My personal reflections on NYT article on Abiy Ahmed’s planned war

Today’s NYT article on how the Ethiopia Tigray war really started when Abiy Ahmed and Isaias hatched their plan months before November 2020

Having lived and worked at Mekelle University since 2015 and in Ethiopia since 2012 I am some reflections on the New York Times article today which stated the war began before the Northern Command action by the Tigray Defense Force and what may lay ahead.

In the year prior to November 2020 the relations between Mekelle University and the Federal Ministries of Science and Higher Education as well as Health were deteriorating. Instead of the usual budget increases of about 13% there were discussions that Mekelle University had always gotten “too much” and that it was going to be downscaled even though what the University received was an appropriate amount for the population it served the same as the others. University Department heads and administers were suddenly no longer invited to be part of major discussions at the Federal level.

Several times Federal police showed up in Mekelle unannounced in violation of the Ethiopian constitution leading to tense moments on the streets in Mekelle and at the airport. Security was removed from leading Tigray military officers and Tigray People Liberation Front party leaders leading to the assassination of two generals in Addis Ababa.  We all had the feeling that things were going to get violent eventually even if we prayed they would not.

Following the occupation of Mekelle, the Ethiopian Federal government never lived up to its promise to restore or rebuild society when the TDF looked all but defeated. The University was in effect deconstructed and unbudgeted for education and Ayder Hospital was abandoned by the Federal government as if it did not exist. The Tigray were less than human, they did not deserve healthcare, education, protection, or even food said the self-righteous religious cleric0-fascists directing the mob supporters of the Prosperity Party.

I still have flashblacks about the many hundreds of civilian patients we saw at Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital especially as the Eritrean and Ethiopian forces where coming south from Adigrat through Wucro. Mutilated babies and mothers. Grotesque injuries to women. Many civilians shot in the back trying to flee combat areas. There was an intentional genocide to not just control Tigray but to wipe them out. I am convinced that eventually outside reviews will show the scope of this horror we have seen is just the tip of the iceberg of the mass murder committed. Apart from the Armenian genocide suffered in the early part of the 20th century genocide has never been successfully hidden for a long period of time. The truth will come out. 

Ethiopia’s financial resources are quite diminished now. Some estimate their reserves are less than $150 million as it is reportedly spent $ 150 million in just the past two months for drones and weapons. As a result in every region of Ethiopia there is no money for education, health care, or infrastructure. The supplying “dogs of war” have eaten their fill and not left much left to plunder. Some might even argue that Ethiopia was a demonstration run for Turkey to convince other countries to buy it’s drone weapons which Ethiopia nicely paid for. Now in return for not giving more weapons they will use their new sphere of influence to get new deals from the West. That was a part of the plan no doubt along. They got paid to get in and they will get paid to get out. Like a confidence game criminal they will move on to the next victim when they have exhausted Ethiopia’s treasures. Whatever wealth Ethiopia had has been transferred to the puppet masters who controlled Abiy Ahmed. 

Ethiopia was always the pawn in a larger power game between Arab states wanting to expand their sphere of influence, Russia, China, Europe and the USA. This is not about colonialism or African independence. I do not see how being $80 billion in debt to a foreign country for weapons is a step in the direction of self sufficiency. 

The only winners in this disaster were the weapons dealers and loan providers. Ethiopian development is probably been knocked backwards 10 to 30 years at least even if the war stops now. So much hate has been generated between Tigray, Amhara, Oromo, and other peoples the idea of Ethiopia going forward as a united people seems more remote then ever.

The African Union is quietly abandoning Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa premier investment group Cepheus Capital which promised great investment rewards in a land of milk and honey cannot continue the false promises of high growth and stability. Ethiopia may default on its junk rated bonds in the next quarter. Ethiopia will come out of this most likely more divided or in a state of chronic war. With a primitive quality of living comparable to the times the prosecutors of the war like to fantasize about.  Unfortunately the old saying TIA, this is Africa, which former President Obama warned us about is still true. The never ending cycle of self-destruction continues.



