TPLF: A Prisoner of its Own Device

“There is no such thing as a cakewalk in war, but if there ever was one, the capture of Mekelle would be it.” – Prof. Al Mariam

TPLF as we know it is gone to never come back
After a 27-year rule of oppression, corruption, invasion, and human rights violations, the time has come for the TPLF old guards to bite the bullet and face justice.

BY SENNAY ZEMEN

When the reformist forces led by Dr. Abiy Ahmed took the helm of political power after chucking the TPLF out of its high handed rule and trampling their feet on the heads of their enemy, they set to introduce a number of political, economic and social reforms, which the country had been devoid of for decades.

In addition, the PM took a momentous decision to make peace with Eritrea, which was blocked intentionally for 20 years by the TPLF to advance its interests. Therefore, the new political development in Ethiopia tolled the death knell for the TPLF and posed a big threat to its political ambition and its survival.



Against this backdrop, it embarked on devising a series of devious stratagems to eliminate the PM of Ethiopia and the President of Eritrea with all its might. Needless to say, the TPLF had also been consumed with rancor against Eritrea since 1976.

When the TPLF was removed from power for the last time, it left the country at its most divided to which it worked hard at it to the bitter end for nearly five decades. That being said, the new power-holders inherited a divided nation with numerous political, economic, and social problems in addition to a country beset by public debt, high unemployment, and deep social animosity. Besides, many ethnic-based political parties were evolved but mostly devoted to promoting or defending their ethnic groups’ interests rather than national interests.

When Ethiopians hoped that things would go well with the reformist forces at the helm, the TPLF devised a destructive strategy that resonated with its political ambition. It made an audacious decision to destabilize the country and incite insurrection by all means necessary so as to capitalize on it to undo the hard-won political reforms and frustrate the peace accord.

It is not an exaggeration to assert the fact that Eritrea was included in its strategy. In plain language, it devised a scheme to make a comeback to power and invade Eritrea, as a first choice, or establish the long-dreamed “chimerical nation,” the Republic, as a second choice while leaving behind a fractured Ethiopia.

The strategy, which was tantamount to a tacit declaration of war, came in all shapes and sizes and threw a huge shadow over the country in the past three years. And as such, Ethiopia had been wracked by political turmoil and suffered severely from baneful effects of social unrest which include religious conflict, ethnic clashes, displacement, destruction of properties, killings, and suchlike all sponsored and masterminded by the TPLF.

Briefly put, Ethiopia was teetering on the brink of civil war, which bore all the hallmarks of the 27-year TPLF rule plus the three years which followed. It is a shocking reality that destabilization rather than a political dialogue was believed to be a silver bullet for the success of its agenda.



No one can argue the fact that during the TPLF reign, top military ranks were overwhelmed by Tigray ethnic group. In light of this fact, in the mid of 2018, the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense set to reform or restructure its military institution in order to build a modern national army composed of all nationalities. To achieve this end, it had to make changes and withdraw troops from Tigray and others had to come to replace them. Besides, the unfair distribution of military positions needed to be adjusted, which had been a lingering problem within the Ministry for a long time. Obviously, the TPLF was not happy about the plan and designed a clever ruse to fail it.

With an eye to launching an attack to cripple the entire Northern Command army and loot its huge weapons so as to gain the upper hand in the military, the TPLF, under the veneer of “Eritrea would invade Tigray,” organized a large mass protest to prevent the army from leaving Tigray.

To make it clearer, the plan was to ‘slaughter’ the entire Northern Command as sacrificial lambs for its political ambition. In addition to this, the TPLF was confident of winning the war because the top military officers (colonels and generals), as well as the rank-and-file Tigrains, were ordered to desert and join its troops. Indeed, the overconfidence blinded its mind from grasping clearly the reality on the ground.

According to the TPLF algorithms, the Northern Command was more equipped with large modern weapons and had a large number of armed forces, more than 50,000 troops, and, by far stronger than the other Command Forces in the country combined together.



Besides, the army has more combat experience because it fought for 20 years in Ethio-Eritrea ‘Border War.’ According to the TPLF calculations, once the whole army was brought under its control together with its weapons, there would be no force in Ethiopia that could stop it from heading towards the capital. But the fact remains that the plan was absurd, ridiculous, and utterly quixotic.

It stands to reason that Tigray had been in a state of war in all sense of the word. The TPLF engaged in building its own strong army believing that having such an army would its ambition be realized. To this effect, it trained hundreds of thousands of poor Tigrains, stole secretly huge arms from the government, and purchased modern weapons from a number of countries through METEC.

It was performing military drills to display its ostentatious military strength accompanied with massive provocative propaganda and seditious speeches. It waged a war of nerves in order to undermine the Federal government army fighting spirit and its credibility. The war hawks TPLF were clamoring for war which appeared to be the dawn of future worst-case scenario in the country. Out of blatant or sheer ignorance, the TPLF had been exaggerating its military power to frighten its enemies. It is no wonder that war for the TPLF was just like plain sailing in a calm sea.

In addition, the old guards blockaded their minds by walls of narrow nationalistic egoism and vainglory and went all out to glorify the TPLF as the only true representative of the people. They bamboozled their people into the belief that “TPLF is the most powerful and undefeatable that cannot be easily succumbed to any enemy force.”

