Supported by America and other foreign forces, including elements within United Nations (UN) agencies, The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) are attempting to overthrow the democratically elected Government of Ethiopia and regain power. This would be disastrous for the country and the region.
The impact of the year-long conflict is devastating. Perhaps as many as three million people are internally displaced, tens of thousands have been killed; women and girls raped, property trashed, land destroyed, livestock slaughtered by TPLF fighters. At this stage it is difficult to see how a peaceful resolution can be reached; the government has said it will not enter into negotiations until the TPLF withdraws to Tigray, and the TPLF, in no position to set any conditions, are demanding Prime-Minister Abiy Ahmed steps down.
The conflict was initiated when the TPLF attacked the Ethiopian State on 4 November 2020 (perhaps with US approval): despite this, the US and her puppets (UK, EU etc) have, to the incredulity of many, stood behind the terrorists and not the government of Ethiopia, or the Ethiopian people. It is widely acknowledged that the Biden Administration is behind the movement to replace the Abiy government, and install the TPLF – a less independent (the US doesn’t tolerate independent governments), more malleable group that, in exchange for the freedom to do as they like, will once again provide the US with a foothold in the Horn of Africa.
Unsurprisingly, Jeffrey Feltman – US Horn of Africa special envoy, denies all this, saying, “we have consistently condemned the TPLF’s expansion of the war outside Tigray, and we continue to call on the TPLF to withdraw from Afar and Amhara.”
True, however it’s actions not words that count (particularly politicians words), and in light of the US response since the start of the conflict, and the State Department’s behind-the-scenes shenanigans, his repudiation appears duplicitous at best, and is ignored by furious Ethiopians, many of whom attended protests recently. Huge crowds gathered under #NoMore in Addis Ababa, Washington, San Francisco, London, Pretoria and elsewhere, demanding an end to American interference in Ethiopia’s affairs. There is growing anger among groups in other African nations, who see American meddling in Ethiopia as an attack on Africa itself, a colonial assault.
American administrations, have consistently backed the TPLF, who established close connections with the US government during their 27 years in power (1991-2018), contacts that they are making full use of now.
It was only when, in 2018 after they were forced out of office by years of demonstrations, that the US withdrew backing and celebrated the new government led by Abiy Ahmed. But, consistent with their Support for Dictators the world over, until then and throughout the TPLF’s reign the US (plus UK and, less so, the EU) turned a blind eye, a deaf ear to the regime’s brutality, human rights violations and the anguished cries of the people.
And when the TPLF attacked the Northern Command Headquarters last November, and bases in Adigrat, Agula, Dansha and Sero, killing security personnel and stealing weapons, Washington, London and Brussels said and did nothing. This initial betrayal set the tone of the West’s orchestrated and shameful response. The US is leading the efforts of destruction and ‘transition’ – as TPLF officials and terrorist sympathisers call the move to overthrow the Government – giving the TPLF a range of practical and political support: They are believed to be sharing intelligence information about federal troop movements, providing food, water, and arms.
They consistently feed western media false or misleading information, and have repeatedly called for negotiations and a ceasefire: while this sounds reasonable and at some point a political settlement may be possible, such demands elevate the terrorist TPLF to a legitimate political group and disregard Ethiopian public opinion. The US also ignores the government-declared ceasefire in June/July, which the TPLF not only refused to respect, but, after federal forces withdrew, TPLF fighters marched into Afar and Amhara and committed a series of appalling atrocities.
At the same time as facilitating TPLF aggression, spreading their propaganda and criticizing PM Abiy’s government, the Biden Administration has imposed a series of sanctions on Ethiopia: In May visa restrictions were introduced against anyone deemed “responsible for, or complicit in, undermining resolution of the crisis in Tigray,” together with “wide-ranging restrictions on economic and security assistance”. This affects US financial support, and is potentially extremely damaging. At the same time, a request was made for the World Bank and IMF to also withhold funding. Four months later, on 17 September, President Biden signed an Executive Order, “Imposing Sanctions on Certain Persons With Respect to the Humanitarian and Human Rights Crisis in Ethiopia.” The rather vague dictate includes the Government of Eritrea as well as any “military or security force that operates or has operated in Ethiopia on or after November 1, 2020.”
