Rebuttal to the West’s Relentless Media Blitz Against Ethiopia:
—the Washington Post is not alone—- by Aklog Birara (Dr)
“Evil does not destroy faith, but strengthens it” William Durant, in Oriental Heritage
I have faith and confidence that Ethiopia shall endure. I have full confidence that Ethiopians together shall remove the “evil” and treasonous forces that defile girls and women, massacre youths, slaughter live animals, destroy investment property and desecrate places of worship. Restring Ethiopia’s place is not a luxury. It is an imperative goal. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has literally eviscerated life and property together.
Faith, confidence, national resolve, and determination backed by strong national institutions and led by bold, imaginative, patriotic, and competent leadership have transformed societies in my lifetime. China is the best example. Much earlier, the people of the United States together mobilized their resources and defeated Nazism and Fascism.
This is the reason why the international community must support Ethiopia’s just cause against the TPLF.
Ethiopia is encircled by adversaries that do not wish it to continue as a unified, strong, rapidly developing, resilient and democratic state. Behind the onslaught on Ethiopian society by theTPLF and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and the barrage of misinformation and make-believe information concerning the genesis of the war and its primary culprit by Western and Arab media, there are a set of antagonistic forces that are determined to dismantle Ethiopia. The lead proponent is Egypt. The position of the West led by the United States towards Ethiopia led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is, at best, confusing and unclear.
Before leaving in his shuttle diplomacy to Ethiopia, US Special Envoy Jeff Feltman acknowledged a few facts that I highlighted in Part II. He acknowledged that Ethiopia’s Prime Minister “indeed has a mandate he can draw upon, and a new cabinet composed of hand-picked trusteed allies and partners.” If translated into programs and policy decisions, this demonstrates that the Government of the United States sees light at the end of the tunnel and might be ready to mend relations with Ethiopia. Talk is cheap. It is action that matters the most.
Feltman’s statement about the existence of a legitimate Government in Ethiopia was confirmed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He stated publicly on African soil that “Abiy is the duly elected leader of Ethiopia.” This takes me to one constructive recommendation. I urge Secretary of State Blinken to take the matter to the next level, disavow US direct or indirect support to the TPLF and or other insurgents and rescind the Biden Administration’s unfortunate cancellation of Ethiopia’s participation in AGOA.
Baby steps by the Government of the United States such as the above will go a long way in restoring mutual confidence and put the broken relationship between the United States and Ethiopia on a constructive path. Both countries will gain more from friendship than from continuation of what political analyst Andrew Korybko last October called a hybrid war against Ethiopia. “Ethiopia has come under unprecedented pressure from the U.S. ever since it commenced a military operation in its northern Tigray Region last November. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the armed forces to respond to theTPLF which used to be the most powerful faction of the former ruling party, after it attacked a military barrack.”
Western policy is guided by misinformation and misrepresentation.
I share Korybko’s counterpoint that “The U.S. and its allies claim that Ethiopia is carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, which Addis Ababa, of course, denies. This set the basis upon which the U.S. began to sanction the country. The first sanctions were imposed in late May to target Ethiopian officials as well as some of their Eritrean allies who, the U.S. claimed, were supporting them in their military campaign. The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) pulled out of Tigray a month later in June, claiming that this unilateral move would facilitate the international community’s relief efforts in the war-torn region that had attracted so much global attention.” Instead of reciprocating, the TPLF invaded the Afar and Amhara regions and caused irreparable damage.
Discussing genocide in Ethiopia without Ethiopians
Military occupation of Black Africa by Europeans is long gone. But the colonial/imperial mindset of discussing African countries and dictating their destinies without Africans at the table continues unabated. A perfect example that occurred is an important zoom conference that the Yale University Genocide Studies Program held on the prospect of a Rwanda-like genocide in Ethiopia. The forum was facilitated by Nima Elbager of CNN.
This “Who is Who in American Policy?” program included Senators Coons and Tillis that gave the discussion weight. The tragedy is that Nima Elbager is among TPLF’s front and center champions. Consequently, the forum was favorable to the TPLF. It focused singularly and deliberately on the pains and sufferings of Tigreans. There was no reference to the Mai Kadra massacre by the TPLF or the expansion of the war to the Afar and Amhara regions where war crimes were committed by the TPLF, or the rapes of Amhara girls and mothers reported by Amnesty International.
I agree with David Simon, head of the Yale Program who said in the summation that the global community was “helping deepen a Rwanda-like genocide” in Ethiopia. He presented a poignant picture of “a tit for tat with Tigrayans massacring Amhara and Amhara massacring Tigreans.” I cry for the babies, young girls, mothers, the elderly who suffer from this barbaric cycle of violence.
While I welcome a forum whose intent is to prevent a Rwanda-like genocide before it occurs, I find it arrogant, colonial, and demeaning that such an event is allowed by Yale University without seeking diverse viewpoints from Ethiopian stakeholders or from independent non-Ethiopian scholars such as Professor Ann Harrison who was invited and then disinvited.
Sadly, the Yale forum concerning Ethiopia without Ethiopians is now normalized. This normalization mimics US Government policy.
It is troubling that the Government of the United States utilizes identical premises and arguments for punitive actions and UN sponsored Peacekeeping. The emotive terms often mentioned are human rights violations, ethnic cleansing, genocide, famine, war crimes and massacres of civilians. The US and its NATO allies offered these terms to justify the overthrow of Gadhafi in Libya. The US justified its intervention in Iraq under the pretext of “weapons of mass destruction” and caused the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and so on. Today, Libya is a failed state. The socioeconomic conditions are far worse than they were under Gadhafi. Independent observers argue that Iraq is more unstable and more insecure today than before regime change. So, I often ask myself whose agenda is the US pushing on Ethiopia?
