Aklog Birara (Dr)
Part 6 of 8
I urge all Black Africans never to forget Europeans divided Africa into colonies and sphere of influence a century and half ago. Europe engaged in massive slave trade, colonial occupation and exploitation of African mineral and other resources, kept Africa dependent and enriched itself. Today, the West’s approach concerning the place of Africa and Africans on the world stage has not changed. Europe and the USA treat African states as unequal.
As unequal, the West determines and forces you to accept narratives, policies, decisions, and agendas that harm you. Evidence on the ground shows the West prefers continuation of a tribalized, conflict ridden, poor, backward and submissive Africa.
Western policy and decision-makers find it morally and ethically tolerable and acceptable for Africans slaughtering other Africans. This is so if their geopolitical and strategic interests are unaffected. The best example of this ideology of “let them fight it out” is Ethiopia.
A UN Department of Safety and Security confidential report had disclosed human tragedy in Tigray under TPLF harsh, brutal, and suffocating rule. TPLF is more than autocratic. It is terrorist like Al-Shabab and Al-Qaeda. Yet, the West is unable or unwilling to accept this fact.
Concerned Tigrean Ethiopians leaked this UN report. They felt rightly that the UN, EU, and USA must hold TPLF accountable for recruiting and deploying child soldiers as fodders for its asinine and reckless people’s war against Afar and Amhara regions.
In his insightful analysis “Land of the Lawless: A Snapshot of Tigray Under TPLF Rule Over Spring and Summer, “August 26, 2022, renowned journalist Jeff Pearce summarized the key findings:
“Leaked reports marked Confidential from the UN’s Department of Safety and Security offer a picture of the TPLF’s lawless and despotic rule in Tigray over the spring and summer.
For instance, according to the UN’s own documents, the TPLF rounded up several Tigrayans on April 17 ‘who [were] not willing to send their children to join TF [Tigray Forces]. The authorities also [conducted] a house-to-house search after 18:00 hours escorted by TF members. It was also reported that TF members who deserted from TF without permission were forced for recruitment.”
And only the day before, April 16, at about 4:30 in the afternoon, “a UN staff member was arrested…in Mekelle city. The staff member was released on 17 April.” Which means that UN worker was clearly imprisoned for at least a whole evening.”
This is the ugly face of the TPLF that the EU, US and UN specialized agencies ignored repeatedly. Recruiting and deploying child soldiers as fodders is a crime under international law. Quick and bold measures by the West could have averted a repeat of the same today.
Pearce underscores the tragedy further. “What is interesting is that while these events were going on in April, Professor Ann Fitz-Gerald of the Balsillie School of International Affairs of Canada was busy interviewing scores of Tigrayans at two IDP camps in Amhara and Afar region who told horror stories of forced recruitment, child soldiers, brutal detentions and attempts to create fake atrocity videos. Fitzgerald was vilified online by TPLF apologists, and Tom Gardner, The Economist’s correspondent at the time, wrote an intimidating letter to a Balsillie official, claiming her work was “far below acceptable academic standards.”
When he was exposed, Ethiopian authorities kicked Gardner out, and he then claimed he was the target of a campaign of online harassment. Well, since I am the one who outed his antics by writing an open letter to The Economist, I do not think I qualify as a “campaign.”
As for Fitzgerald’s findings, they were later confirmed by a Reuters report which did not even bother to acknowledge her work and relied on a far fewer number of Tigrayan interview subjects.”
I ask myself why the EU, US, UN specialized agencies as well as Western corporate media and think tanks fail to do the right thing. Tragically for Tigrean mothers and fathers, their children perished and are still dying. I am also deeply concerned for the people of Afar and Amhara, targets for humiliation and vicious attacks by the TPLF as well as for Ethiopia that compelled to squander its precious resources to defend itself from the Treasonous TPLF. The EU, US and UN specialized agencies have not helped. Ethiopians say they have in fact become part of the problem.
The current round of TPLF insurgency and the inevitable mayhem that will follow are but repeats of the same. The TPLF initiated the war in Tigray in November 2020. Its Western financiers did not challenge let alone condemn TPLF atrocities, theft, graft, and corruption when TPLF ruled Ethiopia for 27 years and emptied Ethiopia’s treasury. When it lost power four years ago, TPLF garrisoned itself in Tigray, planned and executed atrocities and massive destructions that generations of Ethiopians will never forget.
In the process, TPLF impoverished Tigray. Worse, TPLF leaders including Tedros Adhanom refused to negotiate for peace and chose another round of war. Just think of who is fighting and dying on behalf of the brutal, inhuman, and merciless TPLF leadership. It is hundreds of thousands of Tigrean child soldiers.
