Subterfuges Allowing the Violent Psychopathic Duo – TPLF and OLF – to Continue Wreaking Havoc in Ethiopia Unchecked
Bruke Lemma, Ph.D.
“He who only sees the obvious, wins his battles with difficulty; he who looks below the surface of things, wins with ease”- Sun Tzu
It has now been almost a year since the devastating civil war upending the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Ethiopia was started by the TPLF. This violent psychopathic group started the war with the sole objective of regaining the hegemonic political and economic powers that it has lost after almost three decades of misrule and mismanagement including pervasive in-your-face corruptions, incessant thefts from the country and its people, widespread and grave human right abuses and more.
The extreme human right abuses perpetrated by the TPLF in Ethiopia have been extensively detailed and documented by various International Organisations and others. Moreover, they have also been faithfully recorded and described in the U.S. Department of State’s own Country Report on Human Rights Practices year after year. TPLF’s larcenies and lootings of the country when the group was in power have also been regularly investigated and exposed by media outlets and other national and international organisations.
One such organisation, Forbes, summarised TPLF led and controlled Ethiopian government’s three decades of theft as follows: “1. The amount of American financial aid received by Ethiopia’s government since it took power: $30 billion. 2. The amount stolen by Ethiopia’s leaders since it took power: $30 billion.” Interestingly, this amount, $30 billion, stolen by the TPLF was also exactly equal to the country’s entire foreign debt.
In any case, while some of this money was stashed in various secret accounts in banks around the world, some of it was used to send the children of TPLF officials to elite western private schools and universities, to fly their families around the world in luxury, to buy multiple mansions and businesses for themselves and their families in western and other capitals. In contrast, almost half of the population of Tigray needed constant food and other assistance from the UN and other NGOs to simply survive.
As such, it is beyond ridiculous now that TPLF proclaims itself a dedicated fighter for the rights of the Tigray people and appoints itself as their sole guardian. Disregarding, among other things, the fact that it never ever entertained any thought of sharing any of its looted billions with these Tigray people, most of whom live in extreme poverty. Still, any of that didn’t stop TPLF from taking the children of these poor Tigray people using force and deceptions and sending them away to be cannon fodders and to die far from their homes – while also subjecting the rest of them to famine and starvations.
Moreover, the group has expanded the war into the Amhara and Afar regions; and, for months now, it has been carrying out widespread brutal killings, looting and stealing from farmers who themselves were eking out a very precarious living already in the most difficult of difficult circumstances. Cruelly, the group has been busy burning and destroying these farmers houses, schools and other facilities; instigating hunger and starvations by emptying out and stealing food from the warehouses in the areas that it occupied, triggering dislocations of the fearful surrounding populations and so on.
This utterly inhuman group, however, was made out to be a victim and presented as such by its supporters including the children and other family members of its officials who have been living and living it up in the west – who were demonstrating tirelessly carrying around coffins, rolling on the ground in parking lots and screaming at passers-by in the streets of Western Capitals. It seems, through those and other deceitful theatrics, they have been able to find sympathies and support for the criminal group from some quarters – of course, passing around some of the stolen billions might have helped as well.
Still, it is not very difficult to understand some of these sympathies and supports; coming, as they are, from those who do not have a good knowledge and understanding of the group’s sordid history of lies and deceptions and pervasive rights abuses and other criminalities including its earlier use of famine in Tigray region to amass wealth for itself. What is difficult to understand, however, is the overt and subvert support the group continues to receive from the U.S. and the EU and others who are very familiar with the repugnant history of the group.
Of course, for almost three decades, successive American administrations looked the other way when the TPLF was committing its crimes and abusing the Ethiopian people. Strangely, while those working in one part of these U.S. administrations were repeating to themselves see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil, however, others working in another part of these same U.S. administrations were faithfully recording TPLF’s human right abuses and other crimes – including its brutal killings and slaughtering of innocents, its extreme abuses of the political and other prisoners it was holding in the countless official and unofficial prisons and dungeons, the group’s responsibility for the disappearances of countless young women and men and others.
As such, while the U.S. rightfully deserves reproaches for its silence when a violent, degenerate, psychopathic group – that the U.S. itself was also instrumental in bringing to power initially – was committing massive human right abuses and other crimes, it also deserves some gratitude for keeping detailed records of these crimes for posterity. In any case, any overt and covert support for the TPLF by the U.S. now will only compound its earlier mistakes and does not serve its purpose going forward. America is likely to gain much more by constructively working with the Ethiopian people, who remain positively disposed to that country and its people despite being let down during TPLF’s almost three decades of criminal rampaging.
