By Sewale Belew
Lingering Tentacles of Article 39
When TPLF managed to get what it called ‘Ethiopia’s Constitution ratified in its 1994 parliamentary assembly, it established Ethiopia as a tribally federated republic under its full custody. This TPLF devised-constitution comprised the principle of self-determination through what it called “democratic-centralism” ruling mechanism that befits well to its covert agenda of making TPLF attain its goal of governing Ethiopia or breaking the country apart and then seceding Tigray as an independent state.
Allegedly, to further its ultimate divisive ends and that of pillaging Ethiopia covertly and overtly, the TPLF injected its own Deddebit made constitution that granted, what it calls: all “Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples” in Ethiopia the absolute right to secede from the nation. To Ethiopian minorities and observers in the global community, Ethiopia seemed self-assured for democratic reform that would end decades of oppression. However, soon after the new Constitution was endorsed, some legal scholars criticized its provision that allows regions within Ethiopia to secede. According to several of these scholars, the provision, pronounced in Article 39, creates an unworkable form of central government by making it too easy for the country to break apart.
Needless to say, as per Article 39, all that a region needs to exercise its right of secession is a referendum passed by a two-thirds majority of its regional parliament and a separate referendum passed by a simple majority of the national parliament. Most of the scholars who have criticized Article 39 assume that its inclusion in the 1994 Constitution was realized as a give and take between TPLF itself and its surrogate tribal groups put jointly under the label – EPRDF-regional representatives. Under this assumption, the EPRDF reluctantly included Article 39 in the Constitution in order to appease regional calls for self-determination rights by minority populations who were inspired by the secession of 1993, mainly hard-pushed by TPLF. In other words, the EPRDF needed to include Article 39 in order to gather ratification support from TPLF mandated regional governments to which the silent voiceless majority of Ethiopians remained spectators of the overall show.
Ever since the ratification of Article 39, which TPLF thought was shoving its knife on the heart of Ethiopia’s national unity, political unrests that persistently took place over and time again demonstrated that this TPLF’s divisive notion is incorrect and futile. No matter what the silent majority Ethiopians ponder about Ethiopia’s sovereignty and national integrity, in due course of time, a new illuminating and explosive theory regarding TPLF’s purpose behind Article 39 under its EPRDF-mantle is quietly gaining acceptance in Ethiopian and among international circles. TPLF’s purpose behind Article 39 has all the hallmarks of a grand conspiracy devised to intentionally implicate what it called as the Federal government established under democratic centralism; and this centralism is the highest levels of the Ethiopian federal government.
According to TPLF and EPRDF remarks, it involves a far-reaching plan with long-term goals; and it involves the use of violence and under-handed politics in order to perpetrate a fraud on the Ethiopian people and the international community. In brief, the new TPLF devised theory is this: the TPLF-dominated EPRDF intentionally included Article 39 in Ethiopia’s 1994 Constitution so that the Tigray region could loot Ethiopia of its resources, use the Ethiopian military to expand the borders of Tigray to having its own seaport, and then secede from Ethiopia, when the time is ripe enough and strategically accommodating to realize this goal. Underlying this theory is the widely held opinion that the TPLF and EPRDF are not independent organizations, but symbiotic.
The evidence supporting this theory comes from several sources. Most importantly, the TPLF leadership had already put its intentions in writing in TPLF’s manifesto known as the “Republic of Greater Tigrai..” Drafted by in 1976, the manifesto outlines an intricate plan for the liberation of Tigray from what it calls “Ethiopian rule”. The plan involves two main steps: (a) re-demarcating Tigray’s borders in all frontiers and to expand the Tigray region’s borders within Ethiopia, and (b) obtaining coastal lands from Eritrea and ultimately seceding as an independent nation of Tigray.