Imagine the psychological pain they will endure if they survive the fighting. Imagine too the kind of world space TPLF wishes to establish for Tigreans. It is inevitable non-Tigrean neighbors will be all around them.
Ethiopia is fighting more than the TPLF.
There is no doubt in my mind that TPLF receives material and coordination support from Ethiopia’s mortal enemies. I have been sharing compelling and concrete evidence that Egypt is providing substantial material and intelligence support to TPLF, OLA and other terrorist groups. Its goal is to dismantle the Ethiopian state.
I have authored articles on hybrid and proxy wars as well as cyberwarfare against Ethiopia.
For now, I underscore the fact TPLF alone is responsible and accountable for the deaths of an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Tigreans, including child soldiers. Yet, the EU, US and UN fail to demand accountability from TPLF’s warlords. Why is that?
I do not subscribe to the ethnic-federal Constitution and administrative structure imposed by the TPLF and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) that Ethiopia’s Prosperity Party led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed continues to embrace. I also did not agree with the abrupt disengagement of Ethiopia’s National Defense Forces and its allies from the war front. TPLF used this dis- engagement to reorganize, recruit and rearm. The government of Ethiopia should have known TPLF had no intention to settle the conflict through peaceful means.
But I give credit to the government of Ethiopia for going much further than the West is willing to acknowledge by declaring a unilateral ceasefire, by allowing access to humanitarian assistance to Tigray, by establishing a peace commission towards a negotiated settlement. I do not think there is any Western country that would do this concerning a terrorist group.
The government of the United States should have commended Ethiopia’s initiatives firmly and unequivocally.
This policy move did not happen. Accordingly, and whether you accept it or not, the West led by the USA is giving the wrong signal to the TPLF. This wrong signal emboldens an already morally bankrupt, corrupt, and asinine group that is determined to dismantle Ethiopia.
Signals and narratives matter
I began writing this series when I learned Egypt, US and Uganda were conspiring and plotting against Ethiopia by training an alleged 4,600 Tigrean combatants in Uganda. The massive outcry in Africa and in the African Diaspora that followed made a dent. So did quiet diplomacy by the government of Ethiopia.
Uganda’s Commander of Land Forces, Lt. General Muhozi Kainerugaba, the son of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and successor, visited Ethiopia and met with Prime Minister Abiy. Mind you, Lt. General Muhozi was a huge fan of the TPLF. He also has good relations with the government of Egypt and its leader President Sisi.
Change is possible
Following his visit to Ethiopia, Lt. General Muhozi tweeted “We believe in African solutions to African problems. I am optimistic about a resolution of the Ethiopian conflict. God Bless Africa.”
During his visit to Ethiopia, the General and his entourage visited the GERD and witnessed one of the most phenomenal achievements of the Ethiopian people in the 21st century. This symbol signals that Sub-Saharan Africa is in fact is hopeful and emerging.
The once alleged adversary of Ethiopia on behalf of TPLF and Egypt Lt. General Muhozi is now a strategic friend of Ethiopia.
The harm caused by the West’s meddling, misleading, often false, and biased narratives concerning the Tigray conflict is hugely costly for Tigreans and non-Tigreans, especially Afar and Amhara as well as for Ethiopia as a country.
I read a moving and intellectually honest opinion piece– The West’s False Narrative about Russia and China– by Jeffrey Sachs on August 22, 2022 (The Other News).
“The world is on the edge of nuclear catastrophe in no small part because of the failure of Western political leaders to be forthright about the causes of the escalating global conflicts. The relentless Western narrative that the West is noble while Russia and China are evil is simple-minded and extraordinarily dangerous. It is an attempt to manipulate public opinion, not to deal with very real and pressing diplomacy.”
The distinguished Professor underlines the essence of the narrative that Western Corporate media parades as truth this way.
“The essential narrative of the West is built into US national security strategy. The core US idea is that China and Russia are implacable foes that are “attempting to erode American security and prosperity.” These countries are, according to the US, “determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.”
I could not find verbal or written rebuttal to TPLF’s misleading and false narratives on the Tigray war it initiated in the Western press. I could not find a Western policy or decision maker challenging let alone condemning TPLF falsehoods. I can find the opposite though. In contrast, I did not find signals or narratives of support to the TPLF in the Chinese or Russian or Turkish media.
May be war is taken for granted in EU and US policy. The US has an established history of conducting wars or supporting wars as a normal part of doing business. The Tigray war is not any different.
For example, the US Department of State has been in the forefront of opining Amhara Special Forces, Fano, Eritrean and Ethiopian defense forces caused pain and suffering on Tigreans, especially those in “Western Tigray.” This false and misleading narrative gave explicit recognition that Wolkait, Tegede and Telemt annexed by the TPLF are in fact part of Tigray. This narrative undermines Ethiopia’s territorial integrity.
