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Wrangling while crossing a heavily flooded stream

Wrangling while crossing a heavily flooded stream

Kalayu Abrha 09-03-21

" I am ashamed to hear any Tigraway complaining about democratic space in Tigray now while his and her brothers/sisters are sacrificing life across Northern Amhara land."            Zeru Hagos (in Tegaru-Aigaforum)

The enemies of Tigray have always waited for the magic bullet to effectively defeat Tegaru. That magic bullet is Tegaru turning against each other at a time when it is most fatal for them to do so. Victories have never been sustainable for Tigray because that evil instinct of discord surfaces too soon for the victory to be of any value. The history of Tigray is rife with in fights that almost invariably went in favour of the enemy. The nearly 40 years of internecine warfare between the nobility in Tigray, after the death of Yohannes IV, had given a free hand to Menilik II and his successors to degrade Tigray into total submission. Unable to make sense of what the nobility were doing to each other and to Tigray, the great general Alula was forced to sit idle at Arat Kilo Ghibi and hear the Empress mocking Tegaru for their foolishness. Who killed Alula? Not the Italians, or Egyptians, or Mahdists whom he defeated. It was a fellow Tigraway noble man who killed him. This man had the potential to rally Tegaru for a better future free from remote controlled subjugation by Shoan rulers. Tegaru were never to learn even a bit of lesson from that and repeated it during the first Woyane rebellion. The historic division between the nobility resurfaced and some of them sided with the Shoa rulers against fellows in the rebellion. Everyone knows how brutally Tigray was ruled after that until another rebellion started in the mid-70s.

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The TPLF-led armed struggle for the freedom of Tigray from subjugation was not free from the deleterious expressions of the "traditional" differences planted and watered by the myopic nobility of Tigray. The notorious 1st "hinfishfish" in the ranks of the TPLF was caused by trivial differences blown beyond proportions by a few tyrannical leaders in the TPLF. The irony was the leaders were educated enough to avoid the violent purges they were sadly engaged in. They also failed to tolerate and cooperate with other similar armed movements for Tigray. A modern internecine warfare resulted in the death and injury of Tegaru on all sides. A few years later TPLF was rocked by still another in fighting, this time for "ideological purity". In national liberation movements ideological differences are normally tolerated. But the bitterly split TPLF leadership had no stomach for compromise. Although TPLF managed to defeat the Derg and control Arat Kilo (the main source of the Tigrayan predicament) another major break of the TPLF became an unfortunate reality. One would ask, could it be in the DNA of Tegaru that they prefer to throw carelessly the bright future they toiled and bled for? The breakup of the TPLF leadership at the turn of the Century was the most fateful of all in fights in the political organization. The partner parties in the EPRDF coalition used the split in the ranks of the TPLF to later on weaken it, overthrow it, trivialize it, and demonize it with unprecedented bad consequences on the people of Tigray.

The story of the great scholar and religious leader Saint Yared is told as a story of a poor student who failed in a church school seven times. On the eighth he became the Yared that we know of today. Eighth chance could be a possibility in education. Sometimes a student could get exemption for course-allergy if "F" grade reappears several times. In politics and the fate of nations no such exemptions or repeated trials are possible without heavy cost. The people of Tigray and the political leaders have paid dearly every time they failed to learn from their previous mistakes. Tegarau have almost become predictable by their enemies. They have considered them as having short memories about how they had been ill-treated regardless of severity. Tegaru possess a dangerous propensity to repeat something that has already caused them great harm. The obsession with the idea of invincibility, while self- inflicted weakness drains their energy from inside, is putting Tegaru in the most vulnerable position putting their survival at great risk. The year 2021 goes down into the history of Tigray and its relationship with Ethiopia not as a milestone but as a crossroad to decide its future. By God's miracle and the bravery of its sons and daughters what seemed like the final year for Tigray is reversed and continuity is more or less ensured. But the threat of genocide is far from over. The war is raging on several fronts and TDF is decimating the multiple enemy forces in a speed never seen on this planet. The failed genocide by bullet has been replaced by genocide by famine. The diplomacy is getting messier by the day and the enemy is engaged in an intensive propaganda campaign to discredit and isolate the TDF which is defending Tigray. It is also very busy with trying to create rifts in the ranks of the fighting force and the political leadership heading the just war of defense. There are Tegaru who have already betrayed the people of Tigray as it is historically customary. Tigray is little worried about such traitors because they are of little consequence. Even the enemy does not trust them; and hence, they are a lost case. What the enemy prays for is division within the force that is fighting in all military and political fronts to save Tigray. To our alarm and dismay there are unmistakable signs of difference within the political leadership of Tigray which are least expected at this time when success and failure are on the two sides of a razor edge.

