How should the war terminate from the perspective of Tigray?
Kidane Abraham 08-03-21
Whether interstate or intra-state, wars culminate by some kind of peace agreement, however fragile and extended it may be. Though peace is tough to maintain among deadly adversaries, it becomes exceptionally notorious when atrocities develop into genocide. However, there is no other alternative except to pursue it until attained.
You don't make sustainable peace in the air, especially when one of the opponents is like a "powder in the air." Some circumstances affect the 'ripeness' for serious resolution of the conflict and conditions that inspire enemies to strike a deal. Without being involved in discussion with theories of the civil war resolution, this paper tries to embrace literature that focuses on the content of peace agreements and emphasizing context and process according to circumstances.
In the first part, the background and the nature of the war against Tigray are widely discussed to inform the underline political reasons for the war and the type of combatants involved. The second part continues to discover whether the objective and subjective conditions of the war, i.e., internal and external dynamics signal some "mutually hurting stalemate" to induce some kind of ceasefire and peace agreement. To elaborate on that 'stalemate,' the military balance, political landscape, economic debacle, and regional and international developments are examined. Deliberation on the content, i.e., self-determination (territory), power (Tigray-Federal), security, and justice, will be followed by the process of the would-be peace accord.
The purpose of the article is to ignite discussion for all stakeholders to formulate the best options possible in the circumstances without a gab on the unfolding military, political and diplomatic dynamics with the understanding that we have to make hard choices, and they have to be made promptly.
To address longstanding grievances, a multi-national federation was established by introducing the Transitional Charter and subsequently the Constitution of 1995. At the core of the Constitution is self-determination (individual and collective). It promised the full extent of individual rights and encompassed each of Ethiopia's "nations, nationalities, and peoples" self-rule and shared rule. Self-governance includes the right to become an independent state.
Ethiopia enjoyed relative peace for almost 25 years (the longest in its modern history). Hailed by many as an African economic miracle, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRDF) had success in these aspects. However, EPRDF has begun to hijack the constitutional system that is sponsored and started to govern by dictatorial means. Political and civil rights, socio-economic rights, and the right to self-rule were abused and become beyond the population's tolerance. The Ethiopian peoples wanted to change, but the governing elites were unflinching.
Ethiopia has been in turmoil since the election of 2016. The EPRDF and its affiliated parties claimed to win 100% of parliament seats in this election. It didn't take more than six months for the Ethiopian youth, especially those from the Oromo and Amhara regional states to revolt against the government. The pressure mounted, and the EPRDF elected a new face as party chairman and subsequently the Prime Minister, without a shared and clear vision, policies and strategies.
With the promise of change, the new leadership got remarkable initial support in all corners. However, the backing dwindled at an accelerated pace because it became worse in all aspects of a modern polity. The fever for self-determination across Ethiopia continued to wreak havoc in the capital of the country. The Oro-Mara Bilzigna rightists with no shared vision, strategies and organizational disciple except clinging on power usurped the peoples' quest for human rights and dignity and messed it up.
The Sidamas and Welayita's were the first victims of the new dictators. West Oromaya is being administered under command posts for more than two years, and people have been subjected to all atrocities under the environment of war. Extreme elements are continually massacring innocent Amharas living in Oromiya, South, and Benshangul regional states, allegedly with the support of government officials. The Gumuz are also being slaughtered recurrently. The Kimant are believed to be in the process of extermination. The Oromo Special Zone and its environs of Amhara Regional State are under the "Command Post" after atrocities whose sponsors are 'unknown.' Tegaru were hunted down in Amhara and Oromia way back before the war. Where is Ethiopia heading? The current system is threatening nations of the multi-national polity of their existence. The country is becoming a nightmare for the majority of its citizens. The devastating war against Tigray is part of the new and expanded assault on human rights.
1. The nature of war against Tigray
a) It is Political Warfare
"In war, the first casualty is truth." Aeschylus
The axis of evil intends to transform the most peaceful and developing regional state into famine and genocide. As authorities of the field describe it, war is a mere continuation of policy by other means. It is the use of political means to coerce an adversary to induce one's will, based on hostile intent. Political warfare combines armed conflict, economic pressure, psychological contest, diplomacy, etc., colored by words, images, and ideas.
The "bilsigna" Narrative wants us to believe the war begin with the military clashes in the early hours of November 4, 2020. The political setting for war was grounded when the 27 years of EPRDF rule was labeled as years of "darkness" within months of the election of the Prime Minister. During that period, all human rights abuses were attributed to Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) leaders only, exonerating other leaders of EPRDF, including the former and current Prime Ministers. In the last three years, the intensive propaganda and actions were conducted in the backdrop of the malicious campaigns of the defeated Dergists, especially those in the diaspora, of "domination of the people of Tigray" over others since 1991. The 'domination of the TPLF,' whatever it may mean is, categorically different from the values and interests of the peoples of Tigray.