From 1 January 2022 (unless there is significant change on the ground) Ethiopia’s Special Trade Status, which enables Ethiopian goods to be sold into the US free of import duty, will be removed. This is potentially the most damaging measure and threatens to cause wide-scale job losses among the poorest workers. According to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Trade and Regional Integration, it will “reverse significant economic gains in our country….We urge the United States to support our ongoing efforts to restore peace and the rule of law — not punish our people for confronting an insurgent force that is attempting to bring down our democratically elected government.”
The US is also targeting tourism in Ethiopia (in 2018 the sector grew by 48% and contributed $7.4 billion to the economy); urging its citizens to leave the country and deterring anyone from travelling there. Those who do have been warned there is a high chance they will be killed, and urged to make a will before travelling. This is blatant fear mongering. It is a coordinated effort (UK, France, Turkey, Germany and others have issued similar guidelines) to present Ethiopia as broken and dangerous and to isolate the country, and as US citizens who made the trip recently discovered, is completely false. These measures could cost the country $billions.
And in June, around the time the Ethiopian government initiated a ceasefire in Tigray, the US State Department announced “a review for a genocide determination” – by the government of Ethiopia against Tigrayans. This is utter nonsense, but represents another triumph for the TPLF and indicates the level of influence they have in Washington. The Ethiopian government is fighting the TPLF, not the people of Tigray, however, the impact on civilians in Tigray, as well as Afar and Amhara, has been devastating (largely resulting from TPLF violence) and there are some reports of Tigrayans being unduly targeted following the imposition of a State of Emergency (SoE) on 2 November.
Whilst it is important that security forces have the freedom to identify anybody working with the TPLF and to reduce the risk of random terror attack, actions such as indiscriminate arrests, risk fueling anger against ethnic groups, particularly Tigrayans (many of whom are not involved with the TPLF), and should wherever possible be avoided.
Within the chaos of conflict a powerful sense of national unity has emerged; the people have a common enemy – the TPLF, as well as the US, and western media, which has lost all credibility among Ethiopians. It is essential that this sense of togetherness is maintained and that fragmentation along ethnic/tribal lines, which the TPLF agitated when in power, is minimised. Introduced as a way to divide and rule, the TPLF’s policy of Ethnic (or tribal) Federalism split communities, enflamed resentments and fostered the creation of ethnocentric political groups, some of which, the Oromo Liberation Front e.g., now working with the TPLF in an unholy alliance, have morphed into armed insurgencies.
Stay Away USA
US administrations, self-righteous and arrogant, appear never to learn from their invasive mistakes, or recognize the degree to which they are despised in certain parts of the world. It is not a sense of global responsibility and altruistic kindness that impels the US (and other former predatory powers) to interfere in a nation’s affairs, it is self-interest, corporate gain and fear, and is seen as such by people throughout the world; just ask the abandoned, violated people of Afghanistan, the abused Palestinians forced to live under occupation in their own land, or the millions of Iraqis whose lives have never recovered from the 2003 invasion.
Ethiopia, much to the fury of America, is now looking elsewhere for allies; China, which has a strong relationship with the country resulting from the Belt and Road Initiative, Iran, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – reported to be supplying arms – Russia and African neighbors. The message to the US from Ethiopians and people standing in solidarity with Ethiopia is clear, ‘Stop Interfering’, ‘Mind your Own Business’, ‘We see you’. If you cannot be a friend to Ethiopia, a supporter of democracy and a Force for Good in the country, then Stay Away. Ethiopia is an ancient nation with a rich diverse culture, it has never been colonized: this fact is a source of great pride to Ethiopians, who are a deeply proud people, they will “never bow down” as one protestor put it, not to terrorists or modern-day colonialists, not now, not ever.