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The significance of liberating Gondar and the importance of standing firm and prudent in defending Amhara’s rights

Google map - Gondar
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By Mekuria

Gondar, located in the Amhara state, is the most populous region in the area. Under the previous TPLF-led administrative map of Ethiopia, Gondar was divided into four zones: West Gondar, Central Gondar, North Gondar, and South Gondar. West Gondar includes Quara, Genda Wuha, Metema, and West Armacho. The Central Gondar Zone comprises Alefa, Takusa, Dembiya, Metema Tach Armachiho, Lay Armacho, Gondar Town, Gondar Zuriya, and Tegede. North Gondar includes West Belesa, East Belesa, Janamora Wegera, Beyeda, Debark, and Telemt. South Gondar includes Kemekem, Ibnat, Lay Gayint, Tach Gayint, Simada, Dera, Estie, Debre Tabor-Farta, and Worota-Fogera.

The newly incorporated ancestral lands to the north of Gondar, including North Telemt Tegede, Wolkayit, and Humera, are collectively referred to as Wolkayit. Wolkayit covers an area of approximately 1,600,000 hectares, which is half the size of Belgium. Metekel is even larger, spanning 2,900,000 hectares (the size of Albania), while Raya covers about 400,000 hectares (1.5 times Luxembourg). Both Metekel and Wolkayit are rich in mineral resources, water, and fertile land for agriculture. Wolkayit is known for its mineral deposits, including gold, silver, copper, and zinc. Artisanal gold mining is carried out in Telemt and Wolkayit. Wolkayit served as a strategic corridor for the TPLF during their fight against the Derg regime, with a strong army base established in the area. Raya is known for its groundwater resources, while Metekel boasts abundant metal and agricultural resources, including industrial-scale gold reserves, silver, copper, chromium, nickel, iron, marble, and granite. Metekel also hosts the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, with a significant share of water originating from the Amhara highlands.

Chronology of the Fano Resistance

The Fano resistance against the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) began in April 2023 due to a war declaration against Amhara by Abiy Ahmed, and an all-out resistance broke out in August, engulfing major cities in Amhara, including the capital Bahirdar and the historical city of Gondar. Amharas initially believed Ethiopia was undergoing a revolution, but the scenario did not materialize due to ethnic divisions among Ethiopians. The Amhara resistance did not resonate in the capital Addis Ababa and other regions of Ethiopia, although there was a desire to support the Fano movement. The Fanos, understanding this political landscape, shifted their resistance to guerrilla fighting, significantly weakening Abiy’s war machine. Abiy Ahmed controls the wealth of a nation of 120 million people with a capital budget of $10 billion USD. Abiy stated in parliament that he has these resources at his disposal to maintain power over Ethiopians. Despite the odds, the Fanos are gradually depleting his resources and fighting brigades, indicating the war is turning in favor of Fano. To accelerate the Fano movement, there is an urgent need to focus on the former province of Gondar.

Why the Liberation of Gondar is Necessary

The liberation of Gondar is crucial as it would sever Abiy Ahmed’s access to the northern part of Amhara near Sudan and Eritrea. A liberated Gondar would enable free movement of Amhara people to and from Amhara outside of Ethiopia, facilitating capital flow to Amhara and providing access to international trade markets not under Abiy Ahmed’s influence. This would create opportunities to establish the nucleus of an Amhara economy and foster relationships with neighboring countries, easing the flow of armaments and enabling the acquisition of anti-aircraft equipment to counter Abiy Ahmed’s aerial attacks. Gradually, it would also allow Fano to deploy drones to the capital where Abiy Ahmed resides, similar to how the Houthis do from Yemen. The liberation of Gondar would clearly distinguish between the genocidal Abiy Ahmed and the disenfranchised Amhara, giving the Amhara people the moral high ground to defend themselves. Additionally, the liberation of Gondar would provide cover for the immediate Gojam province from drone attacks.

A successful military campaign often requires a combination of mass and dispersed warfare tactics. Commanders must utilize both strategies based on the specific circumstances of engagement with the enemy. Therefore, Fano commanders should enhance communication at the Woreda and provincial levels to effectively switch between mass and dispersed warfare tactics as needed to achieve their objectives, ultimately enabling them to prevail in Gondar.

Currently, except in Wolkayit, Fano is operating against Abiy Ahmed’s army in every Woreda in Amhara. The current stance of Fano on Wolkayit has been one of neutral observance, leaving the place for the local administration led by Ashetew Demlew and Colonel Demeke Zewdu. This stance has been maintained for the last year to give the people of Wolkayit a chance to peacefully resolve the issue, believing that the Federal government would not deny the rights of the people. Secondly, Fano trusts the two Wolkayit leaders not to compromise Amhara rights over Wolkayit when faced with challenges. So far, Fano’s strategy has been correct, and refraining from entering Wolkayit was a wise decision. However, after the events in Raya, there is no reliable mechanism to defend Wolkayit other than coordinating with the local Wolkayit militia and Fano members. Therefore, it is time for Colonel Demeke and Fano to initiate discussions at the earliest opportunity, either in person or through representatives. 

