Day 37 of the war on Tigray: what does the world say?

It has been 37 days since Abiy Ahmed waged war on Tigray, inviting the Amhara militia and youth vigilantes who call themselves Fano in the south and Eritrea in the north. Though Eritrea’s role in this bloody war was all too obvious, reports that the U.S. has publicly admitted it appeared only recently. Today, the main focus of the international media has been the humanitarian crises. Tigray has been in complete darkness and mayhem for the last 37 days with:

  • No electricity
  • No banking
  • No telephone
  • No internet
  • No food
  • No medicine
  • No water
  • No sanitation
  • No transport
  • No media access (no truth)
  • No independent reports and investigation of crimes (no justice)

Speaking to democracy now, Awol Allo reiterates some of the most significant developments that led to current crisis in Tigray. The fact that tens of thousands civilians have been displaced, thousands killed and that the Ethiopian government rejected an independent investigation saying that it ‘doesn’t need a babysitter.’

As the world celebrates Human Rights Day 2020, Reuters has reported that two U.S. senators, senator Ben Cardin and senator Jim Risch have called on their government to impose sanctions on Ethiopian officials for human rights violations.“Is the War in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region Ending or Only Just Beginning?” Michael Horton asks this question as many who are following the war on Tigray, concerned about the ensuing devastating humanitarian crisis and the potential to spillover to the precarious east African region.  

Despite early claims of victory by the Ethiopian government, its war against the Tigray based Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) shows no signs of ending. Instead, the TPLF, which is a capable and well-armed force, could launch a protracted guerrilla war. Such a war has the potential to spread well-beyond the Tigray region and even Ethiopia.

According to The Economist, fundamental ideological differences about how Ethiopia should be organized lie at the heart of the conflict in Tigray. As in most media reports and analyses so far, this articles has been shy in stating the role of Eritrea and the Amhara militias in this devastating war.

Other actors may have their own agendas. Eritrea’s president, Issaias Afwerki, has no love for the TPLF. Eritrea lost a bitter war with a TPLF-led Ethiopia between 1998 and 2000 and has reportedly been helping Abiy’s forces during the recent conflict. Last month the TPLF fired rockets at Asmara, the Eritrean capital, claiming that Ethiopian troops were using its airport. Some Amhara militias, from the state to the south of Tigray, have got involved in the fighting, perhaps seeing an opportunity to settle a long-running border dispute with their Tigrayan neighbours.

Two important points wittingly or otherwise left or understated in the international media leave Tigray and Tigrayans in double jeopardy. First, the role of Eritrea has been sidelined in the stories despite ostensible evidence which include Abiy Ahmed’s own confirmation. In this article, Mesfin Hagos, a founding member of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) gives a comprehensive account of the developments in Eritrea in the run up to and during the war. It has taken more than a month for the U.S. to admit (albeit reluctantly) that Eritrea is part of the war.  

The second point that puts Tigray in double jeopardy is the Mai Kadra massacre. As part of Abiy Ahmed’s strategy to control the narrative, the complete communications blackout in the entire region in Tigray has given the actors to commit atrocious crimes and either hide them or even more profitably to them, blame them on Tigrayans. The latter is what has happened in Mai Kadra. Tigrayans were massacred, as survivors who made it to Sudan recounted, but the Amhara militia were quick enough to make the story go the opposite way. This strategy did not only help them hide their crimes against humanity, it was also used to instigate further atrocities by motivating their compatriots to annihilate Tigrayans and justifying it to their victims. This is corroborated by the following picture of a message that was reportedly posted in Mai Tsebri are giving Tigrayan an ultimatum to leave the area or they would risk their lives.

An ultimatum given to Tigrayans who live all over Welkait Tsegede districts to leave the area in two weeks.

Alarming reports are coming that Abiy Ahmed’s military are stripping off the fatigues of the dead and burying them in civil clothes so that they can make a documentary accusing Tigray Defense Forces of civilian massacres.

Other related articles published today (December 10, 2020):

Amare Teklay

Amare is an economist from Tigray. He is interested in behavioral economics, psychology, philosophy and politics.

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