While the government has managed to secure the total information blackout that is allowing it to wage a dirty war in the northern region of Tigray, which officially ended last November 28 (according to Prime Minister Abiy), the feared danger that the conflict will spread into capital appeared last Sunday with the attack in the Lideta district. According to the report released by the police commander Alemayehu Ayalke, three homeless people have died and five other people have been injured, hastening to point out that «there is no indication that this attack is connected to the crisis in Tigray».
This is the first attack to go through but in the previous weeksvarious other attacks have been foiled by the Addis Ababa police who have always blamed the Tigray People’s Liberation Front without producing evidence to support the accusation. This time the police did not name the TPLF. For what reason? “Since there has been no claim for the attack, the perpetrators cannot be easily identified without a thorough investigation. The reason the federal government didn’t blame the TPLF this time is simple. According to the official state truth, the TPLF has been disintegrated and reduced to impotence. Its leaders on the run and hunted down. Blaming him for the attack means admitting that the civil war did not end in the ways described by the Prime Minister and that the enemy still has the logistical and organizational capacity to hit the heart of the country where the headquarters of the African Union also resides “, reports a source. diplomatic.
The government has taken bounties against the ‘fleeing’ TPLF leaders. Anyone who gives crucial information to their capture will receive a fee equal to 300,000 euros. The latest news received three days ago indicated that clashes between the TPLF, the federal army and the Amhara militias were still ongoing in various areas of Tigray. Soldiers sent from Eritrea are also still present and active after having deported some 80,000 Eritrean refugees. Having full control of the Internet (in Ethiopia only the state-owned company EthiopiaTelecom is authorized to operate, despite the partial privatization process being initiated), the TPLF fails to provide accurate information on its online sites.
It is vital for the federal government to avoid the direct involvement of Sudan which would inevitably be in favour of the TPLF. The two countries have decided to hold further discussions after the clashes that took place last week in the disputed border areas. Sudanese Prime Minister Hamdok and Abiy held talks on the sidelines of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) summit. During the meeting, IGAD decided to support “law enforcement measures in Ethiopia“, the term the feds use to describe military operations in Tigray as legal and legitimate.
Premier Hamdok is the current president of IGAD. The summit focused on peace and security processes in Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. The Djibouti summit was attended by Moussa Faki Mahamat, President of the African Union bloc, the President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, the Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo, the President of Djibouti Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, as well as Abiy and Hamdok. South Sudan is represented by its vice president Rebbeca Garang and Uganda by its ambassador Rebecca Otengo. The summit was also marked by the meeting between Farmaajo and Kenyatta, after Somalia’s recent move to break off diplomatic relations with Nairobi. After months of mounting tensions between the two neighbors, Somalia broke off diplomatic relations with Kenya on December 15, accusing it of ‘violations of Somali sovereignty’.
AU Commission President Moussa Faki Mahamat, also present at the summit, called on IGAD members to help Ethiopia deal with the humanitarian crisis triggered by the recent conflict in the breakaway region of Tigray, according to the presidency statement Kenyan. Despite the fact that the United Nations does not dare to openly denounce the war crimes committed so far and that the NGOs present in the country have unreservedly accepted the truths of the state in the hope that their silence can be gratified with the authorization to start humanitarian operations in Tigray, access to humanitarians remains denied. The government claims it can provide humanitarian aid on its own and broadcasts images of food distribution to the civilian population in Mekelle and Shire, the two Tigrinya cities that would be under full federal control. Europe has decided to freeze 90 million euros of bilateral aid to Ethiopia due to suspected crimes against humanity and the refusal to grant humanitarian agencies access to the igray.
A decision welcomed positively by the TPLF on Tigraionline, while accusing the international community of not being resurrected to act in a timely manner to avoid the atrocities committed. «The international community ignored the facts on the ground and did not listen to credible claims that signalled the danger of genocide and crime against humanity. The international community is now crying crocodile tears after millions of Tigers have been displaced, thousands of civilians have been brutally and savagely killed and traumatized, homes and infrastructure destroyed, factories dismantled and looted, crops burned and livestock killed» said TPLF press release.
The famous Veronese company Calzedonia has closed its leather goods factory in Mekelle, Itaca Textile, opened in 2018 with about 2 thousand employees. Calzedonia also finances humanitarian works through support for the vocational training centers run by Don Bosco and the Italian Catholic NGO VIS. Production was suspended immediately after the start of the hostilities. The management on November 15 had stated that 6 Italian employees and one from Sri Lanka were blocked in the area where the plant is located. This was confirmed by Calzedonia’s safety manager, Fabio Comini. «Production is currently suspended also due to a lack of electricity. Since 4 November we have been in contact with the Crisis Unit of the Foreign Ministry and with our embassy in Addis Ababa and we plan to evacuate our employees as soon as security conditions permit». On November 20, Minister Luigi Di Maio said he was evaluating all possible options to protect fellow countrymen and businesses in Ethiopia. At the present time it is not known whether the six Italians were evacuated.
