Bruke Lemma, Ph.D.
“Those who claim to be on the side of good yet do nothing to fight evil are on the side of evil.”- C. Rachelle
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 – 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 blame 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, at least 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 particular 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 close to five million Amhara people that are being held hostages by the TPLF – and that of the nearly a million additional Amhara people 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 give different people different rights in different regions – allowing and facilitating TPLF’s and OLF’s criminalities.
Americans are free to live in any of the U.S. states they choose to live 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 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 – something very fitting, indeed, for a man who was a leader of a prolific thieving organisation and with a unique “talent to lie outright and in more than four directions at a time” himself.
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 more than 25 years – but also to thrive and thrive well. Certainly, 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.
In general, the damages that leaders’ lies, deceptions and dissimulations inflict on societies are greatly increased and magnified in the absence of free and vibrant press, enlightened and engaged public, educated youth and others with critical thinking skills and strong democratic institutions that are able to question and hold these leaders accountable.
Specifically, in Ethiopia’s case, for almost three decades, the TPLF systematically damaged and undermined the moral fabric of the country, sabotaged its education system, ruthlessly suppressed free press and free expressions and more – leaving the country and its population with almost no shield and protections. Moreover, these things in the country, if not worsened and worsening, remained the same since Abiy Ahmed assumed power three years or so back as well – except for a few hopeful months, initially.
Accordingly, there is almost nothing in the country with any significant ability to question and challenge Abiy Ahmed regarding his ever changing, cyclic, confusing statements; for failing to develop comprehensive plan for defending the country; about the lack of specific and consistent plan for uniting the country behind the war against the TPLF and the OLF; and, about the self-sabotages and subterfuges that have undermined the country’s efforts almost at every turn, among other things.
Abiy Ahmed would have also been questioned and held accountable for his numerous other bungling and blunders earlier including for his egregious dereliction of duty in not properly preparing the country before the beginning of the conflict; and for making it possible for the TPLF to walk in, virtually unchallenged, and to occupy the Amhara and Afar regions and to entrench itself there and more.
Clearly, when power is concentrated in any single individual/s, without institutional checks and balances, the danger presented therein is greatly compounded by the often very like minded people that these individuals tend to collect around them – who instead of challenging and helping them to adjust their approaches, usually increase and amplify their errors and mistakes. We also have some, including those otherwise well-meaning, going around reflexively discouraging criticisms because, among other things, they fear these criticisms would embolden the country’s enemy or enemies – which is highly misguided, to say the least.
As such, whatever the enemy or enemies stand to gain is much less than – the benefits that are highly likely to accrue to the country as a result of these criticisms. Specifically, opportunities for catching up mistakes earlier – mistakes that could end up costing the country everything otherwise – would be lost as a result of suppressing valid criticisms. It is highly evident now that through their bungling and blunders – those who are supposedly working for the country have greatly enabled the country’s enemies, the TPLF and the OLF, to inflict far more harm and damage than these groups might have been able to inflict otherwise.
It is extremely vexing that the Ethiopian government somehow managed to relinquish so much ground and so much initiative to the TPLF, the group, in addition to continuing to be grave existential threat to the Amhara region – it is now also a grave existential threat to the entire country as well. As such, time is running short now for rallying the country and scrupulously facing and correcting the mistakes and blunders that emboldened and allowed the TPLF and the group’s formal ally, the OLF, to inflict so much pains and sufferings on the country and its people – and to get on with the urgent task of defeating them.
In previous articles, this author discussed the machinations and subterfuges of Abiy Ahmed and his administration that allowed the TPLF to simply walk in and occupy vast areas in the Amhara region. In that, Amhara people attempting to organise and defend themselves were systematically frustrated and thwarted – among other things, they were denied weapons, equipment and financial assistance with which to defend themselves.
In general, the TPLF was able to flex its muscles as much as it has been able to flex them and to threaten the country to the extent it has been able to was largely because of Abiy Ahmed who was waging an undeclared war against the Amharas – at the same time as the war against the TPLF. Abiy Ahmed did absolutely nothing while the TPLF was making its extensive preparations – in contrast, he was very quick to plan and execute the complete destruction of the Amhara officials who were attempting to prepare themselves and their region to defend against TPLF’s attack – that they knew was certainly coming.
Ominously, in the last few days the TPLF has been attempting to extend its occupation of Amhara region to South Wello, including the capital, Dessie – though, so far, it seems, without success? While it is very sad to see something like that is coming to pass – however, given the lack of leadership in the country, it was not entirely a surprise. As such, it is rather futile to expect anything better from someone who one week comes out and says we must: “mobilize, train, arm, and fight the TPLF.”
And then a few weeks or so later says: “no, no, we don’t need to do any of that, we need to buy tractors and other modern farm gadgets and focus on farming instead.” Again, in another couple of weeks or so after that, comes out and says we cannot defeat the enemy unless we all: “mobilize, train, arm, and fight the TPLF” or some such. All the while, things continue to deteriorate on the ground, culminating with an emboldened TPLF announcing it is controlling Dessie and surrounding areas – though that has been disputed.
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 sabotages them and thus maliciously cause their defeat as their 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 or extreme action/s, however, psychopathic leaders are also very skilful at using a variety of other methods to undermine both their own and others’ projects. 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.