The Peace initiative with Eritrea ignored all the peoples of Ethiopia and their institutions and completely disregarded the neighboring people of Tigray. The President of Eritrea declared 'game over,' which meant revenge against the peoples of Tigray, and the new leaders in Addis Abeba and their henchmen applauded and tried to bypass Tigray in all dealings with their tutor, the arc dictator Esayiyas.
Orchestrated (like the attempt on the prime minister's life and the killing of the Oromo nationalist and artist Hachalu) and the real massacres anywhere were attributed to the TPLF to create mistrust and hatred between nations and nationalities and the Tigray peoples. Particular attention should be given to the continuous propaganda to wedge enmity among the Amhara and the Tigray peoples.
All activities to isolate Tigray included transportation blockade, denial of investors from going to Tigray, keeping 'safety net' budgets, etc. All kinds of psychological, economic, etc., warfare was conducted before the military clashes begin. The mouse pieces of the new dictators laid down the prerequisite for genocide when they declared war on the peoples of Tigray with the dictum "95 million to 5 million". It was evident that the Eritrean and Ethiopian governments were conspiring to wedge war against Tigray peoples. It started with a political narrative "it is just to invite Eritrea to accompany the Ethiopian government offensive against the TPLF."
2020 was supposed to be the 6th election year. The Prime Minister postponed the election, citing the coronavirus pandemic. The rubber-stamp parliament approved and rescheduled the election when the threat of the virus was at its initial stage. It reversed its decision and allowed the election to be conducted in 2021when the pandemic is at a dangerous phase. The election was conducted in Tigray in September 2020. For Tigrayans, the election reflected their will and was better than the previous elections. For the governing elites in Addis Abeba, the peoples' self-determination was backstabbing to their power. Instead of accepting the will of the people, the Federal government threatened to take action. The parliament voted to block the budget from the duly elected Tigray regional government. The Prime minister threatened to take more steps. Isn't this some form of declaration of war? TPLF declared that it wouldn't recognize the Federal government if the election were not conducted according to the time frame written in the Constitution. Bilizigna designated the elected Tigray government illegal based on the interpretation of the Constitution by the House of Federation. With no platform to resolve issues through negotiation and compromise, it was evident that confrontation could be scaled up to armed conflict. The two belligerents were preparing for war, though one can term the preparations defensive and just or illegal and offensive.
b) Bilzigna waged war against the peoples of Tigray
Every age has its own Fascism. —PRIMO LEVI
Fascism: a doctrine of anger, fear, divide and rule
Is the war between Ethiopians and Tegaru? No!!! Because Bilzigna is directly and indirectly at war with all the peoples of Ethiopia. Is it between Bilzigna and TPLF? The reply is categorical No!! It is between fascist Bilzigna and the people of Tigray. Had it been between the two belligerent parties (Bilzigna and TPLF), though, we might expect collateral damages in war, the horrific atrocities directed on the peoples of Tigray after the "declaration of triumph over the TPLF" wouldn't have happened. To borrow the Prime Minister's assertion, in its essence, all people of Tigray were fighting the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) whenever they get the opportunity.
Bilizigna treated Tegaru as enemies residing outside the war zone:
After the declaration of the military offensive, the Federal government started a systematic campaign of discrimination. Profiling of Tegaru, unabated harassment includes arbitrary raids on their homes and businesses, removing them from government posts, civil service, foreign, etc., stopping people from traveling overseas on work missions, for medical treatment or studies. Thousands of Military and Police officers were forced to leave their posts and languish in prisons across the country.
The war, which the Ethiopian Federal Government initially declared as "a rule-of-law operation," with "clear, limited and achievable objectives," metastasized into a bloody war. We are entering the ten-month of horror. Mass rape, killings, starvation have been employed as instruments of war. Socio-economic, cultural, and religious sites' devastation is beyond imagination. Hundreds of thousands have been forcefully evicted from their homes, especially from western Tigray. Ethnic cleansing (Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state), war crimes, and crimes against humanity commensurate to genocide have been conducted systematically. There is a sound assessment that Tigray is edging closer to famine.; the humanitarian crisis is worsening. 5.2 million of Tigray's estimated 6 million people need emergency assistance. More than 60,000 people have fled into Sudan, and an estimated 2 million people have been displaced internally.
Even after the declaration of the "unilateral ceasefire," the Federal government has condemned the people of Tigray to a siege. All kinds of a hindrance for humanitarian assistance, and by blocking electric, banking, telephone services, etc., the government is extending the intent to wipe out the people of Tigray.