In similar tone, TPLF and its back-up political organizations put under the umbrella of EPRDF have jointly taken several actions that seem to adhere to the plans set forth in the TPLF manifesto since it took over Ethiopia’s central government in 1991. For example, the TPLF/EPRDF have jointly and dramatically developed the Tigray region since they came to power. Before the 1991 Revolution, Tigray was territoriality limited and economically underdeveloped.
Since the Revolution, in addition to trying to acquire Badme from Eritrea (discussed below), Tigray has successfully annexed vast fertile lands from the neighboring regions of, Afar, Assossa, Benishangul, Gondar, and Wollo within Ethiopia. In clandestine, to be disclosed in the long run, it even included the site where the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been constructed in in the Benishangul-Gumuz region into Greater Tigray so that it can make deals with Egypt and Sudan in manners that befits TPLFs’ grand vision for Tigray.
USA’s affiliation with TPLF
Viewed from US never ending proxy war perpetuation perspectives, Herman Cohen was the US Secretary of State during the reign of President George W. Bush (1989-1993). He played a key role in TPLF’s crackdown on the Ethiopian people’s cultural cohesiveness and unity. He did so by persuading the Ethiopian military commanders of the 980s to “immediately and unconditionally cease fire” during the London talks and, conversely, urging the TPLF to use its full power to gain control of Addis Ababa in 1990. Simultaneously, he made arrangements for Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam to leave the country instantly, which the latter did as requested.
Herman Cohen has always been a TPLF fanatic who recently disclosed in a tweet message the main reason why the Bahir Dar massacre failed by stating:
” Failed coup in #Ethiopia’s Amhara state was an attempt by ethnic nationalists to restore Amhara hegemony over all of Ethiopia that existed for several centuries prior to 1991. That dream is now permanently dead.”
On January 6, 2022, The Chinese Foreign minister disclosed China’s plan to appoint a special envoy to the Horn of Africa to help resolve conflicts in the region. Acciording to the Chinese government vision, mission and making matters real, leaders of the Hoorn Africa nations should consider convening a peace and security conference. This was affirmed by China’s Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi at a briefing he made in Kenya’s port city of Mombasa. He continued his Africa tour that started in Eritrea on Jan. 5, 2022 on to the Comoros. The visit follows the Forum held earlier on China-Africa Cooperation summit in Senegal in November and his visit in Ethiopia in December 2021. These Wang’s comments come as the TPLF insurgency rages in Amhara and Afar regions of Ethiopia and political protests persist in Sudan and Somalia; events that have battered the Horn Africa nations’ economies. China, which is among the biggest financial lenders in Africa, joins hands with other leaders from the continent and the Middle East in trying to halt and resolve conflicts in the Horn. Wang visited Ethiopia in December to show support for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government amid a yearlong war with TPLF-rebels. In Kenya, China signed six bilateral agreements with the East African nation on issues including health, poverty reduction and agricultural development, trade promotion and investments.
To counter China’s recent aggressive moves in the Horn of Africa and its plant to appoint a special envoy to the Horn of Africa to help resolve conflicts in the region, the U.S. on its part made a sudden move to appointed Ambassador David Satterfield to replace Jeffrey Feltman as special envoy for the Horn of Africa., to handle matters pertinent to (a) the ongoing civil war instigated by TPLF, (b) the dispute over the construction of a mega-dam on the Nile River, and (c) the political and social upheaval in neighboring Sudan and Somalia.
Feltman traveled to Ethiopia on Thursday, January 6, 2022 and met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in what will be his last trip as special envoy. He was working alongside the African Union negotiator Olusegun Obasanjo and other mediators to end the conflict between PM Abiy’s federal forces and TPLF-dissidents. In less than 24 hours after the meeting, Satterfield’s appointment came as a counteraction to the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit in Kenya and his anno8uncement that China plans to appoint its own special envoy to the Horn of Africa.
