Tigray: the story of a fall between drama and mendacity

by Guido Talarico

Disinformation is the last dangerous weapon left in the hands of TPLF elites and their allies who have not accepted the change of government in Ethiopia led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed. “The Week” magazine is the latest victim of this barrage of fake news deviously disseminated by the remnants of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (pictured left) and current WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom.

The US weekly, in a report entitled ‘Tigray, Ethiopia’, reported a series of fake news stories aimed at bringing the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments into disrepute. After all, this is an old story: in an age when journalists travel little, in the absence of direct testimony, news reported by one side or the other is reported. And very often it is only false news. Thus, in this propaganda war, those who are often left in the middle are the NGOs, who are used instrumentally. In other cases, it is even the large international humanitarian organizations that are used for this purpose.

The bona fide reports in ‘The Week’ on Tigray seem to be the product of this perverse logic of propaganda. Other media even go so far as to accuse Eritreans of committing horrible crimes in Tigray against the civilian population, especially against women, when in fact, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, during its 30 years of struggle for independence, was well known for its virtues of humanity and moral values, which in its later governance of its country has transferred to its population in general and its military in particular. Eritrea is also known for the role women played in the liberation struggle. Their fortitude in the struggle and other societal aspects has garnered them respect by their male counterparts and have accordingly earned their equal share of opportunity to lead the national development programs. Bearing these noble values even during times of revolution on one hand and while asking nothing in return to assist countries such as Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Somalia during times of need, it is very far from reality to accuse Eritreans of looting in Tigray.

The TPLF, which received unconditional support from the Eritreans during its decades of armed struggle, knows full well that these are baseless allegations that are artfully published to denigrate the collaborative efforts of President Isaias Afwerki and Prime Minister Abiy to promote enduring peace the Horn of Africa. Observers as well as serious and sincere analysts, who have studied and experienced the recent events in the Horn of Africa, know perfectly well that Eritrea has a positive and stabilizing role in the region. Prime Minister Abiy, safeguarding his political mandate, is also committed to the notion, thus creating the conditions for the development of the entire region. Peace with Eritrea, after twenty years of war, was achieved in a matter of weeks. We know today that all Ethiopians craved for this, with the exception of the TPLF who had always hindered it. Above all, Eritrea has worked for it relentlessly.

After Abiy took power in 2018, both President Isaias Afwerki and Prime Minister Abiy took little time to re-establish peace, which has been held hostage for 20 years by the ousted power in Ethiopia, between the two countries and the region at large. Then, as evidence of this historic event, and a later tripartite agreement (Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia), came the Nobel Prize. With the tripartite agreement, the region started heading in a new economic and social paradigm. The only party which fought against this process of peace and development was invariably the TPLF, which leveraged its relatively vast international network (built and financed with the huge sums embezzled from the budget of the Ethiopian treasury) to continue to misinform about what is really happening in Tigray and in the region.

This international fake news factory is unfortunately also made up of NGOs and UN officials who are still linked to TPLF leaders. They pretend to be unaware that the TPLF has been subversive and has been guilty of terrible terrorist acts and crimes that the Ethiopian government is set to indict in the coming months. In addition to the various attacks and massacres committed in Ethiopia, the TPLF is accused of crimes in its own region of Tigray. One saddening example is that the TPLF militia who committed the Mai-Kadra massacre have fled to Sudan pretending to be refugees and mixing with fleeing civilians. Another important thing that should be considered here is that the TPLF leadership before escaping have freed hundreds of convicted felons and criminals in Mekelle, who could very much be doing all the looting and other criminal offenses.

The military operations undertaken by the Government is indeed a sheer response to an armed attack that the TPLF carried out in November 2020 which was aimed at destabilizing the Ethiopian Northern Command tp overthrow Abiy‘s government. All those who are now accusing the Ethiopian Federal Government of intervening in Tigray are intentionally trying to avoid the true cause behind the crisis. Had it not been for the quick military response that made it possible to defeat the criminal and terrorist plans of the TPLF, today we would have seen a divided Ethiopia in the grip of fratricidal ethnic wars with serious impacts on all states in the region and with millions of victims and refugees.

These people should also remember that the TPLF did not want to abide by the peace agreements signed by Ethiopia and Eritrea and are responsible for destabilizing the entire region for more than 20 years supported by an international community misled by their policy based on fake news and supported by grateful and generous contributions to compliant media. While selling the image of a stable government that strived for Ethiopia’s growth and development, the TPLF was doggedly preparing the ground for the secession of Tigray as a residual option in the event that its monopoly of power in Ethiopia became untenable. In the meantime, the TPLF continued to foment ethnic strife in the various regions of the country while buying huge weapons that were concentrated in Tigray under the guise of the Eritrean threat which it regularly stoked for ulterior motives.

Indeed, one cannot fail to recall how the TPLF, when they were still in power in Addis Ababa, had more than 80% of their national armaments transferred to their home region. This was a cunning and somewhat arrogant gesture aimed at maintaining control of the armed forces in order to dominate the rest of Ethiopia and the entire region, including Eritrea. In order to understand the current situation in Ethiopia and Tigray, one cannot ignore what happened on 3 November 2020. The hostile attack by the TPLF against all the positions and military bases of Ethiopia’s Northern Command which PM Abiy had to oppose was the cause of the situation that the Ethiopian government is now trying to manage in Tigray with effort and dedication. And all people of good will should support the efforts of the Ethiopian government to help the local people to take back their destiny after being freed from the TPLF terrorists, who after 20 years of despotic use of power, is still trying, with the support of its old friends and networks in the West, to safeguard its objective of dismantling the unity of Ethiopia to maintain its hegemony even at the cost of creating damage and losses to its own people.

For those who want to understand how things really stood, it would have been enough to re-read the various public speeches that PM Abiy made before intervening in Tigray. These were genuine appeals to the population in which he explained that Addis Ababa wanted to do nothing more than restore order in the region and peace in the entire Horn of Africa. These appeals were also repeated by television channels, but fell on deaf TPLF ears. What happened after the capture of Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, by the Ethiopians is certainly a war report; and as always in these cases, tragedies can encounter as collateral damages. But If there have been acts of violence committed, they must, of course, be investigated and severely condemned.

We have no doubt that Nobel Prize winner PM Abiy (pictured left) will bring any culprits to justice. Because even during a war there are rules to follow and justice to uphold. Even so, it must be known that it was the TPLF clique that did not want to lay down their arms despite numerous calls to surrender. They were also the ones who, before fleeing the region, opened prisons and freed common criminals onto the streets and used the defenseless population as a shield.

In such situations, there is clearly a humanitarian emergency. In a tormented region, it is clear that the population, already exhausted by famine and Covid-19, is in a state of deep suffering and is therefore trying to flee to neighboring regions. This is certainly a tragedy to be taken into account and dealt with. We should all strive to put an end to the suffering of populations harassed by power games. But the truth must be respected. It is difficult, but we must try to stick to the facts without submitting to intimidations and without giving in to fake news and disinformation that are still going on.