The war is also against the next generation
The administrator of USAID, Samantha Power @PowerUSAID, tweeted (May 26)
"In the past week, the number of severely malnourished children in #Tigray, Ethiopia has gone up 90%. Shocking number despite fewer screening for malnutrition because of restricted aid access. Govt of #Ethiopia is failing the next gen-they deserve better."
Children under five are not getting the necessary food and health care. Many are without guardians. The malicious intention of the unholy alliance, to deny Tigray of the next generation, is indescribable.
Scorch Earth Policy and genocidal nature of the war
The scorched earth policy is usually a strategy of warfare by retreating armed forces. However, in the case of Tigray, all genocidal activities were conducted by criminal parties after they claimed that they won the war. Rene Lefort's description of the genocidal war on Tigray is noteworthy. Le Monde published the article on June 3, 2021. Girmay Berhe translated it from French.
"A scorched earth policy hits Tigray. Some 87% of health facilities have been looted, deliberately ransacked, or demolished, according to Médecins sans frontières (MSF). Of the 296 ambulances in Tigray, 31 remained in working order at the beginning of January. Schools suffered the same fate. Water supply installations have been rendered irreparable. Agricultural implements were destroyed. In short, vital means of existence and production have been willfully wiped out. Finally, the Amhara authorities annexed Tigray's western and southern ends without any legal basis because they had been improperly incorporated into that region after the TPLF came to power. They imposed ethnic cleansing there. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled, whether they have lived there for ages or settled there more recently.
Genocidal: The discussion above asserts that the war is against the peoples of Tigray, and the scorched earth policy followed by ENDF, the Eritrean, and the Amhara forces brought about all kinds of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes of humanity. To be termed genocide, the material condition is fulfilled; what remains is the policy intention.
During a parliamentary session in March last year, the Prime Minister, as if to endorse the maxim, "governments don't outsource violence to militias; they model it' and acknowledge rape as an instrument war, hideously replied to a question on sexual violence in Tigray; "The women in Tigray? These women have only been penetrated by men, whereas our soldiers were penetrated by knife". Remembered that, in another televised speech regarding the regional election in Tigray, he said, "I don't want the mothers of Tigray to cry"
As is more or less known, Bilizigna intentionally refuses aid packages to reach the people in a famine state. Food is being used as an instrument of warfare. When asked by a BBC journalist about the famine of Tigray as let as on the election day, the Prime Minister's reply was, "there is no hunger in Tigray, there is a problem." Denial is an integral part of genocide.
It is in tandem with Mr. Haavisto's testimony. The Finish Foreign Minister and E.U.'s Special Envoy, interaction with the highest Ethiopian authorities reveals undeniable evidence. When asked, he reiterated that "they really used this kind of language, that they will destroy the Tigrayans, they will wipe out the Tigrayans for 100 years".
Bilzigna's soldiers who killed civilians in a town called Mahberedoge in Tigray recorded their horrendous acts and were overweening about their deeds. The Administrator of USAID, Samantha Power, who, while Co-hosting U.S.-EU High-Level Roundtable on the Humanitarian Emergency in Tigray, @PowerUSAID, asserts that #Ethiopia "destroys reproductive health of Tigrayans." A direct nod to Art 2 of Genocide convention "Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group."
PM Abiy, utilizing genocidal language, tweeted on July 16 in Amharic. He described the 'Junta' (TPLF) as a cancer and "invasive weed" that must be destroyed and not allowed to "bud again." Remember that he acknowledged that Tigray people are fighting against his army alongside the TPLF. This means the reference of 'weed' and cancer extends to all Tigrayans. The PM is becoming another Hutu leader who called Tutsis 'cockroaches. The same PM proudly confessed that Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, was ruined to resemble a village he was born. A flourishing modern city of more than half the population destroyed to be as equal a village town of ten thousand. He has demolished it so that it could not be the "center of gravity" of Tigray.
In practice and intentional policy, the war crimes, ethnic cleansing, crime against humanity have mesmerized to genocide.
 Bilzigna is a force of chaos within the anti-multinational federation and anti-Tigray coalition
At the center of the anti- human rights, group is the Bilzigna ruling party. The group is a loose association of political parties, business and intellectuals’ elites who want to control the resources of the peoples of Ethiopia from the center with branches everywhere. They are opposed to self-determination and hence the multi-national federation. If nations of Ethiopia decide on their political, socio-economic, cultural destiny they claim that Ethiopia will dis-integrate. As amorphous as its composition, the “Party” that never has had organizational congress before its registration, is as ‘confused as the gurus’. They claim that it is one party but the two main branches i.e., the Oromo Prosperity Party and the Amhara Prosperity party are as far apart as two ideologically different parties. The O-PP at least on the surface, claim to follow the existing constitutional system while A-PP asserts that it is anti-Amhara. They agree on common enemies and in clinging to power.