Ethiopia: Assailed by Terrorists and Betrayed by the West

As the new government led by Prime-Minister Ahmed Abiy takes office for their second term, the West’s relentless propaganda campaign against Ethiopia continues. Since the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked the Ethiopian State on 4 November 2020 (the day after President Biden was elected coincidentally), the US and allies, factions within UN agencies and human rights organizations have worked to undermine and discredit the democratically elected government.

Aided by mainstream western media – The Economist, BBC, The Guardian, New York Times, Al Jazeera, Facebook (who, according to former employer now whistleblower, Frances Haugen, is “fanning ethnic violence in Ethiopia”) and others – they have spread misinformation and lies about the situation inside Ethiopia. False accusations that Abiy’s government is deliberately “starving its own people”, “blocking humanitarian aid” from reaching displaced groups and carrying out atrocities in the region are widespread on such platforms.

They receive their information not from Ethiopian journalists working on the ground, or well-informed local people, but, it seems, from statements issued by the US administration, UN agencies, external organizations and TPLF spokespeople. The same material is published or broadcast by each media outlet, more or less. It is consistently untrue and serves to undermine the Ethiopian government, create confusion and strengthen the TPLF’s campaign. What western governments don’t mention, and consistently fail to condemn, are the atrocities perpetrated by the TPLF.

The terrorist group refused to adhere to a government initiated ceasefire in July, advanced into neighboring regions of Afar (from where they have since been ejected by federal forces) and Amhara, massacring civilians, raping, destroying property and crops, killing livestock. Mass graves have been discovered in a number of locations in the Amhara region, where local people relate harrowing accounts of TPLF brutality. And yet the US, UK, EU etc, remain silent.

TPLF’s terrorist subversion

This TPLF force, which includes children and teenagers in its ranks, is not a righteous group tussling with an evil government, or a band of “local guerrilla fighters” as the New York Times described them. The TPLF are the evil force; a vicious terrorist gang, that is trying to overthrow the legitimate government of Ethiopia and with the support of external powers (most notably the US, which many suspect may even be arming them) seize power.

These same countries (US, UK, EU) stood behind the TPLF when it was in office (1991-2018), turning a blind eye as it threw a blanket of fear over the country. They trampled on human rights, divided communities along ethnic lines; siphoned off aid money, embezzled federal funds, buying properties in London and elsewhere. After 27 years in power it is well resourced and well connected, has an organized propaganda machine with certain individuals within certain foreign governments and UN agencies sympathetic to their violent cause.

According to two UN staff members working in Addis Ababa, one of the most influential pro-TPLF voices within the UN is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Ethiopian Director-General of the WHO. A senior member of the TPLF junta (Minister of Health, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, where he was responsible for abducting UK citizen and opposition leader, Andargachew Tsige at Sanaa airport in Yemen), his appointment at the WHO was widely opposed by Ethiopians, who regard him as a criminal.

The whistleblowers make clear that certain elements within the UN, including Dr. Tedros, want to remove the head of the UN in Ethiopia (the Resident Coordinator), Dr. Catherine Sozi, and replace her with “someone who will dance to their tune.” Their “tune” is to subvert the government through an international misinformation campaign that supports the TPLF, and presumably helps facilitate their ascension back into power. Something that, no matter the subterfuge, will never happen.

“When the humanitarian aid effort in Tigray was ramped up many [UN] agencies brought in additional support to be posted in Tigray,” they explained. In an unprecedented step, Emergency Coordinators in the region were instructed to report directly to UN headquarters, cutting out UN staff in Addis, because they “are more sympathetic to and are working with the Ethiopian government”. Dr. Catherine Sozi is reported as saying she has “never seen anything like this”, i.e., local UN reps being sidelined and a direct line of communication being established between Tigray and New York/Geneva. In the interview, the whistleblowers make clear that the “TPLF……. have networks within UN system.”

The Ethiopian government had been aware that the UN inside Ethiopia had been compromised for some time and on 27 September they expelled seven senior UN officials from various agencies. Ethiopia’s permanent representative to the UN, Taye Atske Selassie said his country had found a “multitude of transgressions” by the expelled officials alleging that, “they openly conducted activism for the TPLF.”

In a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ethiopian government accused the expelled UN staff of “Dissemination of misinformation and politicization of humanitarian assistance; Diversion of humanitarian assistance to the TPLF; Violating agreed-upon security arrangements; Transferring communication equipment to be used by the TPLF [and] continued reticence in demanding the return of more than 400 trucks commandeered by the TPLF for military mobilization and for the transportation of its forces since July 2021.” The missive makes clear that such concerns were “brought to the attention of the relevant UN high officials and other international partners on multiple occasions, but to no avail.”

This is a staggering list of offences, a shocking breach of trust that gives an indication of what the Ethiopian government is up against. They are not only fighting the TPLF, which the federal forces are more than capable of dealing with, but are also battling an array of external forces; former allies and friends turned enemies.

Cohesion and pride

Following the expulsion of UN staff, and consistent with their anti-Ethiopia stance since the conflict began, instead of requesting an independent investigation into Ethiopia’s concerns, the US condemned the government’s actions. Secretary of State Blinken issued a press statement in which the US threatened to apply targeted sanctions (authorized by Biden earlier in the month), and called on the international community “to employ all appropriate tools to apply pressure on the Government of Ethiopia and any other actors impeding humanitarian access.”

The “actors impeding humanitarian access” are the TPLF forces, not the government as repeatedly alleged by the US, UN etc. and western media; all pressure should be applied to the terrorists and all support from the “international community”, given to the democratically elected government, as it should have been from the beginning of the conflict. However, far from standing by Ethiopia, as could rightly have been expected, the government and the Ethiopian people have been betrayed by the “international community” – meaning the US and its mates.

The government has repeatedly been “instructed” by Washington and New York to negotiate with the TPLF, which is not acceptable to the government or the people. Even when the government took the positive step of declaring a ceasefire and withdrew its forces, they were criticized.

One reason – probably the main one – for this shameful reaction is the Ethiopian government’s refusal to toe the imperialist line and do what they are told. This outrageous act of defiance by a poor black nation (can we ignore the racist element?), together with the successful construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – the biggest in Africa, the nation’s proud history of independence (Ethiopia was never colonized) and its importance within the Horn of Africa, which is set to grow, all have infuriated their Western benefactors. Add to this list the influence of the TPLF in Washington, London, Brussels and New York (UN), plus the malignity of international mainstream media, and a cocktail of destabilizing anti-Ethiopia forces emerge.

The collective response to The West’s sustained attack, a betrayal that has shocked and angered many Ethiopians, has been to unite the people and strengthen their resolve against their common enemy, the TPLF. This sense of national cohesion and pride was vibrantly expressed at PM Abiy’s inauguration ceremony on 4 October. Many African leaders were present at the joyful occasion held in the capital, Addis Ababa, under the banner of “A New Beginning”. They saluted PM Abiy’s overwhelming electoral victory (something western governments failed to do) and expressed solidarity with their African neighbor and friend.

The days of imperial rule in Africa are long gone, and, as Ethiopia is demonstrating, and the US is discovering, the time when global powers can tell African nations what to do is also becoming a thing of the past.

Western voices that are supporting the TPLF terrorists, and distorting the situation inside Ethiopia, are complicit in the ongoing violence; the deaths and destruction, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people and the nationwide pain and uncertainty that this appalling conflict is causing.

Graham Peebles is a British freelance writer and charity worker. He set up The Create Trust in 2005 and has run education projects in Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and India.  E:  W: