discriminatory. Regardless of the location, all victims are Ethiopians, same family. The death of any Ethiopian is a pain to all Ethiopians, It is also a pain to any humane person irrespective of religion, nationality, sex, language, age or any other.
Human rights concern is a concern of mankind. It is non-discriminatory with respect to race, ethnicity, religion, sex, ideology and place. Here lies the paradox of the big forces’ position. They lack the moral leadership to have concern on human rights as they are discriminatory and stand against law enforcement. This is non-ingenuity, which hardly reflects their international status and images. Such irrational and unhealthy stance bear adverse repercussions. The international community has the duty to categorically repudiate and strongly condemn any discriminatory humanitarian approach by any in the interest of mankind. The reference of the Dam issue to AU is an encouraging measure in this regard.
Role of Disinformation/Misinformation
The current interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs by certain forces is partly precipitated by TPLF’s orchestrated disinformation and misinformation. Some blame the Ethiopian Government for not being proactive in crippling the TPLF’s distorted propaganda. They assert that the Ethiopian Government has slackened and been too reluctant in the propaganda work. Others strongly argue that the Ethiopian Government should have taken swift measures and designated the TPLF and its allies as terrorist groups much earlier.
The TPLF was successful in spreading aggressively baseless allegations on the Ethiopian government. It had been too busy in plundering the nation’s wealth which enabled it squander to hired lobbyists and cadres for disinformation and misinformation purpose. Undoubtedly, the cadres and leaders of TPLF who were strategically placed in various international and regional organizations have been actively engaged in maneuvering the propaganda apparatus to its advantages. However, those quarters which shoved great concerns in Tigray region but kept quiet to other atrocities is a complex riddle. It could be considered as double standard or as strategic interest.
Strategic Interest overrides disinformation and realities
The world politics is hardly influenced by the TPLF’s unfounded propaganda or Egypt’s mesmerized and disillusioned campaigns. Needless to say, the international agencies, diplomatic missions and non-governmental organizations in Ethiopia do discharge their official duties and responsibilities effectively and efficiently. They closely follow Ethiopia’s objective realities. They cannot allow their leaders to be hoodwinked by any sort of disinformation or misinformation.
To assume that the unfair and unprincipled positions of some quarters resulted from disinformation or misinformation is tantamount to degrading the capacities of the foreign missions. Some might be seduced by TPLF’s corrupt practices. But, the fundamental reason for the “strange” position is their unhealthy ulterior motive, a strategic interest that overrides fake information and realities.
Therefore, the positions taken against Ethiopia is not necessarily a consequence of the opponents’ strong or Ethiopian Government’s weak propaganda. The driving force is their strategic interest. Some adhere to legacies of colonialism. Africa has remained for years marginalized in major global dividends. It has traversed from colonialism to neo-colonialism and ultimately to independence through indomitable, hard and bitter struggles. Nonetheless, Africa has not yet gotten its fruits of struggle. It is merely crowned with political independence devoid of economic independence. They conspire to sustain the perpetuation of Africa’s dependency.
The current waves against Ethiopia are part and parcel of the strategic interest of the West. It ignores Ethiopia’s history and its objective reality. It is irritating to have learnt that those which ignored the heinous crimes and dictatorial rule perpetrated by the TPLF for almost three decades, have voiced their concerns now, when justice began to take root by uprooting the TPLF. They condemned the intervention of the Eritrean Government in Tigray. Most embarrassingly, they called for the withdrawal of the Amhara and the Eritrean forces from Tigray region. It is not clear whether or not they refer to the sovereign nation, Ethiopia.
They never condemned when the TPLF/EPRDF sent its army to Somalia unilaterally prior to its inclusion in the AU peace keeping mission. It is the sovereign right of the people and government of Ethiopia to invite foreign forces to stand on their side and to deploy any special force from its own sovereign land. The UN and others that ought to support the pillars of human rights and democracy are directing the course of history in the wrong direction.