In that, Biden’s Administration might want to start by abandoning its now hollow ‘both-side-ism’ and the constant threats of sanctions on these ‘both-sides’ because there are no both sides. As such, the TPLF instigated the civil war; and then it expanded the war into the Amhara and Afar regions – and that was, after the Ethiopian government declared unilateral ceasefire. Accordingly, the only sensible thing to do for the US and the EU – or any other entities – is to direct their calls for cessation of hostilities and matching threats of sanctions to the recalcitrant party, which is the TPLF.
In addition, in regard to disruptions to the flow of food aid to the needy population in the Tigray region, instead of the Ethiopian government, they must start blaming the party predominantly responsible for these things, which is again the TPLF. As such, it was not the Ethiopian government, who invaded the Afar and Amhara regions that, among other things, in part, was and continue to be responsible for hampering these deliveries; and, it was not the Ethiopian government who has been hijacking delivery trucks in their hundreds and using them to transport soldiers and weapons, among other things.
It is morally very suspect to threaten or to actually impose sanctions on those who have only been reacting to the continued aggressions of the TPLF – and it is unlikely to produce any positive results. Moreover, singling out and accusing some for things that they are clearly not responsible for will only make it possible for them to escape accountability for the things that they are actually responsible for. Specifically, genocide of the Amhara people is being carried out right now in both the Amhara and Oromia regions by the TPLF and the OLF, a group formally allied with the TPLF.
In that, it has also been admitted by the Ethiopian government itself that some working in the federal government structure were involved in these things – along with the regional Oromia administration who has been long suspected of covertly and overtly supporting and facilitating the ethnic cleansings of the Amharas. Here, both the TPLF and the Ethiopian government are responsible; and, therefore, they must be held accountable – that is, along with the OLF and the Oromia regional administration. Accordingly, they would be doing a great service to humanity, if the U.S. and the EU and others demand that the TPLF stop the ongoing genocide and for it to leave the Amhara region immediately – in addition to calling on the Ethiopian government to investigate these things and for it to start ensuring the safety and security of the Amharas living in Oromia region.
In general, while it is neither here nor there to threaten or to actually impose sanctions on the officials on any of the sides – most, if not all, of them are shady anyway – it would be, however, immoral and shameful to impose sanctions on the Ethiopian people and/or to remove the country from the AGOA trade privileges – such an action/s would only end up hurting the poorest of the poor in the country who are already struggling with difficult economic circumstances. Where is the justice in making the Ethiopian poor pay for the countless crimes and sins of the TPLF, a group who was greatly enriched by successive American governments, who have directed billions of dollars of American taxpayers’ money, in financial and military aid to it, despite knowing fully well the extreme corruptions and human right abuses and more of the group?
In any case, it is strange that after advertising one’s humanitarian concerns and desires to alleviate the pain and suffering experienced by a given people – and then to gratuitously impose yet more suffering and pain on those very same people. It is also very strange when those who say that they are motivated by humanitarian concerns fail to treat all those who are needy in the same way. In that, while the problems in Tigray region continue to be extensively publicised, however, the sufferings of the more than four million Amhara people that are being held hostages by the TPLF – and that of the hundreds of thousands additional Amharas who have been dislocated from their villages and homes because of TPLF’s invasion of the region are constantly played down.
As such, these disparities are helping to advance the counterfactual narrative portraying the TPLF as victim and the Ethiopian government as an aggressor who has been blocking food aid and starving the population in Tigray region and committing genocide. That false narrative, coupled with lack of strong censures of the group by the U.S. and the EU, have emboldened the TPLF and helped it to continue its campaign of wanton destruction in the Amhara region. In that, TPLF has been slaughtering Amharas in their thousands in that region; while, at the same time, TPLF designed and imposed Ethiopian Constitution and Ethnic Federalism were enabling its formal partner, the OLF, to carry out almost daily mass brutal killings and other destructions of the Amharas living in the Oromia and in other regions. Specifically, the Ethiopian Constitution and Ethnic Federalism gives different people different rights in different regions – allowing and facilitating TPLF’s and OLF’s criminalities.
It is very common knowledge that Americans are free to live in any of the U.S. states they choose to live in and in peace, security and equality. However, Biden’s administration came out with strong support for the Ethiopian Constitution and Ethnic Federalism that denies the same rights to the Ethiopian people. Thus, the U.S. calls for a stop to mass killings and other destructions of Ethiopians by shielding and protecting the very same things responsible for these mass killings and other destructions – TPLF, the Constitution and Ethnic Federalism!
In any case, we need to make very clear distinctions between the Ethiopian government who is fighting against the TPLF because it is required by law to protect the country and its people – and the TPLF who is fighting because it wants to regain power by force. Still, in its so far very uninspiring efforts at fulfilling its duties and responsibilities, the Ethiopian government, led by Abiy Ahmed, has shown itself to be lacking in direction and singularity of purpose – significantly, because of opportunism and propensities for pursuing sectional interests and advantages rather than that of the country as a whole.
