The forecast for growing cereal crops (teff, sorghum, maze, and wheat) in Tigray and Ethiopia in 2022 is poor for Tigray and questionable for Northern Ethiopia due to below average rainfall predictions based upon meteorological data and satellite sensors. Tigray cannot grow enough food to escape famine without receiving food aid. Normally there is a second season harvest which is more dependent on good rains then the first. The Ethiopian government continues the complete blockade of food and medicine to Tigray.
Without outside food aid from international sources such as the World Food Program this years crop in Tigray will be very insufficient to relieve the ongoing and worsening famine affecting more then 1 million Tigrayans and threatening ultimately another 5 to 6 million. Even for Ethiopia, the war spending in excess of $4 billion since the war with Tigray started will make it difficult to meet its needs even outside of Tigray without major purchases and/or aid.
Although Ethiopia claimed to withdrawal from Tigray last season to allow planting, Abiy Ahmed appointed official, Abraha Desta, said this was a lie and explained that seeds and farm equipment were sent to Eritrea as well that farmers were prevented from planting. While Ethiopia denied famine, Desta claimed it was a crisis causing many deaths. Eritreans also ransacked food aid during their occupation of Tigray. Just this week an Ethiopian attack on a community mill which farmers in Tigray need to make their crops into flour was destroyed. No seed supplies, fertilizer, or farm equipment has been allowed to be delivered to Tigray since the conflict began in November 2020. Most farmers depend upon farm animals to plow and carry heavy loads in their work but many animals were killed by Eritreans and Ethiopia forces.
Using euphemisms instead of the word, genocide, does not save lives or stop genocide. Instead of applying the precautionary principle of the UN Geneva Convention the delay in the official recognition of genocide directed against the people of Tigray and by Eritrea, Ethiopia, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey follows a sad pattern previously seen in Rwanda, Darfur, and Bosnia. Rather then directly confronting the offenders with the truth of an ongoing genocide the international community is once again delaying declaration of genocide based on the false hope proven by previous catastrophic experience that using lesser terms will allow diplomacy to bring a change in behavior. Using lesser terms only empowers the genocidal power to continue deprivation and killing.
Ethnic cleansing ( a term created during the Bosnia war), population displacement, and civil war are examples of terms that are lesser then genocide and do not trigger international sanctions. A years long total blockade of Tigray has resulted in total lack of health care and food supplies while targeted attacks on civilians have together resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and continues to threaten millions in Tigray as already documented by the UN.
Academic study of this failure to respond has been well studied by public health researchers. Using euphemisms instead of the term genocide always resulting in more death and destruction. Because the cost of human lives has so often been catastrophic the United Nations Convention in 1948 was created to function with a Precautionary Principle which stresses early intervention to stop the killing as soon as possible. Once reasonable suspicion is raised the burden of proof is changed from those suspecting the genocide to those carrying it out under international agreement. Despite this the 20th century saw over 170 million deaths from genocide.
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?
Twitter has seen so many posts advocating escalation of ethnic violence against the Tigray in Ethiopia that they shut down their mechanism for collecting posts with similar topics for readership. In the face of a great epic tragedy occurring in Ethiopia the supporters of Abiy Ahmed have decided that their best strategy in midst of a military debacle is to attempt to deflect the real issues and realign them to emotional ones unrelated to the current reality.
Over the past few years I have had an interest in the use of language and neuroscience related to how it functions to establish human interactions. We have been using this to help develop teaching methods for students training for futures as executives in business in Africa in how they relate to clients. This neurobehavioral science gives some insight to what we are seeing in Twitter and Facebook.
Modern media is about the short sound bit or 125 character phrase that creates a “Wow” visceral response without contemplating the whys? Hows? Where is it going? Where did it come from?
Whereas decades ago all massively distributed media was created by professionals with supervisory editing dictated by agreed norms of civility today we see a change to media made for sensationalistic emotional immediate response. In the 1960s Marshal McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher, coined the phrase “the media is the message”. The concept is a bit complex but importantly relates to the idea that sensational content in its presentation draws the observer away from thinking about things like why is it presented, what were the circumstances that lead to it, etc. In his work Understanding Media:The Extensions of Man he gave the example of a “burglar carrying meat for the watchdog of the mind”.
The problems of starvation, deprivation, imprisonment, and violation will not be solved by sound bits or catchy phrases. History is replete with many instances of times when leaders let personal glory drive them to make decisions prolonging suffering of those in their charge with avoidable predictable catastrophe.
At this moment Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed has decided that he is justified to starve millions of innocents of whom children are the first to die. Not only Tigray but even before the war started 1 in 4 Ethiopians was getting international food aid from the UN and others. Many Amhara, Orom0, Somali, Afar, SNNP as well as others are also facing food shortages with displacement, new locust swarms, poor rains, and inflation which limited the planting material this year.
