Western Emboldening of the TPLF/OLA/Shinne is a Losing Goal
——–stop helping terrorists now and leave Ethiopia alone —
Aklog Birara (Dr)
The worldwide protests in support of Ethiopia against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its surrogate the Oromo Liberation Front Army (OLA/Shinne as well as relentless opposition to unjust US Government intervention in the internal affairs of Ethiopia have mobilized and emboldened Ethiopians as never before. Most Ethiopians, friends of Ethiopia and most countries are with Ethiopia.
I would like for the reader to appreciate the following: in todays’ world, two political camps on this earth: one dominated by the United States of America on the one hand; and the other representing emerging economic and military powers led by China and Russia are fighting one another for influence and dominance over the entire Africa. On the UN sanctioned principle of noninterference in the domestic affairs of countries, there is no contest. Ethiopia is a victim of the former. It has benefitted immensely from the latter at the UN Security Council. This underscores Ethiopia’ s strategic values.
The US is sponsoring a “Summit for Democracy” while at the same time supporting the terrorist TPLF in Ethiopia, urging for a change in Government leadership and undermining a democratically elected Government.
At the heart is Ethiopia’s centrality to Africa and the world. In addition to its geopolitical location, Ethiopia possesses another huge strategic asset that its adversaries seem to ignore. Its patriotic people. Regardless of ethnicity or faith or social status, Ethiopians have mobilized their human capital and material resources at a time when their country faces an existential threat.
Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s decision to lead the war effort exemplifies this tradition of heroism and valor. The galvanizing narratives for this are literally saving Ethiopia from total collapse; and protecting its citizens from a Rwanda-like genocide. The argument that Ethiopia’s Prime Minister is leading the war effort to gain politically is flawed. It is flawed because you cannot govern a country in tatters. Future generations of Ethiopians and other Africans will remember that the Prime Minister responded to his country’s calling at a critical time when it needed him the most. Ethiopia is lucky that it has heroes and heroines like him.
Western media, think tanks, opinion makers, policy and decision makers have become part of the problem for Ethiopia. They have never ever challenged the ethnic hatred, cruelty, divisiveness, extremism, anti-Ethiopian, and anti-democratic ideology that the TPLF and OLA/Shinne have embraced. Far from condemning acts of terrorism and massive destruction inflicted on all Ethiopians including Tigreans, these same actors accuse the Government of Ethiopia, the Prime Minister of the country, Amhara and Afar forces and Eritrea for war crimes including rape, ethnic cleansing, genocide, famine, and starvation. By underscoring these, they continue to place blame on the very social forces that are harmed by the TPLF, OLF/Shenne, Egypt and the hybrid war that the US is inflicting on Ethiopia.
Ethiopia’s ethnic federal system that the TPLF with support from the country’s adversaries imposed on the Ethiopian people was neither federal nor democratic. The TPLF that represents less than 5 percent of the Ethiopian people remade Ethiopia and served its own narrow purpose and the strategic interests of foreign powers, especially the US. It staffed and dominated all critical institutions with Tigreans. It undermined Ethiopian nationalism. It expropriated land, monetary and financial resources. It emptied Ethiopia’s national treasury. It dehumanized Ethiopian society.
I shall give you a personal example. When I served at the World Bank, I was unable to go to Ethiopia on home leave. A friend had alerted me that my name was on TPLF’s “most wanted” list. I encouraged the rest of my family, including my children to visit Ethiopia. They were horrified to learn that they had to identify their ethnic affiliation. To this day, they recall this forced tribal attribution as an affront to national identity and unity. The TPLF is tribal and undemocratic.
How do you reconcile with a terrorist that wishes to dismantle your country?
The TPLF vowed several times that it will ablaze the entire Ethiopian state and government. It is this agenda that the Western community, some parts of the UN echo. The TPLF has mastered the art of deploying its massive network of recruits and the ill-gained wealth that it amassed from the Ethiopian poor. Sadly, US and allied policies and programs are driven solely by national interest. Were this not the case, why allow war factions to slaughter one another? Who really gains from the slaughter?
