International tolerance of the “Year of the Bully” is leading to growing chaos globally

The lack of response by world international bodies to aggressive acts by totalitarian government leaders such as Putin and Ahmed has emboldened their behavior to oppress, deprive, and kill others for selfish benefit.

The impending invasion of Ukraine by the totalitarian Russian regime and Ethiopian invasion of Tigray assisted by Eritrea and the United Arab Emirates are connected. One might characterize the past year of global strife as the “Year of the Bully”.  The Abrahamic faiths jointly believe that man has a covenant with his Creator to follow the concept of love for his brother as the guiding principle of interaction between individuals and nations.

Yet what we have seen over the past year is a growing dangerous indifference to aggression with the intent of domination of one group over another for wealth, power, or revenge. In Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa thousands have died, been abused, or deprived. Millions are displaced and starving. Where there was once a growing economy and a chance to climb out of the caverns of poverty now has been replaced for unpayable war debt and chaos. Similarly in Europe after 75 years of relative peace Russia feeling emboldened by the weakness of the world diplomatic community to selfish aggressive actions of one group over another such as in Ethiopia has decided that war in Ukraine is reasonable.

The Apostle St. Paul discussed the dual nature of man. That he had a dual nature-one beastly driven by concern only for one self and one spiritual committed ideally to peaceful co-existence under guidance from God. These were based upon the Ten Commandments given to the Hebrew Moses. These said peaceful coexistence is the best way for all. Salvation can only come from seeking peace.  The Qur’an discussed the need to have faith and live a moral life. Martin Niemöller was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who initially supported Hitler’s Nazi movement but then realized the dangers. In the aftermath of World War II his poem describing how dangerous it is when we ignore the oppression and suffering of our fellow man.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Increasing food shortage in Tigray and Ethiopia forecasted in 2022

The latest forecast for food shortage in Tigray and Ethiopia through May 2022

Ethiopia’s lack of agricultural development causing increasing food imports versus exports and ongoing poor rains are contributing to a worsening food crisis through much of the country. The Ethiopian blockade continues to prevent significant food transport to Tigray and distribution within the regional state. Food insecurity in Tigray and Ethiopia will not improve in 2022. 

The Famine Early Warnings Systems Network outlook for Ethiopia and Tigray through May 2022 sees no significant improvement in the food supply crisis. Tigray will remain in famine, most of Eastern Ethiopia will be  in an emergency or crisis state.

Ethiopia’s high government budget deficit spending billions of dollars for weapons and focus on war with a concomitant lack of attention to food production in addition to environmental factors is contributing to the food security crisis in areas other than Tigray.

Displacement of millions, inflation of food prices, and reduced income for selling livestock in Ethiopia will contribute significantly to food insecurity. Extremely poor rainfall in most of the region over the past two years has resulted in significant livestock death and limitations on the normal migration patterns of pastoralists. 

Ethiopia’s failure to develop agricultural is resulting in a decreasing ability to export food items and greater need to import them. Source: Brookings Institute

A Brookings Institute analysis suggested Ethiopia had been slow to develop the agricultural industry which makes up the most of the Ethiopian economic output. Whereas in the past food exports had contributed to acquiring foreign currency necessary to buy necessary import now there is much less available extra production in excess of domestic needs.  The country exports mostly raw products without processing to create added value, has poor financing, transport, marketing, and commercialization on an industrial scale. 

Food costs increased 41.6% year-on-year mainly due to a jump in the prices of vegetables, meat, milk, cheese, eggs and spices. Those for coffee beans and non-alcoholic beverages also increased. Source Bloombergs

The unhindered use of social media to promote Tigray genocide continues

An Amhara ENDF soldier, Geremew Demse, proudly posts on social media pictures and video of his participation in Tigray massacres. Source Tghat

The official dehumanization of Tigrayans by  Ethiopian and Eritrean supporters combined with social media celebration of murderous acts against noncombants  belays the clear intent of evil intended to be rendered. While nefarious propaganda from supporters of the Ethiopian and Eritrea governments claim there is no proof of genocide now numerous and growing examples have been posted on Facebook and other social media as egregious records of duty by members of these forces themselves.