Head of Arab League promises Ethiopia will “pay the price” for GERD defiance

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit

Ahmed Aboul Gheit Secretary General of the  League of Arab States was quoted in Arab News saying that Ethiopia will “pay the price” for constructing the Renaissance Dam, which has caused a growing urgent crisis between Addis Ababa and Cairo as well as Khartoum. The Arab League is expressing complete support for Cairo and Khartoum in this matter. Increasing tensions are now extending beyond just Egypt and Sudan to include other Arab nations. He was at the Mediterranean Dialogues in Rome this week.

They are also seeing other countries supporting Ethiopia’s military efforts as being complicit. The Secretary General further explained that “It is a dam of ruin for two Arab countries (Egypt and Sudan),”, adding that the “tragic situation” facing the Arab world in recent times has given Turkey, Iran, Israel and Ethiopia an opportunity to interfere in the region’s affairs.

Founded in 1945, the Arab League is a loose alliance of nearly two dozen Arab countries that have pledged to cooperate on economic and military affairs, among other matters.

In June 2021 it sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council asking for intervention because of Ethiopia’s noncooperation with negotiations on water use from Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to which Ethiopia objected. At that time the Arab League warned Ethiopia’s statement could undermine the friendly and cooperative relations between the league and the African Union.

A quoted source said that Ethiopia’s message contained many inaccuracies, but “the most dangerous thing was the clear attempt to drive a wedge between two regional organizations that have maintained close and solid relations.”

Panic and the fog of war are undeniable in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is clearly moving into a panic with all foreign governments evacuating their citizens, wanton capture of Tigrayans, and a marshal state of law

Clearly those who stated Addis Ababa was living day to day business as usual were wrong. To describe the situation as panic based upon contacts I have spoken in the past few days is a conservative appraisal.  Conflicting reports on the status of various government officials and which government agencies are still functioning abound. 

At this time many sources including Ethiopian government report that Abiy Ahmed has given the role of day to day government administration to Demeke Mekonnen whereas before it was Demeke Mekonnen who was visiting the troops in the field. If Abiy Ahmed is truly commanding the armed forces of Ethiopia then how can he be incommunicado? Additionally he has ordered all members of his Prosperity Party and all government staffers to fight. So is the government apart from the military shutting down?

Abiy Ahmed tells Jeffrey Feltman and others in the diplomatic community he can negotiate successfully while in the same breath says he can get an easy military victory. The Tigray leadership as usual does not make clear its immediate military intention. One wonders is their goal when they reach proximity to Addis Ababa will be to impose a siege as they have done before?


President Sahle-Work Zewde belatedly claims she was against Abiy Ahmed “war mongering”

Great hope was placed when Sahle-Work Sahle as Ethiopia’s President.

Sahle-Work Zewde the President of Ethiopia who was widely hailed as a sign of reform of Abiy Ahmed has come out now saying that she was against the “war mongering” of Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party supporters but could do nothing because her position was ceremonial only. Where was she when children were being starved, women being violated, and innocent villagers being executed?

Previously in February 2021 after being silent for three months she did utter the words that the humanitarian needs in Tigray were “enormous” but nothing else. Her words now claiming that “Abiy was dragging his country into a sort of downward spiral” to me seem mostly self serving to escape blame. If she is really sincere then she most immediately go public and convince Ethiopians to stop supporting Abiy Ahmed and seek an end to more killing, detainment, starvation, and suffering.

Why Eritrean forces have not left Ethiopia?

Ethiopia’s story about Eritrean troop involvement changes every day. Currently they say they have left but if they were there it would be reasonable to assist their allies in Ethiopia claims Ethiopian MFA.

Why has Eritrea not left Ethiopia? No one believes the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs notice this week stating this lie. Multiple sources report that Isaias Afwerki is controlling Ethiopian intelligence services as well placing commanders with Amhara militia and the Ethiopian National Defense Force. Why has Afwerki not left the basically defeated Ethiopian state?

Going back to 1991 it has been well documented that Afwerki wanted to unite Eritrea and Ethiopia into a confederation. This would give him access to the Ethiopian economy, a more stable currency, hosting the African Union, and legitimacy on the world scene.  Being the second worst nation in terms of human rights violations and lack of any election since he came to power would be placed aside by a new confederation with the naïve Abiy Ahmed.