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister is changing the narrative on leadership. The Arab World led by Egypt and the West led by the United States are dumbfounded that the Nobel Prize winner is leading the war effort. A former Foreign Minister in the United Kingdom had the audacity to demand that the Nobel Committee consider withdrawing its recognition of and prize to Dr. Abiy.
One bold and honest Egyptian journalist and opinion maker in Cairo described best the unprecedented nature of Abiy Ahmed’s decision to lead the military through direct engagement. The journalist asked what Arab leaders in Egypt, in Tunisia and in Yemen did when they faced challenges? He called on the Arab world to appreciate that “they either fled or abandoned their responsibilities.” Yemen today is a failed state. Egypt is governed by a military dictatorship. Tunisia is limping along.
You cannot celebrate your Nobel Prize or Olympics gains if you do not have a country. This is the reason why Olympic heroes Haile Gebrselassie and Feyisa Lilesa declared their intent to assist in the fight against the treasonous and divisive alliance of insurgent groups led by the TPLF, supported by OLA/Shinne, by Egypt and Western nations. These nations ignored completely that the TPLF had massacred thousands of Oromo, Somali, Amhara, and other youth during its crushing rule. They ignored completely the fact that the TPLF had committed genocide of the Annuak population; raped hundreds of Somali girls and women; stolen tens of billions of dollars; undermined democratic elections; annexed large tracts of land from the Amhara region; dominated all critical institutions by staffing them with trusted Tigrean nationals; committed treason; expanded the war to the Afar and Amhara regions.
This demand by the former British foreign minister and the secret zoom conference chaired by Professor Ephraim Isaac are standard hypocritical and sinister practices among Western policy and decision-makers as well as Ethiopian recruits that serve their goals. The minister ignored the fact that former President Barack Obama, another Nobel Prize winner, had commandeered NATO forces, intervened, and dismantled the state and Government of Libya. The country has since collapsed. In fact, the collateral damages have spread to other Sahelian countries.
The option Westerners suggest on the Nobel prize matter is a no-brainer. The option is between the personal and private concern of keeping your Nobel Prize or pursuing the just cause of defending your country’s very survival. If the Nobel Committee decides to snatch away Abiy’s prize, it must also take away Obama’s. I urge the Committee to let it be. The Prime Minister’s cause of defending Ethiopia from implosion is nobler than President Obama’s bullying, arrogant, unfortunate intervention and bombing of Libya. It may be the right time for President Obama who I admire to repent. Further, the UN undermined its own Charter by succumbing to American intervention. A repeat is dangerous. I urge President Joe Biden not to harm Ethiopia the same way as President Barack Obama in Libya.
If I were to do a balanced score card on the conflict in Ethiopia that the TPLF is poised to lose, I believe Ethiopia’s just cause has huge international support. Most African countries are with Ethiopia. Turkey, Russia, Iran, and others are providing material and diplomatic support. It may be coincidental that China’s Foreign Minister paid an official to Ethiopia while the country’s Prime Minister is leading the war effort. According to Ethiopia’s official media “On December 1, 2021, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonen in Addis Ababa during his working visit to Ethiopia after the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).”
I would like to draw your attention to what Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. “China and Ethiopia have a traditional friendship and the two sides have become comprehensive strategic partners. Through the test of international turbulence, relations between the two countries have not been disturbed by external factors or affected by domestic changes. China adheres to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs. We do not meddle in the internal affairs of Ethiopia, and we also oppose any external forces’ interference in the internal affairs of Ethiopia and disagree with the practice of some external forces to pressure Ethiopia for their own political purposes.”
Statistical data shows that there are 13,000 Chinese nationals and more than 300 Chinese firms in Ethiopia today. They did not leave Ethiopia despite the alarming and frightening call by the US for its citizens to flee Ethiopia.
At the UN Security Council, China, Russia, India, and other nations repeatedly demanded that the UN Security refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. Minister Wang Yi strengthened China’s established position that the war that the TPLF started is a domestic national security issue for Ethiopia. He also underscored a constructive path forward, namely “lasting peace.” He summed up his briefing by saying “To this end, China, as a good friend of Ethiopia, is willing to play a constructive role if needed by Ethiopia on the premise of respecting the country’s sovereignty.”
