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Daniel Berhane’s Reply to My Article Reaffirms the Curse of a Depraved Intellectual

Daniel Berhane - Yonas Biru
Daniel Berhane during and interview with Tigray TV before the war between Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). (Photo : screenshot from Tigray TV- author provided it)

Yonas Biru, PhD

On October 8, I published an article on the Borkena website titled “Daniel Berhane’s Book ‘War on Tigray’ Manifests the Curse of a Depraved Intellectual.” In response, Daniel published on the same outlet “How Not to Write a Book Review: Reply to Yonas Biru.”

My intention in writing the article was not to review his book. My intention was to show the role Tigryan intellectuals played in instigating the war and expose their futile attempt to take the moral high ground and present Tigray as a victim of aggression by the Ethiopian government, Eritrea, and Amhara.

My article opened with the following.

“I have written many articles on Amhara, Oromo and Tigrayan tribal elites. My relentless criticism of them as intellectually stunted and morally malnourished national curses has made me a target of their hoots of disdain. But candor obliges me to keep on writing. This article is triggered by Daniel Berhane’s book titled ‘War on Tigray: Genocidal Axis in the Horn of Africa.’ Daniel embodies and personifies the tribalized intellectual culture that is destroying the nation.“

Daniel was one of the instigators of the Tigray war. Months before the war, he arrogantly mocked the Council of Federation’s effort to find a peaceful resolution, stating “አይጦቹ ተሰብሰበው ደመቷ አንገት ላይ ማን ቃጭል እንደሚያስር እየተነጋገሩ ነው” (the mouses are in a meeting to decide who is going to bell the cat). I included a screenshot of this in my article.

Two weeks before the war, in an interview with Tigray Media House, Daniel suggested launching a war may be necessary to force the government to the negotiating table. Immediately after the TPLF started the war, Daniel made it clear the intention of the war was to topple the government. Here is how he put it:

Yonas Biru _ Daniel Berhane

It is incomprehensible for him to suggest in his reply that my use of his social media post was “unethical.” What is unethical is instigating and launching a war and then insist “a genocidal war” was launched on Tigray.

The Tigray war was devastating for Ethiopia in general. Words cannot fully describe the destruction it wrought on Tigray in terms of lives, livelihoods, and regional treasure. 

One would have thought Daniel’s would start his book with confession, apology, contrition, and repentance and then move on to the historical, structural, and political factors that contributed to the war.

Sadly, he chose to use his legal training as a tool to twist facts and incidents until they professed what he wanted them to confess. He wanted to mislead history by presenting Tigray as a victim. He used the same tools and tactics in his reply to my articles. I have no interest in writing a lengthy reply, but I want to highlight the lack of candor and morality in his reply with three examples.

On Eritrea’s Involvement

Daniel wrote: “Yonas tried to justify Eritrea’s role in the Tigray War by referring to the partnership between TPLF and Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) forces during the armed struggle…”

First, I did not use it to justify Eritrea’s role. I used it to show Daniel’s hypocrisy of pleading with Eritrea to side with the TPLF and turning around to accuse the Ethiopian government of Bringing Eritrea into the war as a matter. Here is how I presented it:

“To my Eritrean brothers and sisters. I might not be the right person to say this to you. But I got this to say. There is a war on Tigray. Make no mistake, it is war on all of us. Whoever wants to kill Tigrayns would have you as his next target. We’d better stand together.”

He purposefully truncated the quote to suggest an unfair presentation of his post. Here is how he presented it in his reply.

“To my Eritrean brothers and sisters…. Whoever wants to kill Tigrayans would have you as his next target. We’d better stand together”.

Second, I did not focus on the time frame during the armed struggle. I focused on the time frame after Eritrea declared its freedom in May 1993. Here is what I wrote:

“The EPLF forces were in Ethiopia supporting the TPLF, long after Eritrea declared its independence in May 1993. In fact, up until 1996, the informal agreement between the EPLF and TPLF was that Eritrea would be allowed to export Ethiopia’s coffee to raise foreign exchange as a form of payment for its forces protecting the TPLF. In 1995, Eritrea was one of the major African coffee exporter countries. In the meantime, Ethiopia was pleading with the IMF for foreign exchange. In 1995, one of the conditions the IMF imposed on Ethiopia was to address why its coffee export has drastically dropped.”

On the designation of TPLF as a terrorist Organization

For many years, I have written many articles referring to the TPLF as a terrorist group. I am not alone. The US government has designated it as such.

In the meantime, I have argued the government’s designation of TPLF as a terrorist group was not the right thing to do because it will close the door for a negotiated settlement. Since December 2020, I have written four articles stating the only way out is a negotiated settlement.

There is a reason why the US never officially designated Taliban as a terrorist group, even though some officials referred to it as a terrorist group.

On the እሰጥ አገባ Between a Lawyer and an Economist

Daniel suggested in his reply that my use of his “social media posts was unethical, misleading, butchered, and lacking the date and web address necessary for verification.”

The word file of the article included hyperlinks to all the quotes I used. Unfortunately, the hyperlinks were dropped when I saved it in a pdf format. That was what I sent to Borkena. The quotes were shown in blue but the underlying hyperlink was not transferred to the pdf format. My bad. However, in almost all cases, the dates were mentioned with the exception of one case. That was related to Daniel’s appeal to Eritreans to stand with Tigrayans in a war with Ethiopia. However, the time was irrelevant when the quote is seen in full.

As shown above, Daniel truncated the quote to show malice or recklessness where there is none. Did I mention he is a trained lawyer? Lawyers are well tooled in the art of obfuscation and typographic interventions. I am an economist. I lay the data and facts and turn on the music to see them tango to make their case. That is what I did in the article and that is what I am doing here.

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com


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  1. yonas biru is genocider and bootlicker of abiy
    borkena will always delete comments like this as they are paid by this crooked man

  2. This much about Daniel Berhane is incontrovertible,
    1. He benefited a great deal in financial terms before Tplf fled to Tigray.
    2. He spearheaded disinformation campaign for and with Tplf.
    3. He along with Tplf were absolutely sure they will return to power.
    4. The outcome of the conflict was so shocking to Daniel and Tplf that Daniel had to write the present book for his own sanity. In other words, a fiction to make up for the shattered dream. A man is trying to hold on to a straw. Look how he profiled himself at the bottom of article above; he says he was “… put on the government’s most-wanted list for speaking his mind, and spent about two years under siege.”
    No one believes that. Not even Daniel.


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