Moreover, there seems to be a strong preference for secrecies, lies and dissimulations, on all sides. That is, even when truth and openness would serve these sides best. These things, however, are very difficult for those who have lived their entire lives totally immersed in a pervasive culture of lies and deceptions. In the TPLF, we have one of the most deceitful, thieving, utterly immoral and violent, degenerate psychopathic collections of people ever to walk on the face of the earth. Revealingly, the late TPLF leader, Melese Zenawi, came out and openly declared that stealing is an employment unless one gets caught – true to his words, he was a prolific thief with a unique “talent to lie outright and in more than four directions at a time”
Lying, deceptions and dissimulations, however, are also very much native languages for Abiy Ahmed – an essential skill set that allowed him not only to work for the TPLF for 25 years – but also to thrive and thrive well. Understandably, letting go of something that has been integral to oneself for so long is a very difficult thing to do. Still, after someone tells a few too many fibs, everyone starts regarding whatever comes out of that someone’s mouth to be just another lie – then people will stop listening to that person entirely. That, however, is not something anyone, let alone a prime minister of a country of 120 million people, could easily afford.
As such, it was very hard to understand what was going on when Abiy Ahmed came out recently and told the Amhara regional president that his and the other regions need to stop calling for people to join the war efforts against the TPLF and wasting money buying weapons and such – advising them to use the money to buy modern farm implements and so on instead. Which was totally mystifying; for, among other things, Abiy Ahmed himself was making these same calls only a few weeks earlier; moreover, if anything, since then TPLF has entrenched itself in the areas it occupied, in addition to expanding its existing occupations – inflicting great sufferings and creating chaos and mayhem in the process.
In any case, Ethiopia has now all what it needs to drive out the TPLF from the Amhara region the group continues to occupy and to stop the immense sufferings of the people in that region. However, there seems to be very, very little concerted effort to get that done any time soon. Instead, day in and day out, we are bombarded with news about the TPLF occupying or its being about to occupy this or that area; and then, the ENDF supported by such and such stopping the group from occupying these areas or dislodging it after it occupied them and so on – going on in endless cycles. Ominously, there is now an ongoing attempt by the TPLF to extend its occupation of Amhara region to South Wello, including the capital, Dessie – though, so far, without success.
It is very sad to see that the country has been unable to deal effectively with the great menace of the TPLF because of lack of appropriate leadership – allowing the group to continue with its paths of distractions. In a previous article, this author discussed the machinations and deceptions that allowed the TPLF to simply walk in and occupy vast areas in the Amhara region. In that, events since then directly and indirectly support the arguments presented there; as such, the efforts of the Amhara people to organise and defend themselves continue to be systematically frustrated and thwarted – denying them weapons, equipment and financial assistance with which to combat the TPLF’s invasions and occupations of their region, among other things.
It seems, things have escalated from not simply giving them the weapons, equipment and other support that they sorely need – as such, they were also being discouraged from acquiring these things themselves – that is, even if they have the resources, which, by enlarge, they don’t. Here, the Oromia region’s spending on weapons, equipment and training of special forces is by far greater than any of the other regions – excluding Tigray region. Accordingly, if Abiy Ahmed must advise anyone to curtail their security related spending – logically, it will have to be the Oromia region, controlled by his own ODP, owing to its massive spending, among other things.
As such, the Amhara region spends much, much smaller amounts on these things than the Oromia region – even though it currently faces much greater threats. In that, more than one third of the region is already occupied by the TPLF who continues to entrench itself and expand its occupations, among other things. Still, it is very true that there are continued mass brutal killings and dislocations of the Amharas in the Oromia region being carried out by the OLF. However, despite the lavish spending that continues to be poured on them, the Oromia special forces – so far, have proven themselves to be almost less than useless in stopping these things.
In any case, it seems the TPLF and Abiy Ahmed’s administration have been silently colluding, or, ‘reading each other,’ to use Adanech Abebe’s language – and working to breakdown, dishearten and dispirit their common enemies, the Amharas. As such, in examining all that transpired in the nearly a year since the start of the war as well as the earlier history of the two, TPLF and Abiy Ahmed, what else could we possibly conclude other than that? Abiy Ahmed armed the TPLF twice over and led the group straight to that region – and let it rampage.
Since then, moreover, the Amharas continue to be sabotaged at every turn, among other things, their militias, fanos and special forces continue to be denied weapons, financial and other support – that is, in addition to the federal government continuing to refuse to reimburse the region for the huge costs associated with the ongoing war including the costs involved in assisting some of those who were dislocated by the TPLF’s invasions.
