Will Peace Prevail in the Horn of Africa?

TPLF and the elusive peace in the horn of Africa
(Photo: Yan Boechat/VOA)

BY VITTORIO SILVESTRI | AFRICAN MEDIA COUNCIL

It is no doubt that hope, and to a certain extent, faith, have been growing in the Horn regarding elusive peace, in the aftermath of meetings convened first in Pretoria and subsequently in Nairobi between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the designated terrorist group, the TPLF in the fourth quarter of last year.

The Pretoria meeting (November 2, 2022) culminated in the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement to put an end to the two-and-half years’ war that has devastated the Tigray, Afar, and Amhara Regions in northern and central Ethiopia.

One Operative Article in the Agreement specifically stipulates that both parties refrain from acrimonious rhetoric so as to gradually foster mutual trust and convey messages of hope and optimism to their domestic audiences and the wider world. The expectation was that any differences that may emerge would be addressed with caution and discretion and through appropriate channels.

It seems that Getachew Reda, TPLF Head, External Affairs Office, didn’t really “get the memo” even when the Agreement bears his own signature.

A couple of days ago, in a tweet wishing happy New Year to TPLF supporters, the TPLF rogue leader went on a rant calling “Eritrea forces & their junior partners” “tormentors” “that have been (…) perfected killing into an art form”.

That rant continued today, the 3rd of January, with another thread of tweets aimed at upholding a recent narrative as Eritrea being a “spoiler of the present peace process”.

Obviously, Getachew has a short memory or a very selective one.

His TPLF has been the real tormentor in the Horn for the past three decades. Indeed, the last two years of conflict and mayhem are the inevitable extensions of and bear the distinct imprints of the TPLF’s penchant for chaos and instability in order to preserve and perpetuate its usurpation of State power in Ethiopia.

The narrative the TPLF and its supporters in Diaspora had built around the unprovoked War of Choice and Insurrection that the TPLF had unleashed and escalated for two long years has started to slowly but surely crumble in spite of the massive media support by its enablers. Getachew is apparently worried and dismayed by these trends.

On November 3, 2020, the TPLF attacked the Ethiopian Northern Command. The broader plan included the subsequent extension of its war of aggression against Eritrea. TPLF’s wholesale military offensives were accompanied by a well-organized disinformation campaign and barrage of lies, deception, and the relentless dissemination of fake news through its multiple media outlets and hired lobbyists.

Had the TPLF succeeded in its initial “blitzkrieg” military objectives, the dire consequences to Ethiopia and the region could have included the following scenarios:

  • A complete collapse and disintegration of Ethiopia;
  • TPLF regaining State power in Ethiopia to further pursue its aggressive policies of territorial aggrandizement and “regime change” in Eritrea;

When some contingents of the Ethiopian Northern Command crossed into Eritrea to escape from the TPLF’s cowardly attacks on their military bases and barracks in the Tigray region, the situation elicited crucial support from Eritrea. One must recall that the new crisis situation was unfolding against the backdrop of the 2018 historic Agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia of robust cooperation in several fields.

Let us also remember that the TPLF had amassed and hoarded – when it monopolized power in Ethiopia for almost 27 years until 2018, more than 75% of all Ethiopian federal military equipment, including heavy weapons. The TPLF also built a huge exclusive ethnic army of more than 300,000 militias and Special Forces that was outside the command and control of the Federal Government and its Defence Forces.

This illicit configuration bred fatal arrogance in TPLF leadership circles pushing them to believe that they possessed unassailable power and march to Addis Ababa to forcefully seize power and eventually pursue their aggressive policies against Asmara.

TPLF boasted and publicly declared, on multiple times, its intentions including during a public speech by its President a few weeks prior to launching its War of Insurrection. TPLF’s subsequent offensives in June 2021 and August 2022 by rejecting the unilateral cease-fires announced by the Federal Government are indeed byproducts and derivatives of this folly even when its initial war plan was severely thwarted and curtailed.

It is these gross miscalculation that has led to where it is today. The TPLF signed the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement when it was severely battered and downgraded to the point of military irrelevance during its last offensive launched on 24 August last year.

TPLF’s War of Insurrection has entailed enormous suffering in Tigray and other war-affected Regions in Ethiopia. One must remember that TPLF’s offensives occurred during critical harvest times; thereby exacerbating already precarious food situations, especially in Tigray in which about 1.6 million poor farmers depended on regular humanitarian handouts (Global Safety Net) since 2009.

But TPLF’s callous leaders continue to be oblivious to the misery inflicted on their own people. They are still crying and pointing accusing fingers at others, instead of accepting and atoning for their follies. They seem to have forgotten that they were literally begging for “peace” during the last weeks before Pretoria; tacitly admitting that they had lost the war they started.

In line with TPLF’s typical modus operandi, we see Getachew Reda throwing the last punches on his way out together with his organization. He continues to heap insult on Eritrea calling it the “principal spoiler”; accusing it of responsibility for the destruction, pain, and suffering of the poor people of Tigray, to which the TPLF is fully and solely culpable.

Sadly, for him and the TPLF, the people inside Tigray know full well who did what to them. No amount of rhetoric and false narrative will change basic and objective facts and events. After 30 years of chaos and conflict, today the people can say clearly #NoMore, and the tweets of Getachew Reda are vanishing in thin air.

Hopefully, in the months ahead, and if TPLF principal enablers see the light; a degraded military and political power, (provided they survive the wrath of their own people) will breed recriminations and dissensions, a perfect storm so to speak, that may herald the end of the TPLF.

And that would mean – Yes, peace will prevail in the Horn of Africa.