The Peace Agreement signed yesterday between the Government of Ethiopia and the TPLF is nothing but a complete surrender (capitulation) by the TPLF. Look no further than at Article 6, which is the linchpin of the Agreement and is copied herein verbatim:
“Article 6 – Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR)
- Agree and recognize that the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has only one defence force;
- Shall design and implement a comprehensive DDR program for TPLF Combatants consistent with the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia;
2. Agree that within 24 hours of the signing of this Agreement, an open channel of communication between senior commanders of both sides will be established;
- Agree to organize a meeting of senior commanders within 5 days from the signing of this Agreement to discuss and work out detailed modalities for disarmament for the TPLF combatants, taking into account the security situation on the ground;
- Agree to undertake the disarmament of the heavy armaments of the TPLF combatants as a matter of priority based on a detailed schedule to be agreed upon between the senior commanders of the Parties. The disarmament activities in the schedule should be completed within ten days from the conclusion of the meeting of the senior commanders. The ten-day period could be extended based on the recommendation of the senior commanders, to be endorsed by the Parties.
- Agree to finalize the overall disarmament of the TPLF combatants, including light weapons within 30 days from the signing of this Agreement;
- Agree that the demobilization and reintegration plan will consider the Tigray Region’s law-and-order needs.”
Whichever way you dice it, the text of Article 6 is more akin to a complete surrender than a compromise reached between two exhausted warring parties that find themselves in a stalemate or quagmire. Though one admires the maturity and civility of the victor in not gloating over the victory, one cannot overemphasize the importance of the Agreement for the future of the country and its 120 million people. I don’t think the negotiations started with the text of the concluded Agreement in mind. But given the rapid loss of ground by the TPLF army and its complete encirclement by the Ethiopian Defense Forces, it became fait acompli for the TPLF leaders to succumb and accept the dictates of the victorious Ethiopian forces. Cornered on all sides by an ever-tightening military pincer movement and final encirclement, the TPLF had no choice but to swallow the harsh, bitter, and unpalatable terms of the Agreement. Otherwise, the arrogant and diehard TPLF leaders could have been captured or annihilated.
This victory was made possible by the blood and grit of thousands of patriots from all corners of Ethiopia. Given the TPLF’s unprovoked and repeated onslaught and its treacherous and horrendous decades-long history, most ordinary Ethiopians ignored their differences and stood in unison behind those brave patriots at the battlefront. The TPLF was not alone though. It had unprecedented and coordinated support from allies and sympathizers near and afar who poured all kinds of support in the hope of turning it victorious. However, the stark reality on the ground and the resounding resolve of the Ethiopian government/people to defeat the TPLF was so unambiguous there was no other choice but for the international community to give tacit approval to the TPLF’s surrender.
Also, with U.S. midterm elections only a week away and tremendous political and diplomatic capital invested on the TPLF, the Biden Administration didn’t perhaps want to see the capture or annihilation of the TPLF leaders. That would have been a foreign policy disaster with repercussions at the ballot box. So, all in all, this was a good outcome for all Ethiopians (except the TPLF) and for the international community. With this outcome, the TPLF has likely reached the end of its ropes. Imagine had the TPLF reformed and accepted appeasement and mediation efforts earlier, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian lives would have been saved, the misery wrought on millions of our people would have been avoided, and billions of dollars could have been redirected to development efforts. And oh, by the way, the machomen of the TPLF would have found themselves in a better place. The outcome of the TPLF’s misadventure is a historic lesson for all hardheaded radicals and extremists in Ethiopia and elsewhere. That said, as Getachew Reda and Redwan Hussein stated, let’s hope the implementation of the Agreement is followed to the letter by both sides. It is only then Ethiopia can truly turn to desperately needed rehabilitation, reconciliation, and reconstruction.
One final point. As much as the surrender of the TPLF is great news, institutional ethnic politics, largely the birthchild of the TPLF, will continue to be the cancer of body politics in Ethiopia. There is no guarantee that TPLF clones lurking in the background or openly challenging the government in some parts of the country will not grow and drag the country once again into the abyss through endless internecine fighting. PM Abiy and his victorious team should transform the resounding victory over the TPLF into a sustainable political triumph by defanging the poison out of Ethiopia’s ethnic-based political order through constitutional reform.
Peace & Long Live Ethiopia – the Pride of Africa!
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