Although political integration under the larger Ethiopian state had been discussed since 1952 the rise to power of Afwerki made it more of an realizable idea. His stalemate with the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front in the 1990s over the Eritrea Tigray border and subsequent hostility that remained rendered this idea mute until the Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister of Ethiopia causing the TPLF to recede from national power.

Here was the perfect situation. The master schemer manipulated the young inexperienced Abiy Ahmed into a secret pact ostensibly as far as the world was concerned creating peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea but in reality a war plan to dominate Tigray once and for all. This would pave the way for Isaias Afwerki to become the de facto leader of the new Ethiopia Eritrean state.

Even though the military confrontation with Tigray has failed there is still hope that international heavy weights and the United Nations concerned with severe famine, refugees potentially streaming to Europe, and a failed Ethiopian state leading to chaos in the Horn of Africa will push hard for some immediate ceasefire. With this ceasefire a promise of food and medical aid will be allowed into Tigray but Tigray will have to withdraw into its borders. Both Esaias and Abiy Ahmed are counting on the international call to be strong to end any further fighting thus preventing capture of Addis Ababa or Asmara.

No doubt this pause will give Isaias time to strengthen his armed forces and those of Ethiopia as well with a plan to reinvade Tigray. Of course the leaders of the Tigray National State realize this is exactly what will happen. They know Ethiopia will only let a trickle of aid come in while complaining all the while that everyone bringing aid is really plotting to help the Tigray. Many more months will go by until Ethiopia and Eritrea can once again attack in force. This is why the Tigray Defense Force and the Oromo Liberation Army must continue to march on.

Ethiopia lies about aid to rebuild and relieve human suffering during occupation of Tigray

Taye Atske Selassie, Ethiopian representative to the UN lies about Ethiopia’s aid efforts to Tigray

The biggest Ethiopian lie is that Ethiopia itself sent relief to Tigray during its occupation from November 2020 to July 2021. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, his Foreign Press Secretary and the Ethiopia Representative to the United Nations have continually claimed that during the early phases of Ethiopian and Tigray war up through the claimed unilateral ceasefire  Ethiopia intended to allow planting and Ethiopia spent millions in birr in reconstruction, food, and medical aid to Tigray.  The truth is however, what aid got in that was not blocked on way by Ethiopia was supplied by international aid agencies not Ethiopia. Soon after the Tigray resurgence that pushed Ethiopian and Eritrean forces out of most of Tigray the the strict blockade of all aid was started by July 2021.

From the onset of the Ethiopian Tigray conflict to early January 2021 I was present at Mekelle University. During that time and continuing after we received no food supplies, no medical supplies, no fuel for generators or civilian needs, and all commercial traffic was blocked. International aid agencies sent containers through Djibouti which remained at the port not allowed to pass. The heads of the Tigray Interim Administration admitted that the Federal government intended to block planting and cut off supplies to Tigray to force their capitulation.

Shipments of medical supplies including consumables, medications, and other things were hijacked by  Amhara militia, Ethiopia federal forces, and others before they reached Tigray.

I witnessed attempts at communication with the local Tigray Interim Administration, local military commanders, and even satellite calls to Ministers of Health and Education in Addis Ababa. The conversation was always that upper level Ministry officials accountable to the Prime Minister were reviewing the situation or sometimes just frankly saying it is not a “priority”. Several members of the Tigray Interim Administration during the Ethiopian occupation have at their own personal risks now admitted that the intent of the Ethiopian government was to starve, destroy, and kill Tigrayans so as described by Abiy Ahmed all that was left was “a fine dust that would blow away in the wind”.

Why is the world not holding Isaias Afwerki accountable for the Ethiopian crisis?

Passive support even admiration of the cruel tyrant Isaias Afwerki does not help the cause of African development

When will Africa learn that protecting evil dictatorships like Eritrea will always be an impediment to building a better and stronger Africa? Passing the one year mark of the human caused catastrophe of the Ethiopian war what most strikes me is the lack of discussion of the role Eritrea has played. 