Subterfuges, however, not only are extending the immense sufferings of the Amhara people needlessly – they are also putting the entire country in extreme danger. Sun Tzu wrote: “So long as victory can be attained, stupid haste is preferable to clever dilatoriness.” In that, victory over the TPLF is very much possible, however, Abiy Ahmed’s ‘clever dilatoriness’ and other machinations are making that difficult and costing the country very dearly – God forbid but even possibly defeat without instituting appropriate change.
Alexander the Great, said that “An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep.” As such, no matter how much the sheep wants and aspires to lead the army of lions in its charge to victory – more often than not, the sheep would fail; because it lacks courage, decisiveness and other leadership qualities. It is also possible, however, that an even worse misfortune could befall an army of lions than simply being led by an incompetent ‘sheep.’
In that, they could have someone who intentionally engineered their defeat as a leader – that is, they could have a psychopathic leader/s. It is true that it doesn’t always have to be such an out and out ‘mad’ or totally ‘illogical’ action, however, psychopathic leaders are also skillful at using a variety of other methods to undermine their own teams. Aptly, in earlier times, they used to call psychopaths morally insane – indeed, moral insanity is still central to modern definitions of psychopaths (aka sociopaths – ASPD, DSM 5).
It is common for those who observe and/or happen to be subjected to this or that baffling actions of psychopaths to repeatedly ask themselves why, why, why – but there is no why when it comes to psychopaths and their actions. As such, most of the time, simply getting away with doing egregious things is all that matters to them. In that, they do not have any internal breaks such as empathy, morality and so on that will stop them from harming others or doing otherwise immoral or unethical things.
If they feel like sabotaging something, even if that something happens to be their own project – they will simply go ahead and sabotage the project. Of course, afterwards, they will blame one or the other of the zombies they usually collect around them or anyone else handy and convenient for the failure/s. In general, when psychopaths are in charge, they invariably create chaos, mayhem and widespread heartbreak – they are also unmoved by love, hate, goodness, beauty and so on in more than a superficial sense.
Still, where there are strong institutions – these institutions limit the harm psychopaths are able to inflict on others. Conversely, in places with weak or non-existent institutions, psychopaths usually inflict a great deal of harm and widespread damage. In any case, in a country such as Ethiopia with a long succession of psychopathic leaders including Mengistu Haile Mariam, Meles Zenawi and others as well as psychopathic groups including TPLF, OLF, ODP and others – it is important for the population to be aware of these things and to effectively defend themselves.
Accordingly, it is crucial for Ethiopian and other intellectuals with familiarity and professional knowledge of these things to weigh in and to enlighten the population and to do so in a variety of ways, including for those who are able, by translating relevant materials into Amharic and disseminating, among other things. Interestingly, there continues to be suggestions and entreaties for initiating negotiations with the TPLF – by a variety of national and international actors, including by some who otherwise mean well.
It is true that Ethiopia could ill afford the ongoing, human, material and other costs of the war – therefore, resolving disputes through negotiations would be much, much more preferable than continuing with the destructive war. Anticipating something positive to come out of negotiating with the worst of the worst psychopathic group, the TPLF, however, is beyond simply delusional. In any case, it is bad enough for the Amharas to be played by one psychopath; it would be even worse to be played by two of them.
In any case, the hope is now that Abiy Ahmed’s administration might stop dragging its feet and make a concerted effort soon to root out the TPLF from the Amhara region using all the forces at its disposal – the ENDF supported by the militias, fanos and special forces after appropriately providing them with weapons, financial and other necessary support. However, that is not certain – as such, the administration might have plans to go on ‘cleverly’ bombarding us with daily news of alternating occupation and liberation of this and that area or some such – until it is too late.
In general, the Amharas need to start relying on themselves by organising and equipping themselves as much as possible – most, most importantly in that, they should, at all cost, avoid involving the regional administrators. As such, all of them, almost without exception, are nothing more than Abiy Ahmed’s lackeys. And they would sell them out when and if they could get away with it – and thus happily facilitate the continued sufferings and destructions of the Amhara people. Thus, it is highly essential the Amhara people’s force – currently being considered there – to be independent of the existing regional structures – otherwise, the force is highly likely to be co-opted and rendered totally ineffective.
As such, this force should cooperate with all the other forces including the ENDF in order to liberate the region from the TPLF – however, it must remain steadfastly independent! In all that and more, it is crucial that Ethiopian intellectuals in general and Amhara intellectuals in particular and others must do everything they could to support these and other efforts of our long-suffering Amhara people as well as that of other Ethiopians.
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