They practiced on the people’s credulity and were lying to them with false, cheap, hostile propaganda to push them to carry guns and fight along with Tigray forces against Ethiopia and Eritrea on different TPLF controlled media outlets, which became the flavor of the day.

We cannot ignore the fact that the TPLF’s stilted inflammatory rhetoric had impressed many Tigrians and many were confused by its media mumbo jumbo. They tried hard to blind their people with so many tissues of lies but how lies and arrogance can lead to horrible disaster can be learned from the TPLF. In short, all the provocation of the TPLF was aimed at inviting the Federal government to military confrontation. To make its strategy more successful, the TPLF was training, arming, and financing many Oromo and other groups, including Eritrean stooges.




There is no ground around the fact that the Northern Command was ‘under siege’ for three years. The movement of its forces from one place to another was strictly controlled, monitored, and sometimes harassed in many towns before being wantonly attacked by ruthless and barbarous special forces and militias of the TPLF. Out of haughtiness, the TPLF also banned top military generals from entering Tigray.

The TPLF was uncomfortable with the fact that the Federal army could defeat its ‘mighty army’ since its own army was more powerful than the Federal army by all measurements. Blinded by hubris, the TPLF flexed its muscles to carry out its hidden agenda.

On 01 November 2020, at 11 pm, the TPLF forces cordoned off all the military camps and launched a surprise and perfidious attack on the Northern Command army throughout Tigray. The Ethiopian army had never imagined in its mind that the TPLF would make such an attack on them and could hardly believe their ears when they were attacked.

The TPLF stabbed them in the back and shamelessly boasted that “it took only 45 minutes to bring the Northern command under its full control.” Indeed, the attack exposed to the cruel fact that the TPLF is the most disingenuous and cunning knave on earth, its whole history proves it.

Many of the Northern Command forces who defied giving up their weapons and uniforms were fought to the last bullet before being captured or mercilessly killed and their dead bodies were left naked and unburied for days. A significant number of the army crossed the border to a neighboring country with their weapons intact. Top military officers, who were organizing development activities to support poor Tigray people, were sent to Eritrea naked. The other captives were inhumanly treated or humiliated and stayed for days without food and water until they were rescued by their ‘comrades.’ Other monstrous cruelties of the TPLF include cutting off breasts of female army members, thrusting knives at their private parts and raping, the likes of which have never been seen or heard in Ethiopian past history.

The huge risk posed by the TPLF pressed the need for action in order to limit the magnitude of the crisis and save the country from total collapse. Therefore, in response to the attack, the Federal government declared a military operation against the TPLF in order to enforce or maintain rule of law and bring the perpetrators to justice, if nothing else.

After the Federal army contained the attack and launched instead a counter-offensive against the TPLF forces, the situation on the ground swiftly took a turn for the worse against the TPLF expectation.

In no time the Ethiopian army put the TPLF forces to rout and started easily heading towards vast areas of western Tigray by crushing any resistance on their way. As a result, many towns and strongholds fell one after another into the hands of the Federal forces without much resistance from the TPLF.

Despite its vain boast that “Tigray would be a graveyard for the invaders,” its forces were unable to confront the offensive and turned their tail and fled in disarray after sustaining heavy human and material losses. Many of the special forces and militias of the TPLF dropped like flies and others run to remote areas to escape capture or try to fight a losing battle against the government forces. It should be noted that though a significant number of weapons including tanks, heavy artillery, rocket launchers and others were seized by TPLF, all were retaken and/or destroyed during the battles that followed.

When the Ethiopian military forces routed the TPLF, they were advancing to Mekelle without much resistance from the so-called “invincible Tigray forces.” When they were inch closer to the capital, the political fate of the TPLF took a tragic turn. The TPLF junta had no choice but to flee the capital in humiliation with their families and other impediments to hole up in the rugged and perilous mountains of Tigray.



Against the expectation of many people, including their supporters and foreigners, Mekelle was captured without bloodshed. Drunken by arrogance, they had never imagined that such humiliation would face them one day in their lifetime.

In a nutshell, the military feat designed by the TPLF military strategists to capture Addis Ababa and Asmara so as to topple the two leaders has ended in fiasco due to sublime ignorance of military science of modern war and ignoring the huge gap between fantasy and reality.

It goes without saying that the humiliating defeat also rattled Tigray political parties which share similar anti-Ethiopia political stand or belief with the TPLF. This is to say that there is a fine line between the parties and TPLF. Furthermore, the defeat was a heavy blow to some Oromo groups, terrorists, TPLF Diaspora, Eritrean stooges, foreign governments and others.

Finally, the TPLF had run the whole gamut of political gambits for five decades but in the end forced to face a disastrous end. The defeat marked the inglorious end of the TPLF and, as such, many of the TPLF leaders are either killed or captured, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

This is to mean that the “long-time most powerful and wealthiest political leaders, who were dreaming of expanding their glory over Ethiopia and Eritrea,” are now arrested and going to stand trial on a number of charges. They ignored the old adage: law sometimes sleeps, but never dies.

This being said, after a hiatus of more than 30 years, the time has come for the old guards to bite the bullet and face justice. Whether its loyalist likes it or not, the TPLF has consigned to the garbage heap of history, where it really belongs. Indeed, it is a prisoner of its own making; it devised it itself … THE END.