The 1995 movie, The Usual Suspects, has a quote that has become iconic  “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist “. This most aptly describes the tyrant of Eritrea. While we hear constant commentary about Ethiopia and Tigray we hear next to nothing on how the most notorious master manipulator Esaias Afwerki masterminded not only what is going in Ethiopia but adding to chaos in Sudan.

Even though Eritrea competes with North Korea as to who is most egregious violator of human rights among the countries of the world it shamefully was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council mostly by endorsement of other African nations. The faulty notion that protecting African sovereignty and prominence in international affairs means accepting cruel and vicious leadership is allowable contributes significantly to much of Africa’s human rights struggles.  The situation is so bad in Eritrea that a special envoy to follow it was created by the UN.  Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, presenting his oral update, said this year he had seen no concrete evidence of progress or actual improvement in the human rights situation in Eritrea. 

If one wants to be generous to Abiy Ahmed that initially he had better intentions toward building Ethiopia this assumption can only be defended by pointing the finger to his naivete to the mal-intentions of the diaspora clerico-fascists and Isaias Afwerki. Yet these two entities remain obscured  in the discussions of how this cataclysm developed. 

Abiy Ahmed’s deteriorating status with Ethiopian performing artists

Singer Tariku Ganiski calls for youth not to go to war but for elders to make peace at Addis Ababa rally. See the Amharic speech he made here.

Popular Ethiopian singer, Tariku Gankisi, who is known for promoting Ethiopian unity in his works was invited to perform at a Addis Ababa rally to support the Federal governments fight against the Tigray and their allies but it did not go as organizers had planned. Instead Tariku told the crowd “Let no youth go to the front lines to fight, let the elders go holding the fresh grass and ask for reconciliation,” before his microphone was switched off by party unknown.

President John F. Kennedy said at the Alliance for Progress in 1962 that “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”. He recognized that dictators oppression of nonviolent protest and dissent can ultimately inflame the cause for war.

In 2018 Abiy Ahmed praised the art community of Ethiopia saying “art has indispensable role in nourishing our cultural life, love, forgiveness and togetherness. The role of the artist is to be a guardian of truth and justice and creatively reveal the richness of our national life”.  However as his ever attempt to tighten controls over everything in Ethiopian life including culture has increased his appreciation for performing artists seems to have changed as have theirs towards him.

On June 29, 2020 the popular Oromo singer, Hachalu Hundessa, was murdered most likely by supporters of Abiy Ahmed. In his quest to consolidate power over the Oromo population the Ethiopian Prime Minister had already imprisoned over 7000 Oromia and overseen the extrajudicial killing of over almost 300 since coming to power in 2018. This singer’s style and message appealed to multiple generations in ballads discussing the subjugation of the Oromo people historically and more recently the expansion of the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa generally considered Amhara territory, into the Oromo national state.  Although Abiy Ahmed was initially seen as a champion of these causes he eventually dropped them preferring his Ahmara identity.

Washington hosts decentralization alliance against Abiy Ahmed government

Nine opposition factions against the Ethiopian Federal Government met and announced their alliance in Washington DC this week

The announcement of the cooperation of nine antigovernmental citizen’s armed groups from Ethiopia including the Tigray, Oromo, Gambella, South Omo, Benigshagul and others in a Washington DC meeting is very telling about the United States intentions as regards Ethiopia. The current situation all parties including the Tigray People Liberation Front is different then that in 1991 when the TPLF defeated the Derg regime. 

We know the United States is strongly considering that the Tigray have suffered a genocide under Ethiopian and Eritrean military assault. This hosting of allied opposition groups in Washington D.C. clearly indicates that the United States is not seeing the Ethiopian situation as portrayed by the Ethiopian Federal government of solely the illegitimate rebel Tigray against the lawful national authority. The resolution will not be a return to status quo for Abiy Ahmed.

However, the claims by Abiy Ahmed supporters that the TPLF is seeking a new state dominated by one ethnic group are not supported by this movement called the United Front of Ethiopian Federalists and Confederalists Forces. They are jointly acting under the conviction that Abiy Ahmed violated the current Ethiopian constitution Article 39 in denying appropriate regional state autonomy. 

