Why Ethiopia and Eritrea want to hold Mille and why TDF (Tigray Defense Force) and the OLA (Oromo Liberation Army) wants to gain control of it tells the truth about the real motivations for the ongoing conflict. In the absence of any international attempt to save the millions of Tigrayans from starvation, death from lack of health care, imprisonment for ethnicity, and even just the simple right to make a living the TDF and OLA have no choice but to seize control of the roads connecting ultimately to the seaport of Djibouti. This will allow a high flow of food, medicines, medical supplies, and fuel to Tigray and the Oromo regions. Meanwhile the Ethiopian Eritrean forces want to continue to starve, deprive, imprison, and kill Tigrayans as Abiy Ahmed as well as his supporters put it into an oblivion of dust as if they never existed.
Despite the fact that the Bible and Quran outlaw the use of starvation as a weapons the clerico-fascists of Abiy Ahmed persistent and loudening claims that God has specifically given him the right to use any means necessary to exterminate the Tigray people and subjugate the Oromo similarly continue unabated. Numerous persons and entities supporting Abiy Ahmed claim to be for an all inclusive Ethiopian identity that would not exclude Tigrayans with the only intent to carry out a law enforcement action against the leaders of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front and the Oromo. Yet they keep persistently silent when asked why deprive the innocents of food, medicine, and personhood. Why destroy hospitals, schools and factories?
For Ethiopians previously not affected by the Ethiopian Tigray conflict it is now time to come to reality. Now is the time for all to realistically assess where to go from here. It is a time for prayer and contemplation. Ethiopians not affected by the war so far need to realize they soon will be.
Wars always start too early and end too late. Having fantasy notions about a coming Ethiopian miracle will only cause more misery. Whatever becomes of Ethiopia is going to happen regardless of what further futile military action is done by Ethiopia.
One in four people in all of Ethiopia are approaching a state of famine and for Tigray that is approaching 500,000. Ethiopian Airlines and mining interests are so disrupted by the war that the economy of Ethiopia is falling fast. Abnormal rain patterns as well as war now occurring in Tigray, Amhara, Afar, Oromia, Beningshugal, Somali, and the SNNPNR will surely reduce the major harvest this year. Inflation for the year is approaching 50% and the birr may reach 75 to the US dollar very soon.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has left to meet Isaias in Eritrea and then on to Turkey. It may happen that the Bole Airport may be overtaken by Oromia Liberation Army forces before he makes it back if he really intends to comeback. So far Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has refused to negotiate but instead promising a massive counterattack which has never materialized. The Tigray and their allies have at least offered to negotiate.
At this point it is clear by many military and strategic analysts that Ethiopia cannot mount a significant counterattack to defeat Tigray. Now the Tigray Defense Force is being joined by fighters of liberation armies from Agew, Afar, Somali, Beningshugal, Oromia, and Gambella.
The Tigray Defense Force and their allies are driven by a need to free their people from perceived tyranny and abuse from Amhara elitism. The Amhara elites and their allies claim they want to preserve a chance for a unified Ethiopia that will become a more modern state. Unfortunately they cannot force their point of view upon others. As I and others have stated previously Ethiopian has always been an empire of subjugated nations. The prejudiced view of a united state of Ethiopia quickly fades from view as soon as you leave Addis for the countryside.
Thousands of Ethiopians are displaced now. Dessie Hospital and others in Amhara are overwhelmed with casualties. Most of the fighting equipment of the Ethiopian national defense force has been destroyed or taken by the Tigray Defense Force. Supply lines to both Tigray and Amhara as well as from Djibouti and Kenya are cut off. It may be just hours to days before the Bole Airport is closed. As of now no Ethiopian airline flight is flying domestically. Civilian traffic between major cities is severely restricted. The isolated and tormented people of Western Tigray will soon be freed.
A prayer from His Eminence Archbishop Abba Kewestos Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate:
In the name of the Father and of the Son And of the Holy Spirit one God, Amen.
For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
And who is he that will harm you if you will be followers of that which is good?
But if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meakness and fear;
Nationwide food shortage, inflation, and lack of regional autonomy in all of Ethiopia are driving a new coalition from many regions to act against the rule of Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party. Although the Tigray conflict gets the most attention armed resistance is now active in Oromia, Amhara, Afar, Somali, and Gambella regions of Ethiopia. These other actions are clearly becoming more aggressive given the recent advances of the Tigray Defense Force.
Since 2018 the government of Abiy Ahmed and the Prosperity Party has focused on city improvement in Addis Ababa to make it a “true capital city of Africa” Meanwhile food production and agricultural improvement projects throughout Ethiopia have been put on a low priority. Many local government leaders were pushed aside or forced to join the Prosperity Party which obligated them to this Addis Ababa first policy and abandoning local concerns.
The World Food Program forecast for food security extending to January 2022 of Ethiopia sees famine to crisis level conditions continuing in not only Tigray but also the whole south regions of Ethiopia. Somali region will have below levels of food supply. The worst area remains southeastern Tigray.
Recurring drought over the past decade without real attention to improving overall production has added to the need for necessary food imports to have remained at least 15% and may grow. Higher prices for seeds and agricultural materials like fertilizer along with inflation (now at 45% this year -the birr trading near 50 per US dollar) means it will harder for farmers to be ready to plant their crops or at least do so in lesser volume. Lesser rains limit the amount of pasture grazing available to raise livestock such as goats, sheep, and beef. Sheep are the most demanding and its availability is now sharply curtailed.
