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Abiy Ahmed’s Invisible Sword on Tigrai - Isaias Afewerki

By Eyob Tadelle Gebrehiwot
Tigrai Online Jan. 27, 2021

Nothing was more unimaginable than to see savage Eritrean troops swaggering on the streets of the beautiful city of Mekele - the northern star – the northern jewel – a city full of vim and vigor!

Oh, everything is now in topsy-turvy.

Nothing is more painful than seeing not only Mekele but also the whole of Tigrai being invaded by the wild troops of Isaias Afewerki!

Nothing is more painful than to hear that innocent Tigrians are said have been massacred, killed in mass, extra-judicially executed, and the rape of women and young girls by armed gangs!

Nothing is more painful than to see Tigrai cities, towns and villages being mercilessly shelled, indiscriminately bombarded and destroyed by the joint forces of Ethiopia and Eritrea!

Nothing is more painful than to see over 4.5 million people, who need urgent humanitarian assistance due to the war that has been ongoing on for three months now, being deliberately deprived access to humanitarian aid – mass starvation being used as a silent weapon of war, ipso facto, as a collective punishment by Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s Isaias Afewerki – the two war criminals who masterminded the devastating war and the genocide in Tigrai.

The cloud of uncertainty that was hovering over the question, whether or not Eritrean soldieries were directly involved in the war on Tigrai, is now clear.

It is now beyond a shadow of doubt that Eritrean troops are involved tooth and nail in Abiy’s war on Tigrai - in Abiy’s war crimes against Tigrai - in the Tigrai genocide!

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Though firsthand accounts and reliable sources have long confirmed the involvement of Eritrean troops, it is only lately that some high officials of the Ethiopian government have admitted this national humiliation.

Eye witnesses and credible reports have described that several divisions of the Eritrean national army, estimated to be more than one hundred and sixty thousand men including their steel-clad mechanized forces, along with some Ethiopian forces that were already made to station along the border in a pre-arranged plan to attack Tigrai, started the war in all major northern fronts and made their way further hinterlands while indiscriminately shelling densely populated areas and selected targets such as churches and mosques as well as destroying major physical infrastructures while controlling nearby small towns such as Zala’anbesa and Sheraro, and then such major towns as Axum, Adwa, Adigrat, Wukro and finally Mekelle. They are said to have involved in the large scale lootings and deliberate destruction of public and private properties such lootings and destructions at Axum Airport, Axum University, Al Meda Textile Factory in Adwa, Addis Pharmaceuticals in Adigrat, Adigrat University, Sheba Leather Industry in Wukro, Mekelle University are, but some of the destructions mainly done by Eritrean troops, in collaboration with their Ethiopian counterparts. They are also said to have shelled Al Nejashi, the first mosque in Africa, and Debre Damo Monastery Church, also an ancient church with priceless heritages.

Eritrean troops are said to have committed large scale human rights abuses including massacres, mass killings, and indiscriminate shelling of densely populated areas, rape and sexual harassment of women and girls.

A video recorded on mobile telephone has also been released on social media showing fully armed Eritrean troops sitting on the top of their tanks moving on the main streets of Shire, a major town in northern Tigrai. Several photos have also been posted on Facebook displaying Eritrean soldiers with their Kalashnikov assault rifles hanging around their shoulders, wearing their gray and brown military uniforms and their signature tyre-rubber sandals walking on the streets of major Tigrian towns – in Mekelle, in Adi-grat, in Axum, in Adwa and in Zala Anbessa, among others, making it clear the level of involvement of this foreign aggression against Tigrai.

Yet the most compelling reaffirmations of the involvement of Eritrean troops came from both senior leaders of the Ethiopian Defense Forces and the Interim Administration of Tigrai region. Although the governments in Addis Ababa and Asmera have officially denied the involvement of Eritrean troops, in a video recorded from Tigrai TV, which is now under the control of the Tigrai Interim Administration, and have been circulating on Facebook, Major General Belay Seyoum, commander of the Northern Command Forces, while speaking to some residents of Mekele, has reaffirmed both their involvement and presence of Eritrean troops in Tigrai. He said: ‘We did not invite them, and I as a military leader, feel sorry to see an alien army.’ Also in a video recorded from same TV station and have been circulating on Facebook, the Interim Mayor of Mekelle, Ataklti Haileselassie, a handpick of Abiy Ahmed, speaking to some residents of the city, has also reaffirmed the presence of Eritrean troops. And said: “The interim administration has asked for explanation to pertinent officials.”  These were a slap on the face to both Abiy’s and Isaia’s administrations that have continued denying the presence of Eritrean troops in Tigrai.

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 In a seemingly contradictory tone to this general denial of his government, however, Abiy, right after his troops conquered Mekele, gave gratitude and praised Eritrean troops for their role in saving the ‘unity’ of Ethiopia.

Oh, how generous it is for Isaias to send his troops to shed their blood and to pay their lives to ‘save the unity and defend the sovereignty’ of Ethiopia!