The Ethio-Eritrea rapprochement has become a horror nightmare to those who do not want to see strong, self-reliant and independent nations in the Horn. The Ethio-Eritrea peaceful relations have augured great hope among the brotherly and sisterly peoples. The patience the Eritrean Government has displayed at the rocket attack of Asmara by the TPLF and the support rendered to the cruelly affected members of the Ethiopian Defense Force should have been appreciated.
The joint demonstrations of the sons and daughters of Ethiopia and Eritrea in various major cities in USA, Europe and Canada eloquently relay a message that no force has the right to interference in their bilateral healthy relations. Contradicting the tenets of the UN and the AU and standing against law enforcement – adieus to the universally shared wishes and aspirations – jeopardizes international relations.
The UN and others should have appreciated the rapprochement of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The silence or opposition is an awakening bell for Ethiopia and Eritrea. Their unity is vital to foster economic and political strength, social cohesion and to withstand any alien threat. Their unity or reunion shall be regarded as the reunion of West and East Germany, North and South Vietnam and North and South Yemen. Their reunion cannot be a menace to any nation. Rather, it stands as a beacon of peace in the region with strong economy and unwavering defense force. In this context, the strategic interest of the international community shall be serving mankind.
Abandonment and betrayal of Ethiopia
History has amply testified that Ethiopia is a land of origin and cradle of world civilization. It has made immense contributions to Africa’s long and arduous struggles for freedom and independence. Its sacrifices and victories have been exemplary and served as an inspiration and encouragement to the struggling peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Moreover, it has played enormous roles sacrificing its dearest sons and daughters in various battle fields in Korea, Congo, Somalia, Liberia, Burundi, South Sudan in defense of regional and world peace and collective security as part of the UN and AU Peace Making Missions. Regrettably, Ethiopia is now abandoned and betrayed by certain quarters as evidenced in different historical epochs.
The demise of the League of Nations is partly due to its utter failure to stand beside Ethiopia against Fascist Italy. The sordid conspiracies that were hatched by certain quarters have resulted in making Ethiopia a landlocked country. The Ethiopian people are artificially divided into two – indelibly engraved in world’s sad history. This is part of the strategy of weakening Africa.
Africa today is awakened more than ever. The peoples of Africa would not be intimidated by the kind of pressures inflicted on Ethiopia. Ethiopia on its part remains vigilant and further heightens its determination and dedication to preserve its unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty and for the pride and dignity of Africa. It would be serious blunder, unethical and unprincipled to fight international terrorism by supporting terrorism. It is high time the international community take the right decision.
The Need for UN Restructuring
The UN has shown its back to Ethiopia, the founding member which has relentlessly served in various countries in support of collective security. The UN has, unabashedly, expressed its concern in support of a terrorist group. Its voice and concern not for the voiceless but for the gunners must be recorded as “historic”. It is perturbing to note .its endeavours to obstruct the tripartite discussion through the AU. The whole exercise was a disrespect to the international community and an affront to the continental organization, the AU.
It is high time that the UN and its agencies be reviewed and restructured. If it were not for the few principled Security Council members of the UN, its existence would have been in jeopardy long time ago. The attempts made in the UN regarding Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam and the current situation in Tigray spray poisonous elements to the very foundations of the UN. This is perilous that would bend the UN down to the fate of the League of Nations.
Today, the UN does not seem independent in its functions. Merit system seems to be alien to the UN. Some posts of the UN are filled with non-principled loyalists. Persons opposed for criminal records and those who have had poor reputations in their respective countries are placed in important positions. Recruitment is made by order. Employment security is obtained through obedience and loyalty of host governments.
The current UN’s interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs is a reflection of its nature. Unless corrected in time, the UN will face the ill-fate of the League of Nations. It is appropriate to conclude with the wise words of Emperor Haile Selassie I appealing to the League of Nations against Fascist Italy’s invasion. He said, “History will give its verdict.” Indeed, History had delivered its verdict to the League of Nations. This applies to the UN. History will give its verdict. Ethiopia does not deserve to be abandoned and betrayed at any cost. Sooner or later, truth shall prevail.
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