The notorious Iraqi Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, better known as Comical Ali, and Nazi Germany’s Joseph Goebbels are distinctly remembered as two of history’s wickedest liars—par excellence.
It is fresh in our memory that Muhammad, a former Iraqi diplomat and politician, shot to global fame for his theatrical daily briefings fraught with lies and fabrications during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In one occasion as Baghdad was falling and artillery fire could be heard from a near distance, he famously told the media that Iraq is beating the US-led coalition.
The callous canon of such personalities is disarmingly, but dangerously, simple: if you need to lie, lie big time—and repeat it many times—to quash truth to its total demise.
Martin Plaut, a former BBC Africa correspondent who is now masquerading as a “fellow” at the Institute for Strategic Studies, appears to be betting on rivalling, if not out-doing, these legendary prevaricators and propagandists by tormenting and defaming Ethiopia.
Making a quick distinction between Iraqi’s Muhammad, Germany’s Goebbels and Britain’s Plaut is in order. Both Muhammad and Goebbels had executed their offences, one could simply put it, out of their convictions—to their nations (and power)—albeit monstrously twisted and cruelly sick. But, Plaut appears to be selling his soul, and putative profession, to the best foreign bidder, scheming as a hired mercenary.
This “fellow” has gone beyond the call of duty to pay back the TPLF cabal for their generous emoluments by savagely attacking and demonizing Ethiopia, relentlessly fabricating hostile narratives following the outbreak of the conflict. In this piece, I present some of his outrageous fabrications, lies and innuendos drawing from his so called “Situation Report” webpage and make brief commentaries.
The Stream of Lies
Plaut has become the mouth piece of the TPLF cabal effectively replacing its nut-case propagandist, Getachew Reda, who simply vanished as the operation intensified and the cabal forces got trashed.
Here below are a fraction of some of the preposterous accounts from his website, verbatim, to provide a good sense of fabrication, falsehood, exaggeration, and manipulation.
- New reports that drones are being deployed to targets in Tigray, pointing to possible involvement of UAE from the Assab military base.
- Airstrike in Mekelle today, 19 Nov 2020. Earlier today, 12:41 (06:41 local time), Abiy’s airforce jet bombed in Mekelle city targeting civilians. Source has visited one of the targeted areas (Source from Mekelle).
- Unverified reports state that Eritrean troops (and their officers) along the Tsorona front have defected to Tigray.
- Mekelle University hit by strike by airplane; it is reported that 50 students are wounded (afternoon at 12:41 on 19 November) and pictures seen of Interim University President, Fetien Abay, visiting the students.
- Tigray Defence Force (TDF) claim to have attacked and destroyed thousands of ENDF and Eritrean soldiers organized in 18 divisions in three fronts (namely, Adwa, Idagahamus and Ray-Mokoni.
- Report that Eritrean citizens in Asmara refuse to buy the looted goods offered for sale which are brought into the country from Ethiopia.
Here comes another shamefully cobbled up story on January 9, 2021. It is important to note how the cooked-up story got elevated from a “report” on January 9, 2021 to a fact on January 10, 2021, by none other than Plaut himself.
- Report that Maryam Tsiyon Church has been attacked (local people believe with the aim to take the Ark of Covenant to Addis Ababa). Hundreds of people hiding in the Maryam Tsiyon Church were brought out and shot on the square in front. The number of people killed is reported as 750. (09 January 2021)
- The massacre on the Orthodox Maryam Tsion Church in Aksum in which 750 people were killed took place half December. People hiding in the church were brought out and shot in the square in front. The Maryam Tsion Church is a sacred place which holds the Ark of Covenant. A witness with experience in war zones states he “has never seen such a degree of inhumanity.” (10 January 2021)
Currently, the social media is going crazy on another falsehood which he callously fabricated. He wrote on the Situation Report
- There have been many reports of rape in Mekelle and elsewhere. A video has also emerged of and ENDF commander admitting [sic] that the rape is taking place in Mekelle. The commander says that while it would have been expected during times of conflict, it should not be happening now that the city is well under control of the federal government.