The English pastor, John Dunne, wrote that “No Man Is an Island” in his Meditations centuries ago. Apparently this was never a reading of the Prime Minister. The United Nations was created so that nations can help each other in times of crisis. The vulnerable including women, children, and elderly have traditionally been protected by international agreements to which Ethiopia is a signatory. Abiy Ahmed believes he is above treaties. In the name of sovereignty no atrocity is forbidden.
Yet today we see a man who just a short time ago received the Nobel Peace Prize and the hope of a nation but now has become one of the most evil in history. Overseeing and approving widespread rape, male child killing, destruction and theft of health care facilities, cutting of supplies of electricity. communication, fuel, and lastly intentionally starving the Tigray population with an intent to kill as many or more as the Nazis killed the Jews or the Turks killed the Armenians.
Meanwhile his maniacal supporters cry Ethiopia for Ethiopians. Forgetting the Eritreans and Somalis were called in to assist with the killing and destruction while the Tigray who at least when this war started were Ethiopians.
Ethiopia has zero capability to survive by itself economically. Ethiopia is $30 billion USD in debt such that it has to pay $2 billion USD annually just to cover the interest which is equal to a normal whole budget. The birr is worth almost nothing while rampant inflation for everything from diapers to food is rising daily. Without any outside support the Ethiopian economy will surely collapse. Now with sanctions surely coming it will crash viciously for the perpetrators.
Once aligned with the western democracies to help its development now Ethiopia has become pimped to Eritrea, North Korea, Iran, and Turkey. Eritrea has stolen many of the personal vehicles of the FANO Amhara militia and other valuable in Gondar and Western Tigray. The rebellion against the Abiy Ahmed grows in every region every day.
Additionally they are killing Amhara occupiers of Western Tigray while they ravage it. All this to “payback” a deposed Tigray group that had returned to just rule Tigray. Never mind that the Bible, a book the PM claims to follow, bands starvation as a weapon in both the New and Old Testament. Perhaps he should read it again to learn about justice, peace, mercy, and love. Many have talked about Abiy Ahmed ultimately ending up in the International Criminal Court for his complete loss of respect for human life. Now this may be necessary to find peace.
Is the primary agenda of Martin Griffiths preservation of the state of Ethiopia or relieving the horrific human suffering of the people of Tigray?Why does he only talk in vague generalities about why aid can not get to Tigray?
Martin Griffiths, the relatively new UN Aid Chief, has complained of worsening famine and deprivation in Tigray for months but has refused to assign any blame on Ethiopia and Eritrea. Instead he seems to consistently present a scenario that he has believed his personal conversations with PM Abiy Ahmed that the epidemic human catastrophe is not his fault but he will take positive action to help. Meanwhile the Ethiopian Eritrean “de facto” blockade as described by many in the UN remains at the forefront of their policy of genocide. In his final statement he said preserving the Ethiopia state was of primary importance this week. While Mr. Griffiths spews his misguided and damaging optimism just today the Ethiopian government expelled seven more vital UN humanitarian workers.
Several months ago when it was clear that a growing famine was gripping Tigray as well as state directed genocide by Ethiopia and Eritrea against Tigray persons and property, Martin Griffiths, the new UN Aid Chief appeared quite naïve about the true intentions of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Amhara expansionist supporters. After speaking with the Prime Minister he proclaimed that Tigray should immediately join the ceasefire because Ethiopia had helped prepare a good harvest for Tigray.
How did he not know what the Ethiopian appointed Interim Administration of Tigray was saying that Ethiopia intended to block any planting? He said Ethiopia wanted a peaceful solution and that Tigray had extended the war. Yet throughout Tigray during the so-called ceasefire businesses and factories were destroyed or dismantled then shipped to Eritrea. Elimination of male children was being carried on by Amhara militia and Eritrean forces in Western Tigray. A complete blockade of not only food but also medicine and fuel was begun.
Then many weeks later Mr. Griffiths visits Tigray and finds that schools have been destroyed by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces and then asks why are they not rebuilt? He openly hints that somehow the Tigray are limiting aid and does not even mention any role of Ethiopia.
Now finally on September 28th this week he mentions that communication, power, water, food, medicine, and health care creating a nearly unprecedented man made famine. Finally he mentions that Ethiopian government allegations that international aid agencies are helping the Tigray is false. Yet again however he praises the talks he has had with Ethiopian government that now there is a “change” in government which will change direction. He continues to use language which places no blame at all on Ethiopia even though other high ranking UN officials have called the situation a “de facto” blockade by the Ethiopian Eritrean genocide attempt on Tigray.
The Faustian bargain struck by Abiy Ahmed has cost the destruction of hundreds of thousands of lives, the economy, and the political unity of Ethiopia. The last of which is likely gone forever. Famine, displacement, isolation, economic disaster, hostility with neighboring countries, and almost comprehensive strife between many factions and ethnicities is the reality of Abiy Ahmed’s leadership of Ethiopia. The human tragedy of Dr. Faustus told in the Elizabethan play by Christopher Marlowe seems to have become reality in Abiy Ahmed.