PM Abiy’s Sudden Surrender to Western Allies Arms-Twisting Pressures
Less than 24 hours after the meeting held with Jeffrey Feltman, PM Abiy had to make a quick and instant decision on January 7, 2022 in order to facilitate his upcoming direct discussion with President Joe Biden by fulfilling primarily set conditions that could possibly be able to appease the Biden administration’s ongoing arms-twisting pressures aired out in Addis Ababa via Feltman. Admittedly the PM himself was shocked when he was told these bitter-pill-like preconditions initially. And without having any choice and not to miss the chance to directly confront President Biden and tell him Ethiopia’s regime side of the situation his government faces with TPLF instigators. The sudden “amnesty” decisions he made were not as such judicially concluded legal pardon, but amnesty out of sheer concern for aged people’s health conditions who cannot escape facing judgement whenever required by the judicious court order in future.
His surrender to the arms-twisting deals provoked by the Western powers was inescapable viewed from the country’s current grave and troubling situations deliberately and enviously instigated by TPLF mercenary fighters and their Trojan horse OLF-Shenne bandits. Putting aside emotional anger and heartbreaking feelings we all suffered from in recent days, realistically speaking, with all the suffering of the Ethiopian people yet to resolve, Ethiopia cannot afford to fight against well-armed and highly experienced Western neocolonialists, but to buy time through diplomatically smart decisions until Ethiopia recovers from the heavy societal poor conditions created by recent havoc of all kinds.
As President Issayas Afeworki has correctly and unflinchingly told the truth in recent days, the war with TPLF instigators is not yet over. To date, TPLLF is flexing its muscles in all directions of Tigray and has already invaded once again those freed parts of Waja, Kobo, Alamata, Waldiba and Mai Tsemri in the Amhara region and continuing its push towards Humeraa and Tsegede localities. It is even threatening to further invade Gondar and to take over the corridor of Armachuho and Tsegede along the Tekeze River side.
Amidst such conditions, PM Abiy had no choice but to ascertain his obedience to the US and NATO Allies, who are mainly interested to counter China, Russia and Turkey and stop the Chinese aggressive move to gain easy access to the region. Cognizant about the fact that the US and it NATO allies have been putting the long-suspected arms-twisting pressures upon him, just to appraise in favor of TPLF that has been a longtime ally of the West, PM Abiy, on his part, had to come up with quick answers that fulfill immediate primary conditions demanded by the West.
Instantly, PM Abiy was sending more positive signals including the release of prisoners and his openness to carry on the dialogue with opposition parties and those warring factions in Ethiopia. To him, these actions could somehow repeal the jeopardy challenges surrounding the mere existence and functioning of his own administration. Hence, in less than 48 hours after Feltman left Addis Ababa, President Biden commended PM Abiy on his recent release of key political prisoners. The two leaders further emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Ethiopia relationships, the potential to strengthen cooperation on a range of issues pertaining to Ethiopia, and the need for concrete progress to resolve the conflict through accelerated dialogue toward a negotiated ceasefire, the urgency of improving humanitarian access across all troubled areas within Ethiopia, and the need to address the human rights concerns.
By so doing, PM Abiy appears to be offering an olive branch to end more than a year of conflict instigated by TPLF in the Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions. Certainly, to this effect, in a tweet, PM Abiy described his conversation with President Biden as “candid” and said the two had discussed on strengthening cooperation that may likely iron-out the currently existing defaults in these regions.
Obviously, TPLF-leadership and their treasonous crimes have obviously costed Ethiopia and its defense forces by numerus legs, limbs and lives for over half a century since the advent of their struggle in Deddbit, Kola-Tembien. The continuing atrocities still being committed by TPLF and its running dogs like OLF-Shenne are equally causing causalities and atrocities on innocent civilians lives, infrastructures and national resource.
