Genocidal Warlord Isayas Afewerki’s Staged Interview: Reality check
Ezana Hager (from Mekele)
On Wednesday 18 February, the life-time Eritrean warlord, Isayas Afewerki, has given a theatrical interview to Eritrean tv with no mention of whether or not Eritrea is taking part in the Tigray war, why he sent his tens of thousands of troops there, committed, and continue to commit atrocities, systematic and widespread violence against girls and mothers, looting and vandalism in Tigray and against Tigrayans. There was not a single word as to why the Eritrean youth are dying and maiming in tens of thousands outside Eritrean territory either.
This note does not attempt to analyse the arrogance of warlord Afewerki towards his people, the Ethiopian public and the international community at large; nor does it endeavour to explore his ignorance of the contemporary word of expertise and technology often used to document troop movement and state-sponsored mass killing, looting and wanton destruction of property.
The aim here is to do a reality check and make sense, if there is any, of what he said about the politics of the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia and the war he waged against Tigray along his friend in crime, Colonel Abiy Ahmed Ali.
War preparation: Afewerki accused the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) or the Tigray regional State of preparing for war. He said that he asked Dr Debretsion Gebremicheal when they met in Omhajer-Humera border crossing in 2019 why they were preparing for war.
Dr Debretsion’s account of the meeting at the time contradicts this-- they talked about the ‘opening of the whole Tigray/Eritrea border’. There were also rumours that Afewerki expressed concern and fear about his life, nothing else.
His former colleague, Mr Mesfin Hagos, furthermore, exposed that it was warlord Afewerki and Col. Abiy Ahmed that were preparing for taking military operation against the Tigray regional state for more than two years using special forces from both countries and some elements of the northern Command. The official and clandestine series of visits of the two leaders and their senior military and security officials to each other’s territory and military facilities corroborate this. There was also significant troop build-ups towards the Tigray region from the Wolo and Gondor fronts before the war started.
Most importantly, who was preparing for a war for almost 30 years by turning the entire youth of a country to military personnel? His forced military conscription of the Eritrean youth often considered as enforced slavery has without a doubt been a permanent and an apparent threat to the entire region.
Tigray and the Tigray leadership-led Ethiopian government were best known for advocating development rather than a military build-up, until, of course, invaded by warlord Afewerki in the late 1990s.
When Tigray was isolated and the two dictators joined hands to demonise Tigray and its leadership, it was natural for Tigray to make the necessary preparation to defend itself. In fact, if one wishes to look back, the Tigray leadership could be criticised for not doing more to protect the people of Tigray from the Eritrean, Abiy and Amhara’s (axis of evil) aggression and abhorrent crimes, and not the other way round.
Starting the war: Warlord Afewerki also blamed the Tigray leaders for attacking the northern command which, to him, amounted to an act of ‘madness’ designed to overthrow the Ethiopian and Eritrean regimes.
There is overwhelming evidence, including from the axis of evil themselves, that the Federal, Amhara and Eritrean forces finalised their pollical, diplomatic and military assault against Tigray. The Eritrean opposition leader, Mr Hagos, who is likely to have connections with senior Eritrean officials, further revealed the attempted attack by Eritrean and Ethiopian commandos in Mekelle, which was foiled by Tigray regional forces, was what triggers the war.
The madness question: Warlord Afewerki sarcastically called the Tigray alleged attack as madness.
However, it is now widely accepted (by the Americans, Europeans more generally and also the UK) that his involvement in the war is a mad decision that has increased ethnic and political tensions in the Horn of Africa.
Most importantly, warlord Afewerki has ordered his troops to kill in masse, assault mothers and girls, loot private and public property and destroy Tigray’s economy as a matter of state policy. What he is doing and his friends in crime, without any doubt, constitute grave war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly the crime of genocide. These are evidence of real madness of the warlord and his partners.
At the time of writing this note, several innocent youngsters were murdered in Adwa town for no reason whatsoever.
This is why Dr Gebremicheal called upon the aggressors to stop their madness shortly after the resumption of hostilities to which they gave a deaf ear.
Going back to the last 20 or so years, who has been the mad dog of the Horn of Africa? Is it Tigray leaders or the Eritrean warlord? Clearly, it is the latter. He committed an act of aggression against Yemen, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Sudan. This was confirmed by neutral and international bodies.
The region is now better off? The dictator also claimed that due to mysterious peace accord signed between himself and Col Ahmed, the aggression waged against Tigray, the region is better off in terms of stability and regional cooperation for the benefit of all countries.
The entire world, apart from diehard backers of the warlord and dictator Ahmed, think that the region is now in a mess and the Tigray war destabilised the region –Ethio-Sudan, Kenya-Somali and the Somalia unfolding tensions got worse and various regions of Ethiopia, in particular the Benshangul-Gumuz, Oromia and Afar-Somali are engulfed in flames.