Repeated and false narratives by the West, especially corporate media as well as policy and decision makers that Ethiopia is the reason for famine, starvation, and the lack of electrical, telecommunication, health, banking, and other essential services in Tigray is patently false. TPLF has an established and notorious record of diverting all aid from Tigreans who need it to its war machine.
Does the West ask how much of the West’s generous humanitarian aid TPLF diverted deliberately, systematically, and consistently for its war effort? Does the West ask why TPLF weaponized food aid and used it as a prime tool for public relations and public diplomacy?
Does the West that has ample information and intelligence tools to do due diligence ask when and how and why the campaign “Tigray genocide” that went viral started?
Can the West provide concrete evidence concerning the when, how, and where Amhara, Eritrean or Ethiopian defense forces moved to Tigray killed Tigreans because of their ethnicity? There is no evidence. It is- made-up. But the West and UN specialized agencies bought on to this misleading and false narrative that emboldened TPLF to commit more crimes.
I had mistakenly believed that President Joe Biden would change the US policy narrative on the war and Ethiopia. He did not. In fact, he made it worse when, instead of expressing concern for all victims of war and ethnic discrimination and killings in Ethiopia, he singled out and spoke about human rights violations in Tigray. This reference gives de facto recognition.
I had wondered when TPLF started the war in early November 2020, whether Biden’s victory emboldened and encouraged TPLF to initiate its reckless and dangerous insurgency. I say this because Biden’s close policy advisors on Ethiopia and the rest of Africa are ardent supporters of TPLF.
Hypocrisy and double standards
When I worked at the World Bank, I followed the Bank’s ethics and non-political involvement policy to the letter. Tedros Adhanom, a former member of the TPLF politburo and now head of WHO is the only international civil servant who supports a terrorist group with impunity. The World Bank would have fired him.
How does Tedros get away with his openly pro TPLF advocacy? How do the UN, EU and US allow him to call for insurgency with a sense of impunity? Who gives Tedros Adhanom the guarantee that his position is secure; and that he will not be charged for inciting civil war?
The West is hypocrite to the hilt when it comes to Ethiopia.
I admire President Biden ‘s commitment to social and economic equity in the United States. But I am weary about President Biden’s macho like and hegemonistic approach to US foreign policy towards Ethiopia, the rest of Africa and the Middle East. It is short sighted to assert a policy that says, “If you are not with us, you are against us.” Does this not undermine the UN Charter?
There are 195 countries in the world today. Of these, 193 are member states of the United Nations. The Holy See and the State of Palestine are non-members. Fifty-four (54) of the 195 countries are African. These countries follow their own constitutional arrangements, development, and foreign policies.
I appreciate the fact that States are diverse: autocratic, semi-democratic, democratic and others in between.
President Biden believes the greatest challenge of our time is “is competition with the autocracies.” He then argues that autocracies “seek to advance their own power, export and expand their influence around the world, and justify their repressive policies and practices as a more efficient way to address today’s challenges.”
The greatest danger and challenge to me is the gap in standard of living between the 20 percent of the world’s population who are well-to-do (Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand) and the 80 percent not well to do who live in the developing world, one billion three hundred million of them in Africa. The Pandemic attests to this glaring gap.
President Joe Biden’s statement engenders more fear than hope. It also provides a moral argument that what the USA does is always right.
The government of the United States is doing the exact opposite of what is good for Africa and the world about Ethiopia by a) providing indirect and direct signals to the TPLF that the US had once designated terrorist; and b) suspending Ethiopia from AGOA.
The war TPLF reignited will be costly for Ethiopia. However, the Biden Administration must not underestimate the resolve, national pride, and determination of the Ethiopian people to defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity.
I agree with Lt. General Muhozi Kainerugaba of Uganda that “African problems must be solved by Africans.”
I urge President Biden to embrace the unstoppable trend that colonialism and imperialism are relics. It is time for the USA to treat African states as equals.
In my estimation, a multipolar world is more desirable than supremacy of the West or East. The moral and strategic thing for the USA to do is to abandon the TPLF now; and to help Ethiopia help itself and solve its domestic problems.
The near completion of the GERD ought to demonstrate that Ethiopia can achieve the UN mandated development goals. To do that, it needs peace, stability, and human security.
Finally, the EU, the USA, and the UN can demonstrate a high level of moral authority by demanding for the resignation of Tedros Adhanom’s immediately. He should in fact be held accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity now.
Ethiopia Shall Prevail!!!
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