–Do not blame Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed for this-–
Aklog Birara (Dr)
I contend that relentless Egyptian, Sudanese, and Western criticisms of the Ethiopian Prime Minister on GERD negotiations, the TPLF initiated treasonous war, the Sudanese unprovoked invasion, the 2021 National Election etc. is unfair, unjust, and self-serving. It is intended to camouflage dominance over the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea corridor, and the Nile River. Secondly, they are planned to mask the real culprits behind proxy wars, lies, cyber-attacks, illegal arms trafficking, the flooding of the Ethiopian monetary system with fake monies, the wide-spread and illegal use of the Black market to convert hard currencies into Birr etc.
Among other things, this well synchronized assault undermines the country’s financial and monetary system and erodes public confidence in Government officials.
In my assessment, these measures are ultimately designed to weaken; and if possible, to fragment the Ethiopian state. Tools are also deployed to diminish the resolve and resiliency of the Ethiopian people. Anyone who understands the geopolitics of the Horn and the Middle East knows that proxy wars and economic sabotage are Egyptian trademarks that the Ethiopian people must never ever forget.
In the first series of this commentary, I argued and defended my thesis that Ethiopia is being attacked from within and externally. In this section, I ask that Ethiopians, their friends, and the international community understand that the TPLF/TDF is not alone in its assault of Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s internal enemies never operated alone in the past. They are not operating alone today.
How do Egyptians, Sudanese and their cohort operate to diminish Ethiopia’s resiliency?
They focus singularly on the top man or leader. In this case, it is Abiy.
I can find no credible evidence to support the flawed argument that Ethiopia’s myriad of problems today emanates from the Prime Minister’s world view. His world view on Ethiopia’s history, territorial integrity, sovereignty, and its place on the world stage is unassailable.
The contrast I would make is this. The TPLF leadership and organization never ever subscribed to the fundamental value of unfettered commitment to Ethiopia. Nor did it ever embrace humanity and human worth as core values in the formation of a democratic Ethiopian state and Government.
These core attributes—unfettered commitment to Ethiopia as one country; and respect for humanity and human worth (inclusiveness) as core values in the formation of a democratic and just society distinguish and contrast the leaders of the defunct TPLF and Prime Minister Abiy. Unfettered commitment means defending the soul of Ethiopia. Siding with Egyptians, Sudanese and other external adversaries of Ethiopia is tantamount to selling the country to the highest bidder. This is a critical contrast I am making in this article. I urge you to do the same.
For now, I focus on Abiy for a reason. In a recent interview by the BBC’s Stephen Sackur (Hard Talk) Getachew Reda mentioned Abiy dozens of times. Sadly, the attributions labeled are propagated as facts internationally. The most prominent transmitters are Egyptian, Sudanese, Western media outlets as well as heads of specialized agencies.
For example, Samantha Power, Administrator of USAID paid a visit to Ethiopia. I had thought that, upon her return, she will reassess her indisputable support to the TPLF once she witnessed the TPLF/TDF insurgency. She knows full well that the TPLF/TDF refused to reciprocate. It did the opposite. It expanded it insurgency to the Afar and Amhara regions. It massacred innocent civilians, 107 children and 40 women in the Afar region alone. It committed war crimes in the Amhara region, including the killing of an entire family in the town of Debre Tabor where I was born. It erased an entire village. It stole or destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars of investment property.
It stuns me that in her press statement of August 20/202, Ms. Power caveated and conditioned her call that “forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) halt its hostilities in neighboring regions” and then urged that “Amhara regional government as well as the Eritrean government withdraw from Tigray region.” There are no Amhara forces in Tigray. If she is referring to the so-called “Western Tigray”, then she must refresh her memory that these lands have never been part of Tigray.
I also find it unfortunate that, the top American official in charge of humanitarian assistance failed to condemn more Mai Kadra like atrocities committed by the TPLF/TDF and its allied forces since the Government of Ethiopia declared a unilateral ceasefire on June 28. Where is the sense of justice and parity in Power’s statement?
Fiction as fact
Here is the irony. The murderer and charlatan (Getachew Reda and his cohort) reverse and twist facts all the time. It is in engrained in their soul. They accuse the victim of all the ills afflicting Tigrean Ethiopians and the rest the society. The TPLF/TDF public relations and public diplomacy machine supported by stolen funds from the Ethiopian poor has been relentless in changing fictitious allegations into facts. It is this same narrative that Samantha Power and most members of the Africa team in the US Department of State continue to follow. This is the reason why millions of Ethiopians no longer trust the Government of the United States led by President Biden.
The same goes to UN specialized agencies that are dominated by the U.S. On August 18, 2021, an anonymous source working for the UN disclosed that the UN “We did not have concrete facts” on the widely disseminated allegations of mass sexual violence in Tigray. Zehabesha reported this. “Leaked audio recording of a March 26th United Nations agencies meeting was released by anonymous sources from a UN a meeting held in Ethiopia to discuss allegations of sexual violence in the Tigray conflict. The meeting was prompted by a need for the United Nations country offices to align on a unified position regarding the allegations of sexual violence. The discussions included problems related to the Media; in terms of how the media is sensationalizing the situation; and even spreading misinformation! The U.N. agency representatives who attended the meeting discuss the challenge they are having with the lack of evidence and lack of data, which has made it difficult for them to validate anecdotal evidence.