Currently, the morale of the Abiy army is at an all-time low, and the liberation of Gondar, including Wolkayit, should be the primary task of Fano and the people of Gondar. Losing control of Gondar would quickly lead to victory in Gojam and force Abiy Ahmed to reduce his army presence in Amhara, confining it in Oromia to defend his palace in Addis Ababa until he eventually flees to the United Arab Emirates. To achieve this, a highly coordinated military alliance is required among neighboring countries, and this is where Amhara individuals and their allies in diplomatic circles are crucial in facilitating on behalf of Fano. A conflict in Gondar could potentially involve various parties, including the TPLF. This situation could be advantageous for the Amhara region. It is only when the international community, particularly the West, perceives their favored TPLF being targeted that they take action. In such a scenario, the West may impose sanctions on Abiy Ahmed. Without this kind of scenario, the West shows little concern for the well-being of the Amhara people.

የትግራይ ልሂቃን ተቃራኒ አንደብቶች  እና Amhara-Tigray Alliance  

When the Derg army was defeated in 1991, there was no DDR mechanism established by the TPLF-led EPRDF to implement. Individual soldiers just went back to their homes. Similarly, the TPLF army is a defeated force that marched with the intent to destroy Amhara, causing trillions of birr in damage, raping thousands of women and underage girls, and killing thousands of civilians as documented by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. If rehabilitation is the way forward, these are certainly the people who need it. TPLF fighters should simply return to their homes. They are criminals who should be tried for the crimes they committed in Amhara. It is with these criminals that some Media were campaigning to work with and create a coalition. 

Zara, Reyot, Horizon Free Media and others are active, trying to manipulate us in the name of forming an Amhara-Tigray alliance. These proponents even became angry when the international community released a press statement expressing concern about the displacement of people in contested areas. They claim there is no contested area, even though the TPLF signed the Pretoria Agreement accepting that fact. The Pretoria Agreement clearly violates the rights of the Amhara by not including them in the negotiations. You cannot ignore the interests of a population six times the size of Tigray and only focus on Tigray’s interests. No ethnic group is superior to another. Secondly, resolving the Pretoria Agreement through the constitution does not mean handing it over to Tigray. If that were the case, it would have been stated that contested areas would be returned to Tigray and resolved through the constitution. The agreement implies that a due process will be carried out using the constitution, which could involve the Federation Court or a referendum administered by the Election Commission. In areas without demographic engineering, if an election is to be held, both Amhara and Tigray parties should be excluded from governing the regions. An independent administration should be established to conduct the referendum to ensure impartiality, as the involvement of either group could influence the election results.

Some statements made by certain ethnic Amharas about the contested areas are ill-thought and unfortunate. For example, Lidetru Ayalew, in an interview with Tigray Media House (TMH), indicated that he does not support the annexation of Raya and Wolkayit by Amhara through force (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENhVnqOSJ6s). To listen, fast forward to 1:23:30. Lidetru did not even want to question his interviewers about the annexation of Wolkayit by the TPLF. It is well known, based on what Ras Mengesha, a Tigrayan nobleman, asserted in an interview with VOA Amharic program, “Whether in my time or my father’s time, the Tigrayan boundary never crossed the Tekeze River.”

With all due respect to Reyot media for its positive role in defining the actions of the evil Abiy Ahmed from March 2018 to October 2020, it has unfortunately become partisan due to the war in Tigray. This shift in perspective is understandable. Reyot Media’s political analysts, who are known for being vocal in promoting the Amhara-Tigray alliance, were irritated to hear “Western and Southern Tigray” being labeled as “contested areas” by the international community. They also questioned the disarmament of Tigray’s Army and why the Tigray government was not adequately advocating for the return of Tigray’s sovereignty to its pre-2020 status by consistently bringing the case to the international community. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfJvhMP6qMo) (listen after 40 minutes) and listen from 11- 45 minutes of the recordings in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JV7da696MY4). አለማቀፉ ብረተሰብ ምእራብ ትግራይን አከራካሪ አሉ፣ ቲዲኤፍ መባል ቀረ የተለመደ የሪኦዮት የመነጋገሪአ አጀንዳ ነው።  

Stalin on Zara media comes out every day denying that there is no such thing as a “contested area”; he asserts it is all Tigray’s, even though the TPLF signed the Pretoria agreement in November 2020 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0327vdBLAqM). He is not protesting against the illegal TPLF soldiers who invaded Raya and displaced 50,000 Amharas. The commentators at Horizon Free Media never tire of discussing the Amhara-Tigray alliance every day, but they also consistently emphasize Tigray’s claim to ownership of Wolkayit-Raya. In this context, Lidetu, who understands the Tigrayan perspective, asserts that he does not support the annexation of Wolkayit-Raya by the Amhara region. It is ironic that he is the one lecturing us about the Amhara-Tigray alliance.