They are seeking if possible a negotiated peace as purposed by the United Nations and the United States which invokes the current Ethiopian constitution but so far Abiy Ahmed has only responded with rhetoric of “bury all Tigrayans” and no peace talks. It seems this united movement is the only chance to restore peace without further bloodshed. In that the Tigray and their allies agree with USA.


The UN and western democracies hypocrisy in dealing with Abiy Ahmed

The awarding of the Nobel Prize to Abiy Ahmed was a diplomatic con game

How Abiy Ahmed fooled the world and caused it to do nothing in the face of genocide.

Abiy Ahmed was just an ordinary politician with nothing outstanding in his background or education. He was not the first choice for an Oromo Prime Minister but because he was a member of Parliament where others with more seniority and experience were not and could not legally be Prime Minister Abiy was chosen as a compromise.  His flamboyant speeches about equality and modernization of Ethiopia caught world attention but not examination. They sounded good so the Western democracies accepted them as authentic.

Little notice was made of his turn from being “Oromo” to  “Amhara” after his United States tour. He started the tour with Jawar Mohammed the American Oromo diaspora whose Qeerroo movement created the civil unrest that brought government change which facilitated Abiy Ahmed’s rise to power. Yet sometime during the tour and continuing after Abiy Ahmed decided to dump his Oromo identity and throw his lot in with Amhara expansionists. Where once he denied his mother’s heritage it then become a a badge he wore proudly. It would be soon after the tour that Jawar Mohammed would go to jail as a terrorist.

Soon after his appointment Abiy Ahmed began to spend more and more time in private and in public with extremist Christian groups both Protestant and Ethiopian Orthodox. Much of the Orthodox influence was from unauthorized diaspora Synods in the West while those in Ethiopia including the head of the church faced house arrest .  They planted the concept that Ethiopia was once again in the Era of Princes, Zemene Mesafint, when the country was foundering without a strong king in the 18th century. The switch from Tigray kings to Amhara kings happened at the end of this period. Under the Amhara monarchy the greatest expansion of Ethiopia began in the last 2 centuries. Abyssinia changed to Ethiopia capturing land and enslaving Oromos, Somali, Afar, and the Southern Nations to Amhara rule.

Abiy and his conspirators dreamed up that God had ordained him to be the next Amharic king to rule Ethiopia. They wanted to reverse this trend of confederation to return to Amharic domination. This clerico-fascism interestingly mimicked the conditions in Italy that produced the Mussolini lead invasion of Ethiopia in the 1930s.

The world wanted to believe that Africa finally had a democratic leader that would lead reform intent on creating a Western style democracy in Africa. Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for making “peace” with Eritrea which the world failed to realize was really a defense pact to carry out genocide. It was all a part of great of great diplomatic con game to convince the world a better Africa was coming to fruition.  Instead the gullible Abiy made Ethiopia the pawn to the crafty tyrant of Eritrea, Isaias Afeworki. 

Even as it become clear that the Ethiopian Tigray conflict was not a “law enforcement operation” but a carefully well planned military operation of civilian slaughter, rape, deprivation, theft, and destruction with the goal of wiping the Tigray from existence the United Nations and western democracies made only weak statements of disapproval but did nothing. 

The Tigray Defense Force has not carried out a perfect war. Such a thing does not exist. At its own expense, however,  it has shown sympathy for civilians and combatant prisoners in how it administers conquered areas. The towns of Woldia, Alamat, Sekota, Dessie, and Kombalcha were taken with very little artillery barrage. Compare this with Ethiopia’s carpet barrages of many Tigray cities including Mekelle and more recently bombing of Amhara towns where more civilians were killed then Tigray fighters. Today many Amharic supporters in the name of religion are calling for Ethiopian civilians to sacrifice themselves for Abiy Ahmed.

At this moment there is no doubt that except for the exceptional heroism and perseverance of the Tigray and Oromo resistance, Abiy Ahmed would have secured himself in perpetual barbarism.  As has been the case since its inception, the United Nations failed to take any meaningful action to stop genocide. Current statements from the UN and other western democracies for the Tigray to stop their advance to self-determination which is guaranteed in the UN charter which also bars genocide are an insult to humanity.