by Amanuel Biedemariam
March 23, 2012, Ethiomedia (former TPLF supporter ), posted a Press Release, “TPLF down-sized to a single-family party,” and quoted a former TPLF Seeye Abraha saying, “That TPLF no more exists today in the fashion that we used to know it years ago.” Seeye, further noted, “The present socio-economic situation in Ethiopia is in the same state of expose with the final days of the military government of Colonel Mengistu Haile-Mariam, characterized by exorbitant cost of living and deepening public discontent. In a country where inflation is soaring over 30%, corruption has become the order of the day.”
Seeye’s admission, “That TPLF no more exists today in the fashion that we used to know it years ago” is a clear evidence that the criminal mercenary clique, that he was once a part of, has dissipated as organization and replaced, as the headline suggested, by a single family party of Meles and Azieb, his wife.
The original mission of the organization was not clear to the Ethiopian people outside Tigray because the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was an ethnic based organization that sought for autonomous rights or, as the TPLF Manifesto exposed, an independent Greater Tigray. However, the power vacuum of 1991 invited the minority clique to power and, once in power it appears as though, the underlined mission became murky or, as Seeye claims, nonexistent.
The TPLF regime has done all it can to legitimize its hold in power. In 2000, the minority regime stealthily conducted an election at the height of a war with Eritrea and escaped scrutiny. In 2005, when Ethiopians outright rejected the minority clique, the international community was exposed to the brutality of the regime for the first time. Since, the clique’s main objective has been to weaken the opposition and its leaders however possible and, succeed, for a period, because the mercenary role the regime played was critical for the Bush Administration and US led Western interests. Menelik Palace accorded the TPLF advantages to acquire massive wealth and political power and, used it to quash decent through manipulations and coercion.
Using military financed by the West, TPLF undertook aggressive military adventures against the people Eritrea thus breaking ties with an ally that helped propel it to power. This denied the people of Tigray and Eritrea a cross border relation and a natural trading partnership creating unnecessary scarcity goods leading to inflated prices.
In Somalia, waving the bible, TPLF invaded an Islamic nation and created major humanitarian crisis. This generated unnecessary animosity with the people of Somalia. TPLF used Somalia as a source of income to milk the Bush Administration’s War of Terror Campaign against the people of the region. However, the people of Ethiopia did not support the minority regime and, sympathized with their Somali brethren, contrary to the hostile history that existed amongst the nations. Conversely, the people of Somalia understood the people of Ethiopia are not responsible for the genocidal acts committed by Meles Zenawi.
Ethiopia is rich with diverse ethnic groups. To exploit that diversity, to divide and rule the country, TPLF dangled article 39 of the constitution which claims, “Every nation, nationality or people in Ethiopia shall have the unrestricted right to self-determination up to secession.”
Giving option, if they so choose to become independent, is an appeasement strategy to keep the international community satisfied and, at bay from Ethiopia’s internal affairs. In reality however, these ethnic groups are under the tight grip of TPLF. The people of Ogaden, Oromo, Gambella, Afar and others are mired in endless struggles due to systemic repressions, denials of constitutional rights, violent human rights violations, genocides and ethnic cleansing. These tussles gradually alienated the TPLF junta because a) these groups realized TPLF does not represent their best interest and, b) that the TPLF was deliberately sabotaging their efforts for greater freedoms, c) they realized that it is in their best interest to organize and resist TPLF.
Gradually since, any support the TPLF has had dissipated regularly. Ethiopia’s business community was a victim of taxation and coercion when not in line with TPLF’s agenda. Farmers stripped from their fertile lands and evicted from their villages forcefully. Ethiopians, including the people of Tigray, have gradually come to the realization that the TPLF does not represent the best interest of the nation after witnessing serious threats to the very existence of the nation by the sheer size of land that is being sold to multinationals.
The TPLF enjoys no support from any segment of Ethiopia’s populations. In the last year alone, it alienated core constituencies in a dramatic fashion. Ethiopia is rich with religious history, traditions and customs. The TPLF took some missteps that offended the religious communities of both faiths. There have been tensions particularly after a controversial priest was placed at synod. However, the current developments are beyond what the TPLF could handle.
There has always been armed resistance against the minority clique in Ethiopia by various ethnic groups that want some form of autonomy. That has been a source of contention amongst the various Ethiopian opposition groups. The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), representative of Ethiopia’s majority population was fighting for independent Oromia. At the end of 2011, when the OLF declared it will fight for a united Ethiopia in cooperation with organizations like Ginbot 7, the TPLF reacted vehemently because for the first time the regime felt threatened. The TPLF can only exist in a chaotic and unstable environment and this announcement sent shockwaves.
Moreover, once hidden, instabilities throughout Ethiopia are popping like wild fires everywhere. In its April 28 press release, Ethiomedia reported that, rebels opposed to the government burned down Metema, a town bordering Sudan. This is significant because a great deal of the commodities that enter Ethiopia’s northern region from Sudan enter through this gateway. The businesses that burned down belong to members of TPLF. This will exacerbate the economic hardships and add to the scarcity of goods in the country. It is also a sign that Ethiopian people are not intimidated and, are fighting-back TPLF where it hurts, its pocketbooks.
