Lalibela Airport may not be open anytime soon although the religious pilgrimage time is around the corner. TPLF has destroyed it.
Ethiopians have been saying that Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is an enemy to the existence of Ethiopia. When it was in power with an iron fist control over the central government for three decades, that belief was mainly deciphered through interpreting its policy.
From instigating ethnic and religious based violence to an outright attack on political entities espousing an Ethiopians political creed, as opposed to ethnic based one for which TPLF prepared administrative, legal and political support, were understood by majority of Ethiopians as evidence of TPLF enmity towards Ethiopia.
More so, TPLF perpetuated a political narrative that made ethnic Amhara, the code word for it was “neftegna,” vulnerable for politically motivated attack.
TPLF wasted no time when it indulged into a massive show of militarism after it lost power in 2018 when the ruling coalition, now defunct, elected Abiy Ahmed to fill in as former prime minister Hailemarima Desalegn resigned. There have been several military parades in the streets of Mekelle as a show of forces.
TPLF defied all forms of mediation effort and finally triggered the war when it attacked the northern command of the Defense Force. TPLF plan was to concomitantly attack the Amhara region, something that compelled special forces in the Amhara region. In the north, it targeted Eritrea for aggression.
The war, which the Ethiopian government called it “law enforcement operation,” at the time, ended in a matter of three weeks with the defeat of TPLF forces. More than seven key TPLF leaders were killed, and dozens arrested. Yet, some were fugitive in the region but managed to manufacture a narrative of genocide (and usually a doctored video is prepared for it) which was given a constant coverage in the mainstream media in the west.
Finally, the TPLF, with speculated support from the west operating under the cover of humanitarian activity in the Tigray region, reorganized forces. When the Ethiopian government declared a unilateral humanitarian ceasefire, heeding to political and economic pressure from the US and its allies, at the end of June 2021, TPLF immediately launched a massive military campaign in the Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia.
It took months before the Ethiopian government, with support from Afar and Amhara regional forces and militia, cleared TPLF forces from several towns including from Ethiopia’s historic holy city of Lalibela.
Despite dozens of towns now freed from TPLF forces, the level of human and property destruction is unimaginable. Reports of massacres are emerging from Gashena and Antsokia, among others.
The levels of destruction of public and private property are noticeably unprecedented in the modern history of Ethiopia. Neither the destruction of prosperity nor the massacre of the thousands of innocent civilians do not seem to help if the goal of the TPLF forces was taking control of Addis Ababa (and many mainstream media in the west were reporting that TPLF forces are already in the outskirts of the city).
It rather seems to be the case that the TPLF forces deliberately targeted Amhara. Of course, they have carried out an extensive destruction and massacre in Afar region. Afar was targeted, like ethnic Amhara, for standing in the way of TPLF’s political dream of disintegrating Ethiopia.
Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s prominent tourist attraction sites that brings hard currency to the national economy. Perhaps for that reason, TPLF targeted it for destruction. Damages to the churches are not revealed yet. But video footage of damage to the airport is aired by the state media. Clearly, it is will not be able to provide service because of the extent of the damage although the city is now free for travelers.
The place attracts million of faithful pilgrims from across Ethiopian and tourists for during the Ethiopian Christmas which falls on January 7 – just like the rest of the Orthodox world.
Ethiopian Ambassador to the United Nations, Taye Aske Selassie, called the action “criminal thuggery.” He tweeted:
“When TPLF razed to the ground the Airport of the holy city of Axum people called it insanity. Now right before they we’re being routed from the hills of Lasta they ransacked & destroyed the Airport of the historic town of Lalibela. This indeed is unrivaled act of criminal thuggery”
Ethiopia’s war on terrorist TPLF forces is far from over. But when it is over, the reconstruction effort is effort in the country, it is noticeable from local reports, is something that cost dearly, perhaps tens of billions of dollars. For a poor country like Ethiopia, income earning sites like Lalibela need immediate attention when the reconstruction phase started.
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