Tigray is an integral part of Ethiopia but TPLF terrorist group chairman Debretsion Gebremichael seems to call the victories march of Ethiopian forces to the region as “occupation”
Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces retreated to the Tigray region of Ethiopia after facing devastating military defeats in the Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia over the past three weeks.
Six prominent TPLF military generals whose names are still undisclosed were killed in the Kasagita Front in the Afar region of Ethiopia, as reported by Local Ethiopian sources about three weeks ago. After losing a fortified military stronghold in the areas, whose objective was said to be to cut off the supply route to Djibouti and hold Ethiopia in a choke position, losing battle became pervasive in the areas it controlled.
In a span of less than two weeks, TPLF was forced to leave cities after cities in the western, Eastern and Wollo front in the centre. Shewarobit, Debre Sina, Ataye, Kemissie, Kombolcham Batie, Dessie, Haik, Wuchale, Wurgehsa, Mersa, Woldia and Kobo were freed from TPLF forces one after the other.
The last retreat came early this week after losing a battle in Gashena and Lalibela. Joint Ethiopian forces have also controlled supply lines to the Tigray region. The military situation became clearly bleak to the extent that retreating fast to the Tigray was the only solution.
In a letter to the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, which was circulating on social media on Monday, TPLF Chairman Debretsion Gebremichael said “
“We have heard the Unanimous International Call for us to withdraw from neighbouring regions. The government of Ethiopia has made the same call…We trust that our bold act of withdrawal will be a decisive opening for peace”
Ethiopian regional states do not have a mandate to establish foreign relations or communicate with an international body. But Depression started his letter to the UN Secretary General saying “I am writing on behalf of the people of Tigray and the National Regional Government of Tigray…”
The gist of his message is to express his faith that for Mr. Antonio and the Security Council ” will ensure that every measure is utilised to end the illegal occupation and annexation of Tigray and the violations against the people who are under that regime of occupation.”
TPLF spokesperson, Getachew Reda, painted an image of withdrawal out of the total military defeat. He tweeted “We have just completed the withdrawal of our forces from both #Amhara&#Afar regions. By doing so, we believe we have taken away whatever excuse the the international community to explain its feet-dragging when it comes to putting pressure on #AbiyAhmed & his regional partners in”
When Tsadkan Gebretensae, appeared on Tigray TV for an interview right after the TPLF force took control of Dessie and Kombolcha, he said “the war is over.” He spoke as if the government was collapsing and that there is no entity to negotiate with. Mainstream media in the U.S. and the U.K published stories extensively claiming the TPLF forces had reached the outskirts of Addis Ababa. The U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa went to the extent of advising citizens in Ethiopia to vacate the country. As things turned out, TPLF suffered heavy losses that led to loss of control of the towns and cities in control , and had to retreat to Tigray in no time.
The TPLF does not have a history of advocacy for peace. Chauvinism and military adventurism are the things that it is known for.
Previous peace efforts that TPLF turned down
There had been initiatives for peace in Ethiopia both before and after the war breakout in November 2020. Before the war, traditional elders and religious leaders left no stones unturned to avert the looming war for which TPLF had been preparing for three years after losing dominant positions in the central government in 2018.
Much of the effort took the form of pleading with the TPLF leaders ( including those killed and arrested) to iron out differences with what was the Prime Minister’s new administration. The context it is regarded as new is not because it took over power after a new national election, which had to wait until July 2021, his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegne resigned and the then ruling coalition had to elect a new prime minister from among executive committee members. The wrangling between the TPLF leaders and Abiy Ahmed’s government started since then. TPLF’s preparation for war was apparent then. So was the peace effort. The latter ended in vain.
After the war the initiative for pace mainly came from state actors. South Sudan and Uganda are said to have attempted to broker peace but did not take root.
When the Ethiopian government declared a unilateral humanitarian ceasefire in early July following mounting pressure from the “international community” on grounds of “impeding humanitarian aid delivery to Tigray region.”
The TPLF leaders, as expressed through the spokesperson Getachew Reda, taunted the call for ceasefire as “sick joke.” It was after that the TPLF forces took control of extensive areas in the Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia leading to a humanitarian crisis that affected more than nine million people. Over 1.4 million people were displaced. TPLF massacred thousands of civilians in both regions and unleashed destruction of private and public properties. The destruction to Wollo University alone, as disclosed by the university, is estimated to be about 10 billion Ethiopian birr.
The next phase of military operation : Mekelle ?
The situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia had been tabled at the UN Security Council at least 11 times with the objective to get council vote for intervention. It did not happen.
It is the TPLF that started the war when it attacked the Ethiopian Defence Force in the Tigray region of Ethiopia in November 2020. The Ethiopian government framed its response first as a “law enforcement operation.”
The nature of the operation, as far as the government of Ethiopia is concerned, has changed after TPLF unleashed extensive destruction in the Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia , and after declaring intent to march to the capital Addis Ababa. It was escalated to “operation to reverse existential threat to Ethiopia.”
Since the last three weeks of military developments seem to suggest that the existential threat is reversed, the next stage of the operation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia is speculated to be a law enforcement operation as Tigray is part and parcel of Ethiopia.
Ethiopians do not seem to support any talk between the government and TPLF. The Ethiopian parliament has designated TPLF as terrorist organization. Given the magnitude of destruction and massacre of innocent civilians and widespread rape, the designation seems to be rather accurate. And that is the reason that Ethiopians do not need any form of negotiation with the TPLF.
In fact, many are clamouring for total surrender of TPLF leaders and that the party disarms in the interest of Ethiopia’s peace.
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