The core of an organization is always based on its underlined mission. People make sacrifices based on a principled stand when they feel they have ownership of a cause(s). The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) led by the criminal Meles Zenawi has lost its mission and purpose it was founded upon. The TPLF is unable to maintain the core constituency because it has no message or cause that it could sell the people of Tigray. The people of Tigray have not received clear guidance from the core leadership of TPLF. The TPLF does not have any core issue that people can rally behind. TPLF cannot sell Tigray only as a cause while running the entire nation. Without national agenda and with its fragmented approach to the nation, TPLF alienated the people of Tigray putting them in an awkward position vis-à-vis the rest of Ethiopia. Hence, and absent of a clear message, it is natural for the supporters to lose faith on the organization and over the years, TPLF’s support eroded gradually to the point that it is now, nonexistent.
There is no redeeming quality about TPLF. The legacy of the TPLF will be mass killing, election rigging, tortures, rape, extortion, prostitution and baby selling. TPLF is an organization that sold a nation for nothing rendering millions to perpetual hunger and starvation. TPLF is an organization that lied repeatedly about phantom achievements while begging for everything under the sun. Organization that committed genocides in the Ogaden, Gambella and other parts the region. Organization that is not shy to uproot people from their homes for greed. Organization that disregards its own people and lie to them outright, mislead them repeatedly, organization that puts- down its own people.
TPLF is a failed organization that chose to steal and lie rather than lead, it is an organization-using Ethiopia to pile on its coffers rather than serve the people. It is a power hungry greedy organization determined to remain in power at the expense of the nation. It is an organization believing on guns and its Western support rather than faith on its people and the people of the region. The TPLF is a failed organization that failed to deliver on any front!
TPLF is an organization that has no legitimacy, an organization that enjoys no support except with a handful rich. TPLF has no support of the Oromos, in Gambella, Ogaden, in Afar, and with Amhara populations of Ethiopia. Even if it is hard to quantify, TPLF’s opposition in Tigray is mushrooming. The TPLF enjoys no support of students, teachers, workers and the business community. The TPLF enjoys no support from farmers for; it is taking and selling their fertile land. The TPLF gets no support from the Diaspora in fact; the Diaspora is its nemesis.
In Ethiopia, religion is the most important institution. Ethiopians are people of deep faith whether Christians or Moslems. Religious leaders, religious landmarks and traditions have always been, respected, handled with a great deal of care for they are sensitive and volatile. Emperor Haile Sellassie and Mengistu Hailemariam never instigated hostility with Ethiopia’s religious institutions. To the contrary, they gave it international recognition. On the other hand, the TPLF believes it can thrive in chaos including religious chaos. For the first time in Ethiopia, Muslims are out by the millions demonstrating against the regimes meddling in their affairs. This is uncharted territory for a country on the brink. TPLF’s disrespect for the Christian faith is also arousing similar sentiment because the regime wants to destroy a religious site to sell the land.
Ethiopia is at the brink of eminent change. The challenge for all involved is to envision what the change will look like and how to fill the power vacuum, if possible. When Mengistu fell, the US and Eritrea helped fill the vacuum. Eritrea’s primary goal was independence. However, as Ambassador Herman Cohen asserted on his interview with ESAT, the US is always seeking for its strategic interests. US’ strategic interests in the region have not changed since. To the contrary, US seek deep entrenchment in the region. The Meles Zenawi led TPLF, is a perfect mercenary organization that the US uses brilliantly to further its agenda. Ethiopia houses the AU and that is an added bonus. The question is if and when the situation arises, who will lead the process.
If Ethiopians fail to control their destiny, they could look at many models. There are the examples of Somalia and Congo as the worst-case scenarios, and at best, Afghanistan like situation where the US could place Kharzai like personality to continue the status quo in order to pursue US agendas. This means, large uncontrolled areas, continuous unrest, and hardship for the people of Ethiopia. It also means continuous instability in the region for decades to come. These are some reasons that make Ethiopia the business of all the people in the region, because it can be source of instability for the entire region. All the ingredients that can help the situation in Ethiopia explode are in place. The economy is in doldrums exacerbating the hardships. Absent of divine intervention it is just a matter of time until the apocalypse happens.
There are some serious obstacles the people of Ethiopia face: a) the biggest is the US led West, as well as other parties that see the strategic importance of Ethiopia that want to see no change. And b) organizations such as IGAD and AU that make their primary goal to serve the interest of the West not the people of Ethiopia or the region for sheer greed and power.
Hence, it is crucial that all the concerned parties play constructive roles to aid the people of Ethiopia towards a united and prosperous goal that the people of Ethiopia and by extension the people of the region desperately need. It is also incumbent upon the US to allow Ethiopia to chart a new independent course. If not, the US will be left holding a bloody bag. In addition, it is imperative for all the people to make unwavering commitment for peace and to stand in support of one another.