Numerous social media exists even before the conflict with Ethiopia government officials and their clerico-fascist supporters in the rogue Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Protestant factions who say Tigray require complete extermination and support the blockade of food, medicine, and other basic necessities even though this violates the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to which Ethiopia is a signatory by membership. This attitude was no doubt an aggravating factor in generating the ongoing genocide of Tigrayans.

One example now well documented by Tghat is Geremew Demse from the Amhara region and at one time a member of the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Sudan. He posted pictures and video where he selects a male teenager to be executed during the  Mahbere Dego massacre. Subsequently a long line of many young men is seen being marched to their death.

Unfortunately this is just one of at least hundreds or maybe even thousands. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Guardian have reported that Facebook has been inept in impeding these practices. Many nonpolitical Tigrayans living in other regions of Ethiopia whose families have been abducted and killed leading experts to believe that these were “vigilante” actions inspired by social media and encouraged by Ethiopia and Eritrea. One such case out of many is Gebremichael Teweldmedhin, a Tigrayan jeweller abducted three months ago in Gonder, a city in the Amhara region.

While Facebook has been under severe criticism by media critics for allowing this practice to continue almost unabated there has been not a single word from the Ethiopian or Eritrean government. This can only lead to the conclusion that Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afeworki endorse this method of inflicting hate into their followers and promoting more terror upon the Tigray people.

Global indifference to Tigray suffering continues at European African summit

The plan of EU diplomats at the AUEU summit is to restart relationships based upon joint business projects and avoid other sensitive issues such as the Tigray Ethiopian conflict

The largest armed conflict and famine of the world are happening in Tigray and its surroundings. Yet most of the world pays little attention nor seems to have concern for the well being of millions. For some countries like Canada the value of Tigray is not about the people but instead about the potential mining of precious minerals at low costs and minimal liability for environmental concerns or worker welfare. For China Tigray and Ethiopia are stepping stones to acquiring wealth and influence in the pursuit of being the ultimate global power. 

This week the African Union and European Union are having a joint summit. At the meeting in Brussels this week the stated purpose of the event is to “discuss how both continents can build greater prosperity”. Diplomats are having loquacious meetings that are empty of significant content relevant to the needs of millions in distress. What counts is having a picture taken with an African diplomat representing a tyrant who will then proclaim his acceptance by European leaders. Discussions of unpleasant topics like imprisonment without trial, starvation, and violations of human rights are avoided.

The American view of Africa is bit more complex but not always lofty or committed.  Former President Barack Obama made the following observation on his initial visit to Kenya saying “Africa had become an idea more than an actual place . . . with the benefit of distance, we engaged Africa in a selective embrace”. When most Americans saw the television story of Roots (Author Alex Haley’s story of his slave ancestry), they felt compassion. Yet when informed about African suffering prejudiced views of Africa being an eternal hotbed of disease and conflict that will never change have caused a dominating concept to prevail in policy decisions that Africans are a lesser people doomed to a lesser existence. When it comes to Africa, American leaders often ignore the message in the Bible that all men are created in God’s image and in the American Declaration of Independence which Thomas Jefferson penned in 1776 during the beginning of the American Revolution that reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their  Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”

Reflections on Lekatit 11 meaning for the Tigray

On February 18, 1975 the Tigray People’s Liberation Front began its fight against the Ethiopian Derg Regime Source: Omnatigray

Today is Lekatit 11 on the Ethiopian calendar, a celebration of the Tigrayans for the revolt against the murderous Derg Regime, which began with seven Addis Ababa University students agreeing to form an armed struggle leading to a small initial action in Western Tigray. Today I am reflecting upon an admitted fondness for the people of Tigray and that they are unique even for Ethiopia. In some ways they remind me of my late grandmother who came from a remote mountain village in colonial Mexico. 

Over the seven years I lived in Mekelle I studied the history of Tigray and had the chance to meet many of her leaders as well as hundreds of citizens as a part of my position at Mekelle University as a physician, teacher, advisor, and researcher. As a part of leading research units throughout Tigray for neural tube defects I encountered many local citizens who told me stories about the region and their lives. Unfortunately I also lived in Tigray during the first months of war including the beginning of the Mekelle occupation. The leadership would always ask the hospital “What are you doing for the people of the countryside?” referring to the poor farmers which make up almost 90% of the Tigray population.

