U.S Hybrid war to make client TPLF relevant in Ethiopian politics could only succeed if TPLF managed to make the war a protracted one
Updated on Monday November 8,2021 to fix typo error
The U.S. government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have several decades of relation that goes back to the TPLF’s Guerrilla time over three decades ago.
When TPLF was in power, which lasted about 28 years, the United States provided all forms of support – financial, military, diplomatic and political. Apparently, the U.S. support, which has been consistent under Democratic or Republican administration, enabled the TPLF to dismantle Ethiopian society and trigger cultural degeneration. In consequence, it took nearly three decades to overthrow the ruthless administration whose egregious human right violation, one of the worst the world over, as could be seen from the records of “reputable” human rights organizations like the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others.
In 2018, the TPLF, as the master of the sham ruling coalition of EPRDF, lost total domination over the central government, and retreated north to Mekelle from where it was running the regional government in Tigray. The coalition that TPLF formed, when it took over central power in 1991 with the help of the U.S. government and its western allies, primarily the UK, quickly transformed to a single party under the name Prosperity Party. The process also empowered ethnic based political parties that were sidelined within the former coalition as “sister organizations.” They do not have a privilege to take part in the important decision of the EPRDF coalition.
The TPLF was not interested in joining the new prosperity party on grounds of ideological difference, as it wanted to adhere to what it called “revolutionary democracy,” which rather sounds to the majority of Ethiopians as an ideology that sustained TPLF political and economic supremacy at the expense of the rest of Ethiopia.
Since then the TPLF started to prepare for war against Ethiopia. Militarization, including the rhetoric of war and invincibility of TPLF, started to be a predominant duty for the TPLF. Some, including former TPLF executive committee and central committee members, warned openly that TPLF is preparing for war. Concerned about the situation, religious leaders and elders travelled to Mekelle to plead to the TPLF leadership to resolve their difference with the new party, prosperity party, whose leader is Abiy Ahmed, through dialogue. Prominent figures like Haile Gebreselassie, the legendary long distance runner, were humiliated with a dehumanizing body search.
Finally, the TPLF attacked all the bases of the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Force on November 3,2020. It came in unsuspecting circumstances for the Ethiopian Defense Force and thousands were mercilessly massacred. The incident triggered what was then, as the Ethiopian government called it, a law enforcement operation. With a notable support of Amhara regional state forces, who were the next target of TPLF after the attack on the Defense Forces, the Ethiopian Defense Force neutralized the destructive military capability of TPLF in a span of two weeks.
That is when the U.S. intervention started to resurface in the form of hybrid war. It was a coordinated one with the corporate media. The leading role in the production of materials for bogus claims was played by the CNN. Soon after the Ethiopian forces controlled Mekelle, CNN came up with a claim of “Tigray genocide.” A year later, the result of joint investigation by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which was released this week, established that there was no genocide in Tigray by the Ethiopian forces. It only noted that there were war crimes and that all parties to the conflict were responsible for it.
The CNN made numerous other bogus claims, including the use of hunger as a weapon of war against Tigray. It was disproved by the investigation. It is like the narrative of the so-called “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, which the United States used as a pretext to remove Saddam Hussien from power.
CNN, not to mention other mainstream media outlets in the U.S. and the UK, continued the manufacture of lies as it relates to the war in Ethiopia. Of course, the massacre of thousands of civilians in the Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia by TPLF forces, including the latest ones in Dessie and Kombolcha, are omitted.
The latest disinformation and distortion from CNN and other corporate media manifested itself in the form of triggering panic in Addis Ababa with a report that the TPLF forces are “in the outskirts of Addis Ababa.”
The U.S. government has been issuing statement after statement, based on reports from CNN, to put pressure against the Ethiopian government and to make TPLF, a client political entity, relevant again in Ethiopian Politics.
Apart from the mainstream media, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube targeted Ethiopian users in what seem to be an apparent support to the U.S. policy to Ethiopia as it relates to the war (to the TPLF by extension. ) For example, the borkena facebook ban page was restricted after the TPLF attacked Ethiopian Defense Force in November 2020. Several prominent Ethiopian activists with hundreds of thousands of followers were suspended for weeks or months. In the case of borkena, it was even de-indexed from Google search engine for several months, and it took well over ten months to recover some ranking.
Twitter started restricting trending Ethiopian stories this week. Yoel Roth, Head of Site Integrity at Twitter, said “Safety is our top priority. In light of the rapidly changing situation in Ethiopia, we’ve temporarily disabled Trends to help reduce the spread of potentially harmful content.”
There are also reports that YouTube has closed some Ethiopian accounts this week. There seems to be an understanding among the majority of Ethiopians that the hybrid war that the corporate mass media was undertaking in coordination with the U.S. government is now now extended to social media plant forms as well.
The reaction to all the hybrid war and U.S. belligerence seems to be different. In what seems to be described as unintended effect (even paradoxical), Ethiopian Americans, in most cases, seem to believe that the U.S. is acting the way it is towards Ethiopia due to misguided policy of Joe Biden’s administration (although there does not seem to be a recorded history of the U.S. -TPLF collision course since the guerrilla times of TPLF which covers a span of at least 45 years). In consequence, they are trying to effect policy change through political engagement that aims at supporting republicans.
The reaction is Ethiopia is different. There is a rising anti-American sentiment. But the youth seem to be culturally disoriented and get organized to reverse the impacts of the U.S. hybrid war on Ethiopia. Yet, there have been several rallies that opposed the U.S. regime change agenda in Ethiopia. Today, over a million residents of Addis Ababa marched to Meskel Square to oppose U.S. intervention and TPLF terrorists. There were similar rallies in many other cities across Ethiopia.
It is, however, questionable, if the massive movement will make the U.S. think twice. And there are no signs that the U.S. is quitting its effort to make TPLF a relevant political actor in Ethiopia. The guarantee for Ethiopia is to step up the military operation against the TPLF terrorists, it is the Ethiopian parliament that designated it as a terrorist organization, and finish the operation as quickly as possible. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed should no longer hesitate to make tough decisions.
Political analyst say the U.S. belligerence towards Ethiopia and its effort to rescue TPLF is not out of humanitarian ground towards people in the Tigray region of Ethiopia or the TPF itself. They say it is informed by the urge to revere the possibility of Ethiopia being a Chinse sphere of influence and to ensure that Egyptian interest ( monopoly of Nile ) prevails.
What ever the case is, the TPLF is has become an agent of proxy war in Ethiopia. The TPLF is not just a threat to the existence of Ethiopia. It is also a threat for Eritrea, also a country where the U.S. seem to have interest in bringing about “change”, which obviously means regime change. Ethiopia and Eritrea should formalize military cooperation and look for alternative support from the international community. One thing is very clear. The TPLF does not have acceptance in Ethiopia. The sentiment towards TPLF in Eritrea is similar, if not more bitter. It means that the U.S. effort to restructure the the region against the will of the people in both countries will not be acceptable to other international actors except for U.S. allies and the two countries should tap into it.
The way to end the hybrid war is to decisively incapacitate TPLF military capability decisively and win it again. Eritrea and Ethiopia do not have time and have to act quickly in that regard.
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