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.
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.
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.”
It is no secret that Abiy Ahmed is moving away from alignment with the Western democracy capitalist based economic model and moving towards the state dominated economic model of Eritrea, Cuba, and Iran as well as Turkey problem child of NATO. This action is being somewhat camouflaged by pro-Africa anti-colonization rhetoric given to falsely buoy his supporters in the wake of catastrophic economic failure now on the horizon.
This week, Andargachew Tsige, former ally of the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front who was imprisoned by the previous government then released by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, is making the rounds on the Amharic media calling for a new economic model like that of Cuba and Eritrea.
Coincidently it was revealed this week that Canadian mining companies had tried to make a secret deal for rights to $ 2 billion in gold reserves in Tigray without any knowledge of the Tigray state many months before the Ethiopian Tigray conflict. Canadian courts had found that Canadian mining interests had violated the law by cooperating with the Eritrean government to pay slave wages to workers resulting in high profits for Esaias Afwerki, despot of Eritrea and the mining concerns. The embarrassment caused the Canadians to sell all but 10% to Chinese less scrupled interests. Canada has been remarkably quiet about the Ethiopian situation.
No doubt Abiy Ahmed can see the writing on the wall that his economic future with the West is poor given the inevitable sanctions coming soon unless he radically changes course and sues for peace with the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front. Now eleven months into a war that has seen the Tigray Defense Force initially on its knees to now controlling much of the Amhara region many such as United Nations Secretary General Gutierrez believe Ethiopia cannot obtain a military victory. Even so Abiy Ahmed has promised to never negotiate with those he has deemed terrorists. The failing economy may become more of an enemy then the TPLF for Abiy Ahmed.
The three months I was in Mekelle treating patients at Ayder Comprehensive Hospital during the Tigray conflict from November 2020 to January 2021 I saw unarmed young boys shot down in the street, mutilation of babies and partial castration of boys, women dumped at the hospital after rape to be “cleaned” then kidnapped again to an unknown fate, and many other evil acts by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces. Today we see evidence from two reputable news sources, CNN and the Telegraph, that systemic mutilation and murder to imprisoned innocent civilians has been going on under Ethiopian supervision in Western Tigray. “Victims had their eyes gouged out and legs amputated before being shot.” This is occurring while we already know that tens of thousands of women from Tigray were raped while others were killed after in horrific acts of barbarism. Whole villages were wiped out in Hawzen as just one example.
All the while the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives briefings everyday that they are “trying” to give more food aid to Tigray we see locals along the highway who are cued into the shipments stopping the vehicles and stealing their contents whilst saying it was Tigray Defense Forces.
Since the beginning of the Ethiopian and Eritrean invasion the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his government have said that their incursion was about catching leaders of the TPLF and protecting the people of Tigray. Yet the evidence clearly shows that that the intent of the leaders of the invasion forces both Ethiopian and Tigray were intent on nothing less then a complete genocide that rivals what the world saw previously in Yugoslavia, Germany, and Armenia. The Turkish connection to get weapons of genocide from a country that to this day refuses to killing millions of Armenian Christians.
How much longer will the world, the United Nations, and the African Union stand by to let a deranged dictator and his henchmen kill innocents. Will it wait to millions more are dead?
Is Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed now making deals with a Turkish anti-Christian cocaine dealer? Does the hypocrisy of Abiy Ahmed know no bounds?
Just this month a story published in the Nordic Monitor described that a jet owned by a close associate of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was caught smuggling 1.3 tons of cocaine into Brazil. The jet was owned by a company owned by Şeyhmus Özkan, a known oil smuggler who enjoys political cover thanks to his close ties to the Erdoğan government. He is a vital supporter of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The article noted that the response of the Turkish government to this event “bears the hallmark of a coverup by Turkish authorities”. Is Abiy Ahmed planning to use Ethiopian jets the same way to help his economy?
Components of Turkish Airlines have filed bankruptcy in last year and have struggled to do well in the international COVID19 pandemic. Additionally although offering low fairs which are probably violating international regulations on national subsidy to capture markets the airline suffers from a poor reputation of customer service. Frequent comments such as “worst airline ever” appear on the well known rating website Skytrax.
Although Abiy Ahmed presents himself as devoted evangelical Christian who promotes tolerance of religious diversity that is not the case with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who is coming under increasing international criticism for his suppression of Christianity in Turkey. Historically Istanbul once known as Constantinopol was known as the first nation to officially adopt Christianity by the Emperor Constantine. He is recognized and venerated by Ethiopian Orthodox followers as his mother, Helen, who is said to have found the relics of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. This is in fact an important holiday in Ethiopia called Meskel which means cross in the ancient language of Ge’ez used by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in its scripture. Why make deals with a man who mocks your own religion?
Whereas it was once commonplace for Orthodox Christianity and Islam to co-exist in Turkey that has changed under Erdoğan’s leadership. Christian churches are being converted to Mosques and Christians are frequently confronted by police and accused of treason. The celebration of Meskel as an open public celebration as done in Ethiopia is outlawed in Turkey.
At this moment multiple sources report Oromo Liberation Army elements are fighting in the neighborhood near Entoto Mountain on the edge of Addis Ababa just a short distance from the airport. At the same time Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a hasty visit to see the President Erdoğan of Turkey. The Tigray Defense Force continues to advance toward both Bahir Dar and Gondar while also pushing into Western Tigray. The supply of weapons and trained combat soldiers seems to have run out for the Amhara militias trying a last stand near Bahir Dar and Gondar.
Meanwhile Germany and the United States are setting up to increase sanctions on the Ethiopian government. Many are asking will the Prime Minister be able to come back if a take over of Addis is imminent?
Assuming for the moment his Prosperity Party will stay in power at least for a while recent diplomatic actions or lack there of predict poor relations with the United States. The snubbing of USAID Head Samantha Powers last week and now Jeffrey Feltman, the Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, by Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, raises the high likelihood that Ethiopia will be declared in violation of the AGOA which allows Ethiopian exports to the USA in hundreds of millions of dollars. Should the Ethiopian government survive which many seem to doubt at this point Ethiopia .
The United States State Department requests for peace talks with the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front by the Ethiopian government have been soundly rejected as well as requests for military forces invading Tigray to withdrawal, restoration of power, internet, access of aid and investigatory bodies to be allowed to enter Tigray. Growing impatience with the American State Department as well as members of Congress who have passed several resolution condemning the treatment of Tigrayans and the atrocities attributed to the Ethiopia and Eritrean fighting forces have resulted in no response.
U.S. total imports of agricultural products from Ethiopia totaled $151 million in 2019. Leading categories include: unroasted coffee ($130 million), nursery products ($6 million), spices ($3 million), planting seeds ($357 thousand), and wine and beer ($271 thousand)
Only 9% of total imports to Ethiopia come the United States. Ethiopia main imports are: foodstuffs, textile, machinery and fuel. Ethiopia main trading partners are: China (18 percent of total imports), Saudi Arabia (13 percent), Russia and India (9 percent)
The African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2001 gave Ethiopia a chance to export 1800 different products to the United States duty free. However to participate in AGOA To meet AGOA’s there are strict eligibility requirements including ” countries must establish or make continual progress toward establishing a market-based economy, the rule of law, political pluralism, and the right to due process. Additionally, countries must eliminate barriers to U.S. trade and investment, enact policies to reduce poverty, combat corruption and protect human rights.”