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An Insane view of Sovereignty

An Insane view of Sovereignty

Aynalem Sebhatu 01-09-21

For more than two months of denying the involvement of the Eritrean army in Tigray’s war theatre, it seemed the Abiy regime’s wheels of lies might finally be coming off. In an informal conversation, a growing number of officials and high-ranking military leaders in Addis Ababa and Mekelle are admitting the active involvement of the Eritrean army. At the same time, these officials are denying their awareness of a plan to involve the Eritrean army before the war started on November 4th of 2020. On the record, few officials and the leader of the North Command, General Belay Seyoum, admitted the Eritrean army is involved in Tigray.

It is disgusting almost beyond words that the leader of the North Command who invaded Tigray side by side the Eritrean army renders judgement on matters of solemn sovereignty and creates a lame excuse and blames the TPLF for it. The explanation given by General Belay, was a great perversion of what a country’s sovereignty means, broken by erratic fits of soul searching.  His notion of “sovereignty” of the country is not explained as a first principle of the Ethiopian military’s duty to preserve the integrity of the country’s borders but to guarantee that Abiy Ahmed’s definition of sovereignty would prevail.  

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As far as the people of Tigray considered, the officials’ statements are too late and it is an insult added to the peoples’ deep injuries. It is an unforgettable and unforgivable offense to their sense of citizenship and an absolute insult to their intelligence.  They are now left wondering:  If the Ethiopian army thinks it is defending the sovereignty of the country with honor, what does a dishonorable act and a treasonous army look like? What is the Ethiopian military for? What does citizenship mean for Ethiopians?

It has been some time since I heard of a bad logic and absurd judgement as General Belay Seyoum’s rationalization about the country’s sovereignty.  The fact that the Isaias army penetrated deep into the country is offensive enough, allowing the Isaias army to freely kill, loot and rape with the tacit agreement of the Ethiopian army makes his view of sovereignty even more absurd. What is the point of preaching about sovereignty when foreigners storm citizens’ houses and mothers and sisters are subjected to rape at a gun point?  What happened to Abiy Ahmed’s mission of “law enforcement operation”? Are the members of the Ethiopian military living essentially a vegetable existence?  I know I am simply raising rhetorical questions here.

The second broad tendency which seems to me to threaten the country’s sovereignty is the violence used to narrow the political space thereby violating the sovereignty of citizens.  This violation could take many forms. Taking one form of it, the political rhetoric and assaults (via different media outlets) against the TPLF, the OLF, the Benishangul-Gumuz, the Kimant, the Sidama and the Woliyta people have been resembling a campaign against rabid foxes—in words and in deeds. Political opponents are named “Junta”, “OLF Shane” and the perceived enemy is dehumanized till s/he becomes a thing.  This creates an immoral easiness to kill people.  This is dangerous to a competitive political and national soul of a country. The General seems to have forgotten this basic understanding of sovereignty that can be neglected only at greater danger to one's national conception of sovereignty.

In defense of General Belay, one could assume that bad judgement is at fault until the contrary can be convincingly established. One possible explanation might be the leadership of the Ethiopian military might be in a dark with regard to the plan of Eritrean army involvement. I suspect that is what happened here and the war plan is designed and developed by Isaias in his Gulag state. “My conscience doesn’t allow me to ask for the Eritrean army’s help. This is our internal problem, and we can solve it ourselves. And we don’t have a capacity problem.” The General makes himself clear that he was not aware of the plan to involve the Eritrean army unless he is not telling the truth.   

On the Eritrean side of this tragic war, we heard that Isaias' plan met with bitter opposition from some old-line army officers, who maintained that the whole idea of waging a war against Tigray is a waste of valuable human and material resources, and they end up in prison. That is an honorable thing to do.  On the other side, a significant number of veterans of the Eritrean army think that a variety of anti-intellectualism is endemic in the ranking officers. That means the function of the soldier is not to think and it made no difference to the Eritrean soldiers why they are in Tigray—their job is simply to do what they were told. Consequently, when orders went out from Isaias to all commands, many key generals and the rank and file of the army did everything in their power to implement the undertaking like robots. This includes the undertaking of the heinous crimes of war without raising eyebrows. 

Lastly, one can be prepared to argue that due to the Abiy regime’s failure to defend and preserve the sovereignty of the country, the TPLF, then, is charged with protecting the sovereignty of citizens and the country from any perversion by Abiy Ahmed.  There are Tigrayans who have a history of opposing TPLF in the past are joining the movement for reasons that the TPLF is much more credible in defending the sovereignty of the country than the Abiy regime.  Afterall, the TPLF is the one which is democratically elected by the people of Tigray.  Although Abiy and his cronies can condemn the Tigray election as “illegal” and “undemocratic,” the election itself seems to have reflected the will of the people of Tigray.

Tigray will Prevail!

Eternal glory to our martyrs!



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