BY SOPHIA TESFAMARIAM | SHABAIT
In the Centre for Dialogue, Research and Cooperation (DCRC) paper, “The conundrum of present Ethiopian foreign policy—in search of a roadmap for Ethiopia’s foreign and national security policy and strategy”, Tekeda Alemu, former Ethiopian Ambassador to the United Nations, attempts to conceal the vacuity of the ousted TPLF regime’s foreign policy with yet another long winded hortatory rhetoric.
A cursory look at media and other reports show him to be at the center, and the source of major distortions, disinformation and mal-information about the Horn of Africa in general, and Eritrea in particular. None of the latest pretentious verbiage will change the recorded facts of his checkered and unprincipled Foreign Service career. A revisionist white washing of the TPLF regime’s criminality is a non-starter.
Unfortunately longevity at the UN seems to have neither tamed nor helped assuage the inferiority complex that he and the TPLF regime seems to be inflicted with. Why else would “Tesfenga” (ተስፈኛ), as he is known to his friends, spend so much energy and time bad mouthing and maligning Eritrea and its leadership, a leadership he will never in a million years be able to match in experience or grit? Was he just following orders from the capital or did he also share the TPLF’s sentiments for its “brotherly” neighbors in Eritrea?
Successive Ethiopian rulers made costly and deadly mistakes with attempts to elevate Ethiopia’s stature in the region by undermining Eritrea, but the mercenary TPLF’s servitude was the ugliest. It left no stone unturned to endear itself to European and Americans… it became the quintessential mercenary regime and Tekeda Alemu its willing surrogate.
Tekeda Alemu seems to have a hard time coming to terms the Eritrea – Ethiopia Peace declaration and the rapid changes taking place in the Horn of Africa. The changes have caught him and many others like him totally off guard. This development brought an end to the 27 year long minority rule in Ethiopia and with it an end to the 20 year long conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia. This modern day bastard feudal is not fooling anyone by pretending to feign concern for the people in the region after eagerly serving two of Ethiopia’s most notorious regimes, the brutal military Derg regime and the TPLF’s entrenched kleptocracy.
Since 1991, the record will show that Tekeda Alemu’s values aligned perfectly with that of the minority TPLF regime in Ethiopia. He was the useful idiot (an educated one at that) chosen to do their bidding. A man who had borne witness and turned a blind eye to the carnage under the brutal Derg regime had no qualms doing the same under its successor, the ousted TPLF regime. Today, he is trying to white wash the TPLF regime’s crimes and foreign policy mistakes that have cost Ethiopia irreplaceable human and material resources. The TPLF’s 27 year long reign of terror and the international crimes committed by the regime and its surrogates against the people of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia surpassed that of the Derg, but Tekeda Alemu painted a rosy picture and marketed the TPLF’s belligerent and intransigent domestic and foreign policies in international circles.
For brevity’s sake, this author will not be analyzing the DCRC paper in its entirety, suffice it to mention the most salient and most egregious. Interesting that he defers to notes in his own diary as opposed to the truckload of documents at his disposal to create a revisionist narrative of the TPLF regime and its aggressive war mongering policies. In the DCRC paper, Tekeda Alemu wrote the following:
“…It is also widely recognized that Ethiopia has been second to none in aligning its positions on all issues with those of the African Union. In this regard it was a champion in the Security Council in 2017 and 2018, mobilizing support for objectives that the AU wanted promoted. Ethiopia… has never allowed the African Union to be marginalized on issues that fall within the purview of the organization. Africa has also thus been a priority for Ethiopia’s foreign policy. While zeroing in on Ethiopia’s national interest as we conducted our foreign policy, we also made sure that Ethiopia paid attention to the interest of Africa and the common positions adopted by the organization…”
With the release of the WikiLeaks cables in 2009, the extent of Ethiopia’s manipulation of the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Agency on Development (IGAD) has become a matter of public record. It seems the African Union and IGAD were both reduced to becoming an extension of Menelik Palace and Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry. The TPLF regime used the African Union to engineer the illegal, unjust and unfair UN sanctions against Eritrea. The Wikileaks American Embassy cables also exposed Tekeda Alemu’s participation in the TPLF’s behind-the-scenes manipulations and machinations against Eritrea and its leadership.