Paving the Way for Brutal Atrocities
Why is the instinct for TPLF leadership’s revenge so strong even when it is clear that widespread death and destruction would be a much more likely outcome of such vengeance actions than any kind of “victory”? TPLF’s thinking line of revenge and the hatred on which it rests makes it entirely credible for TPLF and its followers to have the courage to advance its retaliation against what it calls: “to deter the Amhara threat of future exploitation. For TPLF, revenge is more of an emotional situation that gets activated routinely and provides a strong drive in Tigray people’s mind, who feel they have been mistreated by the Amhara for generations. TPLF’s persistent reason for retaliation against the Amhara is strong enough that, even when no benefit can accrue from launching an initial assault, as it did on the Ethiopian Northern Defense Forces, it will carry it out by all means even in future.
TPLF’s such unusual, poisonous and exaggerated actions to achieve its goals are as follows: (1) Our mission is based on the belief that the people of Tigray are the source of all political power. (2) The blood, existence, and struggle of the Tigray community are based on the soil of Tigray. (3) The loyalty of the people of Tigray to the TPLF and the government of Tigray is greater than any structural loyalty. Therefore, the people of Tigray, as a community of Tigray, are connected by blood, soul and, mentally, as one body. (4) To achieve our goal, the TPLF must take full control of all aspects of life for the people of Tigray. (5) The people of Tigray must be prepared and willing to accept that it is a constant struggle and, without hindrance, moving forward. (6) Tigray itself, despite being considered a minority nation, has the absolute right to own and maintain its own place of residence, the people of Tigray, who are dominated by its efforts for success. (7) As determined citizens of Tigray, in our struggle for our rights, we must always be strong and strive for the ultimate victory. We must also hope. (8) As a people of Tigray descent, we are surrounded by enemies throughout our borders. (9) We will save our lives by relying on the support of Western powers for any attempt at genocide against our people. (10) In the end, the Tigray region will rise up in its own struggle and thrive on the bed of our past Ethiopia.
The masses or the people of Tigray, especially the younger generation of Tigray who have been born and brought up during the reign of TPLF, have been brainwashed and poisoned by the TPLF. The TPLF has turned the people of Tigray into disobedience to Tigray’s traditional and other religious and other social leaders. The TPLF has repeatedly fought to undermine the consciousness of the Tigrayan people, creating a fear of genocide that could otherwise happen. Introduce them to the concept of Greater Tigray by deliberately training young cadres who can fill the confidence of the people. Eventually, the people of Tigray accepted the TPLF as the sole political leader and could lead to greater independence in Greater Tigray. This absolute loyalty has led them to submit to the extremist political leadership of the TPLF. Since then, the TPLF has been writing books about the “Greater Tigray” in its youthful mind, and it is certain that most of the youth of Tigray will benefit from the TPLF’s policies and practices. They seem to believe in this TPLF doctrine.
TPLF has been in control of the country for the past 30 years. Especially the TPLF cadres, who are closely monitored and trained by the TPLF cadres in Tigray, have been governing themselves with the poisonous conscience of the TPLF, believing that the TPLF is the “image of God” to liberate Tigray. A special benefit to them. At the same time, mothers have been blessed and encouraged by their teenage children to buy whatever the TPLF wants.
On the other hand, the people of Tigray are still facing a series of endless conflicts without proper compensation. Their lives for the benefit of the ruling TPLF elite. The youth of Tigray have been, and continue to be, subject to the ‘ruling TPLF political culture’ that has been broadcast in Tigray, media, educational institutions, and other institutional shows in the region. This new culture is intended to benefit the people of Tigray, with special rules, values and exclusions in order to maintain TPLF dominance. Currently, for example, TPLF Diaspora cadres are alienating families from Tigray, particularly individuals from the Amhara ethnic groups and peoples, and isolating themselves from any social activity.
To add fuel to an ongoing fire, TPLF’s continuously committed atrocities and similar attacks waged by its running dogs like OLF-Shenne are causing causalities and death on innocent civilians, devastating destruction on infrastructures and national resource. For over three decades, those TPLF planted and mushroomed tribalism-led hate speech, racism, and xenophobia have already escalated into a full-blown conflict causing killings of innocent lives and evictions from places of inhabitance. With such TPLF instigated issues at the core, it is difficult to solve any of the ethnic or tribalism problems without correcting the political and historical narratives provided in the constitution itself and without attempting to halt the resultant societal problems caused by tribalism.
