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Tragic Political Actors and the Tragic War Against Tigray

Tragic Political Actors and the Tragic War Against Tigray

Aynalem Sebhatu


In April of 2018, desperate to minimize the political chaos in Oromia, Abiy Ahmed was named the prime minister of the country by the EPRDF.  He was elected to address the political, social and economic problems the country was going through and to stabilize the country to a peaceful transition.  He was expected to keep the country from falling apart.  There were high expectations and his popularity even defied the gravity of cautious optimists. Unfortunately, Mr. Abiy squandered his popularity and his political capital at an incredible pace and plunged the country’s political and social fabric into chaos. He would be remembered as truly an “Incredibly Shrinking Man.”

The past few years, Ethiopia is going through a very violent and unsettling rough political path.  The ethnic conflicts around the country are horrific and fuel political crises at local, regional, and federal levels.  As if the pandemic is not enough, the war in Tigray reached both its climax and lowest point in November of 2020.  It is a paradoxical war and a savage one at that. It is a war that saw the realization of the objectives of the Eritrean dictator and the inflation of the Amhara’s ethnic ego. From the chauvinists’ point of view, It is a war of regeneration of Amhara’s pride and celebration for most of Amhara all over the world.  

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But there is one great exception, to the celebrating Amhara, which lives on in the memories and consciences of other well-meaning Ethiopians, Eritreans and citizens of the world: Tigrayans are murdered, bombed, raped, starved to death, displaced and herded to prison camps on the chauvinists, Isaias Afeweki and Abiy Ahmed’s charge that they possessed Tigrayan genetic make-up. In effect, this war is an existential threat to all Tigrayans and Tigrayans should fight it by any means necessary.

If you think or believed that this war started suddenly on November 4th of 2020, I have a bridge to sell you.  A closer look at what transpired in Tigray does reveal the Eritrean army started shelling the town of Humera a day (i.e., on Nov. 2nd) before the alleged North Command story took place. Evidence is coming out that the three invaders of Tigray were preparing for the war at least for a year and half.  Many observers believe that the assassination of the Chief of the General Staff, General Se’are Mekonnen, as being part and parcel of the preparation for this war.

The psychological and the propaganda preparation for this war started a long time ago when the TPLF took over the lever of power in the country. Since then, the seeds of hatred against the TPLF and Tigrayans were planted with fanfare. More importantly the Amhara chauvinists’ first strategy was and is to demonize, to discredit and to defame the TPLF at any cost. No matter what the TPLF did, it must not be allowed to gain any credit for its leadership for the last three decades. Psychologically, the extremists must attack, attack, and then attack the TPLF again. But there are risks in the perpetual attack--it becomes increasingly extreme and it blurred the distinction between the people of Tigray and the TPLF.  Second, the old expansionist policy of Menelik has to assume a new facelift and rally around the questions of Welkait, Raya, Metekel, and other places. Besides the appeal of Welkait for land grabbing elites, once the mind-set of expansionists solidified, they became ensnared in its logic. If it was logic, it was that of the alcoholic: one more piece of land couldn't hurt, then the flare up of conflicts surrounding Amhara regional boundaries go unabated. This Includes the current border conflict with the Sudan. Therefore, the behavior of the Amhara chauvinists is becoming a major destabilizing force in the country. 

The Amhara elites who are in power, Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afewerki, are good at just one thing--clinging into power.  Abiy is the gift that kept giving for Isaias Afewerki and the chauvinists. As an Oromo politician, the more unelected Abiy Ahmed in Oromia became the more Abiy and Amhara chauvinists are entrenched in power. A tragedy for the country but a godsend for the chauvinists and for Isaias Afewerki. The Amhara elites do not seem to realize the pillars of Ethiopia are crumbling one by one. They are in a euphoric state of mind of that of a drug addict and their marching bands (all their media outlets) are beating war drums against the Benishangul-Gumuz people and the OLF.  They are hopelessly lost in their dreams of expansionist view and chauvinistic ideology.

If there is one winner from all these devastating political mazes, it has to be the Eritrean dictator. He is the one now who is managing the dismantling of Tigray as well as the disintegration of Ethiopia as we know it. The new sheriff in the region, Isaias Afewerki, is enforcing “law and order” in Tigray. Can anyone even contemplate that at all?  Isaias diligently designed and planned the war effort for two years and he is executing it with the iron-clad discipline of his murderous army.  The Isaias army is waging a war of savages while the Abiy army and the Amhara elites are cheering, or they are choosing to bury their heads in the sand.  

I could not find a word that accurately describes the beasts which are unleashed in Tigray. When tomorrow comes and it will, the true nature of the Isaias army, the Abiy army and the Amhara forces will be revealed to all of us and it is going to be seen in a new limelight by international and national observers. The deeds and images projected are not going to be pretty. The horrific behavior of the Isaias army for example, will have a negative perception on the images of innocent Eritreans. That is unfortunate.

To all well-meaning Eritreans, I would like to say the following with clear conscience and with a full recognition of the distinction between the Eritrean people and the Isaias army.  All the members of the Isaias army are part of your flesh and your blood and you should own them. It then only then Eritreans can start reconciling with their brothers and sisters from Tigray. Otherwise, it would lead us to a circular finger pointing of “plausible deniability.”  Thereby erecting a taller dividing wall among us in order to extend Isaias Afewerki’s lease on his power.  

If Ethiopians think that the reign of terror unleashed against Tigrayans by the Eritrean dictator will stay in Tigray, they better wake up. Isaias Afewerki is betting on Abiy and he has invested so much on Abiy Ahmed. His resolve is clear in protecting Abiy Ahmed’s power at any cost. He is determined to see Abiy Ahmed’s power secured in Eritrea’s image.  Abiy’s leadership is tragic enough, the enabling of Abiy’s dictatorship with the blessing of Isaias Afewerki and the Amhara elites is even more tragic.  I only hope these tragic political actors failed and somehow the hopes and aspirations of all Ethiopians are restored. My hope is simply based on the observation of many political obituarists who always love to quote Enoch Powell’s insight that “all political careers end in failure.”

Tigray will Prevail!

Eternal glory to our martyrs!

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