After Eritrea, with its superior military skills, quashed
Ethiopia’s TPLF’s invading army in May 1999 at the Tsorona Central Front, David Hirst of the Guardian wrote about the devastation and horror scene as, “if the conduct of war is a measure of a government’s fitness and ability to rule, then Tsorona is a terrible indictment of the TPLF.”
The strategy followed then by commanders of the second most populous nation in Africa was simple: Deploy tens of thousands of barely trained recruits and drove them forward to their certain death, wave upon wave, with the sole mission of blowing themselves up on minefields until they had cleared a path to the Eritrean front line for their infantry, armour and mechanized forces.
Peasants from Oromo, always the most oppressed, was used as human minesweepers and Tigrayan officers shot them from behind if they turn and run.
The strategy didn’t work anyway and according to AFP, the TPLF regime lost more than ten thousand of its soldiers in this front alone.
On Sunday June 12, 2016, the TPLF wanted to test the waters of the Central Tsorono front once again and unleashed a surprise attack against Eritrean positions. By Monday, the TPLF regime compelled to retreat from its initial attacking position, leaving behind its 200 dead and 300 wounded soldiers.
The world’s response to this latest Ethiopian attack was lame except for the Saudis who asked the Ethiopian regime to cease and desist its attack on Eritrea. The Saudi-led coalition have a stake in one of Eritrea’s ports with a military base and urged not to engage Eritreans along the Assab front. Ethiopia simply complied.
On the other hand, the situation on the rest of the front’s namely Zalmbesa and Badme was very tense and both sides reportedly were mobilizing heavy weaponry. Any slight miscalculation from either side could trigger another rounds of full scale war.
Many TPLF central committee members, however, are opposing the move to engage Eritrea in full scale war citing their unpopularity at home and their utter failure to mobilize the Ethiopian state to fight on their behalf, any more.
In a strange move, though, Oromo and Amhara members of the coalition EPRDF party are voicing their support for the war to get TPLF stuck between a rock and hard place. TPLF seems fully aware of that and suspects EPRDF may have been already infiltrated. EPRDF seems eroded from within by slipper cells of AG7 and OLF. Ethiopians are now saying in the open, if there is a war from now on, it will be strictly between TPLF and Eritrea.
Tigrayan elites who sensed this unfortunate scenario have started advocating for a war of attrition in contrast to their known agitation for TPLF to march toward Asmara. But War of attrition wouldn’t be their Forte either as Eritreans, who coined the war of attrition military doctrine during their 30 years war for independence against Soviet Union backed mighty Derg army, are simply unmatched.
War of attrition, on the one hand, would give enough time to the mushrooming Ethiopian armed rebels to recruit and expand their activities to all corners of the country.
The 12th June, 2016 incident has thought the TPLF dominated regime in Ethiopia not to believe it’s own propaganda about the Eritrean army capability anymore.
True to their nature, TPLF may soon attempt to restore the false hope it managed to instill on its diehard supporters that it is still invincible and the Eritrean army has been weakened by sanction and defections. It may also launch some “moral restoring” attacks accompanied with fabricated drama, portraying Eritrean refugees in Tigray camps as Prisoners of War, and so on.
The TPLF army is reportedly forcing Tigrayans who live near the border to move to safety and it seems it is preparing for some kind of “lightening strike”. On the other hand, Eritrea is following the development cautiously while solidifying it’s fortification. More likely TPLF will fail in its attempt to cone up with quick victory to prove that it is viable force.
The risk with this kind of gamble is that if it fails, it will risk losing it’s credibility from its enablers, specially the U.S. administration.
TPLF might try to convince the U.S. to extend support in its war against Eritrea, probably by threatening to reduce its troop contribution in Somalia in order to redeploy them on the Eritrea front. But pulling out that wild card against the U.S. might have its own consequences.
Possibilities are, TPLF might stretch thin and loose in all fronts if lack of support from Ethiopians continue. All indicators, however, points to that conclusion. If the U.S. do sensed such weaknesses, it’s in their nature to blow with the wind and support the winning party, in this case Eritrea and Ethiopian armed opposition groups.
For TPLF, neither a war of attrition nor a full scale war will take itself out of the quagmire that it find itself in. The Oromo protest might regain momentum and other nations and nationalities may also follow suit.
Bereket Simon’s assessment of the present EPRDF state of affairs is right on the money. In his latest presentation to the front’s bigwigs, Bereket warned that unless EPRDF undergoes some kind of radical reforms, it will destroy itself from within. But looks like it is too late for such reforms anyway. The TPLF is now most hated and increasingly unpopular by the majority of Ethiopians and to make matters worse, most are now showing interest to work with Eritrea to bring the much needed change and equality in Ethiopia.
In other words, any minor or otherwise adventure against Eritrea by the TPLF regime from now on could be a blessing in disguise for Eritrea and the people of Ethiopia and that is when TPLF start writing its own obituary.
* Edited by TesfaNews