Baytona, an opposition party in Tigray, has released a press statement rejecting the African Union’s call for calm and order in disputed areas, stating that there are no such “disputed” areas in Tigray. This stance is in line with the views of the Tigrayan elite and other opposition parties in Tigray. Amharas should be wary of Tigrayan elites advocating for an alliance. The notion of an Amhara-Tigray alliance lacks credibility and appears to be a misleading strategy against Amharas, reminiscent of Abiy Ahmed’s actions over the past six years.

On Yehasab Gebeta, during an interview with Moges Zewdu Teshome, Lidetu even disregarded the fact that the TPLF’s army had entered Raya by denying that the Pretoria agreement had been violated. He continued to argue that even if it were true, it would be the fault of the Federal Government. It is amusing to see Lidetu’s attempt to demonstrate that the Pretoria Agreement was not violated by pointing out that the TPLF army did not enter a small town like Alamata, when in reality, the entire region of Raya has been invaded by the TPLF’s army. Listen to the first 45 minutes of the interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvwFutaY09c). While no one denies the conspiracy of the ruling party, it is unreasonable not to criticize the TPLF on that basis. It is akin to saying, “I committed a crime in the presence of the police, so I am not guilty.” Lidetu needs to stop appeasing the Tigrayan elites and be aware that Amhara-Tigray reconciliation cannot be achieved by sacrificing Amhara rights.

The emotional commentators are quick to emphasize the importance of the Amhara-Tigray alliance, overlooking the fact that Amhara has been invaded three times by TPLF and Tigrayan forces, supported by civilian looters. This has resulted in the destruction and embezzlement of property worth a trillion birr, the deaths of tens of thousands of Amhara civilians, and the rape of thousands of women and underage girls. Their analysis is shallow. Politics is fundamentally about protecting interests, and TPLF will not hesitate to form an alliance against Amhara to safeguard their own interests. This pattern has been evident for the past 50 years. These individuals fail to acknowledge the displacement of 50,000 Amharas and have not condemned TPLF’s actions in this regard. Such behavior clearly indicates that a fair and free referendum cannot be held in Raya under the TPLF-controlled administration.

The Fate of Airports Supporting the War Effort in Amhara

During the peak of the August resistance, Fanos controlled the airports of Gonder and Lalibela. However, they failed to take precautionary measures to prevent the fascist regime from using them again. As a result, the regime violated international civilian aviation rules and used Ethiopian Airlines to transport soldiers to Gojam, Gondar, and Wello provinces to combat Fanos, taking advantage of the airports’ operational status. This oversight must not be repeated. Fanos must ensure that these airports are rendered inoperable when they relinquish control, as they remain legitimate targets if used for military purposes by the regime. They must learn from the TPLF.

Conclusions

The liberation of Gondar is a critical goal that requires the support and readiness of the people of Gondar and Fano. Gondor’s strategic location and manpower make it capable of freeing itself from Abiy Ahmed’s forces, potentially without assistance from neighboring Amhara provinces. This liberation will not only establish a strong Amhara government but also create an international access route and enhance military capabilities. Furthermore, it will set the stage for the liberation of Gojam, a region known for its resistance against the ENDF, putting pressure on Abiy Ahmed to reduce military presence in Amhara and maintain control of Oromia.

The likelihood of Ethiopia disintegrating into several states has surpassed the 50% mark. In this scenario, it is crucial to consider the type of territory the current Amhara generation will leave for future generations. The salvation of the Amhara generation should not be jeopardized by the loss of an inch of Amhara territory. No nation can advance into civilization by forfeiting its primary asset, which is land. Throughout history, Europe has engaged in wars primarily for control of land resources. This trend by Europeans has extended to Africa, Asia, and South America in search of land resources. Amharas must not relinquish their ancestral land.

Amharas need to be cautious of hidden agendas and should disregard advice from TPLF supporters, confused individuals, or superficial political analysts advocating for an Amhara-Tigray alliance. Anchor Media should not allow itself to be part of the group of foolish individuals who have come together to create the Amhara-Tigray collision. Instead, it should focus on its valuable advocacy for the Amhara people. Trusting our instincts over misleading words is crucial. It is important to be wary of the rhetoric of Tigrayan elites, as “Western and Southern” Tigray will continue to be significant talking points; TPLF and its supporters are simply waiting for an opportunity. Amharas should not seek conflict with Tigray, but if TPLF interferes in Welkait, it could potentially benefit Amhara by attracting international attention and intervention. 

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

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