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Military Action against TPLF in Ethiopia will be Noisy, Messy and will have Casualties

I have a massive problem with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) but I equally disagree with how Addis Ababa, with the help of Asmara, is attempting to address the TPLF problem. And that is my problem with PM Abiy Ahmed. My other sense is that he is dangerously over-doing his friendship with Isaias Afwerki. Especially because Afwerki was a key player in the creation and establishment of TPLF. While some people may conveniently want to downplay the role of Afwerki, we know that he took in Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's former strong man as a fugitive and supported him build the rebel army that eventually overthrew the Marxist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam. While the Tigray revolt, which started around 1975, preceded Zenawi’s premiership, his role, with the support of Afwerki, in that revolt is unparalleled. Zenawi together with Abay Tsehaye and Sabhat Nega are the, de facto, founders of TPLF. All of them received support (resources, training, weapons) from Afwerki’s Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) from around the same time, mid 1970s, that the Tigray revolt commenced. Again, there is no way that the TPLF would have accessed and enjoyed support from Mogadishu without the direct influence of Afwerki. Afewerki enjoyed good relationship with Siad Barre and it is through that friendship that Barre supported TPLF, particularly with military supplies (weapons and ammunition) and money. Afwerki, himself a Tigrayan, as is the case with about half of Eritreans, and the TPLF fought as close allies during the liberation struggle against the communist Derg.

 

The TPLF and Afwerki have a history that runs deep, part of the reason their fall out was messy, noisy and with mass casualties. Recently Afwerki referred to the TPLF as “vultures” with “a toxic and malignant legacy.” Indeed, it is the TPLF that dragged Addis Ababa into war with Eritrea. Because of the TPLF’s intransigence, Eritrea has effectively been in a state of emergency since late 1990s. It is easier to comprehend why Afwerki would so much want to destroy the TPLF, may be his gift in the evening of life? And this is where I have an issue with Abiy. He (Abiy) and the larger Ethiopia, may not exactly have the same interests as Afwerki, leave alone shared visions on how best to address the TPLF issue. Given what the TPLF has become, it is difficult to “destroy” it and secondly it may not be in the best interest of Ethiopia and the region (other than Eritrea) to “destroy” TPLF. Partly because the TPLF (under the guise of some vague coalition) have wielded unlimited power in Ethiopia for some two decades. While the Tigray nation itself is a tiny minority in Ethiopia, the TPLF machine, led by a clique of some vicious known individuals plus the Tigray Council of Elders (which I always say literally governed Ethiopia during Hailemariam Desalegn’s controversial tenure) has, in this period, entrenched itself and used its power and influence plus big money to create and sustain a lethal cabal that controls Ethiopia’s economy and largely the military power with clandestine local and external networks.

 

The TPLF cabal is lethal and is more powerful than a lot of people, including Abiy himself, seems to want to appreciate. Worse still, it has sustained a propaganda that has had their ideas lodged in the psyche of a majority of the Tigrayans. If only I had one minute with Abiy, I would probably remind him of two quick things. That his reason to want to “fix” TPLF may not be exactly the same as Afweki’s and, two that actually it is the TPLF, by extension the Tigrayans, whose revolutionary apparatus, had freed Ethiopia from the communist Derg committee in 1991. And then this thing; the TPLF, has controlled Ethiopia, a country with over 3,000-year history and one of Africa’s powerhouses (well some people may dispute that for whatever reason) for two decades. You cannot easily walk to Mek’el, fix TPLF and return to Addis Ababa. I would also remind him that the TPLF and Tigrayans, at large, have been at war forever. War is their language, starting one with them is pretty much playing into their hands. The TPLF and the EPLF are arguably the only African liberation movements which defeated an enemy whose military power was vastly superior: they did it by viciously conducting their wars as some “protracted peoples’ wars”; they have a playbook on how to fight Addis and then they love war. Using a military option in attempts to dislodge them is Addis Ababa's undoing. A war with TPFL shall be messy, noisy and will have casualties.

Military Action against TPLF in Ethiopia will be Noisy, Messy and will have Casualties Military Action against TPLF in Ethiopia will be Noisy, Messy and will have Casualties Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on November 09, 2020 Rating: 5

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