In that, most of the time, simply getting away with doing egregious things is all that matters to them. In general, they do not have internal breaks – that is, they lack conscience, empathy, morality and so on that will stop them from harming others or doing otherwise immoral or unethical things. Moreover, they are very aggressive and intimidating, shameless, impulsive and skilful liars and deceivers – and equally contemptuous of both their victims and their pawns and gofers whom they use and discard with very little courtesy. As such, all these things and more make psychopaths extremely dangerous, unguided missiles, that will bring incalculable pains and sufferings to all those unfortunate enough to be around them and others on whom they have power and influence.
Specifically, if they feel like sabotaging this or that project/s – they will simply go ahead and sabotage these things, no matter what the cost of that is to others; often, even to their own selves. Of course, afterwards, they would blame one or the other of the lackeys and pawns that they collect around them – or, anyone else handy and convenient – for these failures. Typically, wherever psychopaths are placed in charge, there would almost always be chaos, mayhem and widespread heartbreaks as well as constant fears and intimidations.
It is virtually impossible, moreover, to dissuade psychopaths from engaging in the harmful acts they habitually engage in – as such, they need to do these things, almost as much as they need to breathe. In that, among other things, their victims’ full or partial compliance to their often-arbitrary wishes and dictates, pleadings or appeals of this or that kind and so on are highly unlikely to persuade them to stop or to give respite to their victims. In that, the only thing that could possibly stop psychopaths is their fear of being exposed. Accordingly, to have any chance at stopping them, one would need to put a very bright light on their actions; making sure they are seen for who they really are – using as much evidence as possible in order to nullify their lying and deceptions.
In general, where there are strong institutions, these institutions limit the damages and harms that psychopaths are able to inflict on others. However, in places with weak or non-existent institutions, psychopaths usually are able to get away with inflicting great harm and widespread damages – continually. Specifically, in a country such as Ethiopia with virtually no strong and/or independent institutions, and with a succession of psychopathic leaders that the country continues to grapple with – it is important for the population to have some awareness of these things, if they have to have any chance at all of defending and protecting themselves. Accordingly, it would be a great service, if those with familiarity and knowledge about these things weigh in and enlighten the population and so on.
In any case, our country, our Ethiopia, has been senselessly and wickedly plunged into such an unbelievable, nightmarish crisis; our people, especially, our Amhara brothers and sisters, are continually being subjected to extreme pains and suffering and more; and, some are holding meetings to determine what is ‘best for us’ – such that, some of us have been getting headaches, literally, from shaking our heads so much – saying repeatedly to ourselves and to others, how is it possible that what we are witnessing now has been allowed to come to pass?
It was allowed to come to pass because of the country’s irresponsible, extremely selfish, unenlightened leadership, among other things. Moreover, despite its bizarre actions including its wacky self-sabotaging, myriad failures and extreme short-sightedness that got the country to where it is now, so many intellectuals and others continued to support and defend Abiy Ahmed’s administration earlier. It is true that some of them did these things because they convinced themselves that the administration would start cleaning up its acts, unify the country and bring it together better, conduct general reviews and reforms – none of which ever come to pass.
Instead, we have now the ENDF in a disarray because of bad leadership, the sabotaging and undermining of other forces who were trying to organise and to fight against the TPLF and so on – allowing the TPLF to advance and occupy even more critical areas than ever before – almost unopposed – and now to be threatening the entire country, among other things. In any case, Ethiopia in its very long history was able to survive very trying times and difficult circumstances, it is very much possible for the country to survive its current predicaments as well.
However, we need to be very careful; and, we must also keep cool heads as well – as difficult as these things are. In that, we would be making extremely costly and very tragic mistakes if we allow ourselves to forget that the TPLF is the much, much greater evil – that is, compared to the bungling and negligent leaders that we have now. We should never, ever forget the enormous pains and sufferings that TPLF inflicted on a vast number of Ethiopian people when the group was in power.
It is also more than certain that if TPLF gains the upper hand and manages to control the country – we would have immense bloodbaths everywhere; for, among other things, there would be revenge killings by the psychopathic, vindictive group – in that, TPLF would also take no time to start dismembering and burying the country as it has been planning to for long time now.
It is important, therefore, for all to work with Abiy Ahmed’s administration cooperatively – while at the same time making sure that the administration’s dysfunctions and other shortcomings do not flow on and infect and undermine their efforts at defeating the TPLF. Specifically, fanos and militias and other Amhara people’s forces, with their own leadership and independent structures, must continue to cooperate with the ENDF and the Amhara special forces and work together to defeat the TPLF.
Moreover, the Ethiopian government must start now providing weapons, equipment, financial and other necessary support to fanos and militias and other Amhara people’s forces – support that it has been inexplicably and rather foolishly withholding so far. In that, it is high time for Abiy Ahmed’s administration to stop behaving like those dumb animals, those one comes across on the National Geographic channel, who carryon grazing grass, eating and munching while another animal is eating them alive at the same time.
In any case, without a well-coordinated and determined effort at defeating the TPLF – the group will continue to gain the upper hand and to see death and destruction everywhere in the country – not only in the Amhara region. As such, TPLF’s threat is not only to the Amhara region but also to the entire country – therefore, the country needs to put all its resources together and soundly defeat the group and its ally, the OLF. In that, Ethiopians everywhere must also do everything in their power, including extending financial, material and moral support and assistance – and help defeat these terrorist groups once and for all.
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