Updated on November 13,2022
There is no question that peace news is good and important for everyone. The reason is that, of course, according to Mike Seigle’s (2006) argument, war is always bad, but at times peace can on occasions be also worse. At those times, war was the only solution ending a bad peace. For instance, in the records of history war ended slavery in the USA. War ended Nazism. War ended the Feudal system in England. War opened the door for democratic and economic freedom in Europe. War created the opportunities for small countries to be free. War is an obscenity, but on occasions a necessity (ibid). From this point of view, the war of ‘Law Enforcement’ in Ethiopia is also necessary as its mission was to annihilate the terrorist organization of the TPLF which has been the main challenge of the country’s peace and stability.
From an optimistic point of view, what is aired from South Africa, Pretoria, about the ‘Peace Deal’ between the warring factions of Ethiopia is something to be cherished; but it is worth noting that it is the result of war. After two years and three rounds of brutal war in Northern Ethiopia, ‘an immediate and permanent cessation of hostilities with a view to silencing the guns…’ is reached between the warring parties of Ethiopia; but so far that is only on paper. Nonetheless, for the one who may be mechanically optimistic, the dividend of the Peace Deal is only to be proved upon its implementation on the ground. However, with regard to the appetite of war on the side of the TPLF protagonists over the two years on the one hand, and the Ethiopian Federal Government’s objective of ‘Law Enforcement Operation ‘since 2020, add to that the other coalition parties like Eritrea, the ground of implementations matters more. Unlike the former, the latter parties as triumphant of both the war and the ‘Peace Deal’ definitely can expect a lion’s share of their respective vested-interests.
Sadly, what makes the nature of the Ethiopian civil war special is that the TPLF was a cause of the war by attacking a national army besides provoking Eritrea to the war theater. As a result, the massive human and material resources wasted for the purpose of this devastating war are good for nothing; but also it was a ‘motive of ill-dream for the former while a motivation of consciences and justice for the later’. In the parlance of the former, ‘since it is battle-hardened in a war theater, it was like a traditional soccer game that always wins’ while for the later, it was for self-defending and safeguarding of their respective countries and citizens. In the other way round, the civil war in Northern Ethiopia which seems theoretically ended right now may be dubbed also as a war of attrition between the devil’s mission versus the divine’s mission. In this vis-à-vis, the reparation dilemma seems like the two faces of the same coin. In other words, as far as the dividend of peace is concerned, first of all justice needs to be served: be it soldiers or civilians, justice for the war victims must come at the forefront. From a rational vantage point of view, it seems natural that the culprits of the war must be punished while the victims must be rewarded by any means necessary. This is to imply that the war-mongering agent needs no simple clemency and at the same time the ones which became umbrellas of their respective preys must get their rewards; but not now, it must be left for a question and course of time.
In this juncture, one important point should always come to mind. The date of the Peace Deal between Ethiopian protagonists of the war is exactly signed at the anniversary of the brutal attack of the Ethiopian National Northern Army which was stationed in Tigray for three decades. If the Peace Deal is successfully implemented on the ground, both dates will remain meaningful to the people of Ethiopia. However, the faces and weights of the celebrations are different. The anniversary of the vicious attack will always be painful while the ‘Dividend of the Peace Deal’ would be rewarding!
On top of all, what the Peace Accord of Article 2(a) proves is that ‘the sovereignty, internal integrity, and unity of the Federal Democratic of Ethiopia (FDRE)’ is respected. On the other hand, the motive of the other signatory party namely TPLF is aborted; but not at the disposal of the peace paper, but rather at the sacrifices of hundreds thousands of golden human capitals who were meant to build their future lives and families like any octogenarian human being in the world.
There is one striking point, however. As far as the Peace Deal is concerned, one who is familiar with the history, arrogance and political inconsistency of the TPLF is surprised. All of a sudden, it succumbed to a U-Turn. What it used to clamor as its cardinal principles and preconditions of coming to a peace table were rescinded in no time. Over the two years of its war drum and practice, the TPLF has been demanding and amplifying, among others, about the reigning of a status quo ante of the so-called Tigray and its occupied territories, the illegal Tigrayan Defenses Forces (TDF) to be unquestionable and the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from the war region. However, to the credit and wisdom of the AU High-Level Panel and the Ethiopian delegation’s sounding argument, all of its preconditions didn’t get any currency. Moreover, it is also a foregone conclusion that the TPLF’s humiliating ground defeat was another impetus to its moral deficit. Besides, perhaps the prescriptions and leverages of its US and Western applauders appears to have had a little contribution to its capitulation.
