By Debebe Abebe
Here is a brief background about the current war in the northern region of Ethiopia including: the attempts made to avoid the war, the event that led to the war, the roles of the enablers that fuel the war, and the current situation of the war, in a chronological order.
1. For almost 30 years, until 2018, the EPRDF (Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front) ruled the country. EPRDF is a coalition of several parties (in name), however, a small minority party called the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) which represented 6% of the Ethiopian population, dominated not only the top leadership but also the country’s economic and business sector with corruption that can only be described as what is commonly known as “state capture.”
2. The people of Ethiopia could no longer accept this abuse and took it to the streets starting 2015. For three years, the country was, on and off, in a state of emergency. Then in early 2018, the then prime minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, decided that he steps down to satisfy the people’s demand.
3. The ruling EPRDF then regrouped itself and promised they would elect a new prime minister from within who would satisfy the people’s demand for change, and they elected Dr. Abiy Ahmed (the current prime minister).
4. During his first inauguration speech, Dr. Abiy promised to fulfill what the Ethiopian public wanted and needed to hear-peace, love, forgiveness, fairness, and prosperity for all (in what he calls the “Medemer” philosophy). He kept his promises by delivering what the people demanded and even beyond. His reforms touched every aspect: peace with Eritrea; increasing women appointments to high level positions including supreme court chief, election board head, and several cabinet level positions; he started the green legacy projects (an environmental campaign of planting billions of trees across the country each year) and promoting good governance (such as tackling corruption and enabling independent functions of the legal system, the media, and rights organizations).
5. Unhappy about what the change has created (accountability; equitable use of resources; and correcting the oversized dominance of TPLF in leadership and decision making), the TPLF leadership visibly and openly opposed Dr. Abiy’s leadership. They disregarded almost every decision the federal government made including the postponement of the regional and national election due to Covid-19.
6. Groups of the most respected religious leaders and peace advocates travelled to the Tigray region and pleaded with the TPLF leadership to peacefully resolve their differences with the federal government through dialogue and discussion. TPLF sent each team back, refusing their offers.
7. Then the TPLF acted as if Tigray was an independent country and held their own sham regional election. The federal government rejected the election and declared it illegal. The TPLF in response declared the federal government illegal and started actions to confront the government such as organising former fighters, providing military training for the local youth and militia, and providing televised speeches that delegitimize the federal government and Prime minister Abiy.
8. The confrontation reached its peak on the night of November 3, 2020, when the TPLF and its organised militia made a very coordinated and surprise attack on the Federal Armed Forces, northern command, stationed in the Tigray region for over 22 years. They killed many members of the armed forces, took the northern command leadership/generals as hostages, robbed heavy artillery (including rockets and missiles), and started not only advancing to the central part of the country but also firing rockets to neighboring regional state cities and to Eritrea.
9. The immediate bordering regional state (called the Amhara region) provided support to the national defense force and temporarily checked their advances. The Eritrean forces, worried about the security vacuum, entered the nearby Ethiopian territory to check a possible aggression by the TPLF. In the meantime, the federal government announced to the Ethiopian public that the country has been betrayed and TPLF has waged war against the national defense forces.
10. Prime minister Abiy had no choice but to enforce law and order. The Ethiopian defense forces quickly reorganized itself and engaged the TPLF and won the war in about 3 weeks. Many of the TPLF leadership members were captured, many killed in the war, and some managed to hide and survive.
11. The government of Ethiopia quickly established a provisional administration composed of Tigrayans to govern the Tigray region. However the new government was not able to deliver what it was supposed to deliver for various reasons such as: infiltration by the TPLF sympathizers and unsubstantiated negative reports by western media and rights organizations against the Ethiopian Defense Force and the Eritrean Army. [These unfounded reports were for the most part disproved by the independent Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission and UN Human Rights Office].
12. The Ethiopian Parliament then designated TPLF as a terrorist organization.
13. Ethiopia held its first free and democratic election on June 21,2021. Dr. Abiy’s Prosperity Party won in a landslide and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was elected for another 5 years term.
14. The TPLF managed to use negative reports from the so-called rights organizations and biased mainstream media to brainwash the Tigray people to oppose the Ethiopian Defense Force, which resulted in the decision by the Ethiopian Government to leave the Tigray region and declare a unilateral ceasefire on June 28, 2021.
15. The TPLF rejected the unilateral ceasefire as a “sick joke” and started to advance into the neighboring states of Amhara and Afar. The objective, according to its spoken person, is to “settle account with the Amhara people” and to “go to hell, if needed, to destroy Ethiopia.”
16. Then it waged what it called the “people’s war”, where it mobilized almost all its people from little kids to the elderly to participate in the fight. The angry mob of Tigrayans who have been fed with a hateful propaganda against the Amhara and the Afar people have since been doing unimaginable atrocities (mass killing of civilians and raping & the destruction of infrastructure and service providing institutions like schools and health facilities).
17. While this is happening, the west and its dishonest media waged a coordinated false propaganda attack against Ethiopia such as “Addis Ababa is encircled” by the rebels and their citizens should evacuate as soon as possible when actually the rebels were over 300 kilometers away from Addis Ababa.
18. Outraged by such false narratives by the mainstream media (like CNN, BBC News, AP, Reuters, etc) and the West (the US and its allies) which are geared toward promoting war and enabling the TPLF to continue its atrocities, the Ethiopian diaspora started the #NoMore movement and have been conducting rallies in major cities across the globe. The movement is now getting traction by many African nations who have started to use the hashtag to denounce western interference in their internal affairs.
19. In Late November 2021, Ethiopia’s prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed decided to lead the army from the battlefield after the parliament declared a national state of emergency.
20. Now (early December 2021), TPLF is being pushed back and rerouted at lightning speed. Its army has been in disarray and most of the Amhara region and all the Afar region have been liberated. Many of the TPLF mob army members have been surrendering. The government of Ethiopia has called for all the remaining to surrender. The TPLF leaders call the defeat a tactical withdrawal and provide a false promise of a comeback to their social media supporters.
Note: Ethiopia has been in a painful and an unnecessary war. We hope this nightmare will end soon. No one is more concerned about the war than the Ethiopians themselves. The crocodile tears that come from the west, the mainstream media, and the so-called rights organizations have not been helpful. If any government or group wants the territorial integrity and peace of Ethiopia, the only practical way is to support the current, democratically elected government of Ethiopia.
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