Federal constitution to blame: the genocidal warlord blamed the Ethiopian constitution as a security and stability threat to Ethiopia and to the region. He claimed that he expressed his concern to Former Prime Minister Melese Zenawi.
Putting aside the claim that PM Zenawi consulted him on the matter, where does he get the moral and ethical ground to criticise that constitution (or any constitution for that matter)? For a warlord who does not know any constitution, election, parliament, free press, multi-party system or basic human rights for the last 30 years, his courage to comment on the Ethiopian constitution can only be a joke. He turned his country in to a large prison, forcefully disappeared his senior comrades, religious leaders, journalists and others, which is why he made his country to be levelled as the North Korea of Africa.
It has to be stressed that the Eritrean public is put in the dark regarding the deployment of Eritrean troops into Tigray, the policy and practice of mass murder, looting and infrastructure destruction. Put it simply, if he does not care about accountability and transparency about the country, he is rules with an iron fist, why does he care to comment about a third country’s constitutional order?
If he does not like Article 39 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to self-determination, why was he then sponsoring, financing and arming ethnic-based armed opposition groups that were fighting the EPRDF government? The answer is clear. He is a hypocritic and dangerous warlord.
Furthermore, with all its shortcoming and defects, the Ethiopian system brought a much better stable, prosperous and democratic country than his own or many other African countries. Although without any explanation, the warlord’s admission that his economy, health care, etc are almost nil explain it all. It was that system that made Ethiopia a rising economic power in Africa until Afewerki and Trump’s conspiracy bear fruit to bring dictator Ahmed to power to destroy Ethiopia and its exemplary progress.
The private and public industries, vehicles, hotels, residential homes, public services he looted, vandalised and destroyed in Tigray because of jealousy and serious failure to fairly govern his own people are all by-products of that constitutional and economic order.
More on Ethiopia than on Eritrea: the warlord spoke more on Ethiopian than Eritrean affairs in his extremely dull two hour staged interview. He covered issues ranging from the Ethiopian political system, the Tigray war and the Nile to that of his common on the hasty and sentential behaviour of Col. Ahmed Ali. His remark on the personality of the Ethiopian dictator is the second of its kind in the last few months- the Kenyan president called him ‘childish and idiot’.
Sadly, this is accurate. The warlord does not seem to be concerned at all talking about the internal and external affairs of another ‘sovereign’ country--he confidently spoke about Ethiopia’s national business without any hesitation whatsoever.
This is no surprise that the warlord’s army is fully engaged in a war inside Tigray with Ethiopian military uniform, hardware and budget; that his generals are leading the war; that his security services are freely operating inside Ethiopia; that he is given freedom to massacre, loot and destroy Tigrayans and Tigray without any limit, including suppressing or threatening political opponents in Ethiopia; and that he publicly undermined and questioned the personal and leadership skills of Col Ahmed suggest that Ethiopia’s sovereignty and regional power have been compromised and Col. Ahmed has no other option but to adhere to what the warlord tells him to do.
The war not over: the warlord admitted that Tigray remains a challenge despite the fact that three or more countries and extremist Amhara forces are battling against it from all directions and that his friend in crime declared that the war was over more than two months ago. His assault on the personality and lack of experience of his partner in crime is to do with the threat that Tigray poses to the axis of evil that the Ethiopian dictator does not really understand.
This undoubtedly controverts Col. Ahmed and his army chief-of-staff’s reiteration that the war is over and the ‘junta’ is defeated; to them what is left is apprehending the ‘remaining’ leaders. This may be because of naivety and lack of experience or a deliberate propaganda aimed at easing internal and foreign pressure.
Afewerki’s account is correct, even if too conservative. The world knows that the Tigray war is not only continuing; but also expanding its horizon triggering a regional conflict. Importantly, not only that the Tigray forces have successfully repelled multiple rounds of military operations mobilising the entire Eritrean and Ethiopian armies, the Amhara and Somalia forces and Emirates’ drones, but are now on the offensive. It seems that warlord Afewerki understood what is coming when he conservatively thought the war is not over. The camp of the axis of evil appears to be terrified by the intensification of the military, political, diplomatic and advocacy endeavours of all Tigrayans (and their friends) except the few who sold their souls and conscious.
In sum, aside from warlord Afewerki’s apparent relative power that may enable him to dominate and exploit Ethiopia for a while and his acceptance of the threat that Tigray forces pose to him and his partners in crime, the various claims he has made in his interview are bogus and fabricated as usual. It remains to be seen for how long himself, Col. Ahmed and their Amhara extremists will rely on such falsehoods to remain in political power and escape justice for the blood they are shedding, the bodily and mental harm they are inflicting upon mothers and sisters and the livelihood they are destroying in Tigray which amount to the crime of genocide.