Ethiopia deserves to be treated as an equal under international law and the UN Charter. This is what Western governments, most notably the Government of the United States refuse to accept and apply. I urge them to change course and support Ethiopia.
It is my assessment and conclusion that the Government of the United States supports the terrorist and narrow ethno-nationalist TPLF for its own national security and economic interests. In contrast to the current Government of Ethiopia dedicated to defending the country’s territorial integrity and the sovereignty of all its citizens; strengthen democratic institutions; and transform the structure of the Ethiopian economy; the Government of the United States seems to prefer the submissive, readily obedient, rent-seeking, corrupt, brutal, barbaric, and divisive TPLF. Its crushing and corruption-ridden rule for three decades is put aside or ignored completely because the TPLF served American interests superbly. Why else would the US justify restoration of the TPLF or support a transitional Government replacing a democratically elected Government? Why else would the US tolerate the fact that the TPLF regime received $30 billion in American aid and siphoned off all of it? Corruption harmed Tigreans too.
This leads me to the core question that prompted me to write this commentary. “How much longer can Black Africa and the rest of the world tolerate such un-democratic and gross interference in the domestic affairs of one of the founding members of the UN by a Superpower?”
Below, I shall highlight ten reasons why the Government of the United States is accused of gross interference in Ethiopia’s domestic affairs by defending the TPLF:
- Fiction or Fact: It is the TPLF and not the Government of Ethiopia that committed treason and started the war.
- Fiction or Fact: the US had designated the TPLF as a terrorist group. Yet, the US continues to treat the terrorist TPLF at par with the legitimate Government of Ethiopia.
- Fiction or Fact: The US never condemned the TPLF for treason, the Mai Kadra massacre, expanding the war to the Afar and Amhara regions and for its rocket attacks of Asmara that forced Eritrea to join the fight.
- Fiction or Fact: The US injected an alarming, frightening and psychological warfare in Ethiopia by announcing that American personnel must leave Ethiopia; and it refused to acknowledge that Addis Ababa is among the safest cities in Africa. Why frighten Americans in Ethiopia?
When you tell your citizens to leave any country comparing it to the situation in Afghanistan, you are terrorizing ordinary folks. Sadly, ordinary people begin to believe what their government says. This clouds their independent thinking. Tragically, US Secretary of State Blinken failed to witness firsthand the truth on the ground by visiting Ethiopia in person; and instead visited Kenya, Senegal, and Nigeria to discuss Ethiopia without Ethiopians. The contrast between the Chinese Foreign Minister and that of the US Secretary of State speaks volumes.
- Fiction or Fact: The US emboldened the TPLF and OLA/Shinne by providing misleading, false, and inflammatory narratives that these treasonous forces designated as terrorists are on the verge of taking power. When ex-diplomats accentuate this by drumming up support for the TPLF and call for a change of Government, then the USA is operating in concert to unseat the Government and helping insurgents to crash or implode Ethiopia.
- Fiction or Fact: The US did not disavow publicly and convincingly that it is not providing logistics support, intelligence information and or tools that emboldened the TPLF to sacrifice children, pregnant women, women with children on their backs and the elderly to join the fight until the last person; and to commit more crimes against humanity, most prominently rapes of Amhara girls and women as reported by Amnesty International and the Canada based Globe and Mail. Why are these reports dismissed while CNN’s misinformation is accepted?
- Fiction or Fact: The US did not demand parity on the part of the TPLF by putting this treasonous group on notice that the way out of the mayhem created by the TPLF is to declare a ceasefire in the same manner as the Government of Ethiopia had done on June 28, 2021. Senator Chris Coons acknowledged who initiated the war; but refrained from going any further. Why is a policy maker in synch with a flawed US policy?
- Fiction or Fact: the US knows that the TPLF declared a people’s war, expanded the war to the Afar and Amhara regions and pushed further its insurgency to the Eritrean border and as far as 200 kilometers to Addis Ababa.