In the final analysis, what the Peace Deal enshrines finally is thus Ethiopia Prevails; but not the poisonous slogan of the TPLF which has rallied innocent youths of the region behind its war agenda under the motto of “Tigray Prevails” which neither represents a legitimate vision of creating the ‘Republic of Tigray State’ nor is substantiated with historical facts of nation-state formation in Africa at large. Having all these in mind, any one may raise a lingering question as to why the TPLF became a cause of the war while Ethiopia is always and forever only ‘one country with multi-ethnic people!’ By any standards, the fact that the TPLF is eventually unable to open a “Pandora’s Box’ is something that would give a good lesson to any ill-dreamer of Ethiopia and the rest of Africa.
When the ‘Peace Deal’ was signed between the Ethiopian Federal Government and the TPLF of Tigray region of the same country on November 2, 2022 in South Africa, Pretoria, regardless of the Diaspora’s fanfare and protests, every peace-loving people in the world welcomed the news with joy. On top of all, the people of Ethiopia in general and the Tigrayan ordinary citizens in particular hailed the peace shadow which they aspired for two years notably since 2020, the date which the TPLF junta attacked a national army of Ethiopia. As a matter of fact, with respect to the bitter nature of the war over the two years and added to that the arrogance and conceit of the TPLF to continue the war, such a ‘Peace Agreement’ was apparently to no one’s expectation. It is for this reason that many are expressing their gratitude and appreciation to the African Union and to the Panel of mediators which has played a pivotal role in bringing the two warring parties to an accord.
In fact, the response both in and outside Ethiopia seems mostly elation and relief ostensibly on the assumption that looking back and scratching wounds may not be to anyone’s interest. Moreover, the fact that there was a loss of hundreds of thousands of human lives from both sides, not least the brutal war’s destruction of social services and blockades of two years of the Tigrayan people is also deeply felt. Regardless of the interference and ill-interest of the US and European Union as observers, if the Peace Deal’s substances are materialized in its letter and spirit, the AU’s capacity and acumen to solve African problems by Africans will be well-placed for the record of history.
From the onset, it was well-known that the civil war that has been lingering for two years in Ethiopia has no solution other than a political solution. In fact, according to Article 1:3 (Objectives of the Agreement), it is well-stipulated that ‘rejecting violence as a method of resolving political differences’ is the only way out of conflict. Accordingly, as per the same article (1:2), the constitutional order disrupted due to the conflict in Northern Ethiopia’ can have the chance to be restored. Moreover, the provision of social and essential services and humanitarian aids that were absent in the region over the last two years can be expedited and reinstated as soon as possible since such basic necessities and lifelines are the core mandate of the Ethiopian government.
Ultimately, there is no doubt that the Law Enforcement Operation that the Government of Ethiopia has declared as of early November 2020 was reasonable to bring and dictate the TPLF culprits who unlawfully attacked a national army to peace and order. In other words, as war is the final option for a political solution, now it came into fruition as a result of a weakened position of the rebel party. If, however, the indication of the Peace Deal which is on paper so far is to be complete, it will be left to time till all parties including Eritrea are satisfied with the behavior, nature and existential threat of the TPLF.
In brief, as one step forward, the Pretoria ‘Peace Deal’ can be celebrated as a ‘success story. If it is to be fleshed out further, for sure, there will still be much effort and stamina both on the side of the mediators and Ethiopian as well as TPLF parties to agree upon other accompanying modalities of implementation as well. Such modalities of implementation are expected to be all rounded such that as to include and satisfy including other beneficiary states, Eritrea for that matter, which has sympathized with and sacrificed its precious lives of its soldiers as equal as Ethiopians. Of course, such process of procedural roadmap and implementation formalities require objective rationality and free of biases as far as Eritrea’s strategic interest both from the war involvement and its outcome are concerned. Like its beginning, there seems no gap of understanding and consensus especially on the parts of the AU Panel and the Ethiopian government. As the TPLF is not a principled organization, yet no one trusts its moral deficit as far as implementation issues are concerned. However, it is high time to pressure it under any circumstances. If thought and done cautiously on such matters, the assumption that a war scenario may relapse under pretexts of interpretations or otherwise may equally get no room. It is only then that the fruition and reward of the Peace Deal becomes strategically important and a solid success story.
Fessehaye Kidane Melaky is based in Asmara. He is a cadre of education in the Eritrean Ministry of Education at the Office of the Minister.
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