Aklog Birara (Dr)
Part 15 of 20
“The situation in Ethiopia is spiraling out of control. The social fabric is being ripped apart & civilians are paying a horrific price. Hostilities in Tigray must end now — including the immediate withdrawal and disengagement of Eritrean armed forces from Ethiopia Secretary General Antonio Guterres
Guterres tweeted this ominous message on October 17, 2022, after Ethiopian Defense Forces liberated the city of Shire, Tigray, from the murderous and treasonous TPLF. I tweeted, “Mr. Secretary General, where were you when TPLF overwhelmed the Afar and Amhara regions, raped girls, and married women, looted and destroyed properties and slaughtered innocent civilians?
I would like to start this commentary by congratulating the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Ababa for receiving the top 2022 Bloomberg Philanthropic Award. It achieved this coveted distinction because the city improved waste management through a decentralized system of compositing and recycling. This is a transformative model the rest of Africa and the world can replicate. I wish Western Corporate media will cover both the bad and the good that is going on in Ethiopia and the rest of Africa.
By all indicators, Ethiopian coalition forces are doing their level best to avoid civilian casualties, the exact opposite of the reckless and brutal TPLF and its cohort. For example, contrary to TPLF and allied propaganda blitz, ordinary citizens in liberated cities in Alamata, Kobo, Korem and Shire feel relieved from TPLF brutality, inhumanity, savagery, psychological pain, and incalculable destruction of economic, social, and physical infrastructure that will take decades to recoup.
Freeing Ethiopians from TPLF oppression, restoring peace, a sense of normalcy and stability does not demonstrate that the situation is “spiraling out of control.” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres ignores the fact on the ground that the mayhem in Ethiopia, including the “ripping off the social fabric” of Ethiopian society has been underway ever since the TPLF took political power with Western support in 1991.
The West’s and the UN Secretary General’s policy measures, pronouncements and declarations have now become predictable. Sadly, the world listens to what the first influencer on the world stage, namely, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says even when he is wrong.
The second influencer on the international stage is the Spaniard, Joseph Borrell Fontelles, EU High Representative, Foreign Affairs and Security leader. His statements are often crude, demeaning, racist, insulting, and divisive. Nonetheless, he is an influencer. Recently, he said at an event in Belgium, “Yes, Europe is a garden. We have built a garden. Everything works. It is the best combination of political freedom, economic prosperity, and social cohesion that the humankind has been able to build —the three things together.”
Terrorizers cannot be healers.
If social cohesion is good and achievable in Europe—it is good and achievable in Ethiopia—what justifies EU punitive measures against Eritrea and Ethiopia? Who anointed the EU to become the moral and ethical leader of the global community? There is more.
If I were to ask Mr. Borrell how and whose back his own country, Spain, prospered, would he give a truthful answer? If I were to ask him how Belgium prospered while Congo (the DRC)—a massive and resource rich country whose mineral resources and rubber Belgium plundered and whose indigenous population Belgium cut in half suffered and still suffers; would he acknowledge that “civilized” Europe prospered and became a “garden” at the expense of the rest of the world it subjugated, diminished, and exploited?
How Europe forgot its savagery and brutality to prosper is beyond me. Borrel needs to read at least two books and educate himself a) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney and b) The Darker Nations by Vinay Prashad. Until then, he should resign and enjoy his “garden.”
Imagine how Europeans and Americans would have reacted if a Chinese or Russian or Turkish or Iranian or South African diplomat uttered the same statement? They would have determined together, condemned, and removed the person from his or her post. Borrell feels entitled to declare the “garden” that is Europe can dictate policy for the “jungle” that is Africa and the rest. “Most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden.” This mind set is likely to cause a catastrophic third world war. Russia and China belong to his jungle” depiction.
History tells us that it is “European colonizers and slave traders” who went to the African and American jungles, hunted, and traded slaves, conquered, slaughtered millions of indigenous peoples, subjugated, and exploited countries—the entire North America, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, East and South Asia and prospered. Europeans were merciless savages. The cultures they implanted in their former colonies are still felt. They held the Bible on one hand and preached the gospel; while at the same time enslaving, exploiting, taking treasures out of the countries they colonized. They divided countries along ethnic and faith lines.
This exactly what the UN Secretary General, the EU and the USA are doing to Eritrea and Ethiopia today. You do not engage with today’s irreversible multipolar world by using the jungle metaphor and by reverting to a legacy that is indefensible, namely, the Eurocentric racist and colonial mindset.
The third and most important influencer of them all is US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. For the first time, Secretary Blinken acknowledged that TPLF instigated the latest war on August 24. Despite this, he did not demand TPLF that restarted the war for the third time stops its insurgency, gives up arms, acknowledges Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and vows to join the peaceful negotiation process without any precondition.