Far from condemning this expansion, war of destruction and the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians, the Government of the United States and its allies continued to misinform the international community placing blame on the victim of treason–the Government of Ethiopia—instead of condemning the TPLF and putting a red line that the TPLF must not cross.
- Fiction or Fact: The US did not reject the plethora of pleas and public announcements by ethno-nationalist groups including the 9 ethnicity-based parties that met and announced the formation of a federalist/confderalist alliance and a transitional Government.
This effort was led by the TPLF and held in Washington DC. The lead spokesman of the Alliance and the person who framed the issues for a secret Zoom Conference chaired by Professor Ephraim Isaac is the former Ambassador of Ethiopia to the US and to Brussels, Berhane Gebrekirstos. These two were able to assemble former diplomats from France, Finland, the UK, the US, and the EU. They urged for a transitional government in place of the recently elected Government of Ethiopia. Is this helpful to Ethiopia? Does it generate trust in US policy? Is this not illegal under US law? Does this not contradict the US “Summit for Democracy” called by President Biden?
How compatible are these calls to overthrow an elected Government with the declared commitments to the rule of law and democracy of the USA? What would the American public say if they knew the truth?
- Fiction or Fact: The US imposed sanctions, most prominent, US Government intent to remove Ethiopia from the AGOA program. This program decision will affect at least one million direct beneficiaries, most of them females. How does this strengthen democracy?
Ethiopia should not be a sitting duck. It has no option but to seek alternative markets and Foreign Direct Investment options to offset the punishment. Prime alternatives include China, India, Iran, Turkey, neighboring African nations, the rest of Africa and the Middle East.
Considered together, the thesis by objective and independent American and other foreign observers as well as by Ethiopian Americans like me that “Ethiopia’s Conflict is US Designed” has merit, weight, and credibility. The US is following an outdated, colonial, and imperial policy that do not serve its long-term strategic interests. This policy does not promote good will in Black Africa and the rest of the South. It degrades democracy and diminishes sustainable and equitable development.
Ethiopia’s case illustrates the notion, albeit contentious, that the Government of the United States does not care for Africa’s development. I know that the American people care deeply about human worth.
You cannot develop Ethiopia or the rest of Africa by giving food aid or by punishing the poor when you do not agree with the recipient Government. You do it by investing in massive infrastructure, industrialization, and in strong national institutions. The Government of the United States cannot show case democracy while at the same time supporting ethnic polarization, condoning corruption, and extrajudicial killings for which the TPLF is the prime champion.
I urge you to listen and pay closer attention to the distinguished Africanist and development expert Lawrence Freeman and the geopolitical analyst Graham Peebles. Their views and suggestions contained in their writings and videos are mesmerizing and accurate. I have attached two sample you must read.
I suggest in the strongest terms that US Government’s Ethiopia policy is highly flawed and harmful. It is harmful to America’s standing in the entire African continent. Its direct and indirect interferences in the internal affairs of a sovereign Black African State and Government undermine US national security and competitive edge in Ethiopia, the rest of the Horn, Eastern Africa and beyond.
If the Government of the United States abandons it; Ethiopia must then search for alternatives. I commend the Governments of the UAE, Turkey, China, Russia, Iran as well as other friends of Ethiopia for standing up and defending Ethiopia to defend itself from collapse.
It is in its national interest for Ethiopia to formalize and strengthen its relations with these and other countries. It is up to the Government of the United States that has been friends of Ethiopia for 118 years to respond to the above queries positively. It is up to the US to make a choice: renew its cherished relations with Ethiopia or abandon it to implode. I predict Ethiopia will not implode.
I have no doubt in my mind that most Americans prefer to strengthen relations with Ethiopia. It is their government that follows a flawed and dangerous policy towards Ethiopia.
Finally, I commend ordinary Ethiopians and friends within and outside the country for their mobilizing slogan “No More.” By this, I understand the message to mean no more neocolonialism, no more imperialism and no more bullying.
In my judgement, the option is not to choose either the USA or China or Russia. The option is to adhere to a foreign policy model that serves Ethiopia’s own national interests. This is not hard to understand if you do not lend “deaf ears or blind eyes” to a country that is encircled.
Ethiopia Shall Prevail!!!
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