During the war I saw Tigray mothers take blankets and food to enemy Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers in the hospital. I heard them say to those soldiers who they knew had committers of terrible inhumane acts in their ranks “I do not know has happened to my son, but I pray your mother will see you again”. I also saw Mekelle citizens unarmed successfully protest at the risk of being killed to prevent the ransacking of Ayder Hospital. During the occupation people would share food, water, clothes, and blankets with not only neighbors but stragglers and refugees coming into the city.

As a researcher and advisor in neurosurgery I have had the chance to visit South Korea, China, Columbia, Mexico, Canada, France, Germany, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates in the past experiencing their cultures and people. Yet still the Tigray in a time of terrible suffering and deprivation continue to believe in their leadership and their right to preserve their ethnic identity of which they are immensely proud. They abound with unmatched hardiness and determination which has always sustained them in the past.

The term Woyane often applied to the Tigray movement actually began in 1943 when a revolt against the monarchy sprung up where the British Air Force carried out strikes against the Tigray. Although opponents of the leadership of the TPLF use the term as a perjorative  for the Tigray it is an expression of pride.

Although initially inspired by Leninist ideals the philosophy of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front evolved over the 17 year struggle to victory over the Derg to one based on longstanding Tigray tribal traditions that power comes from the people to the leaders as described in John Young’s classic study, The Peasant Revolution in Ethiopia.

Later the leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front developed the concept of the “developmental state” based somewhat on South Korea’s emergence after the Korean war and a form of ethnic federalism in Ethiopia which respected historical ethnic groups autonomy over a central Ethiopian identity. The Tigray and others in other ethnic groups have always seen themselves as a nation within an empire.



USA should lead a Berlin style massive airlift to save lives in Tigray

U.S. Navy and Air Force aircrafts unload at Tempelhof Airport during the Berlin Airlift. (U.S. Air Force) Source: USA State Department Historian

Millions are at risk of starvation and mortal illness due to the intended deprivation from blockade of Tigray by Ethiopia and Eritrea. Only a trickle makes entry rather like giving a man dying of thirst just a drop of water. This situation is strongly reminiscent of the occupation and blockade of Berlin in 1948 by the Soviet Union. At this point the Ethiopian government has obviously and undeniably abrogated any role of support or responsibility for the people of Tigray. Ethiopia is a signatory of Article 54 of the 1977 Protocol of the 1949 Geneva Convention calling for actions to save civilian populations as well as the Declaration of Human Rights but has failed in carry out its human needs obligations. Additionally no diplomatic action has been successful to relieve Tigray of blockade or a foreign invasion by Eritrea.

At the end of World War II East Germany including much of Berlin was under the occupation and control of the Soviet Union while Western Germany was under occupation of the United States and its European allies. Beginning on June 24, 1948 blockaded road, rail, and water access to the areas of West Germany and Berlin. A few days later a major airlift began by the United States and Great Britain which carried on until May of 1949.

The human needs of millions of Tigrayans for whom death is an increasing reality cannot be delayed. An substantial airlift much greater in capacity then the current limited flights is vital. Consisting of fuel for civilian distribution of basic necessities, food, water purification, farming supplies, and medical supplies on a grand scale is the only measure light to avert a human catastrophe unrivaled in willful savagery. While this is going on strong diplomatic efforts to open the multiple potential overland routes  identified by academic sources not just Afar should be ardently pursued.

Researchers at Ghent University have identified multiple accessible land routes to supply basic human needs to Tigray.


Ethiopia government needs to show respect for humanity to regain US trust

The international relations of the United States are guided by four main goals including protection of human rights and promoting democracy

By international norms of conduct both moral and legal, UN treaty obligations between member states, and finally in insuring treaty partners of the United States give due diligence to their sworn promises the United States must continue with completion of the terms in House Resolution 6600. For over a year the United States showed generous patience in trying to find humane protections for noncombatants including women and children to no avail largely on the part of Ethiopia. Statements by Ethiopian Foreign Minister Dina Mufti in his complaints fails to understand that international relations are governed by bilateral respect for humanity and regard for human life not just by association. The State Department of the United States has four main foreign policy goals: Protect the United States and Americans; Advance democracy, human rights, and other global interests; … Support U.S. diplomats, government officials, and all other personnel at home and abroad who make these goals a reality.