Ethiopia has major growing season and minor growing season extremely dependent on rain patterns. Belg is the shorter season from February to April, and meher is the main season from May to September (they have different names in different regions). These patterns have become increasingly unpredictable. Total annual grain production (including mainly corn, wheat, sorghum, barley, and teff) greatly depends on rainfall patterns during the belg season.
The government of Ethiopia while claiming a law enforcement operation has committed genocide to the people of Tigray and turned Tigray into a concentration camp.
What is the definition of a concentration camp?
According to the highly respected encyclopedia Britannica a concentration camp is “defined as an internment centre for political prisoners and members of national or minority groups who are confined for reasons of state security, exploitation, or punishment, usually by executive decree or military order”. What the Ethiopian government has done to the Tegaru, Irob, Agaw, Kunami, Afar, Orthodox, Catholic, Christian, and Muslims who live in Tigray meets every requirement stated in this definition of a concentration camp and in every way just a deadly as those recalled from previous examples when evil predominated a society.
Actions of Ethiopia against Tigray are more than law enforcement
When the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and Eritrean Army units invaded the Regional National State of Tigray in November 2020 the leadership of Ethiopia specifically stated that was being undertaken was a law enforcement action to capture the leaders of a “terrorist group”, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and that there was no intent to take action against the civilians of Tigray. In fact they explicitly stated they were proceeding with this invasion to not only capture the leadership but also to protect the security and life of their “brother” Ethiopians.
At the time of invasion I was Chief of Neurosurgery and on the faculty of Mekelle University, a federal university not under the Tigray state, which had medical students and specialty trainees from almost every regional state in Ethiopia as well as surrounding countries. Additionally it administered Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital which served a population of about 10 million including not only Tigray but also Afar, northern Amhara, and recently even Eritrea intermittently when the border was open. Additionally we occasionally cared for patients from Addis Ababa and the SNNP (Southern Ethiopia).
Following the complete take over of Tigray we were initially told by the Interim government and military commands that the government, medical, and educational services would be quickly restored. But instead they quickly deteriorated well before the reorganization and re-emergence of the Tigray Defense Forces. Except for a very short time of a few weeks early on the following have been cut-off and never restarted including banking services, electricity, telephone and cell, internet, water, civil infrastructure management, hospital supply, schooling, etc.
Although the Federal government claimed it was giving 70% of the trickle of very basic aid that was coming in reviews by well established international authorities revealed it was less than 3% of the total which was in itself dramatically less than required.
As the weeks progressed the undeniable evidence was increasingly seen that sexual abuse of women now estimated to be in the thousands, extra judicial killing of whole villages, routine execution of males even those below or above that generally considered to be militarily capable were reported even by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Although there may be a possibility of some actions by Tigray militia which also require investigation the exponentially greater magnitude affecting hundreds of thousands of violation of human rights and killing by soldiers under the direct command of the Ethiopian government cannot be denied. If not stopped the number being threatened will rapidly accelerate to millions.
Instead of taking corrective action to improve the humanitarian situation which would possibly yield the benefit of making the civilian population of Tigray more peaceful instead new arguments surfaced from mouthpieces of the Prime Minister’s advisors that due to previous claims of unfair treatment by the TPLF that justified the violations of human rights currently underway. Videos emerged stating that every Tigray should be killed at birth. Eritrean and ENDF soldiers have stated to neutral third parties that they were instructed to rape women to destroy the chance for Tigray to have children.
Religious institutions, artifacts, and worshipers were targeted for destruction which had nothing to do with a “law enforcement” action. One of the most important Mosques in the world in Negash where the followers of Mohammed took refuge from prosecution from pagan Saudi rulers at the invitation of a Christian king was intentionally bombed and ransacked. What does that have to do with “law enforcement”? Monasteries in Western Tigray with religious texts hundreds of years old were attacked with their treasures destroyed and clergy assassinated. The ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Church which traces its roots to the early Jewish religion of Menelik I and then the Christian kingdom of Ezana in Axum was desecrated with the murder of at least 80 unarmed worshipping civilians. What does that have to do with “law enforcement”?.
It is well documented that Eritreans, ENDF, and Somali mercenaries destroyed factories and businesses including those of foreign investors who generated income for the Ethiopian government and provided employment for civilians. Many pieces of equipment of not only these but also the national Ethio-telecom company were taken by Eritreans as war bounty to Eritrea. How does this destruction of Ethiopian federal property qualify as “law enforcement”?
The invading forces were instructed to destroy seeds and prevent farmers from planting crops. Many livestock were killed to be consumed by no one or taken to Eritrea in trucks. Both aid and commercial food supplies where blocked from entry to Tigray. Gradually both the Federal Government and the government of Amhara began to change their tune to explain this by saying that the population of Tigray was too supportive of the TDF and that NGOs were smuggling weapons with the aid. They accused organizations with much greater long standing reputations of wrong doing with no evidence instead trying to cover their own genocidal intent.
The government of Ethiopia as late as 2019 was a signatory to the Genocide Convention of the United Nations which states verbatim any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
Killing members of the group;
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The treaty recognizes the following two elements of the crime
A mental element: the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”; and
A physical element, which includes the following five acts, enumerated exhaustively:
Killing members of the group
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group