For details see https://zehabesha.com/leaked-audio-un-we-dont-have-concrete-facts-on-allegations-of-mass-sexual-violence-in-tigray/
Ethiopians have been demanding that international media outlets, Amnesty International, the International Crisis Center, CNN, the BBC, and others stop “spreading misinformation” to no avail. I have argued in the strongest terms that parading fake news as fact diminishes the credibility of Western institutions and undermines the neutrality and objectivity of the UN system.
I have vociferously argued that the TPLF is an incurable cancer that has no soul. If you steal from the public purse and enrich yourself and your family but leave the Tigrean poor to depend on international generosity to survive (the Safety net of the World Bank), then you have no soul. You lack commitment to humanity. If you make it hard for Tigrean Ethiopians from receiving humanitarian aid; you are inhuman.
The distinguishing value that emanates from Getachew and the network of personalities and agencies that transmit misinformation as fact mirror a world view devoid of humanity with a soul.
Do not “throw the baby with the bath towel.”
I disagree on many policy matters with Abiy. However, his humanity with a soul is incontestable. So is his unfettered commitment to Ethiopia.
Therefore, the argument by Getachew and his overabundance of supporters across the globe, including the Administrator of USAID that Abiy and his Government are responsible for preventing humanitarian aid or for “committing genocide in Tigray” is patently false. So is the accusation of large-scale rape in Tigray that is now disputed by the UN. When repeated, lies become norms. Inhumanity is humanized. Those who commit crime against humanity are condoned, at minimum, excused by Egypt, Sudan, and some Western Governments, especially the Government of the United States under President Biden.
Those defending humanity, human worth, territorial integrity, and sovereignty are unjustly criticized.
The inhumanity and cruelty committed by the TPLF is available in abundance. But these cannot be discerned with deaf ears and closed eyes. Behind deaf ears and closed eyes is a larger agenda. This larger agenda is to reinstate the TPLF that is subservient to foreign powers.
I shall use a set of standards to compare the inhumane and humane dichotomy under the two Governments: The Government dominated by the TPLF on the one hand and the Government managed by Prime Minister Dr. Abiy on the other.
- The TPLF agenda was exclusively a Tigrean elite agenda. Abiy is guided predominantly by Ethiopia’s agenda. This Ethiopian agenda stands for Ethiopia and for all Ethiopians.
- The TPLF dismantled Ethiopia’s national institutions. Abiy began to restore them. The TPLF never identified itself with Ethiopia and with all Ethiopians. It encourages “Down! Down Ethiopia.” Abiy vows to die for Ethiopia. The TPLF sends envoys to Sudan to destroy Ethiopia. Abiy travels to Turkey to further Ethiopia’s interests for all Ethiopians.
- The TPLF received massive amounts of aid from the West because its loyalty was assured. It stole tens of billions of dollars. But theft, graft and corruption were not criticized by donors. Abiy inherited a plundered treasury; miniscule foreign exchange reserve; and a broken society where theft, bribery and corruption were the quickest and easiest routes to wealth and fame. Abiy is not corrupt. He is doing his level best to repair a ship sabotaged by prior captains.
- The enduring pain and suffering for Ethiopian society emanate from ethnic polarization enshrined by the TPLF. Its strategy was complete identity based solely on ethnicity. It ethnicized religion and forced out faith leaders. Abiy shepherded them back to their homeland.
- The TPLF expelled independent journalists, opposition, and civil society leaders. It criminalized all dissent. Abiy invited back all those in political exile, including the Oromo Liberation Front whose armed wing (the Oromo Liberation Army) is now a menacing and terrorist force aligned with the TPLF.
- The TPLF committed massive ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Amhara, Gambella and Oromo regions. At least Abiy took steps to resolve the bitter conflict between Oromo and Somali Ethiopians. He has, however, failed to protect Amhara and Orthodox Christians from onslaughts. My cautionary note is this. We can demand rectification. We cannot, however, afford to “throw the baby with the bath towel” at this time.
- The TPLF abandoned Ethiopia’s access to the Red Sea but had the audacity to go to war with Eritrea. Abiy took the unprecedented initiative of mending relations with Eritrea that won him the Noble Peace Prize. He also recognized the national security imperative of reestablishing Ethiopia’s navy that the TPLF dismantled.
- Over the past ten months alone the TPLF/TDF has committed treason and genocide—Mai Kadra I, followed by numerous Mai Kadra. Most recently, it went on a killing spree and committed atrocities when it massacred Afar civilians–107 children and 40 women: raped numerous Amhara and Afar women; slaughtered hundreds of Amhara, including children and the elderly; and erased homes and properties in Wollo. It deployed Tigrean children as human shields and fodders of brutality.
Although I did not agree with the decision, Abiy declared a unilateral cease fire to avoid more civilian casualties and to allow Tigrean farmers to farm and avoid famine. Is this not the humane thing to do?