Both the United States and Ethiopia are members of the United Nations which means they have signed international treaties which carry the weight of law including but not limited to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. This measure specifies that Ethiopia had a duty to protect Tigrayan and other ethnic groups suffering under the conflict from harm and provide the basic necessities of life which it absolutely neglected and in fact actively contributed to deprivation of security, food, health care, communication, power, and transportation.

Within just the last year the United States rendered over $ 1 billion in aid mostly for humanitarian relief to Ethiopia. The United States is the largest donor of aid to Ethiopia and aids Ethiopia more than any other country in Africa. Until the recent discontinuation of the African Growth and Opportunity treaty because of violation of agreed upon conditions Ethiopia averaged intakes of $237 million in tax free exports to the USA yearly. The American people are a generous lot who are willing to see their hard earned treasure help democracy but are not wanting to contribute to a regime growing more despotic by the day.


Children are the greatest victims of Ethiopia and Eritrea’s war on Tigray

This is a photo I took of children along the road seen north of Mekelle some years ago. Although poor they had loving parents, farms to grow food, schools to attend, and a health care system making strides in improving public health goals. Now I pray these children are still alive. The children of Tigray are victims of the ongoing Ethiopian and Eritrean war on Tigray.

We know that in war and in famine some of the must affected victims in Tigray even if they survive are children. Both Christian and Muslim teaching stress the special status of children needing protection and nurturing yet they are greatest victims in the war on Tigray by Ethiopia and Eritrea.

By tradition and law the children of Tigray should have been protected especially by an invasion of a foreign country in a so-called law enforcement operation. Ethiopia failed in its moral and legal duty to protect the children of Tigray. The 1995 Ethiopian constitution has been widely interpreted previously by Ethiopian law scholars to protect children through Article 25 but this has been ignored and violated by Ethiopian authorities. In Matthew 18:6 present in both the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Protestant Bibles Jesus warns not to harm children “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Haftom Gebru, 12, was wounded and had his hand amputated after an artillery shell hit a pile of stones in his family’s compound in Hawzen. His father, Gebru Welde Abrha, 60, comforts him as he lies in his hospital bed in Mekele. [Ben Curtis/AP Photo] Source Aljazeera
The effect on war on children was studied extensively following the Yugoslavian conflict of the late 1990s. This conflict has many similarities to the current Ethiopian and Eritrean war on Tigray. The impacts  to children include death, injury, disability, illness, sexual violence and trafficking, psychological trauma and its sequelae, moral and spiritual disruption, social and cultural loss, and even use of children as soldiers. Hundreds of children have been killed by military targeting, hundreds of thousands at risk of death from starvation or lack of healthcare, and millions displaced according to UNICEF and other sources.

According to United Nations studies children make up high percentages of civilian causalities and displaced refugees. Although the UN adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and in recognition of the special need for protection of children, the UN adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) Ethiopia and Eritrea have done nothing to protect children in Tigray but instead have actively abused them and encouraged deprivation of basic human needs which can lead to death, disability, and permanent loss of capacity to normal development. Repeated exposure to violence causes changes in brain development that affect the ability of children to learn in school and  develop relationships.

At Yohannes High School in Mekelle Ethiopian soldiers also left behind walls covered with hateful and vulgar anti-Tigrayan messages. “On the walls were phrases insulting Tigrayan people,” said one parent. “It was painful to see and read, let alone repeat again.” Source HRW

Ethiopia choose to pay for weapons rather the co-pay cost of vaccination so that only 2% of its population was protected. Most children in all of Ethiopia have missed at least a year of school but for Tigray it is now approaching two years. During the invasion of Ethiopian and Eritrean forces in Ethiopia schools were closed, turned into their barracks for the invaders, ransacked, and even used as locations to commit violence against women. According to Human Rights Watch more than 7000 schools were rendered functionally destroyed. Teachers and staff at educational facilities have not been paid and banking services have been shut down for more than a year. 