Religion and Rape: The New Tricks
I wish to pick up the fake Church story which Plaut has recently managed to contrive into a social media buzz. This is a cruel ploy to create a “crime equivalency” to the 750 unarmed civilians, mostly Amharas, massacred at Mai-Kadra by the fleeing TPLF cabal forces. Plaut is manoeuvring to cover up the heinous crimes committed by his precious clients.
Plaut now confuses, confounds and misleads the world by cunningly throwing emotional and spiritual issues with an intention to escalate the tension. For that matter, the TPLF cabal had been known to have used places of worship as command centers and army depots in the hope of evading attack.
There is a video footage showing residents disapproving this huge taboo—and also for fear of potential target by the army. They were however suppressed by the cabal forces who promised to offer them some arms which they can sell to rebuild, should that become necessary!
The rape issues in Tigray are very deep. Please stop acting like happening now. The juntas should be responsible for the messes. They never took the issues seriously because most of them are part of the crimes. https://t.co/Bu90sGzDRc
— #InvestInEritrea 👩🏿🔧 🇪🇷🇪🇷 (@DahlaKib) January 10, 2021
Rape is the new fake trick Plaut is peddling. This ploy has multiple intentions not just to diminish the shinning victory of the Ethiopian Defence Force but also tarnish its standing in the continent and internationally. Needless to say, the Force enjoys an impeccable track record in all the countries and missions it has gallantly served—and this latest allegation may not be an easy sell.
To be sure, rape has been a serious social malaise in Tigray long before the conflict in the region. It is to be recalled that an official application for a public protest by a concerned body was quickly rejected by the former administration. Well, the deliberate unleashing of some 10,000 criminals from prisons—as the TPLF cabal forces were fleeing—most certainly could only exacerbate the situation. Yet, Plaut has no qualms in staining the Defence Force—which thunderously crashed his high-prized clients.
– In one Hospital.
– 181 rape victims in 3 months.
– 60.2% children and adolescents.
Study conducted between May 1, 2000- April 30, 2003.
Gender violence is alarmingly high in #Tigray. Why? pic.twitter.com/H9LRoxrlJ4
— Adulis ኣዱሊስ (@Adulis_Kiloma) December 29, 2020
For that matter, several such cases in the US military are known to have been reported at home and abroad. Thus, such isolated criminal incidents even when they are proven, do not simply elevate to diminish the stature of a solid national army, as one in Ethiopia. Be that as it may, with an extraordinary commitment of the government in elevating the stature of women in society, as exemplified by 50 percent in cabinet ministers, its position on such matters is undoubtedly clear—and thus this allegation will also come to naught.
በትግራይ ሴቶች ላይ የሚፈፀመው ፆታዊ ጥቃት የሚያወግዝ የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ በመቐለ ተካሄደ። በሰልፉ ፆታዊ ጥቃትን የሚያወግዙ መፈክሮች በፅሑፍ የቀረቡ ሲሆን አካላዊ እና ስነ ልቦናዊ ጥቃቶችም በጥበባዊ መንገድ ተንፀባርቀዋል፡፡
— DW Amharic (@dw_amharic) November 10, 2019
We are witnessing the unleashing of wicked and callous forces, steered by paid operatives, shenanigans, and conflict entrepreneurs, such as Martin Plaut, Alex de Wall and Kjetil Tronvoll, to demonize Ethiopia at the global stage. Ethiopia has not yet gotten around how to tackle this dangerous trend in any meaningful manner. To say the least, the Ethiopian government has not shown the decisive measures necessary in thwarting this coordinated attack at the global scale.
It is thus imperative that Ethiopian nationals and friends, especially those in the countries where these operatives and shenanigans are based, need to organize themselves to confront them by picketing at their institutions; unmasking them to their institutions, colleagues and students; and boycotting their lectures and seminars, among others.
Needless to say, defending Ethiopia’s national interest should not simply be left to the government alone. Ethiopians at home and in the diaspora—and their friends—need to support—zealously, systematically and relentlessly.
The author of this piece can be reached on Twitter via @TheQueenofSheb5