This is, at best, a farce, and at worst, ridiculous!

The grim and glaring truth, however, is that Isaias has been assiduously working throughout his adult life and has left no stone unturned for the disintegration of Ethiopia. In an interview he made with Eri TV some years ago, the video has also been circulating on social media these days, Isaias clearly and unequivocally stated his ultimate wish for Ethiopia: “If we want to rule Ethiopia, we have to make sure that it is disintegrated - disintegrated tooth and nail.” ‘Fuaeh Fuaeh’ was the Tigrigna word he used, literally meaning, a complete fiasco and disintegration. He even tried to actualize his ‘grand ambition’ by declaring a full-fledged war on Ethiopia in 1998.

Isaias, at home, is a brutal dictator - a merciless butcher to his own people. His relations with his neighbors, is even worse. Isaias declared a bloody war on Yemen in 1995. He declared war on Djibouti and Sudan on several occasions. Isaias declared a grinding war on Ethiopia in 1998.

He is, simply and sadly, a man anathema to peace and order. Isaias inherently negates peace and whatever is good for humanity. As such, he has left, and is leaving, a trail of wreckage behind, not only in Eritrea, which he has ruled it in an iron fist for almost three decades now, but also throughout the region, and now in Tigrai.

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But, why and why now?

Isaias has for so long the ambition of becoming the uncontested political figure in East Africa, which was cut short owing to his own voracious ego that led him to wage a highly miscalculated war against Ethiopia in 1998. Ethiopia, led by the late PM Meles Zenawi, who was also the chair man of the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), meticulously yet completely crippled him, both militarily and diplomatically. This was one reason, but not the only reason; there were also other irrational reasons behind Isaias’s loath against TPLFites. At any rate, Isaias has a bitter hate towards TPLF and its social base – the people of Tigrai.

The coming to power of Abiy Ahmed unexpectedly created a golden opportunity for Isaias. He clearly, and at ones, saw Abiy’s political naivety and immaturity. Isaias found a protégé that could be easily ‘straightened or crooked’ as per his will in a bid to materialize his grand design.  

Abiy, on the other hand, was in great haste of consolidating his power that he had secured it by great chance, almost ‘miraculously.’ As such, he was looking for whatever kind of friendship – especially with those who he thinks hate TPLF, and he was ready to make any and whatever deal, regardless of its consequences, to defend and consolidate his power.

No doubt, there was mutual tacit understanding from the very first day when they both unofficially and in closed doors agreed to make a pact for the ‘normalization’ of the relations of the two countries. The ‘peace’ deal that followed and celebrated in Oslo was, therefore, a precursor to the war on Tigrai!  

Abiy, who lack a better sense of history and political wisdom, might have not understood the gravity and consequences of his political decisions on the destiny of Ethiopia. But Isaias, the old master of chaos and conflict, knew from the beginning where Abiy is going to take the country to – to a quagmire of civil war!

Having prepared for some two and more years, Abiy declared war on Tigrai - in the name of ‘law enforcement,’ for the mere reason - at least the ostensible immediate reason, that Tigrai had conducted ‘illegal’ regional election, though it was legal as per the FDRE Constitution.

In the name of ‘enforcing the law,’ Abiy blocked all roads that connect Tigrai to the rest of the country (in fact, the main road that connects Tigrai to Addis has been blocked for almost three years now). The government also cut-off telecommunication networks, access to internet, and all means of communication, as well as electricity and water supply and everything.

In such a complete communication blackout, Abiy and Isaias have committed unimaginable atrocities:

Thousands of CIVILLIANS are said to have been beheaded, decapitated and extra-judicially executed.

Hundreds of CIVILLIANS are said to have been killed in shelling and aerial bombardments, and women and young girls have been raped.

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The war has claimed tens of thousands of lives on both sides. Over seventy thousand Tigrians have fled to neighboring Sudan and hundreds of thousands have become internally displaced.

Mass killings, arbitrary arrests, forced conscription, vandalism, arson and lootings of private and public properties, inter alia, is ubiquitous.  

Beyond and above all these war crimes, the government has blocked, deliberately and purposely, access to humanitarian aid for over 4.5 million people who need urgent emergency relief.   

By declaring war on Tigrai, Abiy has fallen in the snare of Isaias. Ethiopia has failed internally, regionally and internationally.

Isaias’s role on the war is equal, if not greater, than Abiy. Though invited by Ethiopia’s leader, it still is a foreign aggression against a member of the federation. And, like any other foreign aggression, it is against the integrity and sovereignty of Ethiopia – a national humiliation. But above all, it has serious consequences and meanings on the future and destiny of Ethiopia in general, and on the Ethio-Tigrai relation in particular.

Also, Eritrea’s involvement and its role on the war against Tigrai is, from a vantage point of international law, a grave crime.

The question now remains, if not now, when will the international community interfere to stop the unspoken human sufferings that are being committed against vulnerable Tigrians by criminals of war in Addis Ababa and Asmara?

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