BY ANDUALEM SISAY GESSESSE – It has been about ten months since the Ethiopian national defense force was dragged into war by Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF). TPLF, which came to power in Ethiopia in May 1991, was the dominant in the ruling coalition – Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Party (EPRDF).
Until the TPLF lost its dominance within the four-party coalition – EPRDF in April 2018, it was engaged in economic embezzlement, grand corruption and grave human rights violations. To the surprise of TPLF and its long-time allies the United States, some European and Arab countries, TPLF lost all its power in Ethiopian politics in April 2018 when the EPRDF elected a new chairman – Dr. Abiy Ahmed.
Dr. Abiy who became Prime Minister of Ethiopia automatically, came to power after the former Prime Minister and the chairman of EPRDF Hailemariam Desalegn resigned following the popular uprising across the nation.
Abiy Ahmed’s reform
Immediately after he sworn in, Prime Minister Abiy publicly denounced all the grave human rights crimes and corruptions TPLF-dominated EPRDF was engaged in and asked the people of Ethiopia for forgiveness.
Not long after, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched political and economic reform, which within the past few years resulted in huge increase of tax income and export earnings of the country, among others.
Prime Minister Abiy released tens of thousands of political prisoners, brought home exiled opposition party leaders including those who went to the bush. He allowed opposition parties to peacefully engage in the politics of the country and assisted most of them to open offices and prepare for the general election of the country.
In addition, Abiy managed to restore peace with the neighboring Eritrea, which helped him to win Nobel Peace Prize. Millions of Ethiopians at home and abroad expressed their support to Abiy Ahmed considering him as unifier of Ethiopia and champion of peace in the Eastern Africa.
It didn’t take long for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia to bring together leaders of the neighboring countries to sit on same table and sort out their differences peacefully. He has initiated talks between the Kenyan President and Somalia President who were at loggerheads over claim of oil reserve, and Abiy also facilitated discussions and meetings between the quarrelling Djiboutian and Eritrean presidents.
As a result of Abiy’s effort of African solution for African problems approach, today led Kenya and Somali announced agreeing to restore diplomatic ties.
Obstacles of the reform
Though most of Ethiopians and peace lovers have applauded the efforts of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, TPLF and its allies were not happy about it. While Abiy has managed to achieve many positive results within the country and in the region within the past few years, TPLF was engaged in sabotaging the reform.
Fearing that Prime Minister Abiy will abandon the divide-and-rule ethnic politics TPLF introduced to Ethiopia, TPLF and its affiliates, mainly those organized as ethnic politics promoters in Ethiopia, were engaged in orchestrating deadly dramas across the country. Within the first two years of Abiy on power, TPLF and ethnic politics promoters in Ethiopia have orchestrated 107 incidents including assasination attempt of PM Abiy. These orchestrated dramas have led to the killings of thousands of innocent people and displacement of millions.
Instead of handing over the individuals accused of committing human rights violations in Ethiopia, the leaders of TPLF decided to hide them in Tigray Region where they have been preparing for war to return back to power with arms struggle once again. It was reported that TPLF has trained 250,000 militia and special forces to combat the national defense force of Ethiopia.
Finally last November TPLF admitted attacking the military base of the national defense force of Ethiopia based in Tigray region in order to take control of the heavy artilleries, which at the time was estimated to amount up to 70 percent of the total artilleries of Ethiopia.
That attack has forced the Ethiopian Government led by Prime Abiy Ahmed to launch a defensive that quickly tuned into an offensive operation to restore peace and order in Tigray region of Ethiopia.
When TPLF launched the attack in November, its assumption was to defeat easily national defense force of Ethiopia and return to central power controlling the capital, Addis Ababa in a few weeks’ time.
However, to the surprise of TPLF and its allies, the national defense force of Ethiopia along with Eritrean troops, and the Amhara region militia, who were provoked by TPLF’s rocket attacks to join the fighting, have managed to defeat TPLF by liberating most of the towns in Tigray including the capital, Mekelle.
Between last November and June, the federal government of Ethiopia has tried to restore basic services in Tigray region using the interim administration of Tigray appointed by the Ethiopian Parliament, which also designated TPLF as a terrorist group.
While most of the TPLF veteran leaders are killed and some were captured hiding in a cave during the war, the remaining have fled to hide in the mountainous areas of Tigray, while others migrated to neighboring Sudan, which is also at loggerheads with Ethiopia after capturing a disputed territory recently.
Coming out from the caves and mountains, remnants of TPLF militia have begun a gorilla style warfare and began killing Ethiopian soldiers in Tigray. Simultaneously, the former allies of TPLF have been putting pressure on Ethiopian Government and Eritrea to withdraw their troops from the region and allow humanitarian access to the people in need within the war-torn Tigray region.
TPLF’s favor to Ethiopia
In response to the international pressure and help the farmers in Tigray engage in farming activities during the rainy season, Ethiopia announced a ceasefire unilaterally at the end of last June withdrawing all its troops from Tigray region.
Meanwhile the TPLF has continued its provocation crossing into the neighboring regions of Ethiopia – Amhara and Afar regions. This act of TPLF has upset millions of Ethiopians within the country and abroad. From young women to retired army officers, people march in all corners vowing to eliminate TPLF once and for all.
Ethiopia with a population of over 110 million of which over 65 percent are young generation, over the past few weeks the country has been registering hundreds of thousands of youth volunteers, who are willing to join the national defense force of Ethiopia.
The latest provocation of TPLF is now considered by many people as a favor for the Government of Ethiopia led by Abiy Ahmed whose new Prosperity Party has won the last June general election.
TPLF’s continued provocation is now resulting in helping Ethiopia to welcome millions of young people, who are willing to die for the unity of the country without a salary. This provocation will soon make Ethiopia the nations in East Africa with millions of skilled and strong soldiers. In that case, TPLF is finally doing a favor for Ethiopia, I think.