An essential truth about TPLF’s insurgency

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Continued gains by Ethiopia’s army diminish rebel’s chances

The public relation launch of the well-coordinated #TigrayGenocide online campaign accompanied the unprovoked surprise attack of Ethiopia by the armed insurgents of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), on Nov 4, 2020.

Whilst U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initially responded to the attack in horror, the ruse worked, and as the world was distracted by the high stakes U.S. election contest between Trump and Biden, #TigrayGenocide exploded on social media and was swallowed without discernment by the Government Elect of President Biden that came into office on January 20, 2021.

Everything that has happened since in Ethiopia has rested on this big lie – the most successful disinformation campaign in warfare since the fake “Weapon’s of Mass Destruction” pretext that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Most unfortunate of all was the adoption of this lie by the incoming – and culpable – Democratic Party administration. The party had a long history with the TPLF. Clinton inherited them in 1992, and Obama worked closely with them fro m 2008-2016. To a much lesser extent the Bush administration also depended on the TPLF’s highhanded, and gloves off tactics in its counter terrorism efforts in Somalia as well as the Somali region of Ethiopia.

Moreover, the information warfare tactics used by TPLF in its war were modeled on those used by the U.S. in Iraq & Libya. Which is far from surprising as the TPLF enjoyed close ties with the U.S and the U.K throughout its tyrannical 27-year reign in Ethiopia from 1991 to 2018.

The war in Ethiopia is indeed a tragedy of monumental size and moral turpitude, but it isn’t the tragedy that has been reported in international media for the past 2 years. It is much worse. And the facts directly implicate Western Powers as accomplices of a dirty war.

A dirty war involving – numerous massacres, routine extrajudicial executions (of men of fighting age) use of sexual violence, looting and destruction of schools and hospitals – all by TPLF forces. During their long, albeit overextend march towards the capital, Addis Ababa, the TPLF deliberately and maliciously destroyed hundreds of schools and health facilities throughout the Amhara and Afar regions. All this, after the group had launched several long range missiles targeting Eritrea’s capital, a reckless act, which was correctly condemned by out going Secretary Pompeo as a desperate attempt to internationalize this conflict.

While this was going on, the Biden administration tacitly turned a blind eye. Despite a flurry of disinformation, the closure of the humanitarian aid routes through Afar throughout 2021 was largely a sinister sabotage by TPLF rebels seeking to exacerbate the suffering of the population, to bolster their victimhood media push. Likewise, the consistent diversion of humanitarian aid for the purposes of war making are some of the flagrant violations of the rebels. Several interviews and testimonies suggest the insurgents used food aid as bait for coercively recruit solders, some of whom as young as fourteen.

The TPLF insurgents loot World Food Program warehouse August 24, 2022,.

When the TPLF retook Tigray following an insurgency offensive which accompanied the first real democratic election in Ethiopian in June 2021, Western supporters and the mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times applauded, instead of backing Ethiopia’s long awaited transition to democratic rule.

And when TPLF forces got close to the capital Addis Ababa in November, 2021, Western observers cheered, then when they were pushed back later in the month the U.S. Senate Introduced sanctions legislation to threaten the Govt and People of Ethiopia to immediately ceasefire.

And after TPLF was finally defeated and pushed back into Tigray at the end of December 2021, the Biden Administration sanctioned the GoE by removing its AGOA preferential trade status, punishing thousands of women employed in factories, making clothes for mostly European and American markets.

And still TPLF did not stop, they invaded the Afar region of Ethiopia again in January 2022, once again blocking the aid corridor, and recommenced their “blockade” “seige” starvation #TigrayGenocide information offensive – this time led by Dr. Tedros Adhanom, General Director of the World Health Organization from his pulpit during a Covid briefing. Dr. Tedros, a long-time senior leader of the TPLF before becoming head of the WHO had once been groomed to take over the helm in Ethiopia, until his party’s fate crumbled in 2018, following a series of popular nationwide protests.

Indeed, this war has always been first and foremost an information war. And as it now comes to an end, we are seeing a surge disinformation by the TPLF, enabled by Western mainstream media, diplomats, political institutions who once again seek to rescue the TPLF from defeat.

This time however things are different. The TPLF is defeated. And Ethiopia has learned how to fight back effectively in the information war both politically inside the U.S. through diaspora engagement & diplomatically. But escape for Western Actors involved in all of this is difficult, they are caught in a bind, due to their mistakes which they cannot admit. And so, the circus continues for now.

The Western International Community has thus returned to form, using the diplomatic formula: “there is no military solution”. Which whilst technically true in all conflicts is now deeply misleading, as TPLF have been defeated again, for the third time – in three wars they started, on November 4, 2020, again on July 15th 2021 and most recently on August 24, 2022.

But this formulaic phrase misses the point of what is now happening. – The TPLF’s forces are in disarray. – The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) is engaged in an operation to secure hearts and minds in Tigray – and Africa is fully backing Ethiopia in its quest for peace and an end to this war.

Peace talks in South Africa are very important but take place in circumstances more like the Armistice talks at the end of WWI than those in other intractable rebel conflicts – because TPLF is spent, defeated. And its support among certain Western elites is finally fading.

Airport serving the historical tourist destination of of Axum was deliberately vandalized by the armed Tigray People’s liberation Front as they retreated from Advancing Ethiopian National Defense forces. Satellite Image by Maxar Technologies November 2020

TPLF spokesman, Getachew Reda could not hid his bitterness at this perceived betrayal in his most recent English language briefings, which can be found on YouTube. Certainly, the Economist publication was quick to point out the Rebel’s recent undeniable defeats, much to the chagrin of the rebel leaders currently seeking a ceasefire Peace Talks happening in Pretoria, South Africa.

But perhaps most important of all, TPLF’s rebel and military leadership has now left the Tigray region and it is difficult to understand how they might return to Mekelle when talks finish on Sunday, and if so, what they might do once there, as most of Tigray is fast becoming ENDF territory

The TPLF’s political leadership left for the talks last Sunday, the day after a massive show of unity by millions of Ethiopians in the streets across the Ethiopia calling for the full and unconditional surrender of TPLF and for an end to the continued Western interference.

So, the group of 12 named, mostly elderly, male TPLF leaders – which some rumors suggest may have been accompanied by their families on their US Airforce flight – must have known they would be unlikely to be able to return to Ethiopia.

While there are still many loose ends this war seems to be coming to an end – the AU, African nations and leaders involved in this end game appear to have a plan – albeit unclear at this stage.

Biden’s policy and objectives- for which Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer is at the talks in South Africa to represent – appears a little incoherent as some Senators threaten a new even harsher round of sanctions on Ethiopia to rescue TPLF, despite discernable change of course by seasoned diplomats familiar with the issue.

The UN, also represented at the talks, is staying out of the public debate, and the subject of the end of this protracted war had barely come up in recent briefings. Europe -embarrassed by the racist remarks of High Representative Josep Borrell, is not there and saying nothing.

Media around the events is also incoherent, blindsided by the total communication lockdown around the talks being held at an undisclosed location. The stage is now set for a dramatic conclusion to all of this, possibly as early as this weekend.

Meanwhile Ethiopians & close observers wait with a sense of hope and growing confidence that this long running nightmare may soon be over.

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