Differences in ideas is an attribute of civilized people; but if the difference and its reflection is ill-timed it is a recipe for disaster. The time Tigray finds itself is a time where even a dictatorship is tolerated. Russians have not only tolerated but also supported with their lives Joseph Stalin in WWII. They were wise enough to prioritize their concerns. It would be a folly for the Russian democrats to turn their guns or politics against Stalin while having Hitler's German Wehrmacht at their doorsteps. It is extremely painful and unrewarding to be a wartime leader; so is it in a transition period. TPLF's position leading such a war of great complexity is not enviable. It is leading politics full of uncertainty and dealing with an enemy that cannot be managed even with a knowledge and skill in space science. It is unhelpful at this difficult point in time to be possessed by the political history of TPLF and its faults. What happened in the last nine months is more than enough reason for the TPLF to undergo a metamorphosis from an inward to outward looking party. There cannot be iron ore that does not melt in a blast furnace. Isn't the invasion and destruction of Tigray blast furnace enough for all Tegaru? Haven't we all changed beyond recognition? Why are we obsessed with prewar politics which is no more relevant to solve our current problems? Some say without any sense of responsibility that "TPLF was a dictator before, and it will continue to be so in the future". Who is saying that? Aren't those in the TPLF as much Tegaru as we all claim to be? Are some Tegaru more Tegaru than others and think that they can "save Tigray from harm by TPLF's actions"? No one has the right to deny that it is the TPLF that organized the saving of Tigray with great skill and patience. Of course, it bears the responsibility to do so not only as a Tigrayan party but also as an elected government by a land slide. The TPLF-led government moved its seat to the mountains of Tigray as a tactical move to avoid civilian casualties as well as to keep itself safe in order to lead the resistance. Changing its location does not take away its legitimacy as an elected government. For whatever reason 2.7 million voters elected TPLF to office and the decision of the people a year ago must be respected unconditionally. I am not a member of the TPLF; neither am I its supporter. In fact, I was one of its constructive critics for as long as the TPLF ruled. It would look like a coup attempt on an elected government to suggest something as illegal as a "transition government drawn from all Tegaru". This is dangerous for the future of Tigray if legally conducted elections can so easily be rendered null and void. A bad lesson of impunity impeding future generation from building sustainable democracy. The war came only two months after the election. TPLF had no chance to show whether or not it would improve how it rules Tigray. For the last 10 months TPLF is managing deep crisis, which has drawn world attention and got it a good reputation. At this juncture it would be fair to judge the TPLF not for what it was unable to do immediately before the war or what it did not do for 27 years, but for what it is doing now and could do in the remaining four years. The fact that the four-year term of presidents must be respected, as the will of the people, gave the racist and foul-mouthed Trump to remain in office till the end.

