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.