Blinken expressed the same sentiment as UN Secretary General Guterres and the EU that “Ethiopian National Defense Forces and Eritrean Defense Forces halt their joint military offensive immediately and that Eritrean Forces withdraw from northern Ethiopia.” It is true that Blinken also “called on Tigrayan Defense Forces to cease any additional provocations at this time.” At least there is a slight difference in US narrative.
Three Western powerful voices—US guided and directed UN Secretary General, US commanded EU Foreign Secretary and Security Chief, and the mover and shaker of Western foreign policy spoke from the same script concerning TPLF’s third round of atrocities that they know TPLF is losing. Conventional wisdom tells me that, a civil war ends by one side winning. Ethiopia cannot be an exception. its survival depends on winning this war; and on engaging and incentivizing Tigrean Ethiopians that they will be better off without the TPL.
Axis of angels or axis of evil?
Ethiopia’s Adwa-like victory and TPLF inevitable loss seem to be concerning to each of the above three movers and shakers of war and peace. The Western rhetoric of crimes of war, ethnic cleansing, famine, and encirclement of Tigray comes across as self-serving and deceitful. Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa need to diagnose, understand, and respond to the motivating factors behind—China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and others that govern Western imagination and policy in the Horn of Africa.
Western enablers and Egypt regionalized and internationalized the preventable war TPLF started. Had the UN and the West been truthful from the start and condemned TPLF terrorism and treason and had they pressured the TPLF leadership and its Tigrean Diaspora cheer leaders to abandon insurgency and negotiate for peace; they could have averted the loss of hundreds of thousands Tigrean and non-Tigrean lives. They could have spared Ethiopia from immense destruction of wealth that the West will not replace. Tigray is not Ukraine to which the US alone has pledged $54 billion. Contrast this to US suspension of Ethiopia from AGOA and EU suspension of development aid to Ethiopia. What is next?
Western Corporate media reflects Western public policy. On October 17, 2022, Katherine Houreld of the corporate media giant, the Washington Post owned by Jeff Bezos confirmed Ethiopian “Government soldiers seized control of a key city in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray (Shire) on Monday after days of airstrikes and an artillery barrage, according to a diplomat who spoke to witnesses, accelerating an exodus of civilians amid some of the most intense fighting since a five-month cease-fire was shattered in August.”
It is clear from what Westerners say that they do not consider Shire/Tigray as a core part of Ethiopia. They do not believe that the government of Ethiopia has a constitutional obligation to defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and restore the safety and security of all Ethiopians including Tigreans. The West makes it clear that doctrines that apply to Europe and North America do not apply to Ethiopia and the rest of Africa. Just contrast Ukraine and Ethiopia alone. Consider also the millions killed by NATO forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, former Yugoslavia, and others. Are these killings by the West a form of terrorism?
The new smear campaign against Eritrea and Ethiopia
The highly exaggerated assertion of human “exodus” in Tigray presented by Houreld provides a fodder to the Tigrean Diaspora and their foreign supporters to conduct renewed and coordinated smear campaign against Eritrea and Ethiopia. Hundreds of Tigreans in the Diaspora and their Western friends are doing just that. Their newest campaign is that “Eritrea’s involvement in the war against TPLF erodes Ethiopia’s sovereignty.” Martin Plaut serves in this new cheerleading campaign against Eritrea and Ethiopia. Plaut fails to understand that Ethiopians have united and defended their country multiple times before and are doing today.
In this new smear campaign, there is no consideration to Ethiopian government directives that freeing Shire and other towns from the grip of TPLF will allow aid agencies to provide humanitarian aid for the government of Ethiopia to restore basic services. Ordinary Tigrean civilians affected by the war are now returning to their homes in droves. I find no evidence that the West and its Corporate media consider and weigh the growing outrage against TPLF by Anti-TPLF Tigrean Ethiopians. The West and its corporate media must listen to these emerging voices. They too dream for the restoration of peace and stability.
The latest smear campaign provides additional input for Western powers to impose punishing punitive measures—cutting all development assistance, prohibiting funding by multilateral agencies such as the IMF and the World Bank and proposing a corridor for UN or AU peacekeeping operations on Ethiopian soil.
To be fair, unlike the New Yorker, Lefort, De Waal, Plaut and other Western pro-TPLF notables, the Post’s Houreld acknowledges the following truth:
“The [Ethiopian National Defense Forces] strictly abides by all pertinent norms and principles of international humanitarian law. Strict instructions have been given to all combat units to reinforce this commitment.” She adds “The government also said it was ready to ensure humanitarian access in areas controlled by the Ethiopian military.”