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The African Union, since its inception, has been manipulated by Ethiopia’s leaders and the TPLF was no different. While Ethiopians were being massacred and detained on masse and millions displaced from their homes and villages, the African Union remained conspicuously silent. In 2005, when innocent Ethiopians were massacred in cold blood right under its nose, for protesting the regime’s vote rigging, the AU looked the other way. It was also silent on the genocides committed in the Gambela, Ogaden and Oromia regions of Ethiopia. It also remained silent on the two-year long nationwide protests that engulfed Ethiopia, and threatened the nation’s “descent into the abyss”, bringing the TPLF regime to its knees.
As for Ethiopia promoting Africa’s interests, charity begins at home.
Alemu writes that Ethiopia was saved from the abyss by PM Abiy Ahmed’s Administration but insists the TPLF was on the right path:
“…the performance of the EPRDF leadership, particularly in foreign policy all the way through 2012, was very sound and firmly anchored in a commitment to protect the national security of the country and to promote its economic and security interest…”
Is he implying it went south after Meles Zenawi’s death? So what was the policy post Meles?
The flip flopping diplomat writes:
“…It is to be recalled that Prime Minister Hailemariam once declared publicly that he was ready to go to Asmara in search of peace. Eritrea did not take the offer seriously, perhaps because for Eritrea it was not the message that was critical, but the messenger. In other words, Asmara had no confidence in the previous top leadership of the EPRDF, which essentially meant the TPLF…”
He is right, Asmara had no reason to trust the ignominious TPLF regime. No matter his personal convictions, Hailemariam Desalegn’s overtures were empty time buying gimmicks, as the TPLF dominated EPRDF was not prepared to abide by the Algiers Agreements.
Unlike Tekeda Alemu, the former Prime Minister was unwilling to continue serving the intransigence TPLF regime, so he resigned. He also seems to have changed his mind about the leadership in Asmara. In an interview he conducted after his visit to Asmara, he had this to say about the President of Eritrea:
“…Today, I have met President Isaias Afwerki in a personal level. And I didn’t have any idea that he was this humble and respectful. The man is an extraordinary man. He even showed us who he is and what type of person he is when he was in Ethiopia. Now I know that he is a selfless person who works for his people. I am telling you this because I want to tell the world what I saw today…”
Not sure what economic and security interests were promoted, but the TPLF kleptocracy is now being accused of corruption and theft of over 30 billion dollars from the national coffers. If by Ethiopia’s security interests he means more funds for lucrative adventures such as in the “Global war on terror” …he is probably right. The international community has also learned its lesson. After investing billions in Ethiopia, they have nothing to show for it…
The narcissistic TPLF diplomat seems to have a very selective recollection of what transpired in 1998-2000. In order to fit his narrative, he writes that in 1999:
“…Ethiopia became the party to dither and prevaricate, using all sorts of gimmicks by way of filibustering to avoid a peaceful resolution of the crisis. The military balance had shifted and population size and other factors made a difference, leading to the conclusion in Asmara that a peaceful resolution was the best option. In Addis the reverse was the conclusion…”
The record shows Eritrea’s stance on the issue very clearly, no matter what he wrote in his personal diaries. Eritrea sought a peaceful solution to the dispute from the very beginning. The TPLF regime using human wave tactics launched three successive offensives in which Ethiopians were used as cannon fodder and minesweepers in its aggressive war of invasion and occupation. If TPLF considered military balance and population size as being to its advantage, it only shows its ignorance, and its inability to learn from previous Ethiopian leaders.
When in 2002, when the Boundary Commission delivered its delimitation decision, Seyoum Mesfin lied to the Ethiopian people and told them Badme had been awarded to Ethiopia. Tekeda Alemu went along, and when it became clear to all that Badme had been awarded to Eritrea, he tried everything to get the decision reversed. The BBC reported the following on 12 March 2003, almost a year after the Boundary Commission delivered its final and binding delimitation decision:
“…Mr Tekeda said he was “disappointed and saddened” by this criticism because Ethiopia “was not trying to reopen the substance of the matter”….But he insisted that the town of Badme, which was the key prize in the war must remain Ethiopian…”I would find it absolutely difficult to believe that any person in his right mind would put Badme in Eritrea,” he said…”
But the EEBC did. It unequivocally awarded Badme to Eritrea…something the good Ambassador refuses to accept, even today. He wrote:
“…The Badme issue is not yet resolved and redeployment has yet to take place, while normalization has advanced very far, and this makes it all the more evident that what Eritrea was waiting for was a change of leadership in Ethiopia before it accepted any peace proposal, no matter how attractive the proposal might have been…”
Tekeda Alemu is wrong again. The issue of Badme was resolved legally through international arbitration. All the TPLF regime had to do was accept the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s delimitation and demarcation decisions. There were no genuine peace proposals presented by the TPLF regime. It chose instead to introduce time buying gimmicks to annul, amend, reverse, revisit, and revise the EEBC’s decisions. The TPLF’s intransigence and refusal to vacate from Badme and other territories today, is speaks volumes about the junta’s stance on peace.