As a young man Abiy Ahmed joined the Ethiopian Army and eventually became an intelligence officer. This field fascinated him as he was a protégé of the Tigrayan leader, Getachew Assefa. Eventually Abiy would help form the INSA(Information Network Security Agency), the national intelligence service that was at first quite secretive about its existence.
Intelligence officers play key roles in military functioning but often do not end up as leading commanders because they develop false senses of security about the value of their knowledge which is often prejudiced by wanting to prove previously held beliefs about a potential adversary. Developing command capability in the military requires experiences much more than being an intelligence officer alone.
As a member of the Ethiopian Parliament Abiy Ahmed developed a reputation of being an intelligent and devote protector of the rights of the Oromo people who he was thought to represent with zeal. The Addis Ababa housing authority was giving housing to Amhara, who worked for the capital city, houses in the Oromo region. This was seen as a part of the expansion of the mostly Amhara city which had been built by the Amharic emperor to colonize the Oromo region a century before into the Oromo Regional State. Abiy Ahmed championed that housing in the Oromo region should go to Oromos.
There is no denying that Abiy Ahmed had great talents as orator and potential to be a great leader perhaps. His talk of medemer where he would build a unity of Ethiopia’s many different Ethnic groups into a blended national unity appealed to many Ethiopians. At that time he denied rumors that his mother was unlike his Oromo father an Amhara.
After being thrust forward to the rank of Prime Minister by his confidant Lemma Megersa (leader of the Oromos) and Jawar Mohammed (leader of Qeero movement) he seemed destined for greatness, being a part of the most numerous ethnic group making up more than 30% of the Ethiopian population.
Yet somehow this gift of power and prestige was not enough. Like the tragedy of Dr. Faustus in the famous play by Christopher Marlowe at some point following his being named Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed decided he needed more power. The promotors of Amhara dominance and expansionism who had been somewhat silent for years on the domestic political front but active in the diaspora began to whisper in Abiy Ahmed’s ear. They became the “Mephastophilis” who promised greater power and immortality if Abiy Ahmed just let go of reasonable logic and would trust the power of evil.
A joint alliance of “religious leaders” promised that God would allow Abiy Ahmed to break all rules of Christian morality in the name of creating a “Christian” Ethiopian state under Amharic dominance. It did not matter that no where in Scripture is such a thing promised. What these leaders were saying was the equivalent of saying during Jesus walk in the desert, described in Matthew 4:1-11, when he was tempted by the Devil to accept him over God to rule the world Jesus should have accepted the Devil. That this was necessary because Ethiopia was in another Zemene Mesafint, a time of many princes but no king, which would doom Ethiopia.
Abiy Ahmed has forgotten his Oromo heritage while many of his own ethnic group rebel in growing numbers against him. He has imprisoned Jawar Mohammed and severely sanctioned Lemma Megersa. In fact almost anyone who was a previous mentor has become an enemy.
At this moment the war in Ethiopia rages on in destruction. The Tigray and their allies are advancing but they have offered to negotiate but tragically Abiy Ahmed and his collaborators under the Mephastophilian influence refuse logic. Will Abiy Ahmed be like Dr. Faustus who in the end of the play realizes his sin and need for repentance or he will see Ethiopia to it’s end?
Beginning 300 days ago Mekelle University has suffered airstrikes, artillery bombardment, rifle fire, pilfering of its records and equipment. Today the halls of the university and the wards of its hospital are empty accept for refugees trying to survive. Many of our employees and staff have been killed not because they became fighters to defend Tigray but just for walking on the street or trying to evacuate their elderly parents from a village.
A year ago Mekelle University was teaching thousands of students from not only Tigray and Ethiopia but many surrounding countries. Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital was teaching medical school to hundreds and training specialists in pediatrics, internal medicine, general surgery, pathology, obstetrics gynecology, otolaryngology, oral maxillofacial surgery, orthopedics and trauma surgery, forensic medicine, and neurosurgery. We were starting training in master anesthesia, MD anesthesiology, oncology, neuroscience PhD, and many other fields. Leading research was done in agriculture, veterinary medicine, engineering, medicine, and many other fields.
Even though we were a “Federal University” we were abandoned by the Ministries of Science and Higher Education as well as the Ministry of Health. As soon as the war started they pretended we did not exist. The Mekelle community shared what little food, water, and shelter they had with students from other regions and countries. All payment stopped to employees. All medical supplies stopped. With the encouragement of the the Ethiopian military Eritreans were allowed to rape students, ransack buildings, and take any war booty meaning computers, lab equipment, etc. back to Eritrea.
It will take millions of dollars to rebuild the University and its services to the community. Unfortunately is is just a small part of the overall damage done to Tigray. Millions are still starving at the order of Abiy Ahmed and his hench man Isaias. But I can imagine it would be far worse now if the Tigray Army had not resurged and marched forward. It is not over but we pray God will guide them on their mission to find peace and eliminate the threat to the Tegaru from their man-made insufferable misery. Psalm 18:39
“For You have girded me with strength for battle;
You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.”