A secret U.S. diplomatic cable sent from Addis Ababa by Ambassador Donald Yamamoto indicates a series of conversations with individuals close to the government and/or to individuals within the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition. One of his conversation was with the former air force commander.
Major-General Alemshet Degiffe (an Oromo) who purged in 2006 while serving as commander of the Ethiopian Air Force told the Ambassador that the Ethiopian military suffers from deep ethnic division and Tigrayan dominance.
Alemshet said Ethiopian Prime Minister “Meles cannot afford to fight a war against Eritrea” because the military lacks the will to fight and a war would exacerbate the growing cracks in the Ethiopian state.
Alemshet, referring to the Ethiopian military’s deployment along the Eritrean border, said “the weapon is there, but its morale and political condition will not allow it to fight.”
Alemshet’s comments about the Ethiopian military provide a rare insight into an institution that is by nature secretive and difficult to access for outsiders.
His reporting of widespread dissatisfaction for the Tigrayan dominated government within the military is consistent with the views of the government held by the broader non-Tigrayan population.
The Ethiopian military led by General Samora conducted a major purge in late 2006 to over 1,000 mostly Oromo officers from the military on ethnically based suspicion of their loyalty to the ethnic Tigrayan led ruling party.
The morale problems within the military are certain to worsen in the next several years unless the government changes course and becomes more inclusive, something that at present they appear to have little interest in doing. (Source)