For a seasoned diplomat, Tekeda Alemu exposes complete lack of acumen and extreme megalomania. He writes:
“….One must credit the Eritrean leadership with having been prescient and for its spot-on prognostication. The TPLF domination of the EPRDF proved to be short-lived, as the Eritrean President hoped. But it doesn’t follow that Asmara is vindicated by what has transpired…”
Yes, President Isaias Afwerki did read the situation in Ethiopia correctly and predicted the regime’s demise, but Tekeda Alemu chose to bury his head in the sand. He believed the TPLF to be invincible.
Tekeda Alemu writes this about the TPLFs conduct during the 1998-2000 Eritrea Ethiopia war:
“…The Government of Ethiopia had acted in a responsible and civilized manner by paying heed to diplomatic overtures from the international community. An attempt, on the other hand, must not be made to lose sight of the fact that Ethiopia’s war mission in 2000 did neither include the annexation of Eritrea nor the removal from office of President Isais Afewerki. Our military and diplomatic victory against irredentist Eritrea allowed us not only to dislodge the enemy from sovereign Ethiopian territory, but to shift all our focus of attention and resources into what we believe to be our veritable enemy – extreme poverty…”
The EEBC decision that awarded Badme to Eritrea reaffirmed Eritrea’s sovereignty over the disputed territories. If Ethiopia was not trying to annex Badme, what was the conflict about? How does Tekeda Alemu explain the 1997 Greater Tigray map that incorporated swatches of sovereign Eritrean territories? This map also took chunks of land from the Gondar and Wollo provinces in Ethiopia. Can he also explain how in 1997, using military force, the TPLF illegally dismantled the existing Eritrean administration in Adi Murug and occupied it? If not to annex territories and create facts on the ground, why else did the TPLF do that?
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As for “responsible and civilized conduct“…How does deporting 80,000 Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean decent and confiscating properties worth billions qualify as a civilized act? How can the brutality and violence against the women in the occupied territories be labeled as being civilized? How can one describe the desecration of Eritrea’s Martyrs cemeteries as being civilized? How is the 16 year long occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories in violation of the Algiers Agreements, the EEBC’s final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions, responsible and civilized?
As for “removal from office of the President Isais Afwerki”, he told the audience at the Geza Tegaru Paltalk room that everyone in the international community wanted regime change in Eritrea but that it was not an easy thing to do. He even compared Eritrea to Cuba and alluded to efforts by the US to oust Fidel Castro. So why deny the fact that it was the agenda all along? Surely, the TPLF was not financing and harboring groups in Awassa and Mekele for the heck of it. Meles Zenawi admitted he wanted regime change and so did Hailemariam Desalagn… and said so openly… so why is Tekeda Alemu lying?
Old habits die hard
Tekeda Alemu who rushed back to Ethiopia to join the brutal Derg regime and then stayed on to serve the kleptocratic minority TPLF regime, seems to be buttering up the new EPRDF leadership. He writes:
“…What was done in the past needs to be treated very seriously, even mercilessly, because of the calamity that could have resulted in the country. This was avoided thanks to the new leadership of the EPRDF, which helped avoid what had appeared at the time to be a likely descent into the abyss from which it would haven been difficult to pull the country. For this alone the current leadership of the EPRDF deserves hearty commendation…”
PM Abiy’s government needs men and women with strong values and principles, who respect the Ethiopian people and don’t take them for granted. It needs statesmen with strong ethics, not opportunists with no conscience, who watch in silence as the nation descends into the abyss…as Tekeda Alemu did with the Derg regime, and then again with the TPLF regime…
It is time to break the cycle in Ethiopia.