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The callous diplomatic language and the invasion of Tigray

The callous diplomatic language and the invasion of Tigray

Kalayu Abrha 12-12-20

In my lifetime I haven't heard of any action by the international community and by the world powers to stop a conflict and the inevitable humanitarian crisis that follows before significant damage is done. These as the steps that have become sickeningly customary that those capable of stopping calamities follow. First, even if they get hints or receive reports from analysts, journalists, intelligence agencies and also from the potential victims of an evolving crisis, reaction doesn't come soon enough. The usual tendency is to turn a blind eye to brewing calamity inadvertently encouraging the perpetrators to go ahead with what they have planned. They don't pay attention until the crisis reaches such a level that the major media outlets have it as breaking news and a subject for news analysis and key personality interviews. By this time thousands of people are displaced and similar numbers have died already.

These are the diplomatic terminology that are in frequent use when a crisis becomes a global agenda. I will use the example of the joint invasion of Tigray by two governments and a regional militia and the humanitarian disaster that followed. This invasion was not triggered by the incident of "attacking and disarming" the northern command. It was planned meticulously for two years but waiting for an excuse. Addis Ababa is a center of African and International diplomacy and it is absurd to think that the international community was not aware of what was boiling in Ethiopia. The Tigray State Government had warned the international community more than once that what we see today was inevitable. The call for intervention to stop a disaster before it happens fell on the deaf ears of the international community as it happened in several cases, like Rwanda, Maynamar, Bosnia, Nazi Germany, Cambodia, and others. It begins with statements like: "This is an internal affair". Yes, the killing of a million people in Rwanda was an "internal affair"; the preparation towards it was happening under the very eyes of the UN peace keeping force. It is a conundrum which peace it was keeping. UN diplomats and world powers were busy with diplomatic phraseology about the non-violation of the sovereignty of Rwanda. Mynamar is an ally of western powers and they have got their usual mistake on their heads in the Nobel Prize winner Ansansuki. The international community or those who could have stopped the carnage waited until Mynamar finished the job of genocide on the Rohingia. Political analysts crowded global media outlets and journalists were very busy reporting under "difficult" circumstances about the mass displacement and suffering of Rohingia women and children. It is sad that journalism is not preventive; it feeds on such calamities as if they are sport tournaments or carnivals. For the international community this was a Burmese “internal affair”. It is only when the crisis draws global alarm that the "internal" is turned into “international". When Tigray Government warned of a regional crisis, few cared to listen; when refugees started to flood into Sudan it turned into breaking news and a subject for parliamentary debate for those who got their ears back!

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The other nauseating diplomatic terminology is "I (we) are concerned about developments in Tigray". When the reports of blockage of communication, internet, power, roads, and banks was announced with impunity and while it is clear what the grave implication of all the blindfolding and muffling of an entire region is to the lives of millions of people in Tigray, world leaders are just "concerned"! When the international community is burdened with humanitarian aid and threatened with a loss of its grip in the horn due to a possible spread of the conflict to other countries they call "both parties to exercise restraint"! The terminology is used as if two independent states are fighting not fellow Ethiopians being punished for electing their leaders. Election was not a crime; It is noble normally appreciated by the world of democracy. The invader and the invaded are both "requested to stop" on equal footing. The ugly tradition of the global powers is when an invasion occurs, or harm is done to particular groups of people what is evaluated is not what is happening but who is doing it. If it is an ally who is doing it "restraint" is cordially requested, if it is an unfriendly nation which is doing it a sanction will be imposed immediately. It is meaningless to request Tigray for restraint. Tigray did not invade any one. It is invaded by three armies in four directions without sufficient reason. What power does Tigray have to "restrain" unless this is a veiled request or warning for Tigray to surrender?

According to international law no country is allowed to involve in an internal conflict in another country. It was clear for the last two years, to anyone who has been listening to statements made by the Eritrean leader, that Eritrea would for sure involve militarily in Ethiopia's Tigray State to punish former allies turned into enemies for a reason driven by personal power ambition from the Eritrean leader's side. Words were converted into deeds and the Eritrean army was in Tigray almost in its entirety. Although communication is sealed in Tigray the fact that Eritrean garrisons have poured into Tigray cannot be a secret for the world powers who possess state-of-the art intelligence technology. No one can be fooled that the big powers don't know exactly what is going on Tigray! The tragedy is Tigray is of little use for them. They preferred to retain the friendship of Ethiopia and Eritrea in a benefit/cost calculation dumping moral values. The only gesture of "goodwill" came in the form of calling and asking the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea to check whether or not Eritrea is militarily involved in Ethiopia. This is ill humor. Asking Eritrea to check if it is involved? What answer was the UN chief expecting? He knows the answer is denial. He told the world that he got no evidence of Eritrean involvement in the conflict in Tigray. Who are the sources? Ethiopia and Eritrean leaders! This is too bad not only for the UN's reputation but also for conducting any research. The UN has a sophisticated security apparatus. A saying in Amharic goes (translation): "If not willing a needle cannot pierce butter". The world cannot be a better place if universal moral values are eroded, for the sake of alliances and counter alliances, maximizing benefits, avoiding trouble, and adhering to unhelpful diplomatic formulae, by the powers who are expected to be examples for the rest of the world.

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