According to African diplomatic sources, Calzedonia could find itself in a delicate situation as it would be seen by the federal government as ‘close’ to the TPLF. When the Venetian company considered it appropriate to open a production unit in Ethiopia due to the presence of excellent leather and the traditional artisan ability to treat it, the capital of Mekelle was chosen as the location for the plant. “It was a political choice. There are many other areas with experience in leather treatment and Mekelle is the least convenient from a logistical point of view. But from a political point of view, the industrial development of Tigray was a priority of the TPLF when it was still part of the Coalition Government. Calzedonia would have obtained important tax reliefs and the absence of trade unions, leaving the Ethiopian workers under employer benevolence” says the diplomatic source. These considerations concerning the diplomat’s point of view, not necessarily shared by the editorial staff, do not help to shed light on the fate of the important Italian investment. There is no news as to whether the Calzedonia factory was bombed by the feds.
While a country representative of an Italian NGO contacted was quick to confirm that the war in Tigray ended with the victory of the federal government, the fighting continues to rage. The Ethiopia of progress and the Prosperity Party is in danger of returning to poverty and famine. A country in free fall towards an absolutist regime of Abiy Ahmed (whom many Tigers accuse of wanting to re-establish the monarchy) or towards Balkanization. Hopes for peace talks and truces have finally faded as the two contenders are determined to fight to the last drop of blood.
The TPLF, frowned upon by the rest of the population for the despotic methods adopted during its 30 years of power, despite having guaranteed the country an undeniable economic development, is now seeing reduced hopes of returning to the leadership of Ethiopia and is focusing on defense of their homeland: the Tigray. The Nobel Peace Prize winner must necessarily bring the TPLF leaders in chains to Addis Ababa in order to assert his political and military supremacy. «Tigray will win against all odds! Victory to the people of Tigray! Let’s honourthe fallen heroes and heroines! » says one of the rare TPLF press releases. Words that leave no room for imagination. The war continues in Tigray even without information.
«The conflict is mainly one of lost influence. For decades, Tigray held power in the capital despite making up only about 6% of the population. The country’s economy and prosperity grew under their leadership, but freedoms were curtailed and corruption flourished. Tigrayans have had better opportunities than others to benefit from the economic recovery. After taking office as prime minister, Abiy Ahmed removed all the old powerful figures of Tigray from key positions to centralize power on himself and his fledgling Prosperity party which has the majority in thegovernment but has no popular and electoral base» look at the correspondent of the German newspaper Spiegel, Fritz Schaap.
The conflict in Tigray demonstrates how the new Ethiopia which has risen from the ashes of the DERG dictatorship is based on a fragile foundation. A national union has not been achieved through federalism which, on the contrary, has accentuated ethnic differences and conflicts. Various Ethiopian, African and European journalists agree that the current government is moving towards a new dictatorship. Initial promises of democratic overtures have been dropped. The Nobel Peace Prize, to consolidate his power, decided to adopt the means he relied on before becoming Prime Minister. Abiy was a key figure in the repressive apparatus of the TPLF as the head of the agency responsible for telecommunications and internet surveillance. “Abiy is aware that the country can fall apart. To avoid this, he abandoned the path of dialogue and inclusion. Now he is trying to regain control through the use of violence” notes our diplomatic source.
The Ethiopian Marxist Wallelign Mekonnen in the 1960s defined Ethiopia (at the time led by the last Amhara Emperor, Tafari Maconnen, Hailé Selassié – Power of the Trinity), a ‘prison of the peoples’. A nation state to which most ethnic groups submit. Ethiopia at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic remained a prisoner of this archaic vision of power.
If the conflict in Trigay has created around 1 million displaced persons and over 50,000 refugees in Sudan, we cannot forget that the hard line adopted by Abiy already in 2019 created 1.8 million internally displaced people between the Oromo and Somali ethnic groups. The Oromo claim greater autonomy and participation in the government. Somalis frequently fight with rival Afar ethnicity. Meanwhile, in the Benishangul-Gumuz region to the west, ethnic tensions often result in armed fighting.
Attention is currently focused on the Tigray but another conflict is about to explode. In Oromia, the region hosting the largest ethnic group, resistance to the federal government has grown increasingly fierce. Oromo rebel groups are born and strengthened to fight government troops and are responsible for killing civilians belonging to the Amhara ethnic group, the second largest ethnic group in the country, which has ruled the country for centuries. In the Oromo regions of Wollega and Guji, brutal shadow wars are fought. There are dozens of fighting fronts in Ethiopia, and observers fear the country could turn into an African Yugoslavia, a country torn apart in a bloody civil war.
The war in Tigray could ignite the fuse for a greater conflagration, in part because it will occupy elements of the Ethiopian military for a long time to come, creating ‘holes’ in the defence of other hot spots in the country. «This war is a gift from God. Federal troops and the TPLF are slaughtering each other. Both are enemies of the Oromo and both must perish». The statement of Falma, an Oromo activist to the Western Media does not bode well. If Oromia decides to rebel against the Nobel Peace Prize, Ethiopia will fall into a spiral of medieval violence and cruelty from which it will be almost impossible to escape.
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