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The Three-Legged Genocide in Tigray in the Making

The Three-Legged Genocide in Tigray in the Making

Aynalem Sebhatu



The international community could no longer look away from what is unfolding in the making of genocide in Tigray.  There would be no particular point to elaborating here about the daily killings, bombing, rape, looting, burning farms, destroying cultural and historical assets of Tigray. There is, however, one point that should be made. It is time for the international community to uphold its commitment to protect the people of Tigray from genocide before it is too late.  

This genocide is planned and triggered by three forces of darkness: Isaias Afewerki, Abiy Ahmed and Amhara extremists. Hence my analogy of the three-legged stool of genocide.  The plan to dismantle Tigray and the beginning of the genocide of Tigray unrolled on November 4th, 2020.  The war plan was drafted and refined by Isaias Afewerki for the last two years and the plan relied on crucial air support from the drones of the UAE. The Isaias army attacked from northern borders of Tigray while Abiy’s army attacked mainly from the south, west and eastern of Tigray. The Amhara forces joined the war from the south and western Tigray.  The invasion is supported by mechanized divisions as well as the air power of the two countries.

Given the mounting evidence so far, if you still believe that the war started suddenly on November 4th due to TPLF’s alleged attack on the Northern Command, I still have a Brooklyn Bridge to sell you.

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The three invading forces and their three-legged stool of genocide reared its ugly head to the entire world when the world attention was focus on the U.S. election. Since this infamous day, the war has been conducted in a shadow. The atrocities committed in this war against innocent civilians and the few images leaked so far paint a picture of horrific disregard for human life. The reach of the violence is widespread, and it touches every tentacles of life in such an intensive savage manner, it is difficult to comprehend and it will have a lasting resonance.

The three invading forces are unified by the ideology of hatred of Tigrayans and their readiness to wreak political revenge against TPLF.  For years the Amhara media outlets and the Eritrean outlets, supercharged by their respective social media outlets, echoed falsehoods, lies and conspiracy theories against the TPLF and the Tigrayans in general. Years of hate-filled messages and inspirations captured the imaginations of many unsuspecting Amhara and Eritreans. The roles of these socially irresponsible media outlets in shaping, characterizing and casting the nature of the political discourse are unimaginable in fostering and magnifying the day-to-day frictions created in normal circumstances and further lubricating ethnic conflicts.

The Amhara chauvinists are animated and inspired by the same conspiracy theories and narratives of such as “Amhara genocide.”  Believe it or not, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, WHO’s Director General as the most prominent Tigrayan, was accused of such crime by Amhara extremists. They consistently have denied the Hawzen massacre of 1988 of Tigrayans by the Derg military forces for a long time and they have created “alternative facts” of their own. Thousands of Tigrayans were targeted and expelled from northern Amhara (Gondor) in 2016. A number of Tigrayans were also attacked and killed. Coming to the on-going war, the war crimes and the massacre of Tigrayans in western Tigray by the Amhara Fano is on a scale of its own. The massacre of Mai Kadra is the tip of the full-fledged genocide against Tigrayans and it is a preview to what is going to come out.  Yet, the Amhara hypocrisy has no boundary when they rise in arms and condemn the horrific killings of and expulsion of Amhara ethnic from other regional states, such as in Metekel, Benishangul-Gumuz regional state.

Thus, it is apparent that a considerable segment of Amhara hopes to profit (e.g., land grab of the south and western Tigray) from the alleged political sins of the TPLF and will do its best to label the Tigrayans as “junta” or “anti-Ethiopia/Amhara,” if not Abiy Ahmed’s explicit phrase as the “የእናት:ጡት:ነካሽ

One of the many challenges for the Amhara nationalists is their lack of a strong leadership that enlists people in a struggle for their causes without exaggerating the ways in which they are oppressed. True, this is a challenge for any political organization and all political organizations have the capacity to produce and reproduce myths about their political identities.

If the Amhara nationalists do not find a disciplined and principled leadership, their cause for equality and justice could be easily hijacked by extremists and turn their causes into forces of darkness. Once its agenda is taken by ultra-nationalist forces, the exaggerated sense of injustice and oppression may generate myths about ethnic/national identities which might turn out to be counter-productive to cooperation with other ethnic groups thereby leading to conflicts. Unfortunately, the Amhara are dominated and led by ultra nationalist forces that are acting as a destabilizing force in the country. Today it is fighting in Tigray, tomorrow it will start another devastating war with Benishangul-Gumuz, with Oromia, Afar, Sidama and yes with Sudan. Where does this stop?

In short, to keep the balance of the three-legged stool, the three political actors have to work according to each actor’s prevailing understanding of the objectives of the war. To be specific, if one of the actors (say Abiy or Isaias or the Amhara) wants to adjust the objective of the war effort, the alliance is going to be doomed.  So, the three political actors have all the incentives in maintain the alliance as much as they can and oversee the genocide effectively executed.  In the context of the three-legged stool, the stability of the stool depends on keeping the strength of three legs intact.  Given their ideology of hatred, it is not surprising that the three political actors’ interests joined to push their war against Tigrayans using genocidal formulations. What would have been surprising was the absence of such a united front in erasing Tigrayans from the face of the earth. Beyond this uniting force of hatred against Tigray, there is not that much intersecting world view and interests among the three invaders. The clashes between the Isaias army and Abiy’s army, over the looting and transporting of heavy military assets of Ethiopia, in surrounding area of Adigrat and Mekelle is a preview for what is to come. Hence the instability of the stool might come from clashes of divergent interests thereby destabilizing the country much further.

Up to this point, the three political actors have been in the happy position of their army’s involvement regardless of the cost of the war.  The sacrifices of their soldiers would nourish Abiy’s, Isaias’ personal egos and Amhara’s ethnic pride. Moreover, the alliance had shown little willingness to compromise with international humanitarian agencies. What the international community should realize at this point is that Abiy Ahmed is not going to act independently without any green light signal from Isaias Afwerki. So, the diplomatic efforts of the UN and the African leaders were a waste of time in stopping the war in Tigray and It is going to be fruitless in knocking the doors of Abiy Ahmed even more so now. Perhaps it is time to deal with Isaias once and for all.

Tigray will prevail!

Eternal glory to our martyrs!


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