After a week of strategic withdrawal when many Ethiopian supporters were predicting imminent defeat today we see again a dramatic advance of the Tigray Defense Forces. In fact before the news about the new rout of Amhara and Ethiopian National Defense Forces was announced many Amhara websites were falsely claiming complete victory in hours. It seems their wrong perceptions clouded the reality of the moment.
The study of what decides the fortunes of war for winner and loser goes back to ancient Greece and China as well. Living in the 3rd century BC in ancient Greece, Democritus was loved by Aristotle and hated by Plato. He believed that man relied too much on what he perceived by senses alone which could be affected by emotion and should instead always determine what is truth by applying reason. While others said “fortune favors the bold” Democritus said bold helps the start but does not decide the end of war.
Thinking about this takes me back to my many conversations with Debretsion Gebremichael, the President of the Tigray State, on many subjects relating to university and medical matters on shared airplane flights. He was mostly an attentive listener who would ask questions in a way that indicated he was seeking to understand cause and effect for every topic.
Of course I never had a chance to discuss war with him but this recurrent use of koreta by the Tigray to draw their enemy into a snare of ambush on the false pretense of an easy victory against a retreating army seems to be a recurring story. Interestingly this technique also goes back to ancient Rome and the victory of Hannibal at Carthage.
Debretsion Gebremichael presents quite a contrast from the boastful, somewhat empty intellectual, and rash acting Abiy Ahmed who continually seems to have problems with his perception of reality.
Whatever you might believe about the Tigray, the Oromo, or the Amhara the current situation has basically been about two armies and especially their leadership. The Ethiopian federal government under Abiy Ahmed had all the cards in his favor or so he thought. He professed that his intent with the invasion of Tigray was to do “enforcement”. His goal was to capture the rebel leaders to “liberate” the Tigray who like to be called the Tegaru.
I have never met Mr. Ahmed but I have had the pleasure many times to share airplane trips with Mr. Debretsion who is a quiet contemplative man who has an enormous intellect but at the same time understands the common man of Tigray. We always talked about what we were doing at the University and the hospital for the farmers.
The Tigray Defense Force has captured Dessie and now seems unstoppable while the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, says today from Bahir Dar that Ethiopia cannot win militarily over the Tigray. Rather than thousands dying in weeks of battle, the humanity of the Tigray Defense Force avoided extensive civilian causalities and offered humanitarian care of prisoners which encouraged the Ethiopian defense forces to surrender rather then die for nothing in Dessie. There is no doubt that what has happened in Tigray and northern Ethiopia is a human tragedy. Those who mostly suffered have been poor farmers whose lives are tied to a constant struggle to just survive even in times of peace. Years from now historians and political analysts will try to cast light on what lead to this catastrophe.
However, Abiy Ahmed’s hidden agenda, which was to annihilate the Tigray people soon become obvious. Instead of trying to compassionately motivate the people of Tigray that they had their interest by securing food, power, internet, medicine, education, and personal security they unleashed barbarous savagery of rape, thief, deprivation, destruction and hate.
In his mind and in his pronouncement to his followers, Abiy Ahmed, belittled the Tigray to subhumans incapable of doing anything well. He seemed to forget their history of being capable of elite light infantry campaigns in guerrilla and conventional warfare. The Prime Minister put his faith in military leaders who had previously been defeated by the Tigray in the Derg war. Finally, his cruelty to the Tigray people motivated her population to sustain a war effort not for domination but for survival. Meanwhile much of Ethiopia outside of the main combatants realized that the war was an instrument of destruction not unity. The old story of Amhara expansion that characterized the 18th and 19th century domination of Abyssinia over the Cushitic and Southern peoples is over. Medemer was exposed as lie. Apparently Abiy Ahmed has sent his family to Switzerland. I hope a new era will emerge.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s problems with Sudan and Egypt are only getting worse by the day. Ethiopia remains in severe disagreement with Sudan, Egypt, and by alliance with much of the Arab league over who has sovereignty over Nile water use relating to construction of the Grand Renaissance Damn in the northeast west region of Ethiopia known as Beningshagul. Abiy Ahmed’s Eritrean alliance and land disputes with Sudan are also playing a big role in creating an increasingly adversarial crisis.
In July 2021, former Egyptian Minister of Irrigation Mohammed Nasr A’llam told the Al-Monitorthat Egypt was closely following developments of the GERD. They believed that the damn had some technical problems otherwise they might have considered military action against the dam at that time.
Tigray Peoples Liberation Front close advis0r to elected President Debretsion Gebremichael of the Tigray State recently appeared on an Egyptian Television interview to discuss the Ethiopia Tigray conflict and other issues. It appears he met a receptive and sympathetic audience in Egypt. Personal sources close to Egyptian leadership have told me that Egypt opted out of military action for two reasons, one that they believe there may be technical problems limiting the filling and secondly they look forward to a Tigray victory that will make for better negotiations.
The United Nations Security Council has discussed the issue without resolution for months. Apart from saying that Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia should have a binding agreement, in effect, giving standing to all three to which Ethiopia disagrees. Now it has referred the case to the African Union for resolution.
It is notable that President Debretsion was once the head of the Ethiopian Electrical Power Corporation and oversaw much of the GERD construction. Additionally it is now known that Tigray Army units have progressed northwest of Gondar in the direction of the Beningshagul region which has seen uprisings sympathetic to the same cause as the TPLF. Many speculate that the Tigray intend to open a supply route via Sudan.
Widely respected journalist Bashir Hashi Yussuf has suggested that Egypt is secretly supplying arms and aid to the Tigray via Sudan. This has also been raised as possible by Foreign Policy and other analysts. Sudan now has a joint defense treaty with Egypt. Additionally Ethiopia has demanded that Sudan remove its soldiers occupying a disputed region called al-fashaga which had been claimed by Ahmara expansionists supporting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Sudan claims the fertile farm area as its own.
Eritrean opposition groups to Esaias Afwerki, leader of Eritrea and ally of Ethiopia in the Tigray conflict met in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to discuss how they could remove the Eritrean government. They may also be forming an armed movement as well based in Sudan. Sudan has long standing problems with the Esaias regime regarding his support of the Grand Renaissance Damn and respect of Sudanese sovereignty.