The little bodies of children are the most vulnerable to starvation and the first to die. A starving mother cannot breast feed her baby. Displaced people cannot raise crops to sustain themselves. The poor Tigray of the countryside who number over 6 million can find no transport to healthcare and even if they find a way it will be often fruitless.  As 95% of facilities are closed while those still function have little services to offer without medication or diagnostic capabilities. Even for the survivors there will be permanent scars of the body and spirit.

Tigray Islamic Supreme Council says Ethiopian Muslims violated rules of war in Tigray

The Islamic Supreme Council of Tigray sees the sanctioning of killing and atrocity by other Muslims on Tigray as a violation of faith. Source: Dimsti Weyane

Secretary of the Tigray Islamic Supreme Council, Haji Mohammed Kahsay, announced this week that the “fascist invading forces have committed genocide in order to destroy the people of Tigray”. The sanctioning by Ethiopian Islamic authorities to allow followers to participate in civilian atrocity and the killing of the other Muslims has caused the termination of the agreement between the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Prime Council and the Tigray Islamic Supreme Council for joint cooperation. The Tigray Islamic followers see these actions by other  Muslims of Ethiopia as violations of the central tenets of their faith resulting in blasphemy.

Tigray Islamic Supreme Council and Ethiopian Muslim Development Agency celebrate Ramadan with USA Ambassador in 2018 Source: US Embassy twitter

Prior to the onset of the Ethiopian Tigray conflict Muslims from Tigray and other parts of Ethiopia had often worked collaboratively such as when they jointly met with the American Ambassador to Ethiopia at a Ramadan celebration in 2018. 

Although Muslims make up a small percentage of the population in Tigray they often hold a prominent place as intellectuals, business owners, educators, and leaders. Historically a Christian Tigray King Negash gave sanctuary to refugees fleeing persecution from what is now Saudi Arabia when the followers of Mohammed needed a safe refuge. It was the Muslim leaders in Mekelle who called upon citizens of all faiths to nonviolently protest the attempted ransacking of Ayder Hospital during the Ethiopian and Eritrean invasion of November 2020.

The Tigray Muslims have declared that genocide in Tigray. Muslims are instructed to be strictly adherent in warfare to follow the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed recorded in the Quran.  Certain actions are strictly forbidden including the killing of Muslims, the killing of innocents, especially women and children who are accorded special protection, and the unnecessary destruction of property.

Amhara editorial strongly questions Abiy Ahmed leadership

Previous strong supporters of Abiy Ahmed are doubting his leadership will last

Abiy Ahmed’s portrayal of a united Ethiopian national identity is being increasingly questioned by former strong loyalists. While many close observers of the Ethiopian Tigray conflict see wavering on a true commitment to peace by the Ethiopian Prime Minster his ability to negotiate may be increasingly compromised by weakening of his own support in Ethiopia. In a editorial, Borkena, the notably strong Amharic internet advocate asked the question whether Abiy Ahmed can still be trusted? The editorial complained that Abiy Ahmed had taken little action to stop the killing of Amhara in the Oromo region for whole of his tenure as Prime Minister.

Additionally rather then then taking strong action to protect against ethnic unrest like Somali Prosperity Party loyalist, Mustafa  Mohammed,  Abiy let Oromo region be “hell” for Amhara.  Borkena omits that the Somali region of Ethiopia has had a long history of political unrest and discussions of separation from the Ethiopian empire. The Amharic Emperor Menelik II conquered the Somali region of Ethiopia in the 19th century as part of his conquests beyond traditional Abyssinia to dominate the Oromo, Somali, and Southern Nations ethnic groups. Since that time many rebellions have sprung up for independence in part due to differences in traditions, culture, language, and religion. Many Somali feel a kinship to the Ogaden concept of one Somali nation that would join Djibouti, Somaliland, Somalia, and the Somali region of Ethiopia into one. Growing opposition is occurring to Mustafa Mohammed.