One of the reasons given by those who are determined to replace TPLF, by an unelected transitional government in Tigray, are focused on the "lack of capability of the remaining TPLF leaders to effectively manage state affairs". This is a lame and unjustifiable assessment that does not hold water. First of all, we must have respect and sympathy for the martyred and jailed TPLF leaders. It is immoral to use their sacrifices as an opportunity to brand the TPLF as a depleted and weakened party unable to rule Tigray effectively. After all, it is not a necessity for elected officials and MPs to be scholars with higher degrees. What matters is how they they utilize the technocracy in the executive branch. Political will and the readiness to serve the people is what is most required of elected party members. Another criticism thrown at the TPLF is that it has kept its standpoint about the future of Tigray concealed. What do the people of Tigray want? We don't know; but we can only guess! Unless the people cast their votes in a referendum and the ballots are counted who claims to be the wizard or the prophet to know exactly to which option majority votes will go? Some individuals in some YouTube channels have gone to a figure as high as 90% of the votes in favour of independence. We seem to have gone wild pushed by our dreams without any intentions to wait for the will of the people to reveal itself. If we fail to respect the will of the people in last year's election it is also most likely that we wouldn't wait for the votes of the people in the referendum to know what they really want. Respecting the people not nurturing one’s own desire to grab political power should be the guide for honesty. If we dare to think that the people do not know what they want, and we try to put what we want in their mouths that is a disgrace and an anathema to democracy. The people of Tigray are those who suffered directly from the invasion. They would know what they want. They don't need to be told how to feel about their own future after all the bad things that happened to them. Connecting the dots from the statements being made in some YouTube channels one can suspect that a few of those that found themselves in the bush for the last several months may have been collecting and counting points to serve them for realizing their ambitions for political power. No need to be specific with names but unfortunately this is true.

Tigray Independence Party (TIP) is a prewar party. It was already decided on independence before the war. Baytona favoured confederation before the war and now it has shifted to a similar mission to TIP. Salsay Woyane Tigray may also be inclined towards independence. They all have to be respected for what they stand for. However, they should not try to impose their missions on other parties. It is the people who got the right to judge them as representative or unrepresentative of the will of the people. While calling for a wider political space in Tigray opposition parties should not be the one to deny it to other parties who may be taking options other than independence. Self-censure is a must as you point your finger at others. Although it has not made its position clear TPLF may likely have a federalist stance for Tigray. They may feel that if a genuine federalist system can be built and sustained Tigray may be safe within such a framework. Should TPLF be criminalized for this? Not at all! TPLF can be blamed only when it hinders other parties from spreading their ideas to the people after the war is over. Some leaders of opposition parties and other individuals almost accuse the TPLF leadership for not revealing its standpoint on independence. In the first place, it does not need to reveal it now. This is a time for ensuring the very existence of Tigray. It would be a luxury, even sheer callousness, to declare options about the political status of Tigray that are relevant to postwar politics. Some opposition to TPLF go as far as accusing it of harbouring a hidden agenda of getting back to Arat Kilo Palace. They blame the leadership of TPLF for using the war of defense to "help them secure their personal property in Addis Ababa". This is too simplistic and abusive. There is no problem with securing personal property. Everyone would like to do that. This should not be a point for political debate; it is too immature. What we are all worried about is the fate, the businesses, and properties of Tegaru in Addis Ababa. Their safety and continuity must be ensured. Nothing should be done in haste.

Everyone must understand the challenges TPLF is facing. The world does not want another state declaring independence. World powers and African states desire a united Ethiopia as the second largest state and the headquarters of the AU. The world may be sympathetic to our plight, but it is more willing to solve it in-situ. TPLF, as an elected leadership has to skillfully balance the interest of the world community and the dreams of Tegaru. This is a very difficult job. The opposition is pressing on the TPLF to reveal itself about the issue of independence. For the supporters of Tigray in the West what TIP or Baytona believe Tigray should be is irrelevant. They are watchful of what TPLF stands for. Any slip of the tongue in favour of independence can take TPLF to the "American gallows". As a consequence, Tigray will lose everything. Such statements as "We don't care about what America feels" are not helpful. If Tigray is to be independent in the future, I think it has to have rich friends. It cannot lose them now. Even in a federation or confederation the rich states who by now admire us could continue to help us to grow through large scale investment. Watch out! Independence without recognition by the west is like living in the dark. We have to be brave and tactical as well. That is how the world moves on!

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