Since the unilateral ceasefire, Abiy has called on all Ethiopians to rally around the core imperative of the day: Defending Ethiopia. I welcome his recent official visit to Turkey at which the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this. “As Turkey, we are ready to make every contribution to the problem’s solution, including mediation.” He also vowed to defend Ethiopia’s “territorial integrity.” This is real friendship when it matters. Would you not think then that the Biden Administration would also take a firm position by siding with the Ethiopian peephole at a time of their greatest need?
Abiy declared a unilateral cease fire. The TPLF/TDF did the exact opposite. It expanded the war. It declared its intention to inflict as much pain as it can on the Amhara population. It went on a killing spree because it does not believe in humanity and human worth. Its commitment to peace is nil.
- The TPLF’s Meles Zenawi initiated the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The TPLF machine then converted the project into a scandalous theft and corruption bin. Aby removed thieves of state and party from the project. He accelerated GERD construction and carried out two successive fillings of the Dam. More important his team defended Ethiopia’s sovereign rights to harness its God-given waters for the betterment of the Ethiopian people.
Egyptians, Sudanese, and global capital that is heavily vested in the region’s economy is not pleased about the GERD and Abiy. This is because they believe that their hegemony will evaporate into thin air.
The final contrast has to do with sham elections
- The TPLF conducted fake elections to appease the international community. None of these elections were free and fair. In each instance the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front led by the TPLF won and ruled Ethiopia for almost three decades.
The TPLF and its allies won every single seat in the 2015 national election. In 2016, the Electoral Integrity Project, a panel of scholars and experts on election integrity, noted that the election occurred amid “harassment of opposition parties, censorship of the media and repression of human rights.” It was ranked as the worst election on the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) expert dataset.
It is this same sham election that President Barack Obama sadly declared “free and fair.” Why? Because his advisors who were close friends of the TPLF urged him to do so. This is a black dot. Even Human Rights Watch had declared the election undemocratic. It had accused the TPLF-led government of “systematic repression of basic rights.”
It is important to remember that in 2015 voters were intimidated by the threat of TPLF violence. Its military dd not hesitate to use sharpshooters to kill.
In contrast, the June 2021 election took place against difficult conditions: the Pandemic, the civil conflict in Tigray, Sudanese aggression and annexation of Ethiopian lands, the impasse in Tripartite negotiation on the GERD, punitive measures, albeit modest, by the US and the EU etc.
Under the circumstances, no reasonable person or agency would expect a flawless election. It is understandable that there would be “operational, logistical, security, political and Pandemic” related problems. This time, I did not detect the kinds of harassment and intimidation Ethiopian opposition parties or voters faced as was the case repeatedly in the past. A close friend of mine who retired from the UN and resides in Addis Ababa waited until midnight to vote. The problem he faced was not intimidation but the shortage of ballots. The fact that the election was peaceful cannot be contested.
The National Election Board of Ethiopia headed by the competent lawyer, Ms. Birtukan Mdiekssa NEBE registered 53 political parties. Forty-six (46) political parties deployed candidates: 17 at the national level and 29 at the regional level.
It is true that, especially in Oromia the election was incomplete. This is because the Oromo Federal Congress, a darling of the TPLF and the Oromo Liberation Front boycotted it. I would have liked to see the participation of both the Oromo Federal Congress and the Oromo Liberation Front. However, it is their democratic right not to participate. It is not their right to make the election illegitimate or to opt for a transitional Government or to operate with terrorist groups or with Ethiopia’s adversaries.
In this regard, and despite the boycott, I commend the millions of Oromo Ethiopians, especially youth, who responded favorably to defend Ethiopia from internal and external enemies. It is this unified purpose and action that will save Ethiopia.
More than 90 percent of Ethiopia’s registered voters opted to participate. While I cannot deny that there were irregularities and complaints, compared to three decades of make-believe elections, Ethiopia’s 2021 election is credible. It was largely peaceful.
The African Union’s Election Observer’s Mission report sums it up. “Overall, the pre-election and Election Day processes were conducted in an orderly, peaceful and credible manner. There was nothing, in the Mission’s estimation, that distracted from the credible conduct of the elections. The Mission, therefore, commends all Ethiopians for the demonstrated commitment to the democratic development of the country.”
It is true that the Prosperity Party formed and led by Prime Minister Abiy won in a land slide: 410 of 436 seats. It is not my intention to zero in on this victory. Others have critiqued its limitations with sufficient gusto.
My conclusion is that the TPLF suffocated Ethiopia’s transformation towards a just, inclusive, and democratic state and Government. By all objective measurements Abiy did the opposite. It is this call for national unity and shared prosperity that ultimately contrasts the TPLF leadership from Abiy.
Finally, against all the above, the Biden Administration continues to intervene and pressure Ethiopia. This must stop.
Apart from a few, Western media is relentless in its false depiction of the war. The entire donor community failed the moral and ethical test to chastise the TPLF for its incurable brutality and corruption. It is time for the Biden Africa policy team and for the EU to reevaluate their reckless and dangerous policy towards Ethiopia.
Ethiopia Shall Prevail!! The Ethiopian people shall Triumph!!