President Issayas Afeworki of Eritrea, President Kagame of Rwanda, President Musseveni of Uganda, and many more societal critics, have persistently reminded PM Abiy and his government to give priority to ironing out the tribally-led TPLF-EPRDF-constitution and to bring Ethiopia to a stage of a harmonious, united, peaceful and stable country. But to our dismay, it seems their sincere and righteous warnings and plea have fallen on deaf ears thus far. For as long as PM Abiy carries forward with the ongoing TPLF-EPRDF-tribal-led-constitution and administrative agendas, he is simply carrying forward the tribal-led balances of the former TPLF-EPRDF regime’s constitution, which will continue to keep Ethiopia in constant, unabated and futile civil strives in future.
TPLF’s Dream for Realizing Greater Tigray
TPLF’s thinking line of revenge and the hatred on which it rests makes it entirely credible for TPLF and its followers to have the courage to advance its retaliation against what it calls: “to deter the Amhara threat of future exploitation. To achieve its sinister objectives,
So, TPLF has always been on its looting spree within Ethiopia since the mid-1970s. Throughout these decades until the present, TPLF continues to misrepresent Tigray’s and Ethiopia’s known history to the extent of claiming to have its roots in Yemen. It keeps on playing victim, and manipulates information as it befits its own survival and triumphant objectives. TPLF and its TPLF-hatched political sibling associations gathered under the “EPRDF umbrella” have persistently perpetrated a grand fraud on the Ethiopian people and even on global humanitarian and donor communities.
As an entity, the TPLF / EPRDF/ has established a facade of democracy in order to garner both internal support and international aid. Since 1991, the Tigray-dominated central government has systematically undermined that democracy and diverted Ethiopia’s resources into Tigray. In addition, the TPLF/EPRDF has created a Constitution that gives Tigray the “unconditional right” to secede from Ethiopia based on the self-determination principle. In pursuit of a “Greater Tigrai,” the TPLF has expanded the borders of Tigray and has continued to attempt to gain its own regional access to the Red Sea. Recently, it was demanding the UN to enable Tigray to gain the Port of Assab.
It remains to be seen whether or not the TPLF would ever be able to realize these goals set forth in the “Republic of Greater Tigrai.” Undoubtedly, TPLF’s plans were set back immensely by Ethiopia’s failure to capture key territories in the Ethiopia-Eritrea border dispute. The decision handed down by the Eritrea – Ethiopia Boundary Commission further hindered the TPLF.
Ethiopians have tolerated TPLF’s 27 years of: (a) iron rules of ethnic chauvinism elevated as national constitution and (b) blatant corruption and favoritism along ethnic lines. So, regardless of whether or not Tigray ever actually tries to secede, Ethiopia’s recent history has presented the following unique questions to the US and its NATO allies who persistently push proxy wars to maintain their geopolitical and economic interests around the globe: What is the legitimate significance of a constitutional right of secession? Must the US and its NATO allies respect such a secession right when it is based in deception? What duty does the U.N. weakened by the control of the US and its NATO allies have to intervene when a dominant minority population organized under TPLF uses the concept of self-determination in order to oppress other minorities?
Let truth be told. The United States and its NATO allies jointly, have chosen to ignore these and other critical questions regarding the sovereign state of Ethiopia. Their only burning concern has been and still remains to be their vested interest of preserving TPLF as a renowned ally in the “war on terror”; and not that much their concern about the legitimacy of Ethiopia’s internal “democracy.” By blindly aiding the TPLF, the United States risks creating a populous in Ethiopia rich with anti-American sentiment. The secession of Tigray would only provoke more anger and ultimately create the potential for more terror directed at American interests. The world cannot afford to ignore the hidden agenda of the TPLF any longer.
Views expressed are personal.