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TPLF Repeating Same Fatal Mistake (Part One)

TPLF Repeating Same Fatal Mistake (Part One)   

Yene Gasha Sep 19, 2019             

It would be disingenuous for anyone to minimize the undeniable truth that many within the Ethiopian political bureaucracy (be they Tigrian, Amhara or Oromo) forgot their struggling compatriots and decided instead to enrich themselves and their families.  Thus, unashamed theft of public assets has become the norm in today’s Ethiopia.

However, it must also be said that since 1991, TPLF (particularly under Meles Zenawi’s leadership), tried its level best to bring about Ethiopia’s renaissance and thereby recording unprecedented economic growth, thanks to its developmental state philosophy (note that I did not say Tigray’s economic growth as I also share the frustration that our leaders had all but forgotten Tigray in the process).

Unfortunately, the Meles-led TPLF/EPRDF faced national and international sabotage at every turn – national sabotage based largely on ethnic-based hatred towards Tigrians and international interference because Ethiopia was increasingly becoming independent in a region mired in geopolitical intrigue.  

To make matters worse, this decades-long sabotage,coming from outside the ruling party, eventually merged with intra-EPRDF betrayal from within, making it impossible for EPRDF of today to recover as a unified party.

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But, it wasn’t all sabotage and betrayals either.  Although many top TPLF leaders many not have been corrupt themselves, they stubbornly refused to listen to any outside criticism.  They did not take action against the deep corruption, regardless of PM Hailemariam’s constant vacillations.  They latched on to Meles’ great ideas, but they could not make the necessary adjustments following his passing as the world was rapidly changing around them (given the advent of social media and the decentralization of mass misinformation).  While their ideology, particularly on the economy, was and still is superior to neoliberalism, many were incapable of selling it to the public or even to the political elite.   

TPLF leaders were repeatedly warned they had a major PR problem on their hands and that they were surrounding themselves with a bunch of good-for-nothing opportunists in Addis Ababa.   Many pleaded that if these issues were not addressed immediately, it will bring about their demise and endanger Tigray as a whole.  Sadly, they simply sneered at critics claiming they knew their opponents well.  They told us we had nothing to fear and received assurances that they had it all under control.

Of course, as we would all later learn, nothing was under control.  Political opponents within their own party outmaneuvered them and were getting ready to skewer them alive when most finally fled to Tigray.  They underestimated their rivals, particularly after Meles’ death. 

As the saying goes, old habits die hard.  TPLF’s art of underestimating opponents appears to have reemerged despite the shellacking this group has received over the last two years from Team Oro-Amhara.

The self-described Team Oro-Amhara appears to have once again sized up the current TPLF leadership’s overall knowledge, strategic-thinking, political acumen and versatility.  Team Oro-Amhara (largely with the help of its foreign handlers) seems to have concluded that there is a leadership vacuum in Tigray post Meles.  

After two years of trying to destroy Tigray as a region and Tigrians as a people (including by starving us through a blockade that is still in place), the team has now unabashedly adopted a new strategy of lulling TPLF leaders into a false belief that it has finally felt remorse.  Not surprisingly, the same TPLF leadership that got us into the current quagmire seems to be falling for this trick.

There is now serious fear among Tigrians that TPLF’s current conciliatory response isn’t part of some grand strategy.  There is fear that what we are witnessing is rather a genuine delusion that a team that has been calling itself Oro-Amhara (purposefully excluding Tigrians for nearly two years) has now suddenly changed.  After all, let’s not also forget that there were reformist-minded TPLF leaders that unknowingly sympathized with the leaders of this Oro-Amhara coalition until their real exclusionary colors became too apparent to ignore. To be sure, TPLF leaders are no longer sneering at us.  They may have even realized their grave mistakes towards the end.  Unfortunately, none of us can undo the damage that has been visited on the people of Tigray.  

However, history can certainly repeat itself if TPLF once again fails to fully appreciate the core drive behind Team Oro-Amhara’s revised political scheme.  It was first Oro-Amhara then the strategy morphed into the Cushite-coalition and now it has already moved on to a temporary conciliation of TPLF.

Tigrians must not let TPLF get hoodwinked again.  Make no mistake.  What we face is a global geopolitical conflict that would, if needs be, tolerate six million Tigrian casualties if it means protecting various national interests.  

There will not be third chances. 

Our leaders must, therefore, accept that Tigray faces a real and present existential threat.  And, they must never forget that we stand alone.  The tactic that team Oro-Amhara wants to employ may have shifted, but the end goal concerning Tigray is still the same.  

Do our TPLF leaders have a real strategy to deal with this existential threat or are they simply going with their best-case scenario assumptions?  Does TPLF have a real strategy beyond the 2012 elections, whether they take place or not, or are they just putting their trust in the Oro-Amhara team suddenly realizing the error of their ways?  

In light of the fact that they have been outsmarted and outmaneuvered at every turn so far, none of us could be confident.

Sadly, it appears TPLF is repeating the same fatal mistake it made two years ago.  The first go-round was fatal for EPRDF.  The next one will be fatal to TPLF, and by extension the people of Tigray.  TPLF will not have a third chance.  Therefore, TPLF must understand and accept the full depth of the game being played by its intra-EPRDF opponents, the proponents of ethnic federalism that are now working with Team Oro-Amhara (including those masquerading as opposition political parties) and the foreign geopolitical forces that are backing them.  The time to have a real plan is now. 

Author’s Note:  For all TPLF’s current decrying of the dangers of disunity among Tigrians (I agree that there is a real danger here), it was in fact the lack of unity within TPLF’s own leadership ranks, after Meles’ passing, that directly caused the fracturing within EPRDF in the first place.  TPLF and its most strident supporters will be well-served to invite criticism of their policies and actions if they want to succeed going forward.  Some in leadership like Debrits seem to understand this, but others including the cadres do not appear to fully appreciate how high the stakes are this time around. Nor do they seem to fully understand the nature of the foreign adversaries that have lined up against them.  Of course, most Tigrians know the difference between giving constructive criticism (or even just being a loyal political opposition that’s working to unseat TPLF from power) versus outright betrayal of Tigray and Tigray’s national interests. We all know just the handful of individuals who fall in this latter category of betraying Tigray’s national interest for their personal reasons.  Lumping together all criticism as betrayal or burying one’s head in the sand will be TPLF and Tigray’s undoing.  It is my hope that TPLF and its supporters will finally begin accepting constructive feedback before it is too late.


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