Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Nothing seems to allow the TPLF to have the cake and eat it too.
Recent flurry or statements and rhetoric by leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front are an indication of the group’s desire to reignite another round of conflict in northern Ethiopia. Indeed, the underlying issue are as intransigent as ever. Despite repeated calls by the United Nations and the African Union to kick start peace process, the TPLF is increasingly taking on a more belligerent tone. On August 18, 2022, TPLF’s External Affairs Office, released a statement in which it accused the federal government of Ethiopia of provoking its forces. Yet no evidence of the claim has been provided. Similar accusations were hurled at the government in Addis Ababa the last time around, prior to militants in the Tigray region started an attack on neighboring Amhara and Afar.
The fear is something similar could happen again. The TPLF has recently started to a social media campaign to tarnish the African Union led peace efforts. Some of the most vehement name calling and attacks have been directed at chief mediator Olusegun Obasanjo, who is seen by the TPLF to bee too close to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Moreover, besides the often-repeated vague calls to negotiate, there is little coming from the international community to disincentivize TPLF leaders from starting another destructive war. As the group continues to sidestep AU-led efforts to bring peace, the US, UK and the EU have not pressed the TPLF to engage in peace talks. This has further emboldened the group to seek an aggressive stance.
There is also the thorny complicated issue of reality on the ground, which give little hope to the TPLF leaders, who have incurred significant territorial and material losses. Reports from Tigray indicate, an increasingly demoralized fighting forces, which sees no end to the war and is increasingly avoiding conscription by the TPLF. Furthermore, Ethiopian forces and its allies are fully intrenching themselves in the strategic region of Welkiat and Humera.
Then there are the extremist Tigray nationalists who cry bloody murder any time TPLF flirts with negotiating, and potentially loosing what they refer to as “West Tigray”. In the past few weeks, the uproar form the extremist Tigray nationalists has shaken TPLF’s confidence to govern Tigray central as it once did. These factions have the potential to breakout into serious infighting which would be disastrous for TPLF. Certainly, the situation is sticky.
Finally, cries of “a siege on Tigray” which received great media attention in the past is no longer drawing attention. The fact is the federal government of Ethiopia has made credible efforts to streamline and expedite humanitarian aid provision to the Tigray region. These include flights and unlimited food distribution via Ab’ala in the Afar region.
Nothing seems to allow the TPLF to have the cake and eat it too. Its over the top ethno-nationalist rhetoric and its built-up bravado will not allow a sober outlook based on realistic goals to emerge from within. It’s supporters, who drank the cool-aid of greatness and superiority have diluted themselves to the point where going back in not an option. The short and “lighting victory” they were promised is nowhere to be seen and no one prepared for the long haul. Indeed, TPLF has no incentives for peace.