The cost of the war
The Government of the United States that granted Ethiopia more than $4 billion between 2016 and 2018 knows well that the money did not go to the poor. Thirty billion dollars of aid money was expropriated by the TPLF. It also knows that the current war started by the TPLF is enormously costly for Tigreans and non-Tigreans alike. How do you recover from this man-made tragedy?
I estimate that the cost incurred in human lives and in the destruction of property since the TPLF started the war one year ago exceeds those experienced during the Eritrean and Ethiopian war and the war and destruction that the Siad Barre regime committed combined. No one knows the exact capital cost. But it is in the hundreds of billions of Birrs. No one really knows the death toll. But do not be shocked if it is in the hundreds of thousands. Innocent Tigrean and non-Tigrean lives are being lost for a war with no end in sight.
The TPLF that started the war must pay compensation for its war of destruction.
I recommend to Afar and Amhara civil society activists and leaders as well as to the Federal Government of Ethiopia that they inventory all monetary losses from the TPLF led war and destruction and demand compensation by the TPLF, its supporters and enablers. Preparation must be made now. The international community that emboldened the TPLF must share the cost of rehabilitation and reconstruction.
There is an additional multigenerational and costly dimension that the TPLF has caused that no one is discussing. Revengeful killing and psychological warfare (“tit for tat”) inflicted on females and youth regardless of ethnic affiliation will be very hard to heal. Mutual hatred and suspicion among Amhara, Tigreans and Afar will be much more difficult to mend than reconstructing physical infrastructure. Foreign aid might rebuild infrastructure. Only Ethiopians can heal the aftereffects of this senseless war.
The Government of the United States knows that Ethiopia is an investment capital poor but enormously promising country. Its human capital base offers it a chance to recover and grow rapidly. Its domestic market is huge and untapped. Ethiopia has demonstrated its determination to eradicate poverty and to propel its society towards sustainable and equitable development. The American private sector can benefit hugely from this potential market.
The Biden Administration must understand that it is this promising trajectory that is now in disarray by insurgent forces. So, I ask again and again “Why the Biden Administration is reluctant to face the truth?” And demand that the TPLF commit to an immediate ceasefire.
It is time for the USA to abandon the TPLF and side with Ethiopia
Contrary to what Mr. Feltman’s expansive lecture that the US supports “Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty” and his admonition that he does not believe that the TPLF “can take political power in the same way as 1991,” many Ethiopians, most of them young and bright, feel strongly that the Government of the United States led by the Biden Administration wishes to restore the TPLF to power. They argue that the intent is to keep Ethiopia ethnically divided, weak, poor corruption-ridden and dependent on the donor community. They say these because they bear the brunt of the atrocities. It is not up to me to dispute these arguments. The relentless sea of misinformation on Ethiopia and the primary causes of war paraded by Western media, think tanks, policy and decision makers reinforce these widely held views.
The response to these allegations must come from the Biden Africa team. In connection with Secretary Blinken’s three-nation tour to Sub-Saharan Africa, a top American diplomat emphasized the following: “Our intensive diplomacy there is ongoing, and through the trip, we would like to demonstrate that our commitment to African partnerships and African solutions to African challenges is enduring and will continue while we continue our intensive efforts with our African partners and likeminded to address the difficult challenges in Ethiopia and certainly Sudan.”
The rhetoric of “African partnership and “African solutions to African challenges” is hallow. It is hallowed because you cannot strengthen partnership with African nations while at the same time you apply punitive sanctions. The expulsion of Ethiopia from AGOA is a good example. It is meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign Black African country. It is not therefore surprising that hostility towards the USA is spreading like wildfire in many parts of Black Africa. I urge you to listen to Dr. Mumbi Seraki, a Kenyan opinion maker, who argues like me that the war is directly linked to geopolitical and national security interests.
Shortly before he left for Nairobi, Kenya, on November 12, 2021, Secretary of State Blinken shocked me when he announced to the press that the US is “very concerned” about the potential for Ethiopia to “implode”. I asked myself where does that come from? What is the US doing in Ethiopia secretly to give him confidence that it will “implode”? Does he know that the TPLF and its ally the OLA have established cells in Addis Ababa and other cities to rise and cause Ethiopia’s implosion?
He elaborated on two paths. “One path forward is out-and-out conflict which could lead to the implosion of Ethiopia and spill over into other countries in the region. “The other path is to halt all of the military actions that are currently underway, to sit down, to negotiate a real cease-fire.”
In summary, I agree that prolonged war is untenable. It is hugely costly for all concerned. The path forward that makes sense is to continue the mediation process led by the former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo. An African solution to an African problem makes sense. President Obasanjo has taken the initiative to meet with the leaders of the TPLF in Mekelle, with the Presidents of the Afar, Amhara and Oromia regions as well as with Ethiopian Federal Government officials including the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
At the same time, I caution that the mediation route is replete with intractable problems. What would the future Ethiopian state look like? What would be the constitutional system and administrative structure that will prevent a TPLF-like war of death and destruction? What are the demands from the Amhara, Afar and Tigray regions and constituents? Should there not be confidence building steps, such as complete cessation of war, TPLF withdrawal from the Afar and Amhara regions, cessation of provocative and war inducing propaganda from foreign and domestic agencies and persons?
Ethiopia Shall Prevail!!!
Part IV will be issued shortly
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