This is all true but dismissed by the trio. The Post might consider sending an independent investigative journalist to Kobo, Alamata, Korem and Shire and engage ordinary citizens to validate Ethiopian government policies and directives and commitments to international human rights laws and protocols.
The Post’s Katherine Houreld diminished the impact of her reporting when she said “During the first eight months of the war, when Ethiopian and Eritrean troops controlled most of Tigray, the United Nations, international rights groups, and journalists documented many mass killings of civilians and gang rapes, including in small villages. At the time, Ethiopia said that reports of atrocities were exaggerated, although the government acknowledged it had arrested some soldiers for various crimes.”
I have no reason to dismiss the allegation of “mass killings and gang rapes” of Tigreans by combatants in the conflict. All sorts of crimes of war, crimes of genocide, economic crimes, inhumanity of man to man have occurred in this preventable fratricidal war. Houreld is right, “Tigrayan forces have also committed gang rapes and killed civilians when they pushed into neighboring regions.” The UN is completely wrong in its assertion that the scale of atrocities perpetrated by Eritrean and Ethiopian forces far exceeds those of the TPLF. How did they ignore to enumerate and cite the Mai Kadra massacre of November 2020 and similar massacres, the thousands of Afar and Amhara rape victims perpetrated by TPLF during its second and third insurgencies?
The UN Human Rights Council and the Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia undermined the core moral, ethical values preached by the West and diminished international human rights norms. Instead of offering a balanced and fair assessment, they reported what they believed they saw and witnessed as presented by TPLF and its supporters. Biased and partisan reporting of crimes of war or ethnic cleansing or genocide does not deserve consideration by the Post. Did anyone ask Afar or Amhara victims what TPLF did to them? Not really.
What I commend and recommend going forward:
- I commend the Ethiopian Defense Forces (ENDF) leadership and the Coalition it is leading for its careful, methodical, surgical approach of military operations avoiding civilian casualties and destruction of property, prohibiting in the strongest terms rape will entail immediate arrest and accountability, providing proper protocol and guidance to all combatants on military etiquette and engagement during this war, treating captured Tigrean combatants humanely, availing humanitarian aid in villages, towns and cities freed from TPLF grip, repairing vital infrastructure destroyed or damaged by the TPLF and restoring basic services.
This approach will augur well for facilitating peace and reconciliation. To have traction the government of Ethiopia must boost its engagement with ordinary Tigrean, Afar and Amhara citizens as well as with civil society zeroing in on the reconciliation and peace process at the ground level. In fact, public engagement will determine the future.
I applaud Ethiopian activists and patriots in Ethiopia and across the globe for planning peaceful demonstrations starting tomorrow in Ethiopia under the appropriate banner “Hands off Ethiopia.”
The West ought to understand that Ethiopians may not agree on domestic political, social, economic, and other matters. At stake is Ethiopia’s sovereignty, integrity, and the welfare of all Ethiopians. I support peaceful demonstrations in defense of Ethiopia. I also urge us to continue defending Ethiopia at all costs and all the time.
- I urge former President of Nigeria, Obasanjo, the head, and convenor of the AU three person negotiating team on the war to push forward and avert more damage and potential implosion.
Peaceful settlement of the war is the most compelling and durable option for Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people. To have traction, parties must show genuine commitment to lasting peace and vow never to repeat the same. Engagement and involvement of ordinary citizens affected directly by the war: Afar, Amhara and Tigreans is critical.
The process for peaceful settlement of the war suggests that the UN, EU, and the USA must stop making matters worse by taking sides and by not dismissing Tedros Adhanom, Director, WHO. He continues to emit fake and demeaning reports to Western powers with impunity. This alone emboldens TPLF.
How does the UN justify allowing an avowed politburo member and “Ambassador at large” of an insurgent and terrorist group (TPLF) to add fuel to a burning fire? The UN has an obligation to consider the complaint lodged by the government of Ethiopia against Tedros Adhanom seriously and quickly.
- Eritrea, Ethiopia, and the African Union must reject the precedent-setting proposal recommended by Human Rights Watch Director for the Horn of Africa, Laetitia Bader on October 18, 2022. “The US and EU, as well as the Security Council, should use the appropriate tools, including targeted sanctions and an arms embargo, to protect civilians at risk. The suffering of civilians in Ethiopia should no longer be tolerated in the name of political expediency.”
This proposal is a mirror image of statements proffered by the concert of high-powered actors: UN Secretary General Guterres, EU Foreign Relations and Security Borrell and US Secretary of State Blinken.
Lastly, I urge Ethiopians across the board to show fierce determination and fight back Western gross interference in the domestic affairs of one the most ancient countries on this planet, Ethiopia.
Ethiopia Shall Prevail!!!
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