Tsadkan Gebretensae’s forces in the North Wollo region have lost several battles, and his whereabouts is unknown yet.
Former Ethiopian Defense Chief of Staff who reduced himself to a guerrilla life again,Tsakdan Gebretensae, made headlines early last month as part of the propaganda war for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
It was none other than the BBC that covered a story that rather painted Tsadkan as a hero.
“The commander of Tigrayan rebel forces, Gen Tsadkan Gebretensae, is regarded by international security analysts as one of the finest military strategists of his generation in Africa,” said the story by Alex de Waal whom many Ethiopians activists portray as having a clientele relationship with the TPLF.
A story about his military strategist skill is being tested , and it does not seem to be the case.
The Ethiopian Defense Force on Friday said the forces that he was leading in the North Wollo region were routed. According to the EDF report, there were three other generals under his command (Major General Yohannes, Brigadier General Measho Beyene, General Kebede Fekadu and commander of the mechanized division, Colonel Gebreselassie. The scale of the damage is near annihilation.
The defense force made Gashena town the center of the operation, but stretched the Ethiopian Defense Force from Wadla Delanta to Lalibela ( apparently the town is still under the control of the TPLF forces). And it is the TPLF force that was deployed in those areas that was routed. An unspecified number of TPLF forces are captured.
The remaining forces are, said the defense report, surrounded by the Ethiopian Defense Force, Amhara region special forces, militia forces and farmers in the region.
Gashena, Meket, Muja and Nifas Mewusha are among the areas where the Tsadkan Gebretensae’s forces are dispersed. Authorities in the region see no or little chance for the forces to get out from the area.
Two heavy artillery and a ZU-23 were among the weapons that TPLF lost in the battle.
What happened to the “finest military strategist”, Tsadkan, is unclear at this point. Rumors are circulating on social media, but they do not seem to be reliable.
There was a similar instance when the TPLF lost battles after battles in the Tigray region of Ethiopia in November and December 2020. Most Ethiopians almost reached the point of believing that the TPLF leader, Debretsion Gebremichael, was killed in action. Stories like that, in most cases, have something to do with some YouTubers who tend to lean on clickbait as a means to generate lucrative revenue. The magnitude of the matter and its importance to Ethiopia is secondary for them, if at all.
However, in some instances, stories like that do have something to do with the clandestine TPLF propaganda machine. They produce content that could distract the attention of Ethiopians.
Yet, General Tsadkan himself is a stellar propagandist. Before the TPLF started the war in November 2020, he was acting as if he was neutral between the Federal government and the TPLF led regional government in Tigray region.
In an interview with a local channel, he said negotiation is the only best option, as the TPLF is “too strong even for the Federal Defense Force.” By that time, TPLF raised over 300,000 forces and military parades in the streets of Mekelle were very common.
When the TPLF started the war in November 2020 by attacking the Ethiopian Defense Force military bases in the region, the “neutral” Tsadkan did not waste time to join the TPLF forces. He is charged with treason.
In fact, he is indicted with corruption. He is a big shareholder of companies like Raya Brewery, apart from several other investments and assets – hard to imagine for someone whose income was salary as a member of Ethiopian Defense Force.
He was recently interviewed by the BBC, and he was talking with a tone that his forces, he called it Tigray Defense Force, are winning , and that it is in the interest of the Ethiopian government to accept the preconditions by the TPLF and negotiate.
However, the story from this week, based on Amhara region government and federal government claims, indicate that the balance of power has shifted in favor of the Ethiopian Defense Force before even a major offensive.
And the international community, including the United Nations, is once again calling for negotiation as the TPLF starts